A quick bit of self-confession first: I grew up a Spurs fan. Born in north London, it was either Spurs or Arsenal and since my dad supported the former, that was easily settled. The first time I ever went to White Hart Lane I was still young enough to sit on his shoulders and watch the game from there: Alf Ramsey was at full back and Bill Nicholson wing half – which tells you how long ago that was.
It wasn’t until the early 80s, by now living in Nottingham, that I started watching Notts County. A friend, the late Robin Gerry, suggested I was missing out on something special. And he was right. This was the side with Don Masson, Pedro Richards, Trevor Christie, Rachid Harkouk and the, to me, incomparable John Chiedozie. Not so much later there was Tommy Johnson. Happy, happy days. One of the happiest of which occurred some ten years later, during the filming of the first of my Charlie Resnick crime novels for BBC TV, when, cloth cap in place, I was one of the extras at a specially staged evening game, standing just behind Tom Wilkinson who was playing Charlie.
Although I’ve been settled back in London for some ten years now, I regularly renew my season ticket and get up to as many games as I can. This season, sadly, it’s not been as many times as I would have liked. Being down south, though, there are away matches I can get to and usually do: Leyton Orient, Barnet, Stevenage and Crawley are all within easy reach.
Even though my fictional policeman has now officially retired from the local CID – “Darkness, Darkness”, the twelfth book in the Resnick series and partly ext during the Miners’ Strike, was the last – I imagine Charlie will continue to come down to Meadow Lane, in my imagination at least, and go through the trials, tribulations and occasional triumphs shared by all Notts supporters. A compassionate and broad-minded man, not averse to the occasional pie at half time, I can’t think of him supporting anyone else.
Readers of this might be interested to know that I’m currently working on a stage version of “Darkness, Darkness”, hopefully to be seen at Nottingham Playhouse in the autumn of 2016, so Charlie hasn’t gone from sight for ever. If my effort is as successful as fellow Pies fan and fellow writer Billy Ivory’s play about the Notts team of the 1970s, “Diary of a Football Nobody”, based on David McVay’s memoir, “Steak … Diana Ross” I shan’t be doing too badly.