Commissions welcomed! We are available for Radio and TV work, Event Compering, PR and Media Consultancy, Ghostwriting
- also foreign language translation and interpreting in French, German, Italian, Spanish and a bit of Dutch and Czech....

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Ice Hockey Review 2015 NIHL Yearbook - Available Now!

Ice Hockey Review 2015 NIHL Yearbook - Sponsored by Red Hockey

182 pages - 47 full colour pages   

The ideal "early Christmas present" for every NIHL ice hockey player and fan
Team by team and league by league stats and reports for all NIHL North and South teams in Divisions 1 and 2 from the 2014/15 season. Fascinating interviews, features and great photos through out
Just £8.50 including free UK P&P

Order link: HERE
Full List Of Contents:

Moralee Conference Season Review, Moralee Awards & All Star Teams, Moralee Conference Play Offs
Billingham Stars, Blackburn Hawks, Manchester Minotaurs, Sheffield Spartans, Solway Sharks, Sutton Sting, Whitley Warriors

Laidler Conference Season Review, Laidler Conference Play Offs,  NIHL North Promotion Play Off
Blackburn Eagles, Bradford Bulldogs, Coventry Blaze, Deeside Dragons, Hull Jets, Nottingham Lions, Sheffield Senators, Solihull Barons, Telford Tigers, Widnes Wild

South 1 Season Review, South 1 Awards & All Star Teams,  South 1 Cup, South 1 Play Offs
Bracknell Hornets, Cardiff Devils, Chelmsford Chieftains, Invicta Dynamos, London Raiders, Milton Keynes Thunder, Oxford City Stars, Solent Devils, Streatham Redskins , Wightlink Raiders

South 2 West Season Review,
Basingstoke Buffalo, Bristol Pitbulls, Cardiff Devils, Swindon Wildcats, Wightlink Tigers
South 2 East Season Review
Chelmsford Warriors, Invicta Mustangs, Lee Valley Lions, Peterborough Islanders, Slough Jets
South 2 Play Offs, South 2 Cup

English Challenge Cup Nth / Sth

Interviews / Features:
All Change At Hillheads, Imports in NIHL North, Hull’s Bonner Goes Stateside, The Rise And Rise Of Red Hockey, Retiring Raider Damon Larter, Saving Ryde Arena, Retiring Or Returning? Alan Armour, Meet The Ref: Stephen Matthews, Nostalgia: Peterborough Ravens, Blackburn Legends Match, Super Seagulls Soar Again, Cleveleys Ice Arena, Ice Hockey Down Under, Fun & Games With Facebook

Bulk discounts and back editions also available from

Saturday, 19 September 2015

NWCFL Premier Division: Cammell Laird 1907 FC 3 - Nelson FC 0

An excellent all round performance saw 12th place Cammell Laird beat 3rd place Nelson 3-0 in the Premier Division of the NWCFL.

Report to follow...

More info from

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Pre- Season Friendly: Asville 3 - Woodchurch 0

Ashville FC rounded off their pre-season programme with an entertaining 3-0 defeat of Woodchurch FC.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Ashville FC v Buckley Town Double Header

Anyone who wasn’t there missed a feast of football this afternoon at Ashville Football Club in Wallasey as they hosted a double header encounter with Buckley Town of the Cymru Alliance.

The first game saw a 3-1 win for Ashville, which was closely fought and highly entertaining throughout. There was a penalty in each half and the result was only made certain by a late goal for Ashville in the dying minutes.

The second game was not quite so close but still well contested by both sides.  The visitors came away with a 0-4 win with two goals in each half.  The achievement was all the more creditable as they played with only 10 men for much of the game, having had a player sent off midway through the first half due to an unsavoury incident.

 Ashville FC are at home again on Tuesday evening with a friendly game against Welsh Premier League side Nomads FC  from Connahs Quay and then again on Saturday 1st August when they play Llay Welfare FC from Wrexham who play in the Welsh National League.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Book Review: Reality Check: Travels In The Australian Ice Hockey League by Will Brodie

Reality Check: Travels In The Australian Ice Hockey League by Will Brodie
Published by Combiner Publishing – 326 Pages
ISBN: 978-06469320-4-0

Here’s an interesting book about our favourite sport – ice hockey – in Australia. Yes - they do play it down under and I knew that already as Team GB has played Australia in the past in World Championships.

Also the Peterborough Pirates (that’s Peterborough, England – not Peterborough, Victoria or Peterborough, South Australia, by the way..) once had a player called John Oddy who had come over from the Adelaide Avalanche club and, after a quick flick through the index of Reality Check, I discover that there is a Greg Oddy who is the current captain of the modern day Adelaide Adrenaline club - so there must be some sort of family connection there.

What Will Brodie sets out to in this book is to follow the Australian Ice Hockey League through a complete season and it starts in January 2014 just as preparations for the new campaign are getting under way (more about this in a bit..).

I haven’t read all of this book as yet as it is quite a substantial read and I am currently trying to get the 2015 Ice Hockey Review NIHL Yearbook ready for publication but the bits that I have read so far have been fascinating.   

For example, matches in the AIHL are played over 2x 15 minute period and 1 x 20 minute period.  Apparently, this is to save costs on ice time although as every drawn game in decided by a penalty shootout at the end, I would have thought that the time taken to do that would negate any times saved by having shorter periods. Anyway, it’s their league…!

