The reason for my rambling is that the office has moved to Ruddington, near Nottingham, ironically opposite a company I worked for over 15 years. It's literally a five minute drive from my house, and yet I'll be starting earlier and finishing later. Hopefully, good times lie ahead.
It's Friday evening and I'm sat in the Keyworth Tavern with Mrs P, drinking a pint of Castle Rock's awarding-winning Harvest Pale Ale. There's no sign of blog legend Trumpy Bolton. Rumours in the Keyworth News are that he's signed up to the January dryathon. I clock a poster on a wall by the entrance. It says there's a 'Ska Night' coming up in a few weeks. Trumpy's party piece is 'Special Brew' by Bad Manners. I'll be dropping by for that one.
I'm having problems with my youngest lad, Murphy the budgie. I open his cage door and beckon him to jump on my finger. He's staring head first into his mirror. I can see he is in a filthy mood. He swings his head back and brings it back with such force, that I'm surprised the head butt doesn't crack the glass in his mirror. I've not seen such a vicious assault since Dion Dublin stuck the nut on Robbie Savage in 2003. The reason for Murphy's mood swing is two fold: one, he's been overlooked for the managerial vacancy at Norwich City (they did appoint an unknown though) and two, I forgot to switch Brian Matthew's Sound of the 60s show on Radio 2. He's soon whistling to The Troggs 1966 hit 'Wild Thing', as I rustle up a bacon sandwich.
I scanned the FA Vase 4th round draw earlier in the week. The stand-out tie for me is between Walsall Wood and Shaw Lane Aquaforce from South Yorkshire. It's a tick-off for me. Pitch condition updates from 'The Wood' twitter feed have been excellent this week. They confirm the game is on.
There are a dozen hooligans wearing designer clothing and baseball caps, loafing about in my lounge. What's popping? It's D***y v NFFC on the box. 'The Skipper' is in the kitchen making everyone coffee. Having sampled one, there's still hope for Phil Neville yet.
I begin to lose reception as Zaire-born, leading scorer, Britt Assombalonga puts Forest on level terms. Murphy will be hiding on top of the curtain rail, as Sticky jnr goes mental. I press a couple of buttons and chance upon Radio D***y. They have a couple of clowns commentating; one of them is Craig Ramage, who takes great pleasure in slagging off Stuart Pearce for most of the game. I remember this bone-idle waste of space playing 50 times for the Pies in the late 90s. Derby-born Ben Osborn's late winner makes the moment even sweeter as Ramage bleats down his microphone. Poor old Murphy will probably be in intensive care.
I can't find a decent hostelry in the Good Pub Guide for love or money in this area of Walsall. I swing the 'Rolls Royce' into the Oak Park Leisure Centre. I walk past the Shaw Lane team coach and wander through some wrought iron gates, before parting with £7 on the gate, including a programme.
The place is already bustling with folk. I notice a memorial pithead in the distance to the far side of the changing rooms. I get chatting to a tall bald-headed fellow who says he recognises me. I bloody hope not, as it turns out to be former Football League referee Phil Prosser. He once ran the line in a Champions League game between PSV Eindhoven and Bayern Munich. Phil now mentors young referees. 26 year old Lisa Rashid is today's official.
I take a pew on a wooden bench on the back row of a stand on the far side of the ground. Phil and I have a good chinwag. He tips me the wink on one or two grounds that I ought to visit, Brocton being one of them.
'The Wood' have done well to get this game on. The pitch is heavily sanded on the touchline close to the dugouts. Shaw Lane could have scored in the first 30 seconds, while 'The Wood', a minute later, actually do, with a textbook finish by Evans.
Poor old Shane Kelsey has an equaliser controversially chalked-off, Morris is the perpetrator, lazily walking back in an offside position and then clumsily colliding with a defender. Kelsey doesn't have to wait long for justice. He equalises from the spot, following a stonewall penalty. Shaw Lane enjoy a golden thirty minute spell as the chances stack up. Tackles are flying in, and there is a flurry of yellow cards, but the game is well controlled by young Rashid, as Phil scurrilously pens notes in his book.
I bump into some groundhoppers from Northampton at the break. One of them is related to Newcastle United goalkeeper Karl Darlow, who has been farmed out to Nottingham Forest on loan. There are long queues at the bars. I hot foot it back to the stand. There's no sign of Phil; I must have bored him to death.
