Monday, 4 November 2013

Nottingham Wargames Club

They'll be there tonight you know...

And not just tonight, as if I'd chosen to write this on the one night a month or for the first time in ages, when they would be there....

They are always there... well maybe not always... Christmases, and Bank Holiday Mondays,  there wouldn't be a club, but every other week, like clock-work at 6.30pm the place is open for walk in gamers and regulars alike.

Nottingham Wargame club dates back to the late 1960's, but I first started to go when I started work at TTG in the summer of '83. Bob would offer to take me and Mark, as he was virtually driving passed where we lived, to collect Richard from his mom's, to take him to the club... so keen as mustard types that we were we hitched along to see what the crack was...

The club it's self was at that time on the top floor of this building, Queens Walk Community Centre, in Nottingham's less than salubrious Meadows area... up three or four flights of stairs, which didn't help those members who were carting 25mm cavalry armies in large tool boxes, to the large room at the rear of the building, where there were plenty of trestle tables on which grass-green 6' x 4' chip-board tops were placed for the games to take place... 
Queen's Walk view of the Community centre


...and to tell you the truth, this place was probably the first place I'd seen grown men playing wargames... I think I'd seen the Callan movie at this point and was I was kind of expecting retired Brigadiers types with tweedy jackets and pip-pip attitudes, but this was all a bit different... Blokes, normal blokes, some of whom I'd seen from the shop, sitting behind units of tiny troops, measuring with expandable tape measures and either cursing their luck or looking smugly at their dice... 

I think that Mark and I just watched the first week, I don't remember playing, but in the following weeks he and I would bring Bob's old Airfix Napoleonic (of which more later) and we'd have a game or two with those...

In those days their could 20 to 30 people gaming on any one week, and of course this meant that there was a large variety of games to get involved in, there was of course WW2 with more Airfix plastics, and other periods that were new, Ancients, Medieval and Renaissance games, as well as others with metal Napoleonic and micro tank games of 'Ultra-Modern' and more WW2... Loads of stuff, and to add to the verity each of the major periods also had a choice of rule-sets to use, Wargames Research Group (WRG) and TTG had rules for all, and others would surface form Newbury or Skytrex or other independent Wargames groups... 

Players tended to like one rule-set for one period, which could reduce your choice of opponent, but usually if you fancied a game against a particular player you could find something compatible to play, or if you want to play a particular type of game there were plenty of players willing to play along...


Callan and Lonely
Now I suppose that every largeish town in the UK and every city, has its equivalent Club to NWG, London has at least 2, Birmingham and Manchester a couple, Liverpool, Leeds, Glasgow and many more, and by the very fact that they are open to new members, they act as a starting point for very many gamers, young and old, who might otherwise struggle to get into the hobby, but it is this very openness which is the downside of them. For every cool Callan or retired Brigadier, there has to be a Lonely, and this bottom end can be a bit off putting... 




But...
If you could stand the smell of 'ripe' wargamer on a hot summer evening then NWC was a great place to be, and I'd meet loads of folks to game with, many of whom like Steve Bruce, Keith Tate, Karl Tebbe (who was running a role-play group downstairs) and Steve Clark, will crop-up again in connection with my future working life, and others; Andy Revel, Andy 'Nick' Nicholson, Gary, Chris Thorn, who I still say hello to as I pass them at shows...

And after the club... off to the pub... the Queen's Hotel near the station, which is now a carpet warehouse, for a Britvic55 (well I was only 16) and a debrief of the evenings games... before Bob ran us home in the van... perfect... 

Ok, so then, for the next four years of this blog, you can take it that on any given Monday evening, I'll be there... a tool box full of soldiers, expandable tape-measure in hand, either cursing or hooting with joy, at the dice rolls in front of me... I am a Wargamer.

Strange coincidence time... Whist looking on t'web for details of Nott's Club I noticed that the name given for contact is Rees Taylor, who I think is now Chair of the club, but in '83 he was one of the two people I worked alongside in my first few days as a Caster at TTG... Its not a small world, its a Miniature world...

Next time... Casting...