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King George V Playing Field, Arnold

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I always liked the situation of the old King George's Rec just behind Arnold market place. As a lad I attended the old British School which stood approximately where the market place is now and would often attend Arnold St. Mary's football games just over the road. I came to play a bit of cricket on those same playing fields too, not to mention tennis and in younger days the playground adjacent for general tomfoolery and falling off the slide and swings scraping my knees and tearing holes in my clothes regularly. often the latter arose from balancing on top of the slide, fighting with several others for a free view of the game going on over the hedge.

I particularly loved the odd Midland League evening games that Mary's would play. Joe Boucher, Bobby Tait, Pete 'Shonkey' Burton et al. After the game my pals and I would head for chips from one of the several chip shops on Front Street before heading back to Redhill, just in time for Dad's Army!

There were famous games later too. The FA Cup tie Arnold v Port Vale sticks in the mind; a game which appeared to be almost entirely played in Arnold's penalty area! Port Vale almost received a tremendous shock though when The Saints travelled to the West Midlands for the midweek replay and were - if my memory serves me correctly - 2-0 down to Arnold within a very short time! Plucky Arnold lost out 4-3 that night but they had made their point against Football League opposition.

Over the years I still took the odd walk down into Arnold town centre, sank a couple of pints in 'The Tuck' and watched a bit of good honest local football on 'Georges Rec'. Time marches on of course and Arnold Town as they are called nowadays no longer play in the centre of the town having been forced to move to their new and excellent-looking headquarters 'Eagle Valley' up the A614 on the way to Oxton. This is how it must be and it has to be said the great facility that has been built there is a fine endorsement of all the hard work and dedication put into that football club many years ago. It echoes of those days when the Arnold committee struggled to build a stand and a pavillion for the players - both much against the odds and with little outside help - quite the opposite in fact where the council were concerned apparently. The original stand along the North side of the pitch was built with pure hard graft by those committee men who had a vision for the future of football in Arnold. I'm sure they would all be pleased with the way things have turned out.

Not long ago however I was passing through Arnold and decided to take a look what King Georges Rec looked like now the football has left. It was midwinter, windswept and looking a little desolate for it. A single dog walker bade me a good morning as I peered in through the murky windows of the old brick built pavillion with it's little social area and players changing rooms. The old ground was still and dare I say it forlorn looking and feeling. I remembered those old days back in the sixties as a lad cheering on the lads in Maroon and Gold. You could almost hear the familiar sound of their 'nogs' (studs) clattering onto the pitch ready to do battle for the old club. The smell of the liniment.

I have no idea what the future of the old playing fields will resemble but I hope it is a fitting one and that it comes to be used to more effect than on the day I walked over that familiar turf.

Goals but no stands anymore

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A place to change

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Half-time snack anyone?

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My memories of KGV relate to playing in a few cricket matches there, spread over perhaps 25 years. Our Arnold CC fixture was irregular (as we played in different leagues) and they seemed to visit us at Burntstump more often.

IIRC, the 50's/60's wicket was known as something of a 'deathtrap', but improved as time went by, and as their status improved. Seem to remember using your pictured pavillion which, when new, was quite innovative for its time.

Stu: Did you know Bob Cunningham, who played for Arnold CC and had an admin role with Arnold St. Mary's?

To coin a phrase: "...perhaps before your time...!"

Cheers

Robt P.

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Hi Rob. Bob Cunningham isn't a name I recall I'm afraid.

The pavillion had been a long time coming apparently before it was finally erected. It seems the old Arnold Urban District Council did little to assist Arnold St Mary's in those days. I read that before this, the player would change down Hallams Lane at the original swimming baths, now long gone. When the pavillion was finally built there were still no showers in it due partly to lack of cooperation from the council. This stymied Arnold's chances of entry to (I believe) the Midland League and became a major stumbling block to the club's progress for quite some time. As you say, innovative for the time though and I do think it rather a shame to see the once-proud little facility so down-at-heel.

I only played on the wicket from around the mid-seventies and by then I thought it was a belter (especially with a potentially very short square leg/cover boundary!) Very good for a front foot stroke player with the ball coming onto the bat. I can say that the gentleman that provided such a beautiful batting strip at the time was a chap by the name of Mr. Bains, the park keeper and expert groundsman who lived adjacent KGV. The same fellow, a cheery Lancastrian, acquired me through contacts my very first job after school on the ground staff at Trent Bridge for which I was very grateful to him at the time. The Arnold wicket of my era was a nice firm strip with a bit of pace about it - the very best 'cricket' wicket in my humble opinion.

I'm intrigued to know whether the Summer game still makes an appearance at KGV. I noticed the (relatively) new cricket pavillion still stands up there in the top corner. it would be a shame to think the pitch and it's facility are no longer used.

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