It’s impossible to arrive at Hull railway station, formerly and more satisfactorily known as Hull Paragon, without being reminded at every turn that in 2017 this was the UK City of Culture.

On the impressive concourse there’s both a statue and a blue plaque, not to the same people. On the public address there’s a plea not to give to the beggars, poor beggars.

The statue honours that rather glum poet Philip Larkin, librarian of those parts, perhaps best remembered for his observation that sexual intercourse began in nineteen hundred and sixty-three (“which was rather late for me.”)

The plaque acknowledges a trio known as the Spiders of Mars, apparently members of Mr David Bowie’s backing group and who sometimes caught the train from there.

Just a few days earlier, coincidentally, many of the papers had carried a story quoting the disc jockey Mike Read, chairman of the Blue Plaque Trust, that Britain had too many blue plaques (not least to the apparently ubiquitous Charles Dickens.)

That at Hull station seems – how may it be put? – a little less than main line. It was erected by the Blue Plaque Trust.

To us, of course, it’s just another stop on the Railroad to Wembley.

Barton Town are playing Brandon United, FA Vase first round proper, yet another RMT strike on Northern Rail meaning that the journey from Darlington must circuitously be undertaken via Leeds.

As if in it for the long haul, Mr Harvey Harris has bought what generally is known as a red top. “It’s for the sudoku,” he insists.

The train’s joined by a group of Quakers, headed for FC United of Manchester and so subdued that, save for industrial amounts of lager, they might almost be mistaken for the Friends.

In Barton-upon-Humber we’re joined among others by Mr Lance Kidney who insists, apropos of blue plaques, that a café in Harrogate had a plaque with the inscription: “William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States and alleged philanderer, sat at this table while eating one of our pies.”

There, too, is Mr Nigel Brierley whose beloved Huddersfield Town have scored but four goals all season – “three from defenders and a midfielder,” he laments.

Brandon, a former colliery village two or three miles south-west of Durham, struggle similarly and are bottom of the Ebac Northern League second division. Twice in the FA Cup first round, Northern League champions just 15 years ago, these days they pick at pretty thin seams.

They are perhaps a Mr Micawber among football clubs, forever believing that something will turn up, and perhaps a Billy Bunter – a rather anorexic Billy Bunter – for whom the cheque is always in the post.

Barton-upon-Humber is on the southern bank of the great river, almost immediately beyond the mighty Humber Bridge, which anyone in Barton will tell you is 1.38 miles long and most certainly not for the gephyrophobic.

It’s a town of 11,000 souls, once home to Sir Isaac Pitman (may his tribe increase) and to the man suspected of the Texas Mormon missionary murders, to a winner of the Great British Bake Off and to the chap who drew Desperate Dan.

Ted Lewis, who wrote the book upon which the Get Carter film was based, was a Barton boy, too. Mr Kidney offers to deliver a lecture on him. It’s declined, with thanks.

Bill Fisher, Brandon’s stalwart treasurer (and much else), was a pupil at Houghton-le-Spring Grammar School of Tom Clish, the uniquely successful Philadelphia Cricket Club captain whose death we reported at the end of September.

The funeral service was led by the Rev Derek Newton, among Bill’s contemporaries – “he was the hippy type, I was the skinhead” says Bill, or maybe it was the other way round.

He recalled, at any rate, a staff v pupils cricket match during which Tom had batted “for around seven hours.” When the kids had their turn, Derek was out first ball, made known his displeasure, was given a second chance and dismissed first ball again.

“Let’s just say he was upset,” says Bill. “I was quite surprised he ended up as a vicar.”

Barton Town should not be confused – indeed, might not wish to be confused – with Barton Athletic, founder denizens of the Backtrack Home for Distressed Football Clubs.

Back in 1992-93, members of the Darlington and District League second division, Athletic conceded 256 goals in 26 games and scored but five, only one of them after Christmas.

“Oh but it was a lovely goal,” said Keith Wayper, the 45-year-old player/manager, secretary and midfield general.

The team wasn’t based in Barton, a village a few miles south of Darlington, but in the Harrowgate Hill area of the town. “One of the lads had a cousin in Barton, or something,” said Keith.

They also went that season without so much as a yellow card, winning an award from Durham FA and further column inches in the Sunday Times.

The next season they joined the Darlington Church and Friendly League, perhaps believing it to be a little more merciful, and were proved correct. The following April, 3-2 against College SU, they won a match.

Like many other Saturday afternoon “local” leagues, both the Darlington District and the Church and Friendly are long gone. On the broad playing fields between Tyne and Tees, only the Crook and District remains.

Barton prove greatly hospitable. “Three or four of their committee were there to meet us off the bus,” says Barry Ross, the visiting secretary. “They even had little signs in the gent’s, welcoming Brandon United.”

The bookies, more pragmatic, offer Barton at 2-7, Brandon 11-2, though the gulf seems as wide as the Humber estuary.

Barton score after three minutes – “schoolboy defending,” says Bill, and then remembers that some of them really are just schoolboys – and are five up by half-time. “We’ve the wind in the second half, we’ll score six,” says Bill, a theory blown away within thirty seconds of the re-start when Barton themselves add a sixth.

The medieval gallows doggerel – “From Hull and Hell and Halifax, good Lord deliver me” – comes in with the ghostly tide.

It ends 8-0. “We’re the famous Barton Town and we’re going to Wembley,” sing about 180 of the crowd of 187, though one or two more difficult hurdles may await.

Barton will host Shildon in the next round, Brandon are at home to Jarrow at 3pm today. Though these pleas usually fall on deaf ears, they really would appreciate a few more spectators, an extra pair of hands, maybe a few bob in the sponsorship pot. Barry Ross is at

To Hull and Hell and Halifax? The Campaign for Real Ale’s Darlington branch magazine reports that branch chairman and former police officer Garry Hewitt has lost his British chess title – beaten in his first game by an 11-year-old junior. “A sign of the times,” says Garry. The championships were held in Hull.