Saturday, 18 April 2020

A Man For All Season (fanzine): It was an eighties thing

December 1979
'A Man for all Season', was a short-lived bastard offspring of the eighties, an ad-hoc and very occasional, limited print-run, football travels/ground-hopping/music journal/fanzine, that only survived for eight issues.
It was knocked together in a painstakingly fiddly and time-consuming manner, in a decade that pre-dated, by several billion light-years, a time before every household had a computer, or even a mobile phone. 
The tome was knocked together in a faithful to tradition, cut and paste (i.e. scissors and pritt-stick), photocopy, fold and staple (rough and ready) fashion, by one I Ewart (anag).
If you should ever wish to revive this prehistoric publishing style, I'll give you two pieces of advice, inasmuch as i) handwritten text, in black or red ink, photocopies brilliantly onto monochrome pages as a solid black, but blue-ink bloomin' well doesn't... and unless you enjoy having to do things twice, avoid such a schoolboy error, and ii) reconsider your options, because there are ways and means available to you in this modern and 'new normal' world, that entail far less buggering about, save a whole load of time and produce much better looking results... although, that said, I've seen quite a few latter day journals that are all about style and-slick looking presentation, but are severely lacking in substance.
The 'mythopetical' reference on the cover of issue one, was a deliberate misspelling that harked back to a one-off 'punk' fanzine called Mythopoetical Times'' that, in the main, covered bands that had played (or were booked to appear imminently) at Retford Porterhouse in the late seventies and early eighties.
The title to that prototype issue had been fashioned out of individual cut-out and glued on letters, taken from various newspapers and magazines, such basic layout techniques were all the range back then... unbeknown to me, the second letter O had fallen off before thirty double-sided photocopies of the covers had been run-off, and at 6p a chuck in the Handyman's Shop (it stood where Aldi's car-park is now), I wasn't going to get them done again... so a black felt-tip was used to scribble in the missing letter onto all thirty copies.
"Pritt-stick... the none sticky, sticky stuff" the advertising jargon song claimed... and they weren't bloody wrong there then!
 
Our local weekly paper was (and still is) called the Retford Times, hence it was considered fitting and proper to usurp the second part of their long established moniker for my own means.
Lots of people spoke enthusiastically about getting involved with the fledgling and prototype 'zine dedicated to our fledgling crop of regional bands and those that visited our local venue (that was a regular stop-off point on the national gig circuit back in the day), but I'm still waiting for them to get back to me, vis. their initial offers to provide input... and four decades later on, the: "I've done it mate, it's in the post!" type alibis are starting to wear a bit thin by now and I'm reluctantly going to have to concede that you were all of telling fibs.
AMFAS was a DIY project or to be blunt, actually more of a Do It Your-effing-Self job throughout it's sporadic existence.
West Allotment Celtic featured in AMFAS #4, which might seem a bit random, but there was a perfectly logical explanation for their inclusion. Thorn-Emi Lighting had instigated a competition among non-league clubs across the country, whereby they were going to install light fittings and the electrics for floodlights at the home of the club that performed the best over the entire season out of a list of teams who had expressed an interest in becoming involved in this incentive. To cut a long story short, Retford Town had been in the top four of the NCEL Division One South all season and meanwhile, by process of elimination, the list of potential benefactors had been whittled down to the final two: Retford Town and West Allotment Celtic.
Alas, despite already having had the floodlight towers erected, sans any lighting... the Shamrocks manager at the time, Paddy Buckley, once referred to them as: "the tallest bird tables in Nottinghamshire", the club sadly folded a month before the final decision was made, amid circumstances, that along with the proud history of the club itself are worthy of a book in themselves.
The lighting rigs would no longer be required at the River Lane ground... and subsequently the towers were dismantled and the ground fell into a sorry state of disrepair.
Retford Town's ground stood on land that had been donated to the town by the Denman family, to be exclusively used for the purposes of sporting and recreation for a period of at least 99 years.
But, to cut a long story short (though rest assured I have it on fairly good authority that the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the whole unedited and sleazy truth in it's whole gruesome entirety will be made public knowledge in due course), Bassetlaw District Council, who cover a swathe of north Nottinghamshire encompassing Harworth, Retford and Worksop (and a multitude of surrounding villages) sold the land off from under the noses of the townsfolk, to be used for the building of a supermarket, conveniently sited on a site besides the main ring-road through Retford, that had recently been constructed, including the new bridge over the River Idle that overlooked the football ground, as many a free-loader could testify.
