Notts win T20

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Excellent listening on BBC Radio 5 live extra.
Well done Notts!

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Squash is coming home

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An amazing men’s final at the European Individual Closed Championships.
Close, changing in fortune and played in one of only 3 glass ‘see-through’ squash courts in the country at the new sports centre at the University of Nottingham.
The game’s rules were set out by a teacher from a school in the south, but the idea of playing with a ball in a confined space, hitting it back and forth against a wall must have come from before then, and statistically, a city of caves (650 have now been logged) must statistically have been the most likely place for such games to develop.
So the championships in Nottingham represented the sport coming home, backed up by the number 3 woman seed coming to live here to study and play, and Robin Hood pioneering the ability to hit targets by glancing things off a wall (see the Walt Disney movie). Oh yes.

A 34 year wait

I’d wanted to say “Shrewsbury boys are back in town again” but we’ve never played Forest in a game that mattered, ever.
I’ve waited 34 years for Salop at Forest.
Then Forest have put out a reserve side – 11 changes.
To add to the anti-climax came the rain which had been incessant all-day, and a below 8,000 attendance
Forest began on top, with chances on the break, but from 15 minutes, Town played better as a team and started to dominate.
Brave changes have been made during the summer break and the team’s average age is 23, with many of the signings from the fifth tier of league football.  Surprising the oldest players play on the wing.  A stronger emphasis on attacking this season.  But the pressure was not creating chances.
Then a couple of mishaps when a full-back pranged his ankle in a challenge on a breaking forward and a slip by a midfielder bringing down the player in the box.  Forest converted the penalty, and for Salop it was to be all uphill.
The rain was stronger in the second-half and some of the basics for playing on a sodden pitch were forgotten, like don’t dawdle on the ball when preparing to clear it and don’t take short corners.  Worse was the “final ball” – a kind of axiomatic description for a poor ball into the box – but Salop belted the ball over their attacking line 5 times – so often, I was reminded of Harry Kane playing for England in Euro ’16, including that 90th minute free kick against Iceland that was mimicked by Shaun Whalley.
By then, Forest had a got a second – this time direct from the break, whilst Salop had also converted a penalty, although I’d like to see the rejected appeal for a penalty 10 minutes earlier.
These are early days for a new set-up, but given Salop have a recent track record of winning at tier 2 clubs in the second round, it’s worth reminding ourselves that Salop were pitched against Forest reserves; or that tier 2 club budgets means their reserves are better paid than tier 3 first team players, and that this time, the opposition manager had properly drilled the reserves.

Track 1: “Catch us if you can”, Dave Clark Five

Been asked to choose 8 songs for a 75 minute radio show which are OK for a Sunday morning that signpost moments or stages in your life, for broadcast on BBC Radio Nottingham (Sunday, 13th August; 10:45am). 

The opening track is –
“Catch us if you can”, Dave Clark Five

… a great opener.
And yeah, played before home games at Shrewsbury Town Football Club, mostly, since the early seventies.
Capturing a time when the football club exceeded expectation for over 10 years (and judged to be the third most successful English club of the eighties).
I’ve seen Salop at over 90 football league grounds since, including now
It was actually written for Spurs – Dave Clark 5 were decidedly from Tottenham – but they never used it.
So much to celebrate from the sixties, and the Beatles are unsurpassable, but Dave Clark 5 had a sound and “Bit and Pieces” – was the first 2nd hand 45 I picked out when Dad was buying secondhand record player via classified ads.

Forest avoid relegation to the third tier

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Twenty minutes in and it looked grim.  Ipswich were comfortable. Forest’s midfield didn’t know how to get the ball up the field.  Blackburn were 2-0 up elsewhere and 2 points above Forest.  Birmingham were winning away too.  Ipswich fans sang “Que Sera, … you’re going to Shrewsbury!”
Towards the end of the first half, Forest developed quick attacks, one of which led to a Forest player being fouled in the box, and their no. 9 comfortably converted the penalty kick.  Now Forest were safe by a goal difference of 1.  But if another was needed, it was not clear how it would come.
Second half and Forest were much better, keeping the ball in the Ipswich half.  And finally a shot from 30 years looked the business and was behind the Ipswich keeper’s long dive.  And Blackburn had conceded a goal.  Comfort enough for the No. 9 to miss a second penalty, though he made up which an individual driving run and smash.
Now the sell-out crowd waited for the final whistle, to both celebrate on the pitch and wave a “Fawaz out” banner.

Salop finish 18th and 2 points clear

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In the end, survival was enough. (Table by ESPN FC.)
A new manager, after the previous manager arranged his own departure in quite a dignified way, whilst we were some points behind the rest at the bottom.
Elsewhere, Arsenal fans’ arrangement of a St.Totteringham’s day for the first time in 20 years when Arsenal were to finish below them in the league seemed a bit of a mistake.
Notts Co. have survived in the Football League, but Notts County Ladies have folded.
Finally, Nottingham Forest are only just safe with one game to go.  I’m desperate for a Forest vs Salop match, but not in the third tier.  Please, Forest.