Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Friday, 28 September 2012

Goalpost

I could never resist a pun. This week's post is about football, hence the title. Well, you can't have a football post, so Goalpost was the next best thing. As long as we don't keep moving it!

Twice a week the winter thorough 
Here stood I to keep the goal: 
Football then was fighting sorrow 
For the young man's soul. 

From Twice a Week the Winter Thorough by A.E. Housman


This is my brother in the mid1960s, lacing his football boots ready for a local match on our nearby recreation ground with his amateur team, Arnbrook United. Our picture prompt for Sepia Saturday this week comes from the National Archive in the Netherlands, via Flickr Commons, and shows three young boys proudly carrying their football boots around their neck. My heart sank when I saw this as I am not a football fan. However, I happen to have been brought up in a household where the male members of the family all worship at its shrine. It really was almost sacred, and took priority over everything else. My grandparents lived at Trent Bridge, a short walk from the Nottingham Forest ground and when my Granddad, Dad and brother went to the match, Mum and I would keep my grandmother company and listen for the roar of the crowd when a goal was scored, or the collective disappointed groan when a penalty was missed. At the end of the match the men and boys, with some wives and girlfriends, would pour out of the Forest ground and some would walk past our door. I don't remember any hooliganism or fights and everything seemed very good natured. Perhaps I am looking back with rose-tinted spectacles. 

When my father was a boy there was no recreation ground to play on and he and his pals would be out on the street, using their coats for goalposts. In the 1920s Dad would have played with a well-worn leather football, which had to be pumped up and laced. The lacing and stitching would often be worn and this meant that you rarely played with a perfect sphere. Dad always had the most beautiful copperplate handwriting, and as a schoolboy won a handwriting competition where the prize was a football. Imagine his delight as a youngster in a family who rarely gave presents and there was little spare cash for luxuries such as a football. He must have been very popular with his friends. Dad went on to play in two local teams: Aspley Celtic and Lady Bay Athletic.

My brother seems just as proud of his boots as the boys in the prompt picture. The 1960s saw a big change in football boot design when the first below-the-ankle boots were introduced. During the next decade boots started to be the subject of sponsorship and footballers were paid to wear only one brand. Perhaps that's where the big changes 'kicked off', when the game started to be much more about money than anything else.


Well, it was in the genes I suppose and my brother passed his passion for football on to his son, my nephew, pictured in the above photograph with Sir Bobby Charlton. My nephew was eleven years old and had won the regional finals of the  Bobby Charltion Soccer Skillls Competition 1985. A proud family moment. 


Here he is again in 1992 proudly holding aloft the F.A. Youth Cup won by the team of which he was captain: the 'Nottinghamshire Football Association Under-18s'. More cheers all round from the family. He went on to play semi-professionally whilst still studying at University, until injuries put paid to any thoughts of a career in the game.

My Dad spent many hours supporting both his son and his grandson with their football training, and ferrying car-loads of youngsters around. He was the trainer for my brother's primary school team, as well as for Arnbrook United. He still enjoys watching a Nottingham Forest match, but he is an armchair football spectator these days. A couple of years ago my nephew arranged for four generations of the family to watch a match, and it was reported in the Nottingham Forest programme 'CAPTURED'. His own son, then four, was by now a real fan of the team too.  Dad's memories were reported in the programme, and he could recall the days when youngsters were let into the grounds for the last twenty minutes of the match and passed over the heads of adults so that they could sit pitch-side and watch the end of the game. The players used to be put up in lodgings on the road where Dad was living as a boy, and he remembers running errands for  players Tommy Graham and Bob Pugh and fetching them cigarettes from the local shop. "How times have changed." said Dad.


The young man in my first picture, is now a Grandpa himself. Here he is with my Dad, nephew  (the one with the winning ways) and my great-nephew, who now has a younger sister who is just as avid a fan of Nottingham Forest.

Why not visit Sepia Saturday to see what other contributors set as their goal.


24 comments:

  1. How nice that the footballing tradition has been passed down through the family and to think that even the female member of the family is so interested.

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  2. A wonderful story, Nell. I'm not much of a worshipper at this shrine either, but I can appreciate the passion, if not all the merchandising and other nonsense that seems to go with it these days. My knowledge of such sporting matters is such that it's a family joke when I answer every Sport category question in Trivial Pursuit with a supremely confident, "Bobby Charlton" ... and I'm often correct, too!

