Dorking Wanderers – Saturday November 21st 2015 (655)

November 22, 2015
'There's a shock for the chairman as he realises he'll have to slip out of his brand new cuban heels...'

‘There’s a shock for the chairman as he realises he’ll have to slip out of his brand new cuban heels…’

My two kids, both nearing the end of their two years in Sixth Form College, seem to have little idea of what they want to do next. Coming as I do from a generation where all the boys were itching to be train drivers and all the girls nurses, that seems a strange notion.

On reflection, by the time I was looking for a career I’d gone off that train driver idea and was seeking a position as a Junior Reporter with a newspaper. A lack of qualifications foiled that plan but I have managed to go full circle of sorts, in that I now publish magazines for a living.

But the kids? Nothing. I feel a ‘wake up call’ a-coming!

I’ve always needed a sense of ambition. Even at mundane moments in my employment history, I’ve got myself through by setting targets on a weekly, often daily, basis. It was the same when I took up the cudgels of football ground collecting back in 2004. Not for me the scattergun approach of taking in as many ‘cow field’ ground hops as I could muster. I wanted to do ‘proper’ grounds, and although branching out to Steps 5 and 6 in recent years, my original target was down to and including Step 4, incorporating the top 8 levels of English football.

Back in 2004 that looked a tall order. But today, as I travel down to London, heading for Dorking Wanderers on a freezing cold November morning, I am finally on the cusp of realising that ambition.

Earlier in the week I had made contact with Rob Cavallini, programme editor at DWFC, asking whether I might get a mention in the match-day prog. I don’t normally do ‘vanity’ but as I deemed this a special occasion – at least for me anyway – I thought it might also be of interest to the club. Rob immediately agreed and invited me to contribute a piece which I am looking forward to seeing.

As I set out there’s sleety rain in the air, and it’s certainly damp in the capital as I yomp from St Pancras to Victoria via a Wetherspoons brekkie and a pint of Hackney Best Bitter (nice and fruity) in the Lord Moon of the Mall. The city is alive with tourists, clearly not letting the recent atrocities in Paris affect their attitude to life.

My train arrives in Dorking to sunny – if decidedly chilly – weather and I make my way to the rear of the Denbies Wine Estate on the outskirts of town, whereby resides the Surrey Hills Brewery. They don’t have a bar as such but you can buy any amount, from a pint to drink in, up to polypins to take away. I sample an excellent drop of Albury Ruby (4.6%), essentially a Black(ish) IPA, whilst tagging onto the back end of a brewery tour where, by all accounts, the fee includes free pints of the four core beers – best leave your car at home for this one! By the time I depart they are under siege, with two tour parties swollen by a large group of be-suited wedding guests, looking for a decent beer before attending a reception in the main building.

It’s just a short walk from here to the Westhumble home of Dorking Wanderers. The club has made great strides since being established in 1999, multiple promotions taking them from the Fourth Division of the West Sussex League right up to this, their debut season in Isthmian Division One South, where they are already amongst the front runners.

Westhumble has to boast one of the most scenic settings in non-league, despite the busy A24 running close by, and the railway line at the rear. Looking across the pitch from the main stand, there are stunning views of Box Hill, which at this time of year boasts the contrasts of the green conifers and the golden leaves of the deciduous trees. The ground itself has been constructed with its rural location in mind, all buildings either built of – or clad in – wood, with anything metal painted green.

I’m met at the gates by Jeremy, the vice-chairman, who having established my identity (me fawning over my feature in the programme being the give-away) promptly refunds my entry fee, and points me in the direction of his colleague Les, who furnishes me with a club pin badge and directs me to the bar. The clubhouse bar is small but cosy and features TV football, plus bottles of London Pride and Doombar (with the option of room temperature or chilled). Would be nice to see some local beer on sale, chaps, maybe Surrey Hills or even Dorking Brewery?

There’s something bubbling away nicely in the kitchen but it appears to be a Shepherd’s Pie, doubtless destined for the players and officials. Otherwise it’s the usual burgers and hot dogs.

There are two seated stands adjacent to each other, the front of one of them curiously sitting proud of  the other, slightly affecting the view. Behind one goal is a ‘kit’ covered terrace which is home to the Whitstable Kop choir for the day.

Despite the freezing temperatures, a good crowd of over 100 has turned out, with many kids to the fore. There are also a few shouting for visiting Whitstable Town who, sitting rock bottom of the table, need all the support they can get. For much of the first half they are on the back foot as the home team continually probe, looking for a way through, occasionally testing the visiting keeper.

