Non- League Club Directory 2021/22

This is the only advert that you will see on this site but as in previous years I’m happy to promote this soft covered book that is nearly 900 pages long.

Mike Williams publishing have again done a great job in getting this encycopaedic tome together with team facts and league tables in what is a momentous change year in the Non League structure.

I am going to revert back to getting my copy for Christmas and spend some of those dark days at that time of year looking up some of the unusually named teams and planning trips to see some of them in the future. This book is available at most of the traditional and on line book shops at just under £20..

Title: Non-League Club Directory 2021/22

Publisher: Mike Williams Publishing

Publication Date: 2021

Pages 880

Aprox £20

Football is everywhere again.

If you visit Weston Park Museum in Sheffield you will be confronted by the biggest exhibit a 10 metre x 2 metre mural depicting Sheffield between 1946 and 2006, when it was finished, by famous local artist Joe Scarborough.

This is Sheffield in Joe Scarborough’s style that captures the locals in an almost cartoon like fashion.

Centre stage is a section depicting the local Sheffield derby between United and Wednesday.

It’s well worth the visit.

Talk to local people to get a real feel of the place you are in.

On holiday in Scotland we were passing Glasgow and had to just visit the old ground of Third Lanark who suddenly went out of business in the 1960’s. Unfortunately I am old enough to remember them as the results came through on the teleprinter.

Third Lanark AC founded in 1872 were one of the founder members of the Scottish F.A. in the same year. They were formed out of the 3rd Lanarkshire Riffle Volunteers and had a successful start to life winning the League in 1890 and the Scottish Cup in 1889 and 1905. Their great achievement was staying in the top flight for most of their existance but it all started to go wrong in the 1960’s. They were relegated in 1965 but found it hard going in the second tier as much influenced by off field problems. The biggest story to hit the local press was that they were going to sell their famous Cathkin Park Ground for housing and move to East Kilbride. Both on and off field performances led to their attendances falling to a tenth of previous seasons. The board now offered the ground to Glasgow Corporation and announced that they were moving to Bishopbriggs north of Glasgow. No satdium was ever built and after finishing second from bottom of the league they played their last game in April 1967. A judge reviwing their financial plight put in place a winding up order on the club and a subsequent Board of Trade enquiry found irregularities regarding the finnances of the club. Although the board were heavilly critisised for their running of Third Lanark no formal charges were ever brought against anyone.

This is only a fraction of the tale and it is Cathkin Park that is the story here. Having read in the past of this ghost ground I wanted to see it myself. We parked in a residential street which at the end of this cul-de-sac was an entrance into a woody park. You initially walk down a path through the woods and through the trees you can see a bright green field shining in the summer sun. Walk further and some old terracing appears with the metal barriers still in position. This is the home of Third Lanark but more is to be revealed by a couple walking their dog. They were not surprised to see people taking it all in but were soon chatting and saying they were not football fans. However they had a pride in the area where they lived and in the park. They told us that when Third Lanark folded the local council took it over with the view to build houses but in the interim sections of the terracimg were dug up by the Parks Department and were used as a tree nursery. The trees were never moved and today their leafy full grown state add to the charm, intriege and myth of the place.

The couple then explained that Cathkin Park with its 50000 capacity was the second Hampden, home to the Scotland national team and the place where the first one stood was at the bowling green just outside the park over the railway bridge.

First however they told me the ground is used by a youth team of the Jimmy Johnston Accademy. They said the grass had been cut 3 times recently and now lined out for its first match post Covid. Standing in the middle of the pitch I felt good to think that a youth team would be playing here amongst the ghosts of football’s past. What an inspiration for them. But there was more, a plaque on the ground I was told I must see but taking a photo I had no idea of the relevance and still don’t.

Being mid morning I asked for the nearest cafe and they directed us to Salamagundi on the Cathcart Road via the first Hampden.

We walked out of the park past the Youth teams club house and out onto the railway bridge. Now we were lost with roadworks disorienting us.

Help was at hand as a man in t shirt, shorts and Celtic socks and carrying a pair of trainers exited a car and walked across the road towards us. Realising he must be a Football fan I asked where the first Hampden was, which turned out to be just down the road. He explained the scoreline of the first International and I countered that I was at Wembley for the 9-3 game, good football banter. However his recollection was listening to it on the radio and his the hero, goalkeeper Frank Haffey having a night mare. At the end of church the next day he said he used some colourful language about his hero in front of the priest and was dragged off by the ear to be chastised later.

