When I arrived at Winterton Rangers’ West Street ground to report on Scarborough Athletic’s game on Saturday, I was quite surprised to find that it was in the middle of a village.
It got me to thinking about the difference in the grounds that you now visit, as opposed to the ones that you used to venture to not so long ago when Boro were playing in slightly more salubrious surroundings.
What made things worse was that the team from the small North Lincolnshire village ended up beating the reincarnation of the club that not so many years ago were pushing Chelsea’s millionaires all the way.
It sometimes does not bear thinking about how far Scarborough’s premier football team has fallen.
Last week I spent some time searching through the Evening News archives for pictures of former players Chris Senior and Steve Baker for a couple of pieces I was writing.
In the process, I discovered photographs from games from the not too distant past when Boro, in their former guise, were playing against and beating teams who are now flying high well up the Football League ladder.
Less than 10 years ago, a Mohammed Sillah goal saw Boro to a 1-0 win over Doncaster Rovers on their way to a seventh placed finish in the Football Conference. Doncaster have been playing Championship football since 2008.
Other photos reminded me that not so long ago, Boro were playing out a six-goal thriller with Stevenage at the McCain Stadium and beating Yeovil Town with a little help from Bimbo Fatokun.
In 2004/05 Boro completed a league double over Dagenham & Redbridge and hammered Accrington Stanley 4-0 at home. The club’s last ever Conference game was a 1-1 draw at Exeter City in April 2006.
Stevenage are currently flying high in League One, the same division that Yeovil are now an established team in. Dagenham & Redbridge only got relegated from League One last season and Accrington Stanley have been holding their own in League Two for the last six seasons, reaching the play-offs last year.
The contrast is startling. Stevenage, for example, were rubbing shoulders with and keeping a clean-sheet against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, while Exeter beat the mighty Sheffield Wednesday the weekend before last. By comparison, Boro follow up Saturday’s loss at Winterton with a glamorous home tie with Maltby Main next week.
It is tragic where Boro in their new guise now find themselves. It really wasn’t actually all that long ago that Boro were battling heroically against John Terry, Frank Lampard and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink at the McCain Stadium, but it feels like it was a hundred years ago.
It is bad enough Boro finding themselves in the very lowest echelons of the football pyramid, but the McCain Stadium now amounting to nothing more than a pile of rubble and the club not having a home to call their own just compounds matters.
One of the last games I attended at the McCain Stadium was a 1-0 home defeat to Vauxhall Motors on a horrible wet afternoon in August 2006.
Mark Patterson’s side produced an insipid performance and were bullied out of the game by an overly physical Vauxhall side.
I recall being absolutely gutted to see Boro losing to such poor opposition and playing at what I then percieved as such a bad standard of football.
How I would love for the Seadogs to be back playing anywhere near as high a standard as the heady heights of the Conference North now.
Hopefully, it won’t be too long before Boro are back playing at that level, but just at the moment it isn’t exactly looking like a return is imminent.