May 14 2018: bottom line

Congratulations to Redcar Athletic, Wearside League champions. Their ground’s been passed and, subject to anything the FA might decree – jokes about the South West Peninsula League may be inserted here – they’ll be in the Northern League next season.

It’s a good set-up and, led by Kevin Fryett, they’re good guys. That it’s taken them so long is partly because they fell short on several previous ground inspections, usually through floodlight problems.

It’ll be the first time for almost a century that a Redcar side has been in the Northern League, the last lot resigning in 1922 when the northernmost Northern League club was Esh Winning and the southernmost Scarborough.

Few may have missed them. The ground was in the middle of Redcar racecourse, the pub where they changed more than a mile away. Players usually walked between the two.

Among those particularly relishing the chance to see Athletic in the Northern League is ground hopper and blog reader Mike Rayner, who anticipates pre-match fish and chips at Oliver’s in Bath Street washed down with a pint in the Plimsoll Line, the Wetherspoons at the end of the high street – which recalls a rather embarrassing story.

Back in the 1960s, the O-level history paper had a “Write briefly on three of the following” section.  One of them was Sir Samuel Plimsoll, of whom I’d never heard, but since I’d also not heard of most of the others, I wrote a fanciful piece on the chap who invented the sandshoe.

Talk about sunk. Sir Samuel was the maritime safety campaigner who came up with the aforesaid line, though it’s said that sannies were subsequently so nicknamed because of the coloured line between sole and upper.

If the sea went above that, your feet got wet.

The Redcar link’s a bit obscure, though it’s said that Sir Sam once “stayed” at a house in the high street which later became Marks and Sparks. Perhaps Messrs Wetherspoon might now consider renaming their establishment the Kevin Fryett.

After all this time, I could write a book about him.