The Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t brought much good news to the football world, including the Ebac Northern League.

One of the few bright spots has been new spectators discovering the league and coming to our games before the suspension of matches last week.

One of the new “converts” to the league has been Scot Graeme Giles who has travelled thousands of miles with his six year-old son to get his football “fix”.  Graeme, who lives in Aberdeenshire but works in Angola, looked for pastures new with football shut down for spectators north of the border.  By coincidence, the cousin of one of his works colleagues mentioned the Ebac Northern League and noticed that spectators were allowed in.

And his tweets about his experiences has been a big hit with our clubs and fans (he’s at: @GilesGraeme – nickname Fitbawbag).

“I had some time at home and in 3 ½ weeks I was able to get to six games, travelling more than 3,000 miles.

“It’s been fantastic to watch and I’ve been very impressed by the quality of the football and everyone has been so welcoming.  My favourite league is the Highland League for entertainment and value, but the Northern League is very similar and the top teams in the league would be OK in the Highland League.”

His six year-old son Jake is a fellow convert, after joining Graeme on his second cross-border trip.  “He has loved it.  As we were coming back from a game at Carlisle City he asked: ‘What’s the next game?’”

Apart from Carlisle, he’s also been to games at Easington Colliery, Tow Law, Consett, Ryton & Crawcrook and Esh Winning.

They diverted to Consett and were able to get returned tickets after the game they had planned to go to – Hebburn v Stockton – was postponed after they’d crossed the border, with Consett making sure it wasn’t a wasted journey.

“People and clubs got to learn that I was travelling to their match and they’d keep me informed about whether the match was on or not.  Spectators have also been great for telling me about the league and the different clubs.  Everyone has been very welcoming.

“The standard of the football has been higher than I expected.  For example, at Easington I don’t think the ball left the deck during the first half, with quick, passing football.

“And all the grounds have got their own quirks

And Graeme’s already planning his post-lockdown fixtures, with games at Crook Town, Penrith and Heaton Stannington pencilled in.

Graeme has also penned an article about his Northern League experiences here: