The Story of Fairbank United’s 2016/17 season by Akif Waseem

Senior men’s Grassroots football across the country seems to be dying out. That’s no more evident in the Bradford district by the fact that not only are there less teams playing on a Saturday and Sunday than perhaps any time since WW2, but the number of leagues itself is also falling sharply. On a Saturday, local teams would, until recent times, play in the Bradford (Red Triangle/Grattan) or Spen Valley Leagues, or, if they were a bit better, the West Riding County Amateur League. The former two leagues are now no longer in existence, and the latter will no longer exist at the end of this season.

akif cover

On a Sunday, there’s only the Wharfedale Triangle (hanging in there with 2 divisions) and Bradford Sunday Alliance, which haemorrhages a full division each season.

It’s a sad state of affairs, but one affecting all manner of other sports too. Local cricket and Rugby League are experiencing a similar decline as organised sports and pastimes are replaced by more sedentary forms of exercise that don’t have to put up with rising costs of pitch hire, insurance and conflicting interests of retail therapy, computer games and Premier League footy on the box.

There are a good deal of people – dwindling in number, I know – who are swimming against that tide. They might not be part of well oiled football league machine that attracts thousands of paying fans a year, but they part of the same thing. They will go that extra mile (and further) to keep their own teams battling along, the purely amateur ones that rent the local parks pitches and keep going through the paying of weekly subs, the ones that play week in, week out in front of the proverbial man and his dog, as well as a handful of WAGs who can be bothered to brave the weather , and yet provide an immense sense of satisfaction in that it’s THEIR team – the one THEY play for, the one THEY pay subs to, the one THEY run: THEIR team.

In recent years, Bradford’s very own Fairbank United have switched to the Yorkshire Amateur League, which, since renaming itself (from the ‘Yorkshire Old Boys League’) has mopped up many of the teams left over from the defunct leagues and consists of half a dozen or so divisions. This is the world of Norristhorpe FC, East Ardsley Wanderers, Churwell Lions and Leeds Medics & Dentists’ fourth team. Teams like this might not be front page news in the national press but they are the lifeblood of the game.

Akif Waseem is a player, secretary, supporter and mainstay of Fairbank. Nobody can say he doesn’t go that extra mile. Somehow, and despite a very busy job, he found time to pen his account of what turned out to be a rather eventful 2016-17 season for himself and his team-mates at Fairbank. It’s a hugely readable, passionate and often hilarious subjective account, written from his perspective as club secretary as well as second string goalkeeper and occasional outfield player. Fairbank are up for promotion. It’s overdue, but as with the very best footballing tales there are trials and tribulations a-plenty, dramatic last gasp equalisers, controversial offside winners, the odd car crash (quite literally), suspicious poaching of players, and – hopefully- a happy happy ending.

I had the advantage of knowing what the outcome was, I had a week-by-week blow of the highlights of each game on a Monday morning. The story in print is every bit as intriguing. Akif admittedly might not be as agile in goal as he once was, maybe a yard or two slower than he was in his prime, but he has lost none of his enthusiasm for the game. His well illustrated book is a testament to all the hard work he and his contempories put in for up to nine months a year. A photograph that depicts a dramatic late equaliser for Farnley Sports reserves is notable for the fact that it shows the wide open spaces of local league football, no sign of a huge cantilever stand or imposing Kop in sight. Or spectators come to think of it. And yet, to every one of the players in the photograph, this is what football is about as they play out their very own six-pointers, cup finals and local derbies with the same passion as those in an Old Firm of Manchester derby.

If nothing else, the book represents a dying breed of club, and club official, and amateur player, aspects of the nation’s favourite sport that we have always taken for granted, but that which we see less and less of every year.

Akif can be contacted at if you’re interested in a copy.


It’s all the referee’s fault…

ref3In order not to let music related posts dominate entirely, it’s time for a sports related post. A year or two back I was going to do an article on the abuse of referees for a certain football magazine. I never got round to it, but what I did do was compile a number of postings about referees from two message boards. One a now-defunct board for a local amateur league. In the main, these are posts from players who are unhappy with the referees the league allocated them. I also copied some similar postings from the message board of a certain northern football league team (not my beloved Bradford City, although no doubt some of the postings could have been from any similar club).These are posts from spectators.

They all deserve to be shared. I’ve left many of the spelling & grammatical mistakes as they were. The names of teams, posters & referees have all been changed to protect the innocent, and the not-so-innocent. I’ll leave the reader to make his or her own mind up about whether each comment says more about the person posting, the society we live in, or the referee himself.


 TOMMY: Something seriously needs to be done about the standard of refs in this league.
Yesterday was quite a day for a certain person.
*Fails to send a lad off for a knee high, 2 footed challenge
*Fails to give a a pen when our lad was clearly taken out with no connection with the ball.
*Gives a pen against us when our centre half clearly won the ball and forward fell over him.
Gives another pen against us when our keeper had ball and was running up to kick it out of his hands, their forward runs in front of keeper, gets knocked over- PEN!
*Sends our keeper off after Ref says ‘Your all acting like K**bs!’ to which keeper replied ‘there’s only one here!’
I’m not really one to go on abut refs on here but when 1 cost’s you a game like that nutter we had yesterday did, it gets very frustrating! never mind, he’s £32 richer and no ban or punishment for him!