The second half and extra time is dire. The game's best player, Shaw Lane's left back, Luke O'Brien is controversially sent off for a professional foul, even though he isn't last man. There's a cameo performance from one of Sticky's all-time favourites, Anton Foster. Shaw Lane play for an hour with ten men, but deservedly earn a draw, forcing a replay.
Man of the Match: Luke O'Brien.
Monday, January 12, 2015
Last Saturday I accompanied White Van Man and Bruiser to the Leicestershire Midland League derby between Quorn and Shepshed. It ended honours even at 1-1. WVM must have had Grand Theft Auto 6 as a present for Christmas, as we hurtle down the tight country lines near Prestwold, where ironically there is a purpose built 1.8 mile racetrack, where his skills might be put to better use. Highlight of the day at Quorn is when the tea lady tells a head-shaking Bruiser that there's no tucker on at the snap cabin.
Finley has been suffering recurring nightmares since Christmas. My bad readers. I let him in the lounge one cold afternoon. We curled up on the sofa and watched Watership Down together. I totally forgot the film has a few dark moments and a couple of rabbits bite the dust. He's only just got over Glenn Close butchering that pet rabbit in Fatal Attraction - unfortunately that was my fault too.
I nip in the lounge before dropping 'The Skipper' off at Clifton All-Whites. Murphy the budgie is dive bombing Mrs P. He's squawking and squealing. Who can blame him when he's being force fed Whitney Houston on the Graham Norton's Radio 2 show - well, she's not actually on it, because she died in a scalding hot bath in Beverley Hill back in April 2012 due to an overdose of prescription drugs. 'So Emotional' by the Newark born singer (that's the one in New Jersey, not to be confused with the town near Lincoln) is irritating my little feathered friend.
Bloody hell, my phone's going off, what's popping? Ooh heck, The Skipper's game is off: it's a no show from the opposition from Birmingham.
I play around with my new Garmin sat nav, recommended by resident blog drunk, Trumpy Bolton, as I drive the 'Rolls Royce' through Kegworth and onto the A50. I'm soon turning off onto the A38 and navigating towards the village of Repton in South Derbyshire. I pull up opposite the Bulls Head on the High Street.
The Bulls Head is a beauty and candidate for Pub of the Year. I was tipped it by a Bluenose at work. I love the low beams and pillars. They have six real ales on hand-pull. I opt for a pint of Purity Gold brewed in nearby Warwickshire. The main dining area is stacked out with folks. It has a wonderful ambience. Wood-fired pizzas are proving popular, as are The Smiths and Jake Bugg (one of our own) on the pub sound system.
I'm greeted by a friendly chap on the gate. I part with £5 for admission plus a programme. The Club official tells me there's a groundhopper from Wigan in the social club. Bloody hell, I bet he's caught three trains and a bus.
I bump into Radford FC manager 'Big Glenn Russell', who is warming the troops up. He's left star turn John King on the bench. Glenn has brought a few with him from disbanded Nottingham outfit Bilborough Pelican.
'Big Glenn' nearly loses his baseball cap in the swirling wind as he jumps off his seat in the dugout and stomps into the technical area to remonstrate with his two centre backs: "Stay in the f***ing hole", he shouts.
Radford take an early lead through Dave Udoh. They're soon 2-0 up, slightly against the run of play, following a cool left foot finish by the impressive Sheriff Babatunde. It's the same old story at half-time, as I warm my hands with a piping hot mug of tea, Forest, Notts and the Stags are all losing.
I've chanced upon the 'Wigan Groundhopper' - I can't understand a bloody word he says - he sounds like Eddie Waring. He's got to catch a bus and three trains back oop north. He's not happy when the ref plays 8 minutes injury-time. Golden rules of proper Hoppers are that you never leave until the final whistle. I'm sure I see him shed a tear as his choice of bus sails up the road. I offer him a lift into Burton, but he's having none of it - he'll be lucky if he's home for Songs of Praise at this rate.
Man of the Match: Joe Meakin
Monday, December 22, 2014
It's Friday evening and I'm driving up the A60 from Loughborough to Nottingham. I'm buzzing. I had the honour of ringing the sales bell at work today. I swing into the Rancliffe Arms car park in Bunny. I hook up with The Zuffler who I worked with for almost 15 years. We down a pint of Everards Sunbeam and have a catch up. We firm up a visit to Basford United's Greenwich Avenue ground when they entertain the Boatmen of Dunkirk on December 27th. As I walk into the house I'm accosted by 'The Skipper' in the hallway. His best mate plays for the Burton Albion youth team. They are rocking up in our patch tomorrow, to play Notts County out in Arnold.
