i. ii. iii.

Pauly left on the Monday, the start of the residency. He would be returning about 6 weeks later, start of Easter week. He took a photograph of me in the B&B in Ashford on our journey out to Saint-Nazaire and one when he came back to pick me up. I can’t find the photos, they’re on some CD-R somewhere, in a shoebox full of crap, probably unreadable now — Windows XP, Nero Burning ROM, Kodak Gold, scratched to fuck. Anyway, the difference between the two photographs was about a stone in weight loss. I remember being mortified…



The car isn’t stolen it’s just nobody bothered to report it as found. The two friendly women who we handed over £200 to were not a pair of sophisticated grifters posing as a polite mother and daughter. I can’t remember exactly how this sorry episode got resolved but we finally made it onto the ferry with our resolve now throughly chipped away. It had been two whole days and we’d not even reached Calais.

What proceeded was a hallucinatory non-stop night drive across nothern France to the Atlantic coast. I recall now that we had a schedule because…


Ashford in Kent is Toryland, a kind of Thatcherite ground zero. It felt like that to us anyway, as we wandered its streets looking for somewhere to eat, it was a far cry from Shiney Row. Maybe we didn’t leave on Ash Wednesday? I have a vague memory of this being a Friday night, pubs were busy, loud gangs of drunks piling out onto the streets. Memories are just copies of copies of copies of memories one friend told me recently — none of it’s real.

We were pretty tired, Ron from Internatinal Rescue had dropped us at a…

It was maybe 2003 or 2004, I can’t remember exactly, I’ll have to dig out the flyers. Anyway whatever the exact year I had successfully applied for an artist residency with Sunderland City Council. I would spend 6 or 7 weeks in Saint-Nazaire, Sunderland’s French twin town. The residency was part of an artist exchange thing. A French artist would spend a month or so in Sunderland and one would go over to the North West coast of France, make things and have an exhibition.

I graduated from a photography degree at Sunderland Uni in 2002, I was 26 and…

Brandon Utd vs Willington, Welfare Ground, 25 January 2020

Brandon Utd 0–0 Willington

Ryhope Colliery Welfare 1–2 Newton Aycliffe

In their 1981 Peel Session New Order covered Keith Hudson’s Turn the Heater On. The 1975 original is a real earworm. A catchy and heavy dose of melancholic roots reggae. The New Order version is a cold wave goth dub that slows the pace and shifts the melancholy up a gear. Melodica through echo and a layer of new wave synth running underneath. The Turn the heater on lyric is replaced with Gonna beat them all. It’s a sad tune. By all accounts the band are embarrassed by it. …

Crook Town vs Ryton & Crawcrook Albion, The Sir Tom Cowie Millfield Ground, 18 January 2020

Crook Town 5–2 Ryton & Crawcrook Albion

In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.

Carl Jung

My mate sends me this Carl Jung quote. I’m on the X46 Sapphire to Crook in County Durham. Gateway to Weardale. I haven’t properly read any Carl Jung, just snippets, stories. Like his dream about Liverpool and the Pool of Life. Carl had never been to Liverpool but the city entered a dream he had in 1927. The dream told him the Pool of Life was in Liverpool. …

Seaham Red Star vs Penrith, Ferguson Motor Repairs Stadium, 11 January 2020

Seaham Red Star 2–3 Penrith

In the 1992 film ALIEN³ Ellen Ripley aka Sigourney Weaver crash lands on the prison planet Fury 161 or as it’s more commonly known Blast Beach, Co. Durham. The Blast is just under a 3 mile walk from today’s match at the Ferguson Motor Repairs Stadium, home to Seaham Red Star FC.

Upon arriving Ripley quickly realises that Fury 161 is actually a penal colony for shaven headed British character actors. Amongst this motley assortment of Brit-Thesps are the guy who played the supernatural villain in The Golden Child; Mr. Kobayashi from Usual Suspects and…

Ryton & Crawcrook Albion vs Redcar Athletic, Kingsley Park, 8 January 2020

Ryton & Crawcrook Albion 1–1 Redcar Athletic

This isn’t the first time I’ve been to the Ryton & Crawcrook Albion ground. The first time was the night before. Nearly ninety minutes of bus travel from Gateshead, through the astronomical transit routes of Stella, Stargate and Blaydon. I got my days mixed up, realising all too late as I approached the black void of Kingsley Park — I was a full 24 hours too early.

I’d been out of the house only once since New Year and my error didn’t matter so much. I was outside. My body clock is all…

Consett vs Newcastle Benfield, Belle View Stadium, 28 December 2019

Bedlington Terriers 0–2 Heaton Stannington

Consett 1–1 Newcastle Benfield

Stockton Town 1–0 Thornaby

Whitley Bay 3–2 Ashington

Easington Colliery 5–1 Bedlington Terriers

North Shields 3–2 Consett

West Auckland Town 2–1 Bishop Auckland

25 years ago this week I was lying on a sofa in a terraced house in Fallowfield watching Match of the Day, Newcastle vs Blackburn, Third Round FA Cup live from St James’s Park. For the previous year I’d been hanging around with this gang of lads who were in or hanging onto a band who used to play around Manchester. A forgettable outfit, so forgettable in fact…

Birtley Town vs Heaton Stannington, Birtley Sports Complex, 24th August 2019

Birtley Town 2–0 Heaton Stannington

“You’re a groundhopper then?”

My heart sank as Brian, committee member of Birtley Town FC, asks me midway through his boiled onion and beef burger bap. No amount of 20th Century European philosopher quotes, obscure avant garde cinema references or psychogeographic pretensions will get me around it. I wince. I’m devastated. Another man in a very long line of depressed men who tour football grounds, searching for meaning and seeking transcendence in a 90 minute sporting pastime.

Groundhoppers are the footballing equivalent of the anoraks you see at the end of the platform at York…

Michael McHugh

Museum | Archives | Creative Production | Public Engagement | Audience Development | Disk Jock & Record Label owner | Useless Enthusiast | Personal Views.

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