After the break Town realise they are still in the match, and look like they might get something from their more frequent forays upfield, but two quick goals from Wanderers in the last 20 minutes decide the destination of the points.

So my ambition has been fulfilled. Every club in the top 8 levels that has its own ground, I’ve been there! So what now, retirement? Not likely, every club in the top 10 levels, anybody? Hopefully by the time I have achieved that, both my kids will have embarked on a career – here’s hoping…..

Programme: £2 at the gate. Nice cover and superb article by up-and-coming guest writer!

Floodlight pylons: 4

Birdlife: Just the odd parakeet amongst a general predominance of seagulls

Club Shop: Scarves, hats and badges on sale at the bar

Toilets: A single cubicle behind the clubhouse. Others apparently over by the changing rooms.

Music the players emerge to: The Wanderer by Status Quo

Kop choir: No

Away fans: seven behind the goal, singing Oyster-themed songs for most of the match. A particular disdain for Herne Bay, which I presume is the big rivalry in that part of Kent




Phoenix Sports – Saturday November 7th 2015 (653)

November 8, 2015
There's kick-off delay at Phoenix Sports while they wait for the 3.05 from Charing Cross to go through...'

There’s a kick-off delay at Phoenix Sports while they wait for the 3.05 from Charing Cross to pass through…’

I’m on the way down to London and – with obviously too much time on my hands – I’m wondering if there is any difference between ‘good fortune’ and ‘pure luck’. I come to the conclusion that good fortune is something bestowed on you (by some entity, perhaps, or maybe even an unknown diety) whereas pure luck is what it is, fortune by chance.

For instance, during our trip to the South Coast last weekend we enjoyed a cracking concert by an up-and-coming indie band, Nothing But Thieves, in Camden. Lead singer Conor Mason, a gifted vocalist, went through his entire range as the band rattled off every track of their debut album. A packed crowd – including Aussie Jack and myself – got their money’s worth. Not so the following night in Cardiff where young Mr. Mason had lost his voice, and then the sound system went awry. Good fortune smiled on us in that we picked the right night, whilst those in Cardiff had the bad luck in that they didn’t. We certainly felt someone was smiling on us…..

That fortune continued only last night as my struggling first love, the mighty Tricky Trees, came out on top against the Shaggers from down the A52. Fortune still smiling in me. But would it last into the Saturday, however, with a pre-booked rail trip to London to tick off one of my three remaining Step 4 sides. Heavy rain is forecast after several days of similar, and I’m resigned to a pre-match session of uncertainty in the Crosse Keys in the City, albeit in the company of some decent ale, as I monitor Twitter feeds concerning any possible postponement. I fill my time by polishing off a Wetherspoons veggie brekkie ( which curiously appears to be one hash brown short of the menu-stated number) and a couple of darker beers, namely Long Man Old Man, a 4.3% dark fruity bitter, and Vale Black Beauty, another 4.3% brew, this time a fruity porter. Only a poor ratio of staff-to-waiting-customer precludes me from purchasing a third.

So, in persistent rain, I head down to Cannon Street Station for the 40-minute rail journey to Crayford on a 10-coach train with no apparent toilet – those with a weaker bladder than I beware! A couple of hundred yards up the road from Crayford Station is the Penny Farthing, a micro pub (a former bicycle shop, hence the name) consisting of one fairly spacious room but with no bar – the classic scenario, along with no background music and nothing for the lager swillers. The ‘patron’ points out the six-strong beer list (there’s cider too) and fetches my choice from the chilled cellar room. With half the beers on the list neither gold nor pale, that’s a fair balance, and I go for a Loddon Russet, which is really more copper than the ruby signified on the beer menu. It’s 4.5% and quite a tasty brew although I’m not sure it’s of a sessionable strength.

This pub has a ban on mobile phone use, although the penalties for misdemeanour are not stated! It’s also the gaffa’s birthday and I spend the session with a ‘Happy 60th’ balloon floating over me – hey, I remember 60! With the rain still coming down and the wind swirling it about, a second pint seems to be inevitable, so I go dark with Hanlon’s Devon Darkness, a 4.2% stout. My only slight disappointment is the dearth of genuinely locale beers on the day, with examples from Devon, Somerset, Sussex, Oxfordshire and Suffolk, but nothing from London or Kent. However a chat with the owners and a look at the recent beer orders book reveals I have arrived on a rare non-locale day. My bad luck.

