June 2021


The hope that springs eternally 
Dreams we don’t restrict
Every possibility
Before the first ball has been kicked

If all the stars align this time
And every cog has clicked
Everything falls into place
Before the first ball has been kicked

In theory this could be “the one”
That no-one could predict
Stranger things have happened
Before the first ball has been kicked

Potential combinations
If the right team has been picked
The world may be our oyster
Before the first ball has been kicked

All ducks lined up in a row
All switches have been flicked
Status green – good to go
Before the first ball has been kicked

Strategies for victories
All the boxes ticked
We sing of hope and glory
Before the first ball has been kicked

Before reality kicks in
And once again, we’re tricked
Hope is always highest
Befopre the first ball has been kicked
Following our hearts
Before the first ball has been kicked

by Paul Cookson

Tuesday 1st June

A cycle ride round Grafham Water with son, Mike and grand son Freddie on a very warm day. Sadly, whilst Dad and Grand dad had hired bikes with plenty of gears, poor Freddie had brought his own bike and struggled a bit up some of the inclines. Perhaps a new bicycle for his birthday is called for? Half way round, we dined at The Wheatsheaf, a hostelry in East Perry on the south bank of Grafham Water and enjoyed a sumptuous repast. Freddie and Mike and I have now circumvented Pitsford, Rutland and Grafham reservoirs.

Freddie on his own bicycle

Freddie and grandad Ed

Freddie and Grand Dad Ed

Tuesday 1st June 2021

Long Eaton Sunday League Division 1

FC Erewash 2

Nathan Frost 54, 65,

AFC Kirk Hallam Reserves 4

Mason Proctor Smith 1, Ryan Shotton 18, 66, James Taylor 90+1,

Referee:- Timothy Lewis. Attendance:- 14

At this late stage in the twilight of the season, any game is welcome and this contest in Sawley, whilst not reaching the heights, still produced six goals and as many scorned, yet reputable, chances. At half time and 2-0 to the visitors, it was hard to see where a home goal might materialise, yet they were level just after the hour mark. Barely a minute later and they were again in arrears and a late strike finished them off! With John Main.

Wednesday 2nd June 2021

Nene Sunday League Division 2

Thorpland Club 81A 5

Shaun Bragg 3, 13, Lloyd Blank 18, Kye Rolfe 44, Jack Blanks 76,

Northampton Sapphires 3

Dean Lukeman 5, Rory Hales 71, Darryl Pearce 81,

Referee:- Wayne Chalmers. Attendance:- 12

At the scragg end of this season, the visitors who are lying fourth in the table, looked jaded and were easily turned over by the bottom placed hosts who scored four first half goals and three of them in the first quarter of an hour! The second half was more evenly balanced, the visiting custodian scoring the final goal with a bullet header from a corner. Not a classic! With John Main.

Thursday 3rd June 2021

By rail from Banbury to Sheffield with grandsons, Sonny and Kingsley, a tram ride and lunch in a local hostelry before the journey back to Banbury and a magnificent GWR Hitachi express on Banbury platform 2! Great day out!

Waiting for the tram in Sheffield, Sonny (left) and Kingsley.

On board the Chiltern Railways train back to Banbury

The GWR Hitachi at Banbury Station

Saturday 5th June 2021

Central Midlands League Division 1 Central

Kilburn 3

Bradley Wheldon 33, Lee Davey 40, Jordan Mighty 51,

Woodhouse Colts 4

Ross Turner 49, Charlie Simpkin 54, 59, Max Radford 73,

Referee:- Aidan Jackson. Attendance:- 56

A convocation of keen hoppers swelled the attendance at the tight little Welfare Ground in Kilburn with rows of terraced housing hemming it in. The hosts squandered a two goal half-time lead and eventually succumbed by the odd goal in seven – exactly the same score when these two met nine days ago! It was cricket weather and the game was also attended by CML vice-president, Stan Wilton.

John Main in the blue T-shirt and Jack Warner arms folded standing on the picnic table

Sunday 6th June 2021

Rutland Cricket League Division 1 (at Uffington)

Uffington (won toss) 205 all out (44.4 overs)

Burghley Park 209 for 5 (40.2 overs)

Burghley Park won by 5 wickets

Burghley Park (20pts) Uffington (7pts)

On a cloudy, overcast afternoon in the village of Uffington, just outside Stamford on the road to Spalding, the hosts elected to bat and found themselves at 18 for 3 after eight overs. They recovered to post a respectable total on a small pitch, but were gradually overwhelmed by the fire power of the visitors, whose home is in the grounds of Burghley House in Stamford. A keenly contested match!

Monday 7th June 2021

A walk across the fields from Gretton to Harringworth Lodge, where the weed strewn lake had visibility right down to the bottom! Onwards across the yellowed sward to the top of The Welland Valley where the viaduct was sharply visible – and even the church of St John the Evangelist in the foreground. On the way down to Turtle Bridge, the windmill at Barrowden dominated the skyline and pink hawthorn was in evidence. Turtle Bridge bestrode a sluggish River Welland and on the walk into Harringworth, we had converse with a friendly quadruped! A lot closer to the viaduct and it’s 87 arches and adjacent to the road back to Gretton, a monument to a vicar’s wife of many years ago, killed in a coaching accident. Sheep, managed very efficiently by sheep dogs, barred the pathway home, so back to the road and the welcoming Gretton sign! With Alison Merricks. One stile and 10.47 miles.

Wednesday 9th June 2021

Nene Sunday League Division 2

North Star 8

Hilton Arthur 9, Tyler Jones 13, 49, Ethan Curtis 29, Danny Brown 62, 75, Josh Healey 81, 85,

Albany Athletic 0

Referee:- Jakob Gielczyk. Attendance:- 42

The final match in this division saw the hosts as runners-up take on third bottom Albany Athletic. The gulf between the sides was reflected in the scoreline, where, but for some excellent custodianship, the final score might have run into the teens. Even though they finished as runners-up, the hosts have been promoted TWO divisions, straight into the Premier Division of the league for next season!

The North Star shirt has a star in black outlined on the front of the shirt.

Sunday 13th June 2021

East Midlands Women’s Cricket League Division 1 (At Gedling Colliery).

Gedling Colliery (won toss) 150 all out in 39 overs.

tied with

Ockbrook & Borrowash 150 all out in 40 overs.

In an exciting and entertaining contest, the youthful sprit of the hosts was matched by the mature experience of the visitors who must have felt they had the job done after dismissing the home side for 150 on a good batting strip. They kept wickets intact, scoring 50 off their first ten overs and at 106 for 4 off 25 overs they looked odds on for victory, but the hosts kept chipping away until with one ball to go, the scores were tied and the visitors lost their final wicket attempting a winning run off the last ball of the match! Great game!

Monday 14th June 2012

From Harringworth, through Shotley and up the hill, heavily enshrouded with oil seed rape. From the top, on either side of the Welland Viaduct, the parish churches of Harringworth and Seaton were both visible. Wild roses at Spanhoe and a field of linseed oil grass before crossing the quarry above Wakerley, where a drone hovered over us! Down the track to Turtle Bridge and back along the riverside to Harringworth. With Alison, Norma, Kate and Maureen on the hottest day of the year so far, no stiles and 5.5 miles.

Wild roses at Spanhoe

A field of Linseed

(left tp right): Alison, Kate, Norma and Maureen

(left to right): Kate, Maureen, Alison and Norma

Thursday 17th June 2021

Pre-Season Friendly

Halse United 1

Longford Park 5

Referee:- Grant Cross. Attendance:- 24

These two teams are seeking admission to The Oxfordshire Senior League (although the hosts are aiming even higher for The Hellenic League). On a dull showery evening, the first hour was pretty ordinary as the sides shared two goals, however, in the final twenty-five minutes, the visitors had four unanswered strikes and ran out easy winners!

Saturday 19th June

Pre-Season Friendly

Southend Manor 2

Luca Prentice 58, Luke Jepson 74,

Tower Hamlets 1

Trevor … 84,

Referee:- Adam Miller. Attendance:- 42

Under a brooding sky with flurries of rain, Southchurch Park did not look its best. The seated area was caged off and the rest of the ground was wide open – no need to pay to get in! The game was equally drab with goals seemingly very unlikely until three arrived in the final half hour including one huge howler by the visiting custodian!

