Friday, 20 November 2009

That Retro Thang

Saturday 14 November - Thorne Colliery (away) Drew 2-2

The lads have started to bring some music to accompany our games in the Central Midlands League, courtesy of a portable cd player in the changing rooms and on the bus to away games. Mind you, I'm not sure "music" describes some of the sounds to have emanated from said "boombox" (or rather "whimperbox" as our manager described it) prior to the recent games against Kiveton and Thorne Colliery.
Having said that, I'm not exactly blessed with a great knowledge of what's "cutting edge" these days. Whereas one time I'd have been at jostling for position at the front of the queue to get my sounds heard (as was the case back in '95 when Pete Tong's Essential Selection provided the soundtrack to any game involving Easington's new Second XI) the age-gap between me and the current First Team dictates that my choices probably wouldn't go down too well; especially given a current listening list in the car that includes The Style Council, New Order, Sharleen Spiteri and Editors...oh, and Andy Williams.
However, one man currently "kicking up a storm" (as I would no doubt have said during my days as local music correspondent for Hull, Hell & Happiness) is Mayer Hawthorne. For the uninitiated among you, the aforementioned Mr Hawthorne is currently one of the hottest properties in the world of soul/jazz, courtesy of his album "A Strange Arrangement" on Stone's Throw Records. "Cool" with the most capital of C's. So, how does somebody with my admittedly loose handle on the current music scene pull such a street-cred rabbit out of the hat - why, through that most street-cred of publications of course, The Daily Telegraph!

Yes, I was introduced to Mr Hawthorne through the estimable newspaper's Saturday Review supplement, courtesy of the following intro: "Wogan's a fan, and so's Snoop Dogg. Mayer Hawthorne mixes Motown soul with punchy beats - all in a suit and tie." That sort of description immediately appealed to the part of my make-up that used to force me into Hull's legendary Syd Scarbs store every time Kent Records released a new compilation; and when I finally got to hear the man, Wow! Take a look at the pic and I agree you wouldn't associate him with the aforementioned paper's description of a voice that on tracks like "The Ills of the World" "recalls Superfly-era Curtis Mayfield". But it's spot-on.
Setting Hawthorne's music apart from countless other retro soul artists is the influence he brings to bear of ten years as a hip-hop producer and DJ. But he does so while still retaining an authentic feel of soul music's glory years. Check out more - buy the album. I did.
So what's a potential musical genius from Detroit, USA got in common with a trip to Thorne Colliery FC in the Central Midlands League on a very autumnal November afternoon in 2009? In one word, "retro", although in fairness, while the sounds of Hawthorne do inspire thoughts of yesteryear, they're possibly harking back to a more gentle time than that which springs to mind when arriving at the Moorends Welfare Ground.
Similar to the visit to Church Warsop and to a lesser extent Parkhouse, earlier in the season, this away game immediately revives memories (for those of us old enough of course) of Scargill, Thatcher and the Miners' Strike of two decades ago. In deed, Saturday yet again got some of us debating the rights and wrongs of it and the "first hand contact" any of us had with those involved on either side. In my case this extended to little more than the "Dig Deep" buckets placed strategically around "Wezzie"-occupied tables in the Sandy Beaches Club at Kilnsea on a Saturday night, the regular "Socialist Workers" protests down Whitefriargate and City fans singing "We All Agree...Dockers Are Harder Than Miners" when playing any team whose supporters were remotely involved with the dispute!
Then of course there were the benefit gigs at the Adelphi and, nationally, the "Red Wedge" movement involving Billy Bragg and others. But the song that will always remind me of those days - and probably provides a more apt soundtrack to an away game at Thorne Colliery or any other ground in the heart of the ex-mining community - is the classic "Keep On Keeping On" by Eighties Socialist stompers Redskins.
But again I digress.
Like many teams in the CML Thorne Colliery FC is proud of its mining heritage. And a trip to any ex-mining club brings to view the drastic changes experienced since those days of 1984. At Church Warsop it was the boarded-up Miners Welfare Club; at Moorends it's the now barren waste land surrounding the ground that once, I presume, was a hive of industry.
Moorends is a very evocative setting. It has been home to a football club since 1929 and the grand old stand which forms one side of this still tidy venue probably dates from that same era. Some of the people who inhabit it revive memories of a much more recent time for watching football. Or rather, the stories I'd heard beforehand about them do...
Thanks to much pre-match hype, I approached last Saturday’s game at Moorends in pretty much the same way as my first ever visit to Millwall’s original home back in January 1984 i.e. although not particularly looking forward to it, I knew it was one I simply had to make.
Obviously not everyone felt the same. As I boarded the “Ezzie Fun Bus” there was a distinct absence of hitherto away day regulars – Jeff, Judy, Burt? Did they know something I didn’t?
Perhaps so. A South Normanton club official had used the term “animals” to describe some of Thorne's support, whereas Hutton Cranswick had been more discreet: “It’s a unique experience”.

As I joined driver Pete in the stand ten minutes before kick-off I must admit to wondering what all the fuss had been about. Aside from the travelling Mountain clan, Chav’s dad and Karl’s ‘Cleeve Community’, there was hardly a soul to be seen.
It wasn’t much busier by the time Gav’s neat finish brought me to my feet on 9 minutes, although in celebrating the goal I did happen to notice the beginnings of a “gathering” over my right shoulder.

Two minutes later I became the target of this gathering’s first collective “contribution” to the atmosphere; my crime involving having what's known in Easington as a “Doug Moment” (i.e. standing in anticipation of a goal only to see Farny’s shot drift just the wrong side of the post). My “Ye…aw!” prompted much merriment on the part of the hooded clan in the corner (and Pete the Driver!). “Siddown” and “Get to Specsavers” were among the only repeatable instructions aimed my way.
That was about as lively as it got before the break, even after Colliery’s 41st minute equaliser.
During the interval I spoke to programme editor Paul Hodgkins, one of several very amicable people involved with 'The Colliery'. I asked him about his side’s supposedly “unique” support. He replied, “This is poor today. There’s usually more on ‘em ‘ere than this”.
With the Magners and Carling working its magic, ‘The Colliery Boys’ in the stand stepped it up in the second half. Plenty of expletives, coupled with exhortations to “Snap ‘im in ayf!” helped raise the temperature a touch.
It went up another notch when ex-Goole man Fell’s second strike made it 2-1 on 65mins. But the home crowd's ardour was soon quelled as great work from Karl F, Mozza’s return shot and Farny’s finish brought me to my feet again two minutes later. “Is that all you bring away?” sang the home choir. Aye, it is this time. Hopefully when I return to Moorends more will choose to accompany me.
The game somewhat petered out to a draw after this, save for a few rash challenges, one on Jamie Cousins (aka "Simon Cowell") that almost snapped the youngster in two. Afterwards we retired to the Moorends Comrades Club where the food was a hearty mix of stew, chip shop chips and "proper buttered bread"! Unfortunately there wasn't a cask ale to be had...but you can't have everything.
A final touch of irony was reserved for when we left the club to board the bus. One of the most vocal members of the home crowd made sure he wasn't going to let us pass without adding a final observation: "Have a safe trip back, thar's played great today!"

The wind was blowing and the rain was lashing down as we headed back up a dark M18. It was a trip made for some of Morrissey's finest lyrics; instead we had Black Eyed Peas telling us "It's gonna be a good night". Perhaps it was.

Yorkshire Main tomorrow. Another side for the former coalfields. Ah sod it, I'm going for a bit more Mayer Hawthorne. Get on down.

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