To have remembered the game I realised he must be about my age so I asked if he had been playing walking football. He indignantly replied no proper football and immediately put me to shame and made me feel very inferior. I put my foot in it there. He explained that the first Hampden now a bowling green had been built by Queens Park F.C . My new found friend said that recently an archaeological group had been excavating around parts of the Bowling Green.

We walked on and found the site of the first Hampden where a painted memorial facing the railway line tells of Scotlands 5-1 win over England and the involvement of Andrew Watson the first black footballer to play for Scotland.

Queens Park had to move because a railway company wanted to build a line right through Hampden. Hence the move to Cathkin Park which suited their needs until they again they moved to the current Hampden Park as we know it today. But it does not stop there as as recently as 2020 Queens Park F.C . decided to end their amateur status which they had kept since 1875 and agreed a sale of Hampden Park to the Scottish FA. Queens Park are now getting Little Hampden which is next door up to League standard and hope to get it licenced and move there in the next 12 months. If I had known this on the day of my visit I would have gone there too. Oh well a future adventure beckons.

Again Mary Queen of Scots seems to come into view of everything, it is understood that her army passed through Cathkin Park in South Glasgow on the way to the Battle of Langside where she was defeated and effectively ended any hope of regaining her rule over the country

How much of this is urban myth and how much reality I don’t mind. I just find it fascinating, enjoyable and amazing the impact that football has on people and the pride people having in talking about their space.

Of Course we did make it to the cafe, Salmagundi (a mixture, an assortment) and it lived up to its name and reputation. Described by the local people I met as a bit Boho the menu would be able to cater for all. I had vegetarian haggis with portobello mushrooms and an egg based pattie in a brioche bun with brown sauce. Delicious and obviously a well used place with a constant stream of sit ins and take aways. Thanks for the recomendation.

Was Mary Queen of Scots a Football fan

If you live in the North of England you will most probably come across a plaque on a building that says Mary Queen of Scots slept here.

This is because she exiled herself in England hoping her half sister Elizabeth would welcome her. Elizabeth did not want her at court in London because she could be seen as a rival to the throne and kept her very much in the North of England and for much of the time under the control of Bess of Hardwick also one of the most powerful women of the time. Bess too was kept out of court with her new arduous task and had to use some of her wealth to achieve her goal

Bess was reputed to be one of the richest women in England only second to the queen herself and had amassed a large property portfolio in which to keep Mary.

Mary was continually moved to wear her down and reduce the chances of her plotting against the state. However she never met her sister and met an untimely end.

On a recent holiday to Scotland we visited Linlithgow Palace the birth place of Mary. Unfortunately the now ruins were closed but this is still an imposing building on a site that makes it even more majestic.

You must be wandering why this is on a Football site for the curious. Well Mary Queen of Scots was a sports woman and sports fan and at 5 feet 10 inches tall (1.8 mtrs) an imposing figure for the age.

Recent research into old records has thrown up some interesting new ideas. There are mentions in official doccuments, up to 350 years ago, that a game using a small ball was played in royal castles and when Stirling Castle was restored in the 1970’s a leather ball with a pigs bladder was found behind a false wall in Mary’s living quarters.

Recent research found old diaries of Sir Francis Knollis who was keeping Mary under suveilance at Carlisle Castle and in them he wrote of a game played for Mary using a ball in which the players only used their feet.

So when we sing ‘Football’s Coming Home’s we may have to wait for Scotland to win the world cup for this to be true. We may also need to acknowledge Mary Queen of Scots as an early patron of the game, a true fan.

Finding Jack Charlton

Finding Jack Charlton, Doccumentary, released on 6th Decemvber 2020

DirectorsGabriel ClarkePete Thomas

Music composed byJames Copperthwaite

Executive producerAndy Townsend

ProducersJohn McKennaTorquil Jones

I wouldn’t advise you to watch this doccumentary I would suggest you watch it twice or more.

Although it explores Jack Charlton’s life and a final battle with alzheimer’s (Like his brother and many other footballers and sports peolple) it concentrates mainly on his phenominal decade long career as Manager of The Republic of Ireland’s national football team.

