AS WE APPROACH THE FINAL few days running up to the Scottish Cup Final with Hibs due to make a second consecutive appearance, Hibs boss, Pat Fenlon has a major conundrum before him. With influential captain, James McPake injured and off-form, young Jordan Forster has stepped up and taken the opportunity offered to him, installing himself in the heart of the Hibernian defence during the past three games and performing with distinction
If it’s the case that McPake is borderline ‘injured’, which is not clear, then there’s obviously a tough decision to make. Although I’m not particularly a fan of Manager Fenlon, I have some sympathy with him regarding this as he is basically on a hiding to nothing, unless Hibs win of course when all will be forgotten!
You need experience in these types of games, it counts for much to have the big game mentality that having been around the block a few times can bring. You also need leaders on the park – especially if things start to go wrong. McPake, I believe brings these qualities.
Forster, however, must be feeling very confident after his introduction and early promising start. There have been many examples where youngsters with ability and in his position have been trusted and have come through. ‘If you’re good enough, you’re old enough’. Brian Clough was particularly adept at plucking a youngster from obscurity and trusting them with the responsibility to perform a good job for him.
I’d leave well alone. Forster has done little wrong and deserves his chance. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it, as they say. Bringing in McPake is a big risk, shame though it would be not to have his qualities out there at Hampden Park. I don’t think he is offering these qualities though currently.
There are aspects of McPake’s game I’m not convinced about generally, for example his tendency to over-commit himself and his haphazard distribution, his good points tend to overshadow that though. I’m not too happy about his moping around either – desperately disappointed though he must be – he is still the captain of Hibernian and has a duty to show strength, leadership and resilience – especially where younger, less experienced players are concerned. I have concerns that he is a negative influence around the squad of late.
I’d like to state though that I have a large degree of sympathy for McPake. I feel his heart is in the right place where Hibs are concerned and I admire that. I think many times he has served us very well when in desperate need and I like to hope he will again – just not in the Scottish Cup Final 2013 I’m afraid.
The name of Mordecai Sherwin, a local and internationally-known sportsman of his era was known to me from doing a little research and reading on the golden age of cricket in the nineteenth century and the county of Nottinghamshire’s part in it. I recently came across his name once more as being a former mine host of The Grove Hotel at Daybrook, Nottingham, approximately a mile down the road from my own home just a few minutes north in Redhill. The Grove is sadly no longer. Never a public house that I visited and now earmarked for demolition, it did however have an interesting cave system underneath the bars and a significant slice of history surrounding it. On reading that Nottinghamshire-born Mordecai was at one time the landlord of The Grove, I decided to take a little look at his story.
The man himself not only played professional cricket for Nottinghamshire and England but also appeared in goal for Notts County Football Club before retiring to become a cricket umpire and publican. In the mid-1880s, Mordecai was in his pomp and feted as arguably the leading wicket-keeper in the land and more than useful batsman. This was all achieved despite possessing a less than sylph-like 17 stone frame coupled with a reasonably modest height of 5ft 9ins for his bulk!
In the age of distinction between professionals and gentlemen (amateurs generally from the upper classes) in cricket, with few working-class professionals being bestowed the honour of leading their county, Mordecai was apparently the very last professional captain until many years later in the mid-1930s.
The famous Nottinghamshire back-stop was also well-known as something of a joker on the pitch it is said. Wisden, in choosing it’s wicket keeper of the year for 1891 said of him thus:
‘Always in the best of spirits, and never discouraged, however much the game may be going against his side, Sherwin is one of the cheeriest and pluckiest of cricketers.’
The almanac also added:
‘In point of style behind the wicket he is more demonstrative than his Lancashire rival, but, though the applause and laughter of the spectators may occasionally cause him to go a little too far, he has certainly never done anything to really lay him open to censure.’
Mordecai is further described as being of ‘great bulk’ but nevertheless ‘wonderfully quick on his feet’ and capable of acts of extreme brilliance behind the stumps.
Giving further colour to Wisden’s review, Mordecai is also immortalised by E.V. Lucas, humourist, essayist, playwright, biographer and publisher in his ‘Cricket All His Life’ book, as follows:
‘Moredecai Sherwin, the famous wicket-keeper in the great period, and as leader of the side in 1887 and 1888 the last of Nottinghamshire’s professional captains, was a very notable man … When interviewed … by Captain Holden at Trent Bridge as a potential wicket-keeper, he had been asked if he was afraid. “Nowt fears me,” he replied. He followed by keeping wicket for Nottinghamshire for eighteen years with a remarkable record. Mordecai (and I think Sherwin must have been the only cricketer with that name) was a rotund man of mirthful character and a leading member of the Nottingham Glee Club, which used to meet at the Black Boy to sing and be hearty together.’