Money talks... in hushed tones at times it would seem, but generally speaking, it usually have the final say. And regardless of what might come to light, the 'new road' (Arlington Way) and 'big shop' (Morrisons) are both here to stay, but Retford Town FC aren't ever coming back.
Retford based issues accounted for only a small portion of the core contents that appeared in AMFAS and as the tentacles of my football-travels grew, along with my horizons broadening and spiralling beyond the bounds of accepted convention, as regards watching groups play at a multifarious range of uncharted towns and cities across the British Isles, a whole plethora of potential material unfolded before my teenage eyes.
Football, Rugby League and an ever increasing network of bands, venues and promoters, many of whom have since vanished into the realms of oblivion; provided a plethora of opportunity, but the tome was still a solo mission, sans any need for any editorial deadlines, nor having to write about subject matter I had little or no interest in whatsoever.
I adhered to one rule and one rule alone... if it ever stopped being fun, or the inclination ever ran dry, then it would be time to pack it all in. Hence, it came to pass, that AMFAS vanished off of the face of the earth... and though there were a few tentative enquiries from people who'd picked up ex-gratis copies from pubs and venues across the circumference of my random trajectory of travel... the event barely registered on the Richter scale.
Subsequently, material pertaining to the 'Livi Punks' (a mob from Livingston, who were infamous for football hooliganism at Hearts games and included Wattie Buchan out of the Exploited among their number), Goodbye Mr Mackenzie (their keyboard player at the time was one Shirley Manson who later found fame as the lead singer in Garbage), interviews with Keith Edwards (then at Hull City) and journeyman footballer Nicky Platnauer (a few years after he'd left Birmingham City but a good while before he joined Mansfield Town) and part-one of a guide to travelling to non-league grounds in the Midlands by public transport; all ended up on the cutting room floor, along with a pile of other articles that still needed to be laid out properly, and were destroyed, just in case I changed my mind at and decided to resurrect the fanzine... which I very nearly did, but only the cover survived (see below). A Man For All Season was later coined as the name for a football blog I launched ,that pre-dated the one you're reading now by almost years... but that's a long-winded, self-indulgent, bullshit blog tale, with added football content, for another day.
 
The timeline of A Man For All Season (papyrus edition) was always, and will always be a little vague (I blame the excessive exposure to Tippex fumes, a potent substance which with hindsight probably killed off a lot of my brain cells and was very addictive) and as each and every issue had both retrospective recollection and memoir type content as well as references to current events, I wouldn't be able to date with very much accuracy which issues were printed at any specific time, though the last one was definitely put together in 1989, issue three appeared in June 1986 (there was a forthcoming gigs in Sheffield article inside it) and AMFAS 2 had a write-up about the Rolling Stones show at Roundhay Park in Leeds circa 1982 from the previous year. A group of us had decided that though we weren't massive Stones fans, it might be a good idea to see them in action before they split-up. Little did we know that Jagger & Co. would still be strutting their stuff and defying cryogenic suspension when we were all in our mid to late fifties thirty eight years after the event.
Further content from A Man For All Season (and other publications that I've had a hand in putting together) will/might/won't* find it's way onto THE66POW in due course... but just what that might entail and when it will be, remains to be seen... and in a couple of cases would depend on how mischievous, treacherous or peeved I could be feeling at any given time. 
Sleep with one eye open if you've concerned about being retrospectively exposed for any hitherto forgotten about misdemeanours that you might harbor fears about ever re-surfacing in the public domain anytime soon ;-)
Links to retrospective articles from this blog are currently appearing on my Twitter feed @THE66POW (thanks for the retweets y'all!) and the subsequent viewing figures seem to indicate that although nostalgia ain't what it used to be, there are a quite a few people out there at this current time, who've got a lot of spare time on their hands and must be desperate, really desperate for something (AKA absolutely anything) football related to read.

Friday, 3 April 2020

BUCKET LIST - STAPENHILL OR BUST (PART ONE)

Eagle-eyed observers among you may have noticed that this: long-winded, self-indulgent, bullshit blog, with added football content; has a sidebar (over to the right of the page) that contains a 'Forthcoming Fixtures 2019-20' column, where I would usually be plotting my future travel plans (you don't say... Captain Obvious!) for the remainder of the currently furloughed campaign.
