December 2020

Thanks Gran

Loved the pink rose

Scented bubble bath and

Perfume, shame you forgot I’m your

Grandson

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by Paul Cookson

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Wednesday 2nd December 2020

Mid-Season Friendly

Lakenheath 1

Josh James 25,

Linton Granta 1

A Palmer 53,

Referee:- Ade Copsey Attendance:- 54

Admission:- £2.00. Programme:- NONE

Two teams, each with an iconic ground – Linton Granta, straight out of “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” and The Nest, home of Lakenheath, shoehorned into a derelict quarry with a ghostly galleon of a moon adding slight lustre to the floodlights. The hosts scored in the first half and Granta equalised shortly after the break. Good match, with John Main and Simon Langston.

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Saturday 5th December 2020

Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Premier Division

Camberley Town 1

James Baxter 9,

Badshot Lea 3

Nick Medcraft 28, Adam New 38, Billy Upton 50,

Referee:- Callum Edgecombe Attendance:- 109

Admission:- £7.00 Programme:- NONE

A very enjoyable lunch at “The Crabtree’, maybe half a mile or so from the ground on the main road (Camberley Town’s ground is squeezed into an industrial site between two factories). The ground was pleasant, with a seated stand for, perhaps, 100 souls and cover behind one goal. Met Mark Sumner (he of the uncut hair!) and we watched a fairly regulation victory for the visitors.

I’d just recently got new spectacles and for some reason, I’d agreed to have them turn into ‘sun specs’ when the sun shone (not that I ever wear sun specs!).

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Monday 7th December 2020

It was a chit billy this morning as we set out along the farm track, there was a gloomy, grey shroud across the countryside and the ice covered grass and hedge row sparkled in the desolate landscape. We walked down the hill into Shotley and onwards to Harringworth and The Church of St John The Baptist, with an exquisite cobweb at the gate. The viaduct looms high over the village, whilst all around was waterlogged and barely passable, but the teasel glinted like Christmas lights. The parish church of Seaton All Hallows was barely visible as we entered the village, but later, the stub spire of St Andrews was more easily seen on the entry to Lyddington where a japonica bush with a harvest of quince, blossomed by the green. The road to Gretton showed recent signs of flooding and the weir was pretty high, but the ice was fast disappearing and the ground had lost its metallic crunch as we arrived back in the village. With Alison Merricks and Norma Jarvis, five stiles and 11.9 miles.

Harringworth Parish Church

A silvery web at the gateway to Harringworth Parish Church

Heavy flooding in The Welland Valley

Frozen Teasels

Seaton Parish Church hides in the gloom

Lyddington Parish Church

Japonica with a harvest of quince

Gretton Weir

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Tuesday 8th December 2020

Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League Premier Division

FC Clacton 2

Kevin Coyle 48, Mekhi McKenzie 54,

Walsham-le-Willows 2

Matt Collins 26, 82,

Referee:- Stephen Tymms. Attendance:- 84

Admission:- OMGDS £4.00 (£7). Programme:- £1.20

On a very cold evening with the frost silvering the grass at Austin Park, these two teams played out an entertaining encounter and a draw was a fair result. The visitors led at the interval, but were behind for most of the second half after two early second half strikes by the hosts. They drew level with a goal seven minutes from time. Quaint ground with small amounts of cover on three sides and seating for maybe a hundred spectators. With John Main.

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Wednesday 9th December 2020

Uhlsports United Counties League Premier Division

Northampton ON Cheneks 2

Matty Reek 6, Lewis Irwin 55,

Quorn 3

Deaghan O’Hare 19, Stephen Hart 49, 69,

Referee:- Stuart Lathan. Attendance:- 73

Admission:- OMGDS £4.00 (£6). Programme:- £1.00

Not quite so cold as last night, but the difference was negligible! ON’s ground is really only two sided with the other two sides a part of the cricket field and the two covered areas are seriously hampered by the dug-outs which restrict vision. Tonight, they were hunted down by a superior Quorn team, but never gave up and a goal always seemed likely against Quorn’s porous defence, and the hosts helped themselves to two!

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Thursday 10th December 2020

Graeme Askham passed away last night after a long battle with illness.He was a very keen football enthusiast, meticulously recording every aspect of each contest. He loved his games, trips and hops, enjoying a wide circle of friends and acquaintances through the matches he attended.He leaves behind, his wife, Rose, and three daughters.He will be very sadly missed.

  • Joanna Baroudi RIP, condolences to his family, friends and all his groundhopping family 
  • Peter Evans RIP Graham 
  • Robyn Reade He was a lovely lovely man. So sorry Eddie. May he rest in peace.
  • John Main Such a shock to hear this, this morning Eddie . RIP Graeme Chris Bedford Really sad news Eddie. He was always a pleasure to meet up with at a match. I first got to know Graeme while watching the Ashbourne-based Summer League many years ago. RIP Graeme
  • Chris Berezai Really sad news, he’ll be much missed. I remember that our first trip out together was with Laurence Reade to Glossop, we barely knew each other at that point but soon became firm friends. One of the funniest days was when I took Graeme to Witton Albion in my recently-acquired Jaguar. we arrived early and when I asked the man on the gate where we could park he seemed to make the assumption that Graeme was the visiting club Chairman and I was his chauffeur!! We didn’t argue, we had the best parking spot in the ground…! So many great memories, day trips to Scotland and other random places across the length and breadth of the UK, stopping at Chinese takeaways in far flung villages just to pick up a menu for Graeme’s collection, and of course his wedding to Rose. It’s a very sad day, RIP mate. 
  • Paul Splodge Proctor Sorry to hear. Thoughts & condolences to family and friends
  • Laurence Reade Rest in peace to a lovely man and condolences to Rose and his family. It was an honour to attend his wedding, and even more so when our little adventure on the German/ Czech border made it into the Groom’s speech. I’m not sure Rose would quite approve but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pass a Chinese takeaway and not think of Graeme! Just a wonderful man who will be sorely missed.
  • John Hague Really sad news Eddie. I think the last time I saw Graeme was at Rugby Town. 
  • Chris Roberts Oh no! This is terrible news. Sleep well Graham. A terrific chap sadly lost. 
  • Chris Roberts
  • Dan Brown
  • Peter Miles Nice words Eddie I know you and he were great friends. A really decent guy, this is very sad news indeed.
  • Daniel Storey Very sad news indeed, Eddie. Hopefully he is now in peace hopping away up there with others we have lost.
  • Nick Willis Sorry to see that. He was a lovely bloke. Rest in Peace Graeme
  • Nigel Askham Lovely to read all the nice comments. Big bro was one of a kind! He’s going to be sorely missed by us all. Special thanks to Eddie who has been a real rock in his life and brought him so much enjoyment with their little football jaunts. I just know he’s up there now trying out the Heaven Footie Groundhopper app RIP big bro and thanks again to all his ‘hopper family’.
  • John Higgins – Nigel Askham Great loss Nigel. He suffered so much yet was always pleased to see you. Very sad I won’t get some post-lockdown time with him. The first tine we met we shared a room in Bridgend. He warned me about his snoring but it never happened and he was so easy to share with – very upsetting. Best wishes to you all.
  • Jackieboy Coys A real shock to hear this. A lovely man and fellow Spurs supporter, I remember with fondness out hopping jaunts around the country and especially those in Holland with Eddie McGeown. Condolences to Rose and the family, RIP Graeme and an honour to have had you as a friend.
  • Graeme Holmes RIP Graeme – enjoyed the games we were at together and condolences to his family and friends. 
  • Craig Dabbs Very sad news indeed, I always enjoyed Graeme’s company when we were out and about. My sincere condolences to his family. RIP Graeme.
  • Alan Moore Very sorry to hear this sad news.
  • Dave Philipson Very sad to hear this, a really good bloke. Thoughts are with his family and friends. He will be sorely missed in the groundhopping fraternity. RIP Graeme.
  • John Lord Lovely words Eddie. I know you were good friends. A lovely man whom I had the pleasure of meeting on my brief “hopping” experiences. 
  • Peter Leavis RIP Graeme. 
  • Mike McGeown Such sad news and such a great bloke. A wonderfully dry humoured man who took such good care of my Freddie when out on football jaunts with his grandad Ed and Greame. Rest well
  • Rebecca McGeown Freddie was a huge fan of Graeme! He always had so much time for Freddie. Fred would always share their antics on football trips!! My thoughts are with his family and friends
  • Aman Singh Sad news. I only met him a few times on our annual footy trips but he was a nice guy to chat with… RIP
  • Beth Miller So sorry to hear this. Really sad news. Thinking of you and all of Graeme’s friends and family
  • Rob Waite Very sad news 
  • Peter Franks Sad news, lovely man, glad I had pleasure to have met him on numerous occasions
  • Rachel Askham Thank you to all for the lovely comments about my dad. He will be greatly missed
  • Harvey LawlessWhat awfully sad news. We played football and cricket together for a few years when he was teaching in Finchley. We were still in contact on Facebook. Lovely man and will be very missed
  • Lloyd Baines-davies Lovely tribute Eddie RIP
  • David Dickie RIP Graeme x

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Saturday 12th December 2020

Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Division 1

Eversley & California 1

Paras Gill 38,

Epsom & Ewell 2

Luke Miller 25, Jordan Martin 63,

Referee:- Gareth Mays. Attendance:- 54

Admission :- OMGDS £3.00 (£6). Programme:- £1.50

Not a great deal to say about Eversley Cross, a difficult, very pot holed approach, a long muddy walk from car park to ground and a couple of tiny meccano structures – one of which held maybe 50 seats – was all there was of the sparse accommodation at this ground! Good game, though, the better side won and the hosts had a player rightly dismissed for two bookable offences. With grandson, Freddie and Jonny Crane and Mark Sumner.

In the far field beyond the pitch, there was a swamp and warnings all round not to enter!

Freddie Arthur McGeown

Jonny Crane from Bagshot

Mark Sumner, Eddie McGeown and Jonny Crane

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Tuesday 15th December 2020

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division

Biggleswade United 4

Jordan Wright 21, Ethan Flanagan 31, Charlie Clayton 51, Dan Parkinson 84,

Harpenden Town 1

Ryan Plowright 18,

Referee:- Daniel Jones. Attendance:- 83

Admission:- OMGDS £3.00 (£6). Programme:- on line

Second Meadow, Biggleswade United’s neat little stadium hosted a fast and furious top of the table clash this evening and it was the visitors who opened the scoring in the 18th minute, but by half time, the hosts were in front. Further second half goals ensured victory and they could even afford to squander a penalty.

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Wednesday 16th December 2020

Uhlsport United Counties League Premier Division

Northampton ON Chenecks 2

Dean Lukeman 11, Sam Watkins 61,

Ross Garlick s/o 34,

Rothwell Corinthians 1

Kalon Peniasko 75,

Kalon Peniasko s/o 84

Referee:- Michael Dunkley. Attendance:- 68

Admission:- £6.00. Programme:- £1.00

Deja-vu!! On Saturday, the visiting goalkeeper punched a spectator and the game was abandoned. This evening, a spectator entered the field of play and grappled with a player for the ball! The referee sent all the players to the dressing rooms, but ten minutes later recommenced the last thirteen minutes of the match. Two players dismissed, but it wasn’t a dirty match. Weak refereeing!

Liam McGeown and Freddie McGeown

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Saturday 19th December 2020

Buildbase FA Vase 3rd Round

Mulbarton Wanderers 1

Ben Jones 84,

Ampthill Town 0

Referee:- Adrian George. Attendance:-101

Admission:- OMGDS £3.00 (£6). Programme:- F.O.C.

After a fine repast in the local hostelry: “The End of the World”, I repaired to meet up with John Main at Mulberry Park. The ground has hard standing on two sides and a covered stand for, perhaps, 50 souls. The match was a dour affair with the visitors determined to give nothing away and picking up four bookings and a second half dismissal in their attempt to keep the game goalless. The hosts were the superior team and won with a strike just six minutes from time!

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Monday 21st December 2020

Pitching-in Southern League Red Recruitment Cup 1st Round

Redditch United 1

Jordan Clement 78,

Alvechurch 2

Tyrell Harmiston 12, James Spray 25,

Referee:- Neil Pratt. Attendance:- 405

Admission:- OMGDS £7.00 (£11). Programme:- on line

Redditch’s distinctive cantilever style main stand dominates the ground, but there is cover on three sides and seats along each length. There is a slight slope on the 3G pitch and in the first half, the visitors took full advantage and two goals. In the second half, they hung on comfortably until the last ten minutes when the hosts scored and rained a concerted attack which couldn’t quite produce the equaliser!

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Tuesday 22nd December 2020

On a grey, but mild and dry day, the walk down to Gretton Weir showed just how much precipitation we have endured over the past few days. The Welland was very high and the surrounding fields were sodden. The trackbed of the former railway line from Market Harborough to Stamford and Peterborough, stretched away straight and level and the church of Saint Andrew dominated the village of Lyddington. On the way to Thorpe by Water, Gretton was clearly visible across the valley, but the church tower of St James was a more welcome sight on the road back to the village! No stiles and 6.4 miles.

Gretton Weir

The track bed of the former Rugby to Peterborough and Stamford (and Uppingham) Railway Line

Lyddington with the parish church of St Andrew in the background.

Gretton, seen from across The Welland Valley

The parish church of St James, Gretton

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Boxing Day Saturday 26th December 2020

North West Counties League Premier Division

Avro 5

Liam Ellis 4, Kyle Jacobs 7, Joe Rathbone 40, Martin Pilkington 68,

Oumar Camara 71,

Irlam 0

Referee:- Timothy Eagles. Official Attendance:- 150

Admission:- OMGDS £3.00 (£6). Programme:- £2.00

The attendance owed more to political correctness than accuracy, but under grey skies and on a 3G surface with the threatening rain arriving twenty minutes from the end, there was no doubting the winners of this entertaining tussle as the hosts swept in two goals in the first ten minutes and increased their lead regularly, despite spurning several worthy opportunities. By the final whistle, the visitors had been thoroughly thrashed!

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Monday 28th December 2020

Abacus Lighting Central Midlands League

Black Dragon Premier Division South

Rowsley 86 3

Noah Evans 3, Dan Gilbride 12, Andy Roome 88,

Holbrook St Michael’s 2

Joel Cain 11, Joe Kay (og) 32,

Referee:- Andrew Whittingham. Attendance:- 95

Admission:- £3.00. Programme:- NONE

At the top layer of The Central Midlands League, this ground was hardly any improvement on an arena in The Ashbourne Summer League! There was a pavilion and changing rooms (which served tea and coffee, crisps and chocolate) and then a fifty metre walk across a muddy field to the pitch. On a freezing cold day, however, this game was a cracker. Three goals in the first twelve minutes and all square at 2-2 by half-time, the winning goal came two minutes from time. The hosts deserved their success and the points.

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Wednesday 30th December 2020

Abacus Lighting Central Midlands League

Black Dragon North Premier Division

Thorne Colliery 3

Danny Bolton 33, Danny Gibbons 81, Matt Gains 88,

Renishaw Rangers 0

Referee:- Jamie O’Connor. Attendance:- 139

Admission:- £3.00. Programme:- £2.00

On a bitterly cold evening, The Welfare Ground at Moorends was a pretty impressive stadium – particularly when compared with Monday’s match at Rowsley 86 and especially as they are both members of The CML Premier Division! Tonight’s teams are marooned in the lower reaches of their division but it was the hosts who were eventually victorious with two goals in the final ten minutes to stamp a vista of authority on their performance against a side lacking any real threat on goal.

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November 2020

A second Lockdown from 9th November until 2nd December was ordered by the Tory Government, so precious few opportunities to see football matches in November, but compensated for by several walks of varying lengths, despite some typically seasonal weather!

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Why I Love football

Why do you love football? 
What do you see in it? 
Why not watch another sport
Like Rugby, Golf, or Cricket? 

Well let me answer that my friend
And put your mind at rest
I love the beautiful game
Because it’s simply the best

No other sport is as exciting
No other comes anywhere near
Football can create passion
And lots of atmosphere

It is loved all around the world
Most children kick a football
Rich kids, and poor kids
small kids, and some very tall

A good football match is a joy to watch
That’s why thousands go to every game
When you get goals and lots of action
All the fans are so glad that they came

So yes my friend I do love football
It’s by far the number one sport for me
So while you’re watching Golf and Cricket
I’ll be watching Match of the Day, or Man U F.C. 

by Candy Simpson

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Monday 2nd November 2020
Pitching-in Southern League Division 1 Central

Coleshill Town 2 Josh Willis 48, James Harrison 79,

Wantage Town 0
Referee:- Luis Martin. …………………………………………Official Attendance:- 247
Admission:- OMGDS £7.00 (£9)………………………………………Programme:- £1.50 
Chicken curry and chips:- £4.50
This was my third visit to Pack Meadow’s 3G Stadium in the last six weeks and it was, by a substantial distance, the coldest, definitely a chit billy! The hosts have struggled in the League this season with only two wins and six defeats on their eight game record. Tonight’s offering was lacklustre with neither team seeming able to drag themselves out of ennui, but, two second half strikes for Coleshill deservedly handed them the victory and the spoils. There was quite a coterie of hoppers present and we all bemoaned the forthcoming BoJo lockdown which starts on Thursday!

