From Australia, of all places, former Crook Town secretary Dave Thompson emails the team sheet from today’s National League play-off final at Wembley. The referee’s Anthony Backhouse. Didn’t he used to officiate in the Northern League, asks Dave?
Too true he did, and thereby hangs a remarkable rise.
Less than ten years ago, December 2007, Anthony was a 17-year-old assistant when Penrith played Crook on the Blues’ old Southend Road ground. His dad, Chris was the ref; Chris’s cousin Mark was on the other line.
“He’s very mature for his age, I think he can go the whole way,” said Chris, 46, who hadn’t stopped playing – and seeing the red mist, as he put it – until eight years previously.
The family lives at Brampton, near Carlisle. The story appeared in the January 2008 issue of the league mag – Anthony on the right with his dad in the middle in the picture below.
The magazine also reproduced from Brandon United’s Boxing Day programme the story about the mother superior calling all the nuns together to announce that there was case of gonorrhoea in the convent.
“Oh thank God,” cries an elderly sister at the back, “I was getting very fed up of that chardonnay.”
So what else did we see fit to print back in January 2008?
*North Shields were exploring the possibility of a 10,500-seat “community stadium” on the site of their existing ground.
*Marske United’s 621 gate for the Boxing Day derby with Guisborough Town had been the league’s biggest for 11 years. There’ve been an awful lot bigger since.
*Consett, Whitley Bay and Dunston had reached the last 32 – then a national round – of the FA Vase.
*Northallerton Town hoped to have a new stadium on the other side of town by 2010-11, despite objections from green belt campaigners.
*Shildon director Barry Murphy had marked his 70th birthday by completing the set of all 214 Lake District peaks.
*Hebburn Town president Brendan Foster had been appointed CBE in the New Year honours list.
*National Lottery jackpot winner Ken Wynne, originally from West Auckland, had taken the club’s World Cup on a cruise.
*Long serving Billingham Synthonia offficial and league committee member Peter Lax, bless him, was recovering from a hernia operation before Christmas and had still found an audience for the most whiskery of all the jokes in his incorrigible canon.
They’re about to put him under when Peter tells the surgeon he has a problem. Bedside manner well-polished, the doc makes the mistake of asking what the problem is. “The wife wants the mother-in-law for Christmas,” says Peter, “but I can’t get her into the oven.”