It's a feature that was rendered null, void and surplus to requirements, when the multiplicity of the options therein, that encompassed international matches and domestic games alike, covering a vastly-ranging and far-reaching spectrum, that weaved and dribbled in a maze-like fashion through a deep through of options and a plethora of incarnations of the beautiful game, that spanned from the top flight through to grassroots County Senior League games; were all postponed until further notice, when the game of Association Football, in keeping with the rest of the majority population of planet earth, was thrust headlong into limbo-land.
Sadly we'd already had to cancel planned 'sightseeing' trips to Austria (AKA: FK Austria Wien), Belgium (AKA: both Royal Antwerp and KV Mechelen), Poland (AKA: RTS Widzew Łódź) and Wembley Stadium twice (England v Italy and Denmark) this season, along with the Scottish Groundhop event that was scheduled for a few weeks ago, in the Lothian and Borders region, but mostly in the satellite towns and villages that are potted around the fringes of Edinburgh; because of my wife's serious ongoing medical condition and the lengthy treatment that it has entailed.
There have inevitably, under the circumstances, been far greater worries and burdens to concern ourselves about than merely missing a few games of football and forgoing our previously booked jaunts across an array of European cities... besides, who needs to experience that kind of of culture anyway, when we've got a massive sofa, Netflix, a complete set of Father Ted DVDs and a music library that would even make the late, great John Peel, blush enviously at the immense proportions, quality of content and girth thereof?
Mrs W is most definitely on the very long and very slow road back to recovery now, but while we were already having to resort to going into isolation (ever the trendsetters, eh!?) even before it became fashionable and mandatory for the rest of you to all join in with the lock-down, the multitude of games that those plans encompassed, without exception, were subject to cancellation anyway... as was the concept of travelling very far any time soon, apart from our regular 'days out' to attend various hospital facilities in Doncaster, Sheffield and Worksop for hours on end... for the record, those aforementioned medical facilities are presently like Fort Knox security wise on the wards treating vulnerable and high risk patients... and so they bloody well should be.
Incidentally, FYI: as the regards the aforementioned extremely popular Anglo/Scottish annual cross-border raiding party into Caledonian territories, the organisers are hoping that the event will still be going ahead in due course, at a later date... and you should check the Groundhop UK website for further details, once they have been confirmed.
If you wish to book with them, say that THE66POW blog pointed you in their direction and you might get a pound or two off of the cost of your first booking with them, or something.
And I know how much an 'owt for nowt' deal would appeal to a great many of you.
As regards blogging about football (or the ongoing lack of any) in the current climate; I hope that rabbiting on at length about the beautiful game, doesn't come across in any way as me trivialising or being blasé about more pertinent and serious topics of discussion. But, suffice to say, if the politicians (of all persuasions) are all merely speculating and second-guessing about the spread of Covid-19, then I'm certainly in no position to make any informed or enlightened comment on such matters, or offer any rational solutions. Plenty of other people have attempted to inflict their polemic and hideously biased narrative upon us all, via social media channels, but, for the most part, they have merely come across as displaying narcissist tendencies and attention seeking character weaknesses... while spouting a right load of old toss too.
In the main, THE66POW is a football blog... and to that end I know my own limitations regarding my lack of knowledge pertaining to my chosen subject matter, and as a consequence, I stick to espousing about the things that I know (a bit) about, while side-stepping anything I don't.
I'm an enthusiast, supporter and to a far greater extent an obsessive fanatic, but I'm not an expert... not by any stretch of the imagination.
Anyway, moving swiftly on: to quote Dame Vera Lynn, who is still going strong at a ripe-old 103 years of age (so she obviously knows a bit about this longevity stuff): "We'll meet again, don't know where don't know when".
Although nobody actually knows when football is going to resume, either as a spectator sport, or as a behind closed doors variant of the game, of which the latter option, to my way of thinking, would be highly dangerous for the participants anyway, namely: players, coaching and medical staff and the all important match officials, when you've got two teams tearing about a field, not adhering to social distancing measures and guidelines. Unless of course they're going to mark a grid of squares out on the pitch for individual players to stand in and stay inside, while banning tackling and giving everyone their own individual sanitised ball to play with too. 
But, notwithstanding all of the above: I'm still going to have a stab at planning ahead/guesstimating a rough draft towards pencilling in a bucket list, of teams/grounds that I intend to visit, whenever the earliest possible opportunity presents itself, in preparation for when life ever gets back to normal, whatever that particular word might entail.