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Tuesday 3rd November 2020
Thurlow-Nunn Eastern Counties League
Division 1 North

Norwich CBS 2 Valter Rocha 15, 60,

Diss Town 2 Joe Easton (go) 8, Kieran Hagan (pen) 21,
Referee:- Edward Frazer……………………………………………..Attendance:- 105
Admission:- £7.00. ……………………………………………………….Programme:- £1.50
Norwich CBS play at the Norfolk FA headquarters in Bowthorpe in Norwich. They started life more than a century ago as Norwich Union, became Spixworth when they lost their ground and had to relocate a dozen or so years ago, spent a season as AFC Norwich, before accepting funding from “County Building Supplies” which gives them their most up to date moniker. This season, having gained Eastern League status, they are struggling, with only one league win all season, but they were good value for their point on a sharp, cold night as they twice came from behind to gain the draw!

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Wednesday 4th November 2020
East Midlands Counties League

Hucknall Town 5 Grant Ryan (pen) 5, (pen) 38, 53, Joe Butler 16, 72,

Kimberley MW 2 Isaac Stones 9, 45+1 (pen)
Referee:- Ian Dudley…………………………………………………….. Attendance:- 207
Admission:- £5.00. ……………………………………………………….Programme:- £2.00
It must be nearly twenty years since my last visit to Watnall Road. Then, the team were in the top division of The Northern Premier League. Ozymandias like, the mighty are fallen! This was a good match with two teams committed to attacking football and there could so easily have been many more goals! For the hosts, Grant Ryan smote a hat trick whilst Isaac Stones struck two for the visitors, there were three penalties and a rare sin-binning! A good way to round off the last three months, forty-two matches and nineteen new grounds. Will we see football before Christmas?

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Saturday 7th November 2020

Blue skies with white sheets of cloud and a hazy glaze of mist in the far yonder, down Church Gap and across the fields (and the River Welland) to Thorpe-by-Water. The going was wet and soggy rather than heavy and muddy, as I climbed up to The Church of All Hallows in Seaton. From there, more fields on the way to Uppingham, crossing the branch line spur of railway that served the town with five trains a day from 1894 to 1960 (oddly, you could only get to and from Rugby and Market Harborough, there was no facility for an onward journey to Peterborough!). Through Bisbrooke, where The Spanish Circus Trailer once sat at trackside – but today, a new circus trailer appeared as I hobbled past! In Uppingham, the heritage trail was worth a glance – 27 pubs in the town in 1778 – as was the Church of St Peter and St Paul with its extended graveyard. On the way out of town, I met a black pig, and in Lyddington, the black lambs of Spring had turned to black sheep! The Welland was low at Gretton Weir and back in the village, the new houses at the foot of Clay Lane are developing apace. It was a walk of 11.76 miles and six stiles.

The bottom of Church Gap

The Church of All Hallows in Seaton

The Church of St Peter and Paul in Uppingham

Gretton weir

New building going on at the bottom of Clay Lane in Gretton

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Monday 16th November 2020

It was chilly and sharp this morning and the ground heavy and saturated. Set out from Kings Wood, down to The Spread Eagle in Great Oakley and across to Oakley village and the church of St Michael, which only has one hand on its clock. Across fields soggy and claggy, (by-passing some young bullocks), under the arches of the railway line and the new(ish) Geddington road bypass to Little Oakley and the church of St Mary Magdalen. Onwards across the sodden sward to Newton and the old church which is now an educational field centre, but 400 years ago witnessed the massacre of 40 peasants by the local gentry. Back across the A43 dual carriageway and past the former Great Oakley Railway Station (the path from the village across the fields was flagged by the Midland Railway Company to make travel to the station easier), and then back to St Michael’s church and to Kings Wood. No stiles and 9.4 miles

The Spread Eagle in Great Oakley

Great Oakley Manor with the church of St Michael adjacent

St Michael’s Church clock with its only one hand!

The Church of St Mary Magdalen, Little Oakley

Newton Field Centre – formerly a church

Around 40 peasants were killed on 8th June 1607 protesting about the enclosure of land – which made the rich, richer and the poor, poorer, but also enhanced the cause of more efficient agriculture in England.

The site of the former Great Oakley Halt on the Midland Railway Line

It was quite a trek from Great Oakley to the station – or halt – and The Midland Railway installed these slabs to improve the walk between village and station.

Somehow … my Walkmeter switched itself off at Newton Field Centre and it was not until the other side of The A43 dual carriageway that I noticed and switched it back on, losing nearly a mile from the map!

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Saturday 21st November 2020

A gloomy overcast morning – which gave way to a bright afternoon – as I set out down Church Gap with the brooding praesidium of St James’ Church looming to the rear. The River Welland was swollen and in Thorpe by Water, I espied a magnificent set of front gates! But, mainly, I was in search of the spur branch railway line (or what remained of it) from Seaton to Uppingham. Below Seaton, you could just make out the passenger footbridge of the old station amidst the bracken shrouding the track bed. The branch line went underneath the main Kettering to Leicester line, in between the eight arches of a viaduct beyond The Welland. The going was tough and challenging. A meat cleaver would have been handy or a scimitar or a cutlass. At one point a tractor had piled a mound across the track bed and then been abandoned. As I pressed on, the going became easier. Just outside Bisbrooke, the bridge across the road had been removed (apparently, the scene of a fatal bus crash in the 1970s). Only the foundations of the platform remained on Station Road in Uppingham. A beautiful tree enhanced the pathway out of the town, across to Lyddington and The Marquess of Exeter hostelry, until ….. at last … reaching Gretton Weir with the setting sun behind it. It had been a long trek (it took me nearly three hours to negotiate the four miles or so of the branch line track bed!). Seven stiles and 13.35 miles.

St James’ Church, Gretton, seen from down Church Gap

At the bottom of Church Gap, the signpost points the way across the fields to the railway embankment and onwards to Thorpe by Water


The River Welland

Elegant gateposts in Thorpe by Water

The track-bed of the former railway line from Rugby and Market Harborough to Stamford and Peterborough. The bridge in the background was the former footbridge joining the platforms at Seaton Station

A goods train crossing the small viaduct (eight arches) underneath which, the Uppingham branch line proceeds.

The view of the small viaduct from above.

After Bisbrooke, an abandoned tractor marked a spot where an attempt had been made to block the old track bed completely!

The road from Uppingham to Seaton passes over the Uppingham branch line at this point

It looks like somebody is trying to grow pot on top of this bridge! Below, is the side view of the bridge.

The foundations of this building on the Industrial Site at the end of Station Road in Uppingham are the original blocks from Uppingham Station Platform.

Uppingham – The Church of St Peter & Paul

What a sight greeted me as I began the walk out of Uppingham. This magnificent tree in full blossom, well, maybe shedding a few leaves on the path leading down out of the town towards Lyddington.

The Marquess of Exeter Hostelry in Lyddington

Sunset over Gretton Weir

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Monday 23rd November 2020

The temperature was around freezing, setting off, with a hoar frost covering the grassed field across to The Brookfield Plantation and a watery sun presiding the scene … until all became darkness and gloom under the trees where the foetid pools looked ripe for slithering monsters, but it was the fleeting deer between the trees who were the only beings in sight. The view from the escarpment, once emerged from the plantation was sweeping and panoramic with even Nevill Holt visible on a crest in the far distance. St Leonard’s Church half way up Rockingham Hill, with its oddly shaped tower, is in genteel decline, but surrounded by the headstones of its illustrious past. The return route to Gretton was by the lower path, eventually emerging up Arnhill. Seven stiles and 8.29 miles

The Brookfield Plantation

A “pepperpot” which is an air vent to the railway tunnel deep below the plantation

A bush with sloes still in evidence so late in the season

The village of Caldecott as seen from the escarpment as you emerge from The Plantation

Rockingham Castle

The church of St Leonard in Rockingham. It is in need of extensive foundation work as there is evidence of slippage

Rockingham Castle battlements as seen from the churchyard

A brook flowing across the path (under a bridge) on the way back from Rockingham to Gretton

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Thursday 26th November 2020

A Damascene sun shone brightly all day almost blotting out the first sighting of Kirby Hall (but not the rear view). Spotted and dappled clouds accompanied the mid morning sun but then were overtaken by high tufts of cirrus racing across the early afternoon sky. The autumnal harvest underfoot was frost layered and across the fields in Deene, the chocolate box houses positively radiated in the blinding sunlight. In the field at the end of the village, the tea-pot topped column had the legend: AMDG (Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam – to the greater glory of God) and was erected “sacred to the memory of their parents” in the year 2000. In. Bulwick, The Pickled Village Shop had re-opened after a catastrophic fire in early 2019 and a slab of fruit cake and coffee was very welcome, whilst across the road, the parish church of St Nicholas raised its steeple prayerfully to the heavens. The going was heavy and claggy on reaching Harringworth Lodge – greeted by a high flying heron and from there we took a route back along the escarpment which afforded magnificent views across the Welland Valley to Seaton. Meanwhile, lonely in a field, a solitary bull kept a watchful eye. Lovely walk, eleven stiles and 11.36 miles.

Kirby Hall almost blotted out by the bright sunlight!

Kirby Hall, a view from the rear with the blinding sun behind the camera!

Deene Farm

A.M.D.G. – Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam – To the Greater Glory of God

This monument is dedicated to the sacred memory of our parents AD 2000

“The Pickled Village” world renowned for its jams, pickles and preserves. It was burned down in a fire in January 2019 and has only recently re-opened.

Coffee tea and lovely fruit cake, too!

Fine cloud formation over Harringworth Lodge.

Harringworth Lodge

The village of Seaton – maybe 3/4 miles away across the Welland Valley

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Saturday 28th November 2020

No sun – no moon – 
No morn – no noon – 
No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member – 
No shade, no shine , no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds.
November!

I couldn’t have put it better than Thomas Hood (1799-1845), and he couldn’t have described today any better! I strode out past The War Memorial across the fields to Thorpe by Water alongside The River Welland, silent and slow, climbing from there to Seaton, mist enshrouded and, just beyond, a flat-bed goods train was barely visible crossing the viaduct. In Morcott, a silent graveyard, but no nearby church and The White Horse Inn locked down. A windmill home on the way to Barrowden, where the village shop was open for coffee and a buttered scone and where the proprietor is the organist at our very own St James’ Church! The duck pond outside The Exeter Arms was eerily still and along The Jurassic Way, Turtle Bridge spanned The River Welland. High above Shotley, The Welland Viaduct was hardly visible and as for the sharpness of the view across the valley to Seaton, just two days ago, today … nothing, but the sheep in the forefront. A gloopy greeting upon return via the farmyard to Gretton! Eleven stiles and 16.54 miles.

The Welland Viaduct with a flatbed goods train crossing, but only just visible!

The graveyard at Morcott, but where is the church?

The now semi-derelict White Horse Inn, where Kate Redman and her former husband were once the proprietors. There is some talk of reviving the pub as part of a village development by The Burleigh Estate (who own the building). This would include some new build housing in the village. In a recent poll, there was a reasonable turnout (58%) and 94 residents were in favour and 72 against.

Barrowden

Turtle Bridge

The Welland Viaduct from high above Shotley

The view across the Welland Valley totally obscured by the mist!

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Monday 30th November 2020

The last day of Autumn, bleak and dull with incipient rain which died away as the morning progressed. Down Church Gap and across field and rail as if to Thorpe-by-Water, but instead taking the track to Gretton Weir and then crossing the fields to Caldecott, the most southerly village in Rutland and where the clock tower of St John The Evangelist never strays beyond midday (or midnight)! Onwards towards Great Easton, but turning off instead to Rockingham, where the lord of the manor is in residence. Rockingham Hill was busy with traffic as we branched off towards The Brookfield Plantation and a misty view of Gretton, high on its hill. Inside the plantation, the pepper pot still breathes life into the rail tunnel below, beware the snakes and the stagnant pools and back across field and track to Gretton Village Hall. Eleven stiles (again) and 10.3 miles.

The Church of St John The Evangelist in Caldecott

Rockingham Castle

The view of Gretton from the escarpment

The ‘Pepperpot”

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October 2020

Saturday Ritual

It’s just a Saturday ritual my dear;
So have no fear
And let’s be clear,
I’m not gallivanting,
I’ve no bird in tow,
Think of it more
Like I’m off to a show;
I’ll be back before you know.

And yes the pub is also part
Of the ritual we must trek,
But please take heart
As I never really notice,
The barmaids so buxom
And breasts so pink;
I never ever touch them,
I just order the drink.

And when we lose,
I’m sorry if I swear;
It’s like when the junior stylist
Fucks up your lovely hair.
And that time I kicked the cat
I swear it was not meant,
But still you banished me that night
To the garden and the tent.

And you know I can’t go shopping,
We tried that once before;
Your brolly jab really hurt
When I tried to see the score;

And you know you can’t come with me,
Last time you caught the flu,
Your hands turned blue, your face to ice,
As the final whistle blew.

So help me with this ritual,
It’s generations old;
Just spare a thought for us poor souls
As we shiver in the cold.

by Phil Miles

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Thursday 1st October 2020
Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division

Ashby Ivanhoe Knights 1 Hathern 0
Referee:- Terry Simmons. Attendance:- 63
Admission:- OMGDS £2.00 (£4) Programme:- NONE
The visitors continued a sorry story which stretched their losing streak to four games from the start of the season, but they were unlucky, comfortably holding their high flying hosts and creating the better chances. The only goal came on the hour mark, a header at the far post from a corner after it seemed that a goal would never come! With Graeme Askham.

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Friday 2nd October 2020
Uhlsport United Counties League Division 1

Lutterworth Athletic 6 Burton Park Wanderers 0
Referee:- Stuart Lathan. Attendance:- 90
Admission:- OMGDS £2.00. Programme:- £1.00
This battle of the basement boys at Hall Park in pretty atrocious precipitation resulted in a heavy defeat for bottom of the table, Burton, and four of the six goals scored by Jess Adcock! Despite the conditions, there was a healthy attendance – the vast majority taking cover in the stand on the far side of the pitch. With John Main.

It poured down all the way through the match! The app on my phone told me that my car had been in a collision … in the car park? So I went out to look and couldn’t find any damage – in the rain and the dark. I never did find any damage, even the following day!

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Saturday 3rd October 2020
West Midlands Regional League Premier Division

Worcester Raiders 3 Bilston Town 2
Referee:- James Clements. Attendance:- 300
Admission:- OMGDS£3.00 (£5). Programme:- £1.00
The rain came down in torrents all day which made travelling difficult. This was not my first visit to The Sixways Stadium – I had previously been to see:- Worcester Warriors 14 Stade Francaise 23 on 10th November 2011. On that evening, the attendance was 8,121, which considerably dwarfed today’s gathering! The game was pretty good – in patches – there were two goals in the first quarter of an hour and two more in the last five minutes. The pitch held up really well considering the heavy and sustained downpour. Everything was vastly overpriced – a hotdog and two bags of chips cost £11.50, but the teamsheets were free! With Graeme Askham and an array of ‘hoppers’!

This is Sixways, the home of Rugby Premiership side Worcester.

Graeme Askham – contemplative!

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Monday 5th October 2020
Midland League Division 1

Chelmsley Town 1 Heath Hayes 2
Referee:- Charles Humphrys. Attendance:- 104
Admission:- £5.00. Programme:- F.O.C.
A second consecutive Monday evening match at Pack Meadow, but tonight, the tenants, Chelmsley Town were playing. The 3G pitch guaranteed the match would be on, whereas my first choice match at Hitchin was called off due to the weather! It was a fairly well matched contest, with both sides in the lower half of the table, but the visitors were the more composed and just about deserved the victory and the spoils!

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Tuesday 6th October 2020
Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division

Easington Sports 3 Windsor 2
Referee:- Paul Herbert. Official Attendance:- 116

Admission:- OMGDS£3.00 (£5) Programme:- on line
There was a good crowd for tonight’s match – nearly 50% more than attended last Saturday afternoon! The hosts comfortably ran up a two goal lead by half-time but ten minutes into the second half, the sides were level, and it took a fine goal some ten minutes from time to win this match deservedly for the hosts! With son, Jim.

I went with my son, Jim and grandsons, Sonny and Kingsley. I had been to see Kingsley at football training, prior to the match.

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Friday 9th October 2020
Abacus Lighting Central Midlands League
Premier Division Black Dragon North

Dinnington Town 2 Clay Cross Town 1
Referee:- Liam Vayro. Official Attendance:- 221
Admission:- £3.00. Programme:- £2.00
Eighty-odd miles up the A1 on a cold evening to a fairly Spartan venue with seating for around fifty down one side and further covered standing as well as covered standing behind one goal. A drum beat incessantly as the locals encouraged their team in a match with some needle – five bookings and a sending off! The hosts took the victory and the points courtesy of two first half strikes, but the visitors had the last laugh with a consolation goal four minutes from time.

There were plenty of ‘hoppers’ there, including Peter Miles, Chris Berezai, Dave Wooding and Joanna Baroudi

Social distancing?

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Saturday 10th October 2020
Buildbase FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round

Silsden 3 Guisborough Town 5
Referee:- Abdul Hakimy Attendance:- 215
Admission:- OMGDS£3.00 (£5). Programme:- £1.50
Let the train take the strain from Peterborough and at Steeton & Silsden Station, it was but four hundred yards to the ground. Extensive renovations were taking place, new entry turnstiles, clubhouse and refreshment building all well on the way to completion against a very pleasant backdrop of Yorkshire moors. Sadly, on the field, the hosts were outclassed. Down 1-3 at the interval, it was 1-5 shortly thereafter and only the dismissal (for foul and abusive language) of a visiting substitute allowed Silsden to notch two late consolation goals.

Very impressed with Silsden’s ground and the improvements being made. The backdrop of Yorkshire moors, capped with brooding clouds, helps to make it picturesque! I also enjoyed a meal at “The Robin Hood” inn in the centre of Silsden about ten minutes walk up the road from the ground..

