October 13 2018: gone for a Barton

From Hull and Hell and Halifax, good Lord deliver me – The Thieves Litany.

That one dates back to medieval times. Hull, apparently, because of the particular gruesomeness of its jail and Halifax because of its flibbetty gibbet. The other place may speak for itself – and if not Hull, then Humberside.

It was North Ferriby who ended the dream of an all-Northern League FA Vase final in my first season as chairman by edging the two-leg semi aganst Guisborough Town and it was Hull City, the same season, whom Whitby Town took to extra-time in an FA Cup first round replay.

A few years back I again travelled to Hull to watch Bishop Auckland lose 5-0 at Hall Road Rangers – a team they should have walloped – despite club secretary Tony Duffy wearing his lucky just-about-everythings. Tony has rather a lot of lucky just-about-everythings.

So today Brandon United, bottom of the Ebac Northern League second division, are at Barton Town, on the south bank of the great river. The bookies quote Barton 2-7 and Brandon 11–2, though realistically the odds would be as long as the Humber Bridge (which locals will tell you is 1.38 miles.)

Barton prove greatly hospitable, with an excellent set-up and a very good programme. What’s particularly welcome is the foot-wide ledge atop the pitch perimeter fence on which pies and Bovril can be placed. The FA should at once introduce such a requirement into the ground grading document, with relegation for the non-compliant.

Barton’s commercial acumen is clearly evident, too. If it scores, draws, darts, farts, breathes, seethes, burps, slurps or was born on a day with a ‘y’ in it, then around here it’s going to be sponsored.

The home side score after three minutes. “Schoolboy defending,” says ever-loyal Brandon stalwart Bill Fisher and then reconsiders. “Actually, they probably are schoolboys.”

Bill then falls to recalling his own schooldays at Houghton-le-Spring Grammar School, particularly a 4-0 school team defeat to Chester-le-Street GS for whom the young Joe Burlison, long Chester-le-Street’s chairman in the ENL, hit a hat-trick.

“Mind,” says Bill, “he probably wasn’t quite as big then as he is now.” Probably didn’t have such a chronic bad back, either.

Chester, Bill adds, were also helped by what some call a midfield destroyer. Young lad called Colin Todd.

At half-time it’s 5-0, but Barton have been playing with the wind. “We’ll get six in the second,” says Barry Ross, United’s indomitable secretary, an optimism blown away within 30 seconds when the home side themselves make it six.

It ends 8-0, Hull and Hell seamlessly soldering. I don’t think there are any FA Vase teams in Halifax.





October 12 2018: drag lines

Bishop Auckland, it’s widely known, enjoyed twice as many FA Amateur Cup final successes as any other club – Crook Town second, with five and a 100 per cent record in the finals.

The regular pint with Bishops director Terry Jackson reveals what Terry terms a “hellish statistic” – that in all the recent years in the FA Vase they’ve never won more than two games in a season, even when starting in the customary first qualifier.

On Saturday, home to North East Counties League leaders Hemsworth MW, they hope at last to make it three – though a first Wembley return since 1957 may still be some way away.

It’s a big day for other Ebac Northern League clubs, too, though not at Darlington RA – relegated last season, beaten in the first qualifier and without a game.

To that end they’re organising a charity drag race, which used to be something in which hot rods took part on Redcar sands but now appears to be contested by men wearing frocks.

They’ve invited me to show a leg but, alas, a few of us will be headed to Hull and back to watch Barton Town v Brandon United in the Vase. If Storm Callum and the RMT behave themselves, much more of that tomorrow.

* A week on Saturday, Bishops host old rivals Shildon with more fund raising afoot. The indefatigable Shildon supporter Sue Charlton is organising a sponsored gin run – at first I thought she said gym run, but in any case it sounds more like a crawl – having somehow found 12 surviving licensed premises in the two or three miles between the two grounds.

Unfortunately I won’t be around for that one, either, but clearly it’s just the spirit.

