Saturday 21st April 2018 ko 12.30
Notts Senior League Premier Division
FC CAVALIERS 1 (Kolapo 35)
AFC DUNKIRK 0
Entry & Programme £2
When Rob Hornby retired from organising the annual Notts Senior League Hops he left a cohort of clubs playing in caged 3G facilities that needed visiting if you wanted to complete the league. Now I doubt that any hopper would prioritise any such ground, they are designed after all for the participant rather than the spectator. But that would do the Forest Recreation Ground a massive disservice, its history makes it well worth a visit.
This is no ordinary recreation ground, as it formed part of Sherwood Forest which in medieval times ran from the city of Nottingham north to the northernmost edge of the county. Anyone who’s ever read the tales of Robin Hood would imagine the Merrie Men on this turf thwarting the Sheriff of Nottingham.
It is just possible that Robin of Loxley would have visited the annual Goose Fair held here. It started just after 1284 when local huntsmen sold geese caught in the forest to the locals, and became a market for thousands of geese driven south-west from Lincolnshire. Nowadays the fair is Britain’s largest temporary funfair and runs for four days at the start of each October.
But in footballing terms the ground is notable for being where Nottingham Forest got their name and where the fledgling club played their first games after formation in 1865, before moving to Trent Bridge, then the Town Ground, then to the City Ground in 1898. It is therefore highly appropriate that Forest operate an academy from the facility and their branding was very much to the fore!
FC Cavaliers, or to use their former guise, Caribbean Cavaliers have only settled here for the start of this season. They were formed in 1978 and used to play at the Victoria Embankment, in the Meadows areas of the city. You can see why they moved here, the facilities are excellent for the players and when attendances are only ever likely to be in the 10’s why would you need more than one side of the pitch available for viewing?
The away side was Dunkirk FC’s reserves in all but name, I’m not sure why it was felt necessary to use a nom-de-plume, after all from Step 7 in the non-league pyramid the club (team) are unlikely to want to enter the FA Vase or seek promotion above Step 5!
But as much as the facility isn’t designed for spectators, and even less so groundhoppers I rather enjoyed myself here. Maybe it was the company of other hoppers, doing as I in creating a double with no end of 3pm kickoffs, or the fact that the hosts were eager to please. They clearly hadn’t been expecting a crowd, but still managed to find a way of printing out enough programmes so that everyone who wanted one got one.
The game, unfortunately was attritional with the heat and humidity making quick, effective football difficult. You know the fayre is dull when you find yourself lining up trams stopping in the far distance at the other end of the Goose fair site to frame a photo! Still, not every game can be the 1979 European Cup Final can it?