Sunday 20th June 2021

East Midlands Women’s Cricket League Division 1

Kibworth Women (won toss) 123 all out in 36 overs

lost to

Gedling Colliery Women 124 for 3 in 20.4 overs

by 7 wickets.

It was a damp start to the match and chilly, too as a seriously under strength Kibworth elected to bat first and struggled to post a challenging total. The youthful Gedling side polished off the target in just over twenty overs.

Monday 21st June 2021

A gentle amble from the village of Tansor, just beyond Oundle, across the busy A605 and along the track passing The Oundle School shooting range and onwards into Ashton-in-the-Wold and a break at The Chequered Skipper hostelry. The small cottage at the entrance to the village was the site of an horrific and unsolved double murder in 1952, but now looks more like the cottage of Hansel and Greek! A noisy pair of peacocks haunted the village and some damage had been done to a window of the Creed Chapel. Onward to Oundle across the footbridge and passing a silent swan gliding downstream like a galleon. On the other side of Oundle, the weir was in full flow and the church spire of St Peter’s in Oundle was clearly visible. With Alison, Maureen and Kate, eight stiles and 6.2 miles.

Oundle School Shooting Range

Gate House, AshtonWold Estate, Oundle.

George Henry Peach and Lillian Peach were attacked by an intruder at their home with a hammer as they slept in their bed. They were found there by the proprietor of the Three Horseshoes public house when he called at their home to deliver some meat that a butcher’s roundsman had previously tried to deliver on the morning of Saturday 25 October 1952.

Creed Chapel, Ashton-in-the-Wold

St Peter’s Church in Oundle

Monday 21st June 2021
Pre-Season Friendly

Bessacarr 1

Jordan Turner 29,

Armthorpe Welfare 1

Harry Brown 14,

Referee:- Adam Biela. Attendance:- 93
The hosts currently occupy a lower division place in The Central Midlands League, some two divisions below their opponents this evening. They play on a poorly maintained council pitch, full of bare patches and with minimal facilities. A tick and run for your average hopper. Nonetheless, they gave a good account of themselves, this evening, negotiating a draw with their illustrious visitors. Both goals came in the first period. The second half marred by the multiplicity of substitutions. With John Main.

Saturday 25th June 2021

Cricket at Oundle School

Oakham School 100 for 7 (20 overs) and 145 for 9 (20 overs)

lost to

Oundle School 127 all out(20 overs) and 119 for 4 (15.5 overs)

by six wickets.

On the ground where WG Grace scored his 200th century, these two sides contested an interesting format after rain washed out the first hours play. After a disappointing first innings, the visitors posted a challenging 145 for 9 from their second innings and at first, it seemed that it might be enough, but a strong partnership between skipper and main strike bowler took the home side to a well deserved victory.

Sunday 27th June 2022

Cricket at Kibworth

East Midlands Women’s Cricket League Division 1

Ockbrook & Borrowash (won toss) 74 all out (34 overs)

lost to

Kibworth 75 for 7 (32.5 overs)

by three wickets

Under brooding, overcast skies, the visitors struggled to set a challenging target. However the hosts also struggled against some determined and aggressive bowling and it appeared for a while, that the result might be in the balance. Late order batting retrieved the situation and ensured a first victory for the hosts! A free pint in the bar at the end of the game for the thirsty umpires!

Wednesday 30th June 2021

Cricket at Oundle School.

Kimbolton School won toss

Oundle School 183 for 7 declared (46 overs)

drew with

Kimbolton School 108 for 9 (46 overs)

This was a “time” match and after a very slow start, the hosts posted a competitive total with a watchful half century from DCB. Kimbolton started confidently, but once they lost both openers, wickets fell regularly, mainly due to a devastating spell from J Howard who posted impressive figures of 17-10-27-7. However, despite twenty three overs in the final hour, the visitors hung on for the draw in an exciting climax to the match.

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May 2021

Abou Ben Adhem

Abou Ben Athen (may his tribe increase)

Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,

And saw within the moonlight in his room,

Making it rich and like a lily in bloom,

An angel writing in a book of gold:-

Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,

And to the presence in the room he said.

“What writest thou?” – The vision raised its head,

And with a look made of all sweet accord,

Answered, “The names of those who love the lord.”

“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”

Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,

But cheerily still, and said, “I pray thee then,

Write me as one who loves his fellow men.”

The angel wrote and vanished. The next night

It came again with a great wakening light,

And showed the names whom love of God had blest,

And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.

by Leigh Hunt (1784-1859)

Monday 3rd May 2021
Bedfordshire County League Supplementary Cup Group B Kick-off: 12 noon
Ickwell & Old Warden 4
Andrew Vallon 41, 59, Lee Threadgold 77, 83,
Flitwick Town Reserves 1
Reece Smith 4,
Referee:- Tom Welsh.                                             Attendance:- 23
Windy and cold, but dry as the village side gifted the visitors a goal start and then whipped in four unanswered strikes in response!
Monday 3rd May 2021
Bedfordshire County League Supplementary Cup Group B Kick-off:- 2.30pm
FC Polonia 4
Mateusz Antonium 2, 40, Marcin Bator 5, 50,
St John’s (Luton) 1
Mo Elbayan 67,
Referee:- Paul Medlin.                                                               Attendance:- 25
Two goals in the first four minutes put the hosts firmly in the driving seat, but they spent the remainder of the opening period withstanding some extensive pressure from the visitors. Then a further two goals- one each side of the interval ended the game as a contest. The visitor’s consolation came twenty minutes from the end.
Monday 3rd May 2021
Bedfordshire County League Supplementary Cup Group D Kick-off:- 5.00pm
Lea Sports PSG Reserves 1
Alex Bailey 77,
Shefford & Campton B 4
Tom Winch 32, 73, Sam Gibbins 45, Ryan Lewis 82,
Referee:- Peter Parkins                           Attendance:- 23
The rain finally arrived midway through the first period and grew increasingly heavy, but there was shelter! The hosts were devastatingly outplayed and at times were under siege in front of their own goal. That there were only two goals to the visitors in each half was a criminal waste of the opportunities on offer, but the best goal of the game came from the host’s player manager, Alex Bailey!
Tuesday 4th May 2021
Oxfordshire Senior League OSL Premier Cup Kick-off:- 6.30pm
Kennington Athletic 2
Steve Woodhouse 9, Matty Crossan 44,
Bure Park 2
Ryan Collins 1, Rowan Chappell 85,
Referee:- Justin Sercombe.                                                                    Attendance:- 57
An entertaining game on a cool evening, but the rain stayed away! The visitors scored in the first minute and equalised five minutes from time. The hosts looked comfortable with the lead for most of the second half, but couldn’t hang on until the finish.
Saturday 8th May 2021
Coventry Alliance Peter Toogood Cup 5th Round
Brinklow 7
Conor McKiernan 14, Scott McCulloch 25, 35, Ryan Byrne 32, Dave Mekush 39, Molsan Pulford 58, 69,
Craftsman 0
Referee:- Madhan Jassal.                                                                            Attendance:- 31
The rain fell voluminously, very much like the goals did for the hosts, who had amassed five before the interval and squandered nearly as many. Only two more strikes in the second half. It really should have been double figures! With John Main.
Sunday 9th May 2021
Rutland Cricket League Division 2 (at Oakham)
Oakham (won toss) 259 for 7 (45 overs)
Werrington 208 for 9 (45 overs)
by 51 runs
Considering the amount of rain that fell yesterday, the pitch played remarkably well and an opening partnership of 140 got the home side off to a good start. They posted a formidable total. However, the visitors kept pace for much of their innings, but unfortunately kept losing wickets. In the end it was a comfortable victory.
Monday 10th May 2012
Hope Valley League Premier Division
Ashover 1
Perry Richards 18,
Fairfield FC 2
Jake Keeling 11, 83,
Referee:- Chris Brown.                                                                                    Attendance:- 28
Nestling in the folds of the Peak District and battered by a pre-match cloudburst, the weather subsided and in a hotly contested match, the visitors came out on top, perhaps a little fortuitously. A fair smattering of hoppers in attendance!
Tuesday 11th May 2021
Nene Sunday League Division 6 Kick-off 7.00pm
Pitsford Obelisk 0
Illyrians United 0
Referee:- Mark Wetherall.                                                                              Attendance:- 13
The attraction of this match was the esoteric nature of the team names! There is an obelisk down the road from Pitsford, in the Kingsthorpe area of Northampton and it commemorates a former British prime minister, William Cavendish, the 4th Duke of Devonshire, whose claim to fame is that he had the shortest life (44 years) of any British premier! On a wet miserable evening, these two teams wouldn’t have scored if they’d played till midnight and the few chances that did occur, were woefully squandered. Interesting kit for the home side. With John Main.
Wednesday 12th May 2021
Hope Valley League Premier Division
Baslow 4
Lewis Talbot 23, 42, 74, 90+1, 
Dove Holes 3
Liam Sircar 11, Joe Cooke 12, James Gemmell 88,
Referee:- Darryl White.                                                                         Attendance:- 15
Another visit to the Derbyshire Peak District and another lovely ground at Baslow Cricket Club. Baslow have struggled badly this season and it was with some incredulity that we witnessed a wholly unlikely victory! The visitors started confidently with two goals in the first fifteen minutes and several more excellent chances spurned. Baslow were level by the interval and amazingly took the lead around the hour mark as the visitors continued to squander nailed on chances. Eventually, they had to score and they did, to draw level, only for Baslow to knock in a winner in the final minute! With John Main.
Thursday 13th May 2021
Nene Sunday League Division 7
Kingsthorpe Jets 2
Nori Sesay 56, 74
Thorplands Club 1
Gregorz Misiuria 11,
Referee:- Mark Wetherall.                                                                            Attendance:- 19
Rain fell remorselessly from an iron grey sky as these two teams matched each other in testing conditions. It was the visitors who held the half time advantage, but two goals from Nori Sesay, who begins a ban on Friday after a recent sending off, decided the contest in favour of the hosts. With John Main.

