THE NEWslETTER OF TIGERFOLK
In view of the Corona Virus pandemic the Government is strongly urging that all large gatherings of people are discontinued forthwith. However folk/jazz clubs can continue as normal.
No sooner had the rather stereotyped joke gone viral on social media when it fell completely flat as the folk scene reacted to the Government guidelines as clubs, concerts and festivals were either being cancelled or temporarily closing until the crisis is over. Personally the Nottingham Post Folk column for Friday 20th March had been written and sent by lunchtime on Sunday 15th and within 24 hours the five items featured therein had been whittled down to one.
Time to talk to my fellow committee members at Tigerfolk and the following directive was universally agreed:-
In line with other folk clubs who are following the Government’s guidelines regarding gatherings of people during the Corona Virus pandemic Tigerfolk will be closing for the club nights in April, May and June at present and the closure may be longer depending on how the situation progresses or improves.
We will keep you updated each month as to how things are going and Tatters will be distributed each month to this effect.
If it is any help to you the following folk clubs, Second Time Around, Belper, Mansfield, Carrington Triangle, Derby Traditional, Poppy, Bingham, 3rd Friday Tunes at Kegworth and The Flowerpot have all closed until further notice. While the Robin Hood expect to follow suite and at the time of writing Grand Union were in discussions.
To make things worse the Government have also indicated that it would be wise (although not yet a legality) that the over seventies, a large part of the folk club catchment audience, should undertake a regime of self - isolation. So let us lock the doors, close the windows and settle down to watch repeats of “Hart to Hart”.
We have talked to the management of the Stumble Inn and while they are remaining open until directed to close (to stay in line with their insurance) they have cancelled all of their live music for the future.
We will miss you but we do look forward to welcoming you back as soon as this unparalleled time in modern history has passed.
Sunday 1st March 2020
Kevin and Ellen Mitchell
Roy Harris would have had the broadest grin on his face and his hands would have been sore with clapping had he been able to be with us for this wonderful night with Kevin and Ellen.
Both Kevin and Ellen have been to the club before and treated the place like a home from home, easy, relaxed, laid back singing with intimate quips between themselves that were shared with the audience. The one thing you are always guaranteed with them is that their knowledge of the songs they sing is imparted and adds another dimension to whatever they sing. For many of the songs were collected directly from the likes of Jock Duncan-”The Cruel Mother”, Joe Holmes-”Tumbling in the Hay”, Belle Stewart-”Queen Amang the Heather”, Daisy Chapman-”In Praise of Place”, Jack Eaglesham-”The Feeing Time” and the like. Kevin gave us a Burns’ song “Yon Castle Wall”, not something you will hear very often I can bet. We had songs about birds, proud drinkers, emigration, unfaithful brides, cruel mothers, dodgy lodging houses etc., etc. the list goes on. But it also included the first song that Kevin ever sang “Slieve Gallon Braes”. Obviously, like the aforementioned, there were songs that were well known to many in the audience but there were also many that were new to our ears. Kevin and Ellen sang individually as is their way but not only was the contrast between the songs but also in their styles of singing. Always a delight to hear, Kevin and Ellen gave us a night to remember.
Of course, the night is primarily centered around the guests but we were blessed with a surprise visit from Francy Devine and Ann Riordan. As some of you might be aware Francy has just launched his latest double CD “An Ownerless Corner of Earth”* from which he sang “The Lowlands of Holland” and “Alexander”. It is always a pleasure to welcome Francy and Ann to the club and to hear him sing.
Corinne Male, who has been a stalwart of the club from its early days and a resident for a decade or more is bidding farewell to the area and as a parting gift gave as “Copshawholme Fair” and “Swansea Gaol”. Thanks for all your hard work and support Corinne and all the best with your move to northern climes.
Dave Sutherland guided us through the evening and called upon Lyn Cooper, Sheila Bentham, Andy Cooper, John Chambers, Paul Mansfield, Phil Hind, Sam Stephens and yours truly. All helped in adding to the sort of night that Tigerfolk aspires to.
Long Street, as its name implies, is long and it is also straight. If you stand in the middle of town on the highest part of the road you will see it stretch both to your left and right as far as the eye can see. Long Street was also eerily quiet, the many tall boarded up Georgian buildings only echoed the occasional sound. Very few people were abroad, the shops, although open, were doing little trade and those who were shopping had to negotiate the baulks and planks of timber that were covering the window fronts.
The only place you heard a noise was when passing a pub and the door was open and this was at 1pm on a Tuesday! But this is a special Tuesday for this is Shrove Tuesday and we are in Atherstone getting ready for the annual Shrovetide Football that is played along Long Street, formally the old Roman road, Watling Street.
