Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Shepshed Dynamo 0 Sheffield FC 4

The bedroom door is slammed shut. A ‘do not disturb’ sign hangs lopsided on the handle. The radio is cranked up to full power. A crap RnB track shatters the silence of the house.

Mrs P says to leave him alone and not to wind him up - I’m the one wound up - I can’t stand RnB! She says he’s gone off his food. This is serious shit folks. I ring him up. He’s on answer phone. We are all walking on egg shells.

I enquire with ‘The Skipper’ what’s wrong with his brother. The truth is out. Little un has stitched him up good and proper. Seems that Sticky junior’s girlfriend has gone on a German exchange trip and won’t be back until the weekend.

It’s 20p per text to Deutschland. It’s five ‘I love you’ for a quid. Like I said to him later, when I shoulder-barged my way into his bedroom, give it five years son and she’ll be watching EastEnders and Holby City, whilst you’re groundhopping with your dad.

I wake up on Sunday morning with a banging head. I’m never going out with Trumpy Bolton again – well not this season. Apparently he had to be escorted home from the Salutation Inn last night, well before the final bell.

Sticky junior can take his mind off Cupid’s arrow this morning. He has a few scores to settle up at Greasley, close to Eastwood. I’m told they are worth watching. On this evidence I wonder why.

Keyworth Utd U14s pass them to death, but lack their normal killer instinct in front of goal. Sticky jnr has as good a first half as I have seen him play. He takes the piss. The fellow who bad-mouthed him on our manor a few months ago seems to have lost his tongue.

It’s tipped it down for a few days now. I had pencilled in a game in Leicester city centre between St Andrews and Gedling Miners’ Welfare. By Tuesday lunchtime there’s a P-P against this fixture on the excellent East Midlands Counties League website.

John Ramshaw is at a loose end tonight. According to the Eastwood Town website last Thursday, he has left the club with immediate effect. We’ve been on texting terms for a while. He agrees to pick me up in The Fairway car park at just gone 7pm. We’re off to see how Screats is doing at Shepshed.

We drive down the A60, turn right at Rempstone, drive past Hathern and are parked up next to the Black Swan in 20 minutes.

Shepshed is a town in north Leicestershire with a population of 14,000. The football club play at the Dovecote on Butt Hole Lane. They were once managed by Martin O’Neil. Any more pummelings, like the one dished out by Chelsea on Saturday, and the Northern Irishman will be looking for work with Rammers.

It’s £6 on the gate and £1.50 for a programme, which Rammers very kindly buys. First port of call is the public address Portakabin to collect a team sheet. The DJ welcomes the ‘Derbyshire’ club on the PA system. He notices my raised eyebrows. He explains that Sheffield FC play in Dronfield, which is in Derbyshire.

He hardly covers himself in glory, a few moments later, when he plays Craig David, followed by Whitney Houston. One more bad record fellow and I’ll be standing in the away end.

There’s no White Van Man tonight. The closet Manchester United supporter will be propped up in his pit, with a pint of coke and a bucket full of popcorn.

We stretch our legs and stroll around this charming ground. It has bags of character. I’d put it in my top ten. The welcome is warm and the football always entertaining.

We pitch up to the right of the Sheffield dug out. We shelter from the driving rain, which has left puddles of water dotted around the Dovecote.

I saw this reverse fixture in Dronfield in early December. Shepshed were walloped 4-1 by ten men Sheffield. The visitors sit in 4th spot. Dynamo are ten places further down the table but have proved difficult opponents to beat having only succumb to defeat on eight occasions in this campaign.

Screats is a smashing lad, giving good value on and off the pitch. It’s been a stop-start season for him, following a miserable spell at Grantham and a silly suspension recently served after a red card in a County Cup match.

We’ve been joined by Screats’ dad and Big Darryl. Sheffield have height and strength. They waste no time in looking to exploit the lack of height in the home defence, by pinging diagonal balls in at the tiny full backs.

There have already been a few alarm bells ringing in the home rearguard when Sheffield take the lead on ten minutes, with former Alfreton Town striker, Brian Cushworth, smashing home a loose ball.

