Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pre season friendlies can throw up a variety of strange match ups against teams we never thought we’d ever be playing against. It’s also taken the Fife travelling support to a number of great places, made for some fantastic weekends away and seen us make some good friends along the way.

Of course it’s meant that a lot of us now follow the results of several teams across the UK, or at least taking a passing interest in them. It makes Jeff Stelling’s reading of certain results all that more interesting when you’re stuck at home on a gameless Saturday, which seems to be most of them this year.

One such team that I know a few of us watch out for is Durham City. Having played them twice in pre-season games in recent years, and had great hospitality from them and their fans in the process, it’s been horrible to see the car crash of a season that they’ve had. If you thought we’d been having a tough run of it at Bayview then it’s nothing compared with what their fans have been suffering.

It had all started so promisingly, back to back Championships saw them eagerly take their place in the Unibond Premier Division. Their dreams of continuing their rise up the English non league ladder soon turned into a nightmare though.

Twenty eight league defeats in a row, which had seen them score just 16 goals whilst conceding 137 in the process, saw them well adrift at the bottom of the Division. 29 points adrift to be precise.

Their worst defeat has been a 10-0 drubbing away to Boston United in January, but the season has also seen them concede eight goals once and seven goals on seven occasions, including an incredible four league matches in a row! That four match period at the end of October and through November saw them with a record of played four, lost four, goals for 3, goals against 28. That has to be some kind of record in any form of pro or semi pro football in the UK and one you maybe would wish on your worst enemy but not on Durham.

When your team is down and at it’s lowest ebb, you’d think there’s not a lot of worse things that could happen to them. Wrong! Durham were deducted six points for fielding a suspended player under a false name. A deduction that saw them going into last weekend’s games with a points total of minus six.

Like the Fife though, Durham seemed to have turned a corner in their season in recent matches. It only took them until the start of March! City recorded their first win of the season on March 13th, upsetting FC United of Manchester, with a 2-1 away win thanks to a last minute penalty save.

Durham were at it again three days later, defeating Whitby Town 4-3 and managing to lift themselves up to a grand total of zero points for the season!

The fightback had begun! However, like East Fife's false dawn a few games ago, it didn't last long and it was soon back to the same old, same old last weekend when they crashed 5-0 to play-off hopefuls, and another one of East Fife's recent pre-season opponents, Kendal Town.

Obviously losing that close 3-2 game against the Fife in monsoon conditions back in July has been hard for the Durham lads to recover from. When we’re moaning about another defeat for the Fife though this season, just remember, it could be worse and you could be a Durham fan.

To those who have stuck it out with Durham this season, and there's only a few hundred, well, that's what you call loyalty to your team. Things can only get better for them next season - surely.

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