Another interesting fact is that NOBODY GETS PAID in the AIHL – not players, not coaches, not administrators, nobody. There are sponsorship deals and such things that help with accommodation, cars etc. for major players but apart from that, everything is done on  apart time voluntary basis and that means that games are played purely at weekends.

Despite the fact that the AIHL is not awash with cash, the league still manages to attract a decent level of overseas player to play there – and many of them just go for the love of the game and the opportunity of spending some time in Australia. The other bonus is that the Aussie season runs from April to September (that’s their winter…) so it coincides almost exactly with the close season of the semi-pro leagues in North America.  Therefore players can go and play for a season in Oz thus helping their keep up their fitness levels and match sharpness.

It is written in the form of a diary and Will travels across the country covering the various AIHL clubs and talking to all sorts of fascinating people on the way.  Now: if you are looking for book full of stats and figures, this is not it – but if you’d like a leisurely read through how they run and play ice hockey on another continent, then this book is definitely for you.

And to bring the story up to date, Will Brodie will be contributing an article on the 2015 AIHL season to this year’s Ice Hockey Review Yearbook as well.

In the meantime, you can keep up with Will’s various projects on his own website at and you can buy Reality Check: Travels in the Australian Ice Hockey League by following the link   HERE 



Monday, 8 June 2015

Wirral Open Studio Tour 2015

For the sixth year running, artists of all genres will be displaying their work at The Wirral Open Studio Tour to be held over the weekend of 14th - 15th June 2015.   From 10am - 5 pm on the Saturday and 11 am till 5 pm on the Sunday, in 29 locations throughout the Wirral Peninsula you will find displays of artistic work.

Wirral Art is a community group founded in 2009 to create an arts trail on the Peninsula with the aim of bringing together professional and semi-professional artists and helping them to showcase their work.

To find out more and for a map of where to find which artists over the weekend, please see

Sponsors include:  The Rathbone Studio, Pottery and Art Gallery of Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead, Jo Smith Jeweller of Hoylake and Stacks Art, Gifts and Coffee shop of West Kirby.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Afternoon Tea at Aquitania Restaurant, Cunard Building, Liverpool

You can't actually go to this now as it was a special "pop up" restaurant operated by students from the City of Liverpool College catering school to complement the 3 Queens On the Mersey event but, as we like having afternoon tea - and, of course, LOVE telling you all about it - we just HAD to give this a mention.

Those enterprising people at the City of Liverpool College Catering Department hit upon a fantastic way of celebrating the 175th Anniversary of the first Cunard Trans-Atlantic crossing.  During the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May, they took over the ground floor of the Cunard Building (see photo below) that was previously the Headquarters of the shipping line and organised carvery lunches, afternoon teas and gourmet dinners.

We went along on Tuesday, 26th May to sample the afternoon tea and it was a delightful experience - beautifully presented with a variety of sandwiches, scones, jam and cream, cakes and a syllabub with tea or coffee and all served at table by the efficient and attentive students under the watchful eye of their course supervisors.   Had we wanted it there was also an option of a champagne tea.   The room is elegant and harks back to the opulent age of sea travel and the tables were beautifully decorated with flowers or potted Rosemary (for remembrance).
We enquired as we left whether the College has a facility for refreshmnent at other times and were given a card with their 'Bread & More' at St. George's Hall address.  So why not find out what you are missing at the café in another of Liverpool's beautiful old buildings - St. George's Hall, St. George's Place, Liverpool L1 1JJ - contact phone no. 0151 707 8512

You can find out more about the College's award winning Academy Restaurant, Patisserie, Café and bakery on the website:

Cunard's Three Queens On The Mersey

This isn't really a secret but we thought we'd share our experiences of seeing the 3 cruise liners - the Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 on the Mersey on Bank Holiday Monday.
One of the vantage points was the Promenade at New Brighton which leads into Magazine Brow and you can walk all the way alongside the River Mersey to Woodside.  If you look carefully at the street photograph, or click on it, you can see PREZZO right in the middle.  Prezzo is a superb Mediterranean Restaurant at  Marine Point, New Brighton.  Incidentally there are quite a few nice cafes and restaurants in New Brighton as well as lots of fun things to do and an award winning ice cream parlour/coffee shop so if you haven't been we suggest you go and have a look as soon as you can.  Further reviews to follow.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

'The Three Queens' visit to the River Mersey over the end of May Bank Holiday weekend

The Wirral Peninsula, nestling between the Rivers Dee and Mersey in the north west of England, is surely one of the UK’s best kept secrets.   Over the end of May Bank Holiday weekend 2015 the River Mersey will be host to the Cunard ships known as the ‘Three Queens’ – Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria.  The ships will meet up on the River Mersey near New Brighton on Monday around 10.45 am on Monday 25th May and sail together along the river to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the shipping line Cunard.  Cunard’s headquarters were originally in Liverpool.

If you are planning to visit The Wirral or indeed Liverpool to see this spectacular event, please check your travel arrangements carefully as over a million people are expected.   Special arrangements are in place which you can see on   You can also call the Traveline on 0151 236 7676 or 0871 200 22 33 and follow @Merseytravel on Twitter.

