TRCH Classic Thriller Season

Notts Cabbies Vs CPOs in Charity Match

7 September 18 words: Gareth Watts

As a Forest fan, I needed my faith in football (and, without wanting to be too dramatic, humanity) restored this weekend, after a summer that promised so much yet has delivered precious little. If I’m not mistaken, it’s hardly been a barrel of laughs for our sisters and brothers across the Trent either.

Fortunately, Leftlion sent me to the Forest Sports Ground for a Sunday lunchtime that delivered both a feast of goals and a reminder that there are some things in life more important than breaking transfer records and berating handsome foreign coaches.

Nottingham City Hackney Carriage drivers and Community Protection Officers both share the streets of our city and both see the seamier side of life that the rest of us may choose to ignore. Thanks then to respective ambassadors Kaleem Ashraf and Nick Burns for getting together to organise a charity match.

Cynically, I assumed the charity element would just be an excuse for a kickabout and some barely legal slide tackles; but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Ashraf pulled both teams together before kick off and spoke eloquently of the reasons they were there. The Emmanuel House Support Centre and Mind were chosen to raise awareness around the growing concerns of Homelessness and Mental Health.

People become homeless for lots of different reasons, such as a lack of affordable housing, poverty and unemployment; and life events which cause individuals to become homeless. On the other hand, mental health problems affect around one in four people a year. They range from common problems, such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Housing and mental health are often linked. Poor mental health can make it harder to cope with housing problems, while being homeless or having issues with your home can make your mental health worse. So seeing the ‘rival' teams of Taxi drivers and CPOs thoughtfully choose charities which were so complementary to each other suggested this might not be the hit-and-hope angry slugfest I was expecting.

And so it came to pass. More or less. There was some very good football on display and a clear sense that both teams wanted to give a good account of themselves. Indeed, the first bit of tactical advice yelled from the taxi driver camp was for the full backs to ‘tuck in’ – a Guardiolan philosophy if ever I heard one. Sadly, the execution didn’t quite live up to the theory as the marauding Community Protection attack kept them pinned into their own half for much of the game.

Indeed, it was the CPOs who could boast an Aguero (a big number nine by the name of Antcliffe – take note Señor Karanka) netting SIX times, including an impressive header on eight minutes and a long -range thunderbolt just after half time. And although with such sharp shooting the result was only ever likely to go to one team, the taxi drivers' tricky number ten Mansha deserves an honourable mention too for always looking dangerous and giving his team an outlet even when a cricket score looked likely.

In the end the 8-4 scoreline (was it even 8-4? The ref and the vocal bench of cabbies couldn’t seem to agree!) was a fair reflection of the balance of play and of a bloomin’ marvellous way to spend an afternoon in the sunshine. It’s likely to become an annual event, with follow-up activities such as providing meals for the homeless already being planned.

So, would all these lads be stiff in the morning for nothing? would all those middle-aged aches and pains be in vain? Emmanuel House’s main aim is to help get homeless and vulnerable adults a home of their own. It costs £1000 a day to run the service. My suggestion is to give a quid for every point you wish Forest or County had this season. And if you believe in karma, who knows, the matches in our stadiums might start to become as fun as the one I watched on the park today.

Find out more about Emmanuel House here

Or visit Mind here


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