After the match, I had to hurry back to the train station. The train was due at 16.57 and I had to really push myself to make it to the station in the bare eleven minutes after the match finished. A helpful conductor saw me and kept the train waiting as I panted down the steps to the platform! The train took me back to Leeds, to change for Doncaster and change again for Peterborough where I had left my car!

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Monday 12th October 2020
Midland League Premier Division

Romulus 2 Coventry Sphinx 0
Referee:- Tom Palmer. Official Attendance:- 141
Admission:- £7.00. Programme:- £2.00
Romulus have returned to the 3G at Castle Vale After years of ground sharing on the 3G at Sutton Coldfield Town. They have also moved to the Midland League from The Northern Premier League. Tonight’s encounter was full blooded with both sides putting every ounce of effort into every challenge, but sadly, there was precious little skill on display. The hosts scored early in the second half – an own goal decisively bludgeoned into his own net by a Sphinx defender – and wrapped matters up in added time with a second strike – this time from one of their own players!

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Tuesday 13th October 2020
Midland League Division 1

Stafford Town 2 Chelmsley Town 2
Referee:- Mark Billingham. Attendance:- 62
Admission:- OMGDS£3.00 (£5). Programme:- £1.00
Stafford Town’s Evans Park is a smaller version of last night at Castle Vale, except that here, the pitch was screened from the main stand by a huge length of netting! At half time you wouldn’t have given the home side a prayer, 0-2 down and a complete shambles. However, they were a team transformed in the second half and remorselessly ground down their opponents, scoring two quite breathtaking goals in the process! Probably a draw was a fair result. Good match!

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Wednesday 14th October 2020
Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League Premier Division

Godmanchester Rovers 1 Newmarket Town 0
Referee:- Thomas Beresford. Official Attendance:- 70
Admission:- OMGDS £3.00 (£5). Programme:- NONE
These two teams may be lurking in the lowlier echelons of their division, but tonight’s clash at Bearscroft Lane was truly titanic. The two sides were pretty evenly matched and amongst the abuse the ball received and the powerful and determined challenges, there was not a little skill on display. The hosts won with a goal on the hour mark and just about deserved their victory – and the parade around the pitch at the end of the match!

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Saturday 17th October 2020
Northern Counties East League Division 1

Hall Road Rangers 2 Swallownest 0
Referee:- Adam Shimmin. Official attendance:- 76
Admission:- OMGDS£2.50 (£5). Programme:- £1.50
Hall Road play in the grounds of what was formerly Haworth House and the main building can still be seen behind the far goal. There is enough room surrounding the ground for a further three full sized pitches and in the ground, a balcony from the club house overlooks the pitch and there is also a seated stand for perhaps a hundred spectators. The hosts won this match comfortably in the end, but the visitors gave a good account of themselves and a penalty saved, ten minutes from time, cost them a much closer finish! With Graeme Askham.

This was not our first choice of match. We had driven up to Hull specifically to see East Hull in their match against Rossington Main. We had lunch first of all in a pub called “The Ships Quarters” in Dunswell, which was a stone’s throw from the ground. When we went to the ground, we found that there was a game already in progress, but it wasn’t East Hull v Rossington Main! Apparently, the owner of the ground had banned them from using it and their match was played fifteen or more miles away at Goole Town (East Hull 1 Rossington Main 2). The match at Hall Road Rangers was the next nearest match (I’d already been there, but Graeme hadn’t) and it was well worth the visit!

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Tuesday 20th October 2020
Uhlsport United Counties League Premier Division

Rugby Town 3 Quorn 3
Referee:- Steven Swan. Attendance:- 174
Admission:- OMGDS £4.00 (£8). Programme:- £2.00
Butlin Road is arguably the most impressive stadium in this league with cover all around and seating along each side. Tonight, the hosts were comprehensively outplayed in the first half conceding three goals and looking pretty abject. The second half was a completely different kettle of fish! An early goal brought a modicum of hope and several good chances went begging before a second goal arrived with seven minutes remaining. The equaliser duly arrived in the second minute of added time, courtesy of the home custodian, who rose majestically at the far post to head home and was ecstatically mobbed by his team mates!

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Saturday 24th October 2020
West Midlands Regional League Division 1

Allscott Heath 6 Old Wulfrunians 1
Referee:- Alex Richards. Attendance:- 42
Admission:- OMGDS £1.00 (£3). Programme:- NONE
Under grey, lugubrious clouds, the heavens discharged vast quantities of water on the sports ground across the road from the former sugar factory, now being turned to housing. The hosts and visitors looked well matched for the first half and a 2-1 interval lead looked a little generous to the home side. The second half could not have been predicted. Four unanswered strikes sent a shell shocked and demoralised old boys team packing and catapulted Heath into the top four in the division! With Graeme Askham.

Pretty wet and miserable all day. We got there early and the home team manager directed us to a pub some four miles away called “The Wickets’, where we dined before the match and returned, still in plenty of time for the match!

Graeme, sat in solitary splendour, but it wasn’t so during the match as a crowd gathered on the hard standing to Graeme’s right and largely obscured sight of the far goal!

Scoring from the penalty mark!

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Monday 26th October 2020

There was rain early in the morning, but it cleared up. Kings Wood was looking particularly Autumnal with thick beds of leaves carpeting the sward, but the two fields on the other side of the A6003 were both ploughed and sapped the energy in ancient fetlocks and withers! Thereafter, the walk was quite pleasant with a coffee break at East Carlton Country Park, where the rusty remnants of Corby’s steel era were on display, followed by the return journey and the dreaded ploughed fields, which caked the mud onto walking boots like a plaster cast! Three stiles and 8.21 miles with Alison Merricks and Maureen Owens.

The ploughed fields which caked mud onto boots in copious quantities.

The church of St Peter in East Carlton

The church was rebuilt in Decorated Gothic style by the architect John Wing the younger for Sir John Palmer Bt in 1788.

0-6-0 Saddle tank from the old steel works in Corby

Kings Wood

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Wednesday 28th October 2020
Hellenic League
Banbury Litho Floodlit Challenge Cup

Southam United 3 Banbury United Development 1
Referee:- Aaron Clayton. Attendance:- 122
Admission:- F.O.C. Programme:- NONE
Southam United’s smart new arena was well attended this evening – and with a fair smattering of hoppers. The ground is fairly basic with a Meccano seated stand for around 200 spectators on the far side of the pitch, hard standing all round and a large club house which is still something of a work in progress, but there were sixteen padded seats on the balcony to view the match! On a cold evening, it was good entertainment value, with a well drilled home side taming a young Banbury Development team – and a hat trick from home striker Levi Steele. With son, Jim and two grandsons!

The original ground was situated to the left of the stand above and well set back from both floodlight and stand.

There were sixteen padded seats up on the balcony in the club house and changing room area and, naturally, we made use of them. Behind was a large open space, still not finished off or decorated, but it might be worth a later visit to see how it turns out!

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Saturday 31st October 2020
Buildbase FA Vase 1st Round

Frimley Green 0 Flackwell Heath 2
Referee:- Callum Peter. Attendance:- 94
Admission:- OMGDS £4.00 (£6). Programme:- NONE
Travelling by train can leave you open to disappointment! I heard that my match had been called off whilst still travelling – and a further match close by, as well, but Frimley was only 1.5 miles from Farnborough Station and I had enjoyed my previous visit! Corned beef and onion baguettes revived the weary traveller and bright sunshine and mild conditions were just right for a Vase encounter. Hellenic League triumphed over CoCo League as the visitors comfortably and effectively dismantled the hosts with a very workmanlike performance and a goal in each half to take them into round two! Sadly, my son and his two sons were not able to make the match after a serious incident on the M40.

Jim and grandsons, Sonny and Kingsley were due to join me, but whilst travelling in the fast lane of the M40, the saw a car in front of them, stationary, and also in the fast lane!! James only just managed to stop – as did the car behind him, but other cars were not so lucky and there was a minor pile up. Sonny and Kingsley were shaken up, so Jim took them straight home after sharing details with other motorists involved.

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Other Matches

Wednesday 7th October 2020

Uhlsport United Counties League Premier Division

Quorn 3 GNG Oadby Town 3 Attendance:- 171

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Friday 16th October 2020

Doncaster Rovers League Premier Division

Bawtry Town 2 GCT Doncaster ‘B’ 3 Attendance:- 50

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Thursday 22nd October 2020

FA Youth Cup 3rd Qualifying Round

Kettering Town 1 Solihull Moors 3 Attendance:- 108

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Monday 26th October 2020

Everards Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division

County Hall 3 Blaby & Whetstone 2 Attendance:- 42

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Tuesday 27th October 2020

Midland League League Division 1

Kirby Muxloe 3 Cadbury Athletic 2 Attendance:- 77

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..Sa

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September 2020

“Soccer” by Derek Jensen

The Beautiful Game, inflamer of passion, 
Maker of legends and timeless skill; 
The sport of the world, whether rich or poor. 

From the packed dirt streets of Africa, 
To the green grass pitches in England, 
Is that matchless, extrordinary, game of games played. 

It’s a game of running, yet not always all out. 
It’s a game of passion, yet under harness and rein. 
It’s a game of team, of passing and sharing. 
It’s a game supreme, this Beautiful Game. 

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Tuesday 1st September 2020
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round

Lutterworth Town 2 Staveley MW 0
Referee:- Karl Donaghey. Attendance:- 216
Admission:- £6.00. Programme:- £2.00
On a balmy evening, Lutterworth Town opened their campaign with a comfortable victory over their NCEL opponents with two first half goals and a solid, gritty performance which bodes well for the season ahead. With Graeme and Rose and ‘hospitality’ courtesy of Rose’ daughter whose boyfriend is the Lutterworth Town manager!

First programme of the new season. This season, programmes are likely to be few and far between at football matches. Many clubs are putting their programmes on line because of the Coronavirus threat.

Wednesday 2nd September 2020
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round

Mile Oak 0 Beckenham Town 4
Referee:- Martyn Milligan. Attendance:- 290
Admission:- £6.00. Programme:- £1.00
I was glad I had booked my ticket in advance as the crowds queued to gain entry and the official attendance was only ten shy of regulated capacity! One section of the crowd was scattered when they disturbed a wasps nest, but on the pitch, the visitors were very much in charge and two goals in each half saw them deservedly and comprehensively into the next round! The home side were tardy in appearing for the second half and the visitors, the referee and the large gathering were kept waiting for ten minutes before they deigned to enter the fray after the interval. With John Higgins.

I met John Higgins at the ground. He comes from Iron Bridge in Shropshire and he had come down by rail the previous day and seen an FA Cup match at Southwick on The Tuesday and stayed on the sea front in Brighton for a couple of nights.

There was a relatively large crowd for this match. The FA rules stipulated that clubs at steps 5 & 6 were only allowed a maximum of 300 spectators. Tonight’s attendance was very close to that mark!

Mile Oak Recreation Ground on Chalky Road is a very pleasant venue with floodlights and cover on two sides and hard standing on three sides (viewing only on three sides), but the ball frequently got kicked out of the ground! Next door was a pre-school nursery which also doubled up as a refreshment centre on match days!

Thursday 3rd September 2020
Pre-Season Friendly

Coventry Colliery 3 Leamington Hibernian 1
Attendance:- 37. Admission :- F.O.C.
This match was played at Hawkes Mill Social in Allesley, Coventry where the hosts are starting their third season in residence after their own ground was sold from under them for housing. The home team were easy victors. Hibernian held them to 0-0 at half-time, but were comprehensively defeated by the end!

Coventry Colliery play at The Hawkes Mill Social Centre in Hawkes Mill, Allesley, in Coventry (CV5 9FN). Hawkes Mill, who used to play here are now defunct and this is Colliery’s third season at the ground after they lost their own ground to a property developer.

Saturday 5th September 2020
Midland League Division 3

Upton Town 3 Tamworth Academy 2
Referee:- Lloyd Bell. Attendance:- 43
Admission:- F.O.C. Programme:- none
An appetising repast at The White Lion in the middle of the bustling town centre of Upton followed by a visit to The Hill Community Centre, home of Upton Town and the opening day of The Midland League season. In truth, the result was a travesty. The visitors were far superior in skill and tactics, but had the remarkable capacity for giving away soft goals. They should have won this game by a country mile, but at 2-2 and ten minutes to go, a ghastly goalkeeping error denied them even a point!

The White Lion in Upton. I hadn’t realised that Charlotte and I had visited here when we stayed in Malvern a few years ago.

In the background, the Malvern Hills are clearly visible (see also below) and make a lovely backdrop to the ground.

Quite a posh pavilion, but only drinks and snacks/chocolate bars on offer in the club house!

Sunday 6th September 2020
Rutland League Division 2 (at Huntingdon)

Huntingdon (won toss) 195 for 7 (40 overs)
defeated
Whittlesey 101 all out (29.2 overs)
by 94 runs. 

Umpires: Eamon Murphy & Eddie McGeown
The sports complex on St Peter’s Road in Huntingdon is extensive and encompassing, but the council run cricket square is not its most impressive feature! The hosts posted a useful total in this battle of the basement boys and the visitors never really got going with the bat and subsided tamely, although the last wicket did add twenty five runs and gain a batting point.

Wednesday 16th September 2020
Balcan Lighting Lincolnshire League Premier Division

Wyberton 1 Tetney Rovers 3
Referee:- Craig Forbes. Attendance:- 102
Admission:- F.O.C. Programme:- NONE
I lived hard by the ground at Wyberton Playing Fields for six years from 1978-1984, so it was a nostalgic return – and, of course, everything had changed. The pitch had rotated ninety degrees and there are now floodlights. This was a hard fast and very competitive match where the hosts were initially on top, but the visitors, newly promoted to this league, were more seasoned and once they had got into their groove, they never looked anything but victorious!

When I lived in Wyberton (at 162 Causeway – just up the road from this ground), I often brought my children down to play cricket on the pitch (the eldest would be nine years old when I left) and I even took part in a village sports day by entering the mile race – but not covering myself in glory!

Saturday 19th September 2020
Men Unite Staffordshire County Senior League 
Premier Division

Eastwood Hanley 2 Brereton Social 0
Referee:- Luke Threadgold. Attendance:- 41
Admission:- F.O.C. Programme:- NONE
On a fine but blustery afternoon in Stoke, recently resurrected Eastwood Hanley, once of The Northern Premier League, returned to their old home, now serviced by a collection of container cabins, but with some cover down one side and some terracing still in operation for a match against high flying Brereton Social who have opened their campaign with two victories. It was a lively contest, but the home side deservedly took the spoils. With Graeme Askham who supplied the chips and the chocolate!

It was difficult to visualise this stadium hosting Northern Premier League football. There must have been a lot of vandalism to reduce it to its present mode, although a new roof has been added to the stand down one side and new steel fencing now encloses the ground.

Sunday 20th September 2020
Rutland League Division 1
(At Market Deeping)

Kings Keys (won toss) 250 for 7 (40 overs)
Lost to 
Market Deeping 254 for 4 (37.4 overs)

In the race for the title, this was a match the visitors had to win, but a trip to third in the table Deeping was a stretch too far and their lusty strike (M Raheel) departed after only eight overs (during which time he notched 41 runs) and the usual three hundred plus target which they have fluently posted on three previous occasions when I have been umpiring, was never going to be achieved. Deeping started their innings badly, losing two quick wickets, but they had a star, too, and 139no from man-of-the-match Nick Green saw them to a handsome victory.

Adjacent to the ground there is The Deeping Rangers football ground and floodlit tennis courts and Bowling Green.

Monday 21st September 2020
FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round

Hitchin Town 3 Needham Market 0
Referee:- Joe Woolmer. Attendance:- 410
Admission:- OMGDS £8.00 (£10).  
Programme:- NONE – teamsheet available
Always a pleasure to visit Top Field, with the bonus that Monday night, unusually, is their midweek match night. Had to book my ticket in advance and on line and there was a larger than usual turn out for this cup tie which was played at a frenetic pace and with endeavour and determination from both sides. The hosts held a slender interval advantage, but two late goals from man-of-the-match Callum Stead sealed the victory and eventually overcame dogged resistance from the visitors.

Top Field on Fishponds Road is a lovely arena and I have been visiting since 1979 (my first game was an Isthmian League encounter on 27th December 1979, between Hitchin Town and Harlow Town with The Canaries victorious by 1-0). Tonight was my 42nd visit.

Tuesday 22nd September 2020
FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round 

Quorn 0 Matlock Town 2
Referee:- Zac Kennard-Kettle (Oakham)
Attendance:- 282 Admission:- OMGDS £5.00 (£7)
Programme:- £2.00
Matlock play in the top division of The Northern Premier League, whilst Quorn are two steps lower in the United Counties League. For long periods, the hosts competed very effectively against their higher level opponents, but two goals from the visitors skipper, Liam Hughes, late in the second half put an end to plucky Quorn’s FA Cup hopes for this season and Matlock proceed to the second qualifying round! With Graeme Askham and John Main.

Wednesday 23rd September 2020
Uhlsport United Counties League Division 1

Whittlesey Athletic 4 Bourne Town 0
Referee:- Simon Bell. Attendance:- 91
Admission:- OMGDS £4.00 (£5) Programme:- £1.00
On a filthy evening Whittlesey demolished a lacklustre Bourne side with James Hill-Seekings helping himself to the first three goals! The ground was a pleasant surprise. There was a newish fifty seater stand on the far side and scaffolded standing cover on the near side. Reasonable refreshments (hot-dogs, beef burgers and a range of drinks) were available. It was much better than I had been led to believe!!!

