We have a large walk-in, or rather stoop-in, attic. Her New Year project, rafter thoughts, Sharon’s howking it out.
Much has been disinterred, much relocated to the council tip. There are scores of LPs, the sleeves stirring particular passions, all manner of later stuff which belonged to the bairns – to how many clubs in Ibiza was it necessary to belong? – some of the younger lad’s collection of football shirts. The tip shall not have those: we wouldn’t dare.
Harry Pearson’s column in the latest When Saturday Comes reckons that the bottom’s falling out of the football memorabilia market: the lofty evidence of our attic suggests otherwise.
His 1991-92 blue Inter Milan third shirt, for example, is reckoned to on eBay to be shifting for £149 99; his Everton second shirt would fetch £99 99. What was he doing with an Everton shirt, first or second,. anyway?
Sharon sent him a picture of some of the collection, spread out on the sofa. “The best text message I’ve ever had. Buzzing,” he tweeted.
The most wonderful find of all, however – though the attic’s further reaches have yet to be explored – is a sealed box of the 530-page Northern Goalfields Revisited, the Northern League’s millennium history. For years I’ve told folk that I couldn’t source any more copies.
The cover, above, shows the late Bishop Auckland journalist Derek Hebden doing an impromptu pitch inspection at Dean Street, Shildon. No problem, it would have been on.
Basically the book’s an extensive updating of Northern Goalfields, the league’s centenary history, both marvellously meticulously researched and written by Brian Hunt and both edited by me.
By the year 2000 I was also league chairman. So much had changed in the intervening 11 years, I wrote in the foreword – “and may change yet more dramatically before the latest millennium has toddled very far along its quizzical course.”
Technology was fast advancing, too, though at snail’s pace compared to today. We held the presses (or whatever then was the means of production) until the 1999-2000 season was complete. Bedlington Terriers won their third successive title, nine points clear of Seaham Red Star, and were also the league’s last Vase representative when knocked out in the quarter-final. South Shields were bottom, seven points adrift of Shotton Comrades and 17 below third bottom Thornaby.
Brandon United won the millennial second division – times change – by seven points from Newcastle Blue Star and 14 from Hebburn. Eppleton, without a win in 36 games, were bottom with just three points and 157 goals conceded. Murton, second bottom, had seven points.
Whitley Bay were relegated from the Unibond League, returning to the Northern League after 12 seasons, and have had more cause than most to enjoy the new millennium.
Brian’s book is true treasure trove, hitherto almost impossible to track down – though there’s one on eBay, doubtless second hand, for £15. The original cover price was £8 99 and that’s what we’re offering these for – plus postage, of course. Proceeds go to the league.
We’ll sort out delivery and exact cost. In the meantime, the first 12 expressions of interest to the usual email address – firstname.lastname@example.org – will get their hands on the treasure.
*It’s a week of birthdays. My younger granddaughter was five yesterday (happy birthday, Bethan), London-based Northern League superfan Gary Brand is 60 today and my old mate Tommy Taylor tonight marked his 79th with the usual gig at Newton Aycliffe folk club.
It’s held in the town’s sports and social club, home also to the football team whose match tonight is among those rained off. At 8 30pm just three people occupy the bar to watch the game on television. By 10pm there’s just one in and his glass isn’t even half full. It’s empty. The licensed trade is in big, big trouble.