The Newcastle Football Centre is based in the west end of the city, on the land next to Newcastle United’s old training ground at Benwell, the Gibside Gardens ground is the office base for the Newcastle Football Development Scheme, which includes indoor, as well as outdoor facilities, it’s also the headquarters of the FA Newcastle Girls Centre of Excellence.
Newcastle United left Benwell in the early nineties, when Kevin Keegan called in the fumigators and switched the training facilities to the University Sports Ground at Durham City and then the Graham Sports Ground at Maiden Castle. The old training ground was then sold off for housing and United finally got their own hi-tech training facilities at Darsley Park in July 2003, after being based at Chester-le-Street’s Riverside during Bobby Robson’s time as manager.
Gateshead kicked off their pre-season with a 4-0 win at South Shields in midweek, while this was West Allotment’s opening fixture, they were the better side in the opening period, dominating possession and taking the lead on 13 minutes, when an in swinging corner from Douglas, was dropped by young keeper McKenzie into his own net. Gateshead grabbed an equaliser on the half hour, after an initial Southern volley hit the post, the ball came out to Harwood who shot high into the net from a wide angle. Celtic had chances to regain the lead, but McKenzie made up for his earlier mistake making four excellent saves, especially the one handed save from Keith Douglas just prior to half time.
Gateshead with the advantage of the strong breeze in the second half, took the lead for the first time after 10 minutes with a well struck free kick from Wayne Phillips, ex-Heed winger David Colvin came on as a second half sub for West Allotment, getting an equalised with a well placed left foot shot into the far corner of the net on 68. Gateshead’s improved second half display was rewarded in the 72nd minute with the winning goal, a long ball was flicked on by Thompson into the path of Graeme Armstrong, who beat the offside trap before rounding the keeper and shooting past the covering defender on the line.
And so a good competitive work out for both clubs and personally a gentle introduction to the new season, this is before the serious football and matchday reports begin over the next 10 months. I’m hoping for another eventful season with some great new venues to visit, hopefully I’ll grab about 50 new grounds, Gateshead will again win promotion and the season will finish with Newcastle winning the FA Cup at Wembley…the stuff dreams are made of, well I can only dream..can’t I?
WAC 2(o.g.13, Colvin 68) GFC 3(Harwood 27, Phillips 54, Armstrong 72)
Unofficial HC attendance. 76
Admission and programme - None.
My visit to West Allotment Celtic