Saturday, 22 September 2012

Post and pitch hopping in extreme and scenic locations

Couldn’t make it to a Cup tie today so, instead, here’s a tale about the most northerly goalposts in Britain (above) which I read about while on holiday in Shetland. They are sited off the north coast of Britain’s most northerly island, Unst, on an islet called Muckle Flugga, crowned by a lighthouse (below).

Formed of steel, the posts were erected by contractors’ workmen on the rock called Tipta Skerry for a lark one Sunday in the 1960s when they were building accommodation on Da Rock. The last man to play there was assistant light keeper Sandy Wyllie who visited the posts on a swimming tour of the islets which he did stark naked. Sadly it’s not possible to land on Muckle Flugga so I admired it from the nearest headland. 

While in Shetland I also passed possibly the most northerly football ground in Britain - depending on what qualifies as a ground. This enclosed pitch with shelter and clubhouse is in Shetland’s ancient capital, Scalloway, and named Fraser Park after benefactors Robert, Elsie and Frances Fraser. In the opening fixture in 1950 Scalloway played Stromness from Orkney, a tradition that’s remained a highlight of the season. Also contested to this day is the Madrid Cup which was donated in 1908 by Spanish fishworker Perfecto de la Fuente who was working in Scalloway and local businessman Lewis Garriock. Cup holders are Spurs nicknamed the Milktops, another addition to the pantheon of feeble monickers
The town’s new museum explains that the first Scalloway team took to the pitch in 1899 wearing a yellow and black striped kit donated by Aberdeen, colours that are worn to this day. I imagine the pic below was taken during the club's centenary celebrations. Between 1960 and 1977 Scalloway won 91 trophies, the most in the history of Shetland football.
The football club in Lerwick, Shetland’s capital, just have a modern, unenclosed pitch and clubhouse as I discovered on a soggy walk back to the youth hostel with fish and chips. An anorak twice over.

And, finally and much nearer to home, how about this for an idyllic footballing vista? The ground is Earl’s Orchard, home of Richmond Town, newcomers to the step 7 Wearside League. The Earl is question is the first Earl of Richmond, founder of the Norman castle from which the pic was taken today. Must return to get the pic in the other direction.
Great lingo: Loved a line used by the Berkhamstead manager when urging his side on in their tie against Uxbridge as covered by FATV. “Let the ball do the work. The ball doesn’t get tired.”
The magic 10: Notable score in the Northern Counties East League last Saturday. Lincoln Moorlands Railway 0 Scarborough Athletic 10.