For Merseyrail travel arrangements see - six trains every hour will run between 7 am and 7 pm on the New Brighton Line on Monday, 25th May.

New Brighton has been redeveloped recently and now has a beautiful Promenade with a cinema, some wonderful coffee shops and restaurants and a superb ice cream parlour called Caffe Cream.  Further along the promenade towards Seacombe you will find the pirate ship ‘The Black Pearl’ which is made out of driftwood.

Liverpool has a full programme of events planned for the summer beginning with the International Mersey River Festival.  For the latest programme of events follow @MCLpool on Twitter and One Magnificent City on Facebook or see


Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Wirral's Mallory & Irvine Story to aid Nepal Earthquake Fund

A multi-media E-book telling the story of iconic Everest mountaineers George Mallory and Sandy Irvine has been published in aid of victims of the Nepal earthquake which also claimed the lives of several climbers on Mount Everest.

Ice Picks and Violets is available on Kindle, and along with the story's text, it features links to an audio narration and songs and video, making it one of the first digital mixed media books.

Based on the new stage production of the same name, all royalties will be given in aid of the Community Action Nepal's Earthquake Appeal set up by mountaineer Doug Scott, the first ever Brit to summit Mount Everest, and a champion of theHimalayan people. He will be providing narration to the show later this year.

Ice Picks and Violets writer Dean Johnson says, “I have been speaking to Doug about the project, and he has been very supportive and hopes to be involved. Now that this terrible disaster has struck in the heart of the Everest region, I felt it appropriate to doing anything I could to help.”

There will be readings and music from the book, plus refreshments when it is launched at 3pm on Monday 11th May at The Wilfred Owen Story Museum, Birkenhead. Entrance is by way of a donation of any amount to the CAN Earthquake Fund.

For more information on Community Action Nepal, go to

Ice Picks and Violets is available via Kindle.

Monday 11th May 2015 – 3pm
The Wilfred Owen Story
34 Argyle Street
CH41 6AE

For more information, contact Dean Johnson – 07539 371925

Photo:  Mallory and Irvine 

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Book Review: "Images of the Great War" by Lawrence Dunn, published by Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd., London, 2015

Lawrence Dunn, an artist from Sunderland, guides us through a brief history of the First World War featuring a selection of images by some of the British and Empire artists, cartoonists, poets, photographers and sculptors of the time -  paintings, drawings, illustrations and photographs, many of which are from the author's own collection.  With the skill that only an artist has, Lawrence encourages us to have a closer look at some of those works and in so doing brings the conflict to life as never before. In many instances, Lawrence also invites the reader to compare the styles of artists who have painted the same view or person.  

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  I already knew some of the names that Lawrence has included but there were many that were new to me.  I was interested to see that Lawrence has dedicated the book to his second cousin, Corporal Michael Davison of the Northumberland Fusiliers (1st Tyneside Irish).  Michael was an underground putter at Ryhope Colliery when he enlisted in 1914 and was killed on the first day of the Battle of Arras - Easter Monday, 9th April 1917.  My great-uncle James Yule was a Private in the Northumberland Fusiliers, 23rd (Tyneside Scottish) Battalion and he too was killed on 9th April 1917, as were the poets R.E. Vernède and Edward Thomas,  

Beginning with Lady Elizabeth Butler, both male and female WW1 artists of all disciplines are represented in the book - Sir David Muirhead Bone, Francis Edgar Dodd, Sir William Orpen, Charles Sergeant Jagger, Christopher R.W. Nevinson, Paul and John Nash, Bruce Bairnsfather, Arthur Leonard Smith, Wyndham Lewis, David Bomberg, William Patrick Roberts, Colin Unwin Gill, Harold Sandys Williamson, Augustus Edwin John, John Singer Sargent, Henry Tonks, James Francis Hurley OBE, Olive Edis, Eric Henri Kennington, George Clausen, Sir John Lavery, Austin Osman Spare, Gilbert Rogers MBE, Adrian Ketih Graham Hill, Sir Jacob Epstein, Mark Gertler, Joyce Dennys, Olive Mudie-Cooke, Flora Lion, Anna Airy, Lucy Kemp-Welch, Norah Neilson-Gray, Clare Atwood, Dorothy Josephine Coke, Frederick Horseman Varley, Stanley Spencer, David Michael Jones, Robert Doublas Strachan.

But this book is not just about the artists and the pictures of WW1, Lawrence goes into detail about some of the battles and includes personal stories about the artists and the areas and subjects depicted.   On page 137 you will find paintings by the artist William Patrick Roberts, who was at the Battle of Arras on 9th April 1917 and is therefore of special interest to me.

Lawrence has also included poems by both male and female poets - Laurence Binyon, Rupert Brooke, Beatrix Brice Miller, Jessie Pope, John McCrae, Lucy Foster Whitmell, Charles Sorley, Alan Seeger, Vera Brittain, Thomas Kettle, Lady Margaret Sackville, Isaac Rosenberg, Siegfried Sassoon, Francis Ledwidge, Wilfred Owen, Robert Graves, Iris Tree, Winifred Mabel Letts, May Wedderburn Cannan, Anna Gordon Keown, Alice Meynell, Katharine Tynan, Elinor Jenkins, Muriel Elsie Graham, Edmund Blunden, May Hershel-Clarke, Mary H.J. Henderson, Eileen Newton, Emily Orr, Doprothy Una Ratcliffe, Edward Thomas.