From here I move up the hill on the 15-minute walk to the ground, passing a few promising-looking pubs on the way, and still with one eye on the weather situation which, although not as bad as it was earlier, is still a trifle inclement. The Phoenix Sports Ground is only a goal kick’s distance from the Oakwood home of local rivals VCD Athletic, a yo-yo team in recent seasons and currently propping up the Isthmian Premier. Phoenix Sports have high hopes of passing them on the way, having started the season reasonably well, sitting 9th in a 24-team Isthmian Division 1 North.

One barrier to their elevation up the leagues might be the ease in which you can watch the game from outside the ground, just a low fence allowing all but munchkins from getting a reasonable view. The ground itself boasts not one but two seated stands, which along with a curious flat standing structure set at a slight angle behind one goal – I suspect it’s real purpose is to provide protection for the barbecue machine housed within – provides adequate shelter for spectators. The clubhouse is of modest proportions, but does have live TV football, although nothing for the discerning ale drinker. Likewise the snack bar, tucked away behind the afore-mentioned barbecue shelter, offers the ubiquitous chip, but nothing else for veggies save the inevitable cup-a-soup. At least they do have some choccy (shame on you, Molesey!)

Visiting Witham Town, struggling after relegation from the Premier last season, have the noticeable support of a one-man kop choir, who keeps up a relentless series of chants and songs – often accompanied by impromptu dancing and much waving of the arms – throughout the game. Gossip within the stand reveals that this character is being featured on Channel 4 in January, on a programme called ‘The Undateables’. That’s harsh. There’ll be a woman (or man, to be perfectly PC) for him out there…..maybe.

The games itself is quite entertaining, on a pitch that’s had a fair soaking but stands up well. The home side are soon out of the traps, and you get the impression from some powder puff defending that the visiting players are not up for it. The opening goal on 16 is no surprise and we settle back for more. Whatever is said in the Witham dressing room at half time obviously does the trick and much to the delight of the visiting kop choir, they play with far more purpose after the break, turning the game around with two goals in three minutes just before the hour. The first comes courtesy of a rebound off the keeper, but then you ‘make your own luck’ in football, so they say. Or is ‘fortune favours the brave’?

Answers on a postcard, please…..

Programme: £1 on the turnstile. Nice cover but not a massive amount of reading matter.

Floodlight pylons: 6

Birdlife: Parakeets a-plenty in this part of London

Club shop: No

Toilets: In the clubhouse

Music the players emerge to: Phoenix From The Flames by Robbie Williams

Kop choir: Yes but not the home team

Visiting fans: a few in the stand plus the one-man show pitchside

What’s in a Name? Presumably Phoenix’s Jason & Lewis Mingle are very popular at parties. The ‘Plain John Smith Award for Name of the Week’ goes to the home team’s Harrison Carnegie!

AFC Bridgnorth – Saturday October 24th 2015 (650)

October 25, 2015
'There's considerable excitement at Crown Meadow as archaeologists discover the remains of a medieval floodlight pylon...'

‘There’s considerable excitement at Crown Meadow as archaeologists discover the remains of a medieval floodlight pylon…’

There’s a distinct probability that, during my many previous posts on this blog, I’ve alluded to a penchant for pursuing a childhood passion of collecting intangible things. Mainly ‘numbers’ to be honest, invariably ‘spotted’ on cars, buses, trains, planes and boats. Ok maybe not boats, but definitely everything else in between.

As I’ve gone through the ensuing decades, done the things folks do when raising a family and trying to build up a successful business, the collecting thing took a bit of a back seat, save for an occasional flurry of additions to my 1977 punk singles archive. I quickly realised that the things that interested me and my father had no appeal whatsoever to my own offspring, who are kids of the age, and so consider computer gaming and social networking infinitely more important than a day out on a steam railway (shock horror). So now they are very nearly driving, and able to rustle up a quick pizza without supervision, I’m happy to leave the wife to her horses and return to my first love. Colłecting intangible things, that is. When people ask me what I do in my spare time, I just say I collect football grounds, and watch for the look on their faces.

Since rediscovering the bug in 2004 I’ve managed to tick off around 30-40 new football grounds a season and despite every summer declaring – on this blog – an intention to ‘slow down a bit’, the opposite has been true. Here I am in October and that’s already nearly 30 new ticks for the season, with a good six months to go, and with the last of my Step 4 stadia due to be mopped up during the next few weeks I’m entering a spell where I can pick and choose throughout steps 5 and 6, wherever the mood takes me. Which is why today, mindful of an advancing weather front and wanting to cover all of the angles, I end up travelling to Kidderminster station and the Severn Valley Railway for a trip to AFC Bridgnorth.

