Willington  1 Esh Winning 1 – Ebac Northern League Division Two

This blog is unashamedly about football, but we all had other things on our mind as much as the game on the pitch last night.

It was 10 days since Willington chairman and secretary Richard Tremewan was taken seriously ill at Chester-le-Street and in their programme notes the club said he’s out of danger but remains very ill in hospital.  Head of media Dean Maynard said before kick-off that yesterday was the first day since being taken ill that Richard had opened his eyes – hopefully the first signs of a recovery.

All the proceeds from the game – with a terrific turnout of 360 spectators – will be donated to a charity of Richard’s choosing.

It will come as no great surprise that good wishes have come flooding into the club and equally, it’s not a surprise that stand-in secretary Stuart Ross had offers of help and practical support from many around the league, including fellow secretaries Steve Moralee, Matthew Burdess, Fred Usher and Gav Perry, as well as from the league.  I’m sure there were more unheralded offers of help and support.

The Willington players wore t-shirts with #RaiseTheRoof printed on them.  They also chose Simply The Best to be played as they came on to the pitch, while Richard’s partner Andre chose Wonderwall to accompany a minute’s applause and noise as the club wanted spectators to raise the roof for Richard.

The Mayor of Willington, Cllr Fraser Tinsley was also at the game, wearing the mayoral chains to lend his support to the night.

As far as the game is concerned, the football was a disappointment.

Esh Winning should have won at a canter.  They were on the front foot for most of the match and created several decent changes but kept on hitting and heading the ball straight at Willington keeper Craig Hannant.

They eventually broke the deadlock in the 34th minute when a corner was headed back across the box by Jonathon Swift to Nicholas Marley who in turn headed it towards goal, with captain Max Stoker able to turn and hook it in as he fell to the ground.

In the first half, Willington’s main attacking threat was posed by left back Scott Oldfield, but they seemed to run out of ideas as soon as they got in or near the Esh Winning box.  The home side seemed fortunate not to concede a penalty in the 57th minute when Esh No. 10 Callum Boakes appeared to be brought down in the area by Lewis Milner.  Referee Matthew Carroll waved play on and then his somewhat controversial decision was rendered irrelevant as his assistant waved Boakes offside.

As an attacking force, Willington never really got going.

Their best chances were through balls up Dean Thexton, but they were just over-hit by a yard or two.  Just as it looked as though the points were going Esh Winning’s way, another ball up to Thexton was hit just right and, for the first time, he was able to run behind the back four and get to the ball ahead of Esh keeper Tom Orton before poking it past the No. 1 and into the net.

It was a point salvaged by Willington in the third minute of added time and two lost in dramatic fashion by Esh Winning.

The photos – the minute’s applause and noise before kick-off, the front page of last night’s programme, and the T-shirt worn by the Willington players before the start of the game.

Mike Snowdon