Smoke swirled around the crowded snug like a Victorian smog.

Pints of dark mild were lined up like soldiers waiting to extinguish the yearning thirsts of the committee.

Add beef paste sandwiches, curled and hardened by the stifling atmosphere in The Golden Bell and you have a true northern mix of ale, food and high ideals.

You see the annual pre-season football club gathering set the tone for the forthcoming campaign.

New signings, the extension to the clubhouse and a fresh clutch for the mini-bus were dependent on the amount of beer consumed and the generosity of the landlord holding a ‘lock-in’. (For those too young to remember, pubs used to open between 12-3pm and 6-10.30pm, if you were one of the very few law-abiding citizens around at that time who read those regulations, nay laws).

Any road up, as they said in that neck of the northern woods, the meeting started only 45 minutes late due to a last-minute challenge on the dartboard when Ernie Norwood challenged Billy Wigmore to a game of 501, each player having to throw with his left hand.

The match would have gone on till 1o.oo at least as Ernie was somewhat worse for wear after nine pints of ‘mixed’. He had to be put in a corner with the day’s paper over his head until the real business about next season was settled.

And did that cause a commotion down at the club………….

More tomorrow.



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