The tackles are getting tastier by the minute, on the greasy and worsening surface. Referee Robert Earl of Hinckley is experiencing a miserable night. He has the personality of a plant and zero rapport with the players. He has more bookings than Susan Boyle.

Sheppard, Screaton, Civzellis, Walker and Outram all find their way into Mr Earl’s soggy notebook. Shepshed have looked promising on the attack. Luke Barlone has a presence and Roland Agbor can bomb down the right flank. But it often comes to nothing.

The visitors double their lead shortly before the break with Outram scoring from the spot following a foul on Ben Leonard.

We all file into the clubhouse. Sticky treats Rammers to a bottle of ‘Roaring Meg’ from the Springhead Brewery at Sutton-on-Trent, near Newark. It’s £2.50 per bottle. It’s half that price at Morrison’s in Gamston chaps.

I stare up at the TV and take note of the postponement of Accrington Stanley v Barnet. It should have been a big night for the referee Mark Halsey, who was taking charge of a game for the first time since his recovery from throat cancer.

We sup our beer and chew the crud. Screats dad mentions the big debate in our village at the moment, which is the application by T***o to build a supermarket on derelict land. ‘Over my dead body’ is my reply. Me and Finley will lie in front of the JCB diggers if we have to.

The second half has begun and Rammers is chatting to a knowledgeable, elderly chap with connections at Blackwell Miners’ Welfare. Erm, might pop up there on Easter Monday.

It’s still pelting it down with rain. Passing becomes an art. They are often undercooked and lacking accuracy. Sheffield step it up a gear and add a third. Nick Jupp blocks the initial shot, it falls fortuitously to former Ilkeston Town winger, Chris Adam, who side foots the ball into an empty net.

Dynamo storm forward through the swish swash of standing water. The impressive Barlone rattles the bar with a thumping effort.

Controversy occurs on 84 minutes and it’s no surprise that Screats is at the heart of it. He is penalised for, I presume, raising a foot whilst the keeper is releasing the ball from his hands. He is harshly awarded a second yellow card. He takes the news extremely badly. I daren’t make eye contact with his dad.

The final nail in the coffin is hammered home by Ashley Longstaffe on 88 minutes, as ten man Dynamo throw caution to the wind.

We retire across the road to the Black Swan for a pint of Timothy Taylor’s. I have a cunning plan to stop T***o’s building a supermarket in our village.

Man of the Match: Rammers

Attendance: 115

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Winterton Rangers 4 Arnold Town 1

The ruddy-faced man grabs the remote control off the arm of his reclining chair and presses the ‘off’ button. He slurps the remaining dregs from his super-strength can of cider. He has taken the afternoon off work to watch the Budget. Gone are the days when he used to chuckle at Ken Clarke chalking a few pence off cider.

Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alastair Darling, has well and truly cheesed him off. The man will have to tighten his purse strings. This cider-drinking supremo has single-handedly propped up the apple industry for the last 35 years.

This man is called Trumpy Bolton. A tear rolls down his face, slopes off his chin and hits the floor. He crushes his empty can and hurls into the waste paper basket situated in the corner of the room. He picks up his phone and dials 118 118. He asks for the phone number of 11, Downing Street, Westminster, London.

Trumpy demands to be put through to Mr Darling to lodge a complaint about the cider tax rise. He’s told that Mr Darling isn’t taking calls right now. He leaves a garbled message for him to ring back. I’ll be having a pint of cider with him in Scunthorpe on Saturday (that’s with Trumpy not Darling): my shout, of course.

It’s Friday evening. Mrs P is snuggled up on the sofa watching the soaps. Sticky Palms is up to no good on the internet. A friend of mine is DJing on community-based radio station Erewash Sound.

It’s an alternative Eighties show. I tune in online. I drop him a couple of texts under a pseudonym asking for ‘Bella Lugosi’s Dead’ by Bauhaus and ‘Party Fears Two’ by the late, great Billy Mackenzie of The Associates. He plays them both.

It’s the day of the game and I’m in the kitchen coddling my eggs listening to Brian Matthew playing ‘Elouise’ by Barry Ryan from 1968 – it was later covered by The Damned in 1986.

I’m not particularly in good books readers. I have to carry out a series of chores before departing for sunny Scunny.

The forecast for early next week is for heavy rain. With this in mind Sticky dusts down the lawnraker and scarifies the front lawn. I’ll put some feed and weed down tomorrow before raking it out again.

I nip up the bottle bank and bump into ‘Woody.’ He’s a big Pies fan. Driving back home I think about all the race meetings and skiing trips we used to go on: happy days indeed.

I notice Finley (pet rabbit) dribbling his ball around his cage. His skills are sublime as he weaves in and out an obstacle course I set up for him. He’s on par with Colwyn Bay wing wizard Eddie Jebb.

There’s a look of disgust and a tut tut from Mrs P as I slip three cans of Stella into a Sainsbury’s carrier bag.

‘Chopper Harris’ rolls up in his BMW at 11.35am. Mrs P is chit-chatting to a neighbour. ‘The Architect’ has parked his arse in the front. I squeeze into the middle seat where I’m wedged in by Trumpy Bolton and White Van Man: it’s the first full car of the season.

Trumpy is decked out in his River Island collection, whilst Sticky sports a bright blue number from H&M. We might be knocking on the door of death readers, but we’re dedicated followers of fashion.

Trumpy’s looking a tad perky. Earlier this morning he popped round WVM’s house to check out the female lodger. He seems to of been suitably impressed.

‘Chopper’ has ‘Talk Shite’ on the radio. The Architect browses through the Times sports section. White Van Man sits quietly in the corner. Trumpy Bolton gets stuck into his one litre bottle of cider.

‘Chopper’ pilots down the A46 towards Newark. The tailback of traffic from the carriageway upgrade is horrific. We by-pass Newark and Lincoln and head up the A15. Trumpy has earmarked a pub for us at the village of Glentham in the West Lindsay district of Lincolnshire (population 341). It’s just turned 1pm as we pull into the car park of the 400 year old Crown Inn.

Sticky has a pint of Black Sheep which is accompanied by a cheese and bacon baguette. The Eagles classic ‘Hotel California’ is on the pub jukebox. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles in 1977 and was released on the Asylum label (just warming up for a stint on Erewash Sound folks).

We have another beer. My head begins to spin. Everyone throws three darts at the board on exiting the pub. Sticky scores a ton.

The remaining 20 miles is uneventful, although Trumpy gets overexcited when spotting a tourist sign for the Brandy Wharf Cider Centre.

Winterton is a small town in north Lincolnshire, four miles outside Scunthorpe. It has a population of 5000 people.

Notable people from the Scunthorpe area include: Premier League referee Neale Barry, BBC weatherman Darren Bett, Buzzcocks and Magazine front man Howard Devoto and the golfer Tony Jacklin.

I pay ‘Chopper’ in for driving. Admission is £5 and £1 for another well-produced programme. On page 14 there is an article called ‘view from the terrace.’ It’s written by Lincoln based footballer traveller Chris Child.

Below his report is a welcome to West Street to ‘Sticky Palms and his daft mates.’ It’s a lovely touch from the programme editor.

As I squeeze my way through the turnstile I can hear ‘Footloose’ by Kenny Loggins on the Rangers PA system - it’s not a good start.

The ground is impressive and the playing surface looks smashing. I snuck into the bar and find a pint of Tetley’s bitter waiting for me. Racing from Kempton is on the TV.

We stand behind the goal nearest the clubhouse as the two captains (who are both goalkeepers) shake hands. Arnold’s stopper is called Lee Broster – I work with ‘Bros’ at the Notts County youth set-up.

Another guy I used to work with is the Eagles manager Chris Freestone. He once made an appearance in an FA Cup semi-final for Middlesbrough.

Arnold kick towards the bar. Trumpy has joined us and is shedding a tear or two. I drape my arm around his shoulder and ask him if he is OK. He blubbers that a Winterton official has informed him that the bar is closed until half time.

The teams are evenly matched and both look to pass the ball wide. Rangers take the lead on 20 minutes. I notice through my drunken haze a shot come in from the right which is blocked, but the rebound is tucked away by Dean Wilburn.