Having had a fantastic playing career with Leeds and England, winning the World Cup in 1966, he went on into football management initially with Middlesborough and in 1985 was invited to be the Irish national Manager. His initial lack of response gave no indication of the succees in two World Cups and a EUropean Championship that would follow. The matches are all doccumented with some great clips but it is the special relationship that Jack developed with the Irish people that shines through. It is so sad that in his later years he could not remember this.

Past Presidents and Taoiseach’s praise him for his raising the moral and spirit of the country but it falls to clips of Larry Mullen, drummer with U2 to put in context of how Jack Charlton’s success with the team amazinly increased the belief of the peolple of Ireland that they were as a country able to stand up to and with any other country on earth. This new belief was at a time of great troubles and decline and paved the way for the new self confident Ireland of today.

Jack Charlton chose and worked with a band of British Isles born footballers with Irish ancestors who also caught the mood and took their chance to prove themselves. Niall Quinn and Parick Bonner give great background stories, David O’Leary explains why he was overlooked but was there to slot home a World Cup second round penalty shoot out deciding goal. Andy Townsend (Executive Producer of the doccumentary) reads out some of the notes that Jack Charlton kept throughout his career that are cleverly shown on a 3D board throughout the 97 minutes.

But it is the story and relationship with Paul McGrath that gives me the tingling moments. Paul explains what it was to be different in Ireland and how you had to fight to overcome the predjudice in a very closed society which was felt by many and led to some of the emigration. Having watched Paul in his Aston Villa career I already admired a man who was a top footballer despite his demons, no wander he is idolised wherever he played.

The Charlton family raidiate love for Jack, his wife and son and the rest of the family show that in their support and care for him.

On a personal note I did not realise that I watched the end of his Republic of Ireland career on 13th December 1995 when I was able to get two tickets for the European Championship play off between the Republic of Ireland and The Netherlands at Anfield for my son and I. The Netherlands won two nil in what I remember as a one sided game. Having found a parking space near the ground we were intrigued to watch a black Mercedes pull up opposite us and four men get out, go round to the boot, change out of their very good clothes into orange t shirts, boiler suits with orange hard hats and march off to the ground. I was also aske inside the gound by a Dutchman ‘what is this Bovril’, how do you exlpain! Jack Charlton resigned the next day.

This is a great doccumentary which transformed my undestanding of a great man, deffinately in the same class as Bobby Robson. Jack’s wife asks why didn’t he become a ‘Sir’ and I have to say, a complete mystery.

Football curios unlocked and hopefully not forgotten.

Brent council have arranged for some of the tiled murals facing the pedestrian subway between Wembley Park Stadium and Olympic Way at Bobby Moore Bridge to be on view from 10th to 28th March.

They have been hidden behind some advertising hoardings and depict sporting events that were held during the Second World War including Ice Hockey and American Football. They were unveiled in 1993 in honour of Bobby Moore who as captain of England’s victorious football team lifted the World Cup in 1966. They were covered up in 2013 and as recently as 2019 a company was awarded permission to cover them with advertising for ten years.

Some councillors and local historians are campaigning for them to be on view during the European Championships in June and July this year and beyond. It seems pointless to have the tiles on view when we are in lockdown and we are told not to travel! A few lucky locals will be able to see them but not the wider public.

I am old enough to recollect seeing some buildings/remains of what I think were left from the British Empire Exhibition 1924 when visiting the old Wembley 60 years ago. I think one item was some stone lions but these all seem to have gone now but a few iconic pieces would have been good to keep.

GINGA – The Soul of Brazilian Football

GINGA – The Soul of Brazilian Football

DVD format released by Mr Bongo Essential World Football, 2014

Produced by Fernando Meirelles 

Directed by Marcelo Machado, Hank Levine and Tocha Alves.

Yes a DVD!, I have been saving them for some bad weather days when there would be no football and they have come in useful in these depressing times. As like so many of my book reviews they are charity Shop finds for anywhere up to £1, this one 20p.