I also very much enjoyed reading about the photographs taken during the First World War in the section about James Francis Hurley OBE, a photographer from Sydney, Australia.   Lawrence explains that many of the photographs taken during the 1914 - 1919 period were not fake but 'composites' as photographers were still experimenting with the medium.

With a map of the Western Front showing some of the worst battles of the war, a comprehensive Index and Bibliography and a final poem written by the UK's current Poet Laureate, Dame Carol Ann Duffy, this is a superb book which I would highly recommend.

Jasper's Family Fundraising Day, Southport Bank Holiday Sunday 3rd May 2015

Jasper's Alley Cats Family FUNdraising Day, Southport, 3rd May 2015

JASPERS FUNdraising Day will take place at the Southport Scouts Headquarters, Waterside Lodge, on Marine Drive, Southport, Lancashire PR8 1RY

Time:  From 11am till 4pm
Date:  Sunday, 3rd May 2015.

Visitors can enjoy a day of fun for all the family, lots of lovely bargains, a jewellery stall, new cat related products, craft stalls, tombola stalls, raffles, children’s games, children’s entertainment, refreshments and food…

In short, a place to meet old and new friends, chat, bag a bargain and have some fun and raise some funds for Jaspers. Everybody welcome. parking available.

For further information about Jasper's Alley Cats, the charity that helps the alley cats of Southport

Friday, 10 April 2015

Rae Morris - Then & Now

Rae Morris "Now" - on BBC Radio 2
Hearing Rae Morris sing live on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2 this morning  took us right back to when we first saw her sing live – doing a guest spot at the “Parks” Art Deco café in Blackpool’s Stanley Park at one of their Sunday lunchtime swing sessions in 2010.

She was back there again in September of that same year playing at the café’s coffee morning in aid of the Macmillan cancer charity and, once again, she made a huge impression on everybody who heard her perform that day.    

In this modern day and age where names can be made or broken on the fickle judgements of TV “experts”, and five minute wonders come and go in – well - five minutes, actually… it is especially gratifying to see that a young singer songwriter can still make their way in the music business persevering with their own excellent material and working their way up round the various festivals and other opportunities that come along.

Rae Morris "Then" - at the Parks café in 2010
(Photo by Paul Breeze)
By the time that Rae performed at the Blackpool Fashion Show in February 2011,   she was already very much on the up as a star and we were very pleased to be able to feature some of her early recordings in our “Lancashire Songwriters” Showcase programmes on 103.2 Preston FM.

One of the most striking things about her when you meet her is how small she is in build  – except for her hair, that is - and how quietly spoken and unassuming she is.  However, once she starts to sing, the most amazing powerful sounds come out of that small person and she really is incredible to listen to. It is great to see that this Blackpool-born songwriting talent has enjoyed so much success in these intervening years.      

Since then she has done it all – Jools Holland, Glastonbury, the Burberry adverts, numerous national radio appearances and recently – a colour glossy spread in “You” magazine. Then her debut album on Atlantic records “Unguarded” broke into the top 10 of the album charts. 

She is now embarking on a European tour and is set to headline at the Lytham Festival in August as well as appearing at the Liverpool International Music Festival.

You can find out more about Rae’s music and all her latest news on her website at  where there are also sales links to buy her “Unguarded” album.

Early Rae Morris news items here on “Best Kept Secrets”:

Rae Morris at the Blackpool Fashion Show in Feb 2011
(Photo by Anthony Baldwin Photography).


Saturday, 21 March 2015

Laidler Play Off Weekend Details Announced

The Laidler Conference Play Offs will be held over Easter Weekend at Solihull Ice Rink.

Semi final 1 will be played on Saturday 4th April between  Solihull Barons and Widnes Wild and Semi Final 2 will be on Sunday 5th April between  Telford Tigers and Sheffield Senators.

The two semi final winners will meet in the final on Easter Monday. All matches face off at 6.30pm.
Ticket Prices are as follows:
Single Match:   Adults £10-00 Child/Concessions £5.00 Family £25.00
Special Week End Offer:  Adults £25.00 Child/Concessions £12.50 Family £60.00...

Weekend tickets are only available until 31st March.  

Various sponsorship and advertising packages are also available. 

To order tickets or discuss sponsorships options, contact John Butler by email at    or  telephone on 0121 770 8000 (business hours only)

Follow all the Laidler Play Off news on the dedicated Facebook page HERE 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Book Review: "Female Tommies The Frontline Women of the First World War" by Elisabeth Shipton,The History Press, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2014

I have been researching the involvement of women in the First World War for some time now for a series of commemorative exhibitions, so quite a lot of the material in "Female Tommies" was already familiar to me.  As Shipton explains in the Foreword to her book, these days we are used to women war correspondents and women in the armed forces.  Television reporters like Kate Adie have brought front line news to our television screens for years but the women who wanted to help in the danger zones of WW1 had first to overcome centuries of prejudice, so their determination and sacrifices are all the more to be admired. 