This visit re-completed The United Counties League grounds for me – although newcomers, Saffron Dynamo, I have only seen in The Leicestershire Senior League!.

Saturday 26th September 2020
Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League
Division 1

Godalming Town 1 British Airways 1
Referee:- Adam Absolon. Attendance:- 112
Admission:- OMGDS£5.00 (£8). Programme:- £2.00
A breezy, bright and mainly sunny day at The Bill Kyte Stadium, where these two teams played out a fairly tepid encounter littered with errors and even the officials joined in! It is a neat and tidy ground with cover behind both goals and seating for maybe 200 on the near side. It was a pity the match didn’t live up to expectations! With a VERY hirsute Mark Sumner!

Mark Henry Sumner

Monday 28th September 2020
Southern League Division 1 Central

Coleshill Town 0 Corby Town 1
Referee:- Tom Bowkett Attendance:- 204
Admission:- OMGDS £7.00 (£9). Programme:- £2.00
Just off the M6/M42 junction in North Warwickshire, Pack Meadow, home of Coleshill Town has a 3G pitch with the black dust rising when the ball bounces. Tonight’s encounter was hardly a classic, but the visitors probably deserved the victory from a lone goal by veteran striker Steve Diggin, an excellent volley from the edge of the penalty area. Coleshill’s cause was not helped by the sending off of Josh Willis on 61 minutes. Increasingly heavy precipitation made little difference to the outcome of the contest!

Tuesday 29th September 2020
Pitching in Southern League Premier Division Central

Banbury United 2 Hednesford Town 0
Referee:- Alan Cox (Coventry). Attendance:- 351
Admission:- OMGDS £7.00 (£10). Programme:- £2.00
A big, powerful and determined Hednesford side started this match by pinning the hosts in their own half for the first fifteen minutes, but The Puritans are made of stern stuff, too, and a wonder strike midway through the first half gave them the lead. Ten minutes from time, Hednesford’s Daniel Glover was dismissed for handling the ball away in the penalty area. The resultant penalty was saved! However six minutes from time, Banbury doubled their lead and deservedly took the victory and the points! With son, Jim.

Son, Jim, making a rare visit to The Spencer Stadium (or should I say “Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium”?)

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August 2020

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My Old Football

You can keep your antique silver and your statuettes of bronze,
Your curios and tapestries so fine,
But of all your treasures rare there is nothing to compare
With this patched up, worn-out football pal o’ mine.
Just a patched-up worn-out football, yet how it clings!
I live again my happier days in thoughts that football brings.
It’s got a mouth, it’s got a tongue,
And oft when we’re alone I fancy that it speaks
To me of golden youth that’s flown.
It calls to mind our meeting,
’Twas a present from the Dad.
I kicked it yet I worshipped it,
How strange a priest it had!
And yet it jumped with pleasure
When I punched it might and main:
And when it had the dumps
It got blown up and punched again.
It’s lived its life;
It’s played the game;
It’s had its rise and fall,
There’s history in the wrinkles of
That worn-out football …

J. Milton Hayes (1884-1940)

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Saturday 1st August 2020 k.o.:- 1.00pm

Wombwell Town 0 Belper Town 2
Referee:- A Royston attendance:- 186 hc
Admission:- (donation) £2.00 programme:- free teamsheet
Lovely large old fashioned ground with a deceased running track around the outside. There were the usual wholesale personnel changes and the match itself was pretty tepid, but it was good to get back into the swing after 137 days without football and good to meet the array of hoppers who had also made the pilgrimage.

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Sunday 2nd August 2020

Rutland League Division 2 (at Bourne)
Bourne (won toss) 183 for 7 (40 overs) 
Lost to
Stamford 186 for 7 (36.2 overs).

Bourne play at Abbey Lawns, a privately owned charitable foundation in the town which also hosts football (Bourne Town FC), tennis, bowls, pétanque and an almost Olympic sized outdoor swimming pool. The cricket area is beautifully maintained and provided a good surface for today’s closely contested fixture between close rivals. Bourne’s total included a careful 122no by captain Sam Evison, who saw his side slump to 67 for 6 after fifteen overs, but it was not enough as visitors Stamford triumphed with twenty two balls to spare. Good match!

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Wednesday 5th August 2020

A cycle ride from Whitwell on Rutland Water round to Sykes Lane and then across the causeway to Normanton with daughter Claire and grand daughter, Lydia (5),. A coffee and cake (and ice cream for Lydia followed by a paddle) and then back by the same route to Whitwell. 6.39 miles.

Lydia Alice

The Rutland Water sightseeing ferry which calls at Normanton Church on it’s way around the reservoir.

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Friday 7th August 2020

On one of the hottest days of the year, this was a gentle walk from Tansor to Ashton-in-the-Wold then onto Oundle for lunch at the Nene Valley Brewery pub on The Wharf and back via Cotterstock to Tansor. John Wake, formerly doyen of cricket at Oundle School, caught up with us on his bike as we approached Ashton and told us the story of the double murder of an elderly couple at Western Lodge in 1952. A murder that remains unsolved to this day! The couple were in their sixties and lived on the outskirts of the village, which, at that time only housed around twenty souls. Even after the intervention of Scotland Yard, no murderer was ever discovered, although the likelihood is that it was someone from the village! We passed the Oundle School shooting range at Elmington and, after a fine repast, we saw several people swimming in the Nene across the town bridge. Then it was back to Tansor! Six stiles and six and a half miles.

John Wake, retired master in charge of cricket at Oundle School on his bike on his way home to Barnwell.

Western Lodge where the double murder took place in 1952.

The Chequered Skipper Inn in Ashton-in-the-Wold

Ashton-in-the-Wold church, which, strangely has no tower or spire!

Son, Michael, who found the walk overlong!!!

The spire of Oundle Parish Church

The Wharf at Oundle, where we enjoyed a substantial repast!

Grand Dad with grandson, Freddie!

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Friday 7th August 2020

Stockton Charity Cup FINAL
Stockton FC 3 Harbury Albion 0

Referee:- John McCabe Admission:- charity collection
Attendance:- 93 (despite the stupid FA who think it is good to ban football fans, whilst anyone can go to watch a village cricket match!). A friendly match in deepest Warwickshire on a very warm evening which brought the locals out if only to enjoy the bar at the ground.

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Saturday 8th August 2020

Pre-Season Friendly
Buntingford Town 3 Westmill 3

Admission:- F.O.C. Programme:- none
Attendance:- 52
An entertaining encounter which was loosely refereed (each half lasted 50+ minutes). The visitors were on top for long periods and 3-1 up until a late come back by the hosts! A well appointed ground with the club house raised to provide a good viewing perspective! Good to see Dave Higgins there! Although the ground is not enclosed and is in the middle of a public park, it wouldn’t take much to improve the facilities up to step six or five.

This header flew straight into the net!

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Sunday 9th August 2020

Rutland & District Cricket League Division 2
Werrington 346 for 9 (40 overs)
Defeated
Bourne 197 for 7 (40 overs) by 149 runs

A second officiating visit to Bourne in as many weeks and a second defeat for the hosts, who lost the toss on a batting paradise of a wicket and conceded at eight and a half runs an over! They came back determinedly and claimed four batting points, but were never in the hunt for victory!

Interestingly coloured stumps at Bourne CC

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Tuesday 11th August 2020

Pre-Season Friendly
Harpole 2 Wellingborough Town 0

Attendance:- 59 Admission:- F.O.C. Programme:- None
On a sweltering evening just outside Northampton, in the village of Harpole, the hosts, some two steps below their opponents, comfortably took a contest littered with substitutions. It felt like half the village – or maybe more – were in attendance as the car park was overflowing and the street outside was jammed with parked vehicles. Only bottled ale in the bar, but this is a small venue, well worth the visit. With John Main.

Not a covered standing area, but the dugouts for the teams!

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Saturday 15th August 2020

The enclosed village of Boughton in Northamptonshire, temporary home of Hardingstone CC. Tarmac criss-crossed the cricket field and cars passed at regular intervals, making fielding interesting! The wicket was temperamental, but the hosts made a pretty good fist of it, posting 178 for 8 off their forty overs. Stewart’s & Lloyd’s CC from Corby were the visitors and they slumped to 17 for 3 off eight overs, before the rain intervened and the match was washed out without any possibility of a result.

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Thursday 20th August 2020

Pre-Season Friendly
Deanshanger Athletic 1 Stoke Hammond 2

Referee:- Tony Hawkins. Attendance:- 26
Admission:- F.O.C. Programme:- NONE
Both of these teams play in The North Bucks & District League, with Stoke Hammond a division higher than the hosts. The clubhouse was well patronised in the fine weather, but not many made the longish trek to the neat railed off pitch at the far end of the playing fields. The usual mix of substitutions blurred the flavour of the match which tailed off into oblivion with the visitors taking a late strike to clinch victory! With John Main.

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Thursday 20th August 2020

Pitsford Water
A lovely day, warm with a welcome breeze and my grandchildren – Freddie, 10, Tess, 6, and Lydia,5, and Lydia’s mum whose age, I forget, enjoyed a cycle ride of about seven miles around Pitsford Water. There were tantrums and accidents but they all made it safely round and we repaired to The Windhover, an excellent hostelry in nearby Boughton for a sumptuous repast. My daughter took the girls home, but Freddie and I returned for a second circuit of Pitsford Water – this time at some speed, completing the course in 50 minutes. Understandably, Freddie was justly pleased with himself! Cracking day out and the weather was just lovely!!!

Freddie

Tess and Lydia (right)

Lydia’s Mum, Claire, battling on spiritedly

Tess

Freddie

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Saturday 22nd August 2020

Pre-Season Friendly
Roade 6 Wellingborough Town 3

Referee:- Russell Tunney. Attendance:- 45
Admission:- F.O.C. Programme:- none
Very friendly welcome at this well appointed Northants Combination ground and a welcome draught of ale in the bar prior to the match. Roade were worthy victors in a game where the visitors struck the first three goals and led 3-1 at the interval. The second half was a different story with a barnstorming performance from the hosts and five unanswered goals! Also in attendance, Neil Morris, Laurie Owens (President of Wellingborough Town) and Craig Saul who is the Barnet FC match announcer!

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Sunday 23rd August 2020

Rutland League Division 1 at Oundle
Kings Keys 350 all out (39.5 overs)
Defeated 
Oundle Town 175 all out (27.1 overs)

Kings Keys started with a bang and smote 51 off the first three overs! They continued the onslaught in an innings of 22 sixes which ended one ball short of their forty overs. Oundle started their response with vigour and matched the Kings Keys rate up to the fifteenth over, but an injury to their prolific wicket-keeper opener and a middle order collapse, saw the visitors through to a comfortable victory which not even a mid afternoon cloudburst could disturb!

Umpiring with Bob Gunn (above)

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Monday 24th August 2020

Ken Garner Memorial Tournament – Semi-final
Over Sports 3 Longstanton 4

Referee:- Richard Fullicks. Attendance:- 80
Admission:- F.O.C. Programme:- none
There was a gala atmosphere at Over Recreation Ground in Cambridgeshire this evening for the first semi-final, the bar was doing good business with a family feel to the whole occasion. The visitors scored in the first minute and the game, eagerly contested, flowed this way and that but the hosts were unable book a place in the final. The second semi-final is tomorrow (Tuesday) evening with 3/4 place play off on Thursday and the final on Friday evening – all on the same pitch! With John Main.

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Tuesday 25th August 2020

Pre-Season Friendly
Mundford 3 Norwich CBS 0

Referee:- Nicholas Hunt. Attendance:- 93
Admission:- F.O.C. Programme:- none
The wind howled and took down a tree across the pitch and on the far side of the cricket field, just before the match. Mundford’s neat little ground hosted a spirited performance from both teams and the visitors who hit the woodwork twice and matched their senior opponents for long periods, were perhaps, a little unfortunate to go away empty handed. Good to see young Daniel Turner there with his dad!

I didn’t realise that I had been here before – not even when I got inside the ground. It was the app on my mobile phone which reminded me that I had been here on 9th November 2016 when Mundford lost 1-3 to Attleborough in The Almary Green Anglian Combination Division 1 (attendance: 126). Since then, Mundford have gone up in the leagues and are now in The Eastern League North Division.

The last time I was here, it was for a night game, which possibly explains why I didn’t recognise the ground in daylight!

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Wednesday 26th August 2020

A lovely day for walking. There was a stiff breeze, but plenty of sunshine as grandson, Freddie and I set out from Empingham Parish Church up to the Rutland Water Causeway and onwards to the half submerged church at Normanton before returning to Empingham via a circuitous route. Five stiles and 7.25 miles. Then, we adjourned to The Sun at Great Easton for a sumptuous repast!

Freddie on the causeway

The Causeway at Rutland Water from high up on the road to Ketton

A row of distinguished alms cottages almost in the middle of nowhere!

Empingham Parish Church!

Freddie, dining sumptuously at The Sun in Great Easton!

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Sunday 30th August 2020

Rutland League Division 1 (at Barnack CC)
Barnack 201 for 7 (40 overs)
lost to
Kings Keys (won toss) 204 for 1 (25.2 overs) by nine wickets

In the sleepy village of Barnack, not far from Stamford in Lincolnshire, the hosts posted a respectable 201 for 7 off their 40 overs, only to be completely outclassed by the visitors who smashed 204 for 1 off only 25.2 overs with opener, Ashraf smiting 162 which included 21 sixes. True, the Barnack ground is small , as many village grounds are, but this was a brutal innings of intense ferocity and it took the match by the throat and convincingly away from the hosts. The hosts amassed 44 unbeaten runs for the 8th wicket and, possibly worried the visitors who, until then had looked likely to restrict them to around 160. The home team’s bowling was tempered by S Amir who amongst the carnage bowled his eight overs for only five runs and included five maidens! This meant that the remaining 199 runs came from 17.2 overs – an average of over eleven runs per over!

Umpiring with Simon Clark (above)

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July 2020

Anfield Ices

I have this little ice cream cart, it sits outside The Kop
You can see me every matchday wearing my Liverpool top
I call it Anfield Ices, the ice creams are really nice
They’re cool like our big centre half, Big Virg was worth his price.

Some cones they do get broken, in the bin they have to go
And in our trophy room this year, Four trophies are on show
The Premier League is ours this year, we’ve waited 30 years
But now it sits there, pride of place, just next to old “Big Ears”.

By Willie McLoskey

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Sunday 5th July 2020

A Sunday stroll across to Thorpe by Water, the railway was in busy mode with several trains going up and down the line, whilst disinterested cows idly stood by. The Welland was looking lovely – except at Gretton Weir, where the water level was pretty low. Coming back up Arnhill, the huge new house being constructed was all quiet and on The Maltings, the sliding doors, so recently and expertly rejuvenated, looked a picture! Six stiles and 5.3 miles

An East Midland Trains service heading towards The Welland Viaduct, Oakham, Melton Mowbray and Leicester.

The River wetland at Thorpe-by-Water looking peaceful and serene!

In a field beside the River wetland, the herd of …… Charolai? graze peacefully in the morning sunshine on a blustery day!

The River Wetland at Gretton Weir, where the river is really low and struggles through the verdant pasture!

This new house, a work in progress on Arnhill Drive, is a fairly extensive mansion in large grounds!

The lady on The Maltings, who painted these doors very expertly, spent the entire day yesterday on the project

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Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic

Up to and including 5th July 2020, 44,220 people in Great Britain have died from the virus. This is the worst performance by any country in Europe and, indeed, second only to America in the total number of deaths. The deaths per million, however puts the United Kingdom at the top of the worst performing pile and it is due in no small part to the ineffectiveness and ineptness of the British government who have consistently taken the wrong path.

At the outset, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, missed the first FIVE Cobra meetings to outline strategy to contain the epidemic. The government have largely ignored care homes, not provided sufficient and robust PPE (personal protection equipment), ceased testing right at the outbreak when testing should have been the most important factor in containment. Added to this, the government has been handing out crony contracts which have not always been effective in fighting the virus, instead of utilising the skill and experience of the NHS.

Finally, there is The Dominic Cummings factor. He it was who broke the rules set out by government and defied the Lockdown and sought to justify his actions. This led, in no small measure, to a feeling of contempt – if he can, I can and the dangerous precedent which led to Brighton beach being crowded when closely packed crowds were the last thing wanted mid pandemic.

Added to that, Boris Johnson has consistently denied the possibility of an enquiry into the conduct of the government during the pandemic, even though this might help with any future “spike” that may occur. It is no small wonder that we have the worst record in the world given this government’s inept and inefficient handling of the situation!

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Hull City

Hull City: Boothferry Park, 22nd September 1955. If Hull City think that this season is going badly, they can look back to the dire days at the start of the 1955/56 campaign when they won one (2-1 at home to Lincoln City) and dew one (2-2 at home to eventual champions, Sheffield Wednesday) out of their opening thirteen games. They eventually came bottom of Division 2 with 26 points and were relegated to Division 3N. Three seasons later, they were runners up in the newly formed Division 3 and returned to Division 2 – but only for one brief season!

At the end of this season, Hull City were relegated once again from The Championship down to League 1. They came bottom on 45 points with Wigan Athletic, who had gone into administration and been docked 12 points, finishing in penultimate place on 47 points and also going down were Charlrton Athletic on 48 points, newly promoted last season from League 1.

