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.