The Haverthwaite vs. Holker
The Year of Our Lord 1994
with added interjections in red
Ever since Christmas Day 1915 no-man’s land match, it has been fitting to bring together opposing sides in a celebration of the beautiful game. So it was, that the two giants of Cartmel Bar culture, met each other head to head on the football pitch in early 1994. Haverthwaite Block took on the Might of Holker Block. The prize was a silver trophy (actually a plastic pint pot, stolen from Cartmel Bar, covered in tinfoil) bearing the legend “The Haverthwaite vs. Holker Challenge Cup: Dulce et Decorum est pro Block Mori” (It is right and fitting to die for one’s block).
It must be said at this point, to help you spot the inherent bias and downright lies in most of what James writes, that he was a member of Holker. Whereas I played for Haverthwaite.
The Holker side was numerically disadvantaged, but where they lacked in numbers they made up for in fitness. Well only in that because you had one less person the percent of smokers on your team was slightly lower. Haverthwaite’s star player, Laura, was unavailable as she was in Moscow.
Nick: Holker’s agile keeper and long time Reading fan. Nick came from the Gordon Banks school of goalkeeping, in that poor eyesight doesn’t make you a bad keeper. Nick, unlike Gordon, had two eyes, but refused to wear his glasses and relied inside of diving for anything that looked like it was going to hit him. (Nick now lives somewhere near East Anglia).
Matt P: The most skilful player that Holker had been blessed with. His turn of speed and passing ability made him stand out amongst his team mates. His poor eyesight was countered by turning out bedecked in a sports band that held his glasses in place! Unfortunately, Matt’s football days came to an end some years after graduating, when he suffered cruciate ligament damage. (Matt now resides somewhere in the hills of Sheffield, near his beloved Sheffield United).
Stewart: Another of the poor eyesight brigade. Stewart started the game in glasses and then removed them for fear of breaking them. It was at this moment that Stew scored one of the goals of the game with a long distant strike that flew past the hapless goalie, without Stew realising it had gone in. We were lucky to see the ball again, I’ve never seen such a hard shot. People dived out of the way like soldiers avoiding artillery. (Stew was last heard of somewhere in London after a drunken mobile phone conversation with Matt.V & Jim at Rob’s wedding).
Jim: Took up the role of libero, along the lines of Lothar Matheus, as Jim was hampered by a severe lack of pace. Being a Manchester City supporter Jim was used to disappointment, so you could have probably predicted the result before hand. Jim was instrumental in the eventual creation of the Sunday league side 10 Regals. (Jim currently resides in the North East where he spends his time writing crap for www.fridayfooty.co.uk). This is a surprisingly modest account by our James, he is much handier on the field of battle than he would have you believe.
Ruth(Captain): The darling of the Holker side. Despite being a carer and not a student, Ruth was coaxed into playing so long as she captained the side. Ruth left Lancaster to pursue a career in Social Services. (Ruth now is happily married and lives with two ‘silly’ dogs somewhere near Bradford).
Matt V: Matt was Haverthwaite’s most fearsome looking player thanks to a hangover methinks, but he was actually blessed with a deft touch and turn of pace. Matt’s wing play in the second half was one of the major turning points in the match. Due to Matt having a car, he became joint manager of 10 Regals and even came up with the name. (Matt now lives in Bristol with a 4×4 and is a former Man United fan).
Rob : Rob was the most adept player at being able to play, smoke and drink a pint at the same time. After graduating from Lancaster University Rob gave up his passion of Giggsy perms and followed Delia Smith’s glorious Canaries – oh yes and Chris Sutton beat him at table tennis despite having a dodgy net call. (Rob now lives somewhere between Norwich and London, he doesn’t like to be too specific to keep ahead of the Pastie Squad).
Brett: Brett was the token American, who knew very little about football and was a big Nirvana fan. Yet he put in a strong effort and was one of the more healthy members of the team. He put in a fine performance despite not being allowed to wear a helmet and body armour.
Lawrence: Loz wasn’t a huge football fan, but had a knack of scoring goals. In a recent interview he said “I scored so may goals I thought the rest of you were letting me do it for a laugh.” I think in the end Loz turned out to be our most able and skillful player on the day, thanks to actually being fit and healthy. quite a strange concept among many of us. (Loz lives in Greater Manchester)
Kevin: Kev was known as Sport Billy as he was the most perfectly turned out footballer. His range of Weymouth shirts was legendary, featuring sponsoring giants such as David Hanger Windows and Park Engineering. Kev also had a soft spot for Man City. Kev was the heart of the squad and made sure I fulfilled my role as skipper. In fact we even spent and evening with pen and paper working out the best tactics and positions for team members to play in. He also went on to chronicle this match for The Cartmelpolitan. (Currently living in his hometown of Weymouth where his Dad appeared on the recent Football Stories).