Monday 17th May 2021

Hope Valley League Premier Division

Youlgrave 1

Tom Bell 54,

Bamford 5

Elliot Maskrey 18, Chris Lawson 23, 25 Dom Mellor (og) 50, James Thompson 80,

Referee:- Josh Townsend. Attendance:- 46

Another visit to the rolling Peak District and the beautifully appointed home of Youlgrave FC at Youlgrave Lodge CC. Sadly, the hosts are struggling, some six points adrift at the foot of the table. The visitors took full advantage and rattled in three goals in the first half hour. Two more, second half goals and a consolation strike for the hosts settled the contest emphatically in favour of mid-table Bamford. With John Main and Graeme Holmes.

Tuesday 18th May 2021

Yorkshire Cup Group B

Golcar 2

Buddy Cox 42, Alex Hallam 44,

Liversedge 2

Alfie Raw 31, John Cyrus 33,

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

Referee:- Stephen Rushworth. Attendance:- 575

In front of a large, partisan crowd on a bright but cool evening in West Yorkshire, the visitors looked to be well on top after taking a two goal lead around the half hour mark. However, two goals in two minutes just before half time from the hosts saw the sides level at the interval. The second half was something of an anti climax and the match petered out into a tame draw. With John Main and a large gathering of hoppers amongst the impressive attendance!

Wednesday 19th May 2021

Nene Sunday League Division 4

AFC Brampton 3

Matthew Roberts (og) 30, Dan Clark 46, David Hicks 53,

Ashby Athletic 2

Joshua MacAfee 15, Alexandru Barbulescu 21,

Referee:- Graham Pinney. Attendance:- 30

The Racecourse in Northampton is a huge public park where horse racing was held up until 1904. It also staged a round of Jeux Sans Frontiers and a hot air balloon festival as well as public executions, the last of which was in 1880 when two men were hanged for passing forged notes. It is said that the condemned were offered a free drink at the hostelry on the edge of the Racecourse before execution! This evening, dodging heavy showers, these two teams, second and third in their league served up a very competitive match in which the hosts grabbed the win, the points and top spot after initially going two goals behind!

Thursday 20th May 2021

Nene Sunday League Division 2

Wootton Fields Wanderers 2

Omar Gharami 24, 75 (pen),

North Star 4

Hilton Arthur 40, 71, DJ Hixon 45, 73,

Referee:- Simon Castleman. Attendance:- 26

Wootton, a small suburb to the south of Northampton, is where four members of The Ding family, mother, father and two daughters, were murdered in 2011. The community centre in the village is undergoing extensive redevelopment, but on a wet, wild and windy evening, the football team were soundly dismantled by their opponents from Ecton Brook, another village to the east of Northampton. The wind and rain played havoc with the playing conditions, but it was North Star – displaying the star on the front of their shirts – who deservedly triumphed. With John Main.

Monday 24th May 2021

Hope Valley League Premier Division

Fairfield 5

Cameron Holford 20, Billy Halsey 37, 49 (pen), 80, Tallis Stone 63,

Baslow 2

Lewis Talbot 12, Josh Sears 32,

Referee:- Stephen Price. Attendance:- 23

In the shadow of the vast Dowlow quarry and the former High Peak and Cromford railway line, this match was played at Buxton RUFC on a very soft pitch and an increasingly chilly evening. Both clubs occupy places very close to the bottom of the division, but it was the hosts who triumphed after a shaky start which included a bizarre gift of a goal to their opponents. A cacophony of hoppers in attendance swelled the meagre gathering!

Tuesday 25th May 2021

Central Midlands League Division 1 Central

Woodhouse Colts 4

Liam Theakstone 2, 4, Baillie Hajman 73, Jayden Bull 85

Kilburn 3

Jordan Mighty 30, 55, Jordan Patten 65

Referee:- Lee Clarke. Attendance:- 39

Admission:- £2.00. Programme:- NONE

Woodhouse Colts have a ground on the same site as AFC Mansfield, but it is discrete, although accessed via The Forest Town ground. Their charitable visitors this evening, gifted them two goals in the opening five minutes, spent the next hour retrieving the situation and even taking the lead, before succumbing to two late strikes which took the game away from them – a little unfairly, I thought! An intelligence of hoppers boosted the attendance!

Wednesday 26th May 2021

Nuneaton & District Sunday League Premier Division

Grendon 2

Louis Taylor 60, Dan Creaney 68,

Lamb & Flag 0

Referee:- Rob Cairns. Attendance:- 48

There was the rustic smell of freshly mown grass on a very pleasant, sunlit evening for this mid-table clash. Plenty of action, but it took over an hour for the first goal to arrive, mainly due to some errant finishing by the hosts. A second strike was followed by a penalty saved, but the hosts deserved their victory. The referee blew his whistle some seven minutes early at the end! With John Main and Lee West.

Thursday 27th May 2021

Nene Sunday League Division 4

Ashby Athletic 3

Tom Jullings 12, 22, Alex Quatrine 17,

Naseby FC 2

Ricky Barby 4, 24,

Referee:- Nick Wheeler. Attendance:- 38

The genteel village of Mears Ashby in the heart of Northamptonshire hosted this tense championship decider. Nothing but a win would secure the title for the hosts. They fell behind to a fourth minute strike, took the lead after seventeen minutes, extended it by the twenty second minute and were pegged back two minutes later. There the scoring ended, but not the excitement with both teams going full bloodedly for victory. Joyous celebrations at the end for the home side. With grandson, Freddie, John Main and Lee West. Freddie enjoyed a bowl of chips in The Griffin in the village prior to the match!

Friday 28th May 2021

Nene Sunday League Cup Semi-final

North Star 0

Standens Leap 2

Ross Watson 12, 84,

Referee:- Darrell Horner. Attendance:- 121

Admission:- £3.00. Programme:- NONE

Played on Moulton’s 4G pitch, the pace was fast, furious and often feisty. Standens Leap sit at the top of the Premier Division and unbeaten this season, three divisions lower, North Star are second in the table, but they gave a good account of themselves this evening in a very entertaining encounter.

Saturday 29th May 2021

Abacus Lighting Central Midlands League Division 1 Central

Bakewell Town 3

Freddie Hatcher 63, Joe Poste 75, Stuart Baker 89,

Kilburn 0

Referee:- Rob Neale. Attendance:- 119

On a fine afternoon, bank holidaymakers swelled the attendance as the hosts sought to achieve the win in their final match that might gain them promotion. They made hard work of it. They missed chances my grandson could have put away with his eyes closed. Eventually, after an hour, they opened the scoring and, in the end it was a comfortable win with two more goals in the last ten minutes. Now, however, they can only hope that Wirksworth Ivanhoe drop at least two points from their final two games! With Johnny Holland. (It didn’t happen!)