The Eagles are stung into a response. They restore parity within five minutes with former Doncaster Rovers striker Robert Gill firing home a Smithson cross.

‘Chopper’ has toured the world with the British Army and has experienced the coldest of climates, but on 35 minutes the big girls’ blouse has to fetch his Helly Hansen jacket from the car.

Winterton edge in front on the stroke of half time with a close range finish from Stuart Longbone. Trumpy has missed the goal and is enquiring with the club steward on when the bar shutters will be coming up.

Sticky has a Bulmers at the break (+10%) that’s budget increase not ABV. Poor old Trumpy is glued to the half times on Sky Sports. His mood darkens with the news that Leicester goalkeeper Chris Weale has let a back pass roll over his foot and trickle into an empty net.

Ex Arnold striker Ben Hutchinson’s name rolls up on the Sky info bar. He’s notched a goal for Dundee, where he is currently on loan from Celtic.

Trumpy has shouted another beer up, but Chopper and I decide to catch up with the match. It’s already 3-1 to Rangers by the time we’ve took up our position behind the goal.

Arnold give up the ghost as Winterton press the game and keep the ball moving. With seven minutes remaining a ball is pulled back from the left for Gavin Cooper to calmly stroke the ball home.

The Eagles remove their best player (No.7) and introduce former Scunthorpe United striker Martin Carruthers. It means Arnold have a forward line with a combined age of 75 years. Level 5 is a young man’s game. Glossop got to the FA Vase final last season with an average age of 23.

The drive home isn’t without incident. Trumpy treads on my £1 special Asda reading glasses. I patch them up but bear a remarkable resemblance to Coronation Street’s Jack Duckworth.

Man of the Match: Martin Pembleton

Attendance: 84

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Notts County 2 Bournemouth 2

She does the ironing, cleaning (well not Finley’s cage), cooking, washing and painting. She nurses our injuries and tends to our every need. We couldn’t cope without her. She is ‘The Special One.’ But her reputation is in tatters. The Groundhopper has got the hump with her big style.

It began last Thursday. I was flicking my way through the magazine rack when I discovered something more repulsive and sickening than the Daily Mail. I felt my blood pressure rise when I saw its ugly red banner. It’s a publication that has found its way into our house after a 21 year old ban - a publication that has caused a rift in our marriage.

Mrs P has done the unthinkable. She has bought The Sun newspaper for seven days on the spin, just so she can obtain discounted vouchers for a family day out at Alton Towers. A family day out that I won’t be going on. Not after the filthy lies that newspaper printed about Hillsborough back in 1989.

It’s Sunday morning – Mothers Day. Mrs P shows me the card that junior bought in town yesterday. It says ‘Happy Mothers Day from thousands of miles away.’ The plank didn’t read it properly before he bought it. “Oh well Dad”, he sighs, “at least it only cost a quid.” Doh!

I watch ‘The Skipper’ lose his fourth semi-final in two weekends. I feel for him. He’s won his fair share of pots over the years. What a time for the youngster to pick up a niggling injury. He gets a ten minute run-out. We should have stayed in bed.

I wander around the venue the game is played at. There’s a host of cup games being played. I make a mental note of a few boys who catch my eye.

It’s Monday and Notts are playing Bournemouth tonight. Because of scouting, groundhopping and watching my boys play, I rarely get the opportunity to get down Meadow Lane to watch the first team in action. Tonight will be my first visit since the Bantams of Bradford were knocked out the FA Cup back in early November.

Bournemouth is a seaside resort in the county of Dorset with a population of 160,000. Famous people born in the town include: British spy and double-agent Anthony Blunt, women’s tennis player Virginia Wade, the boxer Freddie Mills and Blur guitarist Alex James.

Two weeks ago I received a text from a friend telling me the tragic news of the sudden and untimely death of Macclesfield Town manager Keith Alexander. I think back to the 2002/2003 season when ‘Big Keith’ was in charge of the Imps.

Lincoln City were rank outsiders at 66/1 to win the title that season. They were hot favourites for the drop. He plucked the likes of Gareth McAuley, Simon Yeo and Richard Butcher from obscurity. We ended up in the play-offs.

