Friday, June 03, 2011

Northern Leagues United: Training

There was an unintentional increase in training yesterday, a 12.5 kilometre (exercise) bike ride in the morning followed by a 4.3 mile run along the coast at South Shields. We started out a few hundred metres north of the Marsden Grotto pub and continued to within sight of the windmill at Whitburn before swinging left right down to the sea. The coastal path undulated as far as Souter Lighthouse on the return journey, then we cut across the grass and back on to the roadside, getting back to the car forty minutes after we'd set off. "I'm having a rest day tomorrow," my brother panted, his Run Geordie Run t-shirt soaked from the collar down.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Northern Leagues United

Some of the players for July 9th, including Metro Radio's Joe Daunt (3rd left) and Richard Mason of the Northern Echo (2nd from the right).

The Northern Leagues United Poster.

Northern Leagues United: Training

Helped by a pair of brand new running shoes and my first pair of football boots since I was twelve years old (and doesn't that show every time I kick the ball?), I've stepped up my training regime to try and get in shape before July 9th. Twenty minutes (or ten kilometres) on an exercise bike in the morning followed by a 3.2 mile run later the same day. I'm averaging twenty-seven minutes for the run; if I don't go out, I do another five kilometres on the exercise bike instead.

Our first proper training session took place at Northern League side Whickham, whose captain gave up an evening to watch us run in and out of posts before trying (and mostly failing) to cross or shoot accurately. "What do you fancy doing?" he asked. We looked blank. "I dunno, something with the ball?"

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Grassroots International: Northern Leagues United

Full details on July 9th's Northern Leagues United event are now online here. If you can't make it to Birtley on the day, there's also some information on how you can still get involved.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Northern Leagues United

I'm still not sure what possessed me to say 'Yes', but on July 9th, sometime between the hours of 1 and 3pm, I'll be turning out in an 11-a-side game in aid of Birtley Town's ground fund and Cobaltore Onagawa, the Japanese community football team whose town was devastated by the tsunami.

Training started last night with a thirty-five minute run along Sandhaven Beach - unwisely at high tide - and halfway along the coastal path to Souter Lighthouse. The game itself - between Football Writers and Northern League Fans - takes place at 1pm on Birtley Town's pitch and is followed by a pre-season friendly between the home side and Ryton and Crawcrook Albion. Admission is £3 adults and just a quid for concessions.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Yes to AV

After a lot of toing and froing it was the last-minute opinion polls that finally made up my mind. 68% plan to vote no, says this morning's Guardian. Whether you agree with AV or not, a resounding defeat is likely to put voting reform off the political agenda for another generation, and saddle us with a first past the post system that gave Margaret Thatcher the leverage to smash the trade unions and Blair a sufficient majority to invade Iraq. As the Daily Mail puts it:

The referendum comes as academic analysis revealed coalition governments would be three times more likely under AV than the present system – and Margaret Thatcher would not have won a majority in 1979.

Sounds ok to me.

I'm voting yes to AV because I want proportional representation. There's something deeply wrong with a system in which the votes of people in 100-odd marginal constituencies matter more than those in the remaining 500 (and if you don't believe me, just look at how the Tories spent Ashcroft's cash). Don't let bullshit like this stand in your way.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Northern League Day

Speaking of Northern League Day, here's a piece I wrote for In Bed With Maradona on the importance of the world's second oldest football league.

Five Last Week

During my hiatus from blogging on here, Dolphin Hotel's fifth - and my thirty fifth - birthday passed unremarked last Thursday. With Northern League Day on the horizon, the taught part of my MA course about to wrap up and two trips to Elche in eastern Spain to train newly-qualified EFL teachers taking up most of my time, I've been too busy - or distracted - to post much recently.

As the Governor of California once said, "I'll be back."

Friday, March 11, 2011

From Northern League to Football League?

Connected with Northern League Day, a piece on three of the League's best players, Whitley Bay's Lee Kerr, Ashington's ex-Newcastle winger Johnny Godsmark and Peter Jeffries, keeper for famous old side Bishop Auckland.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Northern League Day

With one thing and another, I haven't had much time to write on here lately. Mostly, though, I've been busy with the first ever Northern League Day, which is scheduled for April 9th (the day before Newcastle United play away at Aston Villa), coinciding with a Socrates Football Bloggers Meet (the first to be held anywhere north of London) before the 3 o'clock kick off at Ryton versus Billingham Synthonia. So far, the campaign's attracted the backing of BBC Radio, the FSF, Non-League Day, Newcastle United, Middlesbrough and Sunderland fanzines and blogs, Ryton Football Club and Mike Amos, chairman of the Northern League.

It should be a great day of football. Come along and see for yourself.