Monday 31st May 2021

Thames Valley Premier League Premier Division

Mortimer 1

Alex Miller 82,

Berks County 1

Charlie Craske 10,

Referee:- Jonathan Hales. Attendance:- 91

On a very warm evening, second in the table, Berks County came to the pleasantly appointed Alfred Palmer Memorial Playing Field to take on mid table Mortimer. They scored after ten minutes and dominated the rest of the half. The hosts came more into the contest after the interval, but the visitors should have been out of sight. They paid the penalty when an 82nd minute equaliser ended the game all square. A veritable coven of hoppers in attendance!

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April 2021

Thursday 1st April 2021

Grafham Water: A day of cycling, this time with daughter, Claire and grand daughter Lydia (6) on the nine mile circuit of Grafham Water. The weather was considerably cooler than the previous day, but we managed to get round without too much difficulty! Good day out! Very impressed with Lydia’s stamina!


Friday 2nd April 2021

From Manton, on a cold, cloudy morning, leaving behind the railway tunnel – and the bridge that carries the railway across the A6003 which is soon to be closed for three months for major structural repairs, weaving round the edge of Rutland Water to Egleton, passing the black sheep and the church of St Edmund. Re-crossing the A6003 and the railway line, up and over the hill to Brooke and The Church of St Peter, through the village to Brooke Priory and the across the fields to Braunston-in-Rutland, a pretty village with its Saxon church (All Saints) and ‘Blue Ball’ hostelry, continuing along the road past Hibbitts Lodge and America Lodge and into the deserted medieval village of Martinsthorpe, where … I made a wrong turn and ended up at Gunthorpe manor, meeting the squire who’s pile it was, along the way! From there, it was a tricky passage back to ‘The Horse and Jockey’ where I had parked in Manton. Six stiles and 12.55 miles

The Manton Tunnel

St Edmund’s Church, Egleton

The church of St Peter in Brooke

The Dovecote at …

…the former Brooke Priory

Church of All Saints, Braunston-in-Rutland

Gunthorpe Hall


Wednesday 3rd April 1996

Hard to believe that it happened twenty-five years ago! Probably the best game I ever saw at Anfield! Went to the match with sons, James and Mike.


Saturday 3rd April 2021

Chromasport Northants Combination

Dustin Garages Cup Group C

West Haddon Albion 0

Bugbrooke St Michael’s A 4

Richard Mosdell 20, own goal, 59, Adam Greatrix 73, Nathan Simmonds 90,

Referee:- Darrell Horner. Attendance:-24


Tuesday 6th April 2021

Stratford-upon-Avon Alliance – Aquaid Division 1

Bretforton OB 2

Kamil Zieba 49, 80,

FC Wickhamford 4

Nathan Tomkotowicz 6, 62, Mike Jennings 17, Joel Haylock 40

Attendance:- 102

A very healthy attendance this local derby in the cold and blustery, snowy conditions. The match was hotly contested, but the visitors deservedly took the spoils. With John Main.


Thursday 8th April 2021

Stratford-upon-Avon Alliance Ceiling Walls Division 2

Tysoe United 1

Jordan Rooke 83,

FISSC Reserves 1

Ollie Ashley Clarke 26,

Referee:- Malcolm Price. Attendance:- 34

The visitors, in second place in the table, really should have won this game handsomely, but plucky Tysoe pulled themselves back into the game with ten minutes to go and held on for a draw in the rustic Warwickshire countryside. With John Main.

The stile was in use … but only for recovering footballs from the field adjacent to the pitch



Friday 9th April 2021

On a dull, overcast and cool morning, and with rain in the air, Grandad, Ed, son, Mike and grandson, Freddie (10) took to the bikes for a ride around Rutland Water. From Normanton to Manton (and the railway tunnel), to Egleton, for a hot chocolate and St Edmund’s Church, which was surprisingly open, missing out the Hambleton Finger, stopping for a packed lunch at Whitwell, across the dam to Normanton Church, half in and half out of the water and back to Normanton Car Park. Cracking day out! Exhilarating!

Manton Tunnel

St Edmund’s Church, Egleton

Normanton Church


Saturday 10th April 2021

Chromasport Northants Combination Duston Garages Cup Group A

Wollaston Victoria 2

Steadman Whittaker 4, 74,

Moulton 3

Ashley Stewart 8, Harry Beckley 67, 73,

Referee:- Scott Doyle Attendance:- 35

On a cold afternoon with the threat of rain in the air, this match, despite five goals, was a lacklustre affair which the visitors won a trifle fortuitously. With Grandson, Freddie and John Main.


Monday 12th April 2021

Hope Valley League Premier Division

Bamford 6

Tom Ibbotson 24, 41, 53, 59, Luke Woodhouse 27, 84,

Baslow 3

Ben Norman 35, Sam Cooper (og) 36, Scott Austin 82,

Referee:- Stuart Gould Attendance:- 33

In the idyllic and rustic surroundings of The Peak District, these two close rivals are languishing in the nether regions of the division. It was the hosts who triumphed, but not as easily as the score suggests. Baslow retrieved a two goal deficit before half-time only to concede a third just before the interval. They lost two more second half goals before replying themselves only to concede a sixth at the death. Good match. With John Main.


Tuesday 13th April 2021

Bedfordshire County League Supplementary Cup Group C

Crawley Green U23. 5

Oliver Brennan 26, Elliot Sunday 41, 54, 76, Jakeim Bakinson 86,

CS Rovers 1

David McLeod 70,

Referee:- Steve Hart. Attendance:- 14

On a chilly evening which grew cooler as the sun disappeared, Crawley Green’s youngsters made mincemeat of their opponents. After a slow start, they gathered momentum and really ought to have scored several more. Star of the show was hat trick hero, Elliot Bunday! What does the “CS” stand for? Apparently, Oasis had a hit with “Champagne Super Nova”, so the club named themselves “Champagne Super Rovers”! John Main also in attendance.


Wednesday 14th April 2021

A gentle stroll from the church of St Helen in Gumley on a beautiful, warm and sunny morning, the sky dotted with cotton wool clouds; passing the Saddington Reservoir, which services the Grand Union Canal on the way to Saddington village, where, on the final rise, a lonely white horse grazed alongside the path. Another church of St Helen was just visible upon entering the village, before crossing the fields to Smeeton Westerby amongst an unusual breed of black and white sheep. The Kings Head in the village was shuttered and barred and The Leicestershire Round wound its way up to The Grand Union Canal and Foxton Locks for a welcome cheese roll and a fine pint of local ale (my first of the year!). Climbed the locks and repaired back to The Bell Inn in Gumley. 14 stiles and 7.85 miles

Church of St Helen, Gumley

Saddington Reservoir


Smeeton Westerby – The Kings Head


Friday 16th April 2021

Nuneaton & District Sunday League Division 2

Coniston Tavern 6

Matt Lamb 17, Alex Evans 21, 50, Shane Hunter 24,

Torran Sippets 84, Kyle Hunter 88,

Bedworth Liberal Reserves 1

Morgan Lewis 27,

Referee:- Sean Divitt. Attendance:- 28

Paul’s Field hosted this encounter on a drab evening with West Coast main line trains thundering by on the other side of the fence. It was an even contest for about half an hour, but five home substitutes in the second half produced four unanswered goals and boosted the home side’s 2-1 half time score line. With John and Lee.


Saturday 17th April 2021

Stratford-upon -Avon Alliance Aquaid Division 1

Claverdon 1

Barney Knight 29 (pen),

FC Wickhamford 5

Joel Haylock 4, Nathan Tomkotowicz 8, Sean Cooke 66, Mike Jennings 72,77,

Referee:- Gary John-Lewis. Attendance:- 26 Admission:- F.O.C. Surprisingly, a free programme was available for this top of the table clash. There was never any doubt about the winners. Two goals in the first ten minutes signalled the determination and intent of the visitors and three more in the second half completed the rout. The hosts solitary reply came midway through the first period. With John Main.