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Saturday 11th July 2020

At last, a cricket match this summer! Chorley played Littleborough from near Rochdale and the visitors elected to bat on winning the toss. It was, perhaps not the best decision as they were skitlled out for 97 in 36.3 overs with Andrew Flear the pick of the bowling with quite remarkable figures of 8-5-6-4. Chorley soon polished of the meagre target reaching 98 for 2 in 16.2 overs with Harry Barclay striking 54no and Joseph Tiffin 26no.

Chorley play at Windsor Park on Sandringham Road and their ground is a natural bowl. I have not been for many years, but I well remember the vast crowds that used to congregate and the hat being passed round for the collection for the “professional”!

Littleborough

  1. Z Perren c+b Flear 36
  2. T Townsend* LBW b Lee 18
  3. P Sutcliffe ct Moulton b Lee 0
  4. M Hernon+ ct Barclay+ b Lee 1
  5. A Willis st Barclay+ b Dhar 18
  6. L Eadsforth ct Barclay+ b Flear 1
  7. J Kershaw LBW b Flear 0
  8. J Whatmough ct Barclay+ b Barker 3
  9. H Chew b Flear 0
  10. W Sanford-Mitchell NOT OUT 6
  11. B Williamson ct Barclay+ b Johnson 2

Extras:- 1lb, 10w, 1nb 12

TOTAL (all out 36.3 overs) 97

Bowling

Joe Barker 6-0-32-1

James Lee 8-2-27-3

Louis Johnson 6.3-2-10-1

Gaurav Dhar 8-0-21-1

Andy Flear 8-5-6-4

Chorley

  1. Z Nirodi st Hernon+ b Kershaw 2
  2. H Barclay NOT OUT 54
  3. W. Moulton b Townsend 1
  4. J. Tiffin NOT OUT 26

Extras 1b, 1lb, 9w, 4nb 15

Total (for two wkts 16.2 overs) 98

DNB:- A Holdsworth, A Howarth, J Barker, G Dhar, J Lee, A Flear, L Johnson.

Bowling

Travis Townsend 5-1-20-1

Joe Kershaw 4-0-17-1

Lewis Eadsforth 3-0-20-0

Ben Williamson 3-0-18-0

Joe Whatmough 1.2-0-10-0

Harrison Chew 1-0-11-0

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Southport FC

Haig Avenue, Southport, 16th September 1971
Southport were founder members of The Football League Division 3 North in 1921. Their ground has a present capacity of 6,000, but I can remember matches in the 1960s with bigger attendances than that! (4th September 1967 FL Division 3 Southport 2 Colchester United 3 attendance:- 7,008 and two weeks later on 15th September 1967 FL Division 3 Southport 1 Oldham Athletic 0 attendance:- 7,701). I was quite lucky, because the paper shop on Sebastopol in Chorley was owned by Culshaws and I was often invited to go with the eldest son who was a keen Southport supporter! I saw my last league match there in April 1968 and I was not to return for forty-one years! Lovely old fashioned ground. Sadly, in 1978, Southport became the last club to be voted out of the league with Wigan Athletic taking their place.

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Tuesday 14th July 2020

A Cycle Ride around Rutland Water

The powder grey firmament oozed occasional glimpses of sunlight as I took my hired bike for a run round Rutland Water, starting from Whitwell and going down past the music sculpture at Sykes Lane, across the dam wall and on to Normanton Church, half in and half out of the water. Onwards to Lyndon Top and Manton, where The Horse & Jockey hostelry was silent, but ready for action in a couple of hours at midday. The main railway line from Leicester to Peterborough passes under Manton. At Egleton (with a hard ‘e’), there is the church of St Edmund before setting out on the six mile traverse of The Hambleton Peninsular, with Normanton Church again visible at its point. After Hambleton, it is but a four mile ride back to Whitwell. A total of 23.69 miles in 3hours and 45 minutes (terrible!!!! Must do better next time!), not including a half-hour pit stop at Egleton Bird Sanctuary for coffee and kit-kat!

The view from Whitwell as I started off on my ride!

The iconic sculpture at Sykes Lane

“Just as most symphonies are not intended to be descriptive, so these works do not represent figures or objects”

The church at Normanton, half in and half out of the water! It is still in regular use as a wedding venue!

Plenty of sheep all round Rutland Water!

Burley House, high up on the hill (not to be confused with Burleigh House in Stamford, home of the horse trails).

The Peterborough to Leicester line just coming out of the tunnel that runs under Manton

St Edmunds Church, Egleton

Hamilton house on the isthmus which is now a conference centre, I believe.

The view of Normanton church from the edge of the Hamilton isthmus

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Thursday 16th July 2020

Past the War Memorial and down Church Gap, across the fields where the crop is growing apace, to Thorpe by Water where the stone house with mullioned windows was a feature. Upwards to Seaton and the Church of All Hallows’ and then across the fields – broad beans, I think, this time – to Lyddington, past the football pitch and the remains of the monks’ fishponds where Friday fish were reared! Stopped for a small repast at The White Hart hostelry, soup and a couple of the inn’s own White Hart pale ale, and then back to Gretton via Gretton Weir and up Arnhill Road. Seven stiles and 10.23 miles.

The Green at Grettonwith the War Memorial

The wheat is growing apace across the railway line on the path to Thorpe by Water

The house with mullioned windows, a feature of Thorpe by Water

The Church of All Hallows, Seaton

The broad bean crop on the field walk from Seaton to Lyddington.

The football pitch at Lyddington (although, I’m not sure that Lyddington possess a competitive team!).

The monks fishponds, just about decipherable as hollows in the ground, with the church of St Andrew to the rear.

The Old White Hart, Lyddington

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Saturday 18th July 2020

At last! It may only have been a 2nd XI fixture, but it was good to get back to competitive cricket at Thrapston today. The cricket ground shares with the football ground but today, the dug-outs and the goalposts were sidelined and a very entertaining contest between Thrapston 2nds and S&L Corby 2nds. The hosts inserted the visitors who racked up 100 all out in just 25.4 overs. In a pulsating second innings, the home side just held out to achieve the target for eight wickets down in 34.2 overs. Time for a jar!

The football side of the ground. Thrapston Town, formerly of The United Counties League, now play in The Northants Combination

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Friday 24th July 2020

A gentle amble on a hot and humid morning round the Hambleton Isthmus which protrudes finger like into Rutland Water, with son Mike and grandchildren Freddie (10) and Tess (6). Afterwards we repaired to The White Hart in Lyddington for a sumptuous repast and a couple of pints of their very own Summer Ale. One stile and 5.7 miles.

Burley House

Son, Michael with daughter Tess and son, Freddie

Eddie and grandson, Freddie

Tess and granddad, Ed

There used to be a road, here, but the reservoir swallowed it up!

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Sunday 26th July 2020

Rutland & District Cricket League Division 1
March Town 188 all out (37.2 overs)
Uffington 192 for 3 (36.1 overs)

Only my second umpiring match of the season, officiating with Alan Pearce at Uffington, deep, deep in the middle of nowhere near Stamford on the borders of Lincolnshire. It is probably the tiniest cricket field I have ever been to, with short boundaries on all sides! The hosts inserted the visitors who made a pretty good fist of their innings, reaching 186 for 7 off 35 overs but all out within a further fourteen balls for the addition of only two runs! Uffington took their time over the response, but eventually cruised to victory with twenty three balls remaining. Good match!

Thursday 30th July 2020
Gretton to Belton-in-Rutland (……..and back!)

The sun burned away the clouds early in the walk and the weather became hot humid and sultry. The River Welland was still as death and … past Lyddington, Uppingham loomed across the valley. Wardley Wood was quite soft in parts, followed by the approach to Wardley village and The Church of St Botolph. Across the A47 and onwards at last to Belton-in-Rutland. Back across the A47 to Allexton and the long grass covered road down to Stockerston with its neat cottages bordering closely the main road from Market Harborough to Uppingham. The Eyesbrook reservoir was serene, from there to Great Easton and the church of St Andrew (and a fine pint of Black Sheep in The Sun). Rockingham Castle was flying the flag and The Sondes Arms in the village was also open! The final three miles across the fields back to Gretton were very difficult – not due to the distance, but the heat and the humidity certainly took its toll. Twelve stiles and 23.61 miles

Thorpe by Water

It is already the season of the harvest!!!

The River Welland, still as death!

The small market town of Uppingham

The great swathe of a path cut through Wardley Wood

The Church of St Botolph in Wardley

Not a squire’s residence (although it may have been, once), but the entrance to some private flats in Bolton in Rutland!

Stockerston and the well maintained roadside cottages!

Across the Eyesbrook Reservoir to Stoke Dry

St Andrew’s Church in Great Easton

Rockingham Castle with the flag showing ‘in residence’.

“My faith in Glory”

The Sondes Arms, Rockingham

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June 2020

Football training

Monday

Practised heading the ball:

Missed it – nutted the neighbours wall.

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Tuesday

Perfected my sideline throw:

Fell in the mud – forgot to let go

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Wednesday

Worked on my penalty kick:

A real bruiser – my toe met a brick.

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Thursday

Gained stamina – went for a jog:

Ran round in circles – lost in fog!

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Friday

Developed my tactical play:

Tackled the goal post – it got in the way.

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Saturday

Exercised – twenty-eight press-ups:

Did pull a muscle – but no major mess-ups.

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Sunday

At last – the day of the match!

Came through it all without a scratch.

The ref was amazed how I kept my nerve;

He agreed it’s not easy to be the reserve!

by Celia Warren

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Another month goes by and it is another month without football (well, you wouldn’t exactly expect to see much football in June, but this time last year, I saw nine matches in the month – amongst all the cricket, that is)! Coronavirus (or Covid-19) is still threatening, but the government, which to date has been outstanding only by its incompetence, is now relaxing the great lockdown that started in early March and from the beginning of next month, even the pubs will be re-opening! Football has recommenced at the upper echelons (Premiership and Championship), but the games on TV and behind closed doors are poor viewing fare, and I haven’t managed to sit through a single game yet! Cricket is scheduled for a top tier start in the middle of July with a three test series between England and The West Indies, but, yes, you’ve guessed it, there won’t be any spectators there! Pakistan have also arrived and are in quarantine in Worcester before beginning their preparations for a test series after the West Indies finish.

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Boston United FC, Jakemans Stadium, York Street, Boston, Lincs

Boston United’s York Street Ground on 9th September 1971, the season they were runners-up to Stafford Rangers in The Northern Premier League

This season I was hoping to reach 100 matches at Boston United, but that seems very unlikely, with the present number of matches being just three games short of the ton! Next season, the club begin a new era in a brand new stadium on the outskirts of the town at Wyberton, just to the south of the town (and not far from where I used to live when I was a headteacher in Boston 1978-83). Work commenced in July 2019 and the stadium is expected to be ready for matches from September of this year (although it will not be wholly completed). I went to my first match at York Street on Saturday 23rd September 1978 to see: Boston United 2 Macclesfield Town 0 (attendance:- 2,100), in The Alliance Premier League. On the 22nd November 1980, I was in a crowd of 6,004 who saw them humbled 0-4 by Rotherham United in the FA Cup 1st round. I saw them defeat Rochdale 2-0 in Nationwide Division 3 on 6th March 2004 (attendance: 2,466). My last two visits were a thrilling FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round Replay on 17th October 2017 when Chorley eventually emerged victorious by 4-3 after extra time and having only ten men still on the pitch! My final match was on 16th December 2019, in The FA Cup 2nd Round Replay, when Boston, rather unluckily, succumbed to Rochdale by 2-1 in front of 4,190 spectators. Below are a few artist’s impressions of the new stadium and a photo of the ground as a work in progress. I will certainly miss York Street. It was one of the definitive non-league grounds in this country, an absolute cracker!

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“The Blinder” by Barry Hines – first published in 1966


Probably ………. the best fiction football story I’ve ever read! By the author of “Kes” and a real gritty tale of Northern lad with chip on shoulder who makes it good at football – but upsets a few along the way!

“The Rise of Gerry Logan” by Brian Glanville

Yet another great football yarn from The 1960s (first published in 1963), it tells the story of north-east starlet who comes to the bright lights of London – and the even brighter lights of Rome, but, like Lennie Hawk in “The Blinder”, his fatal flaws catch up with him ….. or do they?

“The Big Shot” by James Lee

Another cracking soccer story from the 1960s, priced at 12/6 when new (sixty two and a half pence in real money!), it tells the story of Sandy MacSporran, the star striker of unfancied fourth division Lancashire team, Muggleton United, who fight their way spectacularly to Wembley for the FA Cup Final and take on the mighty Tottenham Hotspur. Do they win?

The Jimmy Seed Story

I’ve always had a soft spot for Charlton Athletic ever since I was a teenager and first read this book. Jimmy Seed was a North-Easterner, being born at Whitburn almost within sight of Sunderland FC. He signed for them as a sixteen year old and almost missed out, because of The Great War and joined Welsh club Mid-Rhondda after only one appearance for the Roker side. He later played for Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield Wednesday, but his heyday in the 1930s was taking unfashionable Charlton Athletic from the old Third Division to Division One in successive seasons and keeping them there for twenty years! It is a cracking little book full of tales of events long forgotten – Tottenham’s relegation in 1927/28 with a record 38 points – one less than SEVEN other clubs and his audacious attempt to sign Stanley Matthews for … £13,000. I’ve read it several times over the years and can well understand why he became such a hero at The Valley. If you ever get the chance ……………………..!!!

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Ajax, The Dutch, The War
by Simon Kuper

Simon Kuper is a Ugandan born journalist who has travelled the world on football stories. This insightful volume looks at the Jews, some eighty thousand of whom were packed into a ghetto in that part of Amsterdam where Ajax played. Less than a quarter of them survived the war. In wartime Holland, many Dutch people were ‘collaborators’ except, perhaps where their football club was concerned! But what of England and The Nazi Salute in Berlin in 1938? Let those without sin …………! This is an excellent read and deals reasonably sympathetically with The Dutch without the use of rosy coloured spectacles! I never knew that 90,000 people were in place in Berlin for he kick off of The German League Final on the day that Germany invaded The Soviet Union!

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Walking

Last month, I did several longish walks – 16, 18, 20 miles, but this month I have concentrated on short bursts involving a stretch of hill on the road into Gretton which is about a third of a mile in length. The hill comes about midway around the 1.75 mile circuit of the village, a circuit which I try to do twice every day, come rain, hail, or shine. At first, at the beginning of the month, it would take me about 7 – 8 minutes to make the climb. As the days went by, I reduced this to six minutes and then five minutes, until the last ten days of the month when I managed to get below five minutes and even below 4 minutes and 45 seconds. The record for this short climb now stands at 4 minutes and 34 seconds, and I am hoping that during next month, I can get below four and a half minutes, which is a speed of around 4.4 miles an hour! That is proper speed walking!

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However, I did do one long walk on the last day of the month:

Tuesday 30th June 2020

A gloomy, iron grey firmament greeted the intrepid traveller, venturing down Church Walk, and across the fields and railway line to Thorpe by Water, The River Welland looking particularly serene. Up on the hill, Seaton village nestled and The George & Dragon, a seventeenth century village pub, was barred and shuttered. Onwards to Morcott, with a splendid view of The Welland Viaduct along the way and the odd little narrow bridge under the former spur line to Uppingham. Morcott to Glaston, where The Old Pheasant Inn (formerly The Monckton Arms), was also shuttered and barred. Across the fields to Uppingham for a modest repast (chicken sandwich and bottle of Lucozade Sport) on Tod’s Piece where Uppingham Town now play football. Legend has it that Tod was a farm hand of prodigious strength, who accepted a wager to scythe the field – seven acres, two roods and 16 perches in size – in one day, and having started at dawn, he completed the task by dusk, accepted his winnings and promptly fell down, dead! The field thereafter known as Tod’s Piece. Lovely view of The Eyesbrook Reservoir (it could have been a Scottish Loch) and onwards to Lyddington snuggling down in the dale, before repairing back to Gretton via The Weir with St James’ Church peeping over the tree tops! Twenty-three stiles and 17.75 miles

The double track main line looking towards Corby and Kettering and away from The Welland Viaduct. There is an occasional local service from Corby to Derby, but mostly, this route is used when the main line from London to Leicester via Market Harborough is disrupted.

The river Welland was looking particularly photogenic this morning, peaceful and quiet and hardly moving.

The village of Seaton bestriding the far side of the Welland Valley from Gretton

A very impressive view of The Welland Viaduct with its eighty-two arches

This is obviously a bridge for the local farmer, for their are no roads either side of it, but it does look rather narrow for, say, a tractor to negotiate. Above it is the spur line from the Market Harborough to Peterborough line. The spur line went the five or six miles to Uppingham and as Uppingham was (and is) the major town in the area, it is surprising that the line was not, initially, built to go through the place!

This is another, smaller viaduct on the same line as The Welland Viaduct and the spur line to Uppingham doubles back on itself underneath these arches.

There are some thoughtful farmers who keep well regulated pathways through their fields (and their are others who are not!).

Sometimes, the tracks the farmer creates are semi-overgrown through misuse?

Tod’s Piece – Uppingham Town FC

The Eyesbrook Reservoir from the top of Stoke Dry

Lyddington

The Bede Gate and St Andrew’s Church, characterised by its short, stubby spire atop the tower, in Lyddington

Gretton Weir, looking very low!

The top of St James’ Church in Gretton. Gretton sits at the top of a hill and all walks finish with a climb back up into the village!

There is a mistake on the signpost. Lyddington may be two and a half miles down the road, but Uppingham is nearer five miles by road from Gretton!

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A Father’s Day card from my youngest son, Liam! Not too sure about the sentiments!!!

