Save that the lifetime’s ambition of watching a Northern League team at Bemerton Heath Harlequins is frustrated for another year, receipt of the FA Vase first qualifying results is an annual joy.
Grass Routes, of course, is fascinated by names. Joining the Harlequins among first hurdle fallers are Coventry Sphinx, Barnt Green Spartak, Graham Street Prims, Sporting Bengal (defeated 6-1 by the great Great Wakering Rovers), Brimscombe and Thrupp, Highmoor Ibis, Pitshanger Dynamos, Eversley and California, Snodland Town and Wick. AFC Aldermaston no longer march, either.
Winners – those where we might yet pitch up – include FC Deportivo Galicia, Stone Old Alleynians, Leicester Nirvana, Ashby Ivanhoe, Tadley Calleva, Heather St John, Boldmere St Michael, AFC Wulfrenians, Royal Wootton Bassett Town and Cribbs.
All this what’s-in-a-name stuff reminded Peter Berry of his Lancashire childhood watching the splendidly named but now defunct Blackrod Villa – yet more improbably, there was a Blackrod Torino, too.
That a player called Sammy slid off the pitch and flattened him isn’t so much an indelible memory – “the ground was almost certainly soft” – as a subsequent occasion when poor Sammy broke his leg.
“When the ambulance arrived, the very small crowd was surprised to see an inflatable split used on his leg. Perhaps they had been expecting them to snap a corner flag in two.”
*A piece in today’s Northern Echo records that it’s the centenary of the opening of the paper’s present home, an occasion marked in 1917 by even more speeches than the Northern League dinner (1997-2016).
What history won’t record is that I’ve worked out of there for over half of that time or that at 7 45am today I’m back burrowing among the bound files to find details of November 19 1955 – when Bishop Auckland, Crook, Durham City and Shildon all reached the FA Cup first round.
So, it should be recorded, did Easington – then in the Wearside League – beaten 2-0 by Tranmere Rovers in front of a 4,000 Colliery crowd.
The William Stead, the Wetherspoons across the road from the Echo, is named after the first editor, in 1870, who went down with the Titanic. It seems churlish not to adjourn for breakfast – the 907-calorie “traditional”, not the 1515-cal “large” – and to raise a coffee cup in gratitude for happy days.
The Echo, it’s greatly to be hoped, will resonate a little while yet.