April 14 2017

I’m on the 10 41 Transpenine Express from Darlington to Newcastle. So are a great many Leeds United fans, lashing back the lager, making a fearful racket and beligerently singing stuff which many would find offensive.

Crumbs, if they’re like that before 11 o’clock what’s it going to be like by three? Then I glance at the paper: the match with Newcastle doesn’t start until 7 45….

Much the greater attraction is the noon kick-off between West Allotment Celtic and Whitley Bay, given greater significance after West Allotment’s formal Ebac Northern League resignation on the back of Northumberland FA’s 66 per cent ground rent rise.

The bank holiday crowd’s 260, a bit disappointing, the atmosphere rather flat. Celtic are relegated regardless, Whitley have had a good second half of the season but won’t trouble the leaders.

Briefly among the spectators, though he insists he’s really on a bike ride, is Andy Bowes who played for both clubs and recalls what he supposes to be his claim to fame. “I missed the penalty in Whitley Bay’s 2002 Vase final at Aston Villa,” he says.

West Allotment were formed in 1928, have committee members with more than 50 years service and would fold completely if their NL resignation can’t be withdrawn before the league’s annual meeting.

Quite a lot’s been happening since the blog broke the news. Though it must remain confidential – there are still those who trust me with confidences – they are not without hope, as the Old Gentleman observed to the Railway Children before springing their father from the chokey.

Suffice that club secretary Ted “Rottweiler” Ilderton doesn’t just buy me a post-match beer, he buys me two – and insists that the tenner used for the purpose has been authorised from club funds. As things stand, however, the club’s last-ever game will be at home to Dunston UTS on April 22

Whitley Bay win 3-1. Some of the lads are headed thereafter to the 3pm kick-off at Hartlepool, a few to a ground hop match at Knaresborough, one or two to Newcastle Races and then to St James’ Park.

I’m headed hearth and homeward, to hot cross buns and Coronation Street and as far away as possible from the returning gentlemen of Leeds United.

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