With the football season over prematurely due to the Coronavirus Pandemic I’m in the unusual position of actually having this blog up to date! So to keep the content coming, and for something to do, I’ll do some old grounds and games where there’s a story to tell.
Saturday 9th September 2006 ko 14.30
Westmorland League Division One
LUNESDALE UNITED 0
KESWICK 3 (Hilton 50 P Frampton 52 Loan 64)
If I was going to tell the tale of Penrith and the unfortunate Dennis Pinkney then Lunesdale United should be the companion piece to it. The Penrith game was on the first Saturday of my holiday near Appleby, this was to be on the next weekend. But the original idea was to go to watch Morecambe vs my team Oxford United, so what happened?
The answer is two things. One – Appleby where we were staying to Morecambe is 46 miles, and I wasn’t massively comfortable with leaving a carload of kit visible in the car whilst at the game. We (ie the ex-wife and I) were in the process of shifting accommodation to a log cabin in Artlegarth, a tiny hamlet near Ravenstonedale and whatever game I saw would be the midpoint between the two places.
Serendipity is a wonderful thing. If you want to travel from Appleby and head south you’ll drive through the Great Asby National Park, then on via Orton to Tebay- of M6 services fame. We used the road quite a bit for going sightseeing, and I soon spotted a little football ground just outside Old Tebay. I saw the place quite a few times, but then something happened.
We were heading back one evening and there was a man at the ground. He was multi-tasking, cutting the grass, preparing to mark the pitch, and shooing the sheep away at the same time! Now I can think of quite a few groundhoppers who’d hate that, they need a stand, a programme and so on. I know the feeling well, because back then in 2006, that was me. That game I’d watched in Penrith was me absolutely in my comfort zone, but this shook me out, and ever since I’ve been trying to pull other hoppers out of there’s!
It was that wonderful combination of the homespun, the backdrop of the Lake District, and the warm late summer’s day that swung it for me. With a screech, I braked, stopped the car and asked when the game was? Even the ex-wife saw what I saw in it, and she was as sport-phobic as anyone! For the record the club takes its name from the River Lune that runs through Tebay.
So there I was that Saturday afternoon in a little football ground, surrounded by dry stone walls, at my first Westmorland League game. Or if you were Lunesdale, playing against the big boys from from Keswick! I remember the stream of people walking up the slight incline from Old Tebay along the Orton Road to come and see the game.
My records tell me that the “Big Boys” from Keswick won the tie, but to be honest I remember very little of the game. I suspect I was just that little bit too wrapped up in where I was, but I do remember the sheep did stay the right side of the fence!! Lunesdale carried on playing in the Westmorland League, but I report with sadness that they sat out this last season. However they’re still sending accounts to Companies House so hopefully they’ll be back in August.
This was a holiday of discovery; other than Lunesdale I also managed to stumble across Stuart Roy Clarke’s “Homes of Football” photographic museum (sadly now closed) in Ambleside. Since then just every photo I take is a homage to the work he does at grassroots.
14 years have passed since my visit but I do the same thing every time I head up the M6 northbound and pass Junction 38. Just before Tebay Services I always glance across to the little ground, smile, and remember Lunesdale United.
Dedicated to Lee and Lydia Crampton of Ravenstonedale. Thanks for your kindness back in the day, and your online friendship since.