March 8 2018: Evostik splits east-west

Northern Premier (Evostik) League clubs have voted 37-27 – one abstention – to split the league’s two step four divisions east/west. They have always been north/south.

Though chiefly a response to the FA’s new Midlands set-up, the move clearly impacts upon those Ebac Northern League clubs which over the next few years will be taking promotion – either willingly or by bully boy coercion.

The NPL’s southern division currently includes the likes of Market Drayton, Peterborough Sports, Stamford, Loughborough and Spalding. Though one or two will be headed elsewhere, the FA’s provisional map of the NPL’s “area” stretches down to Peterborough.

Morpeth (say) to Peterborough is 215 miles, estimated journey time 3 hours 52 minutes. Cutting costs and travel time? Good luck with that one, boys.

An east-west split also increases the likelihood that the NPL will be given the rights for the new “North-East” league at step 4 when bidding begins in 2020-21.

*Barely pausing for breath, we wrote a few days back of walking football and of Geoff Thornton’s unfortunate experience in breaking both wrists without even raising a gallop.

The Daily Mail now carries the story of 71-year-old Ashington lad Tommy Charlton – whose older brothers may be a bit better known – who has a trial for the England Over 60 squad on Saturday.

Long in Rotherham, Tommy plays for the Mature Millers. His England trial’s alongside my old friend Alan Kennedy, Penshaw lad who made his name with Newcastle United and Liverpool (where they called him Barney Rubble) but hasn’t represented England for ages. He’s now 63.

The Mail reckons walking football the UK’s fastest growing sport, more than 1,100 clubs and 35,000 players. Like Mark Twain, I still think it’s a good walk spoiled.

*Dan Harden in Kansas, where it’s all wheatfields, is reminded by the 3G debate of the words of “super bad boy” 1969 Philadelphia Phillies baseman Richie Allen: “If a horse won’t eat it, I don’t want to play on it.”

Wasn’t Richie Allen a star striker in Bedlington Terriers’ heyday 20 years ago? Perhaps he’s now walking pace, too.