Fol­low­ing old tracks for cameo ap­pear­ance

Macclesfield Express - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

AS Michael Caine might say, ‘not many peo­ple know this’, but I used to play for Glos­sop North End FC, who made another Wem­b­ley fi­nal last sea­son.

Although I never made the heady heights of the first team, I did grace the Sur­rey Street turf for the sec­ond team.

I’d like to say that, as I prowled around the penalty area like a wilde­beest, with the oc­ca­sional run up-front like a gazelle, I had caught the eye of many a foot­balling scout.

How­ever I’d be ly­ing to you and it did not go un­no­ticed that, even though it was three stone ago, I was more suited to the de­mands of the egg-shaped ball and I’ve been play­ing for Glos­sop Rugby Club ever since.

I’m talk­ing 1978 here and, yes, I’m no spring chicken, but it was another bird, or rather two birds, which caught my eye when I should have been con­cen­trat­ing on the ball.

A pair of king­fish­ers flashed across the pitch in all their glory and I lost all sense of what I should have been do­ing, mouthing, ‘look at those beau­ties!’.

Some wag on the touch­line was heard to say, ‘you should be on the wing Woody!’, much to the amuse­ment of the other sup­port­ers.

Not sure of the re­sult that day, but soon af­ter I was to be found around the wa­ter­ways of Glos­sop regularly, check­ing out what the cen­tre of town had to of­fer. I had al­ready started writ­ing then and it was the time when con­ser­va­tion­ists had be­gun to re­alise how much ur­ban wildlife there was, and much of it un­no­ticed.

My first ar­ti­cle, and there have been more than 2,000 since, amount­ing to nearly two mil­lion words, ap­peared in the Liver­pool Weekly News in 1976, with the head­line A Kestrel Kills In Liver­pool. Happy days. It soon be­came ob­vi­ous Glos­sop was no ex­cep­tion and a cur­sory mooch brought the joys of dip­pers, grey wag­tails, reed buntings, won­der­ful brown trout, herons, tufted duck and, in­deed, king­fish­ers.

Just as an aside, Glos­sop’s first team man­ager at the time was called Par­tridge. You can’t make it up.

As a town, Glos­sop and the sur­round­ing vil­lages, in­clud­ing Pad­field, which houses the Laugh­ing Badger Gallery, are still blessed with most of the wa­ter birds men­tioned and, co­in­ci­dently, one reader stopped me for a chat last week by Wren’s Nest Mill. He asked: “Could I have seen a king­fisher on the river near Dint­ing Vale?”

“Well yes, you could,” I replied, and pro­ceeded to fol­low my old tracks and check out the river again, the first time in a few years it must be said.

Sure enough, by the side of Lan­cashire Chem­i­cals, and with no more than a five-minute wait by the bridge, the un­mis­tak­able iri­des­cent elec­tric blue bird put in a cameo ap­pear­ance.

My chance en­counter on the street is another ex­am­ple of how read­ers can add meat to the bone of a good story, not least be­cause Lan­cashire Chem­i­cals spon­sor both Glos­sop Rugby Club and Glos­sop North End.

I spoke to man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Bruce Hen­don about the Wem­b­ley fi­nal and the three cup fi­nals for the rugby club – an as­tute bit of spon­sor­ing I’d say – be­fore dis­cussing the king­fish­ers and wildlife.

Bruce was pleased to tell me the En­vi­ron­ment Agency rates the river good enough for brown trout and that’s good enough for me.

Bruce had also read my ar­ti­cle where I chal­lenged busi­ness own­ers to re­port to this col­umn how they were re­duc­ing their car­bon foot­print.

I told him I had seen a king­fisher, dip­pers and grey wag­tails from the bridge to his premises, and it soon be­came ob­vi­ous Bruce was proud of what the com­pany was do­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally.

Lan­cashire Chem­i­cals, part of the Plater Group, strives to meet all cri­te­ria and reg­u­la­tions with re­gard to dis­charge, with ev­ery­thing be­ing re­cy­cled.

With the wa­ter be­ing good enough for trout, and all that in­volves, they are def­i­nitely tick­ing all of the boxes on clean­li­ness,

It’s a com­pli­cated thing, wa­ter qual­ity, and in­volves all man­ner of sci­en­tific gubbins and mea­sure­ments but, sim­ply put, if there are no pol­lu­tants, then the wa­ter, will gen­er­ally be clean.

Once I had es­tab­lished noth­ing un­to­ward was mak­ing its way into the wa­ter from Bruce’s plant, as good as my word to read­ers, I chal­lenged him to tell us what the com­pany is do­ing to re­duce its car­bon foot­print over­all.

He was very can­did and said: “Af­ter the orig­i­nal com­pany closed down we bought the busi­ness six years ago and im­me­di­ately be­gan a pro­gramme of energy con­ser­va­tion, not least to save our­selves money and I am pleased to say that, we will meet our tar­get of a 50 per cent re­duc­tion in energy con­sump­tion by the end of this year.”

The Laugh­ing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Pad­field, Glos­sop

●● A king­fisher in flight

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