I drive the back way, down the A46 and onto the A6097. Capital FM has been on the radio for 15 minutes; it's doing my duck in. They only have six records; one of them, by Swedish House Mafia, has been played on this station on every hour of every day since 1898. I'm getting suicidal tendencies. I threaten 'The Skipper' that I'll drive the car off Gunthorpe Bridge and into the River Trent unless he changes radio station.
I was going to watch Clifton All-Whites across at unbeaten Mickleover Royals, but a virus has swept through the Clifton camp. I've got Shepshed up my sleeve as back up. I wolf down a bacon sandwich. Murphy is doing somersaults on his perch; his team Norwich City have equalised at 'The Sheep Dip.' I head up the A60 and turn off towards the village of Hathern, where I once saw a player score a goal from inside his own half. I've got Smoove and Turrell's album 'Broken Toys on the CD player. The Zuffler and I saw them bring the house down at The Donkey on Welford Road in Leicester.
There are a couple of brilliant questions in the programme: Name the Stockport County manager, who having gained promtion in 2008, refused to give an interview to Sky Sports, because of a dispute with the company over his broken Sky box? Who is the only footballer to have appeared on Top of the Pops twice on the same night? Answers at the bottom.
The Shepshed BWA supporters are unfurling their flags on the far side of the ground. They have promised on Twitter a few new songs today. The DJ gets the crowd in a Christmassy mood with songs from Wham and Mariah Carey.
Dynamo lead 2-1 at the break. The main attraction has been the singing by the Shepshed BWA. Cowell and Walsh are missing a treat here. They'd definitely make 'Judges Houses' with their rendition of 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' by Tightfit. As for their dancing - 'it's a ten from Len.' I have a quick chat with Shepshed Chairman Mick Sloan and some big friendly guy, whose name escapes me.
The second half is a pleasure. On 16:07 Sticky Palms gets his grubby mitts on the match ball. It's a little game that us Groundhoppers play. Levi Porter is worth the gate money alone. He made 39 appearances for Leicester City. Quite why he has landed at The Dovecote is a mystery to me. He bags a brace in the second half as Dynamo go on the rampage. The Shepshed BWA are in fine form. News filters through that local rivals Quorn are getting battered 6-0. It's greeted with "We hate Quorndon."
What an ending. In 45 years of watching football and 8 years of groundhopping I have never seen 11 goals in a game. Many thanks to both sides.
Man of the Match: Levi Porter
Quiz answers: Jim Gannon and Steve Archibald
Sunday, December 7, 2014
I firm up the trip to Worksop with blog legend Trumpy Bolton. I've been trying to get up there for the last eight years. They were locked out of their Sandy Lane ground for a while by their Landlord. I had hoped to hook up with north Notts correspondent Dudsey; sadly he's on domestic duties.
Having valeted the 'Rolls Royce' and filled her up with petrol, I chug up the 'Bronx' to pick up our hero. He's instructing Mrs Trumpy on how to scrape frost off his car as he saunters down the drive swinging his Scottish Co-op bag that is filled with booty (cider).
He's booked into the Bristol Premier Inn for five days at Christmas so he can chalk a few more boozers off. He's intrigued by inner-city St Paul's and promises to pay them a visit. We pull into The Lock Keeper at Gateford, close to Worksop. It's just gone midday, but the pub is already bustling with folk. We have a pint of Marston's Pedigree. Trumpy is totally unmoved by Susan Boyle on the jukebox.
Trumpy is Leicester mad, be it football, cricket, rugby or speedway. He sneers in my direction when I mention I had a pint of 'Carl Froch' from the Castle Rock Brewery the other week in Cambridgeshire. "He's not in the same class as Tony Sibson or Rendall Munroe, the boxing binman from Leicester."
Senegal striker Papiss Cisse scores from close range to put the Magpies 1-0 up as Trumpy downs his fourth pint of the day. There's one of his legendary sneezing fits as we exit the pub. The ground is situated behind one of those ghastly retail parks.
We're flagged down by a guy in a fluorescent jacket. "Who are you?" he enquires. "You might find this hard to believe, but I'm a football supporter", I remark. "You could be the bloody Taliban for all I know", he quips as I'm ushered into a car parking spot.