ALBERT: What a shambolic performance! It’s an insult to the players for the league to send a referee of that standard for a top flight game! I genuinely can say that is one of if not the worst performances I have ever seen! Never up with play, guessing on decisions, then completely baffling both sides with his decisions! 3 players should have walked that game, 2 for Anytown FC, Lad from goonies for the worst ‘tackle’ ever .im sorry but for the ref to say ‘your all acting like a bunch of idiots is unacceptable but due to the shortage of refs he will get away scott free! Respect? Laughable concept! County made £76 quid by my reckoning yesterday!

STRIKER: Yesterday we had Mr.X who is a complete tool! He talks to people like s**t and throws cards at you if you simply talk to him. United FC are supposed to be reporting him and although we won i would back them in that complaint cos he is that bad. He’s reffed us 4 times in last 2 seasons and has been awful in all of them. I agree that the standard of refereeing has fallen dramatically this season.

PJ: We had a genuinely blind person refereeing what was in important relegation dog fight. A Mr X was the man and whilst we’ve had some bad ones he was indescribably bad. Both sides wanted the game playing like men and this guy was determined to spoil it. I would bet that through his glasses he couldn’t make out a car reg plate at 30 yards. Both sets of players looked on in amazement and he really can’t enjoy it. I should know better than calling him a XXXXing disgrace whilst shaking his hand and we won the game.

NAUGHTY BOY: Im currently serving a 3 game ban thanks to Mr X. He sent me off for a tackle which i will admit was poor and i was expecting to walk. The way he went about sending me off was nothing short of shocking after the melee that it had caused had simmered he pulled the red card out and went “BYE BYE” the guys lucky i didnt make him bypass his retirment home and put him 6ft under. We all no that been a referee is a hard job but im sorry that guy is not oogd enough to be doing district reserve football.

 ALBERT: I know I am harping on about this respect thing but to turn round and say ‘you are acting like a bunch of xxxx and think that is acceptable, then sending someone off for replying ‘there is only one here’ is downright farcical but the XXXXXX doesnt even have to state what the player said in his report as all he has to do is tick the box that says dissent! It is fair to say a complaint will be going in about him as he openly admitted saying it after the game to both our manager and our chairman who was not happy!

MAC: Same old story. Top top quality players complaining that they don’t have refs that are anywhere up to their own immensely high standards. Without those rubbishy refs you have no league to play in.
It’s same in virtually every league of this standard (& below) across the country – prima donnas complaining about refs. They are no worse in our league than those in other leagues.
Simple solution to the prima donnas – If you want better refs go and play in a higher standard of league.

DONALD: non of us deliberatly make mistakes we give what we see,you see it from a different angle to us usually,offsides are undoubtedly the hardest to give … and yes we snap and might say something we may regret later on. most of you accept the banter we have but when things arn’t going your way we are an easy target with no re-course but we get abused week in week out mostly because you don’t get the decision you think you should get.

ERIC: I ref the majority of our juniors home games and the abuse that you have to put up with from parents is unbelievable – you cannot see every thing and you can only make a decision if you think that you are 100% correct. We are not world beaters as players or managers – we are involved because we love the game – we make as many mistakes in the 90 mins as the referee’s if not more than them. I fully understand why young lads wont ref – it’s because we live in an age where everyone is an expert and no one accepts that maybe it was their fault they lost a game – we have a lot to learn from Rugby in terms of respecting officials more.

TONY: After several decisions against us in quick succession Richie shouted at the ref ‘Come on Ref we haven’t all come to watch you you know!’ The ref’s instant reply ‘Well no buggers come to watch you have they?’ He was right, 3 spectators (1 of theirs 2 of ours) at the game!


Personally I think it’s diabolical. The goalkeepers ALWAYS get decisions, like the one the other day agaisnt us, unbelievable. And they always fall for the diving twohats, as well as the classic Big Man v Little Man 3 good refs a season if your lucky in the Fizzy pop league. I can name you one good ref we’ve had this year, Mr X at Boro, and that’s it. Our refs are too card happy.

All the refs at the Lane this season have been a disgrace, and the ref the other night, alongside his linesmen, really need to step down from their positions.

Don’t like slating refs willy nilly but for years now it’s clear that standards, especially in our League, aren’t up to scratch. It’s a tough job particularly with the speed of the game and everything being scrutinised. I’ve noticed in more recent years that almost every week you come away slagging the officials, same when watching games on the box. They’ve always had stick but I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as today going back to the 80’s/90’s

I’m not quick to criticise referees as its a very difficult job. I certainly wouldn’t want to do it. Some decisions they make are literally stupid, and some mistakes may be laughable, but to manage a game for 90+ mins and make no mistakes is impossible. Whats worse is there are always smart alec sarcastic pundits who have every conceivable camera angle to judge your decisions by and then make fun of you. The standard of refereeing isn’t always good, sometimes it terrible, but I do have a lot of sympathy for refs.

Diabolical !! the problem with most of them is that they have never played the game. Its one thing to learn the laws of the game out of a book but it’s another to understand them properly. Very few of them can tell the difference between a bad tackle and a late tackle or a foul tackle and a dangerous tackle. Most of them love being the centre of attention and the sooner they realise that the best refs are those that you don’t notice, the better.

End of day… the ref’s have got a real tough job however, the linesman haven’t and some of their decisions are an absolute joke. The majority of ‘really bad’ decisions are the linesman’s fault. Top refs let the game flow well but even XXXX has had a number of shockers in his time.

