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2002-03 Reserve review 
First appeared in "True Faith" May 2003

It's highly appropriate that former toon hero Kevin Keegan was one of almost 1,500 people who endured the final Newcastle reserve game of the season, at the Kingston Park ground of the Falcons rugby side.

After all it was he who decreed that our reserve side should be scrapped in 1996, rather than churn up the St.James' Park pitch or decamp to a sub-standard alternative venue.

And seven years on, KK had a grandstand view of a second string match between his former and present clubs that backed up his previous stance.

Manchester City ran out 2-1 winners thanks to a dodgy offside non-decision in the dying seconds, but in truth the scoreline was as academic as the match was unwatchable.

Since the last time we were banished to the northern fringes of the city, spectator facilities at Kingston Park have improved immeasurably. However the same cannot be said for the playing conditions.

Where the major factor was often near gale-force strength winds gusting down the pitch, the addition of a covered stand at one end has helped to reduce this natural hindrance to football.

But the actual playing surface has declined to such an extent that opposition sides are now warned of the consequences of playing on it, and advised not to risk any important squad members - a ridiculous situation.

Put simply, this isn't a football pitch and bears more resemblance to an extended section of runway from the nearby airport. Compacted by the accumulated bulk of a season's worth of rugby players, we may as well be putting down coats on the car park next door and playing shirts v skins.

Be it the delicate easy-damaged flower that is Carl Cort or the youthful promise of Marc Walton, spending the week training on the manicured lawns of Darsley Park then swapping it for ninety minutes of purgatory at Kingston Park is simply ludicrious.

Like Keegan, Sir Bobby might as well wrap the reserves in, rather than perpetuate what was folly at Gateshead Stadium in the first part of the season and farce at Kingston Park latterly.

Rugby and it's round ball rival have never mixed and Newcastle continue to prove this at the expense of players and supporters alike. Get it sorted lads, or pack in.


Page last updated 24 June, 2009