May 11 2018: bat man and robbing

Ann and Allan Barkas had been following Whitley Bay for ten years, went 58 games before they saw them lose, moved to the seaside two years ago. Allan’s funeral is held at Whitley Bay crematorium this afternoon.

They’d been married for 20 years – he a lifelong Magpie, she an ‘ammer. Such their devotion that when West Ham reached the FA Cup final, Allan bought a claret and blue shirt.

At the funeral, though, the flowers are the Seahorses’ blue and white.

Former chairman of Easington Colliery, committee member at Bishop and at West, Allan had been a sergeant in the Royal Artillery. Comrades-in-arms and football family crowd the crematorium.

Ann in her eulogy recalls his love of custard and of country and western music, but it’s with Bat out of Hell – Meatloaf or someone – that the service ends.

The wake’s in the Comrades Club, flag at half mast, talk of Northern League finals day on Saturday and of the league management committee’s decision the previous evening to cut the two-match ticket price from £10 to £6.

The original decision had always seemed to me a bit surprising – most supporters will want only to watch their own team’s match – but the blog is committed never to criticising the Northern League.

There’s much excitement because Graham Craggs (Billingham Synthonia) and Derek Breakwell (Whitley Bay) have been appointed tunnel attendants for the games at Consett. It’s to be hoped they can see the light at the end.

It’s also in the Comrades Club that a chap politely introduces himself, says that he was once at a dinner at the Ramside Hall Hotel when I cracked a brilliant joke about netties. He’s forgotten the detail. Could I possibly remember it?

The “joke” is actually based, however shoogly the foundation, on a true story. Regulars at the league dinner have probably heard it several times but on a sad occasion, I’m very happy to play it again.

*Another topic of Comrades Club conversation is, of course, the revelation in yesterday’s blog that Marske and Morpeth will be in the same league as Wisbech next season. The AA reckons the round trip from Morpeth to be 470 miles and the one-way journey time to be an optimistic 3 hours 54 minutes.

The Northern League committee put forward a carefully considered and wholly practical proposal to address such manifest highway robbery. The FA, of course, rejected it out of hand.