Saturday 17th April 2021

Stratford-upon-Avon Alliance Aquaid Division 1

Feckenham Reserves 1

Dan Williams (og) 20,

Redditch Borough 1

George Morris 10,

Referee:- Martin Schembri. Attendance:- 32

There should be staggered kick-offs every Saturday! Mind you, this was not a game for the purist. Too much thud and blunder, like the tumultuous clash of two dinosaurs. Both goals came early in the first half and, after that, there was little to keep up any interest … except, perhaps, that the referee’s son, James, had earlier in the day played for FC Wickhamford in their match at Claverdon (see above)! With John Main.


Monday 19th April 2021

Bedfordshire County League Supplementary Cup Group D

Luton Allstars 8

Jordan West 2, Alfie Gray 6, 85, L’Shiah Augh 47, 52, 72,

Bradley Allunga 62, Tapiwanashe Maumbe 75,

Catsbrook Wanderers 0

Referee:- Antonio Santasiero. Attendance:- 34

A lovely warm afternoon turned chilly as the sun dropped over the horizon. The hosts were far to good for the Wanderers and had scored twice in the first four minutes. Thereafter, they squandered chances like confetti on the bride and it was still 2-0 at the interval. In the second half, L’Shiah Aguh (sic) helped himself to a hat trick, should have had more and Allstars ran in six unanswered second half strikes. A goodly array of hoppers, too many to mention them all, but John, Lee, Martyn and Frank were amongst them!


Tuesday 20th April 2021

On a gorgeous morning, sunny, bright and warm, the route to Harringworth Lodge was bone hard and cracked. The lake was cool, calm and clear – all the way down to the bottom. Onwards to Spanhoe and across the limestone quarry, catching a glimpse of the Welland Viaduct on descending the cart track down to Turtle Bridge. From there, the path followed the Welland to Harringworth, where the church of St John the Baptist was open. Under the viaduct and across the fields to Seaton as an East Midlands Railway passenger train gingerly negotiated the viaduct. Cherry blossoms in full bloom and the Church of All Hallows presiding over the village. In Lyddington, a fine draught of Nene Valley Ale at The White Hart hostelry, with broccoli and turnip soup and a very old vintage Bentley adorning the car park. Gretton Weir was very low! Three stiles and 14.28 miles.

Harringworth Lodge

The Welland Viaduct

Barrowden Windmill

Turtle Bridge


Tuesday 20th April 2021

Stratford-upon-Avon Alliance Aquaid Division 1

FC Wickhamford 4

James Schembri 40, 63, Louis Brown 44 (pen), Mike Jennings 49,

Feckenham Reserves 0

Referee:- Ms Levi Gray. Attendance:- 36

There was a lovely club house with a bar, but … not allowed to have a beer unless you were a member! Can I join? No. Can a member buy me a pint? No. Not best pleased! The game was a slow burner with the hosts taking a long time getting into their stride. Then, two goals in the final five minutes of the first period were followed by two more early in the second half and the demolition was complete. Very efficient referee and good to see John Main and Mike Squires!


Wednesday 21st April 2021

Cambridgeshire County League Kershaws 30 Year Senior Cup

Sawston Rovers 2

Jesse Luff 22, Will Bailey 28,

Cambridge University Press 2

Daniel Heron 48, 65,

Referee:- Cameron Rayment. Attendance:- 33

It was a chit billy this evening deep in darkest Cambridgeshire, but Sawston Rovers started hesitantly, gained confidence and by half-time, held a two goal advantage. The interval pep talk inspired the visitors to draw level after an hour, but despite plenty of end to end action, there were no further strikes.


Thursday 22nd April 2021

Stratford-upon-Avon Alliance Walls & Ceilings Division 2

Shottery United 2

Sam Weaver 41 (pen), Jake Wroley 51,

Bearley United Blues 4

Ben Earls 8, George Ross 16, Michael Drummond 64, 73,

Referee:- Gary John-Lewis. Attendance:- 30

Under a cerulean firmament in the leafy Warwickshire village of Ilmington, these two teams played out a robust fixture littered with errors. The hosts pulled back a two goal deficit only to concede a further two goals and the visitors had two men sent off in the final moments of the match.


Friday 23rd April 2021

Nuneaten Sunday League Division 2

Bedworth Liberal Reserves 1

Gavin Harding 66,

Ashby Road Sports 4

Nick Richardson 14, 58, Stu Heathcote 45+1, Anthony Cartwright (og) 52,

Referee:- Stuart Royle. Attendance:- 14

The Nicholas Chamberlain Academy hosted this match, but the home side were, once again, heavily defeated (they lost 1-6 last time out at Coniston Tavern). Two goals from the visitors’ man of the match Nick Richardson, at the beginning of each half, one from Stu Heathcote at the very end of the first period and an own goal put Sports in an unassailable position and they played the final half hour out at a comfortable pace and withheld a late Liberal onslaught! With John Main.


Saturday 24th April 2021

Cricket at Uppingham School

Oundle School (won toss) 146 all out (47.4 overs)

Uppingham School 147 for 1 (24.5 overs)

Uppingham School won by nine wickets

Oundle were missing several first teamers for this opening match of the 2021 campaign and it showed! They lost early wickets, posted a mid-innings mini revival, but their total was nowhere near enough to trouble the hosts who polished off the victory in the twenty-fifth over.


Monday 26th April 2021

Hope Valley League A Division

Hathersage 0

Pilsley Community 1

Curtis Sharples 28,

Referee:- Archie Anderson. Attendance:- 22

Deep in the Derbyshire Dales, after a fine pint at The Plough, the stage was set for a tense basement battle, bottom of the table, Pilsley taking on third bottom Hathersage. The only goal came midway through the opening period and, thereafter, despite laying siege to the visiting goalmouth, the hosts could not conjure up an equaliser.

Hathersage, they say, is the final resting place of “Little John”.


Tuesday 27th April 2021

Along the Brampton Way on a cool, overcast morning, the former railway line from Northampton to Market Harborough passes through the Oxendon tunnel (418 metres), with a “pepperpot” halfway along to let air into the tunnel. A torch might have been useful for the intrepid traveller! At the far end The Jurassic Way led out of the village across fields and along roads down to the picturesque village of Arthingworth, the English flag flying above Arthingworth Lodge, the church of St Andrew and The Bull’s Head hostelry. Out along the Harrington Road, before cutting across the fields to the thunderous A14, with access across the carriageway now denied to walkers. The Kelmarsh tunnel is 480 metres long and is paralleled by a second tunnel not open to wayfarers. Then the return to the car park at the former Kelmarsh Station. Four stiles and 9.38 miles.

Oxendon Tunnel

Kelmarsh Tunnel

The alternative (and parallel tunnel) at Kelmarsh – not open to the public


Tuesday 27th April 2021

Bedfordshire County League Supplementary Cup Group C

CS Rovers 4

Ethan Chuhan 44, Karl Dearden 45+1, Connor Hasson 80, Jordan Money 90,

FC Polonia 2

Pawell Seliqa 83, Marcin Bator 89,

Referee:- Oguz Isak. Attendance:- 7

On a cool evening at Stockwood Park in Luton, a match between the also rans in Supplementary Group C produced six goals, two of them from the hosts in the final two minutes of the opening period and two from the visitors in the final two minutes of the second period. In between, the heavens opened and rain fell getting heavier as the game progressed. Two additional second half goals to the hosts, ensured that they took the victory and the points.


Thursday 29th April 2021

Stratford-upon-Avon Alliance Division 2

Blockley Sports 0

AFC Bromsgrove 2

Brigen Beqi 17, Dominic Martin 66,

Referee:- Ms Levi Gray. Attendance:- 38

The BBC are housing their production team and vehicles for the ninth series of “Father Brown” at The Blockley Sports Club and on the far side of the pitch the allotments resembled desecrated graves as bottom of the table Blockley took on third placed AFC Bromsgrove and the expected avalanche of goals never materialised as the hosts stuck doggedly to their task and frustrated their opponents at every opportunity.


