Respect for those unsung heroes who keep football clubs going.

While many watched on TV as Real Madrid gave Liverpool a roasting I made my way to Arnold F.C. which is situated just north of the town which is itself just north of Nottingham.

It was pitched dark as I drove into an enormous car park with the lights of the ground burning in the distance. There are at least two other pitches on the complex but it was too dark to see any more detail.

Parking in the huge car park the ground, lit up, looked magical, they may call it ‘field of dreams in other locations’ but this looked just as good. The large brick built building houses all you need to run and manage local football. The huge lounge with bar and ‘snackery’, their name, is great for match days and use for any function.

Outside there was a good sized seated stand with a small covered terraced area between the two dugouts and some hard standing all around a very flat grass pitch that looked in good condition.

The night was cool with a wide clear sky as I sat down in the stand. An elderly gentleman approached us to buy raffle tickets but his telling all that his deafness was getting worse didn’t stop him from succeeding. After his efforts I looked down at the program to see that it was dedicated to fan Bob Bethell who had died over the weekend. A regular at home games and some away he was a true supporter and a quote by Mick Gretton, program editor, says it all…..”I know how much Bob loved his football and his genuine affinity for Arnold backed up by regular sponsorship throughout the season- barely a week went by without him thrusting a £20 note in to my hand”…..

The teams lined up and a minutes silence was observed which made me reflect on the local football communities. How had Mick Gretton put together the program in a few days, who had put the nets up, taken the money on the gate, manned the bar and ‘snackery’, mowed the pitch, administered the club, coached and managed the many teams. Where had the players traveled from to play after a day’s work, where had the officials come from. Just a few of the many that keep these local clubs going, not to forget the fans who turn up, around 50 for this game.

Don’t you just love Non-League football at all level, I know I do.

Arnold Town 0 Mickleover Royal British Legion 2

21st February 2023, 19.45 kickoff

Central Midlands League South Premier Division

Eagles v Legion. 11th v 4th

Mickleover took control of the game from the off with particularly good progress down the wings. The home defense stood firm but often played long balls out which only came straight back. There were times when Arnold could have carried the ball forward before making decisions of where to place the ball. They seemed static, where their opponents were running into spaces. It took until just on half time for Arnold to have their first corner against many for the visitors. Nothing came of it and the sides went in all square at 0.0.

The referee had controlled the game well playing the advantage rule and explaining decisions to disgruntled players.

The second half was delayed as a repair to the net fastening needed to be made.

Arnold came out with more intent in the second half which will have helped them keep warm as the temperature dropped. Their better play was undone after ten minutes when a defenders back header gifted the ball to Sam Vickers who lifted it into the net. Ten minutes later and Arnold hit the post during their most positive spell, all to no avail as a few minutes later another poor clearance gave Sam Vickers the chance to run beyond the rest of the defense and slide the ball across the goal for Jordan Lee to tap home.

The game was now over and both teams blanked each other out leaving Mickleover to walk away with all three points. A thoroughly good evening of football and I reflected that this was two levels below the match I had seen on Saturday but there was not a great deal of difference in skill level.

The Chips were hot, crinkled, crispy with a firm centre, but had a bit of a greasy after taste and scored 77 in my chip league. After pancakes perhaps this was not the best thing to eat.

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