Shipton draws on an immense volume of written and audio information relating to the role of women in The First World War and has produced an outstanding, very readable book.   With a detailed Bibliography and Index, extensive notes to each chapter and some wonderful photographs, the book has ten chapters covering women nurses, doctors, orderlies, spies, pilots and soldiers, ambulance drivers, telephonists, clerks, coders, de-coders, telegraphists, waitresses and cooks, plus civilian volunteers and entertainers.   She goes into detail about the founding of the various organisations set up by women and directly involved in the conflict and gives us the history of the formation of the women's branches of the British and American Armed Forces.   

"Female Tommies" also explains in detail the historical background to events, making the book comprehensive and an invaluable source for anyone genuinely interested in the role of women in WW1.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, found it extremely well written and full of interesting and entertaining information.  It was definitely one of those "couldn't put it down" books, that you finish with a feeling of regret at leaving old friends.

"Female Tommies  The Frontline Women of the First World War" by Elisabeth Shipton, dedicated bo her grandmother who served in the WAAF during The Second World War and published by The History Press, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2014

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Exhibition of Female Poets of the First World War, Lytham Heritage Centre, Lytham, Lancs until 28th February 2015

An exhibition of female poets is currently on display as part of the "Lancashire in WW1" Exhibition at The Heritage Centre in Lytham, Lancashire from today until 28th February 2015. Open from 10 am until 4 pm Tuesdays - Sundays, the Centre is run entirely by volunteers.  Entry is free but all donations are gratefully accepted.

Lytham Heritage Centre,
2 Henry Street
Lancashire FY8 5LE
Tel.:  01253 730787

Photo:  Ceramic Artist Marie Kershaw with some of the ceramic poppies she designed and made which are now on display at the Heritage Centre.  Photo by P. Breeze.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Ice Hockey: Blackburn Hawks Touching Tribute

Blackburn Hawks ice hockey team had a minutes' silence before their home game against Whitley Warriors in the NIHL Moralee Conference on Saturday night in memory of the team's General Manager Alan Amos who died during the week after a short illness.

The league leaders broke with the normal match protocol and wore their black away shirts for the evening as a mark of respect and the visiting team - Whitley Warriors - accommodated this by wearing their white "home" shirts.  A book of remembrance was available for people to sign on the night and the Hawks extended their lead at the top of the table with a 9-4 victory.

You can find all the latest NIHL ice hockey news on

This poignant photograph of the Hawks minute's silence was taken by John Milton and you can see more of his excellent photos at         

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Local Football Round Up - 31st January 2015

In our match of the day, Blackpool Wren Rovers ended up with only 9 men on the field in a tempestuous encounter that saw them lose 1-3 to Longridge Town.  With other games being postponed due to the weather, that result hoists Longridge up into 3rd place, 9 points behind Wrens but with 3 games in hand.

Wrens remain in second place in the West Lancashire League Premier Division, 4 points behind league leaders Charnock Richard and having played two games more.

Wrens Reserves game away at Charnock Richard was postponed.
More info:

Monday, 26 January 2015

Book Review: "Into the Danger Zone Sea Crossings of the First World War"

Review of "Into the Danger Zone Sea Crossings of the First World War" by Tad Fitch and Michael Poirier published by The History Press, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2014.

"Go wild in Brazil" screamed the headline in the holiday supplement of the newspaper on the first weekend of  2015.    Travel is so easy these days and more affordable than it was in the early part of the 20th Century, when travel to somewhere on the other side of the world to where you lived was just for the very rich.  And yet many people did undertake those journeys to answer the call of their Motherland during the First World War.   With the advent of submarine warfare and mines, sea travel, however, was hazardous and it was the only way to go as air passenger travel was in its infancy.   

"Into the Danger Zone Sea Crossings of the First World War" is the only book I have found which is full of details about those hazardous sea journeys.  I was absolutely thrilled to find out it was in preparation and couldn't wait to get a copy as it really does answer many of the questions I had during the course of my research into the role of women during WW1. I was particularly  interested in knowing of the journey women like the poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox and the entertainer Elsie Janis would have made to reach the Western Front where they entertained American troops and this book has the answers.

But "Into the Danger Zone" is not just a book about shipping in WW1.  I love the way the book gives a step-by-step chronicle of the events from the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in June 1914 to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in Paris in June 1919 and beyond.  There are maps and photographs of the ships, U-boats and their passengers and crew and quotes from letters written by survivors and indeed before sailing by those who perished.  I particularly like the photographs of the ships, having been brought up near Liverpool in England at a time when beautiful liners were still regular visitors to the port.

The Cunard Liner RMS Carpathia is one of the many ships featured that stood out for me because one of the Female Poets of the First World War featured in my exhibition project is American poet Moina Belle Michael. Moina was the person who got us all wearing poppies in remembrance of the conflict in 1919. She was on a teaching tour of Italy when war broke out in 1914 but managed to secure a safe passage home to America on the RMS Carpathia, which was the ship that rescued survivors from RMS Titanic when she hit an iceberg and sank in 1912.  Many passenger liners of the era were pressed into service as troopships or hospital ships.  Carpathia served as a troopship during WW1 but was again a passenger ship when she was torpedoed on 17th July 1918 (pp.366 - 370).

