September 11 2017: Unforgettable….

Most of us couldn’t have helped run the Northern League half so well without the support, administrative and personal, of our wives. Tony Golightly, for 22 years the league’s highly efficient secretary, knew all about that.

Enid Golightly’s funeral was held this morning at Chester-le-Street’s wonderful old parish church, the cortege entering to the song Unforgettable. They would have celebrated their diamond wedding next year.

Enid’s principal roles were to field innumerable telephone calls, particularly before the internet became universal and usually when he was down the bottom of the garden or off playing snooker, and to keep the guy nourished.

Few league meetings began before Tony had rubbed his stomach and informed us of the excellence of what North-East folk call their tea, usually followed by something and custard.

The minister omits to mention Enid’s steak and kidney pie — Tony never did – but talks of her helpfulness. There was perhaps one qualification, a long serving club secretary whom she found brusque (shall we say) and struggled to define those qualities she’d long since learned in the Civil Service. Service, certainly, but perhaps not always the first bit.

Tony himself hasn’t been too clever, as again they say up here, two months in coronary care at the start of the year, the direct result of which is now a gammy knee. Too much time on his back, apparently.  May better fortune attend him.

*The great joy of blog writing is reader interaction. Recent references to former Bedlington Terriers man Dean Gibb – happily very much still with us, but another to whom the epithet “unforgettable” could inarguably be attached – stir memories both of the lad himself and of running round naked. Gibby had a show-off streak.

Heaton Stannington secretary Ken Rodger, 80 next year and as youthful as ever, recalls his time as manager of Northern Alliance side Ponteland United in the late 1970s when the junior section was short of players. Dean, who was 14 and lived nearby, was persuaded to turn out with a couple of his mates.

After a couple of games, Ken was taken aback to receive a call from Ipswich Town’s man in the North-East – would that have been the fabled Carruthers? – to the effect that Gibby was on their books, that permission hadn’t been sought and that he must cease forthwith. “I didn’t know about illegal approach in those days,” Ken pleads.

The Ipswich manager was Bobby Robson. Unfortunately Dean was released. What the future Sir Bobby would have made of him must be left to vivid imagination.