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Northern Wanderings


Seeing it now in winter sun,
It seems so far removed
From the dark tale
Of a cursed village drowned and gone.

Only a line of clouds remain
To cast forebodings on
The lake and leave
The faint threat of a squall of rain.

by Alan Hartley




Wednesday 30th October 2013 Chromasports & Trophies United Counties League k.o.:- 7.45pm
Division 1

Peterborough Sports                                               3
Gary Gibbs 7, 12,
Chris Garwell 76
Raunds Town                                                            2
Rick Chambers 62,
Karl King 64,
referee:- Anthony Griffiths                                attendance 79


Peterborough Sports play at the old Lincoln Road (before the dual carriageway was built), and I’m pretty sure that it is built on the old Peterborough Central CC site where I used to umpire and the boys used to play back in the early ’90s. Now, they are a new football team in The United Counties League.They can trace their ancestry back to the famous Brotherhoods Engineering Works which has long since closed down, but which in the middle and latter part of the last century was world famous for its turbine engines and plant. Indeed one of my colleague umpires, Jack Bloodworth, now sadly passed away, worked for the company and was posted around the world maintaining plant in such far flung places as Australia and Russia. The club house is still the same as was used by the cricket team, but the football ground is now surrounded by a tall fence and there are railings around the pitch itself. There is a stand with seating for perhaps one hundred spectators, but apart from that there is no further cover and just a concrete strip all round, adjacent to the pitch railings.


This was only their second evening fixture of their first UCL campaign, and the first evening league match. Naturally, there was plenty of interest from other hoppers and I spied at least half a dozen in the bar before the match. Matt and I had followed sat-nav instructions to locate the ground, only to miss it when we were parked right outside the entrance! We actually enquired of a taxi driver and he sent us off on a wild goose chase of at least five miles before we eventually ended up back at our enquiry point and this time we actually noticed that there were floodlights behind the shop where we were parked!


The game was a pretty good one. ‘The Turbines’ were two up inside the first fifteen minutes, but couldn’t add further to their tally in the first half. Raunds Town, who were several places higher in the league table, gradually gained the upper hand in the second half and drew level with two goals in two minutes just after the hour mark. With fifteen minutes remaining, the home side regained the lead after looking more likely to fall behind, and they managed to hang on until the end for a slim victory!



In the ninetieth minute, the visiting goalkeeper went up for a corner in a last desperate attempt to help his team mates save the match. It appeared that in a melee in the goal mouth, that he pushed over the home keeper, who promptly retaliated and both were despatched by the gimlet eyed official and each had to be replaced in goal for he final few seconds!

Monday 4th November 2013 Evo-Stik Northern Premier League k.o.:- 7.45pm

Division 1 North

Radcliffe Borough                                   1

Bradley Robinson 23

Curzon Ashton                                         2

Matthew Warburton 43

Ryan Brooke 51

referee:- Darren Strain              attendance:- 158


Well, it should have been New Mills, this evening, but when I arrived there at just before seven, I found that the match had been called off, much to the chagrin of the chairman! So it was at Radcliffe Borough’s Stainton Park that I eventually found myself and I hadn’t been there five minutes when I heard my name being called! It was Alan from Leicester (or is it Fleckney?), whom I seem to bump into periodically on my travels. He was there with a friend and on the following evening, they were both going to Bromley! I had been holidaying in The Yorkshire Dales at the remote village of Kettlewell, where “Calendar Girls” was filmed. Alan had read about my exploits earlier in the season, when I found myself locked in the dressing rooms at Allestree before the game started and I was reminded of it at regular intervals throughout the match!


Stainton Park hosts an impressive seated stand behind the goal at the top end of the pitch and there is some standing cover down the nearside of the pitch. Otherwise, the ground is open to the elements! There is a clubhouse with an eccentric corner where light bubbles from a floating fixture attached to the wall. The officials were friendly and helpful. They apologised for the lack of programmes (apparently, they have a monthly magazine which serves as a programme for all the matches in that month, but none were available this evening). We were, however,  issued with a free team sheet in lieu of the programme. Apart from the blazers of the club officials, there was no club crest in view anywhere in the ground.


It had been quite a dash from New Mills, some thirty miles away, but I made it just in time for the start which had been slightly delayed! The home side are struggling. Indeed, their place in The Evo-Stik Northern Premier League is in doubt as they hover over the relegation trapdoor! On the other hand, Curzon Ashton are challenging at the other end of the table as they have for several years, flattering to deceive!


The4 home side opened the scoring midway through the first half and it took the evidently superior Ashton until two minutes before the break to equalise! They scored again to take the lead early in the second half and the home side huffed and puffed but never really threatened. At the end, Curzon Ashton were comfortable victors!



