Meet, the new elite. Women's walking netball team, yes WALKING. It is designed for gentle exercise for those willing to return to sport, or have left it altogether, or in my case was never really interested in it ever in their lives, but thought it might shed a few pounds and wile away some hours.
The venue has changed, it's now held on the C.I.S.W.O ( Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation) recreation ground, otherwise know as the 'rec' which is ideal, mainly because it has showering and changing facilities in house, plus public club house, which for its proximity in the middle of a field, was previously known as 'the little house on the prarie ' reminiscent of a light hearted American serial in the seventies. The similarities are remarkably apparent. I for sure can vouch for several shot gun weddings over the years, one or two shoot outs over who's turn it was on the pool table, non fatal it's all bravado..there's been a few posses to keep staff from leaving the building in times of peak activity..and the cowboys who don't smoke many peace pipes in the smoking area...they think directing the flow out of the patio door is acceptable practice, with a beer mat! Who will argue... This is an old coal mining area, the colliery just lost it's tower last year, in 2016, although it has not mined coal for about eight years previous. Harworth tower, they loaded it with shot, fired it and it refused to fall. Unfortunately because they fired it on a Sunday, nothing could be done to bring the tower down, machines to chip away at the concrete had to be brought from Sheffield, and the old lady finally fell in her own time early one morning two days later. The men that remember the village as it was, drift down to their little house on the prarie for a beer, in these twilight years.
So, Netball is upon us. The courts is a fabulous arena for practice, we have two new nets , several balls and ladies who want to play. At first we have a warm up session practicing hitting the net which is not as easy when you try it, it seems a lot easier to play football, just consider the size of a football net to a netball net..precisely..this is where the skill comes in. We finally have a game, although I was playing 'Goal Defence' some of the other ladies had duel positions because we are not big enough to support all roles today. The weather being hot, after twenty minutes I began to suffer from dehydration and had to break off training and head for the bar, just in time for them opening up, I'm glad I broke ranks when I did as there was a mighty cue building up in the pub, I think the pork scratching delivery had got through from Bradford. I was pleased to be greeted by three savoury characters ( Cheese and Onion, one Beef crinkle cut) crisp eating old timers.
" we , want to join your Netball team" said the old un.
It's now I sort of look all official and sporty, I even develop a nonchalant stance at the bar, bit like John Wayne, hand on hip..slight tilt. looking all cool
" get on your horse..and have the opp ! sonny.."
" what ?" said the old timer..a crisp wobbling on his bottom lip,
" have you had the opp ?"
" What bloody opp"
" I've had white finger and dodgy kneecaps..what else is there ?" crinkly beef chipped in.
" THE OPP ! it's womans netball...you have to be a woman!"
" stuff that, it's a mans world..we still want to play netball!"
I don't believe it, why would they want, to play netball, bless them. Must be the colourful display we put on, bouncing around on court, everything flapping and
popping about, abandoning all cares and bouncing for shear delight in the sport.
Either that, or they just want to put us off drinking their beer. Now that is an impossibility. But how far have we come, to think that hardened mining men would want to play netball. I find it inspiring, so inspiring that I will come back next week, just to check if the pork scratching delivery made it from Bradford.