This is a documentary about why Brazilian Football is regarded as one of the best and most fluent in the world. Seven young footballers from all over the country, from diverse social, gender, disability and ethnic back grounds are followed as they try to use their amazing skills to break into football at the highest level. Some express a view about Ginga that it is the, rhythm, music and movement that gives them an indefinable quality to be able to take technique with the ball and movement of their body to a level that is difficult for others to contend with. One person even proposes that it is now within the Brazilian DNA.

Certainly the ball control skill shown is breath-taking not least by the two females that take part.

But the undoubted ball skills are not enough as a coach in Sao Paolo says that technique is 30% but strength is 70%.

All of those who are followed seem desperate and driven to succeed and are fully supported by their families. More than once it’s said that they want to be successful to provide for their family which may be as big a factor as Ginga. Games are played on the beach, in the street, on waste land or in homes but most striking is ‘Court Football’. Court football is played inside in Brazil and there are leagues for all ages and genders everywhere. Leagues start at an early age up to senior level where you can earn a living. Because of the smaller size of pitch, ball control and quick decision making are needed to shine. I would suggest that these two factors go hand in hand with Ginga to fashion the outstanding players and teams that have thrilled the world.

The DVD is in Portuguese with sub titles, changes shot very quickly and has a continual music background that does make it hard to follow. No substitute for a real game but worthwhile viewing.

BOBBY ROBSON-more than a Manager

Bobby Robson; More than a Manager

Presented by NoahX, a Noah Media Group Production.

Written by Gabriel Clarke, Produced by Torquil Jones, John McKenna, Victoria Harrell

Released 4th June 2018

This British film documentary is a sympathetical commentary on a man Gary Lineka says was “the best English Manager of all time” and who would argue against that. It is superbly put together and captures your attention.

Although the film starts with the diagnosis and subsequent surgery for cancer in 1995 and Bobby Robson’s time as Manager of Barcelona it flashes back and forwards to highlight his playing, managerial and fund raising career.

Born in County Durham in 1933 he remained faithful to his roots and stayed anchored to the area until his death in in 2009.

It is a poignant but heart warming film for such dire times. Bobby Robsons humanity, drive, passion, integrity, dignity, honesty and love of football shine through and is honoured by the people he was close to.

Alan Shearer, “He saved my career.”

Pep Guardiolo, “After working with Bobby I wanted to be a manager”. He also wrote to Bobby offering to come and help him at Newcastle. “Nicest person he met in his life.”

Jose Mourinho (who worked as his assistant at Barcelona) talking of Bobby. “a man only dies when the last man who knows him dies.”

Ronaldo said, “I had a lot more to learn from him”, when Barca sold me to Inter Milan. Ronaldo loved Bobby because he trusted him to just go and play and bought him when young, risking his own career.

Terry Butcher, ” I’d go through hell and high water for him.”

Paul Gascoigne and Bobby Robson had a special relationship and it was Bobby who said of Gascoigne that he was “Daft as a Brush”. Gascoigne said of Bobby he was ” On a par with Mohamed Ali in football terms.”

Alex Ferguson, “Helped me when I was a young coach”.

Such comments by football people of the highest calibre say it all.

When you see his achievements, played for England, Managed Ipswich to European glory, England to a world Cup semi final, PSV to cup and league high spots, managed two teams in Potugal, Barcelona to a trebble and revitslised Newcastle you realise he was special.

Watch this film for motivation but be prepared to have a pack of tissues at hand and remember he always said, “Believe in yourself.”

Football Life Goes On

The death of Jack Charlton has been marked across the world but with greater poignancy in his home town of Ashington, his one club Leeds and in Ireland where his managerial and personal skills galvanised a team and country to World Cup achievements never seen before and likely not ever again.

This T shirt with Jack Charlton 5 on the reverse is a memorial to the great but humble man who was one of the people, an accolade not available to many. It has been produced by and is available from

The words taken direct from their website. “Yesterday a Leeds, England and Republic of Ireland Great was laid to rest. A one club man Jack was also a miner, a soldier and anti-fascist. At Leeds he won the League championship, 2nd division championship, Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (twice), FA cup and League Cup, all illustrated. With England he won the Home International Championship and most famously of all he lifted the World Cup, also featured. After Leeds he managed Middlesbrough to the 2nd Division Championship and Anglo-Scottish Cup followed by taking the Republic of Ireland to their first European Championship, beating England there, and two World Cups. The lot, chronicled on our memorial shirt.”

