Match result, Gateshead won 2-0.
The build up to this game has been immense, as it was the last official league game of the season it was always going to be a big game to finish the season against Cambridge but there was more riding on it than would have been expected at the beginning of the campaign.
Gateshead only needed 1 point to secure their play off place but winning meant that they could potentially finish the season in 3rd place. Considering when Gary Mills took over as manager Gateshead were 4th bottom and as all of the other results yesterday went in Gateshead’s favour they did end up in 3rd place.
However, going back a couple of weeks I had been to the last few Chester-le-Street Town FC matches and at the last home game I did take a team photo of the lads. They didn’t end the season as well as I thought they might have done but hopefully next season they can improve and hopefully end up in top 6 of Northern League 2.
The one thing that the club lacks is a good following but after speaking to some friends that don’t have access to the internet they suggested that maybe the club should go a bit old school. By this I mean putting posters up in shop windows/pubs with match fixtures for the season as otherwise people don’t know when they will be playing. As this is my home town team I always want to try and do my best to help especially as it is in an unofficial capacity. This is one of the reasons that I go and take photos at the games that I am able to attend. I will be approaching the club before next season offering them the use of some of my photos to help them advertise the club and fixtures.
Back to the Gateshead game, I was looking forward to the match for a few reasons. I would get to see and hopefully talk to Ryan Donaldson as he became a friend of mine last season when I started my sports photography, there was expected to be a large crowd especially after the previous home game and to top all of that it was a very important game.
As the turnstiles were to open at 3.45pm I made sure that I was there before then, I arrived at the stadium at around 3.20pm and my intention was to go out the front of the stadium to get some photos of the fans arriving. I was impressed by the queue of people before the turnstiles were even officially opened, then again it may have been the thought of getting some early beers in that encouraged an early turn out. In total I went out the front twice and on the second time there was a youth football team over from Larne in Northern Ireland that were looking forward to seeing the game.
The time waiting for kick off just seemed to go on for ever, in fact myself and a few others started to joke on that it was still only 1 hour to go and then just 30 minutes. There was a bit of media expected at the game amongst them was a camera from the Late Kick Off program, they did an interview with Graham Wood before the match and then for both halves they were positioned just behind where I was at either end of the pitch. Even though BT Sport haven’t bothered with a single league match at Gateshead it was at least good to see the local sports TV program at the game.
The match itself was far better than some recent ones although the first 10 minutes Cambridge dominated the play and I was waiting for some of the action to come towards me and my camera as we were ready. After those 10 minutes though Gateshead really pressed hard and were very impressive, I think that they could have had more shots than they took. That was almost proved when Gateshead scored because it wasn’t a shot just a very well placed cross in fact at one point when the ball was in flight I thought it was going to hit me (or get close to me) as it was perfectly in line for that. I also didn’t take a photo of the cross due to Colin Larkin’s position and a lot of goal net in the way however, I did get a photo of the emergency signind goal keeper picking the ball out of the back of the goal.
One thing that I made sure I did was to get a photo of the entire Tyne & Wear stand so that it showed just how full it was. I wasn’t able to take it on my camera with the lens I had so I had to use my Galaxy S4 phone and I although I couldn’t fully check it in time I did upload it to Facebook so that others could see how impressive the stand looked. The official count for fans in attendance was 2,916, I think that they can beat this when Grimsby come up for the home leg of the playoffs on Sunday 4th May.
The second half was intense from where I was sitting I could see Adam Bartlett pulling off quite a few impressive saves make a further case for himself to be the leagues best goalkeeper. Gateshead didn’t stop and kept pressing with quite a few of the players taking quite a few shots. It was Rob Ramshaw that sealed the win in the 81st minute and as if the fans needed any further reason to sing this certainly gave them that little bit extra reasoning.
From talking to the Heed fans and also reading on the Heed Army forum I know how important it is for them to get back into the Football League and I truly hope that they do achieve this, I certainly wouldn’t mind a trip to Wembley to se them accomplish it.
After the final whistle had gone I went onto the pitch (sorry Simon) to get some extra close photos of the players, as the Cambridge players were coming off I managed to finally have a chat with Ryan Donaldson. He said that it was a great day and result and I reckon that he would have loved to be still wearing a Heed shirt even if it was just for yesterday. When I watched him play though he certainly did not seem to be the same player that I watched last season in fact he was playing a different role. At Gateshead he was an attacking midfielder who scored a good amount of goals but yesterday it seemed that he was a holding midfield player.
Below are a couple of photos that I took prior to the presentations being made in the corporate suite one of which has the legendary Peter Grant in it.
Equipment used: Nikon D7000, Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 lens, velbon monopod, Peli 1510