I HAVE found the beating heart of English football and in a most unlikely place – an industrial estate in a drab English town.
Football can worry us all. Foul-mouthed players end up in the courts of the realm; leading players’ salaries are obscene and banks of supporters bellow bile at anyone who annoys them. It isn’t like that all the time, of course, and at Nuneaton on Saturday I was reminded of how joyous a day at a football match could be.
There was no segregation, spectators being allowed to mooch and mingle. I did both. Everyone I met was helpful and gracious, especially the gentleman in front of me. He had brought Christmas biscuits and chocolates with him to share with all around him. In no way was the representative of the WGS and SNJ excluded.
Before the game I enjoyed a faggot and mushy peas batch. It was delicious. “We are as proud of our catering as you justifiably are of yours,” was the Nuneaton view.
Incidentally, a ‘batch’ is a large, soft white roll. This was a new term for me. I have heard such rolls described as cobs before but had only thought of batch as a collective noun. One of Mrs Light’s congregation on Sunday, the elegant and gracious ‘Marg’ got it right, however, but she is the only Cirencester person who has done so.
FGR did not get the football right, drawing 1-1 with relegation-threatened Nuneaton. Playing against the Midlands side is like swimming in a pool of piranha. They always snap at you – denying time and space. In such circumstances, Rovers’ passing game did not work and superior footballing skills counted for little. Good luck to Nuneaton, however – they offer visiting fans a fine day out.
There may be many of these next season at Lechlade Cricket Club. They have signed an exciting overseas’ player, Arnie Yugaraja. I see from last week’s Standard he is a ‘left arm off-spin bowler’. This must be another triumph for this go-ahead club because I have never encountered one of these. If a left arm bowler turns the ball from off to leg this delivery is known, not as an off- break but a Chinaman. An explanation is awaited. My guess is he bowls orthodox left arm spin similar to Monty Panesar.
The ball then turns from leg to off and is the opposite of an off break. I need to know because Arnie will be a welcome neighbour of mine. If a left-handed off break is successfully demonstrated, the first pint will be on me.
This year Chedworth Cricket Club is celebrating its 125th anniversary. A weekend of cricket and celebration is being planned and that is an occasion to be truly anticipated.
As a 12-year-old I played at Chedworth. In the home team were Reg Coates, Guy Holland, Harold Andrews as well as the Bliss brothers, Geoff and Dave. Geoff was a mighty hitter.
Much later came the cricketing vicar, Arthur Dodds. Characters like these have always made the Beech Walk ground a worthwhile place to visit.
Both wicket and teas have helped as well. The club has a proud history and I am sure a fine future. If you want to find an example of a Cotswold village cricket club there are not many better.
If you see Mrs Light and I looking apprehensive in the next fortnight it will be with good reason. It is the Cotswold area of the Gloucestershire CCC annual quiz.
Now my daughter cannot make the team our failure is close to absolute humiliation. The redeeming feature of the evening will be the humour and good nature of Quiz Master Phil James.
Phil, well known in South Cerney dramatic circles, runs a splendid quiz – questions are fair and asked in a humourous manner. I have described him in these columns as ‘despotic, neurotic, exotic and erotic’. That was when he was a pantomime dame but such qualities are also displayed in his performance as poser of pertinent questions.
Cost is £5 per head – the venue is the Cotswold Hall, Northleach, on January 25. Teams can be of any number.
My only hope of success is that one of the questions may be ‘What is a batch?’. It will bring back happy memories of Nuneaton on Saturday.