Those who know of Mansfield only from Tow Law Town in 1967 or Consett 30 years later – the former indelible, the latter pretty forgettable – may have missed events on election night.
Alan Meale, the town’s Labour MP for 30 years, lost in a 6.5 per cent swing to the Tories – the result so great a shock that the returning officer announced that he’d won, anyway.
“An Oscars moment,” they called it – and it was the first time since that coal-black, blood red constituency was formed in 1885 that it had gone to the Conservatives.
Alan Meale’s a Co Durham lad – from Leeholme, near Bishop Auckland – had been treasurer of the all-party football committee and secretary of the greyhound committee. In 1993 he was appointed vice-prfesident of the National Association for the Protection of Punters, in which capacity I’d been down to Mansfield to interview him.
Punters were getting a very raw deal, he said, though it seemed to me that chiefly they needed protecting from themselves – or in the case of Catterick Races this afternoon, from the incessant rain.
I’m neither a racing nor a betting man, but there certainly wasn’t going to be any cricket.
My mate Kit and his partner Christine are there, too. Kit’s a pretty serious gambler, Christine acts much more on instinct. “I like the ones in pink,” she says. “If it’s pink and No 7 it’s a certainty.”
Similarly insightful, I struggle to find anything with a Northern League connection. Totally Magic might sum it up but World Power seems a bit of an exaggeration, even for me.
The day’s predictably unsuccessful, though a tenner on Mr Globetrotter – I’d been talking to our kidder only that morning; he’s never at home – brings short odds consolation.
At Mansfield v Consett, incidentally, more than a thousand support-you-evermore travelling fans had gathered behind the Field Mill goal to watch the gallant Steelmen lose 4-0. The crowd at their next home game was 25 – but you could have put good money on that.