June 11 2018: publish or be damned

Just as Grass Routes said that they would, Football League clubs decided at the weekend that a match programme would no longer be obligatory.

For many supporters in the digital age, a programme is no longer part of the match experience. For many clubs it is no longer viable. The Football League decision makes sense.

Yet FA “standard” rules still decree that clubs at Ebac Northern League level – steps 5 and 6 – must produce a programme, with a fine of up to £100 on every occasion that they don’t.

“What a wonderful situation when clubs like Middlesbrough and Sunderland will no longer be required to produce a programme when clubs like Washington and Billingham Town will,” writes blog reader Andy Lister.

Could ever there be a greater or clearer example of how shamelessly out of touch are those at the FA with the honest and self-sacrificing folk that they fail so hopelessly – and sometimes it seems so insouciantly – to represent?

*The endlessly enthusiastic Peter Mulcaster, who may have managed more different non-league football clubs than any man alive, is back in the game with Seaton Carew, re-forming in the Wearside League in 2018-19. That must be 15, Pete must be 70.

Darlington RA, his last club, have been told that they’ll also be in the Wearside next season and not the North Riding League, as first suggested.

*The book I meant to write would have been called Flowery Field For Ever, about railway stations with roseate names but more down-to-earth reality.

Flowery Field’s an unprepossessing place on the line from Manchester to Glossop. Whern last I passed – memory suggests for a Vase match with Marske United – there wasn’t so much as a dandelion.

A perpetual reminder of good intentions, a large Flowery Field station sign – Manchester PTE – still hangs in our hall.

It’s recalled after Hazel Grove – former home of Cockfield United, now of West Auckland Tuns and perhaps a little less than verdant –  was mentioned in yesterday’s blog. Don Clarke emails that his “upmarket cousin” lives in Hazel Grove, Cheshire, where the average house price is around £500,000. It sure isn’t in Cockfield.

*A Wetherspoons breakfast today – but this time eggs Benedict, honest – with Andy Potts, whose greatly illuminating e-book on ten years watching Russian football is out in time for the World Cup. It’s called Snow on the Seats.

Andy became a journalist in 1998, his first by-line – we all remember those, though mine was a year or two earlier – on running reports from Tow Law’s FA Vase final in May that year. Unfortunately, he discovered that no one had sorted him out a phone and he was obliged to keep nipping out to a call box out the back.

He remembers it only too well. “Guess what I was doing when the only goal was scored?”

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