With a foreword by Hugh Brewster, author, "Into the Danger Zone" is full of eye-witness accounts of the sinking of many passenger ships, troopships and hospital ships during WW1 and illustrated with photographs from the impressive private collection of the authors.  It is a large book with over 400 pages packed with fascinating details and statistics that take us through the early days of WW1, when ships going to America were full but those going to Europe were almost empty, and finishing with an Epilogue chapter about 1919, when the American and Canadian troops returned across the Atlantic.   A photograph on page 367 shows us what conditions were like for the troops who crossed the Atlantic in WW1.

It must have taken Tad and Michael years to gather together all the information in this amazing book.  I should like to thank them and to recommend this book highly to anyone interested in the First World War.  If you only have time to read one book about the First World War please make it "Into the Danger Zone Sea Crossings of the First World War."

"Into the Danger Zone Sea Crossings of the First World War" by Tad Fitch and Michael Poirier
published by The History Press, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2014.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Local Football Round Up - 24th January

Blackpool Wren Rovers Reserves held league leaders Garstang Reserves to 0-0 draw in a pulsating game that could easily have gone either way(in photo). Garstang are now 6 points clear at the top of the Reserves Division table with a game in hand over 2nd place Charnock Richard reserves.  Wrens are in 4th place with 23 points but have games in hand over the all the teams above them. 

The Wren Rovers 1st team's game away Crookland Casuals was postponed for the third time due to bad weather.

Elsewhere in the Golden Triangle of local football, 5th place Squires Gate drew 0-0 away at AFC Liverpool in the Premier Division of the NWCFL. AFC Blackpool's home game against Glossop North End was postponed due to Glossop's participation in the FA Vase.

Blackpool Wren Rovers 1st team are at home to Longridge Town in the Premier Division on Saturday in  a 2pm kick off. The Reserves are away at Charnock Richard reserves.



Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Ice Hockey: Blackurn Hawks Announce 25th Anniversary Match - 25th April

It has been announced that former GB international and British League legend Steve Moria will be one of the players to ice in a special match to be played on 25th April to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Blackburn Hawks.

Moria will be part of a Hawks Legends team that will play against the current Moralee Conference team plus a few additions.

Canadian Moria first came to Britain to play as an import for Fife Flyers in the Heineken League Premier Division in the 1986/87 season. He went on to play for, among others, Cardiff Devils, Nottingham Panthers, Slough Jets and Basingstoke Bison - where he was still playing EPL hockey at the age of 51 until he retired in 2012.

He qualified to play for the GB team and appeared in 5 World Championships, scoring 28 points in 35 games.  Moria joined Blackburn Hawks as player coach in 1992 and played for them for two season, scoring over 200 points in each campaign.

The All Star team for the 25th Anniversary match will feature the following former Hawks players:
Ian Young (G),  Paul Hannant (G),  John Dunford (G),  Steve Moria,  Bobby Haig,  John Haig,  Mark Stokes,  Neil Abel,  Jim Pennycook,  Ged Smith,  Simon Ferry,  Jon Cotton,  Russ Plant,  Alan Hough,  Gordon Whyte,  Simon Mills,  Neal Haworth,  Michael Brunton,  Jamie Thomson,  Ian Hough (McDade),  Mark Johnson,  Gary Shearman,  Pete Winstanley & Richard Bentham.

The current Hawks squad for the 25th Anniversary Match consists of 23 players, including 6 guests and is as follows: Daniel Brittle (G),  Stuart Ashton (G),  David Clancy (G),  Adam Brittle,  Luke Brittle,  Jared Owen,  Daniel Mackriel,  Chris Arnone,  Pavel Slowik,  David Meikle,  Aaron Davies,  Richard Hughes,  Tom King,  Oliver Lomax,  Jake Nurse,  Jordan Bannon,  Matt Viney,  Chris Butler,  Scott Barnett,  Lance Derbyshire,  Lauren Halliwell,  Sam Dunford & Anthony Kinder.

The game on Saturday 25th April will commence with player introductions at  5-45pm. Admission prices to the match will be £7-00 (adults) & £4-00 (children), with 50p of all entry monies going to Cancer Research – this year’s Hawks chosen charity.

On the evening both teams will be wearing stunning ‘one- off’ retro kits and ALL game worn shirts will be made available to own, via a ‘closed’ auction (details to follow). These shirts will not be available to buy as replicas.

There will also be a ‘post’ match celebration party in the newly refurbished Rink Bar 8.30pm till late, where a buffet will be served, and local ‘covers’ band, Flashback, shall provide the entertainment along with a Disco. Access to the party is by way of tickets only, which will go on sale at 10am on Monday 9th February, from the Blackburn Arena Reception – costing £15.00 each. (Over 18’s only)

Please note that game tickets are on sale from 16th March - but tickets for the EVENING EVENT - which needs a SEPARATE TICKET - are on sale from 9th February...  

More information can be found   HERE 

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Local Football Round Up - 17th January

In one of the few games to be played today in the West Lancashire League, Premier Division title chasers Blackpool Wren Rovers slumped to their first home defeat of the season at home to Slyne With Hest  in a 1-2 reverse that was only settled in added time.

That result leaves the Wrens a point behind leaders Charnock Richard in the table but having played two games more. Slyne With Hest move up into 3rd place - 9 points behind Wrens but with 3 games in hand.