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Stalybridge Celtic FC

Bower Fold, home of Stalybridge Celtic. This picture was taken in 1922 at the beginning of Celtic’s second (and last) season in The Football League Division 3 North. They came 7th in their first season and 11th in their second season, but “small” crowds meant that there weren’t able to compete financially, they said, this despite the fact that their average attendance in 1921/22 was 5,840 (almost 2000 more than neighbours, Rochdale who were playing in the same division!). They left to join the Cheshire League where they stayed until the formation of the NorthWest Counties League in 1982. They now play in The Northern Premier League

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“Ar Tarn” by John Lee

Probably my favourite United Counties League team, Desborough Town’s claim to fame is that they have played in the top division of the League (and its predecessor, The Northants League), for their entire history! John Lee is the secretary and driving force behind the club and I believe he might still have copies of this excellently researched, hard-backed volume at the very reasonable price of £5.00!!! In the photo (from the championship winning team of 1966/67), front row left, is a very youthful Ian Addis who went on to play for Barnet and even later to become a colleague headteacher in the county and still attends matches when he can!

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May 2020

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Remember when we used to change
In the back of a Triumph Herald
A lovely little motor car
Owned by our goalie Gerald.
In the boot he kept the corner flags
The team kit and his boots
Our Sunday morning ritual
Football, and It’s grass roots.
We could never use the dressing rooms
They were always out of order
Windows smashed, Showers wrecked
Thanks to vandals and disorder.

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All those bleak mid winter mornings
With the weather pretty grim
A large pond surrounds the centre spot
Where the local seagulls swim.
Then the ref would abandon the game
But still claimed his full match fee
Said he could not continue
As his whistle had lost It’s pea.
So Gerald would take the nets back down
And I would collect the weekly subs
Twenty teams were in our league
And all of them were pubs.
Fond memories of our playing days
A good team were me and Gerald
Now both of us are past our best
Just like his Triumph Herald.  

 © John Oliver March 07

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The Coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep across the world, but the hardest hit places seem to be The USA and Europe and in Europe, the pandemic is making the biggest inroads in The United Kingdom where the government response to the challenge has been, to say the least, woeful. They did not close the borders, they are STILL not doing enough testing and the lack of protection for front line health staff is nothing short of criminal – not so much in the hospitals, although there are still logistical problems there, but in the care homes and old peoples homes, which just seem to have been abandoned to their fate! There is a strong lobby to get the country going again and to protect the economy. The Hedge funds are keen to get the worker ants back to the grindstone so that their profit margins can be maintained. So what if a few more die, we all know the victims won’t be the rich! If I sound a little cynical it is because I believe that this once great country could have achieved so much more success in combating this crisis if we hadn’t been led by buffoons, whose knowledge and understanding is risible and whose competence is, at the very least, questionable! Then there is the incident of Dominic Cummings, chief (unelected) adviser to Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who decides to flout the rules drawn up by the government and take his family 260 miles from London to Durham where his parents live – and then to test his eyesight with a sixty mile round trip to Barnards Castle!

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As for the football… I suppose by now that the season should be over and cricket should be in the driving seat. However, the news is that The FA Premier League is set to continue from 17th June, playing off the remaining 92 matches of the season.

I include at this point, a cricket match where I umpired in May, three years ago:

Sunday 14th May 2017

Rutland & District Cricket League 
John Wilcox Cup 1st Round

Nassington 105 all out in 29.2 overs
LOST to
Grantham 106 for 3 in 31.5 overs
This was a fifty overs a side match but barely sixty overs in total were bowled. Nassington were extravagant and squandered their wickets. They should and could have scored many more!!! Grantham were substantially more circumspect, realising that the wicket had hidden demons to tempt the unwary. They compiled their victory total assiduously and ran out comparatively easy winners.

Nassington CC is a small cricket club just off the A47 main road to Peterborough. It is a village with a school and a pub, but no shops. The cricket club has, over the years, punched above its weight, mainly through the stewardship of Bill Taylor, once a formidable batsman, but now groundsman and general factotum

The outfield wobbles like waves upon the sea. It is a small pitch and balls are often lost in the neighbouring fields!

However, neither great sport is operating – nor likely to – in the near future. The Bundesliga re-started midway through this month, but behind closed doors, just so that they can get the season finished. I can’t summon up the interest to watch it – even though Monday night’s on Channel 4 used to be a “must watch” Bundesliga highlights programme! If The FA Premier League restarts on 17th June, there will be no supporters allowed into the stadiums. However, there is a great worry that fans might try to congregate outside stadiums even when all the matches should be behind closed doors. The Premier League may try to stage fixtures at neutral grounds to avoid this. Is it worth it? Maybe we should just declare the season “abandoned”, with all fixtures and matches played, standing for recording purposes. However, anything could happen and at this stage, that is ALL that can be said!

In the meantime ……. I’ll keep walking!

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Saturday 2nd May 2020

After all the precipitation of the last week, it was good to get out under blue skies bedecked with cotton wool clouds. The walk traversed The Plantation and keeping carefully behind the industrial estate, brought me out onto an escarpment above The Welland Valley with views across to Caldecott and thence, onto The A6003 a third of the way down Rockingham Hill. The village cafe was open (Tues to Sunday, they said) and it would have been churlish not to have availed myself of a large sausage bap with HP sauce and half a pint of tea! Onwards to Great Easton, where the village shop was open to one person at a time (queue outside, please) and St Andrew’s Church, further on round The Eyesbrook Reservoir to Stoke Dry and ….. another St Andrew’s church, and a former squire, Sir Everard Digby, knighted by King James I, but also executed by him after the Gunpowder Plot. Onwards to Lyddington and another St Andrew’s Church and then back to Gretton via Gretton Weir and Station Road. Seven stiles and 16.51 miles.

Stagnant pools of water in The Brookfield Plantation

The view from the escarpment above The Welland Valley with Caldecott Parish Church prominent in the midst of the picture!

The parish church of St Andrew, Great Easton

The parish church of St Andrew, Stoke Dry

A gorgeous salmon blossomed tree (not sure what species) just below the church in Stoke Dry

The pathway through the oil seed rape field at the top of the hill above Lyddington

The parish church of St Andrew in Lyddington

Tame black lambs – obviously used to being fed – in the fields behind the village of Lyddington

Gretton Weir

Wednesday 6th May 2020

Not a cloud in the sky, but fortunately , a cooling breeze for this short walk down church gap and across the railway line to Thorpe by Water. By the River Welland, a swan bestrode its nest whilst partner glided by on the water, Across the river a herd of young Jersey bullocks grazed. From Thorpe by Water to Lyddington with its distinctive parish church and along the way, there were a couple of butterflies, the first a fairly common red admiral (or was it possibly a small tortoiseshell?), but the second, the orange tip is the male version of the much rarer anthocharis cardemines. From Lyddington, it was a straight walk along to Gretton Weir, but then the climb up to Station Road and the railway bridge. With Charlotte, 5 stiles and 6.88 miles

Down church gap, there is a pool of water – pretty stagnant looking – in the shade of the parish church of St James

The footpath railway crossing across the field beyond chrurch gap

The view across the fields from the other side of the pedestrian railway crossing.

Small tortoiseshell butterfly

One swan bestride the nest, whilst the other guards the territory!

Are these Jersey cattle? Some would say they were two light in colour.

The footbridge across The River Welland, just before the village of Thorpe by Water

Anthocaris Cardomines

The Bede Gate at Lyddington

The parish church of St Andrew, Lyddington with its stumpy short spire set atop the main tower.

The railway bridge at the bottom of Station Road in Gretton. Almost immediately to the right is where Gretton Railway Station once stood, now a small housing estate.

Friday 8th May 2020

It was very warm today – and humid! There was some blue in the sky but lots of cloud cover as I walked down to Kirby Hall and then across to Deene Park (Deene Hall was just visible through the trees). The path through the park was beautifully manicured and signposted, until a sign pointed straight ahead …. and into … The Grimpen Mire! The old boots shipped some water, but I managed to get through! Across to Deenethorpe and the airfield, home to The USAF 401st Bombardment Group from its opening in 1943 until August 1945. Then it was a long walk onwards to Brigstock, passing a thoughtful bench – and the mighty impressive entrance to Bocase Farm. Across the fields from Brigstock to Stanion and a strange looking crop, that might have been scabious, but I’m not really sure, before returning home via Stanion and Weldon and that strange, esoteric, fortified unit on Gretton Road! Nine stiles and 18.88 miles.

The driveway leading up to the entrance to Kirby Hall

Kirby Hall

The lake at Deene with pen on nest and cob gliding round protectively!

Deene Hall

The track leading away from Deenethorpe Airfield up to the A427 (the Oundle road) and across to the track for Harry’s Wood and brig stock.

The splendid entrance to Bocase Farm. Note the sculptured lions at each side of the gates and the golden eagles atop the gateposts.

Main Street, Brigstock

There was a field between Brigstock and Stanion full of these flowers. I never did get to find out what they are (see below for a larger view). Any offers?

Stanion

The Willowbrook at Weldon

Tuesday 12th May 2020

I love walking through The Brookfield Plantation. The high canopy of trees cuts out the light, the wonderful variety of shades of green, the muntjacs gliding like shadows amongst the trees, the vast stagnant pools of dappled water and the hidden pepperpot which supplies air to the railway tunnel far below. When you come out – there is the view right across the valley to Great Easton and beyond that, even to Nevill Holt. A slice of fruit cake and a ginger ale at the coffee shop in Rockingham, down the hill from the church and The Sondes Arms, before crossing over to Great Easton and then the long uphill trek to Nevill Holt – once a prep school and a theatre, but now a private residence with its own church! The sculpture of the horse’s head is a very impressive addition to the front lawn. Down the hill to Drayton and the smallest consecrated church in Leicestershire, before another climb up to Bringhurst and down through Great Easton again, and onwards to Caldecott and Gretton Weir with the welcome sight of St James Church tower peeping above the trees and the bridge at the bottom of Station Road, back in Gretton. 27 stiles and 17.1 miles

The Brookfield Plantation

Large stagnant pools are a feature of The Brookfield Plantation!

A pepperpot, built to provide fresh air into the railway tunnel far below!

The view from the escarpment as you emerge from the plantation. In the middle distance is the church of St Andrew at Great Easton and up on the hill, a glimpse of Nevill Holt, home of the horse sculpture.

Rockingham Parish Church in the grounds of Rockingham Castle

The Sondes Arms, Rockingham, quite a favourite watering hole!

Next door to the Sondes Arms are the tea rooms, which are open, even during the pandemic – but only one customer at a time and only for take aways!

The War Memorial at Great Easton and behind it and to the right, is The Sun, a hostelry of some repute!

Nevill Holt

The church of St Mary at Nevill Holt dates from the thirteenth century.

The horse sculpture by Nic Fiddian Green dominates the lawned area to the fromnt of Nevill Holt

Nevill Holt was owned by The Cunard family from 1876 to 1912 and writer, publicist and society hostess, Nancy Cunard was born there (1896-1965). In 1919, the house was bought by the Phillips family who ran it as a prep school for boys aged 7 to 13 (who then could progress to Uppingham School) up until 1998 when declining numbers and a recent sexual scandal (one former teacher was gaoled for ten years and the deputy headteacher committed suicide). In 2000, the estate was bought by Carphone Warehouse co-founder, David Ross and he has spent considerably in developing the estate including a 400 seat theatre for his summer operas. Across the road is a cricket ground, also part of the estate. I’ve never played (or officiated) there and I’m not sure if it is still used for cricket.

The church of St James in Drayton, the smallest consecrated church in Leicestershire

The church of St James in Gretton peeps out above the trees@

Gretton Weir (from the back, looking towards the road.)

Saturday 16th May 2020

Gun metal grey clouds drifted across the sky as I set out for Harringworth Lodge – which appeared to have acquired a coating of algae – overseen by the red cat weather vane. On the way down to the tiny hamlet of Shotley, there was a good view of some of The Welland Viaduct – and an expansive garden to the rear of one of the houses. Passed St John The Baptist Church on the way to a closer look at The Welland Viaduct, before the climb up to Seaton where access to the Bisbrooke path was almost vertical! Jemima Tomblin died over 200 years ago but her details were daisy fresh in Bisbrooke church yard. Had a peak at the Uppingham School Cricket 1st XI pavilion and “Todd’s Piece”, the home of Uppingham Town FC before walking out to Stoke Dry Woods and a fine view of The Eyesbrook Reservoir – Rutland’s second “Water”. Through Lyddington and Thorpe by Water and under the double-track railway bed of the former Market Harborough to Peterborough line. The swans and the eggs were gone – hatched? A yellow train headed for the viaduct and … at last, St James’ church tower peeped over the trees as I made my way towards church gap. Eighteen stiles and 17.78 miles

Harringworth Lodge

Hard beside the lodge is this distinctive and somewhat eccentric weather vane

The Welland Viaduct – but less than a quarter of the arches are on view here!

The back garden of one of the houses in Shotley!

The Church of St John the Baptist in Harringworth

The Welland Viaduct has eighty-two arches and is 1,275 yards long – the longest masonry viaduct across land in this country – It was built between 1876 and 1878 using around 30 million bricks and the labour (at its height) of 3,500 men (several of whom were killed in the construction). In 2004 substantial strengthening and maintenance work was undertaken and in 2016/17 further work was done to allow the speed limit across the bridge to be increased from 20mph to 60mph. Regular passenger services were discontinued in 1960, but the line is still used as an alternative passenger route from Kettering and Corby to Oakham, Melton Mowbray and Leicester.

The steep access from the road at Seaton up to the path across the fields to Bisbrooke.

Jemima Tomblin 1763-1819

“From this hard journey here on earth

Her soul has taken flight

And gone a journey much more worth,

To meet The Lord of Light”

The Uppingham School Cricket 1st XI pavilion – locked down!

Todd’s Piece, home of Uppingham Town FC

An unusual view of The Eyesbrook reservoir. It was used for training the pilots in the dambuster raids on Germany

Just outside Thorpe by water is the railway bridge of the old Rugby to Peterborough line (via Market Harborough). The metal strengthening struts indicate that this line was double tracked across the bridge!

Nest abandoned, just a few small feathers, cygnets hatched? No sign of cob and pen.

A strange sight of a train hurtling along towards The Welland Viaduct from Gretton. It was a train all in yellow, except for what I thought were two class 31 diesels – one pulling and one pushing, but I was too far away to make a confident sighting!

Once again, St James’ church peeps above the treeline, a sure certainty that the end of the walk s nigh!

Wednesday 20th May 2020

It was hot, even at 8.00am, but in The Brookfield Plantation it was quiet and still and cool. There were cranesbill and purple vetch and horse chestnut trees in bloom and wild rose amongst the stagnant pools with dappled sunlight piercing the forest canopy. At the far end, the view from the escarpment, back across to Gretton and even as far as Lyddington, was as clear as a bell! With Charlotte, nine stiles and 5.4 miles.

Cranesbill

Horse Chestnut

Wild Rose

Stagnant pool in The Brookfield Plantation

Looking back towards Gretton from the escarpment, you can just see the tower of St James’ church in the gap in the trees!

Lyddington, from the escarpment

Friday 22nd May 2020

Just a gentle stroll through the village where the flag was flying for our NHS and other heroes, down church gap and across field and railway line with a stiff breeze which we turned into ignoring the Thorpe by Water signpost and heading instead across to Gretton Weir. Then we headed out towards Rockingham, turning off up the track and under the railway line this time, going up Arnhill back into the village! With Charlotte, 3.75 miles and only one stile.

Gretton War Memorial and Green with Rainbow Flag

St James’ Church, Gretton

The bridge under the main line from Kettering/Corby to Manton and Oakham and Leicester

Saturday 23rd May 2020

Blue skies, well hidden by cotton wool clouds and a hefty breeze! Walked down to Kirby Hall and on to Deene with the chocolate box houses and the the teapot monument. Across the swamp to Bulwick, where a sharp shower interrupted proceedings, and then across to Blatherwycke and the church of The Holy Trinity – further on a weathered Greek god statue presided over the landscape and Blatherwycke lake was choppy, just adjacent to where a Second World War Italian POW camp used to be. In Kingscliffe, there was a quiet place – open to all the community, except dogs! The church was dedicated to All the Saints and St James, the fire station, erected by public subscription in 1831, still stands, although not as a fire station, the house that forty or so years ago was up for sale for £1 (but you’d need £250,000 to do it up) looks resplendent and the village lamp, erected to commemorate the coronation of Edward VII. Further on, a memorable picture of Kingscliffe Railway Station, as it may have looked in Edwardian times. Onwards to Laxton Hall and Laxton village, where the sheep ruled the street, the former monastery at Fineshade with the adjacent deer sculpture and home via Harringworth Lodge! Thirty-nine stiles and 20.28 miles

This was the walk where, early on and unbeknown, I lost my keys – keys to house, car and even keys to a couple of my children’s houses! I miscalculated a stile and ended up on my back in a ditch. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get up, because my back pack was stuck under the ledge of a culvert. Eventually, I divested myself of the back pack and was able to get out – and retrieve the back pack – but I failed to notice that my keys had fallen out of my pocket and only discovered the disappearance when I got home and couldn’t get in the door. I did drive (or should I say, Charlotte drove me!) to several possible sites that evening, but all to no avail and it wasn’t until the following morning that I remembered the fall. We walked out across the fields to the stile where I had fallen and, sure enough, there were my keys and my anxiety levels dropped like a stone!

