Pennine Lancashire Football Culture

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The British Textile Biennial this year is being hosted in the Pennine Lancashire Area this year with events being held between 3rd October and 3rd November.

This area produced 85% of the world’s cotton goods by the end of the 19th Century and some lives on today through manufacture, design and sales. The British Textile Biennial promotes the industry and encourages people of all ages to embrace the history and promotes the creation of new pathways in this exciting field.

On a recent visit to the area I found two of the events with Football relevance. At the former Burnley Mechanics Institute, now a venue for meetings, leisure and the arts Jacqui McCassey has presented an exhibition ‘Girl Fans’ a photo-zine of female football fans fashion. She has observed and recorded how female fans of Burnley F.C. and Burnley Womens F.C. express their identity. Jacqui’s images and and some ephemera are displayed on the walls of the lounge/bar and restaurant. A small free brochure is available to look at the images and some others at your leisure. Worth a tea/coffee and some time to take a look.

 

Also as part of the British Textile Biennial was an exhibition at the old Cotton Exchange in Blackburn between October 4th and 20th of Adidas trainers. The trainer has been synonymous with fashion, football and practicality for the last 50 years.

 

The Adidas Spezial Exhibition showcased over 1200 pairs of their trainers with many rare examples.

Gary Aspen the designer of the Spezial Range  is from nearby Darwen, a son of a Mill Worker, was presenting many of his own collection and many more. Gary is a passionate Blackburn Rovers fan and was showcasing the latest limited edition the ‘Blackburn Nightsafe’. All proceeds from the sale of 200 pairs of the £100 trainers will go to the homeless charity ‘Nightsafe’ based in Darwen. Donations for attending the display were also being collected.

“I’m absolutely over the moon about it. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me,” he said, his Lancastrian accent intact despite years spent working in London. “This is one of the top 10 poorest towns in Europe and I feel strongly that places like Blackburn, which have been hit badly by austerity, can be regenerated with the help of culture.”

Quote by Gary Aspen for an article by  North of England editor. The Guardian 

 

 

At the same time there is an exhibition at Townley Hall in Burnley, ‘Bob Lord, Burnley Born and Bred’ which runs until February 29, 2020.

Born in 1908 Bob Lord left school at 14 and built a meat empire employing hundreds of people. as a devoted Burnley fan he eventually became Club Chairman and had high influential positions in the game. His controversial comments did not endear him to everyone and you either loved or hated him.

In Burnley he is best remembered for their successful years in the 1960’s and the setting up of one of the best youth schemes and training grounds in the country, perhaps the forerunner of the modern academy.

The exhibition has some great photographs of his era at Burnley that came to an end just before his death in 1981. A short video has also been produced that is well worth watching.

Sheffield: The Home of Football

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“Developed by Sheffield Libraries and Archives, the walking app tells the story of football’s early days and guides you around the historic sites that played a role in shaping the world’s most popular game.”

https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/homeoffootball

Sheffield’s undoubted influence on the early days of world football is well proved and Sheffield Council have in conjunction with local historians developed an App that you can follow on a 4.7 mile mapped walk by listening or reading about the background of places and people who fashioned football in the early years.

You visit 10 stops and become engrossed in the period when between 1857 and 1889 Sheffield had 95 football clubs and an influence on the game that is still felt today.

There is other information and stops to visit if you wish and having done the walk I would suggest you research by listening or reading the vast information available before undertaking the walk.

It is an amazing resource and truly helps to put Sheffield where it should be at the peak of football history in the country. Hopefully Sheffield FC’s efforts to build a new ground near to where they once started will come to fruition in the next few years and provide a place for a living museum to celebrate the vision of our footballing ancestors.

Even if you don’t live anywhere near Sheffield you can download the app and get an immersive experience of the past.

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N.B. the images and initial quote are taken from the web site I have linked above.

 

 

Nearing the end of my walk back to the start I was seduced by the sausage roll offer at Heeley Bank Antique Centre Tea Room, I was not disappointed.

Football is everywhere, again.

Over the road from Barrow in Furness railway station on Abbey Road is a statue of Emlyn Hughes who I didn’t know had been born in the town in 1947. The statue is in Bronze, sculpted by Chris Kelley and unveiled in mid April 2008.

Known as ‘Crazy Horse due to his on field exploits of being competitive all over the field he was adored by the football community and the public at large because of his big heart, infectious laugh, voice and an incredibly fun character.

He started his career at Blackpool (28 appearances) but played most of his games for Liverpool, 665 appearances  with an incredible record of winning four league trophies, 1 F.A,cup, two European Cups, two UEFA Cups with them and a League Cup trophy with Wolves (58) appearances. He finished his career at Rotherham, Hull, Mansfield and Swansea as player and Manager. Emlyn also played many times for England some as captain and was awarded the OBE in 1988.

