Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dinnington Town 3 Bridlington Town 3

It’s New Year’s Day morning and I’m driving to the Nottingham Showcase Cinema to watch the delightful Jim Carrey in his new film Yes Man. It’s based on the book by Danny Wallace, which is well worth the read. The kids have got Candy Shop by 50 Cent on the CD player; I turn it down a notch as I’m feeling a bit under the weather. Yes, it’s self-inflicted. I started on Champagne, moved on to Guinness, had a large Bombay Sapphire and finished on the top shelf.

We spent the evening with ‘The Architect’ and the Ergo Assistant Contracts Manager in a quaint old country pub. There was a Hog Roast on and a disco. I shuffled about to Crazy by Gnarls Barkley with Mrs P on the dance floor. I move, these days, more like Austin Powers, than Austin Healey. To add a bit of spice to the night I spotted an old girlfriend in the corner of pub. It certainly fired up Mrs P; you’ve got to keep them on their toes readers.

I had the chance to go and watch Sheffield FC v Retford United on New Year’s Day. I had to be in a pub car park to get a lift with ‘Big D’ by 1.45pm. I missed the cut off time, and a five goal thriller, to watch the end of the excellent Yes Man. There were only six of us in the cinema. It was like a private showing.

I was sat in the kitchen last night, sipping a cold Stella, listening to ‘Whispering Bob Harris’ on a Radio 2 request show. Somebody text in a good luck message to Kettering Town in their FA Cup match against Eastwood Town. Knowing that the BBC are always keen to redress the balance, I immediately text in a good luck message for the Badgers. ‘Whispering Bob read it out within five minutes of me sending it in, he even said ‘from The Groundhopper.’ I was well chuffed.

Trumpy Bolton caused quite a stir during our afternoon out in Goole a few weeks back People have e-mailed me and posted threads on message boards, asking when he’d be groundhopping again. I phoned him during the Christmas period; he was on the piss in Portsmouth. He was more than interested in visiting Dinnington, as it’s another pub for him to chalk off. I arrange to pick him up at 12.30pm.

White Van Man is eating camel pie in Egypt, The Nuclear Scientist is skiing in Austria and The Taxman is off the radar.

Trumpy comes stumbling out his front door. I don’t bother asking him if he’s been to Wetherspoons for ‘breakfast.’ He spent New Year’s Eve in the Isle of Wight. He confesses, in previous years, of having been on all day New Year’s Eve benders, but being tucked up in bed well before the first band strikes a chord on the Jools Holland Show.

He has a crumpled atlas in his hand. I have a flick through and enquire why lots of villages have a highlight pen through them. He explains his dream is to make a financial transaction in every village in England. He keeps all receipts or credit card transactions as a proof of purchase. He’s well on his way to his goal, as he has been a delivery driver for Pork Farms and Ginsters for over thirty years.

We’re fully armed with the 2009 Good Pub Guide and the 2006 Non League Club Directory, in case of any postponements. Dinnington Town confirm the game is 100% on. Trumpy has a plastic litre bottle of Sainsbury’s lemonade; predictably it’s full of real ale.

We drive up the A614, past Worksop, and head towards the village of Thorpe Salvin. Trumpy has his eye on chalking off another pub, which is called The Parish Oven. I haven’t put the Tom Tom on, I didn’t want to insult Trumpy’s map reading skills. Of course we are lost and end up in Rhodesia! I don’t feel I‘ve driven that far and certainly can’t remember catching a plane or boat. But what the hell.

There’s no food on at The Parish Oven. Trumpy has a pint of Black Sheep, and I have a diet coke. He also procures a couple of bottles of cider for take- out purposes.

We finally end up at the Little Mester at North Anson. Meals are two for one and Trumpy treats me to scampi and chips. He washes that down with a bottle of Bulmers Pear Cider.

We finally reach Phoenix Park at 2.30pm. Trumpy has a trot up Dinnington High Street in search of a watering hole.

Dinnington is in South Yorkshire. Close by are Sheffield, Worksop and Rotherham. Like most towns up here it was devastated by the closure of the local coal mine in 1992, with the loss of 1000 jobs. It has a population of 11,000.

Former Rotherham United manager Dave Cusack was born down the road in Thurcroft.