Tuesday 5th November 2013 Evo-Stik Northern Premier League k.o.:- 7.45pm

Premier Division

AFC Fylde                                                         1

Danny Lloyd 10

Nantwich Town                                              2

Aaron Burns 70 (pen)

Ben Deegan 76

referee:- Ms Helen Byrne                attendance:- 204


It is quite likely that Guy Fawkes accounted for the lowest attendance of the season at Kellamergh Park, although, in truth, I didn’t see much in the way of bonfire activity on my long drive down from Kettlewell in The Yorkshire Dales. It was a cold blustery evening with more than a hint of rain in the air. The stadium seemed to have been constructed out of  haulage containers. There were two pairs down the near side of the pitch which had been turned into hospitality viewing areas with a stand which held perhaps 200 spectators jammed in between. There was cover behind the far goal and yet another container was reserved for a clubhouse and bar and whilst welcome as an escape from the outside cold, it wasn’t particularly warm! The whole was set back in a large tract of land behind a pub, quite off the beaten track, so to speak!


There was a warm welcome at the gate, where I was relieved of £6 for an old man’s entry and a further £2 for a glossy programme. This is an ambitious club who first swam into my ken as Kirkham and Wesham FC sevreal years ago. They are challenging at the top of The Premier Division of The Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, lying in second place behind leaders Skelmersdale United. Already, this season, they had travelled to Nantwich, tonight’s visitors, and come away with a creditable 1-1 draw. Nantwich Town, on the other hand, were struggling in the lower reaches of the division, but their manager, Danny Johnson, interviewed in the matchday programme, was confident that his side were underachieving and would claim a top six spot come the end of the season.


The first half went strictly according to the form book and Fylde should have, perhaps, had more to show than the slender one goal advantage that they took into the interval. It really did seem very difficult to predict anything other than a solid home win!

The second half appeared to follow the same pattern as the first with Fylde pressing and Nantwich stoutly resisting. However, a strange penalty decision twenty minutes from the end, offered Nantwich a lifeline, which they grabbed rather like a starving man’s first meal for a week! Six minutes later they were in front with a rather scrambled effort from close in. At the end, Nantwich had stolen the match and Fylde had ceded second place in the league to great rivals, Chorley, who had beaten Matlock Town 3-1.

It had been a good match on a wild evening and I was grateful for my sport filled herma-sealed cockpit for the long journey back up to the Dales!

Wednesday 6th November 2013 North-West Counties League k.o.:- 7.45pm

Premier Division

Colne                                                                      3

Michael Berry 15, 60,

Michael Saunders 44

Silsden                                                                    1

Michael Hall 62,

referee:- Anthony Moore               attendance:- 114


It had been a filthy day, with persistent rain in West Yorkshire and it was more in hope than anticipation that I travelled down to Colne on the eastern edge of Lancashire for this tussle with Silsden, near neighbours from the other side of the border! I was surprised and delighted to see the floodlights were on at The XLCR Stadium as the rain continued to beat down and I dashed from car to stadium meeting up with fellow hoppers from Bradford, Skipton and even Birmingham!


It is hard to believe that twenty-odd years ago, this club was on the edge of The Conference Premier. That was  before death threats, received by the chairman, led to his resignation and the subsequent demise of the club. The ground has a delapidated feel about it, not helped by the weather, I hasten to add. There is seating for maybe a hundred spectators on the near side as you enter and a covered terrace behind the top goal, with some further covered terracing down the far side! The tiny club-house was stretched to fit the few hardy faithfuls – and the referee’s assessor – who were sheltering from the inclement conditions before the start of the match. I paid £2.50 for an old man’s entrance and a further £1 for a very adequate programme and team lists were available in the club-house.


There was a double sending off in the fortieth minute, when a strong tackle turned into hand-bags and the referee  gave a second yellow to the home number 8, James Crorken and a straight red to the away team’s number 3 Kristian Hargreaves. By this time, Colne were already a goal to the good and they added a second just before half-time. The home side increased their lead on the hour, but Silsden pulled one back two minutes later to give some delight to the small band of travelling support. The rain eased off and Colne coasted to victory.


It was a comparatively short trip back to Kettlewell, this evening, only some thirty or so miles, but the narrow winding thoroughfares of The Dales are unforgiving and it still took me more than an hour to get back to the holiday let!


Friday 8th November 2013 EBAC Northern League  k.o.:- 7.45pm

Division 1

Bishop Auckland                                                            2

Robert Moncur 30, 42,

Morpeth Town                                                                 1

Michael Chilton 82,

referee:- Stuart Campbell                          attendance:- 447


My last Northern League match had been at Newcastle Benfield, where Morpeth Town were the visitors,too. It was the same score this evening, with the same scorer netting for Morpeth Town! Dejas-Vu! It seemed almost as incredible as Wednesday night’s three scorers all being called ‘Michael’!


