Thursday, 9 November 2017

Choosing A Pathway Or Following A Scent?

Quorn  2  Long Eaton United  3

Midland Football League – Premier Division

It would have been around the time I was drinking a mug of tomato soup that the news came through of Priti Patel’s ‘resignation’ from the cabinet.

Ms Patel fell on her sword, and no doubt did significant damage to her reputation as a rising star in the Conservative Party, following revelations that she met senior Israeli political figures without the consent of the Foreign Office.  It was a heinous crime bordering on treachery, quite clearly, and one 
I’m frankly amazed she avoided the rope for (a means of punishment she allegedly campaigned to see the return of).

It got me thinking though about the directions our lives go in, because going back to the years 1991 to 1994, Ms Patel and myself were not only at the same University, we were actually part of a group of six students who formed a particular tutorial group.

I don’t recall ever having a great deal of dialogue with her, we were certainly never what would be regarded as friends, but strangely enough, if you asked me to name the other members of the group, I simply couldn’t do it.

And I guess that kind of tells you all you need to know about her, she was clearly a very intelligent and ambitious woman, but what she did was leave an impression, and you always knew when she was in the room with you because her voice was both heard, and her message was one that she could deliver very eloquently. In short, she was a strong presence.

At that time she was maybe thinking about a glittering political career, whereas I was thinking about the next pint and how to get to a game at Eastwood Hanley. Our paths were clearly never going to cross again.

Luke Varney Paid For This - In A Roundabout Way
But then, while finishing the remnants of the soup, I thought about politics and how it can impact upon football, because of course I’m writing a blog and I needed to come up with something relevant! But how could I get from Priti Patel to Quorn Football Club?

Bingo! It hit my like a bolt out of the blue, and it was while I was staring at the clubs badge that the link was made, readers, read on…..

In 1696 the Quorn Hunt was established, and remains to this day one of the most famous hunts in the land. The football club badge depicts this, but in 2004 the landscape for the hunting population changed following the introduction of the Hunting Act. This caused some intense debate in the Houses of Parliament and indeed amongst the Lords (as you might expect!)

It’s a very divisive subject matter, and I’ve got my own thoughts.

I’m not a massive animal lover, so the thought of a fox being hunted and mutilated by a pack of beagles, while a bit tasteless and gruesome, does not particularly horrify me or sicken me to the pit of my stomach. I wouldn’t do it myself, but I wouldn’t go out with a placard to stop others.

What I don’t like is the gentrification of the pastime (I won’t call it a sport), the regalia and the middle / upper class snobbery that seems to sit alongside it.

Foxes Must Not Stray Onto The Artificial Pitch
The village of Quorn is a beautiful location, and very ‘well to do’, so you can almost see why the hunting would be a pastime many of the locals sway towards, given the traditions it has within the village.

Quorn Football Club has been around for a very long time, not quite as long as the hunt, but a long time all the same. For countless years the club has been run by Chairman Stuart Turner and while he has his critics, what he has done is seen both the steady progression of the team, but probably more importantly, they now have some superb facilities at their Farley Way stadium.

When I first went to Quorn in 2002 I saw them beat Shirebrook Town in the FA Vase, and on that particular day one man ran the show, that man was Luke Varney, who pretty soon after the game signed for Crewe Alexandra. When he then moved to Charlton Athletic, the sell on clause that Turner had negotiated meant Quorn got a very significant windfall, and that was invested very wisely.

Farley Way is fantastic, a fully enclosed ground with a large car park, and it’s entered from one corner where to the right is a large covered terrace that runs the width of the pitch.

To the right of the terrace is a seated stand that runs for three quarters of the length of the pitch, while opposite is the smart and modern clubhouse combined with a dressing room complex.

She May Have Been In A Ministerial Car And Met The Israeli Prime Minister, But Has She Been To Quorn?
Over the Summer a 4G pitch was installed which allows the club to further integrate with the community and generate revenue.

On the pitch they did rise to Step 4 and were one of the stronger outfits in the Northern Premier League, but relegation followed and they’ve remained comfortably at Step 5 for some time. I must admit, I’m not sure where the on the field aspirations of the club lie as I’d always had the feeling they were more about facilities and the community, but then what do I know?

It had been a while since I’d been, so I thought it worth a visit, and on a very cold night we were treated to an entertaining spectacle. Quorn took a first half lead but then Long Eaton scored two goals in quick succession past ex Rams and Foxes goalkeeper Russell Hoult to give themselves  a half time lead.

I then saw something I’ve never seen before, the players were set to kick off the second half when Long Eaton’s Nick Hawkins hit the deck signalling that he had cramp, the referee walked straight over to him, issued a yellow card and blew for the game to commence. Hawkins to be fair, did get back to his feet pretty quickly with seemingly no ill effects, so I really don’t know what that was all about?

Long Eaton got a third goal, but Quorn never gave up and after a spell of sustained pressure they netted from close range to make it 3-2, but despite continued late pressure including a header that came back off the bar, it was the visitors who hung on for the three points.

The roads were quiet through Loughborough and back up the M1 into Derby, it gave me time to reflect on another enjoyable evening out.

I suspect my evening was considerably more peaceful and enjoyable than that of Priti Patel, and when it came to reflection, I’m pretty sure she had an awful lot more to think about than I did.

I’m kind of glad I went in search of lager and football after lectures, a lot less hassle in the long run if you ask me…. 

Lots Of Red Seats - But This Is  A Very Blue Area, In More Ways Than One

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