Dinnington Town Football Club are celebrating their centenary this season. They play just behind the Dinnington Resource Centre. The ground is fairly basic but it has soul. It’s £4 entry and £1 for an excellent programme. I buy a raffle ticket off a miserable lady, who doesn’t even say thank you when I produce £1 from my pocket.

They are playing Hallam FM Radio on the PA system. It’s as equally bad as Heart FM. I suffer in silence to Gabrielle and Erasure.

There is a charming lady, strolling around the ground, with a smile on her face, selling scarves and ties. They are coloured amber and black, although Dinnington play in all white strip today.

A ruddy faced Trumpy appears on the scene, he’s not too chuffed as he’s been unable to find a hostelry that is open. The clown took a wrong turning. He promises a re-visit at the break.

I saw today’s visitors Bridlington Town at Shirebrook back in August; they were subliminal that day. They have balance and beauty. There Achilles heel is that they are young and inexperienced in the heart of their defence.

The Seasiders attack our end. They are on the top of their game immediately. They have already peppered the Dinnington goal before taking the lead on ten minutes with an extraordinary strike from 25 yards out by the imposing Ashley Allanson.

Bridlington are rampant. Sticky’s favourite, skipper Phil Harrison, is pulling all the strings. His decision making and passing are first rate. He is on fire. Trumpy compares his to Tottenham Hotspur’s Croatian international Luka Modric. I think he looks more like Take That singer Mark Owen.

Bridlington increase their lead on eighteen minutes with Craig Palmer firing home.

Dinnington keeper Rob Poulter is called into action time and time again. He produces fine saves from both Hotte and Fleming. Bridlington make it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time with Craig Palmer scoring his second of the afternoon, diverting a goal bound shot into the corner of the net following a goal mouth melee. The Seasiders have wasted endless opportunities but a better attacking force I’ve yet to see this season. Their passing game makes a mockery of a bumpy and rutted surface.

Trumpy is suitably impressed but doesn’t hang around for the referee’s half-time whistle. He troops off up the road to quench his thirst with a pint of John Smiths at the nearby Squirrel Inn.

I miss out on a crate of Stella by one strip of numbers in the raffle. I’m not too gutted as I start a two week detox plan on Monday, but when will I win a bloody raffle?

I chat with a fellow groundhopper who tips me off that Stockbridge Steels are worth a look. It’s in the notebook.

Hallam FM Radio continue their mediocre music theme with Lily Allen’s latest offering. It has the worst lyrics of 2009. Check these out: ‘But it doesn’t matter cause I’m packing plastic and that’s what makes my life so f****g fantastic.’ Dear, oh dear, oh dear.

The smiling scarf seller pours me a cup of tea at a pricey 75p. It’s ten out of ten for service with a smile, but sadly only a five out of ten for the tea.

Dinnington Town kick down the slope. The locals inform me that the second half will be a different kettle of fish. They have pushed midfielder Ben Rosser up front. He has an immediate effect on the game. I’m informed that he has been sent off twice recently and lacks discipline; apparently he’s a police officer!

Rosser bulldozes his way through the Bridlington defence on 55 minutes to finish off a fine move. He creates a goal twenty minutes from time for partner Gavin Allot. Rosser gets in some terrific positions but rarely lifts his head and flatly refuses to pass. He doesn’t appear to be a team player.

Bridlington continue to spurn chances at the other end. It’s an enthralling encounter and easily the best game I’ve witnessed this season.

It’s approaching injury time and Dinnington have been awarded a free-kick deep in their own half. They punt the ball forward, the Bridlington back four wobble like jelly. Substitute Cartledge is through on goal and tackled from behind. Gavin Allott makes no mistake from the spot.

Incredibly both teams have chances to win the game deep into injury time. Trumpy for once is captivated and has thoroughly enjoyed the match.

There’s a special mention for The Groundhopper’s man of the match. Referee Mr David Lawrence of South Yorkshire has handled this game superbly. He’s allowed advantage and has hardly blown his whistle. He has treated the players like adults and has gained RESPECT. Well done David.

Attendance: 133

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Clifton FC 2 Keyworth United 1

It’s Christmas morning, Sticky junior and ‘The Skipper’ wake up at a ridiculous hour. The Groundhopper has man flu; it’s life-threatening. I will have to have a late fitness test for the Clifton game on Saturday.

