PRECEDED by a minute’s applause – an appreciation, not a memorial – and by a sort of air horn concerto, Willington FC dedicated their match last Friday to club chairman Richard Tremewan, the man who for three years has led their transformation.

The PA played Simply the Best and then Oasis by Wonderwall (or, possibly, the other way round.) The special programme called him inimitable, as well it might, and also carried a message from Andrea, his partner.

“Please everyone visit the doctor and look after your blood pressure. Don’t ignore the symptoms, don’t put it off. There isn’t always a warning sign.”

Richard, as we reported two weeks ago, had suffered a stroke and bleed on the brain while watching his team at Chester-le-Street on February 19.

Just 48, a keen mountain biker, he’s a partner in a Shildon-based windows company and was formerly chairman of Bishop Auckland FC. A top, top man, he remains seriously ill in hospital in Durham.

The match was tagged Raise the Roof for Richard, the 360 crowd a record for recent times. All had agreed that the gate and a bucket collection should go to an appropriate charity.

Others from the Ebac Northern League fraternally attended. Tow Law secretary Steve Moralee recalled that, exactly a year previously, the little town had been cut off from the rest of the world by the Beast from the East, but was later corrected.

The rest of the world was cut off from Tow Law.

Willington played Esh Winning, a few miles up the road, the match ending 1-1. It mattered little; the real battle was being fought elsewhere.

Last Saturday to Easington Colliery v Northallerton, the eye first having been caught by Durham Age UK’s list of social gatherings. Among all the lunch clubs and “gentle exercise” classes, on Fridays at Age Concern House in Easington Coll there’s something called copper foiling. Old Adam? It seems to be working, anyway.

There’s also a pet shop with a hand-written notice offering doggy Easter eggs and doggy birthday cakes. “Also beer and wines”, it says immediately beneath, though whether the hooch is for the mutts or for their owners to wish them many happy returns is unclear. You’d not bet against the former, though.

Easington 1 Northallerton 2.

Back in July 2007, 12-year-old friends Ben Conroy and Michael Harrison were seriously injured after a bus ran into a group of youngsters returning from English Martyrs school in Hartlepool.

Volunteers working on West Hartlepool Rugby Club’s nearby ground were among the first on the scene. The Great North Air Ambulance landed near the clubhouse.

Trapped beneath the bus wheels, Ben suffered a broken ankle, damaged knee ligaments, fractured pelvis, broken ribs and a punctured lung. Michael also broke his pelvis and had a metal plate inserted in his skull.

Both were airlifted to the James Cook hospital in Middlesbrough where they spent a month in adjacent rooms.

Last week Ben, now a mechanical engineer and air ambulance fund raiser, returned to the rugby club – as post-match entertainer,

“The accident was a day all of us will long remember,” says club secretary Dave Picken. “Frankly it wouldn’t have mattered on the night if Ben wasn’t a very good singer and musician at all. In fact he was brilliant.”

Prolific non-league football author and photographer Mike Floate has moved up to Hinderwell, between Saltburn and Whitby, whence he took himself the other day to watch Loftus Albion v Loftus FC – the first ever town derby, he guesses.

This was the North Riding League – that of Whitby Fishermen’s Society. Thornaby Dubliners and Stokesley Sports Club Reserves – but the East Cleveland community has known heady days and Loftus heights.

Mike sends a cutting, probably from the 1890s, of Scarborough’s trip up the coast to play Loftus Athletic in the English Amateur Cup. 2,500 spectators gathered to watch the locals win.

In 1920-21, still in the Cleveland League, Loftus Albion reached the FA Amateur Cup semi-final before narrowly losing 2-1 to the mighty Bishop Auckland at South Bank. Bishops won it, of course. Albion joined the Northern League in 1922 but were voted out seven years later.

Mike guesses that around 2,450 fewer were on the Whitby Road ground – Loftus Road is somewhere else – though that may not have included an adjacent eight-a-side kids’ game with jumpers for goalposts in which the girls enthusiastically joined. “Great to see,” he says.

Loftus Albion 6 Loftus FC 1.

The piece a fortnight back on the great phalanx of bus shelters at Ryton and Crawcrook Albion FC had almost reached its destination before mentioning that there’s another example of sheltered accommodation, still with the timetable attached, behind the goal at Billingham Town. Someone now forwards the screenplay script for a proposed football film called Wembley to Wembley. “The bus shelter scene,” he says, “is based on Billingham Town.”

….and finally

The six goalkeepers who achieved 100 Premier League clean sheets before David de Gea (Backtrack March 2) were Petr Cech (162), David Seaman (137), Jose Reina (134), Tim Howard (116), Peter Schmeichel (112) and Joe Hart (109).

Easington Colliery’s programme last Saturday invited its readers to suggest why the referee delayed the start of the 1974 World Cup final.

Backtrack followers may wish to do the same. More final thoughts next week.