Don’t blame it all on the refs. They don’t go into a game with the intentions of cheating any team it’s the cheating players and managers who do that’. What about banning players feigning injury and then getting up and running about like good un’s, and those that dive about to fool the ref. No sportsmanship in the game any more and it’s not the refs fault. Some of you lot complaining should try refereeing a game.

AND FINALLY…from Eurosport

A footballer who got red-carded four times in one match has been banned for two years. Ricky Broadley of Mountain Rangers received the cards in a Caernarfon district league cup match against Penrhyndeudraeth.The 29-year-old, who was already banned from Sunday league football, was sent off for stamping on an opponent during a brawl on the pitch. He went on to receive further red cards for first arguing with the referee, then throwing water over him, and finally confronting him angrily in the clubhouse following the match. He was also hit with a £75 fine by the North Wales Coast FA.

An amateur footballer who received six red cards in the same match has admitted his playing career is over after receiving a two-year ban. Paul Cooper, 39, got a second yellow card for dissent while playing for Hawick United against Pencaitland in the Border Amateur League. He then received another five red cards for verbal exchanges with the referee. Mr Cooper said he loved football but would now have to “find something else to do on a Saturday”.

“Unfortunately I’ve been in bother before with bans and I expected six months,” he said.

“But I was absolutely stunned when I got two years.”


Veggie burger with chips and salad was finally realised once I’d talked a kindly couple into shifting up on one of the long couches in the far room. I promised to bugger off once I’d finished my meal (and cuppa) so they politely ignored the smell that emanated from my clothes and trainers, and made way for the sweaty lad with no mates.

Luck would have it that another spot later appeared closer to the bar, enabling me to take a seat again and order frequent mugs of tea. I chatted briefly with an elderly Australian couple, half way through their coast-to-coast walk, but preferring accommodation up here instead of Keld. The noise and commotion proved eventually too much for them, so they retired to bed early (I’m not sure whether upstairs was the most quiet of places considering what was going on, but they would have at least had a bit of space to breathe). The two made way for a small group of most pleasant bikers (Roger not included) who were clearly looking forward to the main band of the evening – ‘Lanterns of the Lake’. There was a support band playing too, but few seemed interested in seeing whoever this lot were, which was a pity as the place was packed to the rafters and would have given me a bit of space too, and it was still too early for me to go to seek solace in bed for the evening.

Once the band – they did play at Glastonbury, honest – had taken stage in the barn to the rear of the Inn, the bar did finally quieten. I now had no company so out came Paddy Dillon again, and I read what he had to say about the next stretch of the walk into Middleton-in-Teesdale and beyond. I then made something of a mistake. Time for one last mug of tea. ‘A pot of tea’ I asked the scary looking bloke, cheerily. ‘What the bloody hell’ he retorted, and stormed into the kitchen. Had I upset him a tad? It turned out that my definition of ‘pot’ – Yorkshire, large mug – was at odds with his definition of ‘pot’ – large metal jug containing enough brew to satisfy a small army, and it was definition of ‘pot’ that I was about to receive. Had there not been others around then the contents of that pot might have been deposited over ones head. I had obviously not made a request agreeable with his current disposition. By this time, here was one thing that I was pretty clear about in my mind, and this was that should I encounter one of Tan Hill’s legendary spectre’s this evening, none would have scared me as much as this bloke. It is said that customers often smell tobacco smoke, all over the place – near the kitchen, outside the toilets, near the cellar and in a rear passageway. It has been suggested that this smoke may be connected with the story of three drovers who used to smoke heavily in the shelter of the pub’s walls several hundred years ago. Try it these days and top-dog lady I’d encountered outside would have their guts for garters.

The pot (scary mans definition) of tea took an eternity to finish, something like four pots (my definition) from it, and it was obvious that I would be up several times during the night to have a pee. At eleven o’clock it was time to retire. I hoped to be able to sneak out of the bar without any attention (‘look at that dick leaving, do you know what he asked for…’) but my way was barred at the door by a small herd of sheep attempting to gain access to the bar. And they weren’t giving up either. It turns out they are regulars, and one of the most important tasks for visitors to Tan Hill is to give them their feed at regular intervals. Not me, not tonight, I needed some sleep. I climbed over the first two, fell over a third and bounced off another as I made my way, somewhat exasperated, to my tent.

That should have been it really. In a perfect world I would have had a great night’s sleep and no problem dropping off, but for a start it was now bloody cold up here – far colder than I’d anticipated – and there were other problems emerging. Even then, dressed in four or five layers and wrapped in foil blanket inside my most tiny bivvy tent, I still hadn’t accounted for the band, who could probably be heard all over Durham and Yorkshire, and if the wind was strongest enough, possibly in Scandinavia too. And there was another snag. The fact that I got to listen to ‘Lanterns of the Lake’ for free I could easily cope with, but with the aftermath I was severely unimpressed. Several tents full of over-exuberant teenagers dispersed themselves around the campsite and, being young and carefree, spent the rest of the evening generally sitting around, chilling, finishing their beer they had of course purchased at the bar, and making generally making merriment. Their conversation rarely rose above ‘x-factor’ level, and was, in the main, total gibberish. There were many tales consisting of who got off with who last week, and what one lad would love to do with one lass, if only another lad hadn’t already done the same thing to that lass the week before, and such like. ‘Welcome to middle age’, I reminded myself. As expected, several visits to the makeshift loo behind the rocks were needed (the ‘official’ ones were much too far away on a cold night like this), but despite my loudest and most severe ‘tuts’ in their general direction, my woeful protestations went unheeded and the youths continued their ways. This continued to first light, when they finally decided that it was time to sleep. After all, hey, they need not be up ‘til noon. Some of us grumpy old men were hoping to alight at first light.

