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Saturday 5th May 2018 ko 11.00

Central Midlands League-South Division

HOLBROOK ST MICHAELS 5 (Sanders 19 65 Kirl 30 Collingwood 47og Hayes 80)

LINBY COLLIERY WELFARE 2 (Gill 50 Butler 90)

Att 212

Entry £3

Programme £1

One of the advantages of being involved in organising these events is knowing you’ll be at each and every game come what may. Because as you ground count gets higher and higher you run the risk of forgetting exactly where you’ve been! The Derbyshire village of Holbrook I knew to have 2 football teams, and I remembered seeing Holbrook Miners Welfare for ground #500 back in the day. Time blurs memories so when I saw Holbrook Sports and Holbrook St Michaels I wondered which one I’d visited!

It transpired it was Sports I’d been to, they changed names in 2010 and I note that sadly they’ve just taken  voluntary relegation back to the Central Midlands League. Holbrook St Michaels are named after the local parish church and play a couple of hundred yards away from Sports’ ground, in the grounds of Holbrook Hall.

These days the Hall is an old people’s home, but was once home to Richard Arkwright inventer of the water frame, that revolutionised the woolen industry. Later, it was also home to Susan Wright, later Barrantes, mother to Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.

You’d expect future royalty to live somewhere with the “Wow” factor and St Michaels’ home certainly has that. I suspect that the area is just a little too bucolic for ground grading regulations and if the old Miners’ Welfare Ground remains vacant for long then the temptation to move there will increase.

But for now just enjoy the photos of what is a quite wonderful, quirky, yet still beautiful place to watch a game. Enjoy the bluebells, those tiny stands and if you were there, remember what a fantastic job the club did as hosts. We’d got there early so the fun was watching the enormity of the day slowly dawn on them, and pride as the coped well with what was a crowd easily 4 times normal.

Normally I tend to assume that great hosting tends to add up to a loss on the field and no, I have no idea why that seems to happen. Here the hosts dealt with the heat far better than their sluggish visitors and were out of sight before Linby found their rhythm late on.

But to simply report on the game itself would be to understate just how good this was. The remarkable thing for me was how little this resembled the Central Midlands League I started hopping all those years ago. I got used to the gritty mining clubs such as Yorkshire Main, Blackwell Miners Welfare and Thorne Colliery. I got used to the conveyor belt stands, the winding gear chain around the pitch and the NCB stands. Each of course had its own character, and so did this.

Of course you are still in mining country, but this was about as far removed from those long-ago visited grounds . I loved them, and I loved this, and after all variety is the spice of life isn’t it?