16 April 2018: Elvis lives


Saturday’s blog mentioned Stanley Hill Top, that windy ridge above Crook which was home to one of non-league football’s quaintest and best loved grounds. Remember the Little House on the Prairie, sadly consumed by fire?

It prompts a further email from Ebac Northern League president George Courtney, still taking the sun in Tenerife, and the picture above of Sean King, a rather portly Elvis impersonator who also hails from the Hill Top.

Having shook up every club in the North-East, Sean now plays Tenerife – very good,too, George reckons, though the email also gives him chance to report that he bumped into John Atkinson, Shildon’s esteemed president. More accurately, John, on a go-faster mobility scooter, almost bumped into George.

The former World Cup ref also won a bottle of Prosecco in the raffle but, being the lad that he is, gave it to a chap on the next table who was celebrating a birthday. The league management committee will just have to stick to blackcurrant cordial.

*The blog a few days ago recalled how a disoriented FA lady had invited me to the Association’s 150th anniversary knees up in 2013 as the imagined chairman of Stonewall, the gay men’s football club in London.

It recalls a 1995 observation by the wonderful John Burridge, once of Durham City but then keeping goal for Manchester City, and the response in the letters column of The Independent.

A familiar argument, Budgie disagreed with the decision to postpone the match. “The pitch was playable. I’ve been in football over 25 years and it’s become a game for poofters,” he said.

And the response: “Could I point out that the gay Stonewall FC’s third X1 played a West End League match on a Somme-like afternoon in Regent’s Park on Saturday, thereby challenging Burridge’s theory that sexual orientation has any connection with getting muddy knees.”

*Mention in yesterday’s blog of Darlington’s 1999-2000 season prompts further recollection that it was the year that the Quakers became “lucky losers”, beaten in the second round of the FA Cup but drawn at Aston Villa in the third.

Credit was claimed by my old friend George Reynolds, then the club chairman. “I always felt we’d get it,” said George. “I had a little chat with Him upstairs the night before, got through to him even though he’s ex-directory.

“I’m a great believer in God. He’s always been very kind to me.”

Villa won 2-1.