Following old tracks for cameo appearance
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