January 7 2018: Hebburn and hell

A wretched FA Vase draw, Hebburn v West Auckland, though absolutely no chance of its being manipulated, as otherwise intelligent folk try to convince me.

Very likely we’ll head that way again on February 2, very likely have another pint in the Protestant Conservative Club (and Orange Hall) to which reference in Saturday’s blog prompts an email from former Shields Gazette photographer Peter Berry.

Soon after joining the paper in 1988, Peter was sent to cover the Remembrance Day ceremony in Hebburn. After the usual wreath laying, another was paraded by the Loyal Orange Order.

“Enquiries in the newsroom the next say quickly brought me up to speed on the Little Ireland that is South Tyneside.”

It was also while covering a cheque presentation at the Protestant Conservative Club that he suggested – “perhaps for devilment” – that the shot would look better if the photograph on the wall behind them were temporarily removed.

“The chairman with narrowed eyes told me that the picture of Margaret Thatcher would remain.”

Hebburn sent on a different occasion, Peter was collecting names for a group photograph and was told that a six-year-old’s forename was Aneurin. “I didn’t ask if there were any photographs of Mrs Thatcher on the wall at home.”

The former landlord of a pub in Darlington was called Joseph Stalin Harris. Not much doubt about his parents’ loyalties, either – and to think that she wouldn’t let me call our firstborn Patrick Jennings.

*Still with Hebburn, Saturday’s blog said that the club was the most generous of all 44 then in the Northern League in supporting my Last Legs walks in 2015-16. They were indeed magnificent but only second best. The most munificent by far – and this is entirely unsolicited – were the wonderful folk at my home town club, Shildon.

*Reference in yesterday’s blog to the seriously disputatious Sunday Times columnist Rod Liddle caused quite a stir in Guisborough, the area where now he’s thought to live.

Enquiries by Town chairman Don Cowan now suggest that the Liddle family is by the sea in Saltburn, a few miles away, and these days very much Liddle Middle England. There’s a Conservative Club there, too, but with a picture of Elvis over the fireplace.

Liddle also revealed in last weekend’s Sunday Times that he sups an average 70 units of alcohol – the equivalent of 35 pints – each week and that he walks between six and ten miles a day.

Guisborough Town press officer Bill Perfitt, himself an enthusiastic walker who’s known to enjoy a half or two, is now armed with a photograph of the gentleman in the hope that their paths may cross. Mr Liddle might just be steered back to the clubhouse.

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