That and the fact that almost everyone who passed my tent managed to fall over the guy ropes, causing me much distress, added up to a pretty miserable night up here. It was therefore a very tired man who decided to have an extra hour in bed to compensate for those who had the cheek to enjoy themselves hours before.

The portable shower just about managed to force itself into action at 7am, and before long I was back in the bar looking forward to a hearty breakfast that would set me on my way. Slight problem, rock-hard-irate barman was taking orders and there seemed to be no vegetarian, cooked brekkie option. Should I enquire as to its availability? No chance. I bottled it and took the whole meaty brekkie option instead. While rock hard man was not looking I then gave my two sausages and rashers of bacon, and black pudding away to a couple of the bikers , who must have thought all their Christmases had come at once, and gobbled down what remained. That didn’t amount to very much.
I was about to finally depart, when there was a sudden kafuffle and rock hard lady with round glasses emerged from the kitchens. ‘Ok, who broke the fire doors in the bunkhouse early this morning. Tell me. Tell me NOW’ she thundered. I was convinced now that she could have been cast in a James Bond film as a lethal interrogator from SPECTRE. Nevertheless, I was impressed. Several of those who had slept in the bunkhouse put their hands up like frightened schoolchildren and blamed it on a group of gents who had left at 6am. Whether those gents really had committed such crime will never be known, but rock hard woman was satisfied with the answer and moved on, perhaps considering a ‘phone call to her acquaintances in Moscow who would track them down and inflict such harm as would have kept the late Ian Fleming most happy. Had I not learnt to be scared, very scared, of the staff up here I might have offered an explanation that the perpetrator of such crime could have been the ghost of a young lad who is said to also roam these rooms, wearing a brown jacket and shorts and who is purported to hang around in the bunk-rooms in particular. I chose silence instead.
Once everyone had been served (and it WAS chaos again), all breakfast diners were invited to applaud the kitchen staff for their fine efforts the previous evening. No-one dared refuse. At the same time it suddenly dawned on me who this lady could well have been a distant relation to. One of the best known and legendary incumbents up here was one Susan Peacock, a long serving licensee who ran the pub between the two World Wars. She was born in the pub and local legend has it that she is buried behind it. During her time here the inn was a pretty rough place and fisticuffs would often break out between the miners. Ms. Peacock, who was absolutely no push-over, is said to have kept a loaded pistol behind the bar for such occasions. It is not documented how many of those troublesome regulars received a bullet up the arse, but you can bet your bottom dollar that what happened between these walls stayed between these walls. How I wished I had called on her ghost to sort out those young concert goers last night.

It took me about seventeen seconds to pack the tent away and stuff it in my rucksack. It was time to go, leaving behind not only the inn itself, but the Yorkshire Dales National Park. I was at its northern-most extreme, having come an awful long way since Malham several days ago. I did consider making a right racket and throwing myself across the ropes holding up the tents occupied by young, sleeping concert-goers, but I didn’t want to have to explain myself to the staff if I got caught, and anyway if anyone had the right to punish them then Susan Peacock would have her way with them before they left. Tan Hill had been an experience I wouldn’t have missed for the world. I would love to go back when it is a little less busy, it’s a fantastic place, has survived some pretty grim times and I hope it is still there in another hundred years but I had to move on to my next port of call.

I never did check out that feather behind the bar, and will probably never get the chance now as just a few weeks after my visit it was stolen, allegedly by a group of rowdy gentlemen on a stag night. I don’t think they were Americans.


That’s the first line of a famous children’s poem by Charles Causley, which I would repeat in full here if I wasn’t infringing copyright. Basically, if you don’t know the poem, a fuckwitted hunter goes out to shoot a hare but holds his gun the wrong way ‘round and ends up shooting himself.

There were more hunters out on the moor this morning. Many of them in their wanna-be-SAS attire, all with guns cocked, twitching with excitement at the opportunity they hope they have of blowing the head off a wild animal.

‘Morning’, one of them chirped as I ran past, half way through my hours’ run across the moor. Of course he was being friendly, he was going to kill something today so he was in a jovial mood. What could be better.

‘It was until I saw you morons on here’ I replied, ‘you sad, sad individual. Go and get a life’…

..and that was the end of the conversation as I continued on my way , leaving a perplexed looking moron stood there with his shiny gun in his hands, probably wondering why on earth I couldn’t share in his good mood on such a fine morning.

There were more of his type in each grouse butt, many with dogs. One sprightly spaniel approached me with it’s stumpy tail wagging away. He was dragged back by his moronic owner, ‘gerrrr ere, you’, he yelled at his unfortunate pet who only wanted to say hello. It seemed the dog’s sole purpose in life was to recover the carcass of the bird his owner had just shot, which was sad too, because, unaware to many of these hunters, they do actually make rather loving pets.