Elsewhere in the Golden Triangle of local football, Squires Gate beat West Didsbury & Chorlton 2-0 to move up into 5th place in the North West Counties Premier Division and AFC Blackpool won 0-1 away at Maine Road. That win sees them pull 4 points clear of the relegation zone but they have played more games than the other teams below them. 

Blackpool Wren Rovers Reserves are at home next Saturday against Garstang Reser5ves in a 2pm kick off while the first team are away at Crooklands Casuals.

AFC Blackpool are at home to Glossop North End in a 3pm kick off and Squires Gate are away at AFC Liverpool. 

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Local Football Round Up - 3rd January

Blackpool Wren Rovers beat Lostock St Gerrards 6-1 (in photo) in the Premier Division of the West Lancashire League to keep them in contention with Charnock Richard at the top of the table.

In the North West Counties League, AFC Blackpool drew 2-2 with AFC Liverpool and Squires Gate drew 3-3 away at promoted Nelson.  Gate remain 7th in the Premier Division while AFC Blackpool are 20th. 

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Local Football Round Up - 20th December

In a thrilling end to end encounter, Blackpool Wren Rovers had to fight back from 2 goals down to finish 3-3 in a their West Lancashire League Premier Division home encounter with Crookland Casuals. 

It was the first time this season that Wrens had failed to win a league game at home and with Charnock Richard winning 3-1 at home to Coppull Utd, it means that their near rivals now take over at the top of the table.

Elsewhere in the Golden Triangle of local football, Squires Gate FC drew 1-1 with Abbey Hey in the Premier Division of the North West Counties League - a result which leaves them seventh in the table.

AFC Blackpool's bottom three clash against Bacup & Rossendale Utd was postponed du to bad weather.

Squires Gate host AFC Blackpool in a local derby clash on Boxing Day in a 3pm kick off

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Book Review: "No Woman's Land - A Centenary Tribute To Inspirational Women Of World War One"

Most people will have heard of Edith Cavell – the British nurse who was shot by the Germans during World War One and probably Mata Hari as well - she was the Dutch exotic dancer who spied for the Germans and was shot by the French. Then there was Mistinguet, the famous French music hall  star  who has been said to have spied for the British and  was never shot by any one.

But what about Marie Marvingt – the French pilot who invented the idea of the air ambulance…?  Elsie Janis – the American “Forces Sweetheart” of WW1…? Or maybe Flora Sandes – the British woman who joined the Serbian army and fought against the Austro-Hungarians…? 

Contrary to what a lot of people seem to think, there were actually thousands upon thousands of women involved in all sorts of activities in and out of the various war zones during the First World War.  From nurses like Nellie Spindler to ambulance drivers like Olive King, from diarists like Mildred Aldridge – who “retired” to the Marne during the summer of 1914 in search of a quiet place to live… - to sculptress Kathleen Scott (widow of explorer Captain Scott) whose artistic skills helped the pioneer plastic surgeons develop facial reconstruction techniques….. and this book is packed with fascinating stories about dozens of these inspirational women.   

With photos and basic biographical details, this is an excellent starter book for anybody who is interested in the First World War.   It doesn’t set out to be an “academic” work but it does give the reader a broad taste of some of the different roles that women filled (not just nurses and munitions workers although there are some of them in here as well…) and is aimed at a general readership.

An “Inspirational Women - Volume 2” is planned for publication later in the centenary years and there is also a companion volume out now called “Female Poets Of The First World War” which looks at the lives and works of female poets during the Great War period.

You can buy by mail order “No Woman’s Land” by mail order HERE  and “Female Poets Of The First World War - Volume 1” HERE

You can also buy on Amazon HERE

There is lots more information about Inspirational Women at

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Local Football Round Up - 13th December

Blackpool Wren Rovers Reserves beat Eagley Reserves with a sensational last minute goal after the two sides had remained deadlocked at 1-1 for much of this West Lancashire League Reserves Division One encounter.

The win sees the Wrens Reserves move 3 points clear in 3rd place in the league table as most of the other games were called off due to the weather.

The Wren Rovers first team's game away at Crookland Casuals was postponed and Wrens remain top of the West Lancashire League Premier Division 1 point ahead of second place Charnock Richard who have played one game fewer. 

Elsewhere in the Golden Triangle of local football, Squires Gate FC's game away at Winsford in the NWCFL was postponed and AFC Blackpool were without a game.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Book Review: "Female Poets Of The First World War - Volume 1" Compiled by Lucy London

The TV and newspapers are full of the World War 1 centenary at present - and quite rightly so as we need to remember what went on a hundred years ago.  Much is written and said about the “soldier poets in the trenches” but hardly anybody mentions women in the conflict – except as nurses, drivers or munitions workers.

That fact is that there were hundreds of women who wrote during the First World War – as journalists, diarists and, indeed, poets. Some of the female writers included in this book - like May Sinclair - were very well know at the time of the war but have fallen from prominence since – and others like Agatha Christie have become well known since but nobody knows now that she actually wrote poetry back then.

So the good thing about this book is that tell us about all sorts of women who wrote poetry during the war - from the American doyenne Ella Wheeler Wilcox who many years beforehand had written the famous lines “laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone”  and toured the US army depots in France giving poetry reading and lectures on “moral hygiene” to the soldiers right down to teenage girls at Downe House public school like Audrey Lucas who would later go on to achieve great things in adulthood.

