I have returned from my sell out tour ‘Ooop t’North’. During my time up there, I visited such venues as Leeds, York and Guiseley. Here are some of the sights I saw…
Leeds United v Reading
In typical Leeds fashion, they have stumbled of late, just as the football season is coming to an end. Therefore, the visit of Reading, who have won their last 8 games, lead me pessimistically predict a loss. I was pleasantly surprised. Leeds played very well. They drew 0-0, but it was an entertaining goalless draw.
A trip to York
I was born in York and spent the early stages of my life there before moving to Bristol. Besides going to the football ground last October, I have never visited the city since leaving when I was a baby.
We went there on Saturday. It is one of the most beautiful towns I have ever visited. It was a wonderful, hot spring day as we walked past the river and into the city which, like Bath, has retained much of it Roman heritage.
I know I am lucky enough to live in Bath, where there are also such places, but when you have lived somewhere for most of your life, you begin to take these places for granted and do not appreciate them. I can really see why both York and Bath are such renowned cities and popular with tourism.
On the way home, we visited the house where I lived when I was a very young child. I must admit – I was expecting a plaque outside the house celebrating the fact I had lived there. There wasn’t one. I assume it had been stolen by collectors. I think I have vague memories of the place, although due to my age at the time, I doubt these are necessarily true!
We went out for fish and chips in the evening. I don’t like fish, so I had sausage and chips. “So what”, I hear you cry. Well, we visited Harry Ramsdens. I was assured by my dad, that this was a world famous fish and chip shop. Indeed the signs outside the restaurant proclaimed themselves to be just that. However, I later learnt that there are branches of Harry Ramsdens everywhere – including in Bristol!
The significant thing of our visit to Harry Ramsdens was that it was in Guiseley – the place where the famous fish and chip shop empire first began. So I guess there was something of slight interest in my visit.
I am now back home in good old Zummerzet, but continue on my travels in the morning, when I return to the thrills and spills of non-league football – travelling to Eastbourne to watch the mighty Bath City in their last away game of the season.
There probably won’t be any blogs over this weekend. I’m going to Yorkshire tomorrow for a family birthday. While up there, I will find time to make it to Elland Road on to watch Leeds/Reading on Friday night. I believe the plan for Saturday is then to take in the sights of York or another nearby town.
Then it’s back to Somerset on Sunday before a trip to Eastbourne on Easter Monday to watch Bath City.
After this weekend and my earlier trips to Darlington, Mansfield and Grimsby, I have probably travelled more miles these past few weeks than any other month in my whole life. You know you’ve been travelling too long when a 3 hour car ride to Leeds seems like a short trip.
When Bath City won promotion to the National Conference in May last year, I knew things would be different to previous seasons. I was aware we would face some long journeys, the games would be tougher and financially more expensive. I also expected the stewarding and policing of matches to be different to anything we had experienced when visiting the likes of St Albans and Bishop’s Stortford.
Stewards aren’t well liked by football fans. They are the traffic wardens of the sporting world. Still, I accept they have a job to do and without the presence of crowd control, there wouldn’t be any music festivals, concerts or indeed football games.
I think at times, stewards can earn an unfair reputation and are often accused of a strict and heavy handed policing towards football fans. I don’t think the situation is generally that bad at all.
However, there are certain times when cases of stewarding are so poor it gives the whole industry a bad name. This was the case on Thursday night when I visited Field Mill, home of Mansfield Town, to watch Bath City.
As the official supporters coach arrived at the ground, we were met by a surly-faced employee who told us we were not allowed to stop the coach in the huge, virtually empty car park. Instead drive through the side streets – far away from the club house, ticket office and shop – such a nice welcome to the fans that had travelled over 150 miles in the middle of the week!
The club’s excuse for this was that they did not want home and away fans mixing together. That would be fair enough, apart from the fact hundreds of Mansfield fans had to walk past the spot our coach was eventually instructed to park anyway.
When we got into the ground, the stewards treated us as if we were Millwall supporters. 59 Bath City fans were ‘crammed’ into a stand capable of holding in excess of 1,000 people. However, we were told we were no allowed to stand up while watching the game, due to safety regulations. After a long debate with some supporters, it was agreed we could stand during “exciting moments”, to which one fan rightly pointed out “It’s always exciting watching Bath City”.
