Image: Jason Bowler
Part Mackem Diaspora, part Cup Final report, this is broadened football writing as compelling as it gets. Malcolm Dawson traces the life journey that took a committed Sunderland supporter from Eppleton to Leicestershire and, implausibly, a seat among the Coalville Town fans (who may like the photo, especially now I’ve changed it to one from Coalville) trying – in vain – to urge their team to victory at Wembley …
See also: Wembley Soapbox: Whitley Bay beat Coalville and I hug a Mag
Back in those pre-Thatcher days of early ’79, my 25th birthday coincided with my first proper full time, permanent job. During what is now called a gap year, I had spent the first 12 months of my graduate status in the long hot summer of 1976, enjoying the views of Eppleton Colliery from the garden of my parents’ house, listening to Steely Dan and the jazz-influenced pre-Born in the USA Springsteen and taking the occasional walk around the Bull Wells, even occasionally going as far as Seaham to get a glimpse of the North Sea.
A temporary job in Sunderland working with young offenders, was followed by a Post Grad teacher training course in the Fylde. (A few years back on an in-service course, we were asked to write down why we had decide to become teachers. Truthfully my response was …”the ratio of women to men at teacher training college was 7:1”.)
I then had another stint, working with the disaffected youth of the North West, before my 149th application for a teaching job bore fruit and I became the youngest member of staff at Ashby de la Zouch CE Primary School. Little did I know that I would still be resident in the East Midlands, 32 years later!
After 18 months in the job I felt secure enough to buy my first house – a terrace in the nearby town of Coalville. I felt sure I would be at home there. As the name suggests the town was built on the extraction of the black diamond. Robert Stevenson (son of George) opened a mine at Snibston, in the 1800s. That was half a mile from my new house and there was another pit in between.