Me Owd Duck on the Little Park

by , March 2, 2009

Now then,

What a breath of fresh air yesterday’s result was. What a joy it was reading the papers this morning. For once we can all enjoy reading again.

I was walking up the Little Park yesterday morning, taking the whippets for a stroll. The sun shone and it was almost spring-like. The promise of summer lingered and the promise of a new season and maybe, just maybe, another one in the Championship.

I was reminded of things that happened more than thirty years ago now. BC if you like, before Mr Clough joined us. Only just before, but before Brian.

In Lady Bay during the 1970’s, we talked about two parks. The big park was the one on the way down to Central Avenue. It had a fantastic yellow tractor and you could sit on it and spin the steering wheel. What a health and safety nightmare that would be today. Kids playing on a real farmyard tractor made of metal! Not a chance. I also remember the witches’ hat that you could spin around and around on. Positively lethal in today’s sue and be sued climate. I once did a sponsored walk around the big park about four times. It added up to six miles. Ken Goodwin of the Comedians was the lead walker. He was a major Comic figure at the time. I am writing this on my number two computer which has no internet access. I have no idea what his catch phrases were or why we found him funny and cannot Google or Youtube him to find out. I do remember walking very quickly, just to keep up with him. He was a tall man.

The Little Park was the one on Adbolton Lane. There wasn’t much in it, but it had a field at the back where you could play football and it was in the better part of Lady Bay. Posh began at Adbolton Grove in my eyes at the time. Years after the events I am talking about a friend who used to live on Adbolton Grove contacted me via Friends Reunited. He had been touring America playing the lead role in a production of Macbeth. Now, there’s posh.

One evening in 1970 something, somewhere between 4 and 7, three young Scottish lads visited that park. They were well dressed for the time and felt that they were the epitome of cool. They were Glam Rockers: all fans of Roxy Music, David Bowie and T Rex. They wore high plat formed shoes and the fashionable flares of the time. Each had longish hair swept back and almost shaped into a quiff at the front. Apart from their accents- they all came from Dundee or its environs- what showed them to be apart from the local callow youths was their profession. All three of them were apprentices at Nottingham Forest Football Club.

In those days, for reasons I no longer understand, it was perfectly natural for a group of 17 year old girls to be hanging out on a local park. Then again, in those days kids rode bikes to school, played in the streets and when they were naughty were called naughty, not ADHD or EBD or OCD. Naughty was naughty. Shouting ‘fuck’ was rude and not Taurettes.

As a teenager, I did the school exchange thing with Spanish students. I had a fantastic summer in Madrid because of it, which was the making of me. The Spanish lads seemed so sophisticated and cool to the Nottingham girls at the time, every summer was a dream for me. For some reason, so did our Scotch boys appear to be sophisticated and cool to the seventeen year old girls at the Little Park in Lady Bay in 1974/5/6/7? I was there when the Forest apprentices charmed the local girls. I think I had been taken to the park to practice my football skills, although I did not have any of those really. The boys must all have been between 17 and 19 years old. That age when you know everything and have done nothing, but you do look good.

We went home. I was disappointed that the Forest boys had not played with me. It remains one reason, to this day, why I am not an England football player. My Mum cooked tea for us all. Imagine her life at that time… She lived in a house with her husband, three sons and three apprentice footballers from Forest. I make that seven males to one female. Over the dinner table she announced that out of respite, she and my Father were visiting my Grandmother that evening. The apprentices would babysit us three boys,

How they made us go upstairs, I do not remember. They gave us money to stay there. Ten pence each I think, a fair amount, as I think they were each paid £16 a week at the time. Eight pounds of which they had to pay back to my Mother for food and board,

We three boys were all peeping through the banisters when the girls arrived. We were not supposed to see them but we did. I assume they had swapped phone numbers at the Little Park. I can actually name the girls as they were in the sixth form at my school, but I won’t. It was a long time ago.

I will name the Forest players though. They were in trouble the next day when we told our parents what we had seen. There was Jimmy McCann, the only player ever to score a hat-trick and then immediately be released by Forest. Jimmy McIntosh made 45 appearances for Forest before going to Middlesbrough and becoming a Northern Ireland International. (Maybe my memory of him being Scottish was completely wrong.) John Robertson was the scorer of the winning goal in the 1980 European Cup Final.

One day I’ll tell you all about him.

I’ll see thee.