In preparation for the 2012 London Olympic Games, Gabon were looking around for a warm-up friendly when they arrived in the North-East of England.

Both Newcastle and their Under-21’s squad were busy in the run up to the tournament and it was Heaton Stannington who were next on the invite list.

Heaton Stan, who had just won the Pin Point Recruitment Northern Alliance League Premier Division, had to pull together a team full of factory workers.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, then of Saint-Étienne, was one of the members of the Gabon squad who put on their boots to play at Grounsell Park.

The ground sits in a small suburb on the outskirts of Newcastle, with its main attractions being a chippy, a Chinese takeaway, and an ATS Garage.

Before the game, Aubameyang had left his football boots on the other side of the city which forced Geoff Walker, the assistant manager of Heaton Stannington, to go with the striker back to collect them.

Upon collecting his boots, they were travelling back to Grounsell Park when one of the coaches of the Gabon team asked Walker to turn back around.

Gabon wanted to play with the balls they were going to be using in the Olympics, and they had left the bag of balls in the same place where Aubameyang’s boots were found.

Thankfully, after two attempts, they were back and ready to play… Gabon vs Heaton Stannington.

Aubameyang scored two goals and was withdrawn at half-time after the gulf in quality began to look pretty evident.

However, it was said that Heaton Stan held their own in the second half with a solid performance.

Despite losing 4-0, fans cheered their team on until the final whistle and were greeted by the Gabon players who signed autographs for the young spectators.

The game is still etched into the history of Heaton Stannington with a signed Gabon shirt hanging on the walls of Grounsell Park.

Gabon would later go on to be knocked out of the Olympics in the group stages following a defeat to Mexico and stalemates with South Korea and Switzerland.

However, if there was an award for the most random pre-season friendly, this match would be well up there.

Read more non-league tales from the past below: