I must apologise to all loyal readers of this column for an horrendous error made on this page last year. I incorrectly stated that the coldest football match I'd ever attended was in a bleak Bulgarian winter watching Liverpool in a UEFA cup tie at Levski Sofia.
I mistakenly commented that I'd never watch a match in such Antarctic conditions for as long as I lived. How wrong I was. And I wish to place on record my sincere apologies for any embarrassment caused by this naive claim.
Quite clearly I made the Sofia comment long before I'd ever watched Marine away at Lancaster City in a Doodson's Sport cup tie. May I take this opportunity to ask pardon to all those loyal Mariners who travelled to watch Marine at Giant Axe 18 days ago who may have been offended by my programme notes of last year.
Obviously -7 degrees in Sofia is positively Mediterranean compared to Lancaster in January. Sleet, snow, ice, freezing driving rain - and this was before the game had even kicked off. On nights like these there is no shame in wearing three pairs of socks, or - courting controversy here - bringing a blanket to keep warm under. Just like some of Chelsea's bench did at Anfield last Tuesday.
Congratulations to the 20 or so Marine supporters who cheered on the lads at Lancaster regardless of the plunging temperatures. You faced the most frost-bitten conditions that can be thrown at long-suffering non-league fans.
I shiver and shudder-to-think how low body temperatures could have slipped had we not warmed ourselves pre-match in the aptly-titled Three Mariners pub. We drank the even-more-aptly-titled Mariner's Gold ale. The Three Mariners is by far the greatest ale house I've frequented on my Marine travels this season.
The bar menu revealed there had been a hostelry on site since the 15th century and is one of the only two places in Britain with an original gravity-fed cellar. How impressive. Whatever that is, it sounds cold. Situated near Lancaster Castle, prisoners were once brought from dungeons to the Three Mariners for a ‘last drink’. And throughout the pub's history there have been numerous sightings of ghosts and paranormal experiences.
The apparition of a beautiful blonde woman in flowing dress is said to drift gracefully between her seat and the bar. What tosh. That's no ghoul. That's Susan Nugent. Still, despite our icy (and ghostly) ordeal at Lancaster, it's nothing compared to American Football fans who have just experienced the coldest NFL game in history. The Green Bay Packers hosted the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the NFL playoffs last week. The temperature at Lambeau Field was one degree Fahrenheit, but the wind chill made it feel like -17 degrees.
Amazingly the game was still sold-out! Perhaps unsurprising as the Green Bay Packers have sold out every match for 54 years. Maybe we should lobby for the Packers to get a wildcard entry to the Doodson's Sport cup. They'd feel right at home.