July 12 2017: World Campions

Just when the FA Vase first qualifying round draw seemed as predictable and as constricted as ever, the very last tie featured Campion, home to Bedlington Terriers.

Save for its alter ego as a rather pretty plant, I’d never even heard of Campion.

It’s in Bradford, second tier of the Northern Counties East League, named not after the flower but after the nearby St Edmund Campion youth club – and thereby hangs a tale.

Edmund Campion (of whom I’d also not heard) was a 16th century Roman Catholic priest and martyr, canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970.

“Sixteenth century” may give it away. Tudor England didn’t think much of Roman Catholics. Finally discovered, Campion was held in the Tower, tortured, tried and – not entirely unexpectedly – found guilty of high treason.

Lord Chief Justice Wray, in his wisdom, deemed it necessary to give the poor chap a pretty graphic description of what happened next:

“You must go to the place from whence you came, there to remain until you shall be dragged through the Open City of London upon hurdles to the place of execution and there be hanged and cut down alive, and your privy parts cut off, and your entrails taken out and burned in your sight, then your head to be cut off and your body divided into four parts, to be disposed of at Her Majesty’s pleasure.”

Her Majesty’s pleasure notwithstanding, the kindly judge added the wish that God have mercy on the poor fellow’s soul.

A few of us will certainly be going, the Wetherspoons breakfast already anticipated, the rarity of a visit to the Bradford area again reflecting the draw’s accustomed geographical straitjacket.

The last time I was there was to watch Norton and Stockton Ancients (RIP) against Eccleshill in 2010, a match which the newly promoted Ancients won 7-0 before a crowd of precisely 25.

The ground wasn’t in Eccleshill at all but in the Bradford district of Wrose. Eccleshill was Wrose by any other name.

In 2007 I’d watched Ashington win 1-0 at Thackley, the district of Bradford in which stands – or more likely sits – the celebrated Idle Workmen’s Club. The late entertainer Michael Jackson was member 005.

Unfortunately it was closed that Saturday lunchtime. Probably they couldn’t have been bothered to get out of bed.

There’s also an Idle Medical Centre, which many an overburdened GP might have supposed a sub-title to his practice, but the Loose Women’s Institute (honest) is in Kent.