After a pint in the oldest pub in England, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, built into the sandstone walls of Nottingham Castle and opened in 1189, and a quick photo of Robin Hood with his bronze bow and arrow, I crossed Maid Marian Way, down Friar Lane and eventually over the Trent Bridge to The City Ground, home of Nottingham Forest, with its huge Brian Clough Stand towering over the River Trent where 3 graceful white swans held court. King Richard III, Richard the Lionheart ascended the throne in 1389 and he recruited men to go on the Third Crusades to try and capture Jerusalem and many assembled at the Inn, which was then 200 years old. In medieval times ' A trip' meant a meeting place.
Arsenal Ladies were going for their fourth title of the season after easily winning the Women's Premier League, The EUFA CUP, The Football League Cup and now facing Charlton Athletic in the F.A. Women's Cup at City Ground. It's a sporting city with Notts County 300 yards across the river, the Trent Bridge cricket ground, home to Nottinghamshire and England, and the National Rowing Centre nearby.
Within 2 minutes Charlton were suprisingly 1-0 up but Arsenal came back strong with 3 goals before a deserved 3-1 half-time lead and a solo effort by Kelly Smith made it 4-1. Kelly had scored the equaliser and Jane Ludlow the other two. Kelly Smith spent 8 years playing in the USA at college and in the WUSA and is a leading figure in England's World Cup team that goes to China later in the year. What was suprising was not the result but the attendance of 25,000 on this holiday Monday. Lots of families and girls teams with banners such as GIRLS RULE,BOYS DROOL!. The standard of play was good, but the match was not as competitive as when Leeds United Ladies took the Gunners to an added-time 1-0 loss at the Womens League Cup Final in Scunthorpe a couple of months ago.
Good old FIFA President Sepp Blatter has suggested that women dress more sexily, maybe in tight lycra uniforms. Sepp is more Perry Como than Perry Ellis, and his last of many wives who was a dolphin trainer, left him after six months to go back to the aquarium. However, to appease him and his ideas I will have to say the Arsenal Ladies were dessed in stunning yellow shirts to match the bright sun in the second half and grey trim to reflect the overcast sky at kick-off, while Charlton wore their usual red and white 3 piece outfits. The Gunners goalkeeper Emma Byrne wore a Sherwood- Forest green ensemble and strutted about her goalmouth as if it was a Parisian cat walk. How about that Sepp baby!!
Nottingham Forest men's team is in Division I, the third tier right now, and are in the play-off semi-finals and a chance for the Championship next season. When Cloughie reigned supreme they won 2 European Cups. They also deserve praise for their huge Forest in the Community programme and on site Study Support Centre to reward boys and girls who attend and do well at local schools.
The official programme listed 13 members of the F.A. Women's Committee and only gave their initials such as M. Armitage, R.Kiddell, S. Pound etc, and I doubt there was a female amongst them, while the 4 match officials were all male. The nearest they had to a female was an effeminate looking F.A. 20 something with long hair down to his shoulders and a pink shirt who carried some paperwork. Progress indeed!!! I should point out however that womens and girls soccer is the fastest growing participant sport in the country and cheap tickets for International matches and Cup Finals and a great web site www.thefa.com are positive signs. Also plaudits to Nottingham City Council and the East Midlands Development Agency for the large F.A Women's Cup Final, sponsored by E-ON, banners hanging all over the city and for getting the great crowd to attend.
Back at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem after the match I explored some of the tiny rooms of the pub. There was a Pregnancy Chair, guaranteed to succeed if you sat in it, and a Cursed Galleon, that is never cleaned. It was brought home by a sailor and the first 2 people that tried to clean it died suddenly. From 1332-1330 Roger Mortimer, the Earl of March was a 'paramour' to Queen Isabella who resided in the Castle. He had a small passageway and alcove dug into the sandstone walls so that they could 'rendevous'. In 1930 Mortimer deposed and murdered King Edward II and was later captured and hung by King Edward III's men.
Just outside was BREWHOUSE YARD under the castle ramparts and there was a 1940's Theme Garden Party that is held annually. You could dance the Jitterbug, Sing songs of the time, there was an 'Air Raid' with sirens, wartime doctors and nurses and fake blood on 'the victims', a speech by Winston Churchill. Lots of old soldiers, sailors and airmen from Britain, the Commonwealth and USA attended and a tent full of 'props' where people could borrow costumes of the period, plus G.I's Jeeps, wartime emergency vehicles, a splendid Rolls Royce , Austin A 10, a Scottish pipe band and much more.
Nottingham is in the Heart of England with great road, rail connections and Nottingham East Midlands Airport a few minutes away. Nearby on the edge of Sherwood Forsest is the village of Edwinstowe, where Robin Hood supposedly wed Maid Marian, and he is thought to be buried there in the graveyard. If he was still alive he, Friar Tuck, Little John and the rest would have liked to have added Kelly Smith to their merry band.