I am of course only assuming that things will get better and return to some resembling what we knew before, in the long run, while taking on board the irrefutable fact, that we are probably on course for a much lengthier wait towards a solution than a lot of people seem to be predicting.
But, even though we're still all flummoxed and in the dark as to when we'll all be out and about again, I've got at least a vague idea as to where I'm most likely going to be venturing when we reach a suitable time to hatch an exit strategy... eventually.
And besides, writing reams and reams of pointless crap prose, that barely a few thousand people (on a good week) will ever read anyway, pertaining to hypothetical scenarios; represents a healthy form of catharticism and distraction.for me personally and an insomnia busting solution for my regular reader base, because surely to God, you're all stupefied with terminal boredom and beginning to nod off by now. I do have my uses after all.
But, leaving all of that psych-babble stuff aside (for now), without further ado...
MY BUCKET LIST:
Part one of my list covers English Premier League and Football League teams grounds.
If truth be told, nobody really knows how many clubs will fall by the wayside during the interim, or what kind of reorganisation will be required over yonder on t'other side of the worldwide pandemic to offset any casualties, or even how many competitions or divisions there are still likely to be at any given level of the game.
A fairly morbid projection you might think, but sadly, it is also a very realistic one.
There are already teams who were teetering on the brink, before the chaos ensued. 
My favourite Anglo/Polish team: United Worksop, disbanded only last week, I wouldn't have thought that by any stretch of the imagination that they'll be the only team that vanishes from the football landscape forever any time soon.
Number-crunching and ticking all of the boxes was never my thing, but it is a bridge that I'm going to have to cross when I get around to visiting the first three destination on my list.
Brighton & Hove Albion:
Amex Stadium
I'd arranged to go here in April of this year, which would've meant that I'd visited every ground in the top four divisions (again) and by virtue of watching Birmingham City's 'away' game at St. Andrew's against Coventry City in the FA Cup back in January, I would also have seen all of the top 91 clubs in this country play at their current home (or shared) ground.
I wonder if the number of clubs competing within the upper echelons of football will be restored to 92 whenever, or however the game resumes and if they'll still be divided into four divisions.
Who knows? Maybe there is a genuine opportunity for some forward-thinking restructuring amidst all of the ensuing chaos, that could prove beneficial to clubs at all levels of the game. Just saying.
Slade (away) at the Goldstone Ground
Previously I've seen Brighton play at the Goldstone Ground, Gillingham FC's Priestfield Stadium (where the 'Seagulls' ground-shared for two seasons, despite the fact that it is in Kent and approximately 70 miles away from their home city) and the Withdean Stadium, that was in actual fact an athletics ground and to my way of thinking, wasn't really very suitable as a football venue, but needs must.
As for the Seagulls current ground, even though it is hardly a new one, having been opened a whole decade ago, I've just never got around to going there yet... so it's my own daft fault that I am going to have to bite the bullet as regards Premier League ticketing prices when I tick this one off.
AFC Wimbledon
New Plough Lane (opening?)
As of the beginning of March, AFC Wimbledon announced on their website: "Our new home is really taking shape and we're well on course for our emotional return to Plough Lane next season".
Having hit financial snags, the Dons have implemented a bond scheme whereby supporters are investing money to finish the development project, whereby the new facility is being built on the site of the defunct former Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium, which stands just over 200 yards away from the old Wimbledon FC ground on Plough Lane.
22.4.11 AFC Wimbledon v Mqansfield Town
Previously I have watched AFC Wimbledon in action at at Kingsmeadow, which they were sharing with Kingstonian FC at the time... I've also seen Kingstonian play there too... they don't anymore, but that is another story for another time..
I saw the original Wimbledon FC play home games at Plough Lane and Selhurst Park. In actual fact, the morning I got married on, was a Friday... so that me and the missus could travel to Wimbledon for an away game the following day... she knew what she was letting herself in for!
Brentford
Brentford Community Stadium (opening 2020)
Griffin Park was a delightful old ground, I've been there numerous times, going right back to the days when the away end was an open terrace without a roof.
Whilst visiting Queens Park Rangers at the end of February, I made a diversion en route to Loftus Road, to check out the Bees new 'work in progress' ground, that they will be sharing with the London Irish Rugby Club. It stands very close to Kew Bridge Railway Station (South Western Railway) on Lionel Road.