Harry (Captain): Harry was a forthright defender, who nobody messed with otherwise they’d have wished they’d been wearing full body armour. I must admit to being a little rough in the tackle at times, but better safe than sorry, I always say. Harry got the job as captain as he was the eldest and had been to school with the bloke from Hetty Wainthrope & Lord of the Rings. Some slight revisionism there, I got the role as Captain because I didn’t want to run about much and preferred to hang back and defend. Clearly my role was influenced by Steve Bruce. Anyway, Dominic was in my sister’s year at school, the talented lass from Moloko, Roisin Murphy, was in my class though. Not that I want to name drop or anything. (Harry lives near Manchester where he is the online Cartmel Bar landlord)
Giles (Referee): Giles, did stirling work as the referee, allowing us to kick lumps out of each other, yet call the really nasty incidents. This being England, before the major foreign player influx, and the players being men, there was no diving to speak of. The only time someone hit the deck was when they were decked or were lying down for a cigarette break.
Holker’s major disadvantage wasn’t to play to their strengths. When the Holker & Haverthwaite sides merged during the 1995 to create the Sunday 6 a-side team 10 Regals, Palmer played in a team where everyone wore the same coloured tops, so he could work out which side was which. However the Holker side turned out in varying colours with Underwood wearing black, Walsh wearing Black & Red Stripes and Palmer in Yellow.
However, the first half saw Holker take a 4-2 lead thanks to the finishing of Underwood and Parkin. Walsh and Palmer kept things tight at the back, whilst Cresswell linked the play between defence and attack. Haverthwaite were disorganised and Mickleburgh was suffering for not being allowed cigarette breaks.
Haverthwaite really struggled in the first half. It was clear immediately that Holker had the better individual players, and despite our slight numerical advantage, they ran rings around us. Our major problem was self inflicted, we played as individuals rather than a team. It was like watching eight years olds all running around after the ball and each trying to score for themselves. Haverthwaite played like a bunch of old mercenary has-beens, each looking after their own career. (so Roman – you know where we are if you need us, not that I’d play for the Scum or anything).
Towards the end of the first half, Kev made representation to me on the lack of teamwork and how I would have to have a word with the boys. So at half time, during the tradition lie-down and cigarette, I explained to the lads that we could win this game if we worked as a team. If someone called for the ball, then pass it to them. We also made things clear on positions and Matt Valentine and I would rotate duties as centre back during the next period of play.
Holker relaxed in the second half having created a 2 goal cushion, but certainly Harry’s half-time talk also worked wonders. Valentine set the tone for the second half by growling at Cresswell, this put Cresswell off her game and left Holker with an even bigger numerical disadvantage. Harry in his own words “scored one, running from defence all the way down the pitch and thwacking it self-righteously past the goalie.”
It’s amazing how much I remember about that goal. Time slowed, Matrix style. I think I took on the first player by accidental skill, the second by shear coincidence and the rest just because they were too shocked to see this donkey running with the ball. As I neared the net I saw myself as Brian Robsen and knew there was no chance I was going to miss if I twatted the ball goalwards in a self righteous manner.
Walsh began to drift from his position by deciding that he might get on the score sheet, this left Palmer woefully exposed and eventually the final score was 8-5 to Haverthwaite.
Haverthwaite really did try to play as a team in the second half. And as players got tired of running up field, they rotated with the defenders. When you play as a team, numerical advantage really makes a difference and you can tire out the opposition by passing the ball around a lot. The second half was pretty one sided as Holker got tired thanks to Haverthwaite’s advantage.
While the Holker went into half time with a 4-2 lead, it was Haverthwaite who won the day, winning 8-5. The impressive Challenge Cup was handed to me by the gracious in defeat Holker Skipper, Ruth Cresswell.
Being a bitter blue, Walsh’s post match interview claimed the moral high ground. “We were a side of Man City, Sheff Utd & Reading fans, unlike the rag supporting Haverthwaite squad.” bleated Walsh. “We were one player short, were playing with two players who refused to wear their glasses (therefore being unable to see the ball) and (not wanting to be sexist) included a young lady who during the second half was verbally assaulted by Haverthwaite’s left winger. Stew’s goal was the best of the match even if he didn’t know it had gone in!”
Harry when asked about Walsh’s comments said, “Holker’s side was not the only one suffering eye problems. Both I and Rob were bog-eyed and our best player was missing, she was gallivanting around in Moscow. And remember, Holker won the first half, so stop bleating Walsh… Holker is a massive club…and at the end of the day the boys gave 110 percent…”
Following the match, both sides were said to be short of breath and in need of restorative beverages of a beery nature. Both sides, friends to the last, retreated to the friendly environs of Cartmel Bar, forever to tell tall tales of daring do on the football pitch, when Haverthwaite played Holker at Association Football.
Cartmel Bar, M’lord, Cartmel Bar…