On the way back from the Barrow area a quick visit to Bradford Cathedral I came across another memorial but this time to the 56 people who lost their lives in the Bradford City Fire Disaster of 1985. Such tragedy was met with world wide generosity of a donated £4.25 million for the bereaved and injured and new safety and building regulations for sports stadiums.

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Non League Club Directory 2019/2020

9781869833992

Mike Williams publishing. Released on 14th August 2019.
ISBN/EAN:9781869833992

This is an unashamed advertisement for The Non-League Club Directory 2019/2020 which I mentioned last year. Available now from bookshops and on line stores, the following link is to my favourite www.hive.co.uk
This publication is in its 42nd year and has club, league, and team details of many levels of the Non-League game.
It however comes with a health and life warning:
It’s 880 pages make it heavy especially for reading in bed.
You will become delusional and obsessive to research the many unusually named teams.
You may lose a spouse, partner, friends and work colleagues who will become fed up with your incessant enthusiastic reference to facts that you will find utterly interesting and they may find weird.
Sleep deprivation could be caused by not wanting to put the book down.
Work could suffer as you lose motivation due to your brain being overtaken by a mine of detail.

Thank you Tony and Mike Williams for continuing to edit this amazing book.
As every year I have to wait till Christmas for Santa to bring mine.

‘The Bottom Corner.’

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‘The Bottom Corner – A Season with the Dreamers of Non-League Football.’ written by Nige Tassell.

First Published by Yellow Jersey Press in 2016  which is a part of the Penguin Random House Group of Companies,

Nige Tassell writes about a Season from August to May as a true football fan. He explores the teams, characters, venues and stories that make Non-League football fascinating and humbling.

From Bishop Sutton in August to Worthing in May he describes a journey amongst the football teams that hang on and thrive in this world so far away from the mega rich of the Premier League. It makes you think why is a pyramid system that is being administered and dominated by a few leagues the best way to run non-league football when the regional diversity is being ironed out. Why did the Northern League with their historic knowledge of North Eastern Football not be given the running of new League for 2020/21 in their area. Why has the West Midland league been cast aside. Why on FA Cup weekend England kicked off at a time that meant people had to choose between watching them on TV or going to a local game and putting some needed money through the turnstiles. The same weekend the media also concentrated on the first games in the WSL and ensured fantastic attendances at the Premier Clubs as opposed to local teams. The FA needs to really engage with localism, diversity and community football or else the vine will wither away. Sorry for the rant.

How did Nige find some of the characters in this book? His undoubted knowledge picked teams that are making their way or have challenges.

The continual return to Bishop Sutton sees a desperate but determined season end in hope when they are not relegated because of ground grading.

The book is written with such care that it was a joy to read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up Pohnpei

 

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This was another charity shop find at £2.50 and what appeared to be a frivolous book turned out to be another of those stories that just warm you to the football community that exists all over the world and the extraordinary lengths people go to achieve their dreams.

Up Pohnpei written by Paul Watson was first published by Profile Books Ltd in 2012.

Paul and his pall Matt Conrad discuss endless lists, ideas and dreams about football and one is which country in the world could they play for. Their footballing ability rules them out of playing for their home countries but there could be a possibility of playing for one of the smaller lower ranked nations.

In depth research leads them to Pohnpei a team that has never won a match. One problem is that Pohnpei is a Pacific island, one of the four states in the Federated States of Micronesia whose population is only 36000 people. Not only is this thousands of miles from home but football seems to have no current roots in the Island.

The friends manage to get funds and kit together and approval to go to the island to train the locals but have no salary to do this. They find challenging facilities and a casual approach to football and life in general that does not look good. They also find that they will not be able to qualify to play for the Island.

Determination and the help of some local people seem to keep them going but Matt’s chance of advancing his career in the USA leaves Paul the only one on the ground. Matt still helps from afar but it is Paul who goes through all the emotions possible to try to succeed in getting football established.

Shining through the book is friendship that football gives and receives and the joy of comradeship.

It would be wrong to say more and spoil the book but I can guarantee you won’t put it down.

The best way to sum up the book is by quoting a sentence from near the end “Not bad going for a couple of Sunday League nobodies”.

Farewell to a football pioneer.

Today South Yorkshire said farewell  to  Bob Jackson, a well known football fan and pioneer.

Bob was a sports reporter and producer for BBC Radio Sheffield between 1972 and 1992. He was known for his unbiased fanatical support of South Yorkshires football teams and would play brass band music during commentaries to cheer up losing teams. Local legend had it that this often worked.