Note* Kew Gardens station (District Line underground, North London Railways overground) is approximately two miles to the south of the Stadium and on t'other side of the River Thames.
The new ground is approximately a mile to the east of Griffin Park.
On the day that I called by, the project looked to be running on schedule for the anticpated official opening at the start of the 1920-21 season. But obviously circumstances beyond everyone's control, may have disrupted building work in the meantime and it's anybodies guess when football will be played in Brentford again... so the outcome to that particular conundrum still remains to be seen.
If any of the EFL suits are tuning in to this broadcast, might I suggest that you arrange fixtures at these two new London grounds to be played at staggered kick-off times on the same day, or on consecutive dates, so that sad anoraks like me can take advantage of such a sensible arrangement. Hmm, I doubt it will happen, but it does no harm to ask.
That's my shortlist of Premier League and Football League grounds covered... unless there are some interesting new additions drafted into the top four divisions any time soon.
Part two of this blog entry, that will encompass my bucket list of Non League grounds. will appear presently.
But hey! What the hell!?
Deadlines and editorial time limitations are things that proper writers adhere to... and nobody has ever accuse me of being even anything like one of those.
To be continued, in due course.

Monday, 16 March 2020

THE66POW 2019-20 SEASON. FIN.

Although a number of the elite clubs and powerful governing bodies are still talking about the necessity for the currently paused football season to eventually be played out to some kind of a conclusion at the top end, it still remains to be seen whether or not their persistent and in several cases, self-serving) debate, arguments and dialogue actually bear any kind of fruition, or contain even the merest semblance of reality.
To coin a phrase 'the future is unwritten'. Well, you've all got a blank piece of paper and plenty of time on your hands. So what are you going to do about it?
At this moment in time, it is unclear amidst a tangled web of potential scenarios, which division a whole host of teams will actually be playing in next season, or even which leagues for that matter, given the state of flux that the abruptly halted current campaign was in, whence the game in all of its multifarious shapes, forms and sizes, comes to a grinding, yet completely unavoidable and understandable, standstill.
And as regards what happens next to football, there are infinitely more questions that answers. And as the great philosopher Steve Priest (he was also the bass player in Sweet) once said: "We just haven't got a clue what to do!"
The game is currently subject to a hyperbole sized wave of increasingly rife speculation, about hypothetical outcomes vis. awarding final placings for this 'on hiatus' campaign, and one can only assume that this will create a knock-on domino effect, once the first party to blink reveals their hand.
The grassroots league committee's and footballing powers that be, have apparently already concurred among themselves that the majority of the non-league game has already been declared as 'expunged' as regards any football that was played during the 2019-20 season.
Personally, I would've opted to use an average points per game equation to settle any outstanding matters, if the remaining games don't actually get played, but that's probably too sensible, practical, uncomplicated and straight-forward for the suits to implement... such is the nature of the beast that is association football, eh!?
Some will say that by taking such a 'drastic' measure as making the currently unfinished campaign completely null and void, is both unfair and uncalled for, and accuse the decision-makers of jumping the gun.
But, surely a bit of perspective is required to this end, even if, in the eyes of a great many people, the FA do appear to be going in feet first with their studs showing.
A large amount of people have put in a lot of time, effort and money into chasing their footballing dreams, but any disappointment at not receiving their 'just desserts' for the season, is barely comparable to the scale of illness and human suffering, that the entire population of the world is currently experiencing, when offset against or the very real threat surrounding our day to day existence.
Personally, I don't believe that there will be any more games played for a very long time at any given level in this country. And that the UK isn't alone in that respect.
Being realistic, it is highly unlikely that next season will be going ahead as scheduled... and much as that will go against the grain with some people, these are, to steal a frequently used buzzword in the current climate: 'unprecedented' times and nobody can accurately predict or even guesstimate when/if, football will resume, or a lot of other far more prioritous things for that matter.
A lot of lives are going to be lost, businesses destroyed and hardship incurred as COVID-19 takes hold. And sadly, it is inevitable that a number of football clubs won't make it through to the other side either.
And to be honest, as the death toll from the global pandemic rises daily, surely you'd have to ask yourself, in all seriousness, that in such a context: does it really matter where a few shiny trophies and the bragging rights end up this year... or for however long it takes for life to get back to normal? 