Mrs P has spoilt the boys to death; they have a PS3, football shirts, designer clothes and Wii games. After two seasons of getting lost on the non-league circuit, Sticky Palms is finally in possession of a Tom Tom.

We’re downstairs eating smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast; we all share a glass of Bucks Fizz, the moment is as beautiful as a right wing cross from Cammell Laird’s Eddie Jebb.

Pure genius, Terry Wogan, is on Radio 2, he’s playing all the classic Christmas tunes. His repartee is as sharp as a Stanley knife blade.

PC Plod is coming for dinner; he supports D***y County. I’d asked Mrs P if we could have lamb and mint sauce for lunch, to make him feel at home; she was not amused.

We have aperitifs. Our lunchtime appetiser is a game between Nottingham Forest and D***y County on FIFA 09. Sticky jnr is Forest, PC Plod’s son is D***y. Young Sticky is threatened with Christmas dinner for one, in our shed, if he fails to secure victory. His performance is an embarrassment, Forest look disjointed and disorganised. They are soundly beaten 3 -0; it could cost Calderwood his job! I reach a compromise with junior; it’s a table for two, instead ,with our pet rabbit Finley, in his hutch.

It’s Saturday morning. I had the offer of a scouting mission from a non-league club yesterday. We were halfway round Rushcliffe Country Park at the time, when I got the call. Had I elected to go I think Mrs P would have launched me into the nearby lake with all the ducks and carp. I’m gutted because I’m really keen to get some scouting in on the non-league scene. There are some rough diamonds out there that just require a touch of polish.

Mrs P has turned down the chance of a Fray Bentos suet pudding, chips and mushy peas at The Fairham in Clifton and has gone shopping in town with her mum. The boys and I are lozzing around the house.

I cook up a traditional bubble and squeak for lunch; the lads are retching; their faces are contorted, they hate Brussels sprouts and broccoli.

We pick up ‘The Angler’ on our way to the Norman Archer Memorial Ground. I put on the Tom Tom for a gag. ‘Dance Wiv Me’ by Dizzee Rascal and Calvin Harris is on the CD player. The Angler looks a bit miffed; he’s 65 years old.

Clifton is a suburb of Nottingham and has a sprawling mass of post-war council houses. It was once believed to be the biggest council estate in Western Europe. Many of the houses are now privately owned. Famous Cliftonians include: Band of Gold actress Samantha Morton, who also starred in the critically acclaimed film Control, as the wife of manic depressive Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, and Daily Telegraph journalist and award winning author David McVay. I received his latest offering, Heart of the Game, as a Christmas present from Mrs P.

Clifton ‘All Whites’ Football Club were formed in 1963. They were feared and revered throughout my youth. It’s only ten minutes from Sticky’s house. The players that this club have fed the professional game with is nothing short of astonishing: Garry Birtles, David McVay, Jermaine Jenas, Michael Johnson, Richard Liburd, Darren Huckerby, Jermaine Pennant and England’s first black international : Viv Anderson, are a few off the top of my head.

They were called ‘All Whites’ and play in the same kit as ‘Dirty Dirty Leeds.’ A ludicrous decision was made in 1995, with the club being forced to change their name, as the ‘All White’ brand could potentially have been misconstrued as a racist undertone. Look at the list of players above, count the number of black and mixed raced players in it.

Both clubs playing today have attained the FA Charter Standard; they don’t dish them out in Corn Flakes packets. The committees of both teams should be applauded in gaining that status.

Clifton FC have received a large amount of funding from the Football Foundation. They have a new pitch and improved changing facilities.

I have had some titanic battles at junior level with Clifton, during my ill-fated spell as a coach, but have made sound acquaintances and good contacts at Clifton FC.

For those that don’t know, I am from Keyworth, and my two boys play for their U11 and U13 sides. I will make this report as impartial as is possible.

‘Barthez’ is in goal for the visitors; he is a good friend and also a work colleague. He laughed in the face of a serious illness a few years back. He fought it with courage and conviction. He’s also a cult hero in our village, having hit the winning runs off the final ball in a big cricket cup match down at our staunch rivals, Plumtree, a few years back. His season has been hampered by injury. He has given way to a younger rival, but I know he still has a passion for the game and it hurts him not to play: Today he has a point to prove.

It’s an uneventful opening quarter as both teams try and find a footing. Possession is given away cheaply but I admire the way they both choose to play the beautiful game.