I maybe forgot to mention that I’ve spent much of the summer, usually in the company of Aussie Jack, taking in the classic preserved railways of the land, whether standard or miniature gauge. This harks back to my train spotting days, when I was given a children’s book in which the hero and his dad travelled the country riding on such lines. For the life of me I can’t recall the name of this long lost book, or indeed the hero, but save to say the memories have endured with me and I’m now making up for lost time. Unfortunately my own son just would not be interested, unless there was a chance of zapping some aliens along the way.

The Crown Meadow ground of AFC Bridgnorth is today’s destination, and the only way of getting there by rail is via Kidderminster and the afore-mentioned Severn Valley Railway. Luckily today is a major steam event featuring classicly restored 46100 Royal Scot, West Country Class 34027, Taw Valley, and the recently built A1, 60163 Tornado. Despite the inclement whether, they’ve certainly brought the crowds out, and I enjoy several conversations with other enthusiasts, latterly over an excellent pint of Hop Back Entire Stout in the splendid Railwayman’s Arms, which is on Bridgnorth railway station.

That introduction to the town’s drinking establishments accomplished, I set off up the steep hill towards the White Lion, home of the Hop & Stagger Brewery. This friendly and comfortable local offers six cask beers, four of their own plus those of Ludlow and Hobsons. I plump for Sovereign, billed as a 4% ‘traditional’ (which usually means it’s not golden) bitter, which is tasty enough without being spectacular. It washes the cheese and onion cob down very well.

The next pub on my list, the Bell & Talbot, is not open, so I move onto the Kings Head yard, eschewing the pub of that name to visit the Stables Bar at the rear. It’s a single long room – the upstairs part is closed for refurbishment – with unusual cinema style seating, and the visit gets off to a dodgy start when my requests for ‘something like a mild’ reveals that the young barmaid has never heard of the term. It’s not her fault, it’s just inefficient training, but of the four of their own Bridgnorth Brewery Beers that they have on tap, the non-gold option is Monarch’s Way, which at 4.5% has more of the flavour that the previous Hop & Stagger brew was perhaps lacking. A bowl of cashews provides the perfect accompaniment.

I look in at the Wetherspoons, but with three deep at the bar all ordering food, I move onto the Bear, where the limited choice is all golden, so decide to give up on the drink and make the fifteen minute trek out of town to Crown Meadow, erstwhile home of Bridgnorth Town, who folded in 2013, and which is now in the hands of ‘phoenix’ club AFC Bridgnorth, operating in the West Midlands Regional League Premier Division.

As you enter the ground through vintage turnstiles – still sporting BTFC picked out in the ironwork – the modern clubhouse dominates. Its spacious interior encompasses two separate sections, and there’s big screen sports TV and a pool table. The only let-down is a lack of anything that the discerning beer drinker might consider interesting. The snack bar is set at one end of the covered terrace, has the usual meaty suspects alongside the ubiquitous chip, and horror of horrors, no chocolate bars. Or maybe they’ve just run out…..

It’s a wet day and the pitch looks soggy with a little puddle in one goalmouth but the threat to the game is minimal. The whole ground is built on a slope, but the impressive cantilever main stand has been constructed to pass the spirit level test, and, along with a covered terrace behind one goal, affords considerable protection from the elements. The other two sides border housing, and more than one well-lumped clearance from ‘ave-it’ defenders clatters off a tile roof.

The home side are flying high in the division, and with visiting Malvern Town symmetrically opposite in the league table, AFC are expected to dominate. In truth they have the better of a competitive first half where several chances are created but none are taken. This scenario is extended in the second half where shape goes out of the window and both teams go hammer and tongs, with only desperate defending, great goalkeeping, and rank bad finishing, maintaining parity. When the winner comes five minutes from time, it’s what you might expect. Another goalmouth scramble, but this time the guy on the floor manages to poke it home. and Bridgnorth take the points.

And so another addition to my intangible collection, my 650th new ground. Something else to tell the kids. Not that they’d be that bothered…..

Programme: £1 on the turnstile. Fairly minimal reading content.

Floodlight pylons: 8

Birdlife: Something screeching in a nearby aviary. Other than that just the usual gang of starlings meeting up on the floodlight pylons.

Toilets: Inside the clubhouse

Club shop: No

Music the players emerge to: Nothing I can remember

Kop Choir: No

Away supporters: just a handful

Hopped out!

