PAUL Edwards in School Aycliffe, near Darlington, has been down to Tremadog to help sort his late father’s effects. Among them he finds a Backtrack cutting from 2001.

That, in turn, referenced a 1975 John North column which began: “I have lost a four pint bet (and, worse, to a Welshman) in a very curious manner.”

Arthur had claimed, rightly as it proved, that a Shildon lad was in the Guinness Book. It was Robert Percival who in 1882 on Durham Sands is said to have chucked a cricket ball 140 yards and 2 feet – a world record which, if not quite seamless, has never been overthrown.

“You never did pay your bet,” Arthur had added 17 years ago.

Though he was born in Sunderland and died in South Shields, Bob Percival has always been claimed for Shildon. There was a butcher Percival and a milkman Percival after all.

“Coal miner, lived opposite the Hippodrome picture house,” Arthur had insisted.

The record, though oft-questioned, remains in Wisden. “Extensive research by David Rayvern Allen has shown that these records are probably accurate,” says the 2018 edition, though that claim’s a bit elliptical, too.

His research published in Cricketer magazine in 1976, Rayvern-Allen wrote that “nagging unsustainability” surrounded the claim.

The long throw had been established on Easter Monday. Being a holiday it poured down – “the weather as bad as bad could be,” the Durham Chronicle reported.

Rayvern-Allen’s conclusions may best be supposed inconclusive. “There is nothing in this article which presents irrefutable evidence for the throw being a myth,” he wrote, diffidently.

The Northern Echo itself organised an attempt on the record in 1978, won by a Cheltenham chap more accustomed to throwing eggs and 34 yards shy of Percival’s. A few years back, Durham County Cricket Club did the same thing, and was similarly caught short.

Whatever the truth of the matter, Paul’s not seeking posthumous payment of a four pint bet. “I’m teetotal,” he adds.

That column back in August 2001 also reported that, in a Northern League capacity, I’d been invited to join the FA working party looking at “restructuring” the non-league game. Meetings, said the letter, would be at the FA’s newish headquarters in Soho Square.

Then they split the working party north/south and we ended up at Emley, on a hilltop above Huddersfield. Emley, the column noted, was known for a faintly phallic television mast but not otherwise for its fleshpots.

Clearly someone to keep an eye on, I was then formally returned to the national working party. Soho from home? We ended up in Aldershot, and it’s been jankers ever since.

Promoting his new book on life at Newcastle United, Kevin Keegan appeared last week at the up-market Cheltenham Literary Festival. KK’s also a big racing man. “It’s the first time I’ve broken even at a Cheltenham Festival,” he said.

This time last year, our old friends in the Feversham Cricket League had just three members and stared squarely at stumps. Then Rosedale joined, and enjoyed it.

Now, we hear, Lockton – a village of 300 or so souls on the road from Pickering to Whitby – have also expressed interest, subject to the annual league meeting.

Lockton may be best known for the Fox and Rabbit, a well-regarded pub, though a recent Yorkshire Post headline supposed that one-in-20 of the population were professional artists.

Whether the cricket team can draw on them we shall see, with luck, next summer.

Cheers, a magazine for North-East beer drinkers, invites its readers to name four F1 racing drivers, past and present, whose names can be linked to places in Scotland. Short circuit, the answer to that one at the foot of the column.

Holy mysteries, last week’s column recalled how – 18 years ago – the family doctor had pinched for a wedding speech one of our favourite jokes, the one about the Pope, Hovis and the Potato Marketing Board.

Trouble was, it was impossible to recall it. Several readers now offer enlightenment.

The Pope decides that what the cash-strapped Church needs is a sponsor, and appoints a marketing company to woo one.

“Cracked it, your Holiness,” the head lad finally reports. “The Potato Marketing Board will give us £50m a year if we change the Lord’s Prayer to ‘Give us this day our daily chips’.”

The Pope’s livid – “No chance, this is sacred” – but the potato people keep upping the ante. Finally it’s £250m a year and he agrees.

“But what,” his Holiness asks, “am I going to do about that £200m a year contract with Hovis?”

The last column also observed that Ashington FC chairman Ian Lavery – local MP and national chairman of the Labour Party – had a team called Chickentikkamosalah in the fans’ fantasy football league. It was almost bottom. The following day Mr Lavery announced his resignation as club chairman. It was doubtless coincidental.

….and finally, we noted (Backtrack, October 13) that League Two was this season without something which every other division had had since 1993. It was a team in London. Malcolm Dunstone (“born within the M25”) was the first to realise.

Readers may today like to name three greyhound tracks still running between Tyne and Tees.

….and the four F1 racing drivers? Lewis Hamilton, Eddie Irvine, Stirling Moss and Ayr Town Centre.