FOLLOWING the decision to disband the Wearside Combination League after 70 years, Silksworth CW secretary Peter Smith has called on fans to kick the habit of watching televised football and return to the live game.
Ahead of his team’s Wearside League fixture at Harton and Westoe CW tomorrow, he said: “All over Sunderland, pubs and clubs are full of people watching free televised games.
Last Saturday, we only had eight people in the ground for an attractive match against Richmond TownPeter Smith
“Last Saturday, we only had eight people in the ground for an attractive match against Richmond Town.
“Three spectators were there because a family member was playing and another visitor was an ex-player watching his old team.
“So all in all, from a former colliery village with a population of over 10,000, we only had four spectators who didn’t have an involvement with the club.
“Obviously, this is not a problem unique to Silksworth, but indicative of today’s game.
“We have a side in the top eight and into the final of the Durham County FA Trophy yet we cannot attract a double figure attendance.”
Leading scorer Liam Gill is again ruled out at Harton, but the good news is that his injury is muscle damage and not a ligament problem as first thought.
Also absent tomorrow are Rob Hall, Leon Symonds, Adam Storey and James Heptinstall, but Mark Robinson and Michael Brunning return to the squad.
Mathew Bray, who is from Liverpool and studying at Sunderland University, is set for another run-out.
Ashbrooke Belford House, who share Recreation Park with Silksworth CW, will be hoping for a bigger than usual turnout against Wolviston.
Mark Green, Mattie Thompson, Callum Charlton and David Scott come into contention, but work commitments sideline Paul Grainger while David Christie and Lee Andrews are on the injured list.
Wolviston moved off the bottom last week and their chances of extending a mini unbeaten sequence are enhanced with the inclusion of club captain Shaun Gregory and Ryan Hebb.
Dave Johnson, though, is again out. He broke down in the pre-match warm-up last Saturday when he was hoping to make a come back from injury.
At Ford Quarry, Sunderland West End host Boldon CA whose manager Jason Jones expects keeper Chris Smith to feature. Kris Frater, meanwhile, has joined Jarrow.
Bottom club Annfield Plain are at Leam Rangers, who are three places and seven points better off.
Leam have Laurent Sanson back from suspension, while midfielders Joe Adams and Andy Townsend are set to return.
Hartlepool add fit-again Luke Taylor to their squad for the visit of Jarrow, while Seaton Carew, who have been in freefall for several weeks and are now third from the basement, cannot name injured quartet Ash Turnbull, Anthony Davies, Joe Bell or Rhys Tapner at home to Whitehaven.
Redcar Athletic, with ambitions of joining the Ebac Northern League, face a difficult task at Cleator Moor Celtic who are fourth, three points ahead of the Seasiders, who miss regular goalkeeper Matthew Berry with a hand injury.
Either recent signing David Cochrane or reserve keeper Liam Moores will deputise.
Easington Colliery will be fighting for a place in the Wearside League Cup final when they take on Richmond Town at Welfare Park.
Manager Paul Frame and his assistant Craig Parkinson have re-signed Adam Drysdale from Boldon CA and he’ll be involved at some stage.
However, David Paul could be out for up to six weeks with a knee injury and also absent tomorrow is Ian Redman. Fortunately, Brett Gillatt, Kevin Humble and Stephen Wright are available.
Richmond Town definitely go without Michael Ingram and Michael Elliott and have a major doubt surrounding the fitness of key player Mark Sims. They are so keen for him to play that they will leave a decision until the very last minute.
In the other semi-final, Stockton Town will be aiming to see off Spennymoor Town Reserves and reach the final of all three domestic competitions.
They are boosted by the inclusion of James Ward and David Dowd, while Moors’ only absentee is goalkeeper David Atkinson.