Football days in Arnold, Nottinghamshire

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.

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King George V Playing Fields, 2010

I particularly loved the odd Midland League evening games that Mary’s would play, centre-forward Joe Boucher and Bobby Tait up front 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.

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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.

11 Replies to “Football days in Arnold, Nottinghamshire”

  1. This brings back so many memories, I was there too, remember a certain Roger Rann , brilliant player and a pleasure to be in his company. His brother Steve also a player I will remember for his time between the sticks . Pies and oxo in the kiosk behind the changing rooms, happy days indeed. Peter C

  2. Three years on since the post, but Peter Carlin (09Aug17) mentioned the brilliant Roger Rann and his brother Stephen playing for the Marys. I was at school with Roger (Nottingham High School, 1961 – 1967) and counted him as one of my best friends. Later, albeit in a more distant relationship since we were on different courses, at the University of Salford. Last time I saw him, probably in the late 1980s when I visited from South Africa, he was running his late father’s panel-beating business opposite Arnold Baths. Not seen or heard from him for, probably 30 years or more, but he was a very, very talented player.
    Bill Rowlston, Port Alfred, South Africa.

  3. Hi Bill and thanks for your comments, very interesting. I believe the business is still in operation on Brookfield Road in Arnold but stand to be corrected on that. Yes, Roger had a rare talent didn’t he. A very smart player and a predatory finisher, I always felt he could have been a good quality professional no bother.

    His two books about Marys and the local history on the town in those times were a great read too. Well researched and written. Well worth getting hold of for anyone with an interest.

    Best wishes
    Stuart

  4. Did Arnold FC play a visiting German team in the late 1960s or early 1970s?

    Does anyone remember this or know who the team was.

  5. Not heard of that myself Philip but would be interested to know. I’m thinking that Roger Rann’s excellent book ‘When Marys Were Kings’ his second book covering Arnold football history might well mention it but I’ve no revcall of that.

  6. Joe Boucher was my dad – he was a proud Yorkshireman, having been born & raised in Sheffield.

    Arnold’s greatest achievement was reaching the first round ‘proper’ of the FA Cup, taking on Bristol Rovers in 1967.

  7. Hi Steve, thank for the correction, I’ll get that altered.

    Loved watching your dad when play when I was a lad, great centre-forward!

  8. My sister and I both went to pretty much every one of Dad’s games from birth – I’ve great memories of Saturdays spent with the Arnold family. My heart swells when I hear so many people remembering Dad so fondly. Just gutted I never inherited his talent!

  9. When your dad played for Arnold i was of an age where I’d need to be taken to Forest or Notts. Watching Arnold though was a different matter and we’d have a little gang of lads that would walk down to the game in Arnold together.

    Your dad seemed like a Roy of The Rovers figure to us! To my young eyes it was always Joe Boucher – then everyone else. A compliment indeed as there were some fine players in that side and Arnold always seemed to be there or therabouts near the top of the Mdland League. One of those players as you might remember was Bobby Tait whoI mentioned in the little blog. I still see Bobby from time to time and he’s been a well-known figure in the town for a long time. Lovely man. He’s a memberof the Notts County Players Association and is quite active in that.

    Thanks for dropping by here Steve. It’s a pleasure to talk to Joe Boucher’s son!

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