On the extreme edge on the right the walk goes to Kings Cliffe, a most interesting village

Kirby Hall, an Elizabethan mansion, was built around 1570 by Sir Humphrey Stafford for Sir Christopher Hatton who was Lord Chancellor to Queen Elizabeth 1. Much of the house is now without a roof, but the great hall and state rooms still retain their former splendour. “Antiques Roadshow” held one of their TV programmes here in 2014.

In the last week or so, signs like this have appeared in virtually every field in the area which has a walk through it! It is not always easy to tell from a herd of cattle if a bull is present!

Chocolate Box houses in Deene

The Deene Memorial with the teapot on top!

This stile, just over the A43 from the swamp, was under water on both sides!

Scarlet Pimpernel

The Church of The Holy Trinity at Blatherwycke

This statue, standing in the middle of nowhere beyond Holy Trinity church in Blatherwycke, is a copy of the famous “Apollo Belvedere”, first sculpted around 120-140AD and re-discovered around 1490 and housed in The Vatican. It is well weathered with some of the metal support work showing through the sculpture

Blatherwycke Lake, a large expanse of water between Blatherwycke and Kings Cliffe and further on towards Kings Cliffe is the site of the WWII Italian POW Camp.

I thought at first that this was a common Cabbage White butterfly, now, however, I’m not even sure it is a butterfly. It might even be a moth!

The Pytchell, a garden adjacent to the church in Kings Cliffe, open to “all the community (except dogs)”!

The church of All the Saints AND St James. I would have thought that St James would be part of all the saints, but he seems to have been singled out for special mention!

This monument adorns the entrance to the church (presently closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic) and suggests that Mrs Ann Atkins’ husband, Willis, was an apothecary who practised in St Neots which is a good forty to fifty miles away. In the 1750s, that would have been a couple of days ride away!

The tiny building which was erected by public subscription in 1831 to house the village fire engine. The upkeep was paid for by the annual insurance fee, paid by the householders. Their houses were issued with special plaques, displayed on the outside wall. It is not known if houses without plaques would be attended to, if a fire broke out there, or whether they would just be charged the full cost of the salvage operation! The building is now a detached garage belonging to one of the houses!

When I first came to Northamptonshire, thirty-seven years ago, this house was actually on the market for the price of £1.00. We even went to look at it, but it was a tumble down wreck and much too small for our needs – and much too expensive, because we were told that it would take upwards of £250,000 to restore the listed building. It is looking pretty good, now, though!

Kings Cliffe Railway Station, originally opened by The LNWR (London & North Western Railway) on 1st November 1879 and closed by British Rail on 6th June 1966. The locomotive in the picture looks like a LNWR “Precedent” class 2-4-0, around ninety of which were built between 1874 and 1882 and were for many years the work horse of The LNWR main line services.

This lamp in the middle of the village was erected to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII on 9th August 1902 – at around about the same time as the train above was in use at Kings Cliffe Station!

Fineshade Priory was an Augustinian monastery dating from 1208, but was swept away in the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1536. Thereafter several buildings were built on the site, but, now, only the stable block remains and this has been converted into private residences.

Adjacent to the buildings at Fineshade is this fine sculpture of a deer.

Laxton Hall, constructed in the 1780s and added to during the following hundred years or so, is now a residential care home, set in 85 acres of trees and gardens.

Laxton Village (pop: 90) has a lovely cricket club where I have played and officiated on many occasions. It is quite small, so no sixes are allowed – and there is a tree within the boundary as I recall!

Harringworth Lodge – probably a couple of miles from Harringworth itself – and, indeed only a couple of miles from Gretton, too. There is a farm track leading to it from the road, but otherwise it is isolated. There is plenty of birdlife, geese, swans, ducks and cormorants!

Wednesday 27th May 2020

Hot, humid and sticky under a cloudy sky with the early sun struggling to break through as I started out, down Westhills with its view across to Rockingham Castle and then back down the road to Gretton Weir, where two swans were resting on the concrete platform. Onwards, across the fields to Caldecott and the church of St John The Evangelist (where the clock always says twelve). Up the A6003, through the site of the deserted medieval village of Snelston and across the fields to Stoke Dry, with The Eyesbrook Reservoir clearly visible. Back up and across the A6003 and down through the fields into Lyddington, along the road to Thorpe by Water and finally, across the fields to Gretton and the engineers working on the main railway line to Kettering. Nineteen stiles and 11.18 miles.

The path across the fields behind Gretton and heading down to cross the railway line on the way to Rockingham

Rockingham Castle, far away in the distance across the valley. The first fortified settlement there, was a Motte and Bailey castle constructed in the reign of William The Conqueror and reinforced in stone under his son, William II. By the end of the fifteenth century it had largely fallen into ruin and was sold off by Henry VIII. At that time (and before), the entire countryside around the castle was covered in forest and there was good hunting of wild boar and deer. For quite a while in medieval times, it was a royal hunting lodge.

The castle as it is today, owned by The Saunders-Watson family. In the early 1980s, it was used for a TV series about The English Civil War:- “By The Sword Divided”. Today, James Saunders-Watson (who was appointed High Sheriff of Northamptonshire on 26th March 2018), has turned the entire castle and estate into a business venture with a £4 million turnover. His ancestors, Charles and Lavinia Watson frequently entertained the novelist, Charles Dickens in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Three months ago, at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic lock down, I came down this path which then had the consistency of porridge, so thick was the mud covered pathway and extremely treacherous to negotiate!

Wild roses on the same path.

There has been a great deal of work don on The River Welland in recent years, both to improve the flow and to create a better environment for the creatures that live by or in it! There has also been some attempt to improve flood defences, because flooding is always an issue, and especially at and around Gretton! The Weir itself has been extensively developed, but there has been no noticeable diminution in flooding!

Cob an pen at rest at Gretton Weir

Fairchild’s Wood is about halfway between Gretton Weir and Caldecott and is not really a wood at all! There are a couple of bird hides and plenty of wildlife.

Caldecott Parish Church of St John The Evangelist, where the clock always shows 12.00.

The information garnered here was captured from a plaque outside the steps leading up to St Andrew’s Church

The church of St Andrew at Stoke Dry

The White Hart at Lyddington – a hostelry of some repute, but maybe a tad expensive!

The main line looking towards Corby and Kettering and engineering work being undertaken!

Friday 29th May 2020

The sun seared down mercilessly from an azure dome, so, even early in the morning, escape into The Brookfield Plantation was a blessed relief. I exited too early and had to follow the road up to Rockingham Triangle, passing The Shire Lodge Cemetery and the forlorn, deserted Steel Park, Corby Town’s Football Stadium. From there onto Lodge Park and across to Woodnewton School, where I spent twenty-two years of my teaching career. Behind the school lies Thoroughsale Woods … a gentle amble down towards The Boating Lake where the geese and their offspring eagerly took to the cooling water! Onwards to Beanfield and the house where I used to live and then across to, and through The Kings Wood Local Nature Reserve, before crossing the A6003 and taking the route through the fields to East Carlton Country Park and the parish church of St Peter which dates from around 1780. Skirted round Cottingham, past the former football ground of the defunct Cottingham FC and up past The Spread Eagle public house, shuttered and barred, and out along the road to Rockingham. Wow! I almost missed it! Without warning a muntjac sprang across the road! I managed to catch a couple of hasty snaps, but then it was gone! Ice cold Ginger beer and a slab of fruitcake in the Rockingham cafe – which was doing brisk business – and then the final three miles across the fields … back to … Gretton. Five stiles and 19.38 miles.

The cool of The Brookfield Plantation on a very hot morning. Sadly, I mistook the route and came out too early and found myself on Gretton Brook Road and had to walk all the way by road to Rockingham Triangle!

There is presently a consultation process (the public consultation ended on 30th April 2020) taking place at Corby Council about a proposed extension to the cemetery

Corby Town Football Club’s third home since they were founded in 1948. Occupation Road, their first home was demolished in 1985 to make way for a housing estate (although the original club house still exists and is licensed!). The second ground was Rockingham Triangle, a purpose built athletics arena, totally unsuited to football. The existing stadium is less than ten years old and adjacent to Rockingham Triangle, was built for the club by the council with government and Lottery funding

This is the original site of Woodnewton Way Junior School, originally built in 1956. During my time at the school, it became Grant Maintained and changed its name to Woodnewton GM Junior School. Presently, the school has been merged with the adjacent infant school and is now known by the somewhat flowery title of “Woodnewton, A Learning Community”.

Thoroughsale Wood is part of the ancient woodland known as Rockingham Forest, where royalty used to hunt!

Corby Boating Lake was constructed in the early 1970s and boasts an extensive wildlife – swans, geese, ducks, waterfowl, herons and kingfishers. A day’s fishing permit will set you back £4.50!

42, Farmstead Road, my former residence (1989-2011), looking a tad careworn!

The Kingswood Local Nature Reserve, also part of the ancient woodland known as Rockingham Forest.

East Carlton Country Park. In the grounds (although not open to the public) is the Great House, originally constructed around 1776-78 and added to considerably during the following century to give it a distinct French chateau appearance. Around 1934/5, Stewarts and Lloyds used the mansion to house single workers from their new steel plant at Corby whilst 59 new residences were built nearby to house the company executives!

The church of St Peter, East Carlton. The village of East Carlton is a “Thankful Village”, that is to say that no men from the village, who fought in WWII, were killed!

The former home of Cottingham FC. As recently as the year 2000, they were champions of Division 1 of The United Counties League, but unable to take promotion to the Premier Division because they had no floodlights. They survived four more seasons in Cottingham and then one season playing at Rockingham Triangle before folding completely and the small covered area down the left of the pitch was demolished, leaving only the playing field, now used by Cottingham Primary School

The Spread Eagle public house dates from the middle of the nineteenth century.

In the 1950s, the landlord and his family lused to live in the house to the left of the pub on the picture. 

A former villager, Ann Giles, who was born in the cottage next to the pub, recalls: “It was a lovely, cosy little pub with small rooms. I remember the village football team used to change in a room at the back and had to run down the street to play matches. In those days you went upstairs to the skittle room and if they threw the cheeses too hard they used to fly out of the window and we children would get them and throw them back up.” (Information from a press clipping in Corby Library Archives).

The current Spread Eagle was built in the 1960s behind the original pub, which was subsequently demolished. 

Muntjac are not indigenous to our country. They are a south east asian species and the present stock of muntjac in this country is said to be due to escaping animals from Woburn Park in 1925. They can now be found almost anywhere on mainland Britain.

Sunday 31st May 2020

My middle son, Michael and daughter in law Rebecca came over with Freddie (9) and Tess (6) for a socially distanced walk on The Brookfield Plantation. It was another very warm day with the sun beating down from a pale cerulean canopy, but inside the plantation, all was calm and cool. We went as far as the pepper pot and then returned by virtually the same route with The Rockingham Motor Speedway stadium visible across the field! Four stiles and 5.1 miles.

Rebecca and Tess

Mike and Freddie

The Pepperpot, an air vent for the railway tunnel far below!

Rockingham motor speedway

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April 2020

THEY’RE WEARING CRICKET PADS UP IN HEAVEN

John J O’Connor 18th April 2020

“Why are you putting on cricket pads?”
says God to old Saint Pete.
“Cos Norman Hunter’s coming up
and he’s dangerous with his feet.

We’ll put him on Cloud number Six
where he can hang his England Caps on pegs
the cloud is already christened as
‘ Norman Bites Yer legs.’

Despite his reputation God,” says Pete
“he’s liked by all the lads,
but I strongly recommend to you
that you put on your cricket pads.”

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This has got to be the first month since I started this blog that there has been NO football in it! The Covid-19 (or coronavirus) pandemic has caused an almost world wide cessation of any sport. The Olympics have been put back to 2021, all football in this country below National League has been called null and void and even at this stage, it looks like it will be a very difficult call for any more league football to be played this season! The cricket season never started, although there is talk of a start possibly being made on or after 1st July, but at this present moment that would seem to be wholly unlikely! The Premier League and The EFL (English Football League) are talking about continuing the season from August and running through to a completion by the end of October. In the meantime, I will just vaunt my affiliation with my home town football badge!!!

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Friday 3rd April 2020

Charcoal grey clouds rolled across the slate grey sky first thing this morning, but then pocket sized handkerchiefs of blue crept around the edges and by noon, the sun was quite warm. The walk took me down church gap and across the railway line to Thorpe by Water (where I doubt many paupers live), then on to Seaton where All Hallows’ Church overlooks the vast expanse of The Welland Viaduct. From there to Bisbrooke, crossing the track bed of the former spur line from the Harborough to Peterborough railway, a line which had its terminus in Uppingham. At Uppingham, the school 1st XI cricket pitch looked resplendent, but I doubt I’ll be umpiring there, this season! A woolly pig in Uppingham, too and brown sheep in the fields behind Lyddington, where the monks used to harvest fish from their special pools. From there a straightforward walk back to Gretton! Ten stiles and 11.92 miles

A swan glides effortlessly and silently upstream on The Welland

The Welland Viaduct as seen from Seatom All Hallows Parish Church

Seaton All Hallows Parish Church

The track bed of the former spur railway line that led to Uppingham off the Market Harborough to Peterborough line. The line was opened in 1894 and closed in 1964

Bisbrooke Parish Church of St Michael and All the Angels

The peaceful aspect of the Uppingham School Cricket 1st XI pitch. I was down to umpire here in May, but that ain’t going to happen!

A wooly pig on the track leading out of Uppingham and up to Uppingham Community College

Brown sheep in the fields behind Lyddington

The stumpy spire atop Lyddington Parish Church and, in the forefront, the remains of the fishponds created by the monks of the Bede House for their Fridaymeals where meat was not allowed!

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Sunday 5th April 2020


A gentle stroll down to Westhills and back with some wonderful views across the valley to Lyddington and Caldecott and a glimpse of the entrance to the railway tunnel under Rockingham Hill. With Charlotte, three stiles and 4.2 miles.

This is Lyddington in the distance with the short stumpy spire atop the tower of the church. There were monks here in the middle ages and the bred fish for their Friday meals in great man made fish ponds behind The Glebe House.

This is the village of Caldecote on the main A6003 road to Uppingham

The railway line disappears into Corby tunnel underneath Rockingham Hill. There was an accident involving a fatality inside the tunnel in 1975 when faulty brakes led to a train running away into the tunnel.

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Tuesday 7th April 2020

A gentle amble down ‘The Dusty’ to Kirby Hall, the Elizabethan mansion from 1570. It doesn’t seem like six years since an edition of Antiques Roadshow was broadcast from there! Up the driveway and across Kirby Lane, a dozen or so ‘tables’ are laid out quite close to the sinister and heavily guarded facility at the junction of Kirby Lane and Gretton Road. These tables are very informative – local history, wildlife, science and nature are all included ….. but all too soon, it is back across the fields to Gretton and the peaceful edifice of St James’ parish church. A lovely warm sunny day with an encouraging breeze, three stiles and 6.8 miles.

Kirby House

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Good Friday 10th April 2020

A lovely day with azure skies and a gentle breeze. I left early for Thorpe by Water and passed the 17th century George & Dragon in Seaton before capturing the Welland Viaduct in the early morning mist. An odd and very narrow bridge took me under the former spur railway line to Uppingham and looking back from the A47, I espied another viaduct on the same line as the Welland Viaduct (I’ve put a map at the end of the pictures showing the railways round Gretton in the 1940s and 1950s). I swear the lambs in Morcott are younger than their Seaton counterparts! Passed the derelict White Horse Inn in Morcott and recrossed the A47 to Barrowden at the junction where the beautifully preserved windmill sits. Followed the railway track bed to Turtle Bridge, then on to Harringworth, Shotley and Harringworth Lodge and back to Gretton! Can anyone identify the blossom? Sixteen stiles and 13.75 miles.

The George & Dragon in Seaton, where, many years ago, they had a honky tonk piano to accompany the evenings drinking!

You can just make out the spire of Harringworth Parish Church in the early morning mist on the far side of The Welland Viaduct with its eighty-seven arches (not all visible here).

A quirky footbridge underneath the spur line which left the main line to make its way to Uppingham. The spur had a lifetime of only seventy years, opening in 1894 and closing in 1964. To get to Uppingham from Gretton by train in those days, involved three changes – Gretton to Manton, Manton to Luffenham and Luffenham to Seaton from whence a train to Uppingham. It is only about five miles from Gretton to Uppingham – be easier to walk!

After crossing The Welland Viaduct, from Harringworth in the direction of Manton, there is a second, much shorter viaduct of eight arches which crosses over the Uppingham spur line (see map above).

The White Horse Inn in Morcott, once a meeting place of bikers and once run by the husband of a former member of my teaching staff, sadly now, derelict!

The walk from Morcott crossed the A47 at the turn off for Barrowden and this beautifully converted windmill.

This is a section of the former railway line which went from Market Harborough to Peterborough just after the junction where the line split for the journey to Stamford (and the spur to Uppingham). It looks very narrow, but it was double tracked!

Not entirely certain what these blossoms are, but I think that they might be cherry blossom!

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Easter Sunday, 12th April 2020


A gentle jaunt, this morning, across to Westhills and a clear view of the villages of Caldecote and Lyddington nestling in the distance across The Welland Valley. It was a beautiful morning and the flora was flourishing – Blackthorn blossom, Self Heal, Spurge and even Celandines adjacent to a babbling brook! With Charlotte, three stiles and 4.6 miles.

The farmer has been doing some ditching work beside the track

Caldecote

Lyddington with the short stubby spire on its church

A Babbling Brook!

Spurge

This is Gretton Pocket Park and the Diamond Jubilee Commemoration Water Spout!