It was such a pity. It’s late October and the weather was unseasonably fine. The moors looked glorious in the bright sunlight and I could have spent all day running over them. Those people add nothing. I’ve already written on here about their odd reasoning, including the stupid reasons why they set traps (‘we can’t have vermin killing the birds up here because that would be wrong, we want to be the vermin that kill the wildlife instead’), and I’m certainly not alone in my condemnation of them. Unfortunately money talks, and as long as there’s money to be made by killing our wildlife then there will be those who find justification for it.

Shanks for that…

I saw a pair of redshank this morning. It was right at the bottom of the moor, out of the gloom. It’s years since I’ve seen those, on a trip with some sixth formers to Iceland about six or seven years ago to be precise. They were chilling out on the dam wall of a local reservoir, not doing much, but doing whatever they were doing peacefully.

I only knew it was a pair of redshank because the guy watching them told me they were. I had no reason not to believe him. They seem to have settled in the area, he told me, which was a rather uncommon thing in this neck of the woods.

It’s not just finely tuned (!?) athletes like myself who get out first thing on a Saturday morning. Rolling out of bed at six and spending a good couple of hours or so on the moor. Birdwatchers do it too . Or should I call them twitchers, because that sounds much better. They are easily spotted, given their sensibly warm attire and binoculars at hand. Finely tuned binoculars I might add, because I’ve looked through some of this ‘ere equipment and it tends to be bloody good.

There are all sorts of rare and hard-to-spot birds out here. Many are just passing through, but patience always pays off. There are ring ouzels higher up the hill, I’ve seen a pair of great grey shrike just a few hundred yards from today’s redshanks, and if you are really lucky you might spot a hen harrier, red kite or merlin. Buzzards, kestrels, peregrine and sparrowhawks are common. Some mornings I get to see a pair of short-eared owls hunting low over the moor. I always enjoy bumping into those out birdspotting, because invariably they know what they are talking about, and always happy to share sightings (unless of course it’s a really rare specimen that needs to be kept secret).
I’ve arrived up at Top Withins at the same time as the odd wheatear, or indeed ring ousel, and marvelled at the sighting. But in many of those cases I’ve not been alone up there. There have been significant numbers of others at times, not one of whom would have (1) actually noticed said bird sat on a rock quite close by, or (2) actually known what a ring ousel looks like.
ring ousel
I don’t know whether that’s a good or bad thing. Is it better to be the wise person who knows a little bit more than those who are not interested in knowing what you know in the first place, or do you shout it out and let the whole bloody lot know?

But anyway. It was nice to see the redshank. They make a right racket when disturbed, and the Icelandic ones i’d encountered weren’t going to let me pass until they were ready. Today’s pair had nobody to worry about, other than the twitcher, who was rightfully keeping a respectful distance, and a smelly runner who was heading in the opposite direction anyway.

Three other runners and two off-road cyclists were also encountered along today’s route. All of them spoke (this isn’t London, remember), although there could have been veloceraptors, yellow bellied sapsuckers (yes, they do exist), and Cheryl Cole in the immediate vicinity today. I wouldn’t have spotted any of them due to the heavy mist high up on those moors. It can feel a bit spooky at times, and I always take extra care to avoid any mishaps. If I need rescuing at any point, it’s going to be difficult given the low cloud and the fact that I don’t have my mobile ‘phone with me.
I put my headphones on for the last twenty minutes of the run. I was already feeling good. Three better songs couldn’t have been selected at random. Mark Reeder’s epic remix of Sam Taylor Wood/ PSB’s cover of ‘I’m in Love With a German Film Star’ with its long intro that builds and builds and builds before the vocals kick in, OMD’s energetic synth-driven ‘Sister Marie Says’ and New Order’s epic ‘Perfect Kiss’, with it’s awesome four minute outro. I almost didn’t want to finish the run, but I arrived at the doorstep in a few seconds over the two hour mark and I don’t want to be running late for my lunch date…

Where have all the fellas gone…?

I had another good run this morning. The moors were as beautiful, wild, and as windswept, as ever. During those 60 minutes I encountered several others – notably 1 other male runner (making a grand total of two of us), and 17 ladies; 14 of them walkers, 3 of them runners.

So where were the other fellas? They were marked by their apparent absence. Surely Manchester United, or Chelsea, or Liverpool, or all of them must have been on the telly at the time. No, hold on, it was too early in the day for that. It was too early for them to be in the pub too.
In an era when virtually all sports are bemoaning a lack of participants as well as able bodies willing to organise events, teams, leagues and the like then this doesn’t surprise me. The usual reason given for a lack of participation in sport is that it’s just too expensive to run a football, or rugby club these days, so they are forced to fold, to pack up and give up the ghost, destroyed by rising costs that making playing, or taking part in their favourite sport just too expensive. Parks pitches are rubbish and the showers are usually shocking – so teams wither and die.

But showers have always been crap at local sporting venues, and past generations were happy to play on makeshift pitches that would return to their use for livestock once the participants had departed the scene. In fact showers were non-existent as most local venues until the 1970s, and in those early days of football and rugby players had to make do with a local stream, or, at best, a shared bucket of water with which to make themselves presentable after the game.

