They were ‘Livin’ la vida Loca’ in Northallerton as the team progressed in the Ernest Armstrong Cup. Two goals from home debutant Nicky Martin helped Town to a 4-0 win over Ryton & Crawcrook, and had the home fans singing the hits of Latino pop sensation and near namesake Ricky Martin in tribute. Samba soccer, indeed.
Martin (the footballing one) isn’t exactly a typical number nine – short and nippy, more poacher than battering ram – but he’s showing signs of a profitable partnership with his rangier strike partner Mark Sims. The two combined for Sims to make it 2-0 after the best move of the first half, turning the away defence ‘upside, inside out’ as Senor Martin might have it. The footballing Martin, recently arrived from troubled Norton & Stockton Ancients, looks to have found a happy new home.
Ricky Martin wasn’t the only celeb getting a nod from the Northallerton massive; fans in North Yorkshire clearly aren’t shy of a pop culture reference. The club programme includes a verse from the Bible among its introductory remarks and there’s more Biblical rhetoric to greet an early corner. It’s probably true that a few lines from Ezekiel 25:17 owe more inspiration to Pulp Fiction than the good book; either way, little vengeance was laid upon anyone from that particular set piece. Later a linesman was outed as a Buster Bloodvessel lookalike by a fan of chirpy Ska legends Bad Manners, prompting a chorus of ‘Lip up fatty’ in response to a decision against the home team.
There weren’t too many of those from the officials. Northallerton won a second-half penalty, firmly dispatched by skipper Stuart Owen, and saw Ryton reduced to nine men following some pushing and shoving after the spot kick was awarded and a later – in several senses – tackle. The visiting bench was predictably unimpressed with the second decision: “If that’s your standard for a red card, you’ll be sending someone off every week referee,” came the protest after the final whistle.
Martin shimmied through the depleted defence once again to add a fourth, delighting a club that sets great store by the ‘Ernie’. Beaten finalists last year, Northallerton have also won it twice. With promotion prospects looking slim before the Christmas decorations even went up, this is the cup that offers the best chance of silverware this time around.
Ainderby Road, Northallerton, England
Ernest Armstrong Cup Second Round, Dec. 7 2016
Northallerton Town 4 (Martin 2, Sims, Owen) Ryton & Crawcrook Albion 0