Into Cumbria for 125

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Saturday August 10th 2013.

KO 11am – at Celtic Nation Stadium (Gilford Park), Carlisle.
Northern League Division One.
Celtic Nation (Green/White Hoops/Green) 1-1 Bishop Auckland (Sky/Navy Blue Quarters/Navy), att 409.

KO 3pm – at Coach Road, Whitehaven.
Northern League Division Two.
Whitehaven (White/Blue) 2-1 Chester-Le-Street (Blue and White Hoops/White), att 208.

KO 7pm – at Frenchfield Park Stadium, Penrith.
Northern League Division One.
Penrith (Blue/White) 2-4 Newton Aycliffe (Red/Red), att 380.

It is the 125th anniversary of the Northern League, and they have decided to run four hops this season. Three 'one day' hops, and a full four dayer at Easter.
The Northern League were the orginal hosts of a hop, with the first successfully completed in 1992.
These days numerous different leagues have hops and they are hosted around the country (and Wales), as a result of the Northern leagues foresight in putting them on the map in the early 1990s.
So, here we were on the opening day of the NL season, me having driven 285 miles from home (after a brief overnight in an M6 travelodge on the M6/Lancaster) to bag the three Cumbrian grounds in the league.
And it proved to be a very successful and enjoyable day, with good weather and no major traffic problems, and just a few gremlins with programmes and catering, see below.

Roll on Easter 2014 🙂

Game of the day – Penrith v Newton Aycliffe
Ground of the day- CN Stadium Petrill Bank just edging out Frenchfields/Penrith.
Performance of the day – Newton Aycliffe closely followed by Bishop Auckland.
Player of the day – Jamie Owens/Newton Aycliffe.
Programme of the day – Penrith’s (for those who got it!)
Food of the day– The ‘FishNChip’ supper in the Angel Chippie/Penrith.
Ground porn of the day – Whitehaven RLFC’s ground next door to Whitehaven Amateurs FC.
Cock up of the day – Penrith printing only enough programmes for those who pre-booked a day ticket (glad I did!).
Furrowed brow of the day – Hoppers waiting for their programme packs at Celtic Nation FC, and eventually getting them after a rugby scrum at Whitehaven FC, apparently Whitehaven FC had let the side down by not supplying theirs when requested.
Comment of day (all voiced tongue in cheek, mostly.)
Harvey Harris, the organiser (during the rugby scrum just two mins before KO at Whitehaven).
“It might be best chaps if you come back at half time” (As Harvey was trying to hand out individually numbered packs one at a time!)
Retort from a hopper – “Half time at this game or this evening?”
Harvey – “Whichever game you like!”
Ridiculous comment of the day (in print) -Mick Wadsworth, the Celtic Nation manager blathering on about promoting the ‘brand’, he was talking about his non league football club!!
Missed opportunity of the day– From Penrith FC, who didn’t print enough programmes, didn’t have any badges, and seemingly had some catering issues as well.
View of the day – of Bessenthwaite Lake on the A66 whilst driving from Whitehaven to Penrith reminding me of our walk from Ulverston to Keswick in 2011.
Dilemma of the day (for some, not me) – whether to go to Queen of the South FC or Whitehaven. QOS won 4-3 (v Dundee), and some regretted their decision!
Wildlife on the day – Unusual looking horses in a field near entrance to lane at Gilford Park, Celtic Nation FC. ‘Star’ the dog, a collie hopper! and the Cows in a field looking down on the Frenchfields home of Penrith FC.
Memory of the day– catching up with hopping friends from far and wide and enjoying this very strong Step5/Step6 league, thanks to the NL for putting it on.

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Opening goal of the day for the Bishops. Opening goal of the day for the Bishops.

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Then a drive westward to ‘Whitehaven’, it really did feel like the remote ‘wild west’ !

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And then back on the A66 eastbound to Penrith, passing the edge of the lakes and Keswick.

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