While this was going on, a large number of home supporters were happily standing on their side of the ground; the stewards oblivious to the heinous crime. Either that or they chose not to do anything.
The best was yet to come though. Midway through the first half, a steward climbed the stairs to where the fans were sat down like good boys and girls (nothing “exciting” was happening, after all). Without warning, he started to take down one of the supporters’ flags. This was of course questioned – well, I believe the questioning from one supporter was “What the f**k are you doing, you c**t?”
The flag, which in the past has been acclaimed by many opposition fans, bares the words “Terraces not armchairs” – stating the fact that real football fans watch the sport live and not from their front room. Apparently, this very offensive slogan encourages standing and had to be taken down at once.
As this was happening, we noticed the stewards spoiling the home fans’ evening, asking them to sit down and even ejecting some from the ground.
I know there are some exceptions, but generally, football fans are well behaved people. However, if there is to be any trouble, it will occur if they’re treated like animals – in the same way any group of human beings would react if mistreated and bullied.
Luckily there was nothing unsavoury from either set of supporters, despite having to contend with a set of moronic stewards better suited to a Nazi army than a sporting event.
Oh, and Bath City lost 2-0.
I started blogging before it became popular. I carried on blogging when everyone was doing it and I’m still blogging now everyone else has given up on it.
One internet trend that had escaped me was Twitter. I’ve had an account for a few years. The reason being, when people first started ‘Twittering’ we were told that by 2010, it would be the only means of communication. Therefore I thought it best to register an account with a decent username, instead of having to make do with something obscure like sean_k_2015uk_bcfcluva. It’s now 2011 and believe it or not, people are still talking face to face and using the telephone. Like in Back to the Future 2, where we were told everyone would be on hover boards by now, the prediction about Twitter being the only means of contacting Auntie Doris was bollocks.
That said, I made my first ‘Tweet’ yesterday. I have also added a widget to the sidebar of my blog (excuse this technical WordPress speak). So far, I only have 3 followers, but hope that by next week to have more than Chris Moyles, Rio Ferdinand and Charlie Sheen. If not, I’ll carry on using Twitter for what everyone else uses it for… stalking celebrities.
If you do want to follow me and aid my campaign to become more popular than an overweight radio DJ, a drug addict footballer or a man who is slowly killing himself, my Twitter name is seankuk.
Firstly, before I start writing this blog, I would like to point out a few things… So, if you’re from Barnsley and about to send me some abuse regarding the title of today’s blog, please hold fire. I have nothing against people from the north of England. I support Leeds United, I have family in the north and before moving south, I was born in York. However, yesterday I saw what can accurately be described as Dirty Northern Bastards. They were unclean, of northern origin and were probably born to unmarried parents. I hope this clears things up.
Right, now for the blog which could actually turn out to be shorter that the disclaimer which it preceded.
Yesterday, I went oop t’north to Darlington for the second time this season to watch Bath City. The first trip saw City lose 4-1. This weekend’s score line wasn’t much better, with the home side inflicting a 3-1 defeat. ‘The Quakers’ had clearly had their Ready Brek.
The encounter with the ‘DNB’ was not at The Darlington Arena, instead at Wetherby Services, on the A1, somewhere very far north. The place was full of football supporters of many different clubs. All of whom were behaving themselves, apart from the Middlesbrough fans. It may have only been 11am, but a group for Boro supporters were so inebriated, it looked like they had been drinking Carling since Wednesday. One staggered into the toilets, opening a cubicle marked “Out of Order”, before falling over and declaring to everyone using the facilities “I’ve pissed myself”.
Having not met any Middlesbrough fans until yesterday, I cannot say if those I encountered were typical supporters of the club. But as I am yet to ever meet one who isn’t drunk on cheap lager, I see nothing to prove that they are not all like that.
On this website, you’ll find me blogging (almost) daily about everyday life, living in Bath, working with computers, and the occasional bit of football stuff thrown in.
If you're expecting The Man Booker Prize, you've come to the wrong place. If you want to read a collection of sometimes eccentric, often disturbing and rarely amusing ramblings, gorge your eyes on this.