The theme of Mordecai as entertainer persists with tales of him offering renditions of Oh Dem Golden Slippers and performing various somersaults and jigs to the amusement of others at social events!
As has been stated, the Nottinghamshire man was also a hit between the posts with Notts County Football club in the late 1970s and early 1880s. From an age when it was customary to attempt to bundle the custodian into the net along with the ball, Wikipedia informs us of a memorable incident. Young and sturdily built Joseph Lofthouse (an apt name for this particular event) of Blackburn Rovers decided to have something of a run at Mordecai but unhappily for him rebounded harmlessly off the Notts goalie with Mordecai stating nonchalantly: ‘Young man, you’ll hurt yourself if you do that again’. Not to be deterred, Lofthouse attempted another physical charge on the last line of defence with Sherwin, belying his size, dancing deftly to one side and watching the young Blackburn forward crash painfully into the goalpost.
The Grove Hotel, (right) Daybrook, Nottinghamshire, C. 1900
Finally, an interesting link has also been suggested between Mordecai Sherwin and no less than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A strong theory exists that Sherwin, along with fellow Nottinghamshire team-mate Frank (T. E.) Shacklock was the inspiration behind the Edinburgh writer’s classic Sherlock Holmes character with the legend ‘caught Sherwin, bowled Shacklock’ appearing with monotonous regularity on Notts’ scorecards in the 1890s. The two surnames being amalgamated to form the name of super-sleuth, Sherlock.
Mordecai Sherwin was most definitely a sportsman characteristic of a different age. An unusual sporting hero by today’s standards and criteria but nonetheless a high achiever and a success in two professional disciplines in a great era of professional sports.
I’ve written previously about the numerous networks of caves that run under the city of Nottingham and some of it’s outlying suburbs such as the one I live in. They are many in number, not generally connected to other systems across the area and generally speaking, hand-hewn from the soft sandstone that the city lies on, for all sorts of reasons.
Some time ago, I came across an interesting academic article regarding the disused sand mines that line the main arterial Mansfield Road which leads directly out of the north side of Nottingham. Interesting to me, partly due to the fact that it’s a part of the city I use frequently, in particular for visits to The Lincolnshire Poacher pub just a few minutes walk up the same road heading towards to the old Rock Cemetery and Forest recreation ground, home of the annual Goose Fair.
I’d long been told that underneath The Lincolnshire Poacher and it’s neighbouring businesses there are deep caves which I assumed were the result of the sand mines originally in-situ. Notable in this is The Golden Fleece, another Mansfield Road hostelry close by which in the past has held charity abseiling events down it’s two-storey caves below the public house.
Last night I had the opportunity to visit The Poacher’s cellars briefly. Again, they are two-storied with the first level being traditional brick by construction. Interesting enough in their own right but it is when descending a further narrow staircase through the rock down to a second lower storey where things become quite remarkable and thought-provoking.
As can be seen in the above images, this part of the cellars is a hand-made cave, whether this is the result of former sand mining or excavated especially for this former dwelling house is not clear to me. Quite clearly, the indentations of tools used to scrape away the soft rock are apparent, forming a uniformly shaped ‘room’ complete with a ‘drop’ for beer barrels, at the end, leading down from the pub back yard.
The cellars are of course a busy working environment under the former Old Grey Nag’s Head, the pub’s previous incarnation and so are laden and scattered with beer barrels, bottled beers and the various paraphernalia required to serve the pub’s many satisfied and loyal customers. The atmosphere, as one might expect, is damp and temperate, the floor sticky and with a general feel of the labour required in keeping a busy city-centre pub replenished. Even in 2013 though there remains a little evocative history and a few questions outstanding deep under The Lincolnshire Poacher and the businesses and homes nearby.
IT’S BEEN A LONG WINTER and it’s so welcome to finally see a little watery sunshine again and have a brief respite from the chilling winds of the past few months. I felt it time, upon this encouragement, to pull out some summer training gear and head out to the local villages for a canter round the pretty lanes.
Over the past six weeks I’ve been running three and latterly four miles twice a week to augment the single mile minimum I undertake to carry out every single day in order to continue my running streak of consecutive days which now stands at around thirteen years and three months. For the past few weeks too I’ve been trying to slowly awake from my winter slumbers with a short session of Royal Canadian Air Force exercises each and every day, building up very steadily.
Substituting the track suit bottoms and rain jacket with a pair of shorts and t-shirt for the first time in some six months, it was a pleasant and reassuring feeling cruising in the car down Bank Hill which overlooks the beautiful Woodborough valley, to my start point at The Nags Head at the east end of Woodborough village. Today I thought, I’ll have a slight bump up to five miles of a run.
