A little more local stuff today and something about the town I’ve lived close to for a long time, Arnold, Nottinghamshire. I always liked the situation of the old King George’s Rec just behind Arnold market place. As a boy I attended the old ‘British’ School which stood approximately where the market place is now and would often attend Arnold St. Mary’s football games just over the road. I came to play a bit of cricket on those same playing fields too, not to mention tennis and in younger days the playground adjacent for general tomfoolery and falling off the slide and swings scraping my knees and tearing holes in my clothes regularly. Often the latter arose from balancing on top of the playground slide, fighting with several others for a free view of the game going on over the hedge.
King George V Playing Fields, 2010
I particularly loved the odd Midland League evening games that Mary’s would play, the two Scots forwards Joe Boucher and Bobby Tait and the midfield playmaking skills of Pete ‘Shonkey’ Burton et al. After the game my pals and I would head for the delicious chips from one of the several chip shops on Front Street before heading back to Redhill, just in time for the latest episode of Dad’s Army!
There were famous games later too. The FA Cup tie Arnold v Port Vale sticks in the mind; a game which appeared to be almost entirely played in Arnold’s penalty area! Port Vale almost received a tremendous shock though when The Saints travelled to the West Midlands for the midweek replay and were – if my memory serves me correctly – 2-0 down to Arnold within a very short time! Plucky Arnold lost out 4-3 that night but they had made their point against Football League opposition.
Over the years I still took the odd walk down into Arnold town centre, sank a couple of pints in ‘The Tuck’ (The Friar Tuck pub near King George V playing fields) and watched a bit of good honest local football on ‘Georges Rec’. Time marches on of course and Arnold Town FC as they are called nowadays no longer play in the centre of the town having been forced to move to their new and excellent-looking headquarters ‘Eagle Valley’ up the A614 on the way to Calverton and Oxton. This is how it must be and it has to be said the great facility that has been built there is a fine endorsement of all the hard work and dedication put into that football club many years ago. It echoes of those days when the Arnold committee struggled to build a stand and a pavilion for the players – both much against the odds and with little outside help – quite the opposite in fact where the council were concerned apparently. The original stand along the North side of the pitch was built with pure hard graft by those committee men who had a vision for the future of football in Arnold. I’m sure they would all be pleased with the way things have turned out.
The original players pavilion and club house
Not long ago however I was passing through Arnold and decided to take a look at what King Georges Rec looked like now the football has left. It was midwinter, windswept and looking a little desolate for it. A single dog walker bade me a good morning as I peered in through the murky windows of the old brick-built pavilion with its little social area and players changing rooms. The old ground was still and dare I say it forlorn looking and feeling. I remembered those old days back in the sixties as a boy, cheering on the lads in Maroon and Gold. You could almost hear the familiar sound of their ‘nogs’ (studs) clattering onto the pitch ready to do battle for the old club. The smell of the liniment.
I have no idea what the future of the old playing fields will resemble but I hope it is a fitting one and that it comes to be used to more effect than on the day I walked over that familiar sward of Nottinghamshire turf.