May 10 2018: Whitley to Wisbech

When push came to shug, blog reader Steve Wolstencroft was taken by yesterday’s reference to shuggy boats – “I’ve fond memories of the shuggy boats on Whitley Bay beach, now long gone,” he writes.

He’d still find them at Beamish Museum, of course, and perhaps – quite soon – on the Town Moor hoppings.

In Scotland, where Steve lives, shoogly – “a great word” – probably has the same etymology but means shaky or insecure, leading to the memorable phrase “Your jacket’s on a shoogly peg.”

Euphemistically translated, says Steve, it means “Your time in this position could be limited.”

Doubtless he also has childhood memories of the Spanish City in Whitley Bay, said when it was built in 1910 to be England’s largest dome after St Paul’s Cathedral (and with a similarly terrifying gallery around the inside.)

Now the Spanish City is being reborn in a £10m restoration – £3.47m from the Heritage Lottery Fund. North Tyneside Council tell me that work’s almost finished and that the new Spanish City will open before the summer’s out – a bit more upmarket, perhaps, than the tunnel of love job immortalised by Mark Knopfler.

Coincidentally, I’ll be in Whitley Bay on Friday for the funeral of Allan Barkas, former Easington Colliery chairman and committee member at Bishop Auckland, West Auckland and Whitley Bay and whose wife Ann ran Skilltrainingltd when they won the Northern League’s naming rights draw in 2008.

Extraordinarily, we sold 124 tickets at £250 a throw, buyers ranging from an English QC to an American millionairess,  from Price Waterhouse Cooper to a tax exile on the Cayman Islands.

Private donors included an elderly gentleman from Middlesbrough who decided that £250 to help the Northern League was better than his customary Boro season ticket and a 90-year-old in Leighton Buzzard  who’d played and watched Northern League football before the war.

The winner was drawn at a dinner at the Ramside Hall Hotel, who themselves had bought 16 tickets, and clearly it was going to be skilltraining’s night. Ann won the stand-up bingo as well.

*Another kind reader sends the FA’s complete allocation of clubs at steps 1-4 for 2018-19, including the Northern Premier League east division into which Marske United and Morpeth Town find themselves compulsorily committed.

The eastern division will also include Lincoln United, Loughborough Dynamos, Peterborough Sports, Spalding, Stamford and – wait for it – Wisbech. Ah, so THAT’S what the FA means by cutting travelling distance and cost.