GAME 18 – JARROW ROOFING BCA 5-1 BILLINGHAM SYNTHONIA
Date: Monday, August 25, 2014 – 11am
Venue: Boldon CA Sports Ground
Jarrow Roofing. It’s an odd name for a football club isn’t it?
My initial thought was to write-off Jarrow Roofing as similar to other clubs that have changed their name for a few quid like Total Network Solutions or Red Bull Salzburg.
While the whiff of commercialism still clearly abounds, the Boldon based club are set apart from the others in that they’ve always been called been called Jarrow Roofing, ever since they were formed as an amateur side by Richie McLoughlin, a man who owned and still owns Jarrow Roofing Ltd.
McLoughlin remains the mainstay of the club twenty-seven years later. The excellent match programme produced for this Bank Holiday early kick off indicates that he’s not only the manager of the team, but also the club chairman and treasurer too.
Remarkably, the story also goes that he built the club’s ground at Boldon Community Association Sports Club from scratch.
In the circumstances it feels churlish to criticise a man who has invested so much time into a club, taking it through the local amateur leagues and into Northern League Division 1, arguably the strongest Step 5 league in the English pyramid.
But there’s no getting away from the fact that naming your football club after the company you own is strange, albeit not unknown at the lowest of amateur levels where teams can often reflect the name of a pub.
While the BCA suffix is a nod to the club’s geographical location, I wonder whether McLoughlin gave any thought to a more conventional name back in 1987 or in the years since.
The Roofers look unlikely to rise any further up the pyramid, but if they did their chosen name might become a bit of an issue, even though it’s now well established.
While Jarrow Roofing FC are a living and breathing advert for Jarrow Roofing, I do wonder whether the name is a deterrent for potential supporters, especially when the club isn’t actually based in Jarrow.
The other worry I have is the sustainability of Jarrow Roofing without Richie McLoughlin, both in financial and practical terms. Without sounding morbid, none of us are around forever and having one man at the fulcrum of the club is a risk.
Having said that, there does appear to be a good number of other volunteers around the club; Andy Hudson is vice chairman and he runs a very effective club communications team.
A couple of seasons back I had the pleasure of welcoming Andy to Livingston for a game which he wrote about on his old Gannin’ Away travel blog.
Andy was missing for this game, which was a pity as it would have been nice to have a catch-up pint – there’s a bar at the ground which also serves the adjacent cricket club.
Getting to Boldon was relatively easy, even on a Bank Holiday Monday morning. I’m about halfway through visiting all the grounds in the Northern League and in location terms, the Roofers can be described as ‘low hanging fruit’.
After getting a train from Edinburgh at daft o’clock and enjoying my ritual Spoons breakfast, getting to the ground involved a short Metro trip to Brockley Whins on the South Hylton line and a fifteen minute walk down to Boldon.
I was sharp, so had plenty of time to look around, grabbing a few pictures of Boldon CA’s ground which is adjacent to the Roofers’ home. “The Villa” are in the Wearside League, but their set up looks good – certainly not far off Northern League standards.
It was probably ‘tidier’ than the Roofers’ ground, which is a hotch-potch of different stands and structures, which reflect the homespun nature of the club itself.
There are no fewer than four separate stands – two standing, two seated – which suggests that the ground has been developed piecemeal as the club has risen through the leagues on the field.
I watched most of the game from the main seated stand, which accommodates about 80 people on plastic seats with limited legroom. It offers a decent view of the action, aside from impeding roof supports.
There is a further seated area behind one of the goals which has about 20 seats – my assumption is that this was added purely to meet FA ground grading numbers. No one sat there – neither wonder when there are many better vantage positions around the ground.
I liked the ground. It’s unique and has character. Sure it’s a bit rough around the edges, but that applies to a good number of the places I appreciate north of the border.
The piece-de-resistance has to be Jan’s Tea Bar, no ordinary hot food outlet; it’s more of a social hub, complete with an outdoor seating area. It’s also the club shop with badges and other bits and bobs on sale.
Jan seemed like a real character, the kind of salt-of-the-earth helper that all clubs at this level depend on. As well as providing a fine array of matchday snacks at reasonable prices, she doubled as the PA announcer, enthusiastically bellowing ‘Come on The Roofers’ after reading out the team line-ups in the seconds before kick off.
The Roofers didn’t respond well to her rallying cry when the game got going. They were second best for much of the first half as Synthonia dominated.
Andy Hunter, the Roofers stout keeper made a number of decent saves and the woodwork was struck as the visitors from Teesside searched for the opening goal, which came a minute before half time, Stewart Bath scoring.
The match was a perfect illustration of the proverbial ‘game of two halves’. Billingham should really have been more than a goal to the good at half time, and they were made to pay with a spectacular turnaround in fortunes from the home side.
Gradually the home side battled back into the game with recent signing Peter Leven prompting them intelligently from the midfield holding role. He’s put on a few pounds since his days as a full time pro with Rangers, Kilmarnock, MK Dons and others, but his touch and game intelligence set him apart.
Jon Wright was the other star of the show. A prodigious scorer whom I saw play for Heaton Stannington last season, he helped himself to four of the five Roofers’ second half goals.
Come the end, the win was well deserved. It was Roofing’s first in five attempts but I fancy them to kick on and consolidate their Division 1 status after winning promotion last season.
Synthonia, still winless, will need to patch up some of the defensive frailty that was in evidence in the second half if they are to avoid joining their local rivals Billingham Town in the Northern League’s lower tier next year.
Scoring: 0-1 Bath (44), 1-1 Kirkup (54), 2-1 Wright (74), 3-1 Wright (76), 4-1 Wright (89), 5-1 Wright (90)
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