October 11 2018: re-draw

Illustrated by one of that gentleman’s weekly masterpieces – around the 1961 Northumberland Senior Cup final between Ashington and Whitley Bay – yesterday’s blog recalled the cartoonist Dudley Hailwood and regretted that nothing could be found on the internet.

As several kind readers, one a censorious retired headmaster, pointed out, it would have helped had we spelled his name correctly. It was Hallwood.

Now we know that his work has been exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum and sold at leading auction houses and that after moving to Tyneside he also became a successful businessman – though his line’s still unknown.

His first book, Pen Splashes, appeared in 1926.  In 1929 he was Canterbury RFC’s first captain, the club’s principal sevens trophy still named in his memory. In World War II he was a lieutenant, still prolifically drawing his comrades – and sometimes the enemy, too.

Retired (Newcastle) Journal writer Tony Jones remembers interviewing Dudley when the cartoonist was in his 80s and living, he thinks, in Ryton. “He was a lovely man, his wonderful work still evident in clubhouses throughout the region but largely forgotten now.

“He subsequently sent a cartoon of myself which he’d drawn from memory. He was in his 80s by then but utterly brilliant and his talent undimmed.”

John Gibson, the (Newcastle) Evening Chronicle’s legendary man on the Magpies beat, also remembers Dudley. “His cartoons really were extra special. He did one of me running alongside Newcastle skipper Bob Moncur, pen and notebook at the ready.

“The only shame was that the pen was in my right hand, a natural assumption, and I’m left handed. Still, you can’t complain when it was the master.”

Long serving Whitley Bay secretary and Northern League management committee member Derek Breakwell also remembers Dudley from distant days when Derek was a hairdresser in Monkseaton and the artist would often look in for a short back.

Derek was a 13-year-old supporter at the time of the 1961 final, allowed to sit on the grass behind the Croft Park goal – “lots of pitch invasions when we scored” – but slightly puzzled by the cartoon’s suggestion that it was a replay. Rather it was the second round.

The clubs had also met in the previous season’s final, Ashington then top of the Midland League – what clubs like the Colliers were doing in the Midland League is for another day – and hot favourites to beat their “amateur” Northern League opponents.

At half-time, Whitley Bay led 4-2 in the teeth of an April/May blizzard. The angry Ashington manager demanded the game be abandoned; the referee refused. “There was an amazing row,” Derek recalls, and that’s doubtless the stooshie to which the cartoon refers.

Tony Jones, who emails from holiday in Budapest – what loyalty, thanks – also wrote Dudley’s obituary. When he gets home he’s promised to find it. There may be yet more before this all draws to a close.

10 October 2018: drawing power

Dudley Hallwood cartoon

The wonderful, period piece cartoon above appeared in the (Newcastle) Journal in May 1961, following the Northumberland Senior Cup final replay between Ashington and Whitley Bay.

It was drawn by Dudley Hailwood, greatly and affectionately remembered on the banks of the Tyne, though eliciting not so much as a single hit when googled.

Did you mean Dudley Harwood, it asks, insolently? Or Mike Hailwood, the champion motor bike racer? Drawing from memory, does anyone know any more about the richly talented Mr Hailwood?

The cartoon, for which real thanks to Whitley Bay supporting brothers Julian and Stephen Tyley, also features Raymond Ayre, whose death at 85 Grass Roots reported last week.

Raymond’s two goals, as we noted, helped Whitley Bay to a 4-2 win at Blyth Spartans’ Croft Park ground in a match which, shall we say, appears to have been touched by acrimony.

Dudley’s cartoon suggests some sort of bother in the first game. The report from the Whitley Bay Guardian (and Seaside Chronicle), which Julian also forwards, begins with a reference to “the amateurs” of Whitley Bay while the cartoon talks of Ashington’s “professionals” receiving three shillings tea money – “and we sincerely hope they had a riotous evening.”

No need to reopen debate about the Corinthian nature of North-East amateur football. Suffice that Whitley Bay finished fifth in the 16-club Northern League that season. West Auckland were league champions and also, with or without tea money, reached the Amateur Cup final at Wembley.