Keyworth open the scoring on 18 minutes. Scott Litchfield works his way into the channel and holds up the ball intelligently, he plays in Sean ‘Billy’ Bremner, who unleashes a shot from the edge of the area that finds the bottom corner of the net.

Clifton suddenly spark into life; their prodigal son and my personal favourite ,Karl Mitchell, forces Barthez into a smart save, low down to his left. The visitors choose to rest on their laurels.

Keyworth’s young wingers fail to track back and protect their full backs and Clifton begin to turn up the heat. ‘Tom’ their number eleven is running the show. He can run inside and outside. He has pace and power. The Keyworth 16 year old right back, Lewis, needs protection and encouragement; he only gets the latter. He’s exposed once too often and upends the winger. The yellow card is brandished by a very fussy official. I think he got a new whistle in his Christmas cracker.

'Tom’ – no-one knows his surname, he’s been festering in Radcliffe Olympic Reserves – hits the crossbar from distance, with ‘Barthez’ well beaten. Another Clifton effort comes back off the upright, with ‘Barthez’ once again stranded.

Keyworth are not closing down and panic in rare moments of possession. Mitchell restores parity on 34 minutes with a stunning, breathtaking strike from 22 yards out: It’s my shot of the season.

‘Barthez’ is having a stormer and pulls off a couple more saves for the Clifton Chronicle photographer.

We nip in the bar to escape the biting wind. We have been joined by a less than enthusiastic ‘Taxman’ and ‘White Van Man.’ They are still suffering from The City Ground hangover of yesterday and appear grouchy. We have four cups of tea at a cost of £1.60. There’s no teapot involved just a solitary teabag lobbed into a cup: It only gets a six out of ten.

I’m on my way back out for the second half when people start complaining about the emissions coming from the nearby Ratcliffe Power Station. It turns out to be legendary Keyworth United Reserve Team Manager Alan Jackson exhaling a festive Hamlet cigar.

Keyworth are dreadful after the break. The front two are too far apart and can’t fathom out the Clifton offside trap. The linesman is harsh, though, on one occasion, when Wolloch manages to wriggle his way through only to be flagged. The midfield is being mobbed, despite Bremner’s best efforts. The wingers, or whatever they are meant to be, are anonymous.

Clifton FC are magnificent and play with a soaring belief and confidence. Their game has character and fluency. It really should have been five or six goals for them today. It’s the Clifton number 6’s go at the crossbar challenge as he thumps an audacious shot from distance. It dips and swerves, looping over Barthez, only to smack the bar again.

‘Tom’ has more shots today than White Van Man has had mince pies over the festive period, but Barthez is invincible. The inevitable and much deserved winner comes twenty minutes from time. It’s another outstanding , brave block from ‘Barthez’ but through a crowd of players it appears to be the Clifton 9 jacket, Thomas, who bundles the ball home.

Sixteen year old Jack Henson makes a cameo appearance with 15 minutes to go. It’s a substitution that should have taken place a while ago as so many players have been ineffective. He plays with heart, soul, spirit and technique. He drives into space and puts more crosses in than Keyworth have managed in the entire game. He looks a gem and plays with desire.

It’s a learning curve for the Green Un young guns. Hats off to the management for playing seven teenagers. They manage to carve out a couple of half chances through Litchfield and Bremner but a draw would have been a travesty; at least Dick Turpin wore a mask.

Attendance: 49

Man of the Match: Barthez

Friday, December 19, 2008

Solihull Moors 2 Blyth Spartans 0

We were introduced to one another over a year ago; I fell in love with her immediately. Every day I used to caress her and hold her. I would say goodbye to her on a Friday evening, as we were kept apart at the weekend. Our relationship would be rekindled on a Monday morning. It all came to an abrupt and sorrowful ending on Thursday lunchtime. I walked through the door, I could hear people saying: “Who’s going to tell him?” And that’s when I saw her, sitting alone and forlorn, minus a spout. Yes readers, you’ve guessed it, some idiot at work has dropped my teapot. Not any old teapot, but a top of the range one from Denby Pottery in D***yshire. You could get five cups out of it. God I miss her.

I’ve took my foot off the gas on the scouting front recently; I’ve got that Christmas feeling. Games have been cancelled due to waterlogged pitches. I will take in a game on Sunday and give it full throttle after the Christmas festivities.

