Simply the Best

Martin Kenny looks back to 1983, when one one of the all time greats turned out for this weekend’s cup opponents.

There have been many publicity stunts in non-league football down the years but the appearance of George Best in a Nuneaton Borough shirt in March 1983 must rank as one of the most impressive.

The friendly match against Coventry City attracted a crowd of over 4,000 to Manor Park and the line-up of the teams contained an array of professionals such as Mark Hateley, Steve Hunt and Tony Morley. In fact, Morley would play 222 games for Nuneaton before eventually finishing his career at Masons Road with the Town.

George had confirmed his appearance in advance of the match, and he did not disappoint the fans. Best was 37 years old at the time and even though he was nearing the end of his career his ability was still apparent setting up 2 goals and scoring a penalty. In return for playing Best received a small plastic trophy that is displayed in the National Football Museum. It is ironic that a slightly younger holder of the Man United number 7 shirt Ronaldo has attracted such worldwide coverage for his return to the club in recent weeks.

Improved sports science, diet and training have meant that players can extend their careers at the highest level. Commercial spin offs have ensured Man United can finance their investment amid speculation of share price increases.

However, the memory of George Best dribbling past several players to score 6 goals in the Old Trafford mud feels more

closer to the experience of school games or Sunday league football after a good Saturday night.

In the National Football Museum there is displayed the plastic trophy that Best received for playing against Coventry City. It is remarkable that Best could turn in such incredible performances despite his extraordinary lifestyle.

Also the humour of George Best will remain in the memory, taking the ball off his own team mate Rodney Marsh whilst playing for Fulham and the laughs from his appearances on Michael Parkinson’s chat show.

Nuneaton Boroughs former ground at Manor Road was demolished in 2008, the stadiums capacity was set in 1967 when 22,114 watched the third-round replay with Rotherham United.

Since returning to non-league football more than a decade ago I find that you get more involved in the non-professional game. There are also indications that the profile of the non-league game is increasing. You can now watch 9th tier Lichfield play 7th tier Nuneaton live on BBC television, even if the budget didn’t stretch to showing replays!

Picture credits: Coventry Evening Telegraph

The return of the 50/50 Draw. A request for volunteers.

With the return of competitive football at The Arden Garages Stadium the Supporters Association will be resuming our matchday sales of 50/50 draw tickets, and we would welcome volunteers to join us as and when supporters are available. The draw has been a tremendous success in raising thousands of pounds towards club projects over the last few years, so we would really appreciate your ongoing help and support on a matchday.

At the moment, with holiday commitments, cover is looking a little thin for the opening Redditch home fixture next Tuesday 17th August, but we would also welcome volunteers for the Royston fixture on Saturday 21st August, and the Banbury match on Bank holiday Monday 30th August. Over the season we hope to put together a rota of supporters for this, but for the moment we are just concentrating on arrangements for these opening fixtures.

Please could you let myself, or Chris Simpson,, know if you would be available to offer your time at any stage.

Coventry and Warwickshire’s Footballing Greats

Coventry and Warwickshire’s Footballing Greats, is a book recently published by local author and football enthusiast Ed Blackaby. It features many local footballing figures, including several familiar names from Town’s time at Masons Road.

Coventry and Warwickshire’s Footballing Greats rightly goes to the heart of football and tells of those who have made the game possible in this area. Club Secretaries, Teachers, Coaches, Amateurs and others are the lifeblood of football. It is they who make sure that there are players ready to take the step up to the professional ranks. It is a book dedicated to those who make all things possible in football. A must-read for those who love the game and who need to remember that for all of its glamour at the highest level, the game is nothing without the spirit of those who make it possible.

The book is available to purchase on Amazon for £12.99.

Sad News

We’re sorry to have to share the news that Ron Kemp passed away yesterday of Covid Pneumonia. Ron was a universally popular fellow and well known to Town followers as the father of Andy Kemp our promotion winning goalkeeper. Even after Andy hung up his gloves Ron was still a regular visitor to the Arden Garage’s Stadium and remained a member of the supporters association. Our condolences go out to Tracey, Andy, Chloe and the rest of the Kemp family at this very sad time.

Ron Kemp.

We’re also sad to share news of the recent passing of supporter John Clarke due to Covid. John was a regular supporter at the Arden Garage’s stadium over the last few seasons and a friend of STISA committee member Martin Brookes for over 50 years. Our condolences go out to his family.