May 15 2018: there be dragoons….

Mike Bayly’s writing a book called 100 Football Grounds to See Before You Die. Like a kid with school dinners, he saved the best – Esh Winning – till last. Mike’s now sent the chapter draft, plus some quite brilliant pix from last season’s game with Penrith.

It’s not just that wonderful football ground for which the Deerness Valley is famed, however. Esh Winning’s also home to Field’s, the North-East’s last coal-fired fish and chip shop until another was rebuilt at Beamish Museum.

Mike recalls the tale of how, in 1922, William Field was walking to look for work in Witton Park – about ten miles away – when, very conveniently, he bumped into a bookie’s runner and put his last £2 on Light Dragoon in the Cesarawitch. Yet more conveniently, it romped home at 100-1.

With his winnings he opened his first shop the business now run by Jeff Field, his great grandson. Like Light Dragoon, it remains a very good bet.

*Speaking of dragoons….Andover Town – Wiltshire, is it not, wasn’t there a naughty limerick about a policeman from Andover Junction? – won promotion from the Wessex League (Step 5) to the Southern League’s western division and on their twitter account five days ago said that they couldn’t wait.

Today the club announced that it was refusing promotion following the departure of key behind-the-scenes figures “for business or personal reasons” and the subsequent loss of sponsorship income “on an already very tight budget.”

So what does the FA do now? Presumably Andover must be relegated to step 6 – Northern League second division level – as would have happened with Marske United and Morpeth Town, had they tried to stand up to the bullies.

For being prudent, for trying to live within their means and thus not becoming yet another casualty, Andover will be severely punished. It has come to this.

Their decision has had a knock-on effect throughout the National League System, including the promotion of AFC Mansfield, third in the Northern Counties East League, on the points-per-game principle.

Rumours that Northallerton Town will be marched off to make up numbers in the NCEL, whether or not they want it or is in their interests, become ever more plausible.

Word also reaches here that the FA may now only relegate two from each step five league. How different might things have been for Jarrow Roofing, third bottom, had they known that a fortnight ago?

*The Ebac Northern League’s new website – – goes live on the afternoon of May 22. New features include tables automatically updated as results come in, details of scorers, crowds, cards, incidents and what have you and links to all manner of other websites and social media. Many of the existing features will remain.