Football fans nationwide have to thank him for his invention of the football phone in. November 1986 was when he invited fans to ring in with ‘grumbles’ about their local team. A few weeks after this it is said that a Sheffield Wednesday fan rang in to ‘praise’ the Owls for their 5-0 win. ‘Praise and Grumble’ was born, the first football phone in.

It has blossomed since then nationwide and gives a backdrop to many a fans journey home from the match.

Thank you Bob.

 

Playing with the Boys

‘Playing with the Boys’ by Niamh McKevitt – Published by Vision Sports Publishing 2015

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This easy to read and sometimes funny book is a journal of teenager Niamh McKevitts dogged determination to play football at the best level possible. She finds that playing with boys teams gives her more opportunity to hone her skills but more importantly to compete with players who are at her age level or above.
Her story is of how she searches for the best teams to play for and stands up for girls/women to be able to play against boys/men of an equal age on an equal footing.
To do this she has struggles against her school, coaches,  general prejudice, team mates, opponents and the F.A. However with changes at the F.A, who believed that girls will become better footballers if separated from boys, she is able to help effect the change that now allows girls to play alongside boys in competitive matches right up to 18.
Niamh plays and succeeds with teams at the very top of boys football in Sheffield and demonstrates through her play that she is an equal and deserves her place in the team. It should also be noted that but for her Dad who supports her all of the way then a lot of this would not have happened.
Anyone who enjoys football will not only enjoy this book as a reminder of the struggle in the women’s game but also will enjoy the human story and an insight into grass roots football.

Football is everywhere

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On a holiday trip to the West of Scotland we ended up in Campbeltown Heritage Centre in need of a cup of tea.

Cambeltown was once called the ‘Whisky Capital of the World’ with its 30 distilleries and had the highest per capita income of any town in Scotland. Those days are gone as it struggles with a decreasing ageing population. Gone are the heady days of being a major port for freight, steamers, ferries, the navy and shipbuilding, gone is the herring fishing, gone is the coal mining and only 3 distilleries are left

This most westerly town in Mainland Scotland clings on with long standing agriculture leading the way.

The scale of its former wealth is highlighted by its architecture.  Look up and you will see many different  beautiful buildings designed by the major architects of the day.

Some regeneration has been started and the Heritage Centre proudly displays it’s amazing past.

In one cabinet is a display of seven football cups that were donated in the past. But there is nothing commemorating this year’s 100th Anniversary of Campbeltown Pupils AFC. Since 1977 they have played in the Scottish Amateur Football League. They were in fact the first club from Argyll to be crowned Amateur Premier League champions in 2000.

There is s photo on display of Campbeltown United from 1912 who appear to be no longer in existence.

The Cups:

Charity Cup 1887     Presented by the Town Council to the first Campbeltown District Association to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

The McCallum Cup 1947     Presented by the local MP for Argyll to help kick start football after the second world war.

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The Orr-Ewing Cup 1900    donated by the local MP.

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The Sutherland Cup 1925    Donated by the local MP at a time of great hardship in the area when football was a good distraction and entertainment.

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The Amateur Cup 1921/22  

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The Amateur Cup – Civic Cup 1950    Presented to Kintyre Amateur Football League.

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Dalriada Cup – Amateur Cup 1968/69     This replaced a previous Cup

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Thank you to the lady who served us with the wonderful Lemon Drizzle cake and tea as well as the amazing trophies. Good luck to Campbeltown AFC for the 2019/20 season and your anniversary year. Good Luck to Campbeltown in your re-positioning and regeneration.

 

 

The waiting goes on.

The wait for the new season drags but the excitement bubbles away with new ferocity with the publishing of Non-League and FA Cup/Trophy and Vase fixtures. Plans can be made, lists reviewed and dreams could be fulfilled.

In the meantime I visited Wigtown, it is billed as ‘Scotland’s National Book Town’ but a search of the many second hand bookshops was fruitless in finding a good football book. My final stop was the Community Shop and there on a table as I walked in was a book of poetry about Scottish football for £3. The book was ‘Mind The Time’ – An Anthology of Poetry to Support Football Memories Scotland. It was produced with Nutmeg -The Scottish Football Periodical in 2017.20190715_174707The first Football Memories group met in Stenhousemuir in 2004 to engage with those suffering memory loss through discussing their memories regarding football. The projects success has not only been huge in Scotland but has raced over the southern border and become established in England too.

The poetry looks good for a future read but I thought I would share one poem now on the close season.

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‘nutmeg’ also looks a real interesting source of football info for the future.