Famous residents from Worksop include: golfers Lee Westwood, Mark Foster and Maurice Bembridge, goalkeepers Darren Ward and Ian Bennett, Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson, John Parr of 'St Elmo's Fire' fame, actor Donald Pleasance and former England manager Graham Taylor.
The guys on the gate are reminiscing about last week's top of the table clash with Tadcaster Albion. Jonathan Greening was sent off after three minutes for a flailing elbow. It finished 2-2 in a feisty encounter. Trumpy has blotted his copybook and needs to brush up on his research. The Grafton Hotel, Worksop's finest real ale house, is just around the corner.
Bolton is directed towards the bar by a friendly steward, as I take up my position to the left of the away dugout. There's no music or crackling PA today. The winners of this tie will be in the final 32 of the FA Vase.
Worksop look very sharp in the game's opening exchanges. Everything seems to come through pint-sized midfielder Conor Sellars, son of former Newcastle and Blackburn winger Scott Sellars, who until recently was Head of Academy coaching at Manchester City.
There's controversy moments later when the linesman awards a penalty when the bearded No.7 from ZZ Top takes a tumble in the area. Westfields score from the spot. Trumpy's bottom lip quivers when I tell him there could be extra time.
There's a biting chill in the air as I stumble across Trumpy in the clubhouse, perched on a stool, with glass in hand. It's poetry in motion as another pint of cream flow bitter is dispatched down the hatch. He checks in with Mrs Bolton to see if she's bled all the radiators.
Westfields are reduced to ten men early in the second period with their defender being punished as last man as Sellars is sent flying. Trumpy asks a baffled spectator where are the big screens.
The deciding goal comes in the 69th minute with Trumpy Bolton playing his part in it. After another visit to the bar, a clearance is collected by Bolton who is sauntering around the back of the goal. He nonchalantly flicks the ball up and throws it to a Westfields player to take a quick corner, which is immediately cleared up field. After great build up play, Elliott finally thumps home a volley to send the Tigers fans delirious.
A sub comes on for Worksop; he's as big as Tom Thumb. He doesn't look old enough to do a paper-round. Trumpy shouts out to the player in question that his Mum has just phoned up and she wants him home for tea because it's getting dark.
Man of the Match: Trumpy Bolton
Sunday, November 30, 2014
It was so much fun back in those days. The 'Film Nights' were legendary. Over 100 kids roaring on Rocky Balboa to his latest World title.. We had discos and day trips out to the Capital. I used to help Cliff set up the film nights and tidy up after. One evening he called me into the office and produced an envelope from out of his jacket pocket. Now, you have to remember I was a football nut at the time. "I want to thank you for all your help" he said. My fingers were trembling as I tore away at the seal on the envelope. Inside was a ticket for the League Cup final between Nottingham Forest and Wolverhampton Wanderers. I'd never been to Wembley before.
We had lunch at Cliff's sister's. I even remember a sneaky pint of Watney's bitter. Two Tone was all the rage down the 'Smoke.' Everyone wore black suits, white shirts, leather ties, winkle pickers and pork pie hats. The atmosphere at the Twin Towers blew me away. Forest lost. I didn't care. What a day. What a memory to take away. All because of one man.
It's Saturday morning and there's one hell of a commotion downstairs. I walk into the Lounge. Murphy the budgie is on the dining room table dragging a millet spray and spitting all the seeds everywhere. He'll be in big trouble when the Gestapo get back. It's gone 10:00 and he's missed the Brian Matthew's Sound of the 60s show. He's a bundle of nerves about his team Norwich City and there recent slump in form. One win in the last ten is poor form. He applied to Delia Smith at the fag end of last season for the managerial vacancy, but was foolishly overlooked for Neil Adams.
Finley the rabbit hasn't been out of his cage in days now. I'm starting to worry about him and his crap Non League tips. He fancies Ollerton Town to win 4-2 this afternoon. It's a short trip to just north of Doncaster. There aren't many Good Pub Guide entries in those neck of the woods, so it's a re-visit to the delightful village of Laxton, near Ollerton, and its picturesque red-bricked Dovecote public house. Laxton is famously home to three huge medieval fields. A pleasant lunchtime is spent eating a ham sandwich, which is washed down with Castle Rock's award-winning Harvest Pale Ale.
It's a bit of a hike to the ground; I should have booked a taxi. The Welfare building is beautiful and also mobbed out, as there is a kids party on. It's £2.50 on the gate and £1 for a pretty good programme. Sticky loves his grounds that are located in the heart of the community. The Snack Bar and changing rooms are behind the nearest goal. A blue-painted stand with wooden benches runs alongside the nearest touchline, with further cover behind the far goal. The far side is open, with what looks like a leisure centre behind it.
