The Humber Bridge was just as wobbly and bouncy as the Severn Bridge, I crossed it in wet and windy weather that really wasnt pleasant, with my pack on I feel like a weather vane being thrown this way and that. It was quite scary to be honest, I am not great with heights and kept as close to the road bridge as possible. It was a relief to get to the other side to be honest!
I was being put up in a pub in a village south of the Humber called South Ferriby, its a tiny place but has 4000 years of history attributed to it and has been settled by Roman and Viking invaders through time. I had stopped by a pond to get my barings at the edge of the village when I was approached by a man on a motobility scooter walking two dogs, we got talking and I told him my story of why I was walking the countryside. I detected a familiar burr to the voice and it was only when I told him where I was from he chirpped up “Ah, Pompey fan eh…”and then I recognised the accent. Yes, a scummer. To be fair he said he had fond memories of Fratton Park from visits he made in the 50′s which fans of the two cities used to do. The intense rivalry between Pompey and Southampton is a recent thing according to historians and it wasn’t unusual for fans of either club visit the other instead of a long away trip.
Denis, who was helping me organise this leg, was treating me to dinner along with his partner who had also paid for my place to sleep that night, we drove out to a lovely little pub which had a carvery and with a nice evening of chat another great night with lovely people over we headed back to my digs.
After my appearance on Radio Humberside a few days earlier I was contacted by a lady called Ilona who was famous locally for being a “super scrimper” which I initially thought was to do with Scunthorpe but it turns out she is famous for being thrifty and not a football fan at all. She met me at South Ferriby and we set off past the local cement works and headed out cross country on a slightly longer but scenic route toward Scunthorpe. Ilona was a fascinating character, I heard her life story twice and she had spent most of her life as a truck driver which was amazing because of the size of her, 5ft and a bit and 8 stone.
She runs a Blog that details ways of saving money and living life on a budget. It was grand to have company and my own personal radio station for a few hours…:0) Her Blog is at www.meanqueen-lifeaftermoney.blogspot.com
When we got to Scunny we parted ways and I was then picked up by my host for the night, Martin O’Hara, who I had met at a supporters conference in the summer of 2011. Martin is Deputy Chair of FSF and has been involved in supporters politics for many years, more recently he turned round the Donny Rovers Trust and was acting secretary. Martin is another fascinating fella, like most who give their time freely to fans causes he is tireless and it was a good stop over for me to meet him and also see first hand what the Donny Trust were achieving at their club.
First of all though I was back at Glanford Park the next morning to meet the Iron Trust people led by Luke Thornhill. They are shareholders in Scunthorpe and were handing over another cheque for more shares whilst I was there, during the tour the club donated a signed shirt which I gave to Luke to auction on my behalf. Another friendly small club that were delighted to help me.
Following the visit I had to walk 11 miles towards Doncaster and head for a small village called Thorne where I was staying in a hotel for the night. It was being paid for by an old friend called Donny Wayne who I have known for many years now. Donny joined the Anoraks list which was a Pompey Fans internet forum that was started in 1997 by Jamie Kinnea at Birmingham using the University server, it brought Pomey Fans home and abroad together for the first time together to discuss Pompey and hundreds of friendships have been formed from its creation, even weddings and babies!
A member of the Donny Rovers Trust, Lee Croft, joined me on the road from Thorne into Doncaster and it again made for an interesting walk having company and being able to discuss issues that effect Trusts and share experiences. We did the walk in less than 4 hours and passed the old Belle Vue ground which is still a derelict site waiting for redevelopment, you can see why the club is thriving with a brand new ground in picturesque surroundings, the old one was a right hole. Martin met us there and we enjoyed a good look around and more nattering about Trust business as well as a well earned cup of tea and some cake!
Donny Trust work closely with the club and have started an initiative called “In Rovers we Trust” which came from working with a chap called Mark Bradley who runs a consultancy firm on Fan Engagement, (I will talk more about Mark when I write about my trip to Sheffield Wednesday) they claim to have transformed how the club deal with the Fans inside 12 months, although it helps to have a Chairman that is keen to work with fans and Rovers certainly have that in John Ryan. He recently interviewed an 8 year old fan for the vacant managers job, which was a great story and showed him and Rovers in a very positive light.
Whilst in Doncaster I was being given refuge by a friend who had recently moved up there to work called Pete who I knew from my time in London, another Pompey exile. On the Friday night we adjourned to the local pub and polished off a few pints and some food and put the world to rights, we also briefly fell into conversation with a Glaswegian who asked about my badges on my Pompey top. A Rangers supporters so you can imagjne he was not at all happy about his clubs recent fortunes and the state of football north of the border.
Back at Petes we also drank a bottle of wine which did me no good at all the next day, it was a good job I had no walking to do! The next day was a huge slob day, Pete and I chilled out and tried to watch the Premier League games online and then got a take away for the evening, all in all a great way to spend a Saturday. I had a walk of 11 miles on the Sunday to a place called Goldthorpe on the way to Barnsley, its fair to say it had seen better days and much of it had been levelled, infact it reminded me of one of those French villages in a WW2 film when the only thing left standing was a Church with a sniper in it.
I got picked up by Donny Wayne and his wife Eileen who were treating me to a Sunday roast, we went to a country pub in Mexborough which was Waynes old home town, it was a nice end to a great weekend, I am lucky in the friends I have.
Next day I picked up from Goldthorpe to finish the walk into Barnsley, the weather was beginning to turn and I arrived in snow flurries, I was being met by Ray who was involved in the Barnsley Trust, he was very kindly putting me up in a local hotel whilst I stayed there. The tour of Oakwell was very interesting, not least because my guide tried to take me to parts of the old stand that had recently been boarded up, we spent 10 minutes trying to find a door that was not there anymore! In the evening Bradford were playing Oxford in the Youth cup, the game was almost called off due to the icy conditions but the ground is 90% sand which means that drainage is good and frost not a problem.
Bradford won 3-1 and I was very impressed with the organisation of the side and a few of their players, it was bitterly cold but having a Chicken Balti Pie and a couple of Bovrils soon helped with that. A perfect way to spend an evening!
Next Blog we finish Leg 5 in Sheffield and onto a snowy Leg 6