Thank You

I would not only like to say thank you to Jack for all of the great memories but also to everyone who reads this blog. We are just over half way through the year but have already surpassed last years stats which have risen considerably since I started in 2017. This despite no football to attend although some of the views may have been due to lockdowns in different parts of the world and a need to get a football fix of some sort.

My son suggests that I should rename the blog ‘taponthegate’ because when there is a restart payment will likely be by some mode of contactless. It looks like the Non League game could be back some time in September and I can’t wait.

Black Footballers Matter

On a shopping trip I found myself near Edlington Cemetery. The significance of this is that Arthur Wharton the first ever black professional footballer is buried there.

I’d read about his amazing goalkeeping career and how he ended up a publican and for his last 15 years down the pit mostly at the almost adjacent Yorkshire Main Colliery. He died pennyless and only in 2014 after a campaign by his Grand Daughter and Football Unites, Racism Divides, a Sheffield-based community scheme’ was a fitting memorial headstone erected at his grave.

Naively I had read online that he had a black headstone and with only seeing graves in ancient cemeteries in recent years, being met with 70% black headstonees completely confused and made me realise that I had a big hunt in front of me.

Luckily a man was moving some mowers who turned out to be the guardian of the cemetery. He was really helpful and took us to the grave and talked about the campaign to honour Arthur and the search for his unmarked grave which was only revealed when someone came in to enquire about a burial in the 1930’s and there at the top of the page for the date they were looking for was Arthur Wharton’s name which had eluded them for some time.

Arthur played for Darlington, Preston North End, Rotherham Town, Sheffield United, Stalybridge Rovers and Ashton North End between 1885 and 1901. He is also remembered for running 100yds in 10 seconds to equal the ameteur world record in 1886 at the AAA’s championship. The man in the cemetery said that local legend says that he achieved this on an Ash Track at the nearby Miners Welfare in Pit Boots! Arthur Wharton was a complete all round athlete excelling at cycling and cricket too.

The full Arthur Wharton’s story can be read in detail in his biography, ‘The First Black Footballer: Arthur Wharton 1865-1930’ by Phil Vasili, published by Frank Cass. The ISBN for the paperback edition is 978-0714644592 and for the hardback edition is 978-0714649030.

A memorial 16 foot statue of Arthur Wharton can be found at The Football Association’s St George’s Park depicting him tipping the ball over the bar.

Photograph of Arthur Wharton in action from Newcastle United Fanzine ‘True Faith.’

Arthur was part of a great line of Black footballers whose achievements can be seen as remarkable despite the racism they experienced.

Andrew Watson was arguably the ‘The Worlds First Black Football Superstar’ as set out in a book of the same title that I reviewed 19th November 2019.

Walter Tull who played for Clapton FC, Tottenham Hotspur and Northampton Town and is honoured with a statue in Northampton not only for his football but the fact that he was nominated for the Military Cross for his outstanding bravery in the First World War where he was the Army’s first ever Black officer to command white troops.

Jack Leslie the Plymouth Argyle legend who was picked for England in 1925 but not played because of the colour of his skin.

Viv Anderson the first black football player to represent England in a full international match. Not until 1978 though.

Brendon Batson, Laurie Cunningham and Cyrille Regis, who were legends playing for West Bromwich Albion in the late 70’s and early 80’s and great roll models to all on how to succeed despite the racism they endured. A statue to them all in West Bromwich town centre is a fitting epitaph.

John Barnes, my personal favourite, was an outstanding player for Watford and Liverpool who suffered many racist chants but kept his cool and destroyed the prejudice not only on the pitch but also in his eloquent observations off it. I recently saw him on a Breakfast program that was trying to make an issue about racism in football but Barnes was cooly saying that it was not a football problem but a wider society one. He was dismissed by his interviewer who should now know that it was he who was wrong. My greatest memory of John Barnes play was a goal he scored at St Andrews in the FA Cup. I was sat in the stand with Birmingham supporters and when I stood up to celebrate the goal and his great skill I thought, why did I do that. To the Birmingham fans credit they all clapped because the skill was a wonder.

Marcus Rashford who humbled the Government into a U turn over free school meals this summer.

There are others but these are the ones that come to mind. There is surely enough material with regards these few alone to create a book about ‘Black Footballers Matter’.