So where are our sportsmen? The couch maybe? It’s no wonder that our national football teams are making less and less impact on the world stage . How can we win a world cup when half of the population can’t be bothered to make the effort in the first place, meaning that we have an ever shrinking pool of quality players to choose from? It’s so easy to blame someone else. You don’t need top quality state of the art showers to go for a run (or even a walk), and it doesn’t cost anything to step out of the door and put one foot in front of another.
Conversely, there are more women’s football teams than there were a decade or so ago. It’s just as expensive to run those clubs too, and the showers are equally as shocking. There are also far more women out on the moors around me at the weekend. I know, I know, it can be so hard running and walking up those massive hills, and it was raining a bit too, but it has always rained, and the hills have always been that tough. The emancipation of women in the western world has enabled something approaching equality with regards to access to sport – that they are making more use of their spare time (or rather, making a bigger effort to keep fit and healthy) is so apparent when I’m out on those there moors.

It’s not difficult see why fewer kids are staying in sport beyond their teens when their old man can’t be bothered to get off his sofa in the first place. There’s no coincidence that those who do stay in sport have parents who still take part themselves. Exactly why sports such as fell running are now an ‘old man’s sport’ with so few youngsters taking part deserves an article of its own, so I’ll leave that until later…
With a rising obesity problem nationally, shouldn’t more of us be getting off our backsides, as those past generations have done. It’s not up to the local council to make things easier for us all (and why should they mend the showers or reduce pitch fees when less of us can be bothered anyway), the world doesn’t owe us, us fellas should get off our backsides, stop complaining, and make ourselves healthier, as we did in the past.*

* unless Manchester United, or Chelsea, or Liverpool, or all of them are on the telly.


I’m off to India at the end of the week, so I thought I’d leave you all with this, the second part of Anorak’s favourite running tunes, the ones I rather enjoy listening to while out over those wild and rugged moors. And yes, they really are all currently on my ipod.

Possibly the best ever remix of any song ever. Originally released in 1983 this failed to make the top 40. The UK 12 inch mix wasn’t much cop, which didn’t help. Then along came Steve Thompson, who created a monster of a track, which was initially released for the American market. The song still failed to become a huge hit in the UK until EMI tried for a third time in 1990 (to promote a ‘best of’ compilation) when it finally hit the top 20. The 12” mix released on that occasion wasn’t much cop either.

This is also one of the best remixes in the history of remixes. Seven years’ after his best known hit ‘Instant Replay’, this song hit number 12 in the singles chart in August 1984. There were two mixes issued on 12” single in the USA, of which this was the lesser known, the other being a rockier extended version of the original single version. The late Larry Leven, one of the most iconic DJ godfathers of them all created this more danceable, and likeable mix that was used on its own in the UK. Don’t buy any of those recently released Twelve Inch compilation CDs though, because they all opt for the rockier mix which is most annoying. The only problem with Levan’s mix is that it doesn’t last longer than 6 minutes…

PARRALOX ‘I AM HUMAN’ Parralox Parralox’s John von Ahlen shares a birthday with myself and fellow Oz singer Olivia Newton John. Just thought I’d share that. John himself is pretty prolific, being behind other acts such as ‘The Sound of the Crowd’. He is a huge Human League fan before you ask. Parralox first came to prominence with ‘Sharper Than a Knife, with Roxy, who was particularly all, on vocals. Subsequent releases saw the gorgeous Amy Jackson take lead vocals, and I couldn’t take my eyes off her when I saw them perform in the UK. More recently John has worked with a number of vocalists, but ‘I am Human’ has become my favourite., taken from the second album ‘State of Decay’. Incidently, if you ever buy a Parralox CD single (yes, some acts still release them) then it’s a bit like buying an album because you still get 70 minutes of music, along with lots of different, and often new, tracks on.

Lush, simply lush. One of my all-time favourite tracks. Forget later remixes, the original UK 12” release can never be surpassed. Who says good music never comes out of Italy. If I was deserted on a desert island I would have this on repeat, I never tire of it and on occasions I’ve clicked on ‘back’ when it’s finished in order to hear it yet again. Most super.

Greek duo Sophie and Marianthi have been producing fantastic electronic music since 2003, and that includes an awesome rendition of ‘popcorn’, which might leave you a bit dizzy if you tried running with that in your ears. Summer is a fine track with dreamy vocal, and appeared in its ‘extended version’ as a free mp3 giveaway on their now defunct forum. Therefore if you can’t track this down then the album version (from their third release ‘Lumineux Noir’ is only a little shorter. If you get chance, listen to their fantastic take on Human League’s ‘Empire State Human’ or their own ‘Dream of a Disco’.

PATRICK JUVET ‘THE GAY PARIS – FRENCH PILLOW TALK’Switzerland finest – what, I hear you say – but surely Celine Dion has that honour. No chance, this former model was the king of the dance-floors in the late 70s. This track is from his ‘Lady Night’ album and is over 11 minutes of pure disco exuberance. Get those flares and huge shirt collars at the ready, who cares if they look sily while you’re out running. I know I will get crucified for this one but it’s a fantastic tune to run to on a fine summer’s morning when you haven’t a care in the world. Juvet

Leicestershire’s finest electronic duo. Better than that even, let’s make that just plain ‘Leicestershire’s finest’ full stop. I first came across Matt and Sarah when this previously unissued track from their first album ‘Fifty Three Degrees North’ on the excellent ‘Electronically Yours’ compilation (UNDO records). Their third album, ‘Credible Sexy Unit’ is really quite apt and hasn’t been out long – well worth listening to.

