Friday, 30 June 2017

KEEPING GOAL...

Keeping Goal On Combrook Green

The tree remains, my right-hand upright,
More mature now naturally
But it stands redundant as a goalpost;
My left side was marked simply with clothing
And John Quinney rained shots on sight
At this aspiring goalkeeper, relentlessly…

The ball was plastic, its weight not light,
My dubbined boots were studded
But the gloves were woollen and worn for school;
For in my mind I was Birmingham City’s Colin Withers,
As John Quinney forced me into flight
And I desperately leapt to save with body muddied…

Pete Ray
June 2017

This was my arena as a 9 and 10 year old… Combrook Green, Shard End, Birmingham and when I visited recently, a tree stood where I reckon a sapling was standing 50 years back…

John Quinney was older than me and a good footballer I recall and I loved those opportunities to be Colin Withers, the first really spectacular goalie I had ever seen. He went on to play for Villa too…

I later played as a 5-a-side goalie for Withey Athletic at the Aston Villa Leisure Centre on Friday evenings and constantly threw myself onto the hard surface there with abandon…


Loved it. 





Thursday, 29 June 2017

THE VOICE & THE TWANGY GUITAR...

Listening to Sara Evans singing ‘I Could Not Ask For More’, I couldn’t help thinking of Duane Eddy’s twangy guitar on songs like ‘Dance With the Guitar Man’ but then when I heard the new song by the artist, ‘Marquee Sign’, the way her voice dropped to a rich deep sound made me want to write about the two things…

The Voice & the Twangy Guitar

The range shifts from a honey poignancy
To a rich red wine,
The melody rising
Like a clarinet, plaintive,
Then tumbling dramatically
To a tenor saxophone, thrumming
And the breath is held
At the singer’s tendency
To stoke the soul
And render minds emotive,
As a loose twangy guitar
Plucks Duane Eddy from the past,
His riffs persistent and strumming…

Pete Ray
June 2017






ROLLER HOCKEY AS A KID...

Getting My Skates On

Just nine or ten years old I guess
And a need to escape from home restrictions;
Slick rubber wheels aching to roll,
Despite the delay and the stress 
Of attaching leather toe-guards to plimsoll laces
Then tightening straps to increase the ankle constriction…

My oiled cricket bat and a tennis ball
Substituted for a hockey puck and stick;
Gliding across a pavement rink,
Skinned knees fearing a sudden fall,
I evaded imaginary NHL ice-hockey aces
Then shot past an invisible goalminder with a penalty-flick… 

Pete Ray
June 2017

For a short time as a kid, I used a small area of tarmac near the pavement round the corner from my house in Nearmoor Road, Shard End, Birmingham as a kind of roller-hockey rink.
Alone…

I used my cricket bat and a worn tennis ball to handle as I skated about…

I pictured that very same ‘rink’ just a couple of days ago…


Memories…

MY RINK...

SIMILAR SKATES TO MINE WHICH WERE SADLY GIVEN AWAY BY MY DAD...

MY ORIGINAL CRICKET BAT WHICH I STILL HAVE...

AUNTEA RITA'S, FLYFORD FLAVELL, WORCESTERSHIRE...


THE REAL AUNTEA RITA...


GREAT TEAROOM...



VILLAGE MEMORIAL...

VILLAGE CHURCH...


VILLAGE LIBRARY...

Monday, 26 June 2017

BLACK TAILED GODWIT, AVOCETS & YOUNG, LITTLE RINGED PLOVER, OYSTERCATCHER & YOUNG BLACK HEADED GULLS @ UPTON WARREN TODAY...













WEDNESFIELD FC, MY ONLY VISIT IN 2011-12: A LIGHTHEARTED ACCOUNT...

Following the splendid news of Wednesfield FC's confirmed promotion to the West Midlands Premier League for the 2017-18 season, I looked back through my unpublished articles to find a lighthearted account of my only visit so far to watch Wednesfield play at home, a game they lost 2-3 to Haughmond in 2011-12...

The humour therein is just that, simple humour but in the light of the club's recent success and the current fine state of the ground, I hope that a smile or two will be raised by my account of my visit some years back... 

The three images directly below were Tweeted to me by the club's Twitter operator which I thank him for...

Good luck to Wednesfield for the coming season...