Those players would run through a brick wall for Keith. His man management was second to none.

The Cherries of Bournemouth were our opponents at the Millennium Stadium. They footballed us off the park that day. The craft and guile of the Fletchers, Gareth O’Connor and Brian Stock were a pleasure to witness.

Tonight is my first look at Eddie Howe’s outfit in seven years. At 32 years of age he must be the youngest manager in the Football League.

I’m entertaining guests tonight – so there will be no tomfoolery or gags folks (there never is Sticky). It’s the family of a boy who is trialling with the centre of excellence. He’s a very promising centre half. I collect tickets from the office. We will be sitting in the Derek Pavis Stand.

Sticky junior and ‘Sizzers’ elect to sit behind the goal. Junior is hoping to catch the eye of the Sky TV cameras, like he did in the summer, when he jumped up and down when the Pies beat the Tricky Trees (the clown forgot he was a Forest fan).

Cheltenham born Steve Cotterill is the new incumbent in the manager’s chair at Meadow Lane. He has rekindled his working relationship with coach David Kevan, who was with him at Turf Moor and the Britannia Stadium. The Magpies are bang in form and are unbeaten in their last seven outings.

It’s an exciting and open first half. Kasper Schmeichel smothers a long range effort from Anton Robinson. The Cherries go even closer with an Alan Connell effort being cleared off the line.

Former Kettering striker, Craig Westcarr, fills a square hole with a round peg out on the left wing. Amongst the huge transfer fees and massive signing-on fees this lad must rate as the bargain of the season.

He has scored nine goals from the wing and yet opinions on the second best message board in the world (Notts County Mad) are divided. His crosses are tantalising and his pace frightening.

From another of his crosses the ball falls eventually to Davies who is hauled down by Wiggins. Hughes mucks his spot kick up but blasts home the rebound into the roof of the net to put the Pies one to the good.

Almost immediately Ben Davies has a good goal chalked off for a dubious offside flag.

The game is a cracker. The Cherries sweep forward; their football is beautiful and breathtaking. Winger Liam Feeney poses no end of problems with his pace and energy but it is Danny Hollands orchestrating proceedings in the middle of the park, who catches the eye.

His left foot is like a magic wand as he spreads the ball wide in either direction. He’s not shy in putting the foot in. ‘Rocky’ Ravenhill has more than met his match tonight.

Bournemouth are deservedly back in the game on 54 minutes. Leading scorer, Jersey born Brett Pitman curls a free kick round the wall into the bottom corner of the net past a sprawling Kasper Schmeichel.

The Pies react almost immediately. Ben Davies swings in a cross from the right; the bouncing ball is nodded home by Lee Hughes for his 26th goal of the season. He has run his socks off tonight and put in one hell of a shift.

Notts are suddenly on the back foot as Bournemouth hit them with wave after wave of attacks. The Pies invite the Cherries onto them as they elect to drop deeper and deeper to protect their lead.

A vicious, swirling cross from the left is met by the head of Pitman but is brilliantly turned away by Schmeichel the rebound from Feeney finds the side netting.

The equaliser that they have desperately searched for and deeply deserved arrives in stoppage time when Jeff Goulding superbly converts a Lee Bradbury cross to send the 199 travelling Cherries wild.

A 400 round trip on a school night – now that’s what you call dedication.

Attendance: 6120

Man of the Match: Lee Hughes.

Special mention for the Kop - awesome backing.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Droylsden 0 Eastwood Town 1

I can’t stay at work late tonight. I finish at 4.20pm, on the dot. I exit the ‘Bond Bubble’, jump into ‘Sally Gunnell’, race out the car park and off the industrial estate. I’ve an important meeting tonight readers and I can’t be late. It’s Sticky junior’s parents’ evening at school and word on the street is that the night promises comedy value and star attractions.

I change out of my work clothes and shower and shave – I’ve got to look my best. Mrs P is astonished at my effort levels. I splash on my Ted Baker after shave (it’s only used for special occasions like weddings, Christenings and parties). I even pinch some of ‘The Skipper’s” hair gel.