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Tuesday 21st April 2020

At last!! After more than a week indoors with a bad back, a gentle foray across to Thorpe by Water under a cloudless azure sky, but with a gentle cooling breeze! There were late flowering bluebells and forget-me-nots down church gap and an array of other flora en route, crossing the railway line and then the road to Lyddington (closed for re-surfacing) and back via Gretton Weir and Arnhill. With Charlotte, six stiles and 6.78 miles

Late blooming bluebells

Difficult to know what this is! It could be flax or speedwell or blue eyed Mary. It is definitely not forget-me-nots!

The tiny village (hamlet?) of Thorpe by Water.

Looking back along the mainline from The Welland Viaduct towards Corby and Kettering at the pedestrian crossing on the walk to Thorpe by Water.

Re-surfacing work on the road between Gretton and Lyddington

Forget-me-nots

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Saturday 25th April 2020

A very pleasant walk this morning under field grey skies, down “The Dusty” (or Fullen Lane if you prefer its correct nomenclature), and past Kirby Hall where oil seed rape appears to be the choice of staple crop this year. Beyond the crop you can see the great white elephant of Rockingham Motor Speedway. Onwards to Deene with its array of Hansel and Gretel houses and the tall monument in the middle of the field dedicated to parents and A.M.D.G. (ad maiorem dei gloriam – to the greater glory of God). But why a teapot on top? Across the swamp to the A43 trunk road … “silent as a peak in Darien” both times I crossed it ( having negotiated the fallen tree at the footbridge over the river!). Over to Bulwick and the parish church of St Nicholas – and a new thatched roof for the village shop that burned down a year ago last January. The village school closed in the 1980s, but there is still a Nursery with a poignant bon mot at its entrance. Back to Gretton via Harringworth Lodge and yet more oil seed rape – taller than me! 12 stiles and 11.27 miles.

Kirby Hall, Elizabethan Mansion

Across the field of oil seed rape the Rockingham Motor Speedway stadium is just visible.

Hansel and Gretel houses in Deene

The Monument in the field beyond Deene

“This monument, sacred to the memory of our parents was put here in the year 2000 – EB & MB”

But why a teapot on top?

The fallen tree blocking on end of the footbridge across the river just before the path reaches the A43

“Silent as a peak in Darien”

St Nicholas’ Parish Church in Bulwick

The village shop, where walkers could get a coffee and a snack. It was also the centre of a thriving jam and preserve making enterprise. It burned down in early 2019. Since my last visit, the thatched roof has been replaced.

A sign on the front door of the (closed) Nursery

Harringworth Lodge

Oil Seed Rape……. taller than me!

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Sunday 26th April 2020

A gentle amble down The Dusty and across the fields to Kirby Hall with the sun beating down remorselessly from an azure firmament! There was plenty of flora on display, maybe some field mouse ear and definitely some Lords and Ladies (cuckoo pint) and ……. fauna … just a fleeting glimpse of some muntjac, well camouflaged amongst the trees! The return journey across the fields featured cows and calves of all colours grazing peacefully, whilst in the distance reared the great monstrosity of Rockingham Motor Speedway, built to host Indy Car racing and rock concerts, but never really utilised! With Charlotte, four stiles and 4.9 miles.

Lords and Ladies (cuckoo pint).

Muntjac, barely visible, camouflaged amongst the trees!

The Rockingham Motor Speedway

The outside garden at our property. Strictly speaking, it does not actually belong to us, but we – or should I say, Charlotte, = maintains it!

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March 2020

Dad stomped in, all grumpy and sore,

He stamped his feet and slammed the door.

He growled and grimaced and threw down his coat,

And made funny noises down his throat.

Then mum said kindly, “Don’t worry dear…”

“United might still win again this year.”

By Rachel Appleyard

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Sunday 1st March 2020
Austrian Bundesliga

SK Rapid Vienna 3

Stefan Schwab 16, 78, Taxarchis Fountas 46,

SV Mattersburg 1

T. Mahrer 37,

Referee:- Alan Kijas……………………………………… Attendance:- 14,100
Admission:- €33.00………………………………………….. Programme:- F.O.C.
This was the very last match of our brief sojourn in Austria. It had been an electrifying few days with a brilliant pad for the four of us (Jonny Crane, Mark Sumner, son Jim and me), which included a pool table and a double bedroom each. Enjoyed a couple of beers in a local hostelry prior to the match – one named after the place where it was brewed in north Austria!!! This was the last match of our short, but very enjoyable Austrian tour. Disappointed by the size of the crowd – the stadium was half full, but the home ultras were in good voice behind one goal! Sadly less than fifty away fans were penned in at the opposite end. A regulation victory for the home battalions over relegation threatened opponents but the sense of atmosphere was less than anticipated! After the match, Jonny’s Austrian friend, Michael Laczika, took us to a fine restaurant where we whiled away the evening with fine food and lots of good wine!

Marvellous sunset over the stadium!

The away fans section was sparsely populated

Eddie and Mark Sumner

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Tuesday 3rd March 2020
Chromasport & Trophies Peterborough and District League
Premier Division

Parson Drove 0

Netherton United 3

Zack Fisher 60, Fraser Sturgess 74, Richard Baines 77,

Referee:- Craig Hardy………………………………………………….. Attendance:- 51
Admission:- F.O.C. ………………………………………………….Programme:- NONE
On a very cold evening out in the Fenlands between Peterborough and Wisbech, these two teams served up a tasty, feisty clash with the visitors eventually and deservedly prevailing. Main Road is wide open to the elements except for a couple of Meccano stands holding around fifty seats each and a wooden structure which might shelter twenty or so hardy souls. There was a warm welcome – a free club badge and a free copy of the only programme they have ever produced, but If Parson Drove hope to progress to step 6 next season, they will have to play better than this!

The wooden structure adjacent to the dug-outs which sheltered standing spectators

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Wednesday 4th March 2020
The Emirates FA Cup 5th Round

Leicester City 1

Ricardo Pereira 82,

Birmingham City 0


Referee:- Jonathan Moss…………………………………………….. Attendance:- 27,181
Admission:- OMGDS £20.00 (£25). ………………………………..Programme:- £3.00
Birmingham City brought some impressive support to The King Power Stadium and for more than eighty minutes, they frustrated the hosts with a determined defensive display. Despite having 80% possession in the match, Leicester managed only two shots on target, one of which was the winning strike in the 82nd minute. With son, Mike and grandson, Freddie.

from the left, son, Mike, grandson, Freddie and the old man!

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Thursday 5th March 2020

A walk from the wharf at Market Harborough along the Harborough spur of the Grand Union canal to Foxton Locks. It was a flat walk, quite muddy in places and the water in the canal was the colour of cement! Stopped for a short break at Foxton and enjoyed a couple of fine pints of ale in the local hostelry before climbing the locks – which were undergoing extensive maintenance – and rejoining the canal bank by the swing bridge for the return leg. With Alison Merricks and Maureen Owens, 12.0 miles, NO stiles!

Alison Merricks on the bridge over the canal at Foxton

All the ten or so locks at Foxton were out of order and undergoing extensive renovation and repair

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Saturday 7th March 2020
North West Counties League Division 1 South k.o.:- 11.00am

I drove Graeme Askham and John Main up to Manchester for three games from the North-West Counties League ‘hop’. We had done all the other four grounds and decided just to take in three new grounds

Wythenshawe Amateurs 1

Chris Howard 4,

West Didsbury and Chorlton 0
Referee:- Andrew Daniels……………………………………………… Attendance:- 546
Admission:- £5.00……………………………………………………….. Programme:- £2.00
A stand with maybe a hundred seats down one side of the ground, a comfortable club house and ‘planes coming in to land at Ringway flying every couple of minutes overhead. The match was uneventful, an early goal capturing the victory and the points for the lowly placed hosts!

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Saturday 7th March 2020
North West Counties League Division 1 South k.o.:- 1.45pm

Wythenshawe Town 3

Mattew Bryan 15, Brad Byrne 49, Liam Crellin Myers 56,

Abbey Hey 2

Jordan Lazenbury 7, Grant Spencer 23 (pen),


Referee:- Jonathan Chadwick…………………………………………….Attendance:- 434
Admission:- £5.00. …………………………………………………………….Programme:- £2.00
Ericston Park is a tight little stadium with plenty of cover on both sides and behind one goal. There is a very pleasant club house and bar, but they ran out of pies! The match was a feisty affair with plenty of colourful language and argumentative contestants! The hosts eventually prevailed after a bruising battle between two of the top sides in the division!

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Saturday 7th March 2020
North West Counties League Division 1 South k.o.:- 4.30pm

Cheadle Heath Nomads 1

Kyle foley 58,

Stockport Town 5

Jardel Depieaza 2, 21, 70, Tyler Ferguson 3, Chris Middleton 20,


Referee:- Ben Robinson…………………………………………………….. Attendance:- 342
Admission:- £5.00………………………………………………………….. Programme:- £1.00
A couple of small Meccano stands – one with seats – and cover on the near side by the changing rooms represented the sparse facilities of the hosts, but they put their hearts into this event and the beef stew was excellent! Sadly, on the pitch they suffered an opening twenty minute onslaught, when the visitors ran in four unanswered strikes. A goal apiece after the break, but the early damage ensured a Stockport victory!

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Monday 9th March 2020
Bet Victor Southern League Premier Division Central

Hitchin Town 0

Peterborough Sports 2

Daniel Lawlor 11 (pen), Dion Semble-Ferris 88,


Referee:- E. Kaye……………………………………………….. Attendance:- 183
Admission:- OMGDS £8.00 (£12)………………………. Programme:- £2.00
On a wet, wild and windy night, the potholes in the car park were inches deep and, needless to say, I stepped into one inadvertently!!! The attendance was meagre by Canaries standards, but the weather was the principal reason. The hosts have improved recently after a poor start to the season, but the visitors are flying high and challenging for promotion and they took an early lead with an eleventh minute penalty. In the second half, the hosts threw the kitchen sink at The Turbines, but then lost an player sent off after a mad, bad challenge which roused tensions on both sides. Thereafter, the visitors wrapped up the victory and the points with a second strike in the 88th minute.

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Tuesday 10th March 2020
Uhlsport United Counties League Premier Division

Harborough Town 3

Callum Milne 17, Daniel Forbes 41, Harry Wakefield 80,

Rothwell Corinthians 1

Andy White 28,


Referee:- Ellis Mills………………………………………………. Attendance:- 104
Admission:- OMGDS £3.00 (£6)………………………….. Programme:- £1.00
The ultras were out in force tonight – a feature I hadn’t previously encountered at Harborough Town – with noise and even a second half flare! This hurriedly rearranged match was meandering to a sleepy conclusion when a mass brawl suddenly developed from nowhere, ten minutes from time. When order was finally restored, the visitors had a man sent off whilst the hosts had a man booked. There was no further addition to the score and Harborough took the match and the points!

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Wednesday 11th March 2020
Oxfordshire Senior Cup Semi Final

Banbury United 2

Lewis Wilson 6, (penalty saved 85,), Ravi Shamsi 32 (pen),

Oxford City 4

Elliot Benyon 26, 46, 59, Kyran Wiltshire 48 (Reece Fleet s/o 85)

Referee:- John Okole……………………………………………………….. Attendance:- 199
Admission:- OMGDS £3.00 (£8)……………………………………. Programme:- F.O.C.
On a wild, wet, windy night, these two teams served up a cracker of a cup-tie. The match was played at Banbury’s Spencer Stadium and although they are a division below their Conference South rivals, they started brightly and took a 2-1 half-time lead. Three minutes into the second half and they were behind and on the hour mark, Elliot Benyon completed his hat-trick to make the game safe. There was still time for late drama as the visiting custodian made an incredible double save on 85 minutes only for a third attempt to be handled off the line by a defender and Oxford were reduced to ten men. The goalkeeper then saved the ensuing penalty shot! With son, James.

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Saturday 14th March 2020
Sydenhams Wessex League Premier Division 

Alresford Town 4

Craig harding 12, Mike Gosney 30, Craig McAllister 64, 85,

Lymington Town 1

Sam House 11, (Steve Flynn s/o 14,)

John Main drove Graeme and me down to deepest darkest Hampshire for a rare foray into The Sydenhams Wessex League and top of the table Alresford against handily placed Lymington Town. We enjoyed a fine repast before the game in “The Horse and Groom” hostelry in the middle of town


Referee:- Martin Bloor…………………………………………. Attendance:- 121
Admission:- OMGDS £3.00 (£5)…………………………….. Programme:- £1.00
There is a fine view from the upstairs balcony of the Arlebury Park clubhouse where the bar is located (with real ale!). The changing rooms are below. This game nearly didn’t start with the visitors unhappy that one of their team had been taken ill (Coronavirus?). An eventful opening fifteen minutes saw two goals, a booking and a visiting player sent off for violent conduct. The scoreline looks decisive and convincing but it didn’t feel that way as top of the table Alresford laboured against fifth placed Lymington! With Graeme Askham and John Main.

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Monday 16th March 2020

A beautiful morning, bright and sunny and mild, but the weekend rain had left the ground heavy and sodden and slippery in many places. The Harrington lake was home to a great flock of what we thought might be greylag geese, who fled squawking if we got near! The preserve shop in Bulwick was still closed some fourteen months after the fire that gutted it. The church which is usually open, was locked! We followed a similar route back to Gretton, but, to avoid the very heavy, churned up farmyard, we came back via The Dusty. Quite a challenging expedition! With Alison and Norma, 9.8 miles, no stiles!

Harringworth Lakes

The shop at Bulwick, where quite a thriving company used to produce all kinds of exotic preserves. Sadly, a fire in early 2019 almost destroyed the building – which is still not yet fully repaired!

Church of St Nicholas at Bulwick

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Monday 16th March 2020
Midland League Division 2

Solihull United 4

Miracle Okafor 42, Kyle Hudlin 65, 69, 85,

Earlswood Town 3

Matthew Pemberton 35, Harry Street 45, 71,

Referee:- Matt Joyce…………………………………………………………Attendance:- 54
Admission:- £4.00…………………………………………………….. Programme:- NONE
Is this the twilight of football? Not only in this country, but around the world! Is Boris the new Oliver Cromwell banning EVERY form of entertainment? Bugger Coronavirus! There was a good gathering of hoppers for this match which provided rich entertainment as top of the table, Solihull United, struggled against lively opponents. The visitors led 2-1 at the interval and pulled it back to 3-3 after two early second half strikes from the hosts. Kyle Hudlin’s hat trick goal five minutes from time clinched it for United! The lights are going out across the football world!

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Coronavirus or Covid 19

So, Football came to an end tonight, Monday 16th March 2020, because of the world wide Coronavirus epidemic. I don’t think we have any concept of the scale of the epidemic and the havoc that it will wreak, but, certainly, football is small beer and safeguarding the population has now become the greatest priority. That means, in my case, locking myself into my home and only venturing out for occasional long walks, well away from other people and out in the vast countryside around Gretton.

Tuesday 17th March 2020

Self isolation, self inflicted, self immolation! Keeping safe in troubled times is not easy, but a walk in the country – and there is plenty of it around Gretton – keeps you fit and reasonably separate. Today’s walk was a shortened version of yesterday’s route, out to Harrington lakes and return by a different path. It looked like a couple of cormorants at play on Harringworth lakes, but, I’m sure I’ll be corrected by seasoned ‘twitchers’. With Charlotte, four stiles and just over five miles.

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Wednesday 25th March 2020

The weather was gorgeous. Not a cloud in a peerless, opalescent sky as I set off down church gap and across the field – and the railway line to Thorpe by Water, negotiating the River Welland and the old LNWR line that once chugged its way from Rugby to Peterborough via Market Harborough. All the wayside stations – Rockingham, Seaton, Wakerley & Barrowden, Kingscliffe and Nassington have long gone – along with the tiny spur that served Uppingham! From Thorpe, by Road to Lyddington and then across the fields to Caldecote and by road again to Great Easton (almost), before turning down towards Rockingham and a fine view of the castle. Then, the last leg back to Gretton. It was mostly dry and hard underfoot, but there were some very soft and boggy patches to negotiate! Nine stiles and 11.52 miles.

St James church, Gretton

Rockingham Castle

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Monday 30th March 2020

Under slate grey skies with brooding clouds, it was really quite mild as I set out down to Gretton Weir. The water level was low and I followed the track across the fields, past the bird hides and onwards to Caldecote where, at the parish church, it is ever 12 o’clock! Walked onwards to Great Easton and then across the fields up to Bringhurst. From there it was downhill into Cottingham. Cottingham never had a railway station, but there was a fairly major junction to the north, where the Harborough to Peterborough line peeled off to Melton Mowbray. The Jurassic way passes to the rear of Cottingham Primary school and the remains of the former Cottingham Town football club. Onwards to Rockingham and then the track up to Westhills across the railway line with a glimpse of the tunnel under Rockingham Hill. A couple of showers made life more interesting! Eighteen stiles and 12.91 miles

Gretton Weir, looking towards the road

Caldecote Parish Church

Sheep and two lambs in a field between Great Easton and Bringhurst

Great Easton Parish Church

The track bed of the old railway line from Market Harborough where t branches off to Melton Mowbray.

The former ground of Cottingham Town Football club

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Other Match:-

Thursday 12th March 2020

Thurlow Nunn Youth League (U18) – West Division

Peterborough Sports 2 Holbeach United 3 Attendance:- 40

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Matches:-

This month:- Matches; 12 New Grounds: 6

This Season: Matches; 164 New Grounds: 77

TOTAL: Matches: 4,334 New Grounds: 1,631

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