October 19, 2015

Wow that’s another weekend of hard graft done and dusted….

7 games and 32 goals in less than 48 hours and apart from the dourest of goalless draws at Cadbury Heath (where the teams were booed off at half time by a section of hoppers) there was some great football action and a good time was had by all.

Also interesting to see hopping individuals from far and wide attending the games – even some of the co-organiser’s fiercest critics!

The hotel was a bit distant from the action areas but was slap bang next door to a ‘Spoons with two dark beers on tap so we can forgive them for that geographical lapse.

Will there be more Western League ‘hop’ action sooner rather than later? We remain poised…

The end is nigh (a bit earlier than I thought….)

October 4, 2015

No sooner do I set out my agenda for mopping up the last of my ‘one-to-eights’ (see last post) then cup competitions derail my plans and I have to rearrange, but in a good way. So now it’s Molesey on October 30th – sandwiched in between a couple of long-awaited London gigs for Nothing but Thieves and Gazpacho – before Phoenix Sports on November 7th, Slimbridge on the 14th and then Dorking Wanderers on the 21st. So earlier than I planned. Goodo.

I have to say that the visitor experience at FCUM’s Broadwood Stadium on Friday night was exceptional. Sure the ground is still work in progress, but with a bar selling cask ale, a bottle bar with a honey beer option, plus multiple eateries serving a variety of vegetarian options (including veggie burgers and sausages, felafel and pies) it puts most bigger clubs to shame. Needless to say it was back to the norm at Ashton Athletic on Saturday with the choice of pie being meat or… err meat.

The end is nigh!

September 30, 2015

A good number of years ago I set myself the unlikely task of visiting the grounds of every club in the top eight levels of the English football pyramid. I qualified that by saying that only grounds owned by those clubs (or at the very least they must be the main tenant of the ground) would count. I’ve chipped away over those seasons and I now stand – on the last day of September 2015 – just 5 away from my target.

A hectic first two months of the season has already seen me take in Kings Langley, Guernsey (hang the expense!), Haringey Borough, Winchester and last night’s trip to North Greenford United, leaving just FC United (this friday), Dorking Wanderers (October 31st), Phoenix Sports (November 7th), Slimbridge (November 14th) and Molesey (December 19th) – all weather-permitting of course – to clear up the Premier league, Football League, the top four divisions in Scotland, plus Steps 1-4 in England. Seems like my work here is almost done…..

Having said that, there’s around 500 more I need in Steps 5 & 6…..those cowpat meadows can wait!

Brechin City – Saturday August 22nd 2015 (628)

August 25, 2015
'It was clear to see, through the steamed-up windows, that there were still fans struggling to get in....'

‘It was clear to see, through the steamed-up windows, that there were still fans struggling to get in….’

There was a time when the three-month close season for football was the bane of this supporter’s life. What to do in May, June and July before balls were effectively being kicked in anger once again. Although I like cricket I couldn’t see myself spending a whole day – or many days even – diligently filling in the score card whilst all around me were getting sozzled, or falling asleep, depending on their priorities. No, I like my live sporting action condensed into 2 or maybe 3 hours at best.

So this year I thought that maybe I’d take a broader view of things. The footy trip to Ireland is always a help, but to fill in the rest of the Summer – and bearing in mind I don’t ‘do’ football friendlies or so-called ‘Summer Leagues’ – I needed to find other competitive sports that ticked the right boxes. T20 cricket is more like it, but Rugby League is not for me. So what else?

As teenage adolescents my brother and I spent many a Tuesday evening at Blackbird Road in Leicester. This was the home of the Lions, one of the country’s top speedway teams. Though that track is now long gone, the Lions have a new stadium, and I thought it about time to make a visit and see if the passion was still there. I quickly discovered it certainly is.

So my blog now sports a new section, as the trainspotter instinct kicks in, and in addition to being a ‘groundhopper’ I am now officially a ‘trackhopper’ too! Not that I am alone in this obsession, as my new good buddy Aussie Jack is similarly minded and with us both being veggie-eating, real-ale-swilling, steam train enthusiasts, we might well be twins (although not the identical kind…)!

Which is why we are both up in Scotland today, having witnessed a one-sided speedway match between Edinburgh and Somerset the previous evening, followed by a few dark bevvies in the strangely empty Wetherspoons in Grangemouth. Tomorrow we finish our weekend with a trip to the Caledonian Railway before driving to Glasgow to see the local team ride against Somerset (who are on tour). Sandwiched in between is the main event, my long-awaited visit to Glebe Park, home of Brechin City, and my last of the 41 stadiums currently used in the 4 divisions of the SFL. Given that I also have the English ’92’ tucked under my belt, does that make me a ‘133-ist’?