Particularly, however, the eye is drawn to the depiction of Newcastle United’s directors – chairman Jimmy Glancey looking and sounding like a music hall comedian (shades of Tommy Trinder?) and Lord Westwood, a future chairman, with a thought bubble “So THIS is football” above his head.

Sound familiar? As probably they say all the time on the Gallowgate End, plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

*Raymond Ayre, a true gentleman, also played football for Shildon, Durham City, Ferryhill Athletic and others and had a long cricket career with Ushaw Moor. His funeral is at 1 45pm this Thursday (October 11) at St Luke’s church, Ushaw Moor.

October 9 2018: angels of the north

Angel 21 isn’t some sort of celestial lucky-for-some lottery, it’s the bus service between Durham and Newcastle.

Nor does the Angel have wings, partly because there are so many stops and partly because so many people of university age (shall we say) try to convince the driver that they’re under 16 and should travel half fare.

The service’s big advantage is that it stops almost outside Chester-le-Street’s ground where, speaking of wings, a kestrel is said to have taken up residence in the top of the stand. “Just turned in for the night,” we’re assured.

Chester are playing Ryton and Crawcrook Albion, one of just two Ebac Northern League games tonight and Ryton’s last scheduled midweek fixture this season. Next week there’s just one match on Tuesday and one on Wednesday.

A good crowd of 143 shows the support for such fixtures and further hints at the FA’s systemic folly in reducing leagues to just 20 clubs, or fewer.  It includes veteran assistant ref John Lee, the man with the black knee support, slowly recovering after a stroke in February.

There too is Willington chairman Richard Tremewan, but I reckon he’s stalking me.

Chester’s flying start to the season was grounded by last Saturday’s defeat at Crook and fails again to take off. Ryton win 2-1. The crack’s good, the welcome as warm as ever and Newton Aycliffe chairman Alan Oliver gives me a lift most of the way home.

If he had a harp, he’d be an angel, an’ all.

*Lamenting the death of Andy Turner, yesterday’s blog spoke of his role as West Auckland’s physio in the 1998 FA Cup first round tie at Yeovil – also the day, 20 years ago next month, when Bedlington Terriers thrashed Colchester 4-1.

West had booked a 37-seat team bus, dismayed when a 27-seater was sent. Several officials had either to stand all the way to Somerset or else perch on the draining board of the little kitchen at the back.

“Six hours in the kitchen and not so much as a sandwich, just a stainless steel a**e,” said West secretary Allen Bayles. It was the quote of the year.

*We’d also mentioned in passing Evenwood Town’s Craven Cup final against Ashington, at Horden in 2003  – the first time I’d heard the postcode chant about NE63.

Among the crowd was the Rev Frank Campbell, a Church of Scotland minister who produced programmes for both Evenwood and Prudhoe from his manse near Jedburgh, had left home at 5 35pm and was in time for the seven o’clock kick-off.

“There’s nothing in the Good Book about speeding,” he said.


October 8 2018: a great Scot dies

Andy Turner died tonight after years of ill health. He was 64, a Scot who’d kept goal for Cowdenbeath and who made an indelible mark on football and community life in Co Durham.

In the Northern League he became assistant manager to Ken Houlahan at Evenwood Town and then  physio at West Auckland. In the community he was a Durham County councillor for the West Auckland area and later for Evenwood, much involved – with fellow Labour councillor Rob Yorke – in driving the funding for the £184,000 statue on West Auckland green which commemorates the club’s World Cup wins in 1909 and 1911.

“He was a tremendous worker in the community but sometimes taken for granted a bit,” says Ken.

Andy, lovely chap, wasn’t just a political heavyweight. He was also a very big lad. Soon after joining Evenwood, before the Craven Cup final against Ashington in 2003, the manager weighed in at 18 stones 8 pounds and his assistant at a straight 18 stone.

Then Andy grew  in stature. When West played at Yeovil in the FA Cup first round in November 1998 he was summoned to what appeared a minor injury on yon side of the field, followed apace by four yellow-jacketed stretcher bearers.

