Whether from feet-beneath-the-table experience or from noses pressed enviously against the banqueting hall window, faithful readers may be familiar with The Parable of the Rich Man’s feast.

Remember it? It’s the bible story about how everyone declines the posh bloke’s invitation – one won’t come because he’s bought a piece of ground and has to till it, another has got himself a wife (that’s that, then) a third has bought five yoke of oxen.

“They all with one consent began o make excuse,” it says in Luke 14:18.

So it is with the Railroad to Wembley. Usually six or seven of us embark on these little excursions – last Saturday there were two. One regular’s in Australia, which may seem a half-decent excuse, another has a date with a Chinese lady at the London Dungeon (honest), a third has company (as they say in these parts) and yet another has opted for the rugby final, which is unforgiveable.

The highways and hedges having proved no more fruitful, only Mr Nigel Brierley – he of the famed “True or false” quizzes – joins the outing to Liverpool. Lower Breck v Shildon, FA Vase second round.

Was the jacuzzi really invented by a Mr Jacuzzi, or Teflon by a non-stick genius of that name? Would Coca-Cola really be yellow were it not for artificial colouring?

Yes and no and “green”, in that order.

There’s a further problem. Normally there’s a direct if serially overcrowded train from Darlington to Liverpool but signalling work means that nothing at all is running into Lime Street station. Three changes and four different trains are required; it may have been quicker being pulled by five yoke of oxen.

The work was due to have been done in May, apparently postponed because of Rugby League’s “Magic weekend” at Liverpool FC. “If they can postpone it for that why can’t they for Lower Breck v Shildon,” asks Nigel.

The train’s half empty. A chap on the next table is trying to watch the World Cup final on a little gizmo. He’s wholly silent, showing neither animation nor enthusiasm. Perhaps it’s because he’s Welsh, perhaps like the unfortunate Mr Sinckler he’s temporarily lost consciousness.

In any case, he gets off at Leeds, when we’re winning 6-3 and where the station’s also half-empty. Much more sporting success and TransPennine will go bust. After that the guard’s no help at all, happy to broadcast inanities about see it, say it, sorted but never once to mention the score.

Liverpool finally reached, we run immediately into a noisy demonstration – up or down with Rojana, one or the other – then take a taxi to Peter Kavanagh’s, one of Britain’s great pubs, where the women all sound like The Liver Birds and the beer’s terrific.

Liverpool’s my second favourite English city, behind Durham, though given the speed of Durham’s decline the Scousers may soon claim first place.

Another taxi takes us past the Everton Olympia, which appears to be a bingo hall, and on to the Anfield Sports and Community Centre, home to Lower Breck FC and probably not to be confused with any other football ground in that immediate vicinity.

In any case, the A-Z identifies the area as Cabbage Hall. The Reds may never have won all those honours, had they been known as the Cabbages.

The match programme reckons Anfield to be “one of the most deprived wards in the country”, claims that the multi-million pounds sports centre was built chiefly for the unemployed, the elderly and the skint.

It also offers great armfuls of healthy living leaflets – kick the ciggies, cut down the calories, and so on. The pie and peas are terrific.

By way of Liverpool interlude, the blog has been pondering what the “Aintree iron” in Scaffold’s 1968 hit Thank You Very Much might refer to. It’s a fascinating though wholly inconclusive debate, rivalled among music fans – says David Walsh – by the mystery of who Carly Simon had in mind when she sang You’re So Vain. Much more of all that at www.mikeamosnlog.wordpress.com

Shildon’s travelling supporters have had logistical problems, too. The bus due to leave the ground at 8.30am hasn’t arrived until 9.45, thus scuppering plans for a few pints in St Helen’s. This must be assumed to be St Helen’s on Merseyside and not St Helen’s Auckland, partly because the latter is only two miles from Shildon and partly because the pubs all closed long ago.

They carry several large banners, one of which has a poppy at its centre, lustily sing We All Live at the Top of Eldon Bank to the tune of Yellow Submarine. Local knowledge suggests that all there is at the top of Eldon Bank is the Aged Miners’ Homes and that none of these guys remotely qualifies, but that might be considered nit picking.

Lower Breck are top of the North West Counties League second division – that of Daisy Hill, Pilkington and Prestwich Heys – a step below Shildon in the non-league pyramid but greatly successful of late.

The ground’s two-sided, the fence so fearsome it might have been stolen by a ladder gang from Walton Jail, the synthetic pitch covered in all manner of coloured markings, like a tattooists’ convention.

It’s all very confusing. As with the Parable of the Rich Man’s feast, you get your excuses in first.

Though Liverpool are at Aston Villa and Everton doing a Sunday shift, the crowd’s just 163, around half of whom are from Shildon. The visitors boss the game, have a shot cleared from the line, force a couple of good saves from the goalie and to no surprise whatever take a 35th minute lead through Matt Robson.

It seems comfortable, the Lower Breck players taking to squabbling among themselves. They sound like a cageful of Emlyn Hugheses.

Two Breck goals inside one second half minute change things completely, the only comfort for travelling fans watching the game and the Wembley dream once more slip away that the pies are remaindered at ten bob.

It ends 2-1. A small group of disaffected Shildon fans is even having a debate about whether one goal’s bigger than the other, the sly Scouse sub-plot that it’s also changed ends at half-time, when no one was looking. What was that about excuses?

The homeward train journey’s equally problematical, equally protracted and on the verminous drunk tank which is now almost any Saturday night train northwards from York pretty perilous, too.

In Liverpool, the city where “hope” is so greatly part of the ethos, word has arrived of two late goals to bring victory at Villa Park. Around Anfield there’ll be double reason to believe, but it’s going to be a gloomy old Saturday evening at the top of Eldon Bank.