March 7 2018: Bishops in danger

Something highly unusual happens tonight: a football match takes place. Admittedly Stockton Town v Bishop Auckland is the only survivor, admittedly it’s a 3G pitch – the future whether we like it or not – but it’s still good to be back with the boys.

Some of them had headed to Spennymoor Town’s FA Trophy quarter-final replay last night, discovered a 6 30pm postponement and were robbed of £28 at Sunderland instead.

“Twenty-eight pund for dross and a near-empty stadium,” they reiterated.

Others have gone tonight to the Sunderland Under 23 v Newcastle Under 23 match, also at the Stadium of Light. That one’s just £3 and few doubt that it’ll be a better bet.

Stockton, as might be supposed, have one eye on the FA Vase semi-final with Marske United. Both matches are all-ticket. Still they like to remind you – as well they might – that just two seasons ago they were in the Wearsde League and that most of the team have come through their own junior ranks.

Bishops seem a bit under-represented: just three on the bench, the chairman away marking his wife’s birthday – what’s the matter with a nice night in Stockton, Michelle? – and the secretary at yet another Prisoner Cell Block H convention in Australia.

Tony Duffy is probably the world’s No 1 Prisoner Cell Block H fan – what might be termed a captive audience.

Stockton win 2-0, the second a glorious 30-yarder from skipper Adam Nicholson, one of those who came through the ranks. Bishops will spend another few days looking over their shoulders.

Relegation would be unthinkable, but strange and wonderful things happen in football. Just ask them at Stockton Town- .Or for that matter at Sunderland.