Guisborough Town 0 - 1 Dunston
Perhaps a true mark of fame is when you can refer to yourself by just one name and still be almost universally known. In the world of music we have Adele, Beyonce, Cher, Sting, Bono and Enya. In showbiz we have Oprah. In football, we have Gazza. Ten years on from Paul Gascoigne’s powers in the game had faded away, he is still remembered as a great English talent. His high points – FA Cup semi-final free-kicks and world cup man of the match performances – were also sprinkled with plenty of lows. The boy from Dunston made Wembley his second home. We can only wonder whether his thoughts will be with his home town club when Dunston themselves grace Wembley on the 13th May against their fellow Northern League rivals West Auckland. The final is unpredictable. So is Gazza. I wouldn’t even back against him turning up.
FA Vase fever is sweeping Dunston. But before Dunston can even think of Wembley, the league campaign has not finished and they were looking to add a League title to a memorable season. These hopes were becoming slimmer by the game, but the Tynesiders had to win this evening to maintain their challenge.
By the time Dunston play Spennymoor on Monday 30th April, they will have played twelve times in a month. These are men who no doubt have jobs as plumbers, teachers, builders and lorry drivers and rush from one shift to another game and back to another shift again. There is nothing like winning though to ease the stiffness in your legs and to drive you on to make the last gasp tackle that a losing side never seem to reach.
The game tonight was not especially memorable. It won’t go down as a classic, despite spells where some good football was played. Whether Dunston remember it as a stepping stone on the pathway to a memorable league title remains to be seen. This was also a game of few chances, with Dunston’s winner coming on the half hour mark as the impressive Galbraith – a rangy player who looked to get forward from his left full-back position at every opportunity – lashed the ball home from close range.
Aside from this, chances were few and far between. As the game wore on, the home side’s passing game began to stretch Dunston, but the two near misses for Guisborough were where players could not quite get on the end of good balls into the box. If Dunston’s Bulford could have been coerced into swapping the blue of Dunston for the red of Guisborough at half-time, a goal may have been conjured.
They say that the building blocks of a good side is the spine of the team. Dunston’s spine is titanium strength; two strong centre halves and a prolific centre forward in Bulford. Nicknamed ‘Bully’, he had a quiet night but was always full of running. When a chance did duly arrive, Bully turned in the box to meet a well directed flick on but saw his shot narrowly miss the target.
When Dunston do step out at Wembley, I’m sure that every player will feel a shiver reverberate down their spines as they soak in a Northern league atmosphere at the home of football. This is what boyhood dreams are made of. Walking across the hallowed turf can be second only to the elation of ascending the 107 steps to hold aloft the trophy.
Of course, the day is not just for the players. The day is just as much for the marvellous people who beaver away behind the scenes to prepare the club for every game and to keep things ticking over on a daily basis. From what I saw tonight, Dunston have these people in abundance. It was a genuine pleasure to speak to them as I walked around the ground. They were good humoured, friendly and generous in their praise of the passing football that Guisborough always look to play. How I wish that this passing game could grace Wembley. Like millions of others, tonight’s dreams may be of just that.
The curtain is almost down now on a pleasing season back in the First Division for Guisborough Football Club. Saturday sees us travel to Bishop Auckland, a club steeped in history. Bishop Auckland know all about Wembley. They won the FA Amateur Cup 10 times. The old is fused with the new now that they occupy their new stadium – Heritage Park – on the edge of the town. Their new ground happens to hold Manchester United’s former floodlights. It’s a shame that we’re not there for a midweek fixture. It would have been the final bright spot in a season with plenty of highlights.