April 14 2018: frog march

Thus far unchallenged, yesterday’s blog wondered if a ten-second sending off – Bulldog Billy Teesdale, ENV Rovers, nineteen-hundred-and-long-gone – was a world record.

At Esh Winning v Thornaby this afternoon, another may have been created. More of that shortly.

Spring is here. Morris dancers jingle-jangle around Darlington, the No 1 bus for once seems more vernal than infernal, the still-soggy old wagon way walk up to the ground from Stanley Hill Top is lined occasionally with daffs and frequently with frogs.

Apparently amphibians are annually amorous, and this is pretty much happy hour. I recall once walking the Formby dunes on Merseyside, ahead of a game against Dunston, where an information board explained that the males could get pretty noisy when – you know – at it.

To Formby folk the racket was known as the Bootle organ.

The ground’s as quirky and as lovely, the Esh Winning folk as welcoming, as always. It’s sad, however, to see Allan Morton – one of the great stalwarts of Northern League football – not getting away so well after a stroke.

How’s it going? “Nowt ower,” says Allan.

A curiosity is that half the sparse crowd – mostly fat, unfit, getting on quite a lot – seem to be wearing striped tracksuit bottoms. They look ridiculous. Do folk think that go-faster stripes really work?

Thornaby win with two second half goals – a blistering free kick and a penalty – from the ever-reliable Kallum Hannah. Unless the FA decides to relegate the bottom ten – and, these days, who knows? – both teams are safe.

Here’s the other world record attempt, anyway. You know how players constantly pester match officials to know how much time’s remaining? “How long, ref?” demands a Thornaby player, rather earlier than usual.

A check on the wristwatch reveals that it is precsiely six minutes past three.