Former Northern League referee Graham Smith orders a book, inadvertently both disturbing a cobwebbed memory and forging yet another link in coincidence’s lengthy chain.
Smith, it will be appreciated, is a not uncommon surname. Immediately below Graham on the Unconsidered Trifles mailing list is legendary former Darlington centre half Kevan Smith, 61 next month, who made 400-odd appearances for the Quakers and had a much shorter sojourn as co-manager at Crook Town.
Slightly to be different, Graham named his Wallsend house Smigsville. He doesn’t live there any longer, though. He lives in Smigsville ii.
Back in 2006, at any rate, the FA was getting a bit fed up of the confusion over all the Smiths on the referees’ list and so took to including the relevant postcode after each name.
It was thus a bit of a surprise when Graham, NE28, received match confirmation from Fisher Athletic, then ground sharing in south London at Dulwich Hamlet.
He replied cautiously: “I fear my expenses could be exorbitant and might indeed bankrupt the club. If possible, could I also have a map showing Kings Cross station as my sense of direction is akin to my interpretation of the offside law.”
Fisher failed to replay, or perhaps just to take the bait, but the match was refereed by Smith BN26.
*That little story first appeared in my Northern Echo column in February 2007. The same column reported the death, at 97, of long-serving former Middlesbrough scout Ray Grant, the man who discovered the 17-year-old Brian Clough playing for the village side in Great Broughton.
Ray’s finds also included Tony Mowbray, a nine-year-old kicking around Marske, and Ferryhill lad Stan Cummins who starred for both Boro and Sunderland. Last I heard of little Stan he was turning out for Ferryhill Greyhound in the Over 40s League. Anyone know what happened to him?
Ray was also close friends with Jack Watson, featured in yesterday’s blog, and that stretches coincidence yet further. The same Echo column had noted that Hibernian, managed by Tony Mowbray and with Jack Watson as his English scout, had won at Rangers in the Scottish League Cup the previous Saturday.
It meant that for the first time since 1997 there wouldn’t be at least one of the Old Firm in the final and that for the first time in 104 years the Hibees might lift some silverware. “I was quite surprised when I learned that,” said Tony. They thrashed Kilmarnock at Hampden.
*The Hibs’ thread had been started by a gentleman we named as Steve Cabbage, and to whom we thus owe an apology. Those steve.cabbage is his email moniker, his name’s Steve Young.
Blog reader Keith Bell had thought it a bit odd. In the land which gave us the Loons (Forfar), the Sons (Dumbarton), the Red Lichties (Arbroath) and, of course, the Blue Brazil of Cowdenbeath, weren’t Hibs also known as The Cabbage – rhyming slang, Cabbage and Ribs?
Further interrogated, Steve insists that it’s not just the Cockneys who have rhyming slang. In Scotland it might be Wullie Bauld (cauld), or someone might get Pansy Potters – his jotters, the sack – or suffer from the Duke of Argyle’s, which is piles.
Cabbage and ribs, he insists, is a favoured Scots’ delicacy – perhaps a bit like Stornoway black pudding or deep fried Mars Bar – from which briny soup might last the following week.
Not so green as they’re cabbage looking, couldn’t Hibs have been so nicknamed because of the colour of their shirts. “Those shirts are emerald,” says Steve. Maybe in future I should stick to the Northern League.
*At least one thing’s going right: for the third successive week, the blog’s visitor and viewing statistics are at record levels, and by some way. Whichever side of the border, many thanks.