Whatever normal ever was, or ever will be again, in the days, weeks, months and maybe even years ahead.
Count your blessings, that if/when the non-league season is eventually declared as all having been for 'nowt, it benefits your team, and you avoid relegation as a consequence of these measures. 
But there is absolutely no point in the remainder of us getting all bitter and twisted about such things whatever transpires. The manner in which the spoils of sport are awarded and (allocated) aren't ever going to please everybody, nor were they ever always just and fair... but then, neither is life itself.
And I suspect that things are about to get a whole lot worse before they improve any.
I'm an unselfconscious* and unashamed state registered and clinically certified football addict and obsessive... and to that end, I've never even looked for an antidote or ever wanted to be cured, not for a single moment. 
Believe me, I'm missing my fix just as much as anybody else who is suffering from these very real withdrawal symptoms, but... it won't be forever, so hang on in there, stay safe and do your best to be a part of the solution to what we're all going through at the moment. 
The world outside our football bubble has more than enough problems to deal with, without me n' thee adding to this cuntastical* mess that we're all in together.
*Grammarly is/are trying to claim that unselfconscious and cuntastical aren't real words. 
It/they did the same to me with prioritous a couple of months ago too. 
But f*ck 'em! Because I have referenced the Oxford English Dictionary and can confirm that there isn't actually even such word as Grammarly. Just saying!

Saturday, 14 March 2020

Lincoln United 0 v Leek Town 2 - NPL South East Division

Saturday 14th March 2020
BetVictor Northern Premier League, South East Division
at the Sun Hat Villas Stadium, Ashby Avenue
Lincoln United (0) 0
Leek Town (2) 2
Rob Stevenson 3
Tim Grice 38
Attendance: 210
Point & hope picture gallery: Click HERE
Forty eight hours ago, Lincoln United announced that once this season finishes (assuming that it hasn't already done), they will be merging with Hykeham United, whence an amalgamation of both clubs will operate under the name of Lincoln United.
While the Whites have endured a season of woes and strife thus far, as they endeavour to claw themselves away from the relegation places at the foot of the North Premier League South East Division table, the mutually beneficial coming together of the two neighbouring clubs, seems to tick a lot of boxes as regards finding a solution to some of the off-field problems that have beset the Ashby Avenue based club.
So fingers crossed for them... they've always been a very friendly, accommodating and welcoming club whenever I've had the pleasure of visiting this corner of Lincoln.
Win a rare four-pack of Andrex... just one pound a ticket!
Hykeham themselves currently sit at the top of the Lincolnshire League and play their home games at the Priory City of Lincoln City Academy Sports Centre, which is just a short distance away from United's ground, along Skellingthorpe Road, towards Lincoln city centre, from the turning into Ashby Avenue.
Today Hykeham they beat Wyberton 6-1 at home, in a Supplementary Cup game that was watched by a crowd of 47 spectators,
That was one of just five games, coming under the umbrella of the 'Lincs. League' auspices, that went ahead this afternoon, though I note that the ruling body has since suspended any further games that come under their governance for the foreseeable future, via an announcement in red capitals on their FA Full-Time website... I would imagine that the vast majority, if not all, non-league competitions will grind to a similar halt, over the next day or so. 
Such drastic measures will decimate the remainder of the football season, but Que Sera...shit just got real. And regardless of what anybody, including Bill Shankly, may or may not ever have said, football is neither a matter of life and death nor anything even remotely like more important than either of those two things, obviously!
Granted, it's more than just a game, for many people, to whom it is a passion, a past time and lifestyle choice that some of us, follow with a near-obsessive dedication and fervour that borders on religious fanaticism, that definitely warrants being called an addiction... but there is far more at stake away from 'planet football' out there in that place called the 'real world'.
And besides: it's actually common knowledge that 'Shanks' was actually misquoted all along.
Anyway, in the current climate, it's maybe apt of me to provide a few health-related/social-distancing observations pertaining to the public gathering that I attended this afternoon, for your perusal and consideration: the average combined four-sided length of a football pitch perimeter, including a margin between the touchlines and the surrounding fence, is approximately 388 yards, or roughly 325 metres, and today's total attendance was 210.
So even if the main stand seats weren't set back quite so far from the pitch (as they are at Ashby Avenue) and everybody was stood as near to the pitch as the rules would allow, we'd still all have had around at least five feet of wriggle room and breathing space apiece in this open-air setting.
