Charles and Ernest go to the football
Charles sneaked out unnoticed, from his home in Northfield Road. His first call was only a few yards away, ‘The Jovial Foresters’, not only his local pub, but also the headquarters of his beloved Football Club, Forest Green Rovers.
Sitting in the bar, enjoying his pint, and listening to the conversations, Charles felt he belonged here. The hoppy aroma of the beer was assailed by the whiff of embrocation from the room out the back, used as a changing room by the football club. It’s half past two on a late summer Saturday afternoon. The home side and the visitors from Brimscombe are finishing their beer, and heading up the hill towards the Forest Green pitch at The Lawn. Charles joins the teams and supporters as they strut their way uphill, trying not to look out of puff to the opposing team.
Charles stops at his friend’s house in Forest Green. He’s come to pick up young Ernest, who was keen as ever to cheer for his local team. Charles and Ernest were seventeen years apart in age, but had always got on well. They saw each other most days, either at work at Woodchester, or around the lanes of the hamlet, high above the Nailsworth Valley.
Arriving at the Forest Green pitch, a sizeable crowd is standing along the touchline as the local villages do battle on the football field. It was the first league match for six years, because the Great War had rudely interrupted organised football.
And in the Forest Green team is Walter Beale, a dependable goal-scorer, and, more importantly to Ernest, a proud family member. Ernest was cheering Walter’s every touch, even when he missed a sitter! The game ended 1-1 so honours were shared. The spectators came onto the pitch at the end, to congratulate the players, and to celebrate a return to some sort of normality for Stroud valleys life.
Charles and Ernest held back after the match. They were wearing their army clothes, and didn’t want to bring down the high spirits of the happy moments that were being shared. The two men were aware that the presence of two soldiers who had served their country might cause some distress, when so many local families had suffered such loss and sorrow over the last five years.
Hanging around at the end, sharing the last of their Woodbines, and unnoticed by the other spectators, Charles and Ernest waited until the crowd dispersed.
Watching the groundsman shut and lock the field gates, the two men settled down for an evening of reminiscences at The Lawn at the top of the village. Plenty of time ahead of them, for their nocturnal chats together, as they faded away under the pale light of the moon.
(Based upon Charles Marmont 1880-1919 and Ernest Beale 1897-1916)
Reference notes linked with above piece.
I was unable to find much detail of the first season after WW1. The choice of Brimscombe as opposition for the first match, and the 1-1 score, are my own invention, until I can find the true information.
231 young men from Nailsworth went to war, 43 died and are commemorated on the war memorial in Nailsworth, including E Beale and S Marmont
(From ‘Something to Shout About’ The History of FGR by Tim Barnard)
Ernest Beale, 1897-1916
Lived in Forest Green, with his mother and siblings. Brass worker.
Driver in the Royal Field Artillery. Did not serve overseas. Died in Exeter Hospital of meningitis.
Charles Marmont, 1880-1919
Worked in pin manufacturing at Woodchester
Private in the 2nd Gloucestershire Regiment, did not serve overseas.
Died in Military Hospital, Maidstone, of bronchitis and heart failure.
Blue plaque at Northfields House, Northfields Road
FGR were in poor shape just before WW1. Forest Green had combined with Nailsworth FC, and became Nailsworth and Forest Green United. They had financial problems and people had fallen out. There were no Forest Green or Nailsworth FC teams playing in the league in 1913/14, as the clubs and their players had been suspended for irregularities in the previous season. There is no record of players in the online WW1 National Football Archive, as Forest Green was only a Stroud and District League team at the time.
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