The local community haven't turned out like Wisbech did last week. There's barely twenty people here. I grab a cup of tea from the Snack Bar, sadly not poured from out of a teapot. I see two kids throwing mud at one another. They're a couple of rum uns. The youngest is wearing a Man Utd shirt. I say to the oldest: "What do you think to Man Utd ?" "They're crap", he replies. I position myself to the left of the visitors' dugout. There's a presentation taking place on the pitch. Brodsworth have won the Fair Play award for the season's first quarter.
Ollerton pile on the pressure in the second period. Another shot cannons off the woodwork before they deservedly equalise.
Man of the Match: Cliff Anderson
Sunday, November 23, 2014
It's his bloody fault that the Lounge wants decorating anyway. He's pecked no end of wallpaper off in the last few years. He's threatening to dive-bomb 'The Angler' and stick the beak in. I move the little fella into the kitchen for his own well being.
I've a few chores to carry out before I earn my pass-out to Cambridgeshire. One is to clean out Finley the rabbit. He's up for one of his crap Non League tips. "Cleethorpes to win 3-2", he says through gritted teeth. It's like being Dr Dolittle in this bloody house. Don't worry Fenman fans, Finley hasn't got a prediction right in eight years of guessing.
I drive down the A46 and turn onto the A52 towards Grantham. I was hoping to meet up with 'Ackers', who lives in Whittlesey, but he's watching another FA Vase game across at Holbeach, where I went a few weeks ago. There's a really sad story to tell, that happened after the game. The Gorleston joint-manager was taken ill and sadly passed away from a heart attack caused by a blood clot, after his appendix were removed. He was in his early forties, and married with four children. The football is unimportant, the tale is tragic. God bless him.
The Sat Nav has a hissy fit on the A1, I lose the signal and miss the turning to Barnack. I have to crawl through Stamford. The Daniels (Stamford FC) are bidding a teary farewell to the Kettering Road ground today, after a 118 year stay. I saw Buxton play there a few years back. I was besotted with their centre midfielder Anton Foster. I bumped into him in the street that day. I got all star-struck and bottled out of asking him for his autograph.
I'm here to tick off another entry in the Good Pub Guide. The Millstone is an Everards pub, tucked away in a back lane. It has a timbered bar and there's cosy feel about the place. I would normally have plumped for a pint of Tiger or Beacon, but I clock a guest ale from the Castle Rock Brewery, in my neck of the woods, called Carl Froch.
There's a family gathering in the bar. I peruse the menu and order up a smoked bacon and melted Stilton cheese 'Doorstep' sandwich. It's delicious. 'Promised You a Miracle' by Simple Minds from the album New Gold Dream is on the pub sound system.
I bump into a Halifax Town fan in the car park. We talk about their former striker Lee Gregory who is now plying his trade for Ian Holloway at Millwall. It's a rather hefty £7 on the gate, not sure if the Club have hiked up the price because it's a Cup game. I bag a programme and some raffle tickets; I feel a little flush today.
Wisbech is a market town and inland port in the Fens of Cambridgeshire with a population of 30,000. The River Nene runs through the centre of the town. Local farmer Tony Martin gained notoriety after shooting dead an intruder at his isolated farmhouse just outside Wisbech.
I stand on the far side of the ground, next to a small stand. The dugouts, changing rooms and social club are on the far side. I expect the game to be tight and evenly balanced. The first half is as good as I've seen this season. Livewire winger Billy Smith is running the show for the Fenmen. He's turning the full back inside out as he ghosts his way down the wing. He's finally clattered by a crunching tackle. "Get up you tart" is shouted from the away end, the offender sees a yellow card waved in his face. A helicopter eats up the skyline. A local wag remarks: "Here's the Sky TV cameras."
The Cleethorpes manager has a voice like a foghorn and is built like a brick outhouse. His nature is aggressive and he is quite scary. He calls the linesman an oxygen thief. It's unpleasant and unnecessary. He'll probably be running the doors in Grimsby town centre this evening. Cleethorpes enjoy a good spell of pressure and take the lead with a beautifully executed goal guided into the bottom corner of the net by Jack Richardson.
