Billingham Synthonia 5v2 Romulus FC
FA Carlsberg Vase 3rd round
9th December 2006
Billingham Synthonia,(formerly Billingham Synthetic Ammonia)a great name for a football club,even though they are named after an agricultural fertiliser,one of the main products by the Teesside based company ICI,that has close connections with the club.
The “Synners” were formed in 1923,and played in the Teesside League up until the war,in 1945 they took the place of the disbanded Billingham South in the Northern League,where they have played ever since and been league champions on four occasions.
Central Avenue has been their home since September 1958 after they moved across the road from their second of two grounds based on Belasis Lane,when they made way for landowners ICI to build a new office block.
The Belasis Lane ground has a place in the annals of football history, being the first ground in the North of England, and Billingham Synthonia the first amateur club to stage a match under floodlights, when they took on an RAF side in November 1952,winning a “tight game” 8-4 in front of a crowd of 3,000.This season also marks the 50th anniversary of Northern League floodlit football,the first match being in March 1957 v Ferryhill Athletic.
The main feature of Central Avenue is the mighty 2,000 capacity Cantilever Stand,that stretches along the full length of the ground,which when originally build,was the largest in the country. It consists of two tiers of standing terraces with green crash barriers,and a small seated area on the top tier.
Surrounding the pitch is a dirt track(which I lapped several times in a bid to keep warm) the other three sides of the ground is made up of grass banked standing areas,with three tall floodlight pylons on the opposite side to the main stand.
‘Billy Synners’ opponents in this 3rd round Vase tie were Romulus,the Sutton Coldfield based club who play in the Midland Alliance,the game wasn’t as one sided as the score suggests,and for the first hour the game could have gone either way.
There’s no link to a match report,so my view of the game is…
Romulus started the better side and took an early lead when Richard Adams beat the offside trap to but the Roms a goal up,but the Synners quickly replied with an equaliser from Shaun Hope.
Both sides continued to create chances but it wasn’t until the 40th minute that Billingham gained the advantage,as Dan Hanasin latched on to a long ball,and was brought down by Roms keeper Matthew Harris on the edge of the box,I was expecting a red card for the keeper and a free-kick,the keeper came off worse in the collision,but after receiving treatment to my surprise he received only a yellow card and face a penalty,which was confidently converted by Simon Shaw.
The home side looked set to go in at half time with a slender lead,but an injury time equaliser again from Adams,made it all square at the break and set up an intriguing second half.
I went into the Synners Bar for a warm at half time and was welcomed with the news of Newcastle’s 2-0 lead at Blackburn,which wasn’t popular news amongst my Teesside hosts,especially with the Boro losing 0-1 at the Riverside to Wigan.
The second half started as the first had finished with a goal,as Romulus’s substitute keeper Craig Thomas’s first job was the pick the ball out of the net with a 46th minute strike from Craig Perry,this spurred the visitors on to try and save the tie and after missing several chances it was again ‘Man of the match’ Chris Perry who struck,with an excellent 35 yard strike to kill off any hope of the Roms making progress in this seasons Vase.
Full marks to the visitors they never gave up,and in their quest to stay in the game the home side broke away when Tony Wood beat a couple of defenders,and with a cool finish made it 5-2 in injury time and booked a place in Mondays 4th round draw.