It’s a fairly run-of-the-mill evening. Junior is doing well in most subjects. “Right” says Mrs P, “where’s your English teacher?” I feel my blood pressure rise and go a tad giddy. Bloody hell that gel has brought me out in a rash.

She tells us how junior has improved in all aspects of his English. I’m not surprised. I bet he faces the front in her lessons.

I’ve slept like a log on Friday night. I rise at 8am. Mrs P is eating a slice of toast and is watching the breakfast news on the BBC.

I slip into the kitchen to make another award-winning brew. I coddle some eggs. Brian Matthew spins his first toon of the day on his Radio 2 Sixties show – it’s Dave Berry’s 1965 hit ‘Little Things.’

I’ve asked Mrs P if she’d like to accompany me on a shopping spree to Nottingham this morning, as I have to get kitted out for a fortieth and fiftieth birthday party tonight. Sticky has some vouchers to spend at his number one favourite clothes shop – H&M.

I spot a ‘summer special’ green fleece on the rack – it will replace the green groundhopping coat that has served me so well from this store for the past two seasons. I will probably give the fleece an airing for a pre-season friendly.

I ring ‘junior’ up to make sure he buys a Mothers Day card. I can’t trust the pair of clowns to get a present, so I dive into Sainsbury’s to buy some flowers, which I place in a bucket of water and hide in the shed.

At 11.30am precisely I hear the tooting of a horn. The ‘Blue Rocket’ is purring at the top of our drive. I say goodbye to Mrs P and the kids. I wish ‘The Skipper’ good luck in his semi-final. The poor sod has got Osgood Schlatters in the growth plate of his Achilles heel. He’ll do well to last until half-time.

We head north up the Nottingham ring road and onto the M1. Radio 1’s Vernon Kaye keeps us all company.

Blog legend Trumpy Bolton is slumped in the back seat. He’s tucking into his one litre bottle of Bulmers pear cider. Trumpy and his long-suffering missus have been on a few weekend benders recently to Scunthorpe, Bewdley and Castleton, in Derbyshire’s Peak District.

Trumpy reminisces about the mother of all day sessions in Castleton. Apparently Mrs Trumpy was so pissed she fell asleep in her dinner and had to be carted off to bed.

He spots that The Groundhopper has procured a couple of cans of Stella. He laughs that I’ll be acting like a ‘Two Can Van Damme’ by lunchtime.

White Van Man brags that an alcopop has not passed his lips for nearly two months. Trumpy remarks that it’s ten minutes since his last drink.

White Van Man momentarily loses the steering on his car whilst clocking a young blonde girl driving a lavender-coloured Ford Zetec. He reports that his lady lodger is on a shopping excursion in Milan, while ‘Bruiser’ is on the razzle in Monaco.

It’s a glorious day. Eastwood Town assistant manager John Ramshaw will be topping up his tan in the Tameside sunshine.

WVM navigates the car past the Stocksbridge Reservoir and onto the Woodhead Pass. There’s still plenty of snow on the top of the Pennines.

Trumpy has a pub to chalk off in the High Peak village of Tintwhistle, in Cheshire. The pub was built in the 16th Century and is called the Bulls Head. The fashion designer Vivienne Westwood was born in the village.

We treat WVM to lunch. Sticky plumps for gammon egg and homemade chips. I wash it down with two pints of bitter.

WVM and Trumpy are all misty-eyed about the barmaid. She wears tight black jeans, an ‘I Luv My Duvet’ t-shirt and has a tattoo situated at the base of her spine.

The Groundhopper is more interested in the pub dog called Stanley, who sits beneath our table, chewing on an old tennis ball. He’s soon standing to attention and begging for food, when it’s finally served up.

Stanley will be frothing at the mouth at 4pm as 52 fell walkers are booked in for a three course meal.

The crafty so and so has the cutest of faces. He slavers over my food more than those two dimwits do over the barmaid. It’s an entertaining lunch, but we’ve a football match to go to.

We park opposite the Butchers Arms in Droylsden, on a cul-de-sac, next to some industrial units.

