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Like Stout Cortez


On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer

Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific — and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise —
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

John Keats (1795-1821)




Monday 6th May 2013 Ebac Northern League k.o.:- Noon
Division 1

Consett                                1                                 Marske United                             2
Josh Myers (go) 88                                                     Adam Wheatley 25
                                                                                  John Alexander 35
referee:- W. Broadbent                                               Attendance:- 138


It was a sleepy 5.00am when I brushed the dust out of my eyes and washed away my dreams. I collected Graeme at 6.30am and together, we drove to Derbyshire where we joined up with Greg and his Dad for the journey up to Consett in County Durham. This was a first for all of us and all the more so because at the end of this season, Consett will lose their ground of sixty-odd years and move to a new purpose-built stadium on the edge of the town.



Both sides of the main stand, from outside the ground (top) and inside!

We were very early at the ground for the midday kick-off, but not too early to enjoy a cuppa by the tea hut, with chips and pie. The ground was vast and stately and must have been quite a stadium in its day. Now it merely looked tired, like a blousy middle-aged former beauty-queen. There was a lovely large grandstand, but no other covered accommodation. There was evidence of where, in former times, terracing and covered standing areas had been in place, but now, the grass covered everything!


Some of the (deteriorating) terracing that still remains

Graeme and I elected to sit in the stand where the home support had mustered its most vocal adherents and they kept the cacophony going all the way through the match! Marske United, whom I had seen earlier in the season at Penrith, stole the points against their lacklustre opponents who never missed an opportunity to pass the ball, with unerring accuracy, to a member of the opposition! Yet, still, the cacophony of support relented not one decibel!



Then, in a flash, it was all over, and we were on our way back, through the wardrobe and into the real world and the dream slowly slipped away as we drifted sedately back to the Midlands!


Tuesday 7th May 2013 Chromasport & Trophies United Counties League  k.o.:- 7.45pm

1st Division

Raunds Town                       3                           Rothwell Corinthians                     2

Matt Reading 26                                                               Tom McLaren 37

Martin Brown 54                                                               Shane Goddard 47

Karl King 77

referee:- Peter Moore                                                       attendance:- 37


There was cricket in the afternoon at Wellingborough School and Oundle crashed to their seventh consecutive defeat of the season in a forty over match! I had plenty of time at the end to consider my options and eventually determined on Raunds Town, who play about ten miles away down the A45.


Kiln Park, Raunds

I was not best impressed to find that they hadn’t printed a programme for this match, the excuse being that the programme editor had been away on holiday! There was a sad aspect to the occasion. Peter John Scanlon, who had been Raunds chairman for the past twenty-five years, passed away recently after a long battle with cancer. He, it was, who brought the club to Kiln Park from their Berristers ground in the middle of town. At one stage it seemed a possibility that Raunds Town might become the Griggs project that eventually metamorphosed into Rushden & Diamonds. Before the match, there was a minute’s silence to mark the passing of the chairman.

For a while, The Shopmates played in the Southern League, but recently, they have fallen on hard times and are becalmed in the lower reaches of Division 1 of The UCL. The “new” ground – Kiln Park – built some twenty years ago by the supermarket chain who took over the quaint Berristers stadium, was now looking tired and worn. Even the pitch looked little better than a public park.

Tonight, they had the better of their opponents, Rothwell Corinthians, but not before the away team had held a deserved half-time lead. I spent most of the match with Mike Dean, a keen observer of local football and no mean critic of the floundering idiots who have managed to render three football clubs in the borough of Kettering (Kettering Town, Rushden & Diamonds and Rothwell Town), either homeless or defunct!

Wednesday 8th May 2013  Kershaws Cambridgeshire County League k.o.:- 6.45pm

Premier Division

Linton Granta                       2                                   Brampton                                   2

Kyle Green 9                                                                    Gareth Owens 7, 30

Dan Jarvis 57

referee:- John Marasca                                                  attendance:- 56


Finding Linton Granta FC proved something of a major logistical exercise! First of all, my sat-nav would not accept the post code provided by The Football Traveller address book, and then the village of Linton is so tiny, it hardly ever appeared on a signpost. Finally,  after squeezing morsels of information from a range of bemused locals, I was directed to Linton Community College, where several youth matches were being played on extensive playing fields. There it was, tucked away at the back and out of sight. It was reached by a narrow pathway and the vista which opened up reminded me of “Stout Cortez” and how he must have felt upon viewing the Pacific Ocean for the first time!


Bathed in Spring evening sunshine and with a stream winding along the far touchline, surrounded by trees and with park benches for the occasional supporter, it had an otherworldly feel about it, like stepping through a curtain and into a strange new country. There was a large gathering for this end of season encounter and programmes were to be had for £1.00. There was a long pole with a rope basket on the end which was used to fish out the ball when it landed in the river. There was no welcome, however, from the locals, and I was treated a bit like Sydney Poitier, the black detective who unbeknowingly found himself in the middle of a murder case in the Deep South in the film “In The Heat of The Night”.


Linton Granta were already assured of second place and they definitely looked second best to their lowly placed opponents for most of this match! Brampton comfortably led at the interval, but Linton clawed their way back into the match and a draw was a fair result.


For the second time in a week I felt that I was leaving “Brigadoon” and returning with a heavy heart to the real world!


Friday 10th May 2013 Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Division 1 North Play-Off FINAL

Cammell Laird                       0                           Trafford                                         0     aet – score at 90 minutes – 0-0

Trafford won 4-2 on penalties

referee:- Joseph Johnson                                     attendance:- 622


Chris, Graeme and I travelled to Birkenhead in very heavy Friday evening traffic for this play-off final at Cammell Laird’s Kirklands ground in Rock Ferry. I will not be ‘flying on the viewless wings of poesy’ to describe this ground! There wasn’t much to commend it. There was a tea hut and a miniscule seated stand down one side and a long covered area down the opposite side. The only other item of note was the bus depot behind the far side, where vehicles were being washed, conveyer belt fashion, all the way through the match.


It was a cool evening and two teams clashed each determined not to be the loser. It wasn’t a bruising encounter, but there were bruising moments and a stricter referee might have dispatched more than one player! Some of the club officials were proving elusive, but I did manage to acquire a team sheet and, eventually, the official attendance and after an hour and a half of attrition, it all came down to penalties.


Looks like someone kicked the fence in behind the goal………left, Graeme contemplating a picture of his own!


The crowd this evening was ten times the average attendance at Laird’s league games and most of them went home disappointed when their team had two penalties saved and Trafford gained promotion to the Premier Division by having only one penalty saved. It really could have gone either way and you had to feel great sympathy for the losers.


“Call the Midwife”

I got home around 2.00am and downed a couple of large scotches before retiring to bed around 3.30am. The following day, hapless Oundle were entertaining Rugby School at cricket…………..but that is another story!



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