There are poets from all the main countries that took part in the Great War – British Empire, USA, France, Germany, Austria Hungary, Russia , Serbia & Italy and also from some that you may not even know were involved such as Portugal, China and Japan.

A great many of the poems are written in English but many of the foreign language poems have been left in their original language.  Compiler Lucy London has done this on purpose as she wants the original poems to speak for themselves as the writer intended, rather than putting a translator’s spin on them.  

This is not an “academic” work - it doesn’t dissect the poems and make comments about rhyming schemes and stanza structures   but what it does do is gives the reader a broad taste of the different poets and their works and is aimed at a general readership.  If, having read this book, you then want to find out more about the individual poets and their writings, you can go off and do so but, then again, if this is the only book you ever read about female war poets, then you will still have very good grounding.

A “Female Poets Of The First World War - Volume 2” is planned for publication during 2015 and there is also a companion volume out now called “No Woman’s Land – A Centenary Tribute To Inspirational Women Of World War One” which looks at the lives and deeds of non –poets  during the Great War period.

You can buy “Female Poets Of The First World War - Volume 1” by mail order  HERE  and “No Woman’s Land”  HERE

You can also purchase on Amazon HERE
There is lots more information about Female War Poets at

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Local Football Round Up - 6th December 2014

In our featured match of the day, Blackpool Wren Rovers Reserves beat Ladybridge Reserves 4-1 in the first round of the West Lancashire League's Houston Cup in a game that was very close until the last couple of minutes.

League leaders Blackpool Wren Rovers first team lost 2-1 away at Garstang in the Premier Division of the West Lancashire League. 

Elsewhere in the Golden Triangle of local football, Squires Gate FC beat Silsden 2-0 to move into 7th place in the Premier Division of the North West Counties league.

AFC Blackpool were without a game and remain in 20th position in the league table out of 22 teams.

Photo: match action from the Wren Rovers Reserves v Ladybridge Reserves Houston Cup game.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Book Review: The Ice Hockey Annual 2014-15 edited by Stewart Roberts

The Ice Hockey Annual 2014-15  - edited by Stewart Roberts

Format: Paperback
Pages: 176 pages
Publisher: Stewart Roberts
ISBN-13: 978-0956294371
Product Dimensions:  14.8 x 0.8 x 21.1 cm

Website and Order link:

Despite now being one of its hugest fans and advocates, I was actually a bit of a latecomer to the Ice Hockey Annual. Despite watching British ice hockey from 1983 onwards, the first edition of the Annual that I actually owned was the 1999-00 edition - which was given to me personally (and signed) by Stewart Roberts at the GB “Pool A” Qualification Tournament at Sheffield Arena that year.

I don’t know why I hadn’t bought it before – I’d seen it advertised in Ice Hockey News Review every year and, to be honest, I now wish I HAD bought it right from the start as it would have saved a lot of hassle and money buying up all the back issues I could find.

If I’d have bought each edition as it came out, it would have been much easier and I would probably have managed back then to get hold of the very early editions that I still don’t have today.

So, what I am really trying to say here is that if you are interested in British ice hockey then you really need to get this new edition.

It has team by team and league by league stats and reports of all the clubs in the Elite League and English Premier League from the 2013/14 season. There is a run-down of Team GB’s involvement in the World Championships at senior, women’s and junior levels plus Player Awards, new Hall of Fame inductees, new rink news and lots more besides.     

There is a summary of the season in NIHL North & South and the Scottish National League, news about international leagues and the European cup, contacts and rink directory and pretty much everything else that you’d need to know about ice hockey over the past year.

In fact, when I started producing the “Ice Hockey Review” yearbook in its original guise 3 years ago now, I shamelessly copied the format of the Ice Hockey Annual for the basic contents and layout.  The difference is that, while Stewart’s Ice Hockey Annual covers mainly Elite League and EPL and only briefly touches on the NIHL, my Ice Hockey Review has the same team by team and league by league reporting for NIHL teams only and does not cover the other leagues at all. So the two publications sit well side by side on the bookshelf.  But I digress…..

This is the 39th edition of the Ice Hockey Annual, which demonstrates that Stewart has got the formula just right.  I can spend hours flicking through the pages of my collection of Ice Hockey Annuals. There’s always something new that you didn’t notice the first time you read it, something you’d forgotten about or just something that you enjoy reading about again and again.

You can check who played for who – what they looked like – what their stats for the season were…

It really is the “Bible” for the British ice hockey and I heartily recommend that you buy this new edition – and all the back issues you can find!  Looking forward already to the 40th edition – long may it continue!

More info, book orders and back issues:


Monday, 24 November 2014

New Release: "It's Christmas Time..." - Exclusive Interview With Steve Drewett

We don't normally "do" Christmas but we think this new Christmas song by Steve Drewett is really worth a listen. It is different from most of the more traditional Christmas songs and addresses an issue that is very common in modern day society.

We had a chat with Steve Drewett about how he came to write this song.  Click on the sound icon below to hear what he had to say about it:

You can listen to the song HERE

And you can find out more about Steve's latest album here:

We'll be featuring more of our great interview with Steve Drewett here on "Best Kept Secrets" shortly so please check back!