Forget the reissued vocal versions, this, along with the epic Darren Emerson mix, is the one you need to be running along to. Labelled as ‘progressive house’ this mix builds slowly and takes you on a pleasant ride that helps you forget how knackered you are.

Another great remix from the 1980s. Classic Pop magazine rated this as the best 12 inch mix of the 80s, and who would argue. There’s also the Carnage mix, and the Hibakusha mix, on separate 12 inch singles, and a remix of ‘War’ with the Carnage mix on the ‘B’ side, and a whole host of different 7” / picture disc mixes as well – in true ZTT style of course. I could spend an entire two hour run listening to FGTH remixes..and on occasion I’ve been known to do just that.

I almost chose the ‘Indian Summer Mix’ of ‘They Say it’s Gonna Rain’, but instead opted for this, her biggest hit, produced by none other than Stock Aitken Waterman. It’s not the longest extended version you’ll ever hear, but there’s energy from the first beat to the last and it’s definitely one of those that enables you to put in a fast mile just for the sheer hell of it.

Proof that Stock Aitken Waterman were more than one trick ponies. The original 12” mix was good, but this a laid back groove that would not be out of place in a modern wine bar. Not the type of track you’d really want to hear if running through town, best reserved for those quiter parts of the run where you can relax that bit more.

The legend Nile Rodgers had to appear somewhere in these lists. Already a hit once, Rodgers remixed the track he produced in the first place and added backing vocals from Duran Duran, another band he was working with at the time. The result, a smash hit once again. This mix is a lot beefier than the original and is taken from one of disco’s finest albums ‘We Are Family’.

In the mid 90s, any track that featured a ‘dancing divaz mix’ was worth listening to. This in an era when many remixes sounded nothing like the original, a dancing divaz mix always stayed true to the original, but added a bit more insistency and exuberance that made it all the more easy to dance – or even run – to.

The late, great Rick James produced Mary Jane Girls are best known for ‘All Night Long’, but this is just amazing. I always seem to put in a fast, fast mile when this is on, full of energy and vigour amnd includes everything you would expect from the great man himself.

And this certainly is strident. Anything with Mark Reeder on the mix can be nothing but. This is a stand out track from the fantastic compilation ‘5 point 1’ which features a whole host of Reeder mixes and remixes. On ite even breathes new life into John Foxx’s ‘Underpants’.

SCISSOR SISTERS ‘I DON’T FEEL LIKE DANCIN’How can you not be entirely uplifted when you are listening to this one. The only problem I have with it is that at certain points in the song I do indeed feel like dancing like Jake Shears does in the video, and that wouldn’t be a particularly good thing to do on a fast downhill stretch on the road or off the side of a hill.

By the way, if you do like electronic music then the best site to visit is: (no, i’m not on commission)

Oh, and ‘Is That The 12″ Mix’still available from amazon if you haven’t bought it!

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WANT…rude runners, polite runners & India’s poorest

I went for a long run the other morning. I stepped out of the house at ten past seven in the morning and got back just over two hours later. During that time I saw just nine other people – three other runners and six walkers. Some mornings I don’t see a single person, i‘m the solitary individual on a wild and windswept moor that marks the watershed between Yorkshire and Lancashire.

On this occasion I had a brief chat with every one of the other brave souls; ‘great morning’, ‘a bit windy up here’, ‘don’t worry he (the dog) is friendly, he likes runners’ and so on. The forecast of high winds and torrential rain had perhaps persuaded the others to venture out a little earlier than they would otherwise have done, so I had the company this particular morning.

Twelve months ago I had a meeting on a Saturday morning in south London. I never miss a Saturday run, so I was out of the hotel doors for a little after 6am and a put in a steady hour around Wandsworth and Clapham Commons. I didn’t mind the fact that there wasn’t a patch of moorland I could tread, or any real hills to run up, or that even at this time of the day, on a weekend, the traffic was heavier than it would have been almost anywhere else in the country. And I certainly wasn’t put out by the thirty or so other runners I encountered in those sixty minutes.

This photo was taken by a random stranger in the wilds of Yorkshire, just up the road from my village. Would I have been able to ask a random stranger to take my photo in London?

This photo was taken by a random stranger in the wilds of Yorkshire, just up the road from my village. Would I have been able to ask a random stranger to take my photo in London?

What I did mind, however, was the sheer lack of friendliness, polite conversation, or even the slightest acknowledgement to my cheery ‘morning’ that I made a point of delivering to each and every one of those thirty runners. It was like running on an alien planet – either that or I had inadvertently become temporarily invisible for that hour – because not one single person smiled back, returned the greeting, or made eye contact with the most dashing runner in the entire district that morning (ok, maybe that’s going a bit far). Only a small number of these rather rude runners had headphones on, so that was no excuse either.

By the end of the run, I was chirping my ‘morning’ greeting all the more loudly, knowing all too well that the greeting wouldn’t be returned. Then, the very next morning I was at home, out running early, and every single walker and runner I encountered that day spoke. Some offered their greeting before I did, others offered encouragement to the lone runner, I offered encouragement to the walkers struggling with the last part of the climb up to Top Withins (‘Wuthering Heights’ if you have heard of the Brontë sisters).

courtesy of

courtesy of

Next week I’m returning to Bihar, India’s poorest region, with a group of teachers who will, among other things, deliver training to unqualified teachers in India’s poorest region. My first visit to Bihar was this time last year. The locals were just charming: proud of their homes, to which we were always invited, proud of their village, their town, their region, of their family, and of the schools that defied the odds to give their children an education that wouldn’t have been available a generation ago.