I’ve been like a little lap dog this week and have sat on the settee with Mrs P watching Rick Stein, Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver cooking Christmas dinner. I’ve an action packed schedule coming up: Solihull on Saturday, works’ party on Sunday and a few drinks in West Bridgford on Tuesday night with the lads. I have to keep the good lady sweet.

It’s Saturday morning and I‘ve got my head down, working my bollocks off, to earn the pass -out to Solihull. Lincoln City are playing ‘The Pies.’ I should be down there, but let pride get in the way. I’ve never paid a penny into that club’s coffers since they closed down the centre of excellence. I pray to God that we win, and that one of our old youth team players scores the winner.

I nip up the cashpoint; it made the headlines news the other week when it paid out double what you asked for. They were queuing up all night to have a go. No such luck this morning for Sticky Palms.

The Architect picks me up at 11.45am. We’re off to his brother’s house, en-route to the ground, to drop off some presents. His brother is an estates manager at Wroxhall Abbey, close to the charming and affluent village of Knowle, near to Solihull.

We pull into the farmyard; I’m fully expecting Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to pop out of his River Cottage with some honey-spiced figs or medieval gingerbread. We nip in for a quick cup of tea. I’d mark it with a seven out of ten. The Architect’s nephew is showing us his nativity play on DVD; it’s a bit of a Harry Hill yawn moment off his Burp TV show.

I treat The Architect to lunch at the nearby Herons Nest. We have Brie and bacon melt, washed down with a shandy and a Stella for Sticky: yes I’m back on form. I sit in a Chesterfield leather chair; I feel like Rowley Birkin, QC, off The Fast Show. Rod Stewart is singing Blue Moon on a CD that’s spilling out from the bar area.

We arrive at Damson Park forty minutes before kick-off and pull up in the main car park. There’s no charge for parking. I have a quick wander around and take a few photos whilst The Architect waits patiently.

Solihull has a population over just less than 100,000 and is in a very prosperous area of the Midlands. Its name, allegedly, comes from dirty or muddy: soily hill. Famous folk from Solihull include: BBC news reader Michael Buerk, Top Gear stunt driver Richard Hammond, England rugby team manager Martin Johnson, a member of the pop group Five, called Ritchie Neville and Aston Villa defender Zat Knight.

Solihull Borough 1953-2007 and Moor Green 1901-2007 joined forces two years ago. Moor Green have provided one or two decent players to the Football League: Aston Villa’s Ian Taylor and Coventry City’s David Buust.

It’s £10 on the gate and a pricey £2 for a programme, which actually turns out to be gem. We stroll past the social club, and head for the tea bar. The tea’s not as good as what Hugh served up earlier; I’d give it a six.

The players are warming up. Former Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers striker Graham Fenton is doing all the Blyth Spartans drills: I bet he can’t wait for the third round FA Cup tie at Croft Park against Big Sam’s Blackburn. They have travelled 221 miles to be at this ground today.

Blyth is in Northumberland, 13 miles north east of Newcastle. It has a population of 35,000. The club were formed in 1899.Despite their lowly League position they have enjoyed an epic FA Cup run. They are managed by part-time school caretaker Harry Dunn.

We observe a minute’s silence for the sister of the president, who died suddenly at the age of 85.

Blyth Spartans are not sporting their famous green shirts; they play instead in a horrible yellow and red strip. The game has a nice ebb and flow about it. Both teams keep it on the deck, and opt for a fast passing game.

Spartans have shots from Dale and Reay flying over the bar. Dale is a gangly 6’ 6” but he has a great first touch and is no slouch with the ball at this feet.

Solihull up the tempo. Former Burton Albion and Kidderminster Harriers forward Andy Ducros wastes a golden opportunity firing high, wide and handsome, following good work by Jake Edwards.

They finally take a deserved lead through their impressive pocket rocket, left winger Carl Motteram. Blyth have been giving the ball away in midfield with some suicidal passing, Motteram seizes upon a Richards misplaced pass and rifles a shot in from the edge of the area.

Blyth hardly fashion a worthy first half chance. Their performance is flat. They lose the influential Alex Gildea to a hamstring injury; they shuffle their pack without success. FA Cup hero Ged Dalton looks their stand-out player out on the wing, and he’s having a terrific tussle with Solihull Moors left back Michael Tuohy.

