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Northern ‘Ventures

Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs,
Aa’ll tell yer aall and aaful story,
Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs,
An’ Aal tell yer ’bout the woorm.


One Sunday morn young Lambton went

A-fishing in the Wear

An’ catched a fish upon he’s heuk

He thowt leuk’t varry queer

But whatt’n a kind of fish it was

Young Lambton cuddent tell

He waddn’t fash to carry’d hyem

So he hoyed it soon a well


Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs,
Aa’ll tell yer aall and aaful story,
Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs,
An’ Aal tell yer ’bout the woorm.

The Lambton Worm (traditional – the rest of the poem is at the end)






Friday 25th October 2013 Wearside League k.o.:- 7.30pm

Sliksworth Colliery Welfare                                        2
Liam Gill 58, 72,
Ryhope Colliery Welfare                                             6
Nathan O’neill 30,
John Butler 54,
Phillip Hall 55,
Chris Winn 60,
Jack Pounder 74,
Jonathan Yip 90+1
referee:- Graeme Hopper (Wardley, Gateshead)        attendance:- 168


It all started out inauspiciously with with the grindingly slow and mindlessly boring plod up the M1 and then the A1, which were both clogged with half-term holiday makers to add to the usual woes. Laurence was driving, however, and he seemed to take it all serenely in his accomplished stride,  and eventually, we reached the relatively calm waters of the A19, and our destination was within sight!

Chris had booked very comfortable accommodation at extremely reasonable prices for us all, and having secured the keys we turned our attention to the Friday night match. Silksworth Colliery was sunk in 1869, when the village was home to a mere 400 residents. Ten years later, the population had risen to 4,707 and many of them had come from far and wide to work the pit. Some of them also turned out for the local football side and one – the same Bob Gurney after whom the ground is named – played for Sunderland from 1925-39, scoring 288 goals and a record that still stands.

Sixty years ago this season, the team won a famous victory against the mighty Sunderland Reserves in the final of The Shipowners Cup. It was the only time in a nine year stretch that Sunderland had surrendered possession of the trophy! This season, the club have produced a commemorative programme to highlight the achievements of that team and a selection of old photographs and interviews with surviving players. It is a tribute, not only to that successful team, but also to a bygone age, when life was considerably harder than it is now!


The 1953/54 Silksworth team which won The Shipowners Cup

The Bob Gurney Memorial Park is little more than a field with whited railings surrounding it. Tonight, the class of 2013/14 were humbled by another colliery side from Ryhope who are vying for the Wearside League  Championship and promotion back to the Northern League, from which they were demoted last season on ground grading issues!

They had no trouble, this evening, in disposing of their hosts, but both sides played their part in a thoroughly entertaining match.

Saturday 26th October 2013 EBAC Northern League k.o.:- 10.30am
Division 2

Heaton Stannington                                                      3
Jonathan Wright 19 (pen), 88
Phil Smith 29,
Birtley Town                                                                  0
referee:- Tom Armstrong Jnr                                 attendance:- 412


This was my second visit this season to Heaton Stannington (see 23rd July 2013) and not a lot had changed except that the crowd was ten times larger and there was a concreted footpath around the perimeter of the pitch! The promised floodlights had not appeared, and I had really been looking forward to seeing them! Apparently, there had been a discovery of very soft earth in the vicinity of the excavations to install the lights. This will entail substantial extra work and, equally, substantial extra cost which could add £32,000 to the overall bill! The club are committed to the project and are confident that the lights will be installed before the 31st March 2014 deadline!Not only that, they have ambitions to gain promotion and for that, besides winning the title, they will also need to instal a hundred seats and plans for that eventuality are already underway!


Heaton Stannington presently head the Division 2 table, although they have played a game or two more than one or two of their rivals. Birtley Town are also up there in the top six, but it didn’t look like it today! The home team scored two first half goals in  a period when the teams were fairly evenly matched. They scored a final and decisive goal two minutes from time after dominating the second half!


Midway through the second half, as substitutions were about to be made and the referee’s back was turned, it appeared that a home player was punched in the face by an opponent off the ball. The home players remonstrated passionately with the referee to no avail, neither he, nor his two colleagues had seen anything of the incident. However, a roving Sky Sports camera had captured the incident on video and the home player had suffered a broken jaw in two places!


