Non League Daily

CHAIRMANS BLOG: The Cup Final, an awards night and a festival

The season may have finished but Northern League chairman Mike Amos is still a busy man.  He takes us through what he has been up to over the past few days

May 30 2015

Our FA Cup final tickets appear to be on what might be supposed the Arsenal side, save for Prince William, Canon Leo Osborn and one or two more behind us in the royal box.

They’re £120 seats – you can get a Northern League season ticket for less than that – and it seems to me entirely justifiable that, on the not-infrequent occasions when Arsenal are in the final, I can ask a couple of favours to get seats for me and the two boys.

I’ve just typed “a couple of fivers.” Honest. This corruption thing is clearly catching.

For £120 there’s also a blue and yellow scarf and an Arsenal flag beneath each seat – the former selling for up to £50 on eBay on Sunday morning – and since we’re amid a sea of blue and yellow it’s slightly surprising to bump into Whitley Bay chairman Paul McIlduff.

Is Paul a secret Gooner? Hillheads should probably be told.

Before the match we head west to Pinner, an affluent west London suburb to which Elton John recently returned from America for a reunion at his old grammar school.

Probably it was a flying visit. He couldn’t afford to live there. Gosh, it’s posh.

If the yellow and blue sea may be supposed unilateral, then the match is wholly one-sided, too. Just last night at the annual dinner I’d reminded Leo Osborn – league chaplain and inveterate arch-Villan – of the verse from scripture (Matthew 8:12) about weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Folk say that Villa wouldn’t have scored if they’d played until midnight, but might they have managed a corner?

Villa eviscerated, we head happily towards London’s lights. A lovely day; cheap at the price.

May 29 2015

It was a blustery March day in Bamburgh and goodness knows why I’d gone into the butcher’s, save to get out of the wind.
It was a tiny place, barely big enough for the two us and for the feller in a funny hat who turned out to be Chris Cross, a Newcastle-based magician.

Pick a card, he said. I picked his business card, looked him up on the Internet and in the hope of further refreshing the annual league dinner, struck a deal.

The dinner’s tonight. Folk seem to like the change to black table clothes with candelabra, really enjoy Russell Wynn’s DVD of the season’s highlights – a bargain fiver via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – much appreciate Chris’s table magic even before his cabaret spot.

He’s barely started before someone turns to Twitter. “This guy has raised more laughs in two minutes than Phil Neal did all last year,” he writes.

The presentations go well, too, the lady of this house particularly impressed by the demeanour and decorum of the North Shields party – all 29 of them. Is this an annual dinner record?

Payl Brayson, 37, becomes the oldest person to win Player of the Year, Michael Sweet wins Young Player, Gareth Bainbridge the BBC Newcastle award. Graham Fenton is named manager of the year – a single vote ahead of Carl Jarrett of the champions, Marske United – long-serving West Auckland secretary Allen Bayles takes home the Unsung Hero award and North Shields chairman Alan Matthews has tears on his cheeks when collecting the Arthur Clark Memorial trophy.

No matter that the Ramside Hall completely forgets my four-pint real ale jug at the end of the formalities – a 20-year tradition – and no matter that all I have all night is two pints of Smooth, self-subscribed. It’s been an excellent annual occasion.

May 26 2015

The league secretary and I have a meeting at Ramside Hall to finalise annual dinner plans – that place is growing to the size of a small city – followed by a pub lunch to discuss, among other things, the year book.

Some leagues have jettisoned the hard copy format altogether, in favour of a wholly on-line line-up. We’ve decided on a slimmer – and smaller – version, the sort of thing which will fit into a club official’s jacket pocket and be source of ready reference.

Kevin’s brought a copy of the Northern Counties East League’s year book, which includes an almost-Victorian section on rules of debate at league meetings – what might, as we shall see, be termed standing orders.

If anyone wishes to speak they must rise to their feet and address the chair. The comment must also be relevant. The chairman – get this – decides what’s relevant and if he says it’s not, then the guy must promptly sit down again.

If the chairman gets up, all others must sit down and shut up. No one speaks more than once on any topic except with the chairman’s express permission.

Though it has to be said that our league management committee meetings are pretty well ordered – and usually quite relaxed – we shall nonetheless have to introduce the NCEL code of conduct forthwith.

If it’s up to the chairman to decide what’s relevant, we’ll be back in the bar by 7 30pm every time.

May 23 2015

There are 26 bands, with names like Soul Street, The Last Fakers and the Whodlums.

There are 25 real ales with names like Old Thumper, Hobgoblin and Any Old Muck’ll Fill a Cart. (OK, I made the last one up.)
Since none of the bands plays Simon and Garfunkel, since there’s unlikely to be a rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus, it may safely be assumed that it’s the beer – that and the sunshine – which draws us to the Consett Festival staged at the Belle View ground.

Sunshine? “It’s always like this in Consett,” says club chairman Frank Bell, mendaciously.

Frank, the dynamo that drives it all, wears shorts as he grafts behind the bar. That’s all very well, but he wears shorts to league meetings as well and there’s going to have to be a law against it. Besides, the blonde barmaid in altogether shorter shorts is an altogether prettier sight.

He’s lost 8lbs in the four days of physical hard graft leading up to the big weekend. Before the music stops on Monday evening he’s likely to have lost eight more.

The place is thronged, folk of all ages. Lovely atmosphere, too, though – just in case – a chap wears a T-shirt with the slogan “You don’t scare me: I have a daughter.”

There’s been a huge amount of work and organisation, of course, but just think not just of the profits but of the credit and the consciousness within the community.

Bishop Auckland have a bands festival this weekend, too – and if the weather forecast’s right, that’s going to be music to the treasurer’s ears, an’ all




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