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  3. I like the way you carried the football story through four generations of your family. Good idea to include the four generation photo at the end. Great post!

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  4. Super post, Nell. I've always loved the game, although the prima donnas of today have taken sportsmanship to an all-time low.

    Your photograph of four generations is how it should be. Proof of an inherited passion and enthusiasm.

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  5. Hello Marilyn:
    We have to say that we have never been able to understand the fascination of football. The passions that seem to arise from a set of men running round a field are quite beyond us and yet, this must be one of the Nation's favourite pastimes.

    And yet, football seems to have been in your family genes throughout the generations. Perhaps this has passed us by?!!

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  6. If I could travel back in time, I'd like to be there as your dad was pumping and lacing the football while the other boys waited anxiously to start the game. I can hear the whoops and hollers as they ran into position. You are a masterful storyteller. The details always keep me hanging on every word.

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  7. What an interesting trip through the footballing generations of your family. The last photo is a lovely memento although your brother strapping on his boots ready to play is my favourite. Today's boots seem flimsy by comparison. My friend used to live in Nottingham but I've only seen the Forest ground from the outside although I've spent a windy day inside the cricket ground.

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  8. What a wonderful family tradition shown through photographs! Even though I'm not a big sports fan I certainly understand and appreciate their enthusiasm and dedication to the game. Thanks for sharing your family's football story!

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  9. For someone who's not a big fan of the game, you sure had a lot to show/tell.
    Love the evolution, especially about your nephew's timeline. That last picture
    certainly made for the perfect conclusion.
    Thanx 4 sharing!!
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  10. Very nice post indeed. I'm not a fan of sports either, except of course when my children or their children play, then I'm all about the exciting time through them. But, I certainly enjoyed reading about your father and brother and how they carried it on in their own family later and still held the family boyhood-sports-bond together. ...and what are the lovely ladies of the family doing, well watching and preparing some delicious recipes for these hungry boys to eat of course!

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  11. Marilyn, what a very special post! Spanning the years of your guys and the sport. All of your pictures are wonderful. I bet that they are all busy reading this one. Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

    Kathy M.

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  12. Though not interested in football at all, I liked to read your story. This proves you did a great job.

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  13. Wow, for a non fan, you put together quite an inspirational football story. That last photo is wonderful to see.

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  14. I spent many a happy hour at Trent Bridge but never made it to a football ground until the 1970s. Have provided taxi services for my sons but they were never very keen on me watching them play. Now my granddaughter plays and I have had the pleasure of watching her once.
    You have captured a great tradition in your family. Four generations for one club is a fantastic achievement.

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  15. Today, 30th of October is not the best day for Forest, who were beaten at home by Derby County, the club from the neighbouring town in what ought to be the origin of the phrase "local Derby". However, that appears to relate to the horse race of that name, and was first used in print about football in a match between Liverpool and Everton in 1914. For a year or more while an undergraduate, I lived a few yards from the Forest Ground, but never saw a match there, nor did I meet Little Nell until several years later in Lincoln.

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  16. A great post on the theme. Family traditions, even with sports, take on a special charm when you can link generations like that. Of course when everyone supports different teams, then there's real trouble!

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  17. Great post, Marilyn - being surrounded by footie fans obviously rubbed off on you. How nice that 4 generations of your family were able to go to the match together :-) Jo

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  18. What a fun story! Wow, you have quite the athletically talented family! The photos are very nice too.

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  19. The young guy in the last photo is so cute. It is obvious what the team color are and where the 'CAPTURED' name comes from.

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  20. I was watching some British soccer/football a few months ago on tv and I laughed through all of it because I couldn't understand one word the commentator was saying. It know it was English because the other fellow was responding in English.

    I know how fanatical football fans can be on both sides of the water, though two different games. I remember staying with friends in '75 and watching football it seemed nearly every night on the television. And then they also showed one American football game each week shortened to 1 hour. It was amazing to see the 4 quarters of 14 minutes each actually only take 1 hour instead of the 3+ it normally takes. The Brits cut it down to the right length.

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  21. What a great family story centered around football. These set of pics is fabulous, I enjoyed comparing all the faces. And yes, football has changed a lot, money has spoiled a lot of the fun.

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  22. For one reason or another I seem to have missed this post a.o. showing gentleman Sir Bobby. As you know, we love football here too. One of our national coaches once said that soccer is war. It's a pity that too many people take this literally. Having said that I have to admit that I'm kind of jealous you have an FA-cup winner in the family!

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