The Northern Alliance Championship Trophy

Lifted by Heaton Stannington in 2012/13

Considering that they are the most recent addition to The EBAC Northern League, Heaton Stannington can be well pleased with their efforts on this hop. Perhaps they didn’t make the most of the culinary opportunities available to them (Greg suggested that there had been mention of ‘blueberry oats’?), but the welcome was warm, the programme informative and thought provoking and the general atmosphere was very positive!

Saturday 26th October 2013 EBAC Northern League k.o.:- 1.15pm
Division 2

West Allotment Celtic                                                 0
North Shields                                                              0
referee:- Mr Andrews (Newton Aycliffe)             attendance:- 429


The second match of the ‘hop’ was at Whitley Park,The Northumberland County FA Headquarters and home of West Allotment Celtic. This was another ground I had aleady visited (about seven hundred games ago in August 2010). This match produced the largest attendance of the hop with a healthy local contingent joining the large numbers of ‘hoppers’.


The match, however, was pretty abysmal. The two teams are both quite near the top of the table, and it seemed that each was determined not to lose. there were chances, but these were woefully squandered by both sides and the result was a bore draw, the less said about it the better!


Saturday 26th October 2013 EBAC Northern League k.o.:- 4.00pm
Division 1

Team Northumbria                                                   3
David Luke 7,
Daniel Riley 21,
Peter Watlings 57
Whitley Bay                                                               4
Paul Chow 15 (pen), 26, 52, 64,
referee:- Mr J. Matthews                               attendance:- 396


I’d always known that if I ever visited Team Northumbria, it would be out of a sense of duty rather than pleasure, and so it proved.

University teams, quite naturally, use university facilities and Coach Lane is a long way from the splendour of The Holywell Sports Complex at Loughborough University! There was a stand along one side, but that was the only area for staying out of the elements. It seemed, too, that despite the large numbers of ‘hoppers’, minimal effort had been made to provide a memorable experience! Even the refreshments were out of a commercial van which appeared to have been hired for the event, and there were interminable queues. Toilets? There were two urinals on the other side of the sports complex behind the pitch. Once again, there were lengthy queues.

For all that, the match itself was a good one. For an hour, the score swung this way then that, until Bay took the decisive lead in the 64th minute with a fourth goal from ‘that man’ Paul Chow. I gather he is something of a fifty goal a season man. Team Northumbria didn’t really deserve to lose, but once Bay had scored the fourth goal, there was no way back despite determined and valiant efforts from the students.

Saturday 26th October 2013 EBAC Northern League k.o.:- 7.00pm
Division 1

Newcastle Benfield                                                  2
Tony Stephenson 29,
Paul Brayson 32
Morpeth Town                                                          1
Michael Chilton 35
referee:- M. Gillespie                                       attendance:- 328


At last, a real football ground, but sadly it was by now, dark and we couldn’t completely appreciate the old fashioned splendour of the place! There was a seated stand along each side and behind the goal, a clubhouse which served chicken curry and rice for £2.00 and pie, chips and peas for £3.00. It was the first food I’d had since breakfast and it was well worth waiting for!


Despite the traditional look of the ground, the club have only been in existence since 1988 and have gone through several name changes in the period since. They were received into  the Northern League some ten years ago and have enjoyed a long unbroken, successful, spell in the top division culminating in the Championship title in 2008.DSCN2312

Morpeth Town have considerably more pedigree having been formed in the late 1880s. They have not, perhaps enjoyed the success of Benfield, but by a strange quirk of fate, they won the quaintly named “Aged Miners Cup” in three consecutive seasons 1935/6, 1936/7 and 1937/8. Exactly fifty years later, they won the same trophy for a fourth and last time.


Tonight, Morpeth Town were unfortunate not to come away with a point. It was a good contest with two evenly matched sides battling away right to the very end. All the goals were scored in the first half, a brace from Benfield around the half-hour mark and one for Morpeth five minutes later. Try as both teams might, there was no further score in the second half, but plenty of action on an evening that grew rapidly cooler.