Additional match:-

7th April 2021


Needingworth United 3 Over Sports Reserves 4 Attendance:- 25

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March 2021



I had



in my



and ants

in my pants


and a bee

in my



and a flea

in my

ear –


I had

a whale

of a time.

by Tony Langham




Saturday 6th March 2021

Cloudy and dull, still and mild, with the ground heavy underfoot and soggy in places. Along Kirby Road, the new housing development, between the village hall and the pocket park, has been cordoned off. In the field behind the farm an interesting vegetable collection littered the ground like unexploded WW2 shells. Harringworth Lodge was calm and serene and The Welland Viaduct, clearly in view above Shotley, commanded the valley. It’s the lambing season and there were plenty in evidence, while a fine example of a curly horned goat looked knowingly on. Onwards, past St John the Baptist church in Harringworth and across the stream for a much closer look at the viaduct before bisecting the sodden sward to Seaton and over to Lyddington … and then through more heavy fields to Caldecott, where the church clock eternally records 12.00. More fields to negotiate to Gretton Weir, with the welcome sight of St James’ church tower climbing above the tree line. The weir was higher than last week! Eighteen stiles and 13.92 miles.


Saturday 13th March 2021

Setting out from Exton village green, the wind blew like a banshee and frequent squally showers peppered the early part of the walk across the Exton estate (and past the family cemetery) to Greatham, where The Wheatsheaf public house was cold and bare. Ever onwards following the path to The Greatham Valley Golf Club, past the yurts of The Rutland Camping club, stopping briefly to admire a field of baby alpacas before being brought to a complete halt by a huge quarry, plastered with danger notices …… which wasn’t there the last time I came this way! A long detour involved half a mile of the A1 before I could get back on track past Fort Henry, the lakeside folly, and the swans on the choppy water and the long dirt track back into Exton … where, I found out that, 300 years ago, a young bride playing hide and seek, sadly locked herself into an attic chest and wasn’t found for a week ….. by which time it was too late! Four stiles and 8.1 miles.


Wednesday 17th March 2021

The sky over Wing Maze was gloomy and morose and the going across the fields to Rutland Water was very heavy. Along the lakeside path, the sheep had lain themselves down, correctly forecasting rain. There were some interesting residences fronting the waterside and a seagull flew over Normanton Church. It looked like wild cherry blossom at Edith Weston village shop, where a welcome cup of coffee was available … but only if you drank it outside in the rain! Onwards to Lyndon where the village church of St Martin was just visible behind Lyndon Hall. The fields from there back to Wing were heavily saturated and the going was slow and slippery. Half a mile north of Wing, a goods train trundled past on the Peterborough to Leicester line and then there was only the steep incline back up to the maze. NO stiles and 9.02 miles.


Saturday 20th March 2021

It was dull and overcast on the way out of Gretton, as a couple of waistcoated horses desultorily chewed the cud in an adjacent field and, on the way into Harringworth, The Welland Viaduct stretched away into infinity. There were welcome signs of refurbishment at The White Swan inn in the village and then the path wound along The Jurassic Way over The Turtle Bridge and into Rutland. At Barrowden, The Exeter Arms was barred and shuttered and the duckpond was bereft of ducks. Through the village, across some heavily waterlogged fields to Wakerley under the old, abandoned railway line from Rugby to Peterborough. The wind sock at Spanhoe Airfield hung limply and only a single aircraft was on view. Across the fields, bypassing Harringworth Lodge and back into Gretton. Five stiles and 12.75 miles in four hours and sixteen minutes.


Wednesday 24th March 2021

Another amble from Wing Maze on another dull, murky morning with rain in the air. Across the fields to Pilton and the tiny church of St Nicholas and on the far side of the village, a bridle way down to South Luffenham, wide enough for a coach and four! In the village, there was evidence of the track bed of the former spur line to Stamford from the Rugby to Peterborough line and the bridge across it. Gambolling lambs on the way to Morcott, crossing Morcott Brook before rising to the parish church of St Mary the Virgin. Onwards over the fields to Glaston, where The Old Pheasant hostelry (formerly The Monckton Arms) was barred and shuttered, as was the church of St Andrew. The Glaston Tunnel, nearly a mile long is visible on the road back to Wing, where wild daffodils are casually bestrewn at the village entrance. In the village, itself, The Kings Arms and the parish church of St Peter and St Paul, (dating from 1140 and surprisingly open to visitors) are the main features. Nine stiles and 9.12 miles.


Saturday 27th March 2021

Sunshine and clouds in equal measure on the way out of Ferry Meadows and across the fields to Castor and the parish church of St Kyneburga (not a saint I am overly familiar with), a royal princess of Celtic descent who established a convent amongst The Roman ruins in Castor. Brief stop in Ailsworth for coffee and hot cross bun before continuing to Sutton and The River Nene all the way up to Wansford, passing under the double bridge carrying the A1. Next stop, across some very muddy fields, was Yarwell with its black sheep, weir, lock and mobile homes by the hundred. Across the A1 once more to Wansford Station on The Nene Valley Railway, quiet and silent as the grave. From there it was nine kilometres back along the river bank to Ferry Meadows. Some of the pathway was still sodden and treacherous, despite the river having retreated to some ten feet below the path. Across the railway line and back into Ferry Meadows. Seven stiles and fourteen miles.


Wednesday 31st March 2021

What a lovely day for a cycle ride round Pitsford Water with son, Mike and grandchildren, Freddie (10) and Tess (7). So good that Freddie and I cycled round twice!!!


Wednesday 31st March 2021

Friendly Match

Royston United 4 Orwell Reserves 1 Attendance:- 43

An entertaining encounter on a mild evening deep in the heart of Cambridgeshire and plenty of encouragement from wives and girlfriends, but … can’t wait for the real stuff to return!!! John Main, Lee West and Peter Miles also socially distanced there!


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February 2021

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour

by William Blake (1757 – 1827)




Tuesday February 2nd 2021

This morning, I was put into a huge quandary. I am taking part in The Novavax vaccination trial and I have had two jabs (September and October last year). Then, yesterday, I was offered my vaccination courtesy of the NHS – probably the Pfizer one – and so I went this morning to see the Novavax vaccination trial people to see if it was all right to take the NHS vaccination. The quandary is that I DON’T KNOW whether I received the Novavax vaccine or whether I was on the control list who only receive a placebo. However, next month (March), Novavax are doing a crossover injection. So, all the ones who got the placebo last September and October are going to get the real thing in March and early April and all the ones who got the real thing last time will get the placebo, BUT we still won’t know which group we were in (not that it really matters). Anyway, the quandary is …… should I leave the vaccine trial and take the NHS vaccine, or should I wait until March / early April and take the Novavax vaccine (or placebo)? Novavax say that if I wait, and take two shots in March or early April, I will STILL be vaccinated before the NHS vaccination because the waiting time between first and second vaccination for Pfizer is TWELVE weeks which would take me up to the beginning of May for my second NHS vaccination jab. They also say (well, they would, wouldn’t they) that their vaccination is more effective than Pfizer. What would you do?

No contest, I am continuing with The Novavax Trial


Thursday 4th February 2021

A gloomy pall of mist shrouded the valley, and the village. The atmosphere was dank and dour. On the road to Thorpe by Water, an unfortunate Audi A3 was being slowly winched from a waterlogged field and the gate it had flattened. The view across the valley gave no hint of Gretton under the gunmetal firmament whilst the village of Lyddington, with the church of St Andrews peering above the trees was much more easily visible and down by the waterworks, a lonely bull plodged in the sodden field. The track bed of the old Rugby to Peterborough railway line pointed straight and true in the direction of Stamford and whilst the fields adjacent the low road were flooded, the road itself was clear, but the weir was still running high. Back in the village, Stone House, which grew from nowhere since last Autumn, has added positively to the ambience of the village. No stiles and 6.63 miles.

Thorpe by Water

The view across The Welland Valley gave no clue through the mist of the village of Gretton!