Unlike most ball games not a lot happens in Atherstone apart from the boarding up of the shop windows and the closing of the road to traffic until 2.30pm. So we went for a cup of coffee in a friendly cafe where they were talking about the bedlam to come and how they were going to “Self-incubate against this newfangled flu thing”. Anyway come 2.30pm a crowd was gathering outside the Conservative Club which lies down the hill from the centre in a south easterly direction on Long Street. The “Conny” has a central door but above it is a balustraded flat roof some 10 yards long and on it were about 30 people who were chatting amongst themselves and leaning over nattering to their friends in the crowd below which was comprised, at this time, of mainly young mothers with toddlers and youths. After a few minutes there was activity up on the roof and excitement grew in the crowd that was swelling by the second. Then the sweets began to be showered down to the waiting crowd. They were mainly wrapped in flat packets that meant they didn’t just plummet to earth but wafted about a bit in the cold wind that cut its way down the street. Kids of all ages were scrambling for these treats but as is the custom, some were being hurled back up to those who were proffering the largesse. Eventually “The Golden Penny” was thrown down along with more gilt wrapped sweets and the lucky finder would be rewarded with a £10 note.
We were moving on towards 3pm and the crowd had now grown to several hundred with the majority being lads and men of beer drinking age as you could tell by the air all around. An announcement was made that the ball would be launched by Dave Bennet and Kirk Stephens, two former Coventry City players, and that the hooter would sound at 4.30pm to inform everyone that the game would finish half an hour later.
The countdown began and there were blokes up on their mates shoulders amongst the pressing throng directly below the parapet and the ball was launched into their midst. It was frenetic, hard and pretty brutal for a few minutes as booze filled combatants fought not only to be the first to be awarded the first kicking the ball but also to grab the red, white and blue ribbons off of the ball. After much pushing and shoving the stewards decreed who had the right to the ball and with much pride the winner let all his mates and family, including the littlest toddlers, have a bit kick at the ball. The marshals then directed that he kick the ball high and long further down Long Street to the south east. Because everyone knows this is going to happen, the crowd makes its way down the street waiting for the ball to come in their direction. But it is no longer a concentrated mass, it is spread out because no-one knows how good a kicker the ball carrier is and how far it will travel. In consequence the fights to claim the ball are just as intense but with fewer participants so the game speeds up and more and more people have the opportunity to win the ball. The game goes on for perhaps another 400 yards further down the road and then it returns all along Long Street to the far end and, as the rules state, it must then return and come right back to the original boundary before coming back into the centre of town. This normally takes an hour or so and it means that the ball, which incidentally is made by Gilbert’s of Rugby the rugby ball manufacturers, is punted up in the air some 30, 40 or more times giving many the chance to be a ball winner.
It was just before 4pm when things took an unusual turn.
The ball was seen being kicked back up towards the “Conny” when it all went very still and quiet. Nothing seemed to be happening but there was quite a bit of toing and froing but no sign of the ball. As mentioned earlier, the real intense part of the game starts around 4.30pm when the hooter sounds so this was a bit early to be closing the free form of the game down. At the side of the Conservative club there is a side street and there seemed to be something happening there but as we made our way for a closer look an ambulance with blues flashing came down the road and into the side street. Another one quickly followed as well as a paramedic vehicle. Everyone was asking what had happened when all conversation was drowned out by an air ambulance hovering overhead. Fortunately there is a large garden behind the club and it was able to land there. Word came round that Martin Burton, a marshal and former player of many years standing, was feeling unwell. He went into the “Conny” for a glass of water and a sit down when he collapsed.
So instead of the hooter sounding for the last half hour of play at 4.30, the game was, quite rightly, called off. By that time the crowd had started to disperse and Long Street became as empty and eerily quiet as it had been some three and a half hours previously.
Martin was air-lifted to Walsgrave Hospital where he was put in an induced coma and was in a critical but stable condition.
Later that evening a collection was held in the club for the First Responders and the Air Ambulance and £1500 was raised for these worthy causes. Since then, as Martin is still in hospital even as I write, a collection has been made for him and there are collecting boxes in all the pubs, clubs and some shops in the town and to-date around £4000 has been donated.
Not the way you would want a game to finish and let’s all hope that Martin will be back next year to enjoy watching Atherstone Shrovetide Football, the game he has given so much to.
Apart from the disturbing events that caused the game to be curtailed it all sounded very genteel in comparison with last year’s (or was it the year before) ball game. This one found itself splashed all over the internet as a series of mass brawls broke out during the game totally beyond the control of the marshals. The participants here looked like they had come for a fight or two and certainly didn’t look like the sort of blokes who might respect a traditional event such as this. Maybe this can be discussed in next month’s Tatters if anyone has experience of these games.
SEE YOU AS SOON AS POSSIBLE