Saturday 14th August
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Hall Road Rangers 2 Newcastle Benfield 2
Attendance: 56 (Head count)
Programme: They didn't bother doing one!
Tea hut purchase: Cheeseburger £2.30p, Tea in a mug 80p
Weather: Nice and sunny but not too hot, just right
Parking: In a nearby cul de sac, easy enough getaway
The match shed made the longish trek over to Humberside for a classy looking cup tie at Dene Park, the tidy little home of Northern Counties East side Hall Road Rangers. The stadium resides just off a roundabout on the main road between Beverley and Hull. Apart from a nearby garage and a few houses its in the middle of nowhere. I'd dropped the wife off in Beverley to do a bit of shopping, in the fading shadow of the glorious Minster the town looked resplendent in the lovely August sunshine, what a fine day for FA Cup football. I was at the ground a bit too early so I made my way into the club bar and settled down with a pint to watch Spurs batter Oilchester City (batter them they did but unfortunately they couldn't score). Already I could hear a few Geordie accents in the background, doubtless members of the Benfield Army down from the Toon dreaming of glory. Benfield are from the Northern League and they already have a couple of impressive wins under their belts this season.The pint of ale had given me an appetite, the social club set up at Dene Park is quite impressive, they also have a snooker room and function suite alongside the big screen tv in the main bar, however, most impressive of all is their very own in-house snack bar come tea hut. I was drawn towards it like a carpet tack to a very powerful magnet. I couldn't wait to get my grub-money out. I ordered a cheeseburger and while it sizzled in the background I admired the mountain of bread rolls stacked up on the table, they certainly had enough stock, how many people where they expecting today? As soon as I was handed my burger, just before I could get it in my mouth I was unexpectedly interrupted by a large horde of wedding guests. They were on their way to the function room but it left me with a hot burger and runny tomato sauce smack in the middle of all these people in big dresses and economy purchased suits. I fought my way to the entrance, fortunately my burger was still intact.The next event of the afternoon was the great programme fiasco, never have I seen such glum faces as those of a small group of hoppers gathered just inside the entrance gate of the ground. I gave a smartly dressed gent in blazer and tie my 5 quid admission and asked him for a programme, he replied that they didn't have any programmes at the moment (it was now 2-45pm) but they were trying to 'rustle' some up? A ground hopper in a carcoat stood just behind him was shaking his head in dismay, he looked like he was about to cry. Ten minutes later I went back and asked if the programmes had turned up, the gent in the blazer said they were just being stapled together. Another hopper with a Tesco's plastic bag (probably brought for the programme) blurted out that it just wasn't good enough, people expect a programme on entrance. I went back twice more before half time, still no joy, apparently the editor was now making some last minute changes to the programme in his office. It looked like the frenzied hoppers were planning a lynching. I was told I would be given a programme in the second half but it didn't happen, the hoppers were still gathered near the editors office when full time arrived, as I passed them I'm sure one of them had a rag soaked in petrol. No programme for me then, dont know if the hoppers hung around and eventually succeeded in beating one out of the officials but it was a bit of a let down to say the least.Anyway, I did find a second tea hut to cheer me up, I thought they just had one in the clubhouse, they also have one in the ground! I got a nice cup of tea in a real mug. Have to say I had expected a bit more of a crowd for such a decent looking fixture, my head count came out at 56 and about 30 of those were probably down from Newcastle. The game itself was dramatically opened by the visitors who shot into a quick 2-0 lead thanks to some lethal finishing, they looked red hot on the break. Rangers couldn't live with them in that opening quarter. One or two murmurs of defeatist patter could be heard from the locals but Rangers slowly began a gallant fight to force themselves back into the match. This resulted in them having the lions share of possession, creating decent chances and importantly, getting a lot tighter at the back.They got one back before half time and levelled the scores with a fantastic 'over-the-wall' free kick with around 15 minutes left. It had been a competitive game throughout but I was annoyed at the amount of continual diving, fouling and moaning from both sets of players, something you dont see too often in non-league football, at least not to this degree, lets hope it was a one off. It certainly made it difficult for the young referee and his assistants, he must have booked nearly everybody on the pitch by the end, no wonder Hall Park Rangers finished with 10 men. Not good. I reckon a draw was the right result but I feel what could have been a truly great game was spoiled a little by the negative antics of the players, still enjoyed my visit though, shame I didn't get that programme.