“What’s the stretcher for?” someone asked.

“To fetch the physio back,” came the reply.

A coujple of years later, he and some council colleagues went on a sponsored slim. Andy lost 2 stones four pounds but still topped the scales at 19-4.

He also enjoyed a bet, once much cheering a West Auckland FA Cup defeat at Prescott Cables by almost insisting that the lads have a few bob on Red Wine in the 3 30 at Doncaster. It came home at 18-1.

On another occasion, a Vase match at Askern Villa – neatly named, near Doncaster – he’d got 10-1 on the enduring Mattie Moffatt hitting a hat-trick. Matt scored his second after 65 minutes but couldn’t quite manage a third.

“Och,” said Andy, or Scottish imprecations to that effect.

A chef in his working days – “the lads really appreciated that, footballers are gannets” says Ken – he devoted himself to his adopted community, not least in promoting junior football.

Of late, as they say north of the border, it’s been a sair fecht. May he rest in peace.

*Raymond Ayre’s funeral will ne held at St Luke’s church, Ushaw Moor, at 1 45pm on Thursday. As we recalled last week, Raymond’s Northern League career chiefly embraced Shildon and Whitley Bay, where lifelong supporter Julian Tyley recalls that he was nicknamed The Tank – “a reference to his physique and his strong but fair tackling.”

*Another birthday today. Crumbs they come around quickly. It’s a lovely occasion , even the 5s and 3s team wins, but late news of Andy Turner’s passing diverts thoughts elsewhere. As doubtless they say in Cowdenbeath, carpe diem.

October 7 2018: Soho no-go

Seeking something else entirely on The Northern Echo archive, I come across a column on the first meeting of league representatives to discuss what became known as national game restructuring. It was August 2001.

The original letter from the FA had invited us to their newish headquarters in Soho Square. “First right at the sex shop, left at the strip joint and cross the road at the massage parlour,” FA people would say (doubtless in jest.)

Then the passion killer. The group would be split north and south and while the southerners would still see Soho, the northern lot were relocated to Emley, on a windy ridge somewhere above Huddersfield.

The FA sent a map, the word “Emley” appearing immediately above the word “England”, though there were those – principally the late and greatly lamented Mr Alan Farnworth, of the North West Counties League – who’d have struggled to find England.

It brought to mind an early Simon and Garfunkel song, For Emley Wherever I May Find Her.

The meeting was at Emley Supporters Club, though the first team – beset by Northern Premier League ground grading criteria – had moved to Wakefield Trinity and after several name changes, discovered what happens when, like Icarus,you fly too close to the sun .

Proceedings are unlikely to have been eventful. Soon afterwards, the FA decided that there’d be a national working party after all. Thoughts of a jolly day amid the fleshpots – or at least a couple of hours before the train went – were soon disspelled, however.

The Poor Bloody Infantry were posted to Aldershot instead – and, 17 years later, the FA’s still discussing restructuring.

*The Wearside League had been represented at the Emley meeting by Peter Livingstone, former secretary of Northallerton Town.

Over the pork pies and potted meat sandwiches at lunch, Peter recalled an FA Trophy match at home to Bashey on a dreadful January day in 1993.

Northallerton skipper Lee Wasden won the toss and, unusually, opted to kick off. Bashley demanded choice of ends. “Just get on with it,” said Richard Pulleyn, the referee, already soaked and not yet whet his whistle.

Beaten 1-0, Bashley protested to the FA that they’d been denied the option of “kicking up a steep slope” and into the storm in the first half

Northallerton stood their ground. There wasn’t a lot they could do about the rain, said Peter, but they’d paid £80 to a surveyor who concluded that the gradient was just 23 inches in 110 yards.

Chaired by Sir Bert Millichip, the FA commission threw out the appeal.

The story was received with much jollity, not least by the Emley FC secretary deputed to serve the sandwiches. He was a former referee called Richard Pulleyn.