It was the ambition of many of the adults to one day travel to London. That I come from rural Yorkshire didn’t matter, I had been to London. I live in the same country, so I must tell them all about the city.
DCIM100MEDIA They didn’t always get the replies they had been expecting. We discussed how proud they were of everything they had. I never dawned on them that in the rich ‘developed’ world (never mind just London), people in the UK are rarely proud of their village, their town, and their school. Few people in the cities will invite you into their home, and MOST OF ALL…people are not as friendly. They will not greet a stranger with a polite ‘hello’. They will not acknowledge a stranger. You will not even be given eye contact, not even if you are taking part in the same pastime, at the same time, around the same park.

Last week I was talking about the difference between ‘standard of living’ and ‘quality of life’ to my year 11 geographers. Guess what topics I discussed with them…


At around 7.30am on a Saturday morning I’m out of the front door. A little over 60 seconds later I’m out onto open moorland. Two hours later, and having listened to some music in the last half-hour of that two hours, I’m home. Before many of you are out of your beds that is, feeling remarkably refreshed, invigorated and all the better for having seen all manner of wildlife and rare birds. This is a small selection of tracks that currently reside on my tiny mp3 player. All of them are equally as brilliant in their own way. You really should listen to them all.At least one of them is featured in that fine fine book ‘Is That The 12” Mix’.

One of the trippiest tunes you will ever listen to on your headphones. The first five and a half minutes, with its exquisite cowbells, is worthy enough, but then follows a most unreal experience that will make you forget where you are, how far you’ve travelled from home, and, if you are out in the moors, how the hell you’re going to get back. But you won’t care…

From the PSB’s under-rated 2009 offering ‘Yes’, comes a track that a decade earlier would have been a number one single. A feel-good tune that will lift your spirits when you are starting to feel a little jaded.

Beggars Banquet’s finest and a slow burner from 1985. The original 12” long version is far superior to the ‘howling mix’ and any of the subsequent remixes that were released (even though some of them were rather good).

The original 1983 version was brilliant…the 1992 remix is awesome. Heaven 17 knew nothing about this mix, which was originally produced as a DJ-only mix for the DMC club, until someone told them about it after having heard it in Ibiza. The rest is history, it went on to become a world-wide smash for the second time, and the unedited version has one of the best three-minute intros ever in the history of outstanding intros.

From their 2013 album ‘English Electric’, OMD take you on a journey that, if anything, proves that some bands never lose the ability to produce damn fine electronic music.

From an era where house music had taken control of our dance-floors, and the airwaves, this is one of 1988’s best tunes. I tend to bounce along on my run while listening to this.

More soulful than anything I’ve heard for years, the late Walter Jackson should have had a huge global hit with this in 1984. As smooth as Luther Vandross and more authentic than anything Barry White ever did. Beautiful. Mid-run it will leave you feeling all loved-up and warm inside.

Penned as a single not long after her huge 1990 hit ‘Happenin’ All Over Again’, this sublime and lush Stock Aitken Waterman production was pulled at the last minute, and sat in the vaults until her album was released on CD – at last – just a few years ago. Proof that SAW could produce more than just cheesy (but brilliant) pop music.

Remixed by PWL’s Pete Hammond, this wasn’t as big as ‘Loco in Acapulco’ but is one of the best 80s songs to run along to, whether you’re making your way through city streets, meandering along the river or high up in the windswept moors.

It’s got to be the long version with its long introduction, so forget the 7” edit, which is good, but not a patch on the unedited version it all its piano-driven glory.

Either of the two slightly different 12” mixes will do. Why this ballad wasn’t huge is beyond me. A great tune to listen to while out running…a bit more reflective than many of the danceable (or should than be runnable) tracks even though it still straight pop.

More of a groove than a pop song, I first heard this is a record store in Greece. It’s very chilled out and is best listened to at the most remote point of your long weekend run. Bloody great stuff.

Produced by Harold Faltermeyer (the man behind ‘Axel F’), this is another track with a long outro that you never really want to end. Elizabeth Daily was the voice behind ‘Rugrats’, and if you have the album this came off (‘Wild Child’) on CD then you’re sat on one of the most sought after 80s CD albums of them all. I nearly included her other UK dance smash, ‘Mind Over Matter’, one of the lesser known PWL / SAW tunes.

David Morales shows us why he was one of the most revered remixes of the 80s with its deep beats and moody vocals. It’s also Sheena Easton’s finest eight minutes. She looked gorgeous at the time, the music still sounds just as gorgeous all these years on.

I broke my arm while out running once. I tripped over my lace. It didn’t matter, I was listening to this. Four minutes or so of Barney Sumners unmistakeable vocals, followed by another four minute outro that just builds and builds and builds. If you have ‘Substance’ on CD you have the ‘full-length-mix-with-half-a-minute-lopped-off-the-outro version’ which is almost as good as the version without the half a minute lopped off.

Unearthed after festering, unreleased, in the ZTT vaults for nearly three decades an epic Trevor Horn production from the days when he masterminded Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s domination of the UK singles chart. This track, by ex-members of Pigbag appeared on the 2011 compilation ‘The Art of the 12”’. Exciting.