Tuesday, 9 October 2007

One for the anoraks & the road to Wembley

Just tidying up my desktop and putting away the file for the General Election 2007 that never was. Some might find the intended introductory leaflet for the Workington constituency of interest, so it gets its first and final airing.

It's an exciting week for thousands of non-League football fans as on Saturday it's the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup and for those clubs competing, the Wembley dream is still very much alive.

Workington Reds have a difficult trip to Stalybridge Celtic. They are also in the Blue Square Conference North and just one place below us in the table. Celtic were at Borough Park a couple of weeks ago when the Reds won 1-0. But it was a close game and we will have to be on top form to progress further in the competition or to bring Stalybridge back to Borough Park for a replay. The winners get £5,000, which is a considerable sum of money to a club like Workington, constantly struggling against the spiralling costs of football at this level.

Ten years ago I travelled to every away game, but nowadays I pick and choose my trips out of Cumbria. With Saturday's game having a one o'clock kick-off because of the England vs Estonia European Championship Qualifier, I shall be listening to the Reds' game on Radio Cumbria. Readers of Freedom will know that I seldom have a good word to say about the BBC, but Radio Cumbria's sports coverage is an exception. As the county only has one club, Carlisle United, in the Football League, our two main non-League sides Workington and Barrow receive excellent coverage. Each Saturday there is full match commentary from one Conference North game on the AM frequency which is a service not matched by any other radio station in the country.
So the cup dream will be alive all week and if on Saturday evening the Reds are in the hat for the 4th Qualifying Round draw on Monday, there will some celebrating going on in Silloth.

The death of a soldier serving with 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles near to Kandahar Airfield last week was the first fatality of a soldier serving in the Gurkhas in the current conflict in Afghanistan. One of my favourite authors is John Masters who served in the 4th Prince of Wales' Own Gurkha Rifles in Afghanistan before the Second World War. He said then that it was impossible for any invading army to conquer the Afghan tribesmen and he has been proved right time and again in the years since.

Afghanistan was the theme of a book I borrowed from my eldest daughter recently for some light reading. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini was an enjoyable read and I was surprised I liked it. It's a very well written story about two Muslim women in Kabul living through the actual events of the past 20 years. A couple of weeks later the book was featured on BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime but I didn't listen, preferring to keep my reading in my head rather than replace it with the one from the Corporation.


alfredthegreat878 said...

"One of my favourite authors is John Masters who served in the 4th Prince of Wales' Own Gurkha Rifles in Afghanistan before the Second World War."

Indeed, who could forget the "Nightrunners of Bengal"?

Max Hastings, Tory backwoodsman of apparently limited understanding of the bigger picture, nevertheless is an excellent military writer and wrote a splendid chapter about Masters in "Warriors". He was with the Chindits in Burma, a fundamentally flawed operation which resulted in heavy casualties to doubtful gain. Whilst a relatively junior officer, a Major, he commanded a Brigade in chaotic circumstances and was instrumental in minimising casualties and getting men out who wouldn't have survived otherwise.

It was said that Wingate and most of his officers were mad, like the political "leadership" we have now then, excepting in terms of courage of course.

Martin Wingfield said...

I can thoroughly recommend John Clay's biography of Masters "John Masters: A Regimented Life". Also Masters' two autobiographies "A Tiger and a Bugle" and "The Road Past Mandalay" which deals with the Burma campaign.
I had found the Clay book very hard to come by - over £100 second hand on Amazon. Then one Saturday shopping with the wife in Carlisle, I ducked into the library for some respite, asked for it at the counter and they found me a copy.