‘From little acorns do mighty oaks grow’ is an old phrase not lost on me when it comes to running. I’ve had so many years doing this thing year in, year out, that I understand that whilst not being very fit at the moment, this will change once the ‘building blocks’ of regular training are cemented into place. It takes patience, hard work, commitment and perseverance.
With April bird song sweetly ringing in my ears I was shortly passing along Epperstone villages’ Main Street and on to the rural Gonalston Lane. Bordered by green fields and busy hedgerows, accompanied by the tip-tap sound of my training shoes. The countryside still looked in hibernation with only an odd strenuous and failing attempt at Spring blossom by a solitary cherry tree in Epperstone. Further along the route, evidence of Winter’s destructive and stormy weather manifested itself with a collapsed wooden bridge at Lowdham Mill. Grave council warnings lay pinned to the fence stating the footpath to be blocked for that reason but a ginger few steps took the runner on his way to the seclusion of the Old Lowdham Road, passing on to Lowdham Lane and the end point at Woodborough village.
A drink of cold water to finish at the gate of the Nag’s Head’s deserted garden. Just a few brave daisies push up from the grass and the bench and umbrellas wait patiently and silently for the Summer months.
Since this pleasant run I’ve been fortunate enough to have another identical run at the weekend around the villages and enjoyed it’s portents for the oncoming of summer and longer runs in the warmer weather and sunshine, hopefully. It’s time to get ‘back on the road’ again.
WELL, THOSE OF US OF A HIBERNIAN persuasion can breathe again. It’s the day after a tumultuous, worrying and ultimately relieving victory over First Division Falkirk by four goals to three. The unusual score line barely begins to tell the tale of the day though.
After thirty minutes of the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park, Glasgow, Hibs looked completely dead and buried, three-nil down to a tigerish and eager young Falkirk team looking for the blood of an SPL scalp and finding it. Many Hibs supporters began trooping out of the ground at that point, a hail of booing erupted and the player’s heads were down. Very seldom have I witnessed such an abject forty-five-minute display by Hibs – or indeed any time. The performance was at the level of an under-12’s side.
Leigh Griffiths strikes.
Football is a ‘funny old game’ however and what followed was quite sensational with Hibs rattling in three goals to tie the game and take it into extra-time. With the Hibees so clearly on top and Falkirk struggling to cope, the writing was visibly on the wall for Hibs’ young opponents and so it came to pass with a clinical Griffiths strike in extra-time to book his side a return journey to Glasgow for another May cup final.
In spite of a famous victory there were few pass marks being handed out to players in Green and White yesterday. The great and notable exception was 18-year old Alex Harris who used the big stage to good effect in his fledgling career. Alex’ screaming goal, intelligent prompting and willingness to go forward and take people on was as refreshing as Hibs’ general (in the first half at least) display was dull, listless, artless and infuriating. Full marks go to the young winger.
Hibs’ Alex Harris scores
It’s a curious position that Hibs followers are placed in today. On the one hand, the club have reached a second consecutive Scottish Cup final and given themselves an opportunity to atone for last year’s disgraceful performance in May. On the other hand, all of the team’s glaring problems were showcased, with Manager Fenlon and his negative tactics in particular coming under great scrutiny.
I’ve documented my feelings about Fenlon previously but I’d like to add that this game alters my opinion of him as a manager in no way. It is being argued today that having identified his errors yesterday he set about correcting them in the second half to good effect. That may well be true, and fair play to him on the tactical changes he made, but in my view, the turnaround came from deep down inside the players themselves. Apparently, there are rumours of dressing room fisticuffs at half-time and harsh words. It this is true then so be it. It is about time that Hibernian FC found some passion to match that of the club’s supporters which is never in doubt.
Onwards to Sunday 26th of May then. Another date with destiny beckons.
Glory Glory to the Hibees.
I AM THE SON,
Of a man who worked in the pits of Fife in Scotland,
In eighteen inches of water on his hands and knees.
As a fourteen-year-old boy.
And who came for many a year, to work in the deep coal mines of Nottinghamshire.
To put food on his family’s table.
I will not forget these men, and their families.
The town near where I live Arnold has one or two famous sons and daughters like most places of any size or history. Romantic landscape painter, Richard Parkes Bonington is just such a figure from Arnold in Nottinghamshire.
I’ve recently been witness to an informative talk also by a local Redhill resident which included a description of how he had been refurbishing a statue of the artist for the past twelve months which will go on public display. Richard Parkes Bonington is commonly described as coming from Arnold although I have heard a claim of late that this theory is somewhat spurious due to his time spent abroad. Having always been of the opinion that he was an Arnold man and in respect of the talk, I decided to do a little research about this assertion
The artist and his former Arnold home
Bonington was born in Arnold in 1802, his first home was at 79 High Street in Arnold. The fine old manor house has long been the premises for the Labour (Social) Club in Arnold. His mother opened a school in the town just after he was born whilst his father was the Governor of Nottingham Gaol. Bonington’s father nurtured his son’s talent whilst he was growing up in Arnold, resulting in his work being exhibited in the city of Liverpool at the tender age of just eleven years. After this time, his parents opened a lace factory but as a result of great industrial unrest of the time decided to emigrate to France in 1917 when the young artist was fourteen years old, firstly to Calais, before they moved to Paris the year after.