Malfunctions In Wednesfield…  

Reaching Wednesfield in midweek from Solihull proved not to be the easiest of journeys, although I did pass a fish and chip shop called ‘The Codfather’. I liked that… 

I had driven the M5 and the A4123, rather than losing my temper along the busier M6 but roadworks slowed my progress anyway and I was relieved eventually to spot the bent, once red railings of the Wednesfield F.C. entrance gates to my left. 
REMINDED ME OF TRYING TO DECIPHER EGYPTIAN HIEROGLYPHICS...

I was greeted in my car by an attendant, I paid my fee with difficulty, having to delve deep into my jeans for coins and then I asked him for a programme, which sported rather a strange glossy cover. Touching it was rather like dragging my nails down a school classroom’s blackboard in the 1970s and my whole body seized up and that was not because I was in Wednesfield…  
SOMEONE DEPOSITED A STOOL ON THE GROUND...

I drove alongside the dull, red shed of a grandstand but the tiny parking area near the clubhouse, changing rooms, tea-bar, skip and piles of general garbage looked more like a corral for wayward sheep in truth and I was forced to turn and leave my car alongside a touchline, behind a rail. I could have watched the game from the driver’s seat but of course I wanted to experience the real thing… 
SIDE-ON IT REMINDED ME OF A CLOSED HELMET FROM A SUIT OF ARMOUR... 

I bought a cup of tea from two women, the younger looking like a clone of the older and enquired why the original date for the game against Shawbury had been waived. I expected them to tell me of involvement in some cup-tie or other but I was informed that the pitch hadn’t been ready “…loike…” I am certain I tasted sterilised milk in the tea, something which reminded me of my childhood and I am sure that a number of blades of grass died as I poured the remnants of the dangerous liquid from my cup.
PLEASANT OUTLOOK...

There was a skip full of refuse and debris near the refreshments hatch and the courtyard seemed like a deposit for trash of various kinds. A bonfire’s remains littered wasteland behind one goal-frame and dark clouds threatened this interesting and cluttered venue. 
AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL DIG...

I asked about getting a copy of the two teams and stepped into a V.I.P. lounge which was actually the right-hand side of the refreshments hut, fronting the changing area. A burly chap looked at me helplessly, shrugging, “O’r manager has ‘em in ‘is pockit…” Fine, thanks then.
CONFUSING...

I took pictures of the really unique and fascinating scene but those black clouds glared, daring me to stand out in the open during the game. A random whistle then beckoned me back to the lounge and like Rex the Collie, I sniffed out the rather robust chap I’d spoken to earlier and because my reading specs were in my car, he proceeded to read out the players’ names to me. He was unable to explain why the visitors had a guy on the bench called ‘David Well Be Off’. It turned out to be David Walbyoff. However, I was grateful for the information.
GREAT SKY THOUGH...

A sign at the end of the facing clubhouse wall pointed vaguely towards the lounge/changing rooms/refreshments window, maybe even a gap between the two buildings and indicated where the toilets were situated. I investigated all those possibilities and was eventually told that the facilities were actually inside the clubhouse. Helpful that… 

There were youngsters in the grandstand, who were later joined by some local girls, making for a slightly less than romantic setting for courting. I stood behind a rail along the touchline near my car but was forced by those evil clouds to make two or three rushes for cover, as heavy showers poured down. I leaned too hard on the rail at one point and an iron pole collapsed. 
THE DUGOUTS...

I had already grazed my shin on the underside of a wooden advertising hoarding whilst poking an errant ball beneath it to a player and when I sheltered during the final lashing of rain, I unwittingly stood beneath a rectangular hole in the roof and those clouds successfully dampened me at last. 

Two men had balanced a couple of drinks cans on the shelf of the grandstand’s frontage to catch a persistent leak from the ageing roof and I still have no idea why, for the water still splashed the fellows anyway.

The youngsters then began to berate the referee, as Wednesfield began to falter and one lad remarked about his own goalie, 
“He’s got it in his locker but he’s lost the key…” Then he, plus the others, guffawed with laughter. I don’t know why. So he repeated it several times. And they all laughed. Several times. 

When Shawbury netted a surprising late winner though to claim an unlikely 3-2 victory, the lad described the referee thus: “Ref, you’re a dysfunctional knob…” 

I liked that.

