June 5 2018: a curmudgeon writes….

A couple of days back we talked of Guisborough Town fan Mark Cowan’s new e-book, On Unfamiliar Grounds. Perfectly timed for the World Cup, Andy Potts sends a link to his own – and it’s free to download until Thursday.

Last year Andy – sports journalist, Sunderland fan, former Spennymoor United programme editor – published Ancients and Mariners, an account of a Northern League season.

It recalled a gate of 16 at Hebburn – things much changing for the better there, then – described the long serving former league chairman as “sometimes curmudgeonly” (huh!), even recalled the wonderful story of the time that excitable Chester-le-Street manager Billy Cruddas got himself sent from the ground and took shelter in an overhanging tree.

Perhaps an ornithologist, perhaps an arborealist, the referee saw through the camouflage. “A volley of Cruddas expletives could not be passed off as birdsong,” Andy wrote.

This one, at any rate, recalls his years in Russia – chiefly writing about ice hockey but always with an eye for football and a heart for Sunderland.

Back in 2006, he supposes, Moscow Dynamo’s Pitrovsky Park had the air of Roker Park in its last days – “much loved, crammed with memories of famous triumphs of the past but reduced to a shadow of what it once had been.”

He also recalls a “pre-revlutionary midfielder” who swapped Bishop Auckland for “Dynamo’s supposed football forbears”.

I’m sure I’ve written about him myself. can’t remember the detail, and have Andy’s exercise Kindling away for a short break later in the week.

“Unlike most football books,” says the blurb, “this one involves Stalin, Lenin and Putin as much as Yashin, Streitsov and Arshavin.”

Mind, Yashin did make a famous save in the 1966 World Cup, pushing the ball around the post at Roker Park. “Fulwell End,” Andy recalls. Much enlarged , the photograph had price of place at Dynamo’s training ground for years.

The book’s called Snow on the Seats – “Promises to be more absorbing than a group stage match between Russia and Saudi Arabia” – and is available via Amazon.

Curmudgeon, indeed….

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