We pop into the social club. The Architect shouts up a coke and half a Guinness for The Groundhopper. I’ve got the butterflies waiting for the latest score from Meadow Lane. Somebody texts me, ‘we’ are one up. ‘Our’ gypsy king, Adrian Patulea the 24 year old Romanian has scored the vital goal.

Solihull Moors social club has the most interesting memorabilia on the walls and ceiling in the room. They have hundreds of signed football shirts. A friendly supporter sees me taking photos and tells me there is one shirt that doesn’t belong to a real club. It’s a Melchester Rovers shirt, the fictional football team from the comic Tiger.

There’s a photo on the wall of the Solihull Borough team back in 1999; Sticky’s favourite, Dunkirk manager Dave Harbottle, is posing in the line-up.

As we walk out the clubhouse a wedding party is arriving. Solihull Moors midfielder Darren Middleton is tying the knot today, but apparently it’s not him.

Blyth come out fired up and play a beautiful game of football for twenty minutes or so, but they lack the cutting edge and cannot get past the formidable Solihull centre halves Daley and Streete.

Against the run of play Solihull pour forward with some crisp passing, attacking the vulnerable Blyth left flank. Junior English’s cross is turned in by Gardner. It’s the difference between the two sides. Solihull create endless chances and really should win by a larger margin. Blyth have the wind took out their sails when conceding the second goal. Maybe they have partied too hard this week.

Solihull have further chances as Blyth throw caution to the wind, but substitute Leon Kelly lacks the composure and technique of his teammates.

The Blackburn scout will be rubbing his hands at this performance. Blyth now sit in the relegation zone and on this form, with only one point on their travels, it’s difficult to see where the next win will come from. As one of their supporters told us: “We’ve been shite all season.” “Except in the FA Cup mate”, I reply.

Attendance: 182

Man of the Match; Liam Daley

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ilkeston Town 3 Ossett Town 2

Trumpy Bolton’s spectacular display in the art of drinking will live long in the memory of The Groundhopper, and the good people of Goole. His emergence on the non-league circuit has caused quite a stir. One or two secretaries have already been in touch to see if he will frequent their bars and drink dusted down bottles of old cider, that they’ve been unable to shift.

The poor old Vikings’ bar manager was down at the local cash and carry, replenishing their stock, late into Saturday evening. Group 4 were brought in to collect the takings. Trumpy drank East Yorkshire dry. He’s keen to come hopping again on Jan 3rd; I may have to make some excuses.

Sticky junior hit the back of the onion bag on Sunday with a well taken finish. The parents of our opponents were a ghastly and arrogant bunch. They eventually turned on their own; it made victory more the sweeter. I shan’t be attending the rematch in the New Year.

I shook off my hangover and went into town on the Sunday afternoon. Mrs P had booked the kids in on the ice rink that’s situated in Nottingham’s Old Market Square. The Architect and I entered into the spirit of things and had a few Lowenbrau at the nearby German market.

I’m halfway to my target of 50 games and 40 new grounds for the season. Apart from the Awsworth v Attenborough game in the NSL, I’ve yet to see a really good match. I’ve noticed that The Robins have a rearranged FA Trophy tie with Ossett Town at the New Manor Ground tonight. It’s my favourite venue, and games there rarely disappoint me.

I arrive home from work after a productive day. ‘The Skipper’ is screwing his face up at his jacket potato and beans. A rejuvenated Sticky junior has sloped off to training.

The Taxman picks me up at 6.40pm. He’s having a bit of a grumble as he’s had to shell out for a new washing machine; his mangle has finally packed up. We pick up The Nuclear Scientist en-route.

I call up White Van Man, but he’s sprawled out in his mum’s reclining chair, watching Eggheads. He trots out some excuse about having an early start in the morning, but tells me to keep him posted on the score. I mark him down as a non- attendee.

We drive down the A609 through Wollaton and Trowell. Ilkeston is a mass of roundabouts. I always cock it up at the one with a Tesco’s on it. We’re quickly back on track.

We pay £1 to park in the club car park. Fine rain falls from the sky and nobody has brought a brolly. The DJ is playing Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham. (Yawn)

We pay £7 on the gate and £1.80 for the ‘Ilson Review.’ We head straight for the tea bar. It’s 80p a cup, and I’d mark it with a six out of ten at best.