Droylsden is in the metropolitan borough of Tameside. It lies four miles east of Manchester and has a population of 23,000.

The first machine woven towel in the world – the terry towel – was produced by W.M.Christy and Sons Ltd, of Fairfield Mills, in Droylsden, in 1851.

Robertson’s Jam was a significant employer in the area but sadly it closed down in 2008.

Famous musicians from the area include: Herman’s Hermits singer Peter Noone, 10CC member Eric Stewart and Howard Donald from Take That: can’t see Mark Owen going on a pub crawl with Howie in these parts.

I notice on the website that Hull City assistant manager Brian Horton is an honorary president at the Club.

The Bloods chairman, Dave Pace, has generously allowed free admission to today’s game. It’s the reason why we have diverted from going to Hyde. Normal price is £10. There isn't a cat in hell’s chance of snaffling up a programme – the Butchers Arms is mobbed.

Trumpy comes hurtling out of the bar; someone from Eastwood has recognised the legend and pounced on him. Trumpy is shaking like a leaf. He’s not handling his new found status too well. “I know how David Beckham feels now” he mumbles.

It turns out he’s bumped into Eastwood ‘Booze Cruise’ member ‘Lank’ (more about him later).

It’s a wee bit chilly up here. Not that it seems to bother those pair of posers off the Eastwood management team – Paul Cox and John Ramshaw. Both parade up and down the touchline in shorts. ‘Rammers’ will be particularly upset with the overcast conditions as he’s spent the last half an hour rubbing in some Hawaiian Tropic sun tan oil.

The bald-headed, fleet-footed Eastwood winger, Lindon Meikle, is already posing problems for the Bloods full back with his pace and energy. He crashes a shot just wide of the mark and tees up Danny Holland who spurns a good opportunity.

Droylsden play a neat and tidy game. Stand-in Badgers ‘keeper, Ian Deakin, saves bravely from Gray and Grant. Droylsden have brought in some reinforcements following a miserable spell of form which has seen them tumbling down the table.

Trumpy is informed that Nottingham Forest – a club he despises – are already 2-0 down at Preston’s Deepdale ground. He remarks that Forest have struggled since Needham and Burns left the club.

We leave WVM to mark a cup of tea (he gives it a 7/10) and head for the bar. The place is stacked out with folk. There are people in here whose arses haven’t left their seats for the entire first half.

The two queues at the bar are the length of the room. But the hard-working volunteers behind the bar soon whittle it down. I’m served a pint of cider and a Tetley Smooth by a barmaid with a brighter orange glow than ‘Rammers.’

‘Lank’ has clocked us and pops over to introduce himself. He’s part of the Eastwood Booze Cruise and is absolutely hanging. Beneath his slurred speech lies a man with a passion for the game and the Club. Top man Lank.

We’ve been that busy chin-wagging that we miss the game’s only goal scored by Meikle in the 47th minute.

I suggest to Trumpy that we go behind the goal and meet the troops. There’s a serious injury on the hour, not on the field of play but to Trumpy’s cheekbone as the Booze Cruise posse ‘boing boing' with the legend.

Someone opens up a tin of snuff and allow Trumpy a sniff or two. He sneezes over the entire away following.

We’re suddenly attacked by the ‘Droylsden Ultras’ (half a dozen scallywags under the age of ten). ‘Roscoe’ stands up to be counted and chases them back into the home end.

We’re now back with WVM. Eastwood are beginning to turn the screw. Matt Bailey is strong at the back, Anton Foster marshalls the midfield, while Holland’s unselfish running and first touch catch the eye up front.

Droylsden waste a few half chances. They have so many new players it’s like a getting to know you session

Trumpy’s had enough and decides to nurse his battered and bruised cheekbone in the nearby Beehive pub. WVM exits to warm the car up.

There’s just enough time left to hear Paul Cox bleating at the linesman over a dubious decision, before jumping into the ‘Blue Rocket’ which is parked directly opposite the gates to the ground. I’ve two parties to go to.

Attendance 1296

Man of the Match: Stanley the dog.

Big respect to Droylsden FC for free admission. A very friendly, well-run club.