The Railroad to Wembley once again reached its intended destination at the weekend, beginning with a couple of Saturday evening beers in the Holborn Whippet and a written injunction to all present.

Anyone mentioning the royal wedding, it enjoined, would be fined a round of drinks. For a second offence they would, like Private Pike, be sent home.

The Northern Echo: Owen Amos and his paper hat

Owen Amos and his paper hat

The Holborn Whippet’s in central London, just off Southampton Row, the apparent reason for its name a little surprising. It’s hung with work by the late Norman Cornish, the celebrated pitman painter from Spennymoor, including the best known of all – the queue at Berriman’s smoky chip van.

Most of Norman’s paintings included a whippet or two, though it’s a bit hard to see one in the queue for fishcake and chips.

There’s one snag: a pint of ale in the Whippet costs up to £6.80. It’s doubtful if Norman earned that much for a week’s thin-seam grafting down Dean and Chapter colliery.

Thereafter we head via sunny Goodge Street – the lady of the house knew a song about sunny Goodge Street, Judy Collins or someone – to the Horse and Groom, near the BBC, where the younger bairn was finishing a ten-hour shift on the website.

He’s on what the inky trade would call the back bench, a role requiring vigilance. Thus it was that, at the last minute, the BBC website’s 30 million visitors had been denied a mistyped report on the wedding of Prince Barry.

The Horse and Groom’s one of Sam Smith’s stable, which not only means that (blessedly) there’s no music but that a pint of beer’s only £3.40. As probably they used to say at the bottom of Dean and Chapter shaft, all things are comparative.

Saturday’s final, 12.15pm kick-off, is between Stockton Town and Thatcham Town, the former the Ebac Northern League’s annual delegate and the latter a market town in Berkshire.

Stockton fans have a banner proclaiming that their High Street is wider than yours, which doubtless is true. Thatcham’s famous for floods.

Our own tickets are for the Bobby Moore Suite, strictly Bobby Moore (lower). We wait in vain for someone to echo the Parable of the Wedding Feast: “Friend go thou higher.”

As usual at Wembley it’s boiling, temperature soaring into what once were called the 70s. Though there’s little sign of mad dogs, as Mr Noel Coward might have supposed, an awful lot of Englishmen are still out in the noonday sun.

Two rows in front of us, an outsize bottle of Nivea suntan lotion is being passed from seat to seat. The bairn, who’s follically challenged, politely asks if he might have a squirt for his napper and, impolitely, takes two.

After half an hour the match is stopped so that the players, like overheating steam engines, might take on water. “Sissies, they’re spoiling the game,” says someone behind us thus redefining soft drinks. The crowd might have benefitted from a drinks break, too, or at least from some of Wembley’s million minions coming around with ice lollies.

Hotter yet in the second half, the bairn ignores protestations that it’s not been read and fashions himself a hat – which, inverted, might have made a canny yacht – from a couple of pages of the Non League Paper.

“It’s only the South West Peninsula League results,” he says.

Stockton’s yellow-and-blue clad team include the appropriately named Chris Stockton, who didn’t even have to change his name by deed poll. “If he had a brain he’d be a professional,” says team-mate Adam Nicholson, unkindly, in the programme.

In the Bobby Moore Suite, where a bottle of beer’s £5.90 and doesn’t so much as fill a plastic pint pot, a conversation begins about whether any other player in Wembley history has borne the name of the team he represented.

Mike England played for Wales, Ken Scotland played rugby, Alan Sunderland did it for Arsenal and Alan Brazil may also be discounted.

The best bet, it’s concluded, may be the Eire international Stephen Ireland. Subsequent research, however, reveals that the former Manchester City player was capped just six times for the Republic – none of them against England – before too often and too fancifully explaining absence with the story that his grandmother had died. What’s in a name? Other suggestions most welcome.

For most of us it’s the last game of what forever will be remembered as the rainy season. For Gary Brand, another of our party, there’s still this Saturday’s match between Yorkshire and Tibet – at Donley Lane, Enfield – the Tykes somehow having persuaded the organisers of the stateless peoples’ cup that they qualify. Gary’s certain they’ll topple Tibet. “They beat the Caicos Islands 7-1 in a friendly,” he adds.

The first chap we encounter on Wembley Way is from Shildon, which usually happens, the second’s Paul Frost – him off the telly. Frosty’s a proud Stockton lad, has never (of course) seen his team at Wembley but been there two or three times with the Boro.

“We lost,” he says, but forecasts that Stockton will do much better.

Clearly in an optimistic mood, he also offers me a role in a film. It’s about a pub.

Further up the road, men are trying to flog scarves which, on so glorious a morning, seems the English equivalent of fridges to Eskimos.

Just two seasons ago, Stockton were in the Wearside League. Promoted in successive seasons, they lost their first eight games in the Ebac Northern League first division and began their own road to Wembley in the second qualifying, winning after extra-time at Consett.

Thereafter they picked up apace. Lights in the High Street – England’s widest, did anyone mention? – have been switched to yellow and blue, fountains run yellow and blue, even the Newport Bridge is lit yellow and blue (and half of that’s in the blooming Boro.)

No club may ever have reached the Vase final on so small a budget, says team manager Mickey Dunwell in the programme.

Around 4,000 supporters have followed them south, determined to enjoy their day in the sun. In the splendid stadium, floodlights blaze brightly above. It seems in every sense a little OTT.

The match doesn’t quite work out. Stockton hardly get going in the first half, trail to a contentious 21st minute penalty and by half-time appear in serious need of a lie down.

It’s only in the last 20 minutes that really they turn up the heat, goalie Michael Arthur – known as the sweeper keeper, which sound a bit like Super Trooper, up for the last of a series of fruitless corners before scampering back where he belongs.

It ends 1-0, the second Wembley final in as many days to be decided by a lone penalty. Thatcham have shaded it, undoubtedly; like Icarus too close to the sun, the Railroad to Wembley has crashed into the buffers.