The Parish Church of St Andrew, Lyddington


The lonely bull in the sodden field behind The Old Waterworks

The trackbed of the former railway line than ran from Rugby to Stamford and Peterborough, midway between Lyddington and Gretton

Flooded fields

Gretton Weir in flood

Stone House, recently completed, on the High Street in Gretton


Saturday 27th February 2021

The early sun blazed down from an azure firmament on the way to Thorpe-by-Water. The River Welland was still and silent and in Lyddington, a detour past the parish church of St Andrew, revealed The Bede House, formerly a bishop’s residence and latterly, a home for the deserving poor. On the way into Uppingham, a couple of black pigs basked in the warm sunshine, but cotton buds of clouds were beginning to appear. An appetising chunk of “healthy” fruit cake from Baines the Baker in the town, before setting off from the market square and the parish church of St Peter and St Paul and travelling down the Stockerston road. There was a good view of The Eyebrook reservoir before descending into Caldecott and the parish church of St John the Evangelist and then it was across the fields to Gretton Weir, now reduced to drought levels, but with the flood damage revealed, before the road up into Gretton and a good view of the new houses on “Holly Rise”. Twenty-one stiles and 14.2 miles

St James’ Parish Church, Gretton

The River Welland at Thorpe by Water

The Marquess of Exeter Inn at Lyddington


Couple of black pigs enjoying the sun in Uppingham

The parish church of St Peter and St Paul, Uppingham

Uppingham Heritage Trail

The Eyebrow Reservoir

The parish church of St John the Evengelist at Caldecott

Gretton Weir from the back (above) and from the road (below)

The new houses on “Holly Rise”


I’ve not been walking much recently, because when I walked early in the month, the little toe on my right foot got a bit mashed up during the journey. It has not fully recovered yet and on the second (and last) walk of the month, I put a “sock” over it, which helped to protect it, but then, when I got home, despite wearing a knee support, my right knee was very painful! The following day, I drove my car for about twenty miles and my knee complained very painfully. Now, a day or two later, my knee is almost back to normal. I managed to walk up Station Road in 4 minutes 24 seconds, which is near to personal best and I wasn’t wearing a knee support!


By the end of February, the nation was still in Lockdown and has been for two months. Schools will re-open on 8th March and it is possible that there maybe some local football from the beginning of April. COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the country. To date, there have been 122,705 deaths registered as within 28 days of a positive Coronavirus test. There are still 14,808 people in hospital with COVID-19, but 19,682,048 people have received a first inoculation of either Pfizer or Astra-Zeneca vaccination. In the meantime, I await my “cross-over” vaccination from Novavax


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January 2021


Remember me when I am gone away,

Gone far away into the silent land,

When you can no more hold me by the hand,

Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.

Remember me when no more day by day

You tell me of our future that you planned:

Only remember me; you understand

It will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while

And afterwards remember, do not grieve:

For if the darkness and corruption leave

A vestige of the thoughts that I once had,

Better by far you should forget and smile

Than you should remember and be sad.

Christina Rosetti (1830 – 1894)




The Funeral of Graeme Askham

The funeral of Graeme Askham took place on Thursday 7th January at 3 pm. Due to Covid restrictions only 30 people were allowed to attend the service, A live feed of the service was available. The family thanked everyone for their kind cards and messages of condolence. Graeme suffered from ill health for many years and he was cared for magnificently by several hospitals in Leicester. If you could spare a small amount in memory of Graeme, the charity can be accessed at:


……. and others might benefit from your generosity.

There have been very few really close friends in my life and Graeme was certainly one of them. He laughed at my eccentricities and kept in check my excesses, especially on football trips. We had great fun – it always was a great experience going out to football with Graeme – and we were never short of conversation. I am so sad that he had to leave us so soon!!!!

7th August 2019 – Belton Villa 4 Sutton Bonington 1 PSF att:- 16

Laurence Reade said:- “Not the way I wanted to say farewell to Graeme Askham but I’ve 3 days’ self isolation left so was fortunate there was a feed available. We’ve lost a good man in Graeme and thought Eddie spoke beautifully. I will never be able to walk past a Chinese takeaway and not think of my friend Graeme. Rest in peace”.



For much of what is written here, I am indebted to Graeme’s younger brother Nigel who includes the following in his farewell to his “Big Bro”

Born on 8th February 1956 Graeme was a much loved first son for Marjorie and Geoffrey following the tragic loss of baby Janet.

He was joined in March 1959 by a brother Richie and in February 1961 by Nigel.

3rd October 2020 Worcester Raiders 3 Bilston Town 2

WMRL Premier Division Attendance:- 300

Growing up in the Bradford Moor area there were early signs of the competition between the three Askham boys. When Richie was lazing away an afternoon in his pram in the garden, Graeme showed his thoughts on Richie’ s arrival by using his plastic toy spade to shovel soil all over his younger brother.

There were also reports of Richie’s pram being mischievously pushed into Bradford Moor Park lake with Graeme the chief suspect even to this day!!  
Marjorie also recalls Graeme pleading with his father Geoffrey to send the angelic-looking Richie “back where he came from”!!!!! 

Graeme was strong willed and liked to rule the roost in those early exchanges with his siblings and was also a handful for mother, Marjorie on many occasions – once rolling up his sleeves in the waiting room of the doctor’s surgery and stirring up the fish tank to help the occupants swim a little faster and also helping to hydrate them by filling their tank with his orange juice!!!

The Askham boys all moved on through school before moving to Shipley where Marjorie and Geoffrey bought and ran a newsagents shop.

24th October 2020 Allscott Heath 6 Old Wulfrunians 1

WMRL Division 1 Attendance:- 42

On the sports field Graeme was frankly dreadful at football – and ended where most poor footballers end up – as a goalkeeper!! He always talked about the ONE save of note any of us can remember him making for our neighbourhood team Avondale Rovers.

Rushing from his area, he dived at the feet of an on-rushing striker, and probably closed his eyes too, but by some miracle ended up with the ball securely in his hands 

January 11th 2020 Crawley Town 2 Bradford City 1

EFL League 2 Attendance:- 2,361

One of the team’s dads was watching with his dog which promptly barked it’s appreciation of Graham’s save – or that’s what big brother always told us. We were always sure a cat had walked past!!!!

Graeme and Richie played cricket together for Saltaire and later Great Horton Church. Richie was a swashbuckling all-rounder – equally erratic with bat and ball!

Meanwhile Graeme based his game on his boyhood hero Geoffrey Boycott – slow and methodical was probably the kindest description, but Graeme stuck with his tried and tested method hardly hitting the ball off the square and NEVER, EVER in the air. He often told me the tale of one match where he opened, but his partner faced the first over and struck each ball for a boundary, but, in the very next over, when it was Graeme’s turn to bat, he was out, first ball!

Graeme and John Main at The Old Wheatsheaf in Frimley Green

25th January 2020 Frimley Green 2 Egham 1

Combined Counties League Premier Division Attendance:- 86

Back at school Graeme underlined his studios nature by passing his 11-plus and achieving a place at Bingley Grammar School while Richie gained a place at Beckfoot Grammar School just down the road and Nigel followed as the five year difference between him and Graeme meant the elder Askham would soon be on his way to teacher training college in Chester.

Graeme took to life his new surroundings and bravely kept on with his studies despite the tragic loss of his father Geoffrey in 1979 and after his successful training was on the road again for his first teaching role at St Johns Church of England Primary in Friern Barnet north London.

Whilst there he met his first wife and after several years down south this lover of all things Yorkshire returned to his home county and became the proud father of Rachel, Becca and Sarah. He taught at Oxenhope Primary on the outskirts of Haworth.

A few years on and it was off to Leicester and finally Rolleston Primary where he eventually took early retirement and started a new life with Rose, who’s been a tower of strength for several years, including seven years as Mrs Askham and helped him through his numerous health battles with love and always with good humour. 

More recently he kept in touch with younger brother Nigel on a daily basis through his love of betting – very, very SMALL amounts on horse racing! Check his Paddy Power account Rose, you might have enough for portion of fried rice or maybe, even, a slap-up takeaway!!!

They also attended football together when they could. Nigel is a season ticket holder at Bradford City and Graeme would attend with him when he was visiting Yorkshire. Graeme was a fan of Bradford’s other team Park Avenue (hence the green and white scarves today!).

John Main and Graeme at:-

7th December 2019 Knaphill 0 Banstead Athletic 0

Combined Counties League Premier Division Attendance:- 67

He poked fun at Bradford City whenever he could and on telephone calls with Nigel would usually start the conversation with: “How did City get on this weekend?!!!”

He knew the result, of course, and would ask Nigel for every last detail so he could mock their demise.