The bar area has changed, the rooms have been split. One is now a function room and tonight it’s being used for a pensioners’ Christmas party.

We kick our heels in the bar to avoid the inclement weather. News is breaking that poor old ‘Orville’ the Duck (Paul Ince) has been sacked. It’s a harsh one in my opinion, Blackburn have failed to take into account the bigger picture. I hope one day Ince returns to Ewood Park to haunt them.

Tonight’s visitors Ossett Town are from West Yorkshire. It has a population of just over 20,000. It was once well known for mines and mills. It’s now a market town. Famous folk from the area include: Coronation Street’s hamster faced actress Gail Platt (Helen Worth), former England and Lancashire batsman Barry Wood, indie band The Cribbs, ‘pop group’ Black Lace and one of my favourite authors David Peace.

Ossett Town Football Club were founded in 1936 and currently sit in seventeenth position in the Unibond Premier League.

A new broom has swept into Ilkeston Town Football Club. Local businessman and star of Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire, Chek Whyte has recently purchased the club. Comedy character and all-round (in every sense) entertainer Nigel Jemson has been forced to jump ship. He scored on Saturday for Osset’s near neighbours FC Halifax. I miss him though. His frequent removal from the dugout, to sit in the stands, for the rest of the game, always used to amuse me.

Former Sheffield United centre half David Holdsworth has stepped into Jemmo’s shoes. He arrived from the debacle at Gretna, where he was youth coach. He has very quickly assembled a young and fit team. They are fifth in the table.

There’s no team sheet pinned up tonight, and I’ve forgotten my pen, so I’m unable to jot the line-ups down. The greasy playing surface should allow for some slick football.

It’s a sizzling start to proceedings. Ossett open the scoring in barely over a minute of play. Aiden Savory chases down a backpass; former Stockport County goalkeeper Chris Adamson blasts the ball straight at Savory, who gleefully rolls the ball into an empty net.

The Robins roar down the other end immediately, with Howells and Cahill wasting gift-wrapped opportunities.

Adamson has a Beadle hands moment on 15 minutes when he fails to hang on to a cross from Baldry on the right; a startled Danny Davidson has the simple task of stroking the ball home.

Ilkeston are hanging on for dear life, Ossett are a pleasure to watch. Ex Huddersfield Town and Notts County winger Simon Baldry is untouchable in the first period. He retains possession and his crosses are flighted and crafted. He’s had a career stricken by injuries and has lost his pace, but boy can he play football.

Ossett play with drive, determination and pace. They really don’t want half-time to arrive.

We’re back in the bar again watching Sky Sports News. The pensioners’ party is in full swing. It’s like something from Jerry St Clair’s ‘Free ‘n Easy Night’ off Phoenix Nights.

‘Reg’ Holdsworth throws caution to the wind with a double substitution at the break. Jon Douglas and Amari Morgan-Smith spice up the attack.

Osset forward Danny Davidson trudges off on the hour; he’s put in a decent shift. Suddenly the ball keeps coming back. Pringle begins to dictate play in the midfield. Douglas reduces the deficit 23 minutes from time with an acrobatic shot from the edge of the box.

The younger, more athletic midfield, begin to believe. Rob Scott hurls a ball into the box, the ball falls to Steven Istead to unleash a shot, which takes a deflection, before finding the corner of the net.

Ossett are pinned back in their own half, they’ve lost their outlet in the tireless, hard-working Davidson. Anthony Howells completes a famous victory sliding the ball home from close range.

Howells is yellow carded twice for a two footed lunge and a bit of afters. It spoils a game that has been played in a good spirit.

With Ilson playing for time the impressive Morgan-Smith marauds down the wing, beating the Ossett 14 jacket with ease. The lad tackles from behind and the game is stopped, He has bleach blonde hair and is wearing gloves. A wag in the crowd shouts out: “There’s no gay bars in Ilkeston youth.” It’s a reminder as to why we came tonight.

It’s back to our local for two pints of Rev James from the Welsh brewery called Brains. We’re next to an open fire, and it gives us the chance to wax lyrical about the most entertaining match we’ve witnessed this season. It’s only spoilt by them pair of tossers, Robson and Jerome, whose song I Believe is playing on the CD player.

Attendance: 205

Man of the Match: Simon Baldry