Football's back – but dale teams are hit by Tier 3 travel ban
By Stuart Laundy - Senior Reporter
LOCAL league football returned at the weekend – but the latest Government Covid-19 restrictions have badly hit the dale’s teams.
Although the entire North East is covered by Tier 3 regulations, the region is split into two areas by the Government – that made up of County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland and the so-called Tees Valley Combined Authority which covers Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland.
Government regulations state that there should be no travel outside of or between Tier 3 areas.
So while the dale’s teams could play matches in Berwick-upon-Tweed, some 110 miles away from Barnard Castle, they are banned from lining up against teams from Darlington.
Similarly, players living in Darlington or other Tees Valley areas, who turn out for teams in the dale, are banned from crossing the boundary for footballing purposes.
This latter ruling has hit Gainford Cross Keys particularly hard.
Nevertheless, games were played in the Crook and District League on Saturday and the Wear Valley Sunday League.
On Saturday, Evenwood Town welcomed Ferryhill Town for a Weardale Cup tie.
It was an entertaining affair with chances aplenty created by both sides.
Evenwood, in particular, squandered a number of good opportunities in the first 45 minutes, while Ferryhill were always threatening on the break, keeping home keeper Mark Tyrie on his toes.
In the end, Evenwood prevailed 2-0, thanks to goals from strikers Liam Blighe and Gareth McMahon.
Evenwood are due back in action this Saturday with a league match against Willington WMC.
Glaxo Rangers’ match at Darlington Deacon has been postponed due to the new regulations banning travel from Teesdale to Darlington.
Bowes have no game scheduled.
On Sunday, with Gainford’s game postponed due to the travel restrictions, Toft Hill flew the flag for the dale with a 5-1 second division league win at home to Newton Aycliffe Roundhouse.
Goals came from Jack Steel, Matthew Tyrie, Simon Rathbone, Anthony Bowes and Josh Robinson.
Division 1: BA Pavilion Jrs 1, Shildon Institute 2.
Division 2: BH Blues 4, Leeholme 1; North Bitchburn Red Lion 2, Spennymoor Ash Tree 7.
Heart Foundation Cup round 1: Dunston Holmeside 1, Coundon WMC 3.
Round 2: Chester-le-St Hilda Park 0, Witton Park 4.
All games in the Darlington Sunday Morning Invitation League were postponed and due to the travel regulations, Middleton Wanderers and Staindrop Wheatsheaf are unlikely to see much action in the coming weeks.