Stuart Roy Clarke

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Bakewell Town 7 Tideswell United 4 …by Stuart Roy Clarke

Before the game as I moved amongst the players warming-up, both sides, I tried to decide who might win. The smartly striped United effortlessly whacked the ball in the goal from all angles with style. They looked the part. One player had “almost played professionally, for a big club, but turned it down”. The manager matter of factly tried to help me with my prediction: “5-0 to us” he saidhigher in the League – we should win comfortably “. They were 4-0 down in 20 minutes. Players who had only 21 minutes before been knocking the ball about and in the net effortlessly, whilst smoothing back their hair, tossing for kick-off, rubbing their hands at the prospective feast, were now heads down, wearily or lazily walking back to the centre-spot.

I assessed the evidence of their decline: some had been lounging-reclining in deck chairs, the sun almost out in almost spring. One had gone fishing in the river beyond the wing position. Another sat on the park bench talking to passers-by …and cosying up to a pretty woman. Two, not sure why two, in recovering a ball from a back-garden bordering the park had accepted cups of tea. And scones. Tarts possibly. This was in Bakewell. No one was playing well or seemingly trying. One was staring at the sun to see if it would burn his eyes out. Another smoking a whole packet of cigarettes in one go.

As for the home team, the underdogs on the day…huge pride. One player when substituted moaned that the manager was unhappy with him. I bore witness that at least he had been trying. Despondent he grabbed his parka coat and stormed off to the far side of the park to sit sulking outside the the old pavilion, muttering that he would never play again.

United staged a bit of a comeback. But the the home team Town scored some more.

The Bakewell Manners match on the adjacent pitch ended minutes earlier with the ball stuck high up in a tree.