The Wednesfield skipper was a brick shithouse in boots, one of the strikers was an out of condition heavyweight boxer and one of the coaches bounced about like a giant space-hopper. Shawbury weathered the storm however, the youths took mobile-phone pictures of each other and the dysfunctional knob blew the final whistle. 

Me? I drove home. 

It’s what I do.






  

Sunday, 25 June 2017

THE WISCONSIN BADGERS' 2ND WORLD WAR CASUALTY, DAVE SCHREINER...

David Nathan Schreiner, born in 1921, hailed from Lancaster, Wisconsin and played football for the Wisconsin Badgers as a defensive end and as an offensive pass receiver.

After Pearl Harbor happened, he wrote a letter saying that most of the Badgers would probably be in battle with the army soon enough and that the football season would have prepared them well for the tasks ahead.

Just 24 years old, Schreiner was at Okinawa in 1945, hours before victory was claimed by the Allied forces but whilst out on patrol he was shot in the body, apparently by Japanese soldiers faking surrender. 

He died of his wounds the following day, 21st June.

I live in the UK, I have never been fortunate enough to visit Wisconsin but I follow the Badgers from afar and Dave’s story struck a chord with me.

I have just written the following poem as my contribution to the legendary status of a brave Badger who passed away 72 years ago. 

The references below to ‘Wink’ and ‘Harder’ are just to illustrate the two players who threw three passes for Schreiner to catch and score from in one quarter of one game in 1942. The quarterback was Jack Wink, the full-back was Pat Harder…

The final two verses are based of course on Wisconsin’s game song, ‘On, Wisconsin’. 

Pete Ray…


Dave Schreiner, Wisconsin Badger Hall-of-Famer

A Senior, an All-American,
Multi-faceted, an End,
He would face in-state rival Marquette
In the Fall of 1942 at Camp Randall
To reiterate his offensive threat,
As well as his penchant to defend…

In the second quarter Dave Schreiner
Scored touchdowns from three passes caught,
A feat rarely Harder, completed quick as a Wink,
Yet the standout hauled them in to cheer Camp Randall,
As deflated opponents could only reflect and think
On a thrashing defeat and a demeanour distraught…

Four catches, one hundred and thirty-eight yards gained,
A school record for the Big Ten’s MVP;
He was an All-American again and the Detroit Lions’ second round pick
In the 1943 NFL draft, cementing legendary staus at Camp Randall:
But World War Two conjured up an evil trick
And a professional career for Schreiner never did come to be…

At Okinawa in the war against Japan,
The Lieutenant Badger fought as a Marine
But whilst out on patrol he was mortally wounded
And in June 1945, news filtered through to Camp Randall
That he had succumbed just before victory was sounded:
Thus a stunned Wisconsin mourned in silence serene…

The number 80 jersey was retired in that year
And into the College Football Hall of Fame
Schreiner was inducted in 1955,
A reward for a hero from Camp Randall,
Who should surely certainly have still been alive
And an NFL star of the Grid Iron game…

On, Wisconsin, on, Dave Schreiner,
He plunged right through those lines;
Fighting on for America’s fame,
A fighting fellow, fighting to win the game…

On, Wisconsin, on Dave Schreiner,
His driving spirit through adversity rang;
He raised his glowing, fighting flame,
So let us stand, fellows and salute his name… 

Pete Ray
June 2017

For non-American football enthusiasts, an End was basically a defensive-line player, a quarterback commanded the offense by passing, handing-off the ball to a runner, or maybe taking off on runs himself and a full-back like Pat Harder was a tough runner, who was employed to gain short yardage usually.

The Big Ten was the league the Wisconsin Badgers played in, an MVP is obviously the Most Valuable Player and an All-American is a player voted as one of the very best college performers in the country, a major honour.

Camp Randall is where the Badgers play their games in Madison, Wisconsin.

Rest in Peace, Dave Schreiner…


  





Saturday, 24 June 2017

THE BODGING PREPARES FOR THE NEW NON-LEAGUE SEASON...

THE BODGING HAS BATHED & DRIES IN THE ACCUSTOMED MANNER...

HE ALWAYS DID HAVE TROUBLE WITH TENT PEGS TOO...

HE CHOOSES A DRYING HAMMOCK...

...FINDS A SHADY NOOK...

...& PREPARES FOR HIS FIRST NON-LEAGUE MATCH OF THE SEASON AT BOLDMERE ST MICHAELS ON FRIDAY EVENING...