Once more part of the reunion, Bishop Auckland’s former players of the 50s and 60s gather for their annual lunch. That, several years ago, they took a shine to the upper room at my village local is a happy bonus.
Conversation ranges from the days when the committee picked the team to Princess Margaret’s smoking habits. Neither, we conclude, was greatly beneficial.
Derek Lewin, the organiser, played in all three FA Amateuir Cup winning sides in 1955-57. He’s now 87. Bob Thursby was an 18-year-old right half in the team which beat Wycombe Wanderers in 1957.
Mike Greenwood and Billy Roughley came along a year or two later but also won England amateur caps. How many more might it have been, folk said, had they played for clubs in the south?
Derek’s trying to write an autobiography, supposes that he could write about the late Seamus O’Connell until the cows come home – appropriately, for the great goal scorer was a cattle dealer – and that madcap goalie Harry Sharratt might fill a few chapters, too.
Seamus also had a rich reputation as a ladies’ man, once said to have walked naked from the shower though a high society party in London. A lady glanced downwards. “Hung like that,” she said, “you should trot.”
Stories also survive of the return train journey from Wembley when the winning party was entertained by Kathy Kirby, the singer. Bill Roughley amended them: “That wasn’t the Bishops, it was Crook.”
As always, it’s a very happy occasion.
*Dean Gibb to blame, the blog of late has had quite a few memories of what might be supposed an exhibitionist streak. North Shields chairman Alan Matthews adds one of his own.
Alan worked for the courts service, recalls a case before Gateshead magistrates in which the defendant pleaded not guilty to indecent exposure following an unscheduled appearance at The Sage.
His barrister – a past chairman of the Everton former players’ association, says Alan – argued that his client had similarly appeared all over the planet, including a World Cup game in Argentina and running with the bulls in Spain. (Alan’s careful correctly to key “bulls”.)
Apart from anything else. at the Sage he’d been wearing a pink tutu – duly produced as evidence – and, since he was rather a little chap, there was nothing indecently to expose.
The case was dismissed.
*Sage or otherwise, the blog is now taking a week off for battery recharging. The next Grass Routes will be dated September 22. Do please come back.