Which to my way of thinking doesn't exactly constitute a tight space environment, or a health risk. Granted, as further more stringent measure are introduced, it may well do and if that becomes the case, then I'mquite sure nobody in their right mind would want football to continue.
But I'm no expert on such matters (and neither are you, so shurrup and listen to the advice that is being given to you by people in the know). In actual fact, I don't even have a University of Facebook medical degree to back up my pontificating, so without further ado... today's football match.
My honest (cross my heart and hope to die) and genuine reason for choosing to watch Lincoln United v Leek Town today was that I had originally planned to visit the Riseholme Campus this morning, to take in the EFL Youth Alliance fixture between Lincoln City and Mansfield Town, before watching West Bromwich Albion v Birmingham City in Lincoln United's clubhouse on the telly (tickets for the game were as rare as hen's teeth, rocking horse shit, hand sanitiser and even bog rolls, so I didn't manage to get one, despite going to great lengths in an attempt to find a spare) and then watch this Northern Premier League South East Division game as a grand finale to a whole day of football, football and more football, before driving home.
When the first two games were both announced as having been postponed a couple of days ago, I thought: "Y'know what...bugger it! I haven't been to Lincoln United in ages so why not!?"
You see, it's like this: currently, there's a very interesting chain of events unfolding for the struggling Whites, which began when the club parted company with their manager Steve Housham and his assistant Nathan Jarman (both fairly big-hitters on the local circuit) and inevitably, as is the way in non-league circles, a lot of footballers follow their manager out of the door rather than swearing allegiance to any given club, which of course led to a player exodus of sorts, that left United a bit short-handed.
However, in the meantime, Sam Wilkinson and Stuart Reddington, have returned to the fold, re-acquainting themselves with their former club and taking on the difficult task of leading/dragging* United away from the drop zone.
As things stand, Lincoln finished the afternoon in eighteenth place in what is a twenty team division. The two sides below them played against each other today and a fifteen-minute Andre James hat-trick in the first half, along with an own goal, helped Market Drayton Town to a much needed away win at Wisbech Town, which moved them to two points and one league position above their hosts, and means they're now only seven points adrift of the Whites, who will be aware of the fact that they themselves have only won eight out of twenty-nine of their own games so far this season, as they check nervously in their rear-view mirror, to see if Market Drayton are gaining any ground on them.
In the 'Chairman's Chat' column, featured in today's match programme; Ian Beaumont mentioned that the club would be limited to how many new signings they would be able to make and stated that there would probably be a few of the Whites Under 18 players stepping up to the first team. That's another fairly commonplace practice at this time of the season, at all manner of clubs outwith the confines of the professional game, where there are no contractual obligations to safeguard clubs from experiencing any kind of en masse walk-out, so to speak.
Either way, the print deadline for his notes must have come and gone earlier this week, because, over the space of the last two days, Lincoln United have signed eight players on, the last time I looked. 'Sam and Reddo' aren't wasting any time and they obviously mean business. Good luck to them.
Today was always going to be an acid test for the new-look home side, because Leek Town are currently at the top of the division, having only lost twice all season... and the gulf in class between the two sides was glaring at the outset of the game, even though United did get to grips with their visitors towards the end of the first half and it was actually a far more level-pegging affair after the break, as Lincoln looked to be growing steadily into the game and imposing themselves more. Although they were unable to salvage a point, at least after the restart they never looked likely to succumb to a repeat of last weekend's 0-5 home defeat at the hands of Frickley Athletic, who are currently managed by Dave Frecklington, who'd previously had a two-year spell in charge at Ashby Avenue between 2014 and 2016.
As the game got underway the indications looked ominous for the home side, as Leek went straight on the offensive looking for an early goal, with Rob Stevenson, in particular, proving to be a real handful as he terrorised the Lincoln defence from the flanks. 
Unconverted chances fell to both Jacob Twyford and Matthew Bell as the Blues (wearing their change strip of green and black today) looked to cash in on their high tempo start.
But Lincoln went behind inside the third minute when their captain Michael Jacklin headed the ball back towards Ross Woolley, but it escaped from the keepers grasp and Tim Grice was onto the loose ball in an instant... Jacklin tussled with the Leek number nine in an attempt to salvage the situation, but could only deflect an otherwise goal-bound knock into the path of Stevenson, who was presented with the simplest of tasks, as he rolled the ball into a wide open goal.
