Holiday reading, we collapse gratefully into Dugouts, a wonderfully idiosyncratic photo album of the down to earth, the off the wall and the sub-standard from 12-16.

Some dugouts are barely skeletal, whimsical and flimsical; others are built like brick outhouses and may once have been used for that purpose (or for its non-euphemistic equivalent.)

They are Cinderella structures, he concedes, but bright beauties in the eye of the beholder.

The book bears but one disappointment. Though author David Bauckham spent a long day touring the North-East's non-league grounds - "Football's spiritual home," he said at the time - nothing in the Arngrove Northern League is considered sufficiently surreal or subterranean, ramshackle or ruinous to warrant inclusion.

He'd doubtless have included Ryton, mind, had he known at the time that the dugouts were formerly bus shelters in the employ of Tyne and Wear PTE.

The consolation is that among his chosen 79 - from Plympton to Pease Pottage, Shipstone Excelsior to Swindon Supermarine - are Cockfield, Willington, and dear departed Stanley United, they of the Little House on the Prairie.

Verdant only by name, Cockfield's Hazel Grove ground has - as Bauckham observes - become pretty derelict since the Amateur Cup final days of the 1920s. Willington's dugout looks like they've pinched a few chairs from the parish hall, and that a big bad wolf might blow the wall down in passing.

The dugouts up on Stanley hill top are unexceptional, it's the Little House which enthralls him. "There's surely nothing else like it in English football," suggests Bauckham. He's right, of course.

Almost buried in football's history books, credit for the idea of dugouts is ascribed to Donald Colman, Aberdeen's trainer in the 1920s. Colman was a man given to copious note taking, and hitherto to getting the ink smudged.

Everton played a friendly at Pittodrie in the 1930s and took the idea back across the border. It was something for the game to jerry build on.

"The book speaks of make-do-and-mend," writes football grounds expert Simon Inglis in the foreword. "It turns its back on the hyped-up world of the super-stadium and in several cases cares so little for its surroundings that it blocks the view of the paying spectator. How stylish is that?

"If a shed can win the Turner Prize, how about the dugout as conceptual art?"

Some are no more than garden sheds themselves, others - particularly, for some reason, those in Shropshire - have doors attached to deter the unwanted and the amorous.

At Holmer Green in the Spartan South Midland League there's a dugout with "Please do not swear" emblazoned across the back - "A triumph of hope over experience," suggests Inglis - and at St Andrews FC in Norfolk the little dugout has wheels, a moveable first.

Some are actually quite posh, though Bauckham - a Brighton university lecturer - leaves little doubt of his preference for the rude, and for the rudimentary.

Unashamedly anorak - "I wear that as a badge of honour" - he's produced a delightful little book, a bench mark for the non-conforming.

* No need to dig deep for Dugouts. David Bauckham's hardback is just £7.99 from New Holland press.

Though his pursuits are grass rooted, Bauckham finds space to mention - if not to photograph - what he considers England's most cosseted dugouts, at Newcastle United.

"The seating takes the degree of luxury beyond even that enjoyed by the Real Madrid players at the Bernabau," he says.

The seats even have an "integral thermostatically controlled heating device" to help the poor, pampered players struggle through the North-East winter - but, he adds, in the home dugout only.

Homeward via Pontefract Collieries v Washington, FA Cup, the visitors themselves having been formed during a bait break at Washington F pit in 1947.

Like the North-East, West Yorkshire no longer has any pits, though Pontefract - known to the Leeds lads as Ponte Carlo - still has a couple of liquorice factories.

The dugouts were unexceptional, though a notice in the clubhouse warned that, in case of fire, the alarm would be sounded by air horn.

On the bench for much of the match, the star was clearly the Colls' No 14 - skilful, pacy, well muscled and devastatingly handsome. It was some feller called Mike Amos.

Last Saturday also, Washington Arms played Ferryhill in the Over 40s League, losing 2-1 after having had a goal contentiously disallowed. "They weren't very happy with the referee at all," says league secretary Kip Watson, mildly.

Washington gained a corner, the kick rebounding from the post directly back to the taker who gleefully thumped the ball into the net.

No goal, said the ref, but was his corner angle the correct one? The answer at the foot of the column.

Belatedly, but with joy, we hear that the magnificent Ron Hails - Hails of Hartlepool - was 80 on the glorious 12th of August and, having escaped the fate of sundry grouse, continues to bend his back on the bowling green. "The lord has played the game with me," he says. His 81st year offers yet more amiable exertion. "Highly satisfactory," says Ron.

the three other Swedes apart from new signing Tobias Hysen, to have played for Sunderland (Backtrack, September 1) are Stefan Schwarz, Joachim Bjorklund and Jan Erikkson, who made a solitary appearance in 1997.

Since cricket nears its annual end, Ted Scotter in Darlington simply invites readers to name the ten ways by which a batsman may be given out.

The ref in the Over 40s League was quite right - as with a penalty, the ball has to be played by someone else (Law 17) before the taker can score. An induirect free kick should be awarded to the defending side.

On the spot again, the column returns on Friday