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Saturday 22nd March 2008 ko 10.30

Central Midlands League – Premier Division



Humphries sent off 44 (violent conduct)

Att 260

Entry £2

Programme £1

Sometimes organised groundhops get remembered for certain characteristics. One Welsh Hop got remembered as the “Dog Shag” hop after two dogs misunderstood the excitement on the pitch at Carnetown, and the 2018 South West Peninsula Hop was the “Wet Hop” as organiser Phil Hiscox had to switch one game on to Exwick Villa’s 3G to get the game played. But without question the 2008 Easter Hop in the Central Midlands League was the cold hop!

We clocked up a staggering 8 games in two days but there was no excape from the cold and the wind, and the final game the previous day at Calverton MW saw us snowed on, and the final goal only went in because the howling wind actually diverted the ball, wrongfooting the keeper! I remember the late Andy Norbury seeing Swedish Hop organiser Kim Hedwall shivvering and was heard to comment, 

“Even the bloody Swede’s cold!”

To be fair to Andy – Kim does admit to watching a game at Skytteholms when it was -20 degrees!

It wasn’t any different the next day. The hop finished at Blidworth MW with the game’s finish being delayed by a player breaking his ankle. I’d had enough I watched, shivered and thought rather uncharitably, 

“Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 

But the first game of that day was in Newark, well in nearby Balderton, at the Flowserve Sports & Social Club. Flowserve make industrial pumps nearby and the club adopted their name as a suffix in 2001, Flowserve had bought the Worthington Simpson company, who’d given the club their original name, a year earlier.

What we saw was a typical Central Midlands lower division affair, ultra-committed if a little lacking sometimes in finesse! And for the uninitiated yes the Premier Division was the CMFL’s lower division- in a wonderful example of grade inflation the upper division was named the Supreme Division. A few hoppers, me included, did tend to refer to it as the Chicken Division.

I must admit my strongest memory of that morning was the hailstorm, and me trying to find a spare square inch under cover to shelter. I soon realised why there was one spot free- between my feet was a used condom. They certainly breed them tough in this part of Nottinghamshire!

Arguably though, its what happened next that’s most interesting. For one thing Bolsover Town didn’t last much longer folding at the end of the next season, but Newark Flowserve went from strength to strength. After a stint in the Notts Senior League they re-entered the CMFL in 2004, before entering the East Midlands Counties League in 2018. A second-place finish in their first season saw them promoted to the Step 5 Midland League Premier Division for last season. The Flowserve suffix was dropped for this season. The reason will become obvious…

If you look at my photos you’ll see a ground that’s just about as basic as it gets, and the weakness of this piece is that I’ve not been back, but I’m sure you can research the ground improvements, including floodlights, hard standing and a stand. But it could all add up to naught, as Newark Flowserve Sports and Social Club have been served a Section 25 notice under the Landlord and Tenants Act by landlords C. B Collier NK Limited giving notice to all using the football pitches, bowling greens and social club to vacate by May 15th.

The reason for the notice is obvious. An application to build 322 homes on the site has already been rejected by the local authorities but an appeal has been lodged, so I’d imagine that the notice is a way of forcing the situation. It puts the football  club in the invidious position that all the ground improvements have actually made it more difficult to find somewhere else suitable to play.

Let’s face it, the ground you see here, could be replicated by sharing at somewhere like Collingham FC, but the the club now need a Step 5 compliant ground, and now the nearest one is Grantham Town  some 15 miles away.

You can’t help but have sympathy for Newark FC, they find themselves in a bind that’s not of their making, and with precious few options available to them. In my experience the lure of 300-plus homes is a mighty difficult proposition for any council to turn down, but all the best to Newark FC in their battle to stay put.

And as I discovered all those years ago, they breed them tough in this part of Nottinghamshire.