Footy fans and fancy dress – it’s a long-term relationship. So, on the weekend before Christmas, it was not entirely surprising to arrive at Marske United’s clubhouse and find a squadron of Santas sitting around a table. All part of the local football-supporting community in this Cleveland village; today was ‘Santa Stomp’ day and members of the supporters’ club who turned up without red hat or white beard were politely encouraged to get appropriately attired. Much of the talk was of the post-game pub crawl.
For most, the post-match drink-up was a source of anticipation, for one, alarmed that his trousers had fallen down three times already, it was a cause of mild concern. On the field, meanwhile, visiting West Allotment Celtic were caught with their pants down three times in the first 15 minutes as clinical finishing – and some undistinguished defending – put the result of the game beyond doubt early.
That left the Chicken Run Collective and the Tin Shed Titans to focus on enjoying their afternoon, buoyed further by the return of popular local lad Craig Gott to United’s midfield. Having left Spennymoor for personal reasons during the week, he got a run off the bench in the second half as Marske stretched their lead to 5-0.
And it was easy to see why he was keen to come back to Mount Pleasant. It might not be the most luxurious ground in the Northern League and, although Gotty captained them to the Northern League title this season, the current team isn’t quite at the same level just now. But the club fully lived up to the oft-uttered platitude about “a really friendly group of people”. With the home crowd in party mood, it was a pleasure to enjoy a game in a supportive, amicable atmosphere, a great example of what the non-league game is all about.
On the field, the action was a bit too one-sided to be fully absorbing. Celtic tried hard and arguably shaded the opening exchanges, but conceded from Marske’s first attack in the seventh minute. It didn’t improve as the visiting defence proved all too static. Aaron Ramsbottom, Danny Earl and Nathan Mulligan did the damage with three goals in eight minutes and once Celtic missed a penalty midway through the half there was no way back. Goalie Robert Dean pulled off three saves in quick succession to deny West Allotment a first-half lifeline. The second half saw further goals for Ramsbottom and Earl to wrap up a comfortable win. It was truly the time when every Santa had a ball.
Mount Pleasant, Marske-by-the-Sea, England
Dec 17, 2016. Northern League Division 1
Marske Utd 5 (Ramsbottom 2, Earl 2, Mulligan) West Allotment Celtic 0