Stevenson was all over the Lincoln back-line like a rash and continued to terrorise them as he provided the service for Billy Reeves and Grice, but neither of them could quite find a finishing touch. 
Meanwhile, Louis Keenan drilled a shot from the edge of the area, that Woolley did well to reach at full stretch and push around the post.
The hosts had ridden their luck while they found their shape and some kind of rhythm, but effectively today marked this team's first outing together, so they were always going to need some time to gel.
As they regrouped and began to look more organised, it perhaps gave a few clues to the game plan that they'll need to adapt, to grind out a few results between now and the end of the campaign, but needs must and common sense rules apply. Points are United's priority right now... and against a lesser side than today's top drawer opposition, they would probably have held out for a draw.
That man Stevenson was still proving to be a damn pest for the Whites defence and once again he got forward and beat the last man in the thirty-eighth minute, but had his heels clipped from behind, however, he managed to stay upright and keep his run going, the match referee, one Jamie O'Connor, waved play on and sensibly applied the advantage rule, giving Stevenson free passage to deliver a cross towards the back post, where an attempted clearing header diverted the ball back across the face of the goal towards Grice, who shot on the turn and bulged the net to double the visitor's advantage.
It was quite amusing to overhear a Leek fan shout out: "Referee!! That's a bloody foul!", before changing his tune in an instant and suddenly heaping lavish praise on Mr O'Connor: "Great advantage, well-done referee!"
I heard a rumour (in fact I'll fess up, I started it) that Jamie only took up the whistle so that he'd have a cast-iron alibi for why he couldn't get across to the Proact Stadium to watch his crap local football team: Chesterfield, play every week.
Joking aside... it was good to see you again and have a catch-up Mr Referee. Take care mate.
As the teams went in at half-time, Leek had a two-goal cushion, while Stevenson probably already had his name engraved on the man of the match trophy... although it's only fair to point out that Louis Keenan had been covering a hell of a lot of ground filling the space behind the flying winger, that allowed him to operate with so much freedom.
HT: Whites 0 v Blues 2
Lincoln looked harder to break down after the interval, which bodes well for their remaining games... and clear cut chances were at more of a premium, which probably wouldn't have worried the visitors too much while-soever they were still sitting on a comfortable lead.
Woolley held onto the ball when Reeves shot from long range skidded through a sea of legs before Stevenson lofted the ball over the bar from a difficult angle.
Grice and Stevenson combined in the Whites area, but the latter sliced his shot wide of the target.
Having given their visitors the freedom of Ashby Avenue and a virtual right to roam in the opening half an hour or so, Lincoln well and truly had their half of the pitch under a lock-down situation from hereon-in.
Reeves was making a few in-roads deep into United territory on the right, but he'll probably have a few bumps and bruises to show for his efforts in the morning, as his progress was being 'monitored very closely' and occasionally thwarted by some no-nonsense, tried and tested, good old fashioned solid as a brick outhouse block-tackling.
Grice went close to grabbing his second of the afternoon, with what I was reliably informed would've been his 200th goal for this afternoon's visitors, but if they continue to play like they did in the first half today, I wouldn't imagine that it will be very long until that milestone is passed.
Of course, as clubs await Government and FA advice and possible sanctions, pertaining to the Coronavirus outbreak, he might have to wait until next season.
While the first-half wasn't quite all one-way traffic, the over-riding majority of it had been played out in the Lincoln half of the field, but the second period was a far more even kind of scrap, played out more across the middle of the park... and in the air, more often than not, if truth be told.
Even so, it still provided an intriguing tactical battle, even though the game was now bereft of anything like the amount of goalmouth action that we'd seen earlier on.
In fact, after the break, it became the kind of fare that had got nil-nil written all over it... and basically, that is exactly what happened, as Leek's first half prowess saw them over the finishing line, while Lincoln finished the game looking solid, compact, very well organised and extremely difficult to break down... all qualities that they're going to need in abundance, whenever football resumes (or carries on regardless in the NPL).
In the closing stages, Grice broke free on the left hand side of the Whites penalty area and shot across the face of the goal, but the ball flew narrowly past the far post, a fraction beyond the reach of Woolley.
On the subject of Woolley, I thought he did very well to put the mix-up early on to the back of his mind and stay focused for the remainder of the game and on the whole, he actually put in a decent shift all told.
FT: Lincoln United 0 v Leek Town 2