You may have guessed that this wasn’t my best day with the camera and apologies are due for some of the initial photos which were culled from sources other than my own. Only those from Newcastle Benfield survived on my camera after I, inadvertently, deleted the entire day’s photo shoot. To say that I was a trifle miffed would be to understate my considerable irritation! After the match, Laurence cruised us back to Nottingham, completing the 162 mile journey in just 165 minutes. From there, I drove back to Gretton into the early hours of the morning, but ……………………. the clocks went back at 2.00am and we all gained an extra hours sleep!

Tuesday 29th October 2013       FA Cup                    k.o.:- 7.45pm

4th Qualifying Round REPLAY

Kidderminster Harriers                                                                        2

Amari Morgan-Smith 92,

Marvin Johnson 104,

Bradford Park Avenue                                                                             1  

After extra time (score at 90 minutes – 0-0)

Chris Chilaka 109,

referee:-  Paul Rees (Somerset)                                         attendance:- 1,212


On my last two visits to Aggborough, the matches had both ended as 0-0 draws and tonight would have been no different, except that it was a cup  replay that needed to be played to a finish. The traffic on the way over was absolutely appalling and I had to take several detours because of congestion. We got there in good time, found a convenient parking place, bought tickets (very reasonably priced at £10 and £5 for an old man gonna die soon) and drinks and a cheese roll in the bar and then came the bombshell! Bradford Park Avenue were stuck in traffic and hadn’t arrived yet! The kick-off was delayed, art first for fifteen minutes, and then put back until 8.30pm. In the event, the game got under way at 8.18pm and it proved well worth waiting for!


Bradford Park Avenue were not overawed by the fine arena, nor by the status of their opponents. They played a neat, controlled, short passing game which frequently cut through the home defence like a knife through butter. They carved out two or three excellent chances in the first half alone, but mis-judgement, good defending or luck kept the score sheet clean. Kidderminster had virtually a full strength team and yet the second half continued much as the first, with Avenue’s intricate pattern weaving frequently getting the better of Harriers more direct style of play. Neither side, however, could break the deadlock!

The goal that really killed the tie off came two minutes into extra time, when a fierce cross from the left seemed to bounce off Morgan-Smith and into the net. Avenue shoulders drooped and a second goal was conceded within five minutes. The half time chat must have hardened the resolve of the visitors for they came out in a much more determined frame of mind for the final fifteen minutes, snatched a goal back and had the Harriers on the back foot.


It wasn’t to be, however, for The Harriers survived and it is they who will face Sutton United in the FA Cup 1st Round. Bradford can now concentrate on The FA Trophy, but they left Aggborough with heads held high after a resounding performance!

It was well after midnight when I got back!

2013/14 Season:- 76 matches, 62 new grounds.


Noo Lambton felt inclined te gan
An' fight i' foreign wars.
he joined a troop o' Knights that cared
For nowther woonds nor scars,
An' off he went te Palestine
Where queer things him befel,
An' varry seun forgat aboot
The queer worm i' the well.

But the worm got fat an' growed and' growed
An' growed an aaful size;
He'd greet big teeth, a greet big gob,
An' greet big goggle eyes.
An' when at neets he craaled aboot
Te pick up bits o' news,
If he felt dry upon the road,
He milked a dozen coos.

This feorful worm wad often feed
On caalves an' lambs an' sheep,
An' swally little barins alive
When they laid doon te sleep.
An' when he'd eaten aall he cud
An' he had had he's fill,
He craaled away an' lapped he's tail
Seven times roond Pensher Hill.

The news of this myest aaful worm
An' his queer gannins on
Seun crossed the seas, gat te the ears
Ov brave and' bowld Sor John.
So hyem he cam an' catched the beast
An' cut 'im in twe haalves,
An' that seun stopped he's eatin' bairns,
An' sheep an' lambs and caalves.

So noo ye knaa hoo aall the foaks
On byeth sides ov the Wear
Lost lots o' sheep an' lots o' sleep
An' leeved i' mortal feor.
So let's hev one te brave Sor John
That kept the bairns frae harm,
Saved coos an' caalves by myekin' haalves
O' the famis Lambton Worm.

             Final Chorus

Noo lads, Aa'll haad me gob,
That's aall Aa knaa aboot the story
Ov Sor John's clivvor job
Wi' the aaful Lambton Worm.



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