The second half doesn't quite have the same ebb and flow about it. Wisbech take the lead through Ford again, following some poor defending by Cleethorpes from an inswinging corner. It could be more had it not been for a string of saves from the visiting 'keeper. 'Our man' is deathly quiet now, but seething inside. He encourages his team, but sends out very little information. His No.7 works his socks off, but they rarely work the 'keeper.
Wisbech hang on in a tense finale to find their way into the last 64 of the FA Vase.
Man of the Match: Josh Ford
Attendance: 218 (looked a lot more)
Sunday, November 16, 2014
I'm in a vile mood on Saturday morning. I've tossed and turned for most of the night. I'm tired and tetchy. Murphy the budgie is subdued and Finley the rabbit has a poorly eye. His crap non league tip is that whatever game I choose will be 2-2. The fool hasn't got one right in 8 years.
I drop 'The Skipper' down at Clifton All-Whites; his under 18 team are entertaining Leamington BS in the Midland Junior Premier League. I drive back to Ruddington and nip into the Co-op to get some cash. The heavens open outside, it's siling down with rain. It's deja vu from last Saturday. I play about on my twitter. The till girls will think I'm stalking them. They won't have the gall to ask me to leave. I propped up the Keyworth Co-op branch for years, buying endless special offer Argentinean Malbecs (not in 1982) before its sad demise.
Tosh is going through his texts in the Clubhouse. An anonymous one arrives asking him to collect his laptop that is cluttering up the doorway of Gino's Ristorante Italiano in Church Street, Ruddington. It's an eatery that King Billy Davies and his cronies used to eat at. Tosh is baffled by this. It must have been a heavy session last night.
This great Club, who have been magnificent with my boy, are holding a memorial today to remember club stalwart Keith Elliott. They have named a bus after him and are also unveiling an engraved stone later today at spot he used to stand at each week. I meet indie rock legend Jake Bugg's cousin. He's slightly out of tune, but seems content in his pushchair.
I walk into the bar. Buster Bloodvessel is banging out 'Special Brew.' Talking of brew, there are five real ales on show. I'm rubbing my hands with glee. Three locals are chatting bollocks at the bar. I wait a full five minutes; there's not a sign of any member of staff. I do an about turn and storm out the pub. I'll give em pelters on Trip Advisor later.
I search the net for decent boozers off the M42. I find a brilliant website that recommends The Dog and Doublet in Bodymoor Heath, close to Aston Villa's training ground. It's a wonderful old building on the canal, with an interesting interior. Meg Richardson from the Crossroads Motel serves me up a cheese sandwich and a pint of Wainwight. Even the Phil Collins music doesn't put me off.
Nuneaton’s born and bred footballers include: Trevor Peake, John Curtis, Peter Whittingham, Nigel Winterburn and Matty Fryatt. Other cult celebrity are: Larry Grayson, Mary Whitehouse, Dean Richards, Paul Bradley (that dimwit Nigel off EastEnders), referee Stuart Attwell, film director Ken Loach and Victorian novelist George Eliot.
Tom Tom comes good for once and safely navigates me to the Pingles Stadium on the outskirts of the town. I look across at the ground as I step out of the car. My hearts sinks. There's an eight lane athletics track running around the perimeter of the pitch. Hopper doesn't do grounds with running tracks. Oh well, it's a tick-off and they replied to my tweet.
I getting gassing to a referees' assessor. I find these guys, as a rule, secretive and unsocialable. This chap opens up a bit. I enjoy his company and tell him I'm a fully qualified ref. I can hear some music booming out of a sound system in the changing room. The minutes silence is ruined by a guy in the park adjacent, letting his petrol driven remote control car noisely run up and down a grass bank.
The game is open and the standard of play surprises me (Step 6). Uttoxeter force a good save from the 'keeper and see an effort bounce off the woodwork.The Heartlanders take the lead against the run of play. The visitors score twice on the stroke of half time.
Uttoxeter, buoyed by their two quick strikes, start the better. They increase their lead but are soon pegged back to 3-3. Nuneaton Griff have been magnificent and are worth the draw. There's a a game -changer with 20 minutes to go, Griff's 9 jacket is stupidly sent off. He kicks out at the corner flag as he sulks off to the changing room. Uttoxeter seal the game with a brilliant left footed strike and an injury-time close range finish. 10 jacket for Griff has worked his socks off but teenager Ollie Richie has caught my eye, as well as Football League scouts, I'm led to believe.
The game has been breathtaking, and I for one will re-visit this League sooner rather than later.
Man of the Match: Ollie Ritchie