Hebburn and Hell

It should have been the best of days. A bumper crowd. An impressive victory over highly-rated opposition. A performance that underlined why Hebburn Town are rated among the favourites in this year’s FA Vase.

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A break in play late in the game as a flare lands on the pitch.

Instead, it ended with the wail of police sirens and bitter recriminations on social media following reports of clashes between rival fans after a 4-0 win against City of Liverpool. Driving away from Hebburn after the game, police vehicles heading in the opposite direction at high speed were a depressingly regular sight. Online, claim and counter-claim alleged that teenagers were attacked by adults, that bottles were thrown and chants mocking the Hillsborough dead got an airing. Angry Hebburn fans insisted that an adult Liverpool supporter had punched a child and complained about pro-IRA chants directed at a home fan in a Rangers top. It all added up to a sad end to what could have been a memorable day for Hebburn.

third goal cellie
James Fairley celebrates his long-range goal.

The Hornets had talked up this first-round clash since the Vase draw was made. City of Liverpool, a fan-owned club looking to emulate FC United of Manchester’s rise up from the North West Counties League to the upper reaches of the non-league game, are a big club at this level. Unfortunately, somewhere, the hype got out of hand. In the aftermath of game and the reported trouble, many COL fans complained that Hebburn had stoked up rivalry between the two clubs, creating a beef that simply didn’t exist. That seems hard to justify: the hosts were excited about the tie but hardly disrespectful of the opposition.

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Unfortunately, within that large crowd there was a group eager to make a name for themselves. The signs were visible before kick-off: local lads greeted the arrival of the supporters’ bus with a volley of abuse, and fists flew in a brief skirmish as away fans moved to the terrace behind one of the goals. The ‘banter’ was a dismal 80s throwback – all Brookside and dole wallah digs on one side, little evidence of much-vaunted Scouse wit on the other. With no segregation enforced it was all too easy for trouble to flare again after the game.

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The idiots wrecked a day that would otherwise have been a grand announcement of Hebburn’s rebirth. Close to extinction a couple of years ago, the Hornets reclaimed their buzz. Drumming up local support, winning promotion last season and – thanks to some summer investment – building a team capable of challenging in Northern League Division One, things were on the up. The Victoria Road ground, now renamed the Energy Check Stadium, has been spruced up: the once-faded clubhouse looks smart again.

penalty save
Hebburn goalie Andrew Jennison saves a late penalty.

City of Liverpool were expected to be a test on the field. Unbeaten in the North Western Counties League, they came with a big support and a big reputation. For the first 15 minutes or so, they looked capable of justifying that but two quick goals midway through the first half put Hebburn on top. The highlight of the game arrived early in the second half when James Fairley pounced on a mishit clearance from the visiting goalie to score from close to the halfway line. Everything went right for the home team. COL missed a penalty and had a man sent off, veteran forward Paul Chow, a serial Vase winner at Whitley Bay, came off the bench to complete the scoring late on. Joyful home fans spilling onto the pitch to celebrate with him should have been the over-riding memory of the day … but the after-match antics spoiled it.

Game details

Hebburn Sports Ground, Hebburn, England

FA Vase First Round, Oct. 13, 2018

Hebburn Town 4 (Armstrong, Storey, Fairley, Chow) City of Liverpool 0

Att: 1,302

On Sunday, Hebburn Town released a statement about the incident after the game.

 

On Sunday, Hebburn Town released a statement about the incident after the game.

3 thoughts on “Hebburn and Hell

  1. Saw this on Facebook this morning. Terrible stuff. I used to be a regular at Northern League games including Hebburn before I moved away. A big part of the attraction was the camaraderie throughout the league. It was always so homely and friendly everywhere. What has happened?

    Like

  2. Great write up of a great day spoiled by a few knackers who have stolen the headlines. A really dominant display by the home team who genuinely looked the part and kept a decent team well under control for most of the game.

    Like

  3. When City of Liverpool came to Stockton Town last year the fans were brilliant ,not trouble at all ,it was quite q great atmosphere ,and much ale was drunk in the club as well ,

    Like

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