Venice Grand Canal, Sunset – Richard Parkes Bonington
The young Bonington spent parts of 1823 touring Belgium, much of 1924 in Dunkirk and several months of his short life in London in 1825. He further travelled extensively in Italy and made several extended stays to London before later returning to the Capital where he died and is interred.
To summarise, Bonington was born in Arnold of parents who lived in the town. His first home was in Arnold and he spent fourteen of the twenty-five years of his life being brought up in Arnold. He is also known to have been a skilled artist, with at least one exhibition, at a very young age (though not yet formally trained) whilst in Arnold. In addition to hailing from the town, he has not been in any other part of the world for nearly the length of time that he spent in the Nottinghamshire town.
I’d have to offer the humble opinion that it’s a perfectly reasonable claim that Arnold can call Richard Parkes Bonington one of its own. The artist is additionally, rightly celebrated with a local school and a theatre named after him.
I’m sure that one or two reading this may have partaken in something similar as a youngster and I’m equally certain that it has many different monikers. ‘Ghost knocking’ is familiar and the plain and simple chapping on doors is another from back home. My friends and I though called it ‘Spirit Knocking’ – the art of tapping on people’s front door and running away and it’s many more sophisticated half-siblings in the art of annoying the local populace
I have to confess to taking part in the door knocking thing (amongst many other japes) fairly regularly a a kid. Why, the bunch of lads I hung out with managed to tie a whole line of terraced house door knockers together with black cotton one time and at a pre-determined signal, rat-a-tat-tat on all of them before legging it – pronto. We barely had time to look back for a snigger.
We used to have a ‘special’ victim in Arnold In Nottinghamshire that we would prime ourselves for. For this man we termed The Runner as he would unfailingly give chase at a fair lick (just as we knew he would). It would take us a little while to muster up the courage to disturb his peace and we all needed to be in top form to face the challenge. I kid you not, on the rare occasions we were feeling particularly brave enough knock on his front door we would actually get down in sprinter’s blocks position on the pavement when the volunteer crept up his darkened front path, ready for the inevitable. Yes – he did catch us (once). It wasn’t pretty either.
Shortly afterwards as a young teenager I joined Notts Athletic Club and began running cross-country after this extensive training on the streets of the Nottingham suburb. This eventually evolved into running marathons. I’m not sure I’ve ever run faster than those frantic, hysterical and breathless chases around the outskirts of Nottingham though.
Good Friday Prayer
O Jesus, Who by reason of Thy burning love for us
hast willed to be crucified
and to shed Thy Most Precious Blood
for the redemption and salvation of our souls,
look down upon us here gathered together
in remembrance of Thy most sorrowful Passion and Death,
fully trusting in Thy mercy;
cleanse us from sin by Thy grace,
sanctify our toil,
give unto us and unto all those who are dear to us our
sweeten our sufferings,
bless our families,
and to the nations so sorely afflicted,
grant Thy peace,
which is the only true peace,
so that by obeying Thy commandments
we may come at last to the glory of heaven.
I read today that the Nottinghamshire market town of Bingham has been selected as one of the top ten places to live in the Midlands by The Sunday Times:
There appear to be a few discrepancies in the Nottingham Post article (surprise, surprise!). For instance it talks about a ‘top ten’ then goes on to name thirteen places. It also states the list was ‘published on March 17′ which unless we are talking about a previous year has not yet happened at the time of writing. Additionally, it cites Oxford as one of the most desirable places then goes on to ignore it in the list. Anyway, this is besides my point.
Bingham, for me, represents a town I pass through on the way to the Vale of Belvoir where I go for walks occasionally. I’ve stopped off in the town the odd time and it seems a pleasant place with adequate amenities and good transport links. It has the beautiful vale on its doorstep too so I can see the appeal. It undoubtedly seems to be a nice town so no particular beef from me.
Why in the top ten though? It’s being compared here with the likes of Oxford and Buxton which I can see have great appeal to many as evidenced by the many tourists that head for those destinations. It’s very subjective and who knows the criteria being used but wouldn’t Southwell, amongst one of two other Nottinghamshire locations, for instance have greater credentials?
It’s a town I’ve never known very well and would like to know more about. I’d be genuinely interested in the thoughts of others who are more familiar with the East Nottinghamshire town than myself.