TEAMS WE DON’T SEEM TO PLAY ANY MORE
No. 1: NETHERFIELD F.C
Netherfield seemed to be a stalwart fixture of all those 70s glory days in the NPL; everyone liked Netherfield as they might as well have been known as Three Points F.C.
Confusingly, nobody was quite sure where Netherfield originated from, but once a year a team bedecked in black and white stripes would run out at York Street, obligingly concede a minimum of at least four goals, and then disappear for another 12 months. There was a Netherfield that the train went through between Boston and Nottingham, so maybe that was it.
Then one day in the late 70s I decided to go to Netherfield. Coincidentally, this also turned out to be the same day that I learned Netherfield was not the same Netherfield located just on the Boston side of Nottingham. Oh no, this particular Netherfield is actually in the Lake District.
I vividly remember the vehicle that I was obtaining my lift in was a small Mini; hosting apprehension, I encircled the car in the York Street car park prior to boarding, tapping various panels, headlights and wings – and hastily pushed all the parts back into place that fell off during this inspection process, seriously wondering if this car would make Sleaford Road, yet alone the Lake District.
Many hours later, we had reached Grantham. With a top speed of 36 miles an hour, and most cyclists a mere temporary blur in our outside wing mirror as they sped past seemingly at speeds more reminiscent of dry salt flats in Utah, I realised the 4.30am start was not at all cautiously conservative.
Netherfield F.C. is actually Kendal F.C.
The reason they don’t call themselves Kendal F.C., and hence disguise themselves as Netherfield, is to ensure all prospective away fans are blissfully unaware of the vast distance necessary to travel to their ground – a ground which, like the rest of town, is dominated by the enormous K Shoes factory. Also, it hides the fact this is also home to some of Britain’s worst weather. When we arrived at the ground, it was raining.
Only this quality of rainfall is recorded in two places in the world – the rainforest which forms the natural border between Brazil and Bolivia, and Manchester. Occasionally the rain would lessen enough to allow snatches of the game to be visible. Thankfully Boston won 2-0, which helped the journey home (I think I just made it in time to attend school two days later). However, the game was remarkable for the inclusion of an utterly bizarre goal by stalwart Boston forward Jim Kabia.
He latched onto a slightly over(s)hit cross and volleyed it into the side-netting. However, this being “up north and poor”, the goal net contained a hole, the size of which was just sufficient to permit the ball to pass through it. Big Jim looked at the linesmen, then the referee, then the linesman again … .and suddenly decided to chance it with a goal celebration. Thankfully it worked, and the referee dutifully pointed to the centre spot.
Several years earlier, the enormous journey to Netherfield had culminated in a 6-0 away win for Boston against the men from the outer reaches of the Lake District; thus, so much for the theory about Kendal mint cake being good for all round strength, stamina and athleticism. What a real shame we don’t play them anymore.
Finally, here’s some statistics to confirm we didn’t just make all of the above up (no, we’re not just doing some set-up work for a falsifying documents gag -that would be too easy!)
1971: Sat 9th October Away NPL Netherfield W 6-0 Hughes, Froggatt(2), Wilkinson, Svarc, Cray
1978: Sat 18th November Away NPL Netherfield W 2-0 Brown, Kabia (well, side netting at least)