Back in the 1980s I ran a micro pub (yes, before they were ‘invented’) in Leicester. One room, no music, no lager, 5 real ales and a quirky bunch of customers, including the Midlands branch of the Brechin City Supporters Club. I vowed one day to make that trip to Glebe Park, and so I have purposefully saved it until last.

Having checked into our guest house at midday (pre-arranged with the Landlady who also wants to get to the match) we seek out the local architecture, as Brechin is indeed a cathedral city. That done, we head to the first of our targeted pubs, the Brown Horse, which is close to the ground. Most of the interior is laid out for dining, but there is a small unspoilt traditional bar which is already crammed with vertical locals watching the Celtic v Dundee United game on TV. Having obtained our pints of Atlas Nimbus – the only beer on hand pump – we retire to a smaller room nearby to find a space and watch the action.

Earlier we had taken the long walk down to the local railway station, home of the preserved branch line Caledonian Railway, and peered through the windows of the nearby Caledonian Hotel. Not open until three, we did venture in after the match and found two well-kept Scottish beers on tap, the names of which escape me (as in ‘they weren’t dark’).

But back to pre-match, and the only other real ale pub in town, the Brechin Arms. This is essentially a one-room bar (there is a separate seating area) typically Scottish in style, with just the one hand pump, today serving Orkney Dark Island, a god-send after the highly citrussy Nimbus I had to endure earlier. Even though the Dark Island is not really on form, I’d rather drink that than yet another golden horror! One of the locals recognises us as being from south of the border, and on discovering I am about to complete the set of Scottish grounds, recommends I tell that to the gentleman on the gate up at Glebe Park, as it’s something newsworthy for the club.

Sure enough, said gentleman – magnificently blazered as befits a proper football club official – listens to my story and promptly invites the pair of us into the Hospitality Area where it’s first drink on the house and sandwiches at half time, plus the run of the ground. That suits Aussie Jack down to a ‘T’ as his penchant for taking pictures of anything that moves sits very well with a license to roam. So at this point let us say a big Thank You to Martin and Anton at the club. To point out a lack of cask or local bottled ale in the bar or an absence of macaroni pies in the snack bar would therefore be churlish so I won’t mention it…..

Glebe Park is a treasure, with its hedges down both sides, a traditional covered terrace behind one goal, large cantilever stand behind the other, and the quaint Main Stand which looks much older than its 34 years. There’s a noticeable end-to-end slope on the pitch but the playing surface looks immaculate. Too bad it’s todays opponents Airdrieonians who make the most of that, taking advantage of first half defensive frailty to go two up at the break. Both sides have gone into the match without a point this season, and it’s destined to be three defeats on the trot for City, despite notching a consolation goal after a penalty save, against opponents at this stage down to 10 men.

We say farewell to Glebe Park and with my prospects of any further trips to Scotland looking increasingly likely to be long-distance lower league forays, I may well not be back for a while. That is, unless, any new Speedway sides spring up in this part of the world or, and one can only wish, the Highland League switches to the Summer! Now there’s a thought…..

Programme: The only disappointment of the day. Brechin City now only rarely produce a match programme. All that is available is an A4 sheet printed on both sides, with teams and a bit of recent news. The Treasurer explained why this is and, due to my profession, I can see easily see the logic. The sheet is nicely laid out, but as a programme collector, it’s not good news.

Floodlight pylons: 6

Birdlife: More likely to see a Golden Eagle in these parts than a parakeet, but neither are in evidence today

Club Shop: A hut at the bottom end of the ground, near the corner flag at the covered terrace end. As Jack purchased his obligatory badge, I can vouch for the fact that’s what they sell, no doubt amongst other things

Toilets: Under the cantilever stand, for a start

Music the players emerge to: Led Zep’s Kashmir

Kop Choir: Not really

Away fans: A fair few in the cantilever stand

Our host, Martin Smith, vice Chairman and treasurer at Brechin City ....

Our host, Martin Smith, vice Chairman and treasurer at Brechin City ….

... and Heather McNeilley, 'start girl' at Glasgow Tigers. Speedway, not all noise and ethanol....

… and Heather McNeilley, ‘start girl’ at Glasgow Tigers. Speedway, not all noise and ethanol….