One of their last games together was on the most recent of our annual trips. Every year, the group assembled for a match with hospitality, at a ground not previously visited and earlier expeditions had been to Brentford, Bristol City, Southampton, Crystal Palace, Gillingham, and Millwall.  Last January, Nigel joined us because on our latest outing we were off to deepest Sussex where Crawley Town were playing …… Bradford City! Even more recently, Josh arranged a hospitality visit to his football club, Lutterworth Town, for an FA Cup match against Staveley. We even had our names on the seats in the stand and coffee, tea and biscuits at half-time.

Graeme and John Main at:-

4th August 2019 Tottenham Hotspur 1 Inter Milan 1

International Champions Cup Attendance:- 58,905

Graeme and I met many years ago at a small town in Wales – Montgomery. I had known him before as he was well acquainted with the football ‘hopping’ community, but Montgomery Town was the first of well over 500 football matches that we attended together, not just in this country, but in Scotland and Wales, Ireland  (north and south) and Holland, where his favourite ground was PSV Eindhoven. 

We were not similar. Graeme considered my politics somewhere to the left of Mao Tse Tung, whilst I thought that his were well to the right of Attila The Hun. We were at opposite ends of The Brexit argument. He hailed from superior Yorkshire, whereas my roots were in down-to-earth Lancashire – and he never failed to let me know if Yorkshire beat Lancashire, or if his beloved Bradford Park Avenue beat Chorley. He had a great and long-lasting love of Tottenham Hotspur, whereas I considered all London clubs as Southern Softies.

Seated on the left, Graeme Askham and on the right, Johnny Holland. Eddie McGeown standing behind!

25th August 2019 Cefn Forest 4 Gilwern & District 1

Gwent County League Division 2 Attendance:- 247

For all our differences, we were well matched. We had both been Primary School teachers, we both enjoyed cryptic crosswords, we both enjoyed a good meal as part of the action on a football outing. I was well aware of how unfair was Graeme’s life, but he never complained and always made the most of every opportunity – and took every opportunity to poke a bit of fun, as when we were in Herenveen in The Netherlands for a night match and outside the station, I went over to what I thought was the taxi rank and requested transport to the ground, only to find out that it was police car and the only place they would transport me to was the local nick!

It has been lovely to read what former pupils and teacher colleagues and football friends have posted. It shows how much Graeme was admired, liked and respected. 

5th September 2020 Upton Town 3 Tamworth Academy 2

Midland League Division 3 Attendance:- 43

Just like all his family and friends they have treasured memories of Nigel’s very special ‘Big Bro”. 

And finally, a short poem…. especially adapted for Graeme:

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 quite as near

Football games create such passion

And bags of atmosphere


A good football match is a joy to watch

And thousands go to every game

You get goals and lots of action

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 Bradford Park Avenue F.C. 

Sleep Tight, Graeme!


Saturday 9th January 2021

The early morning sun could hardly pierce the shroud of mist which swathed the landscape on the path to Thorpe-by-Water, but by the time Lyddington was reached (and I got my Walkmeter to work!), the sun was bursting through across a cerulean firmament. Over the fields to Caldecott and then the medieval village of Snelston, now bisected by the A6003 before descending across more fields to Stoke Dry and the Eyebrook Reservoir, constructed in 1937 to provide water for the burgeoning steelworks in Corby. A paper thin sheet of ice covered large swathes of the surface of the lake and the sun was so fierce that it was difficult to see ahead! Around the lake to Great Easton where the mist again descended, increasingly blotting out the now grey orb of the sun. After Rockingham, the melting surface had softened the fields to quagmires and made the journey back to Gretton quite treacherous! Nine stiles and 14.5 miles.

The War Memorial in Gretton

The bridge across The River Welland at Thorpe by Water

Overhead, the track bed of the former Rugby to Peterborough line at Thorpe by Water


The long hill down to Stoke Dry from the medieval village of Snelston

The Eyebrook Reservoir

Ice, a thin coating on The Eyebrow Reservoir

St Andrew’s Church, Great Easton

The Sun Inn at Great Easton



Sunday 17th January 2021

With so much water about it was enough to wander down to Gretton Weir – and not very far beyond – to see the extent of the flooding across the valley and the roads that traversed it! It was as bad as I’ve ever seen, but worse is to come next week, I hear! Very friendly donkeys on the way down and several vehicles (mostly 4x4s) traversed the valley floor! 3.6 miles – no stiles!

The friendly Donkeys on the way down to The Gretton Weir

Gretton Weir

The Lyddington Road beyond Gretton Weir


Thursday 21st January 2020

The road across The Welland Valley from Gretton to Lyddington is still a major hazard and the valley itself resembles a major lake, whilst Gretton Weir is as high as I’ve ever seen it!

Gretton Weir, as high as I have seen it!

Gretton Weir

From the bridge at Gretton Weir looking in the opposite direction

Looking towards Lyddington from Gretton Weir

The flooded road between Gretton Weir and the old waterworks

A panoramic view of the road to Lyddington from Gretton Weir

The flooded Welland Valley


Saturday 23rd January 2021

On a mild, but murky morning, under the lugubrious gaze of St James’ Parish Church, I set out (beclad in wellingtons), for Thorpe-by-Water. The ground was very heavy, cloying and flooded in parts. The River Welland was swollen, but there was evidence that it had risen much higher. Seaton stood out on the far side of the valley and The Welland Viaduct was starkly visible in the distance. In Seaton, the school bell was plainly displayed above the old school house and Bisbrooke greeted the intrepid traveller with the church of St John The Baptist. After Uppingham and a heavy dusting of snow, the clouds gently drifted apart over The Eyesbrook Reservoir and then it was down to Lyddington (Church of St Andrew) and the sodden(but no longer flooded) road back to Gretton, where even the weir had drawn back from its peak of a couple of days ago! Six stiles and 14.14 miles.

The parish church off St James, Gretton

The swollen River Welland on the way to Thorpe by Water

The bridge over the weir at Thorpe by Water

The Welland Viaduct

Walking up to Seaton village, the old school is on the left.

The Welland Viaduct and floods below it!

The old school house in Seaton

The church of St John The Baptist in Bisbrooke

A dusting of snow along the path leading to Uppingham

Above (and below), The Eyebrook Reservoir under a gloomy firmament.

Lyddington and the parish church of St Andrew.

Gretton Weir


Monday 25th January 2021

Snow! That rare commodity ……. and the village is enhanced with expert sculptures! I’ve probably missed more than I’ve captured, but Gretton suits the snow – even if for only one day!

Lovely sculpting on the High Street

The Village Green

The Village Green

Lonely horses foraging adjacent to the old school

The entrance to The Pocket Park from High Street

The pond in The Pocket Park

The field behind Finch Hatton Road

The “other” pond at the bottom of Hunts Field Drive

Above and below, snowmen on Hunts Field Drive


There were no football matches to visit this month, due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has now claimed over 100,000 British lives. There was football at so called “elite” level, but it was all behind closed doors with canned crowd noise. It looks likely that football may not resume for the masses until next season!

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December 2020

Thanks Gran

Loved the pink rose

Scented bubble bath and

Perfume, shame you forgot I’m your



by Paul Cookson



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.


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!).


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


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.



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!


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


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


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.


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


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!


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!


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


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!


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.


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.


Thursday 31st December 2020

A walk from Oakley Vale on a crisp crunchy, icy surface to Little Oakley and onwards across field and bridle path to Newton Field Centre (a former church) and then to Great Oakley and a return in softening surface and deep mud to Oakley Vale. One stile and 6.13 miles with grandson, Freddie.


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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!



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


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!


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!


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?


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


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!


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


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


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


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.

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.


Turtle Bridge

The Welland Viaduct from high above Shotley

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


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



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.


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!


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!


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!


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.


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?


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!


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!


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!


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!


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!


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!


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!


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


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!


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.


Other Matches

Wednesday 7th October 2020

Uhlsport United Counties League Premier Division

Quorn 3 GNG Oadby Town 3 Attendance:- 171


Friday 16th October 2020

Doncaster Rovers League Premier Division

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


Thursday 22nd October 2020

FA Youth Cup 3rd Qualifying Round

Kettering Town 1 Solihull Moors 3 Attendance:- 108


Monday 26th October 2020

Everards Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division

County Hall 3 Blaby & Whetstone 2 Attendance:- 42


Tuesday 27th October 2020

Midland League League Division 1

Kirby Muxloe 3 Cadbury Athletic 2 Attendance:- 77


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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. 


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)
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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