March 19 2017

We’re back to the subject of “proper” football grounds in close proximity. Both Gary Oliver and Brian Weir draw attention to neighbours beneath our noses – what of Jarrow Roofing (of the Ebac Northern League) and Boldon CA, of the Wearside?

They’re up the same track, at their closest probably no more than 50 yards apart – memory suggests, indeed, that there are groundhoppers who claim to have sat on the fence and watched two games simultaneously.

“Who knows,” muses Gary, “there may be a Northern League derby in the not too distant future?”

Brian, who lives in Northern Ireland but is a true football nomad, then wanders off in all manner of interesting directions and ends up on the Shetland Islands (than which there are few more blessed places on God’s earth.)

“I’m sure it will not have escaped your notice,” he writes, “that North Isles have been admitted to the Shetland League for the summer season.” It had, of course.

North Isles are primarily Yell and Unst, the latter home to Britain’s most northerly bus shelter – a glorious idiosyncractic place, worth googling – and Britain’s most northerly church.

We’ve waited (in vain) at the bus stop, paid a weekday visit to the church and just happened to bump into the minister – sent on a three-month attachment and still in Shetland more than a decade later. He was from Langley Park: we spent half an hour recalling Sir Bobby Robson.

The two islands are connected by a ferry – and North Isles have “home” grounds on both. Brian wonders if, gicen the sea crossing, any club has a greater travelling time between its two “home” grounds, but probably knows the answer already.

*Friday’s blog recalled colour clashes at Manchester City, coincidental because the following day’s Times reported that City have become the first Premier League club to have a separate sponsor for their shirt sleeves – or “sleeve partner”, as the club prefers.

We’ve also heard from Ebac Northern League president George Courtney, the referee responsible for that sky blue/blue sky thinking vack in 1985, who recalls that  the reported “quite a few boos” could be translated into sporadic outbreaks of the familiar chant about the so-and-so in the black.

George is oddly wistful. “The so-and-so in the yellow,” he says, “just doesn’t sound the same at all.”

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