I didn’t go to a match, yesterday (Thursday). Instead, I went up to Semerwater (pronounced ‘Sea-mer-water’), one of only two natural lakes in the whole of North Yorkshire (the other one being Masham Tarn). High above the small lake (which JM Turner painted on a visit in 1816 and named ‘Simmerwater’), there is a village called Stalling Busk, maybe three or four houses and a church. There is also a thriving preserve making concern (jams and chutneys) and they provide maps and routes for walks in the area. We chose the walk round Semerwater – about four miles. It was pretty muddy as we crossed the fields and walked down, past the ruined church, to the lakeside. Just as we reached the spot where Turner had painted his picture, the heavens opened! We were about two miles in by then and there was no shelter. The heavy rain turned to sleet and hail as we pushed on up 1-in-4 hills and eventually we found shelter, of sorts, in an abandoned telephone kiosk in Marsett. When the heavy rain abated, we pushed on back from Marsett, fording the River Bain and climbing the steep stony pathway back to Stalling Busk, exhausted, wet, muddy, bedraggled … and yet, strangely, triumphant!


Bishop Auckland have a splendid new stadium called Heritage Park. A beautifully appointed stand with club house behind it sits on the half-way line and there are seats (but no cover) behind one of the goals. Behind the opposite goal, there is roofed terracing. £6 gained me full entrance and a programme was priced at £1.25 – “to cover costs”, explained the hawker, who had to keep finding change for this odd amount. The team sheet was posted on the wall just inside the entrance. Up in the club house, hot food was available in the bar (steak pie, chips, peas and gravy) and a club shop deprived me of my seat in the far corner. I met up with Andy McCullum from Hexham and he told me of his weekend plans (overnight bus to London Victoria, a morning coach to Tunbridge Wells for the match – or maybe two – and then back the same evening to Victoria and the overnight coach back to Newcastle)!


Bishop Auckland are current holders of The Durham Challenge Cup


One of the murals on the stairwell of the clubhouse à la Pablo Picasso


For all the splendour of the stadium, there was precious little atmosphere. Maybe the match wasn’t one of the best, more of a dour struggle, yet there was a healthy attendance and the ‘home’ end under the terracing in the second half was pretty full but making hardly any noise. There was more noise made by the couple who had come all the way down from Morpeth, and who yelped with glee, late on, when their team halved the deficit. Indeed, with a little more luck, they might have salvaged a draw!


Saturday 9th November 2013 FA Cup with Budweiser k.o.:- 3.00pm

1st Round

Corby Town                                                                          1

Chris Carruthers 90+2

Dover Athletic                                                                    2

Nathan Elder 57,

Chris Kinnear 66,

referee:- Amy Fearn (Swadlincote, Derbys)  attendance:- 1,387


I was back from North Yorkshire in time for this game, and it proved to be quite an entertaining tussle between the home side at step 4 and the away team at step 3. The only sour note was the placing of the two sets of opposing fans NEXT to each other in the covered terracing behind the far goal! Whoever masterminded that piece of lunacy deserves free entry to ‘Salem! Needless to say, the police were called in, late in the game, to sort out  minor disturbances!


Dover were the better side, but it took them nearly an hour to break down The Steelmen’s stubborn defence. Then they scored two goals in ten minutes. Game over! Corby did pull one back in added time at the en, but by then the game was won!

Monday 11th November 2013          Doodson Sport Cup                k.o.:- 7.45pm

1st Round

Romulus                                                           2

Danico Johnson 15, 90+3

Stafford Rangers                                            2

Darren Bullock 21,

Matthew Burke 45,

There was no extra time and Stafford Rangers progressed after winning the penalty shoot-out by 4-3

referee:- Dimitru-Ravel Cheosiaua               attendance:- 60


It rained all day! It was mostly a thin drizzle, but it was exasperatingly consistent and put out of my mind all thoughts of trips to exotic locations where the likelihood was that eager and politically correct minded officials would call the matches off because a drop of water had fallen on the pitch (see New Mills at the top of the page!).

So, I chose to go to Romulus, who play sat Sutton Coldfield’s Coles Lane ground which has a 3G surface and is unaffected by rain. The surface was beginning to look a trifle worn, however, and the little puffs of dust that used to jump up whenever the ball bounced, were no longer so much in evidence.

Romulus were playing a team from a division higher in The Evo-Stik Northern Premier League. Stafford Rangers have fallen on hard times of late, but are now back, playing at Marston Road in Stafford. They should have won this match at a canter, missing several decent opportunities to add to their half-time lead. In the third minute of added time right at the end of the match, Romulus struck to equalise. There was to be no extra time, so the game went straight to penalties.


Romulus missed their second and Stafford missed their fourth penalty which meant that Daniel O’Callaghan had to score the fifth Romulus penalty to keep their hopes alive. The goalkeeper, however, was equal to his efforts and Romulus were out 3-4 on penalties!

The rain continued to fall on my way home! The M6 was reduced to one lane at Corley, The A14 exit was closed and the A6003 dual carriageway from Kettering to Corby was also closed! I was led a merry dance back to Gretton!

At last my internet has been re-connected! Man from Openreach came this morning and I can once again access the wider world!

This season:- 83 games, 67 new grounds!
















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