Having been asked for my feelings about the Northern League, I struggled for a while to come up with something which hasn’t already been said. In the end I have decided to record some of the things which I have either done or experienced while watching Northern League football during the past few years, then invite people to compare my experiences with a club from one of the higher leagues. I know it would be unrealistic to expect the same from the Premiership, but it is nice!
Suddenly finding myself without transport and feeling the need to go to Darlington Railway Athletic v Sunderland RCA, I emailed the visiting team manager, touting for a lift, and was picked up by the team bus at the end of my street.
At a game at Spennymoor Town, several players, both team managers and two of the match officials spoke to me as they left the pitch at half time and some of them shook my hand as if pleased to see me. At a game at Washington, after I threw the ball back on the pitch for a throw-in, the receiving player thanked me by name.
On parking the car at Stokesley, one of the home committee members asked me if i was “one o’ they groundhoppers”. When I said that I supposed I was, he escorted me into the hospitality room, sat me down and brought me a tray with tea and all the makings together with a plate of biscuits, before disappearing to bring me the pin badge I wanted to purchase.
Half-time at Crook Town one day, the home assistant manager spotted me in the crowd and invited me to the committee room for refreshments.
As I entered the ground at Guisborough’s KGV stadium, the visiting team’s fitness coach stopped the warm-up so he could trot across the pitch to say hello.
Attending a match at Esh Winning shortly after having major spinal surgery, I was delighted to see a mention about me in the programme, before being presented with a get-well-soon card signed by the players and club officials. I then received much the same treatment the following week at Bedlington, where I was welcomed by the PA announcer as he read out the team line-ups.
Most of the league committee members know me by sight and listen to my opinions. Good value, good football and good craic, what more can a person want?
Many thanks to Keith Stoker, a well-known fan of local football who’ll be travelling to watch Sunderland RCA at Penrith on Northern League Day. Keith keeps a record of all the games he’s attended on his blog El Queso Grande.