Saturday, October 30, 2010
We’re on the Woodhead Pass, on our return from Mossley. The game has been spoilt by three sendings off – the Lilywhites have little room for complaint though.
Trumpy is sat in the back of the motor, guzzling his way through a litre bottle of Weston’s cider.
We’ve station hopped to Talk Sport. Rammers is a passionate Geordie and Toon fan. He celebrates a Kevin Nolan equaliser in the late kick-off at Upton Park.
I drop everybody off and head for home. I poke my head around the lounge door. It’s like a war zone. Mrs P and Sticky jnr are sprawled out on the sofa, covered in duvets. Gastric flu has wiped them out. Within the hour The Groundhopper is struck down. Thank the Lord we have two toilets.
Sunday is a day for convalescing. My trip to Sutton in Ashfield is aborted. I manage the occasional sip of water as I watch the Old Firm derby and Manchester City v The Arsenal.
It’s half term. My brother and I have arranged a house swap. We’re up in York for three nights. I had spotted that Pickering Town were at home on Tuesday evening and that Whitby Town were to play at their Turnbull Ground the following night. They’ve been on the radar for sometime. I sensibly decide not to mention this to Mrs P.
We have some family time in Whitby, Harrogate and Brimham Rocks. It gives me the chance to sample some fine Yorkshire real ales with The Angler at early doors.
It’s Friday evening and I’m up the Salutation Inn, on Main Street, in Keyworth. I’m catching up with the Nuclear Scientist. He’s only a little lad and has to show his ID at the bar. I wouldn’t mind but he’s just turned 50 years of age.
It’s as dead as a dodo in the pub. Thank goodness that Britain’s Beer of the Year – Castle Rock’s Harvest Pale Ale – lightens our mood.
I’m up at silly o’clock on Saturday morning. We’ve had five kids on a sleepover. It’s like a scene from The Inbetweeners. I’ve promised Sticky jnr that’ll let him have a lie-in, whilst I deliver his papers for him.
It’s a long, hard slog. Those blooming Daily Telegraph’s are difficult to push into a letterbox, with their numerous supplements and magazines. Junior has an abundance of Daily Mail’s on his round. I didn’t know that many coppers lived in our village.
I jump into ‘Sally Gunnell’ and head up towards the village of Edwinstowe, which lies west of Ollerton. I switch on Radio Nottingham; they are playing ‘The Same Old Song’ by Rod Stewart. Brian Matthew on Radio 2 isn’t much better. He spins Bernard Cribbins 1962 hit (?) ‘Gossip Calypso.’
I hook up with one of our scouts – Mickey Gould. We enjoy some craic (that’s a laugh and a joke, not to be confused with the illegal substance).
I love being in Mickey’s company. He’s in the game for all the right reasons. He’s not a mercenary like so many youth scouts of today. The money is secondary. He’s always good for a couple of Cough Candy Twists.
I say cheerio to ‘Gouldy.’ I’ve a lunchtime kick-off in the old mining village of Rainworth. It’s where the afternoon shift of Rufford Colliery captured fugitive murderer, the Black Panther, back in 1975.
I thought we’d been burgled as I walk through the kitchen door. Mrs P has gone to have her hair done and Sticky jnr has just left for his football match. ‘The Skipper’ has attempted making lunch, but has left a scene of utter devastation. I summon him downstairs for a dressing down.
I walk down the twitchell, past the vets and make the short journey to the Nuclear Scientist’s house. He drives his Jaguar down Bunny Lane, towards Rushcliffe Golf Course.
The excellent Pat Murphy is interviewing Manchester City’s Brian Kidd. They’re chewing the fat over the ‘Dogs of War’ (De Jong, Kompany and Barry). I watched these three muscle bound henchmen single out and rough up Spanish artist Cesc Fabregas last Sunday.
We’re soon in Shakespeare’s County (Warwickshire), having passed Calke Abbey on the M42. We pull off at Tamworth and end up on the A38. NS chauffeurs the Jag up a side street, away from the main drag, a two minute stroll away from Coles Lane.
Sutton Coldfield is 8 miles north east of Birmingham, with a population of over 100,000 people. It was once famous for the manufacture of blades, gun barrels, spades and spade handles.
Celebrities from the town include: Cat Deeley, Rory Delap, James Vaughan, Darius Vassell and international hockey play Jane Sixsmith. The actor, Arthur Lowe, had his ashes scattered at Sutton Coldfield Crematorium.
Romulus Football Club were founded in 1979. Famous players to have come through their junior ranks include: Zak Knight, Luke Rodgers, Luke Moore and Darius Vassell. They share the ground with Sutton Coldfield Town.
The friendly official makes me part with £7 on the gate. The programme is £1 and adequate for this level.
The ground is nestled between street housing. The outstanding feature is the tall, steep main stand which runs along the touchline. We will spend the full 90 minutes in there, despite it being a gorgeous, still, late autumn day.
We decide to stretch our legs and stroll around the ground. Four Harrogate Railway supporters are leaning on a wall chatting. I ask them if this is the away end. It doesn’t raise a smile from any of them.
We quench our thirst with a Coke from the Refreshment Bar. I would have settled for a can, but a friendly official collects us two pints from the bar.
The away support has now swelled to a healthy double figures. They sing to the Romulus faithful: “what’s it like to see a crowd?” The attendance is 106.
The game takes an age to get going. Matters aren’t helped by a bobbly pitch. Not that The Roms are playing much of a passing game. They punt aimless balls at the huge Rail centre halves. It’s like food and drink to Husband and Harratt.
The Romulus PA announcer is sat up in the stand. He’s already had a pop at the linesman on our side. Sensibly his microphone is switched off, unlike the fellow at Mossley last week.
Rail take the lead on 32 minutes. The cultured left foot of Colin Hunter plays a ball into the far post; it’s knocked back in for Kevin Ryan to fire home.
The young Roms are on the back foot as a resurgent Rail discover a new found confidence. The away support crank up the volume. The Roms are indebted to ‘keeper Lee Clark who makes a couple of fine saves before the break.
White Van Man has texted in from Carlton Town’s Stoke Lane ground. Shepshed are 6-1 down at the break. “I can’t half pick em son” is the predictable text.
There’s a ‘Members Only’ bar which we’re not allowed in. We try the concert room next door but there’s no vibe. NS consoles himself with a tray of chips for the princely sum of £1.10. They’re a tad greasy and not particularly hot.
As we walk back up the stand there’s an altercation between a steward and a Harrogate Railway member of staff.
I notice that Dave Barnett is playing at the heart of the Romulus defence. Barry Fry once paid Barnet £150,000 when he was manager at Birmingham City. Big Dave is 43 years old now, but still enjoys the game.
The second half is more entertaining, and more importantly for the neutral, an even encounter. Rail are wasteful in front of goal. Husband and Harratt miss headers from set pieces. Romulus improve and hit the woodwork through Brown.
Harrogate full back Ian McLean comes off clutching his chest. He’s quite a rotund fellow. A wag in the crowd enquires whether he has a sausage roll stuck in his windpipe.
Naveed Arshad comes on as a substitute on 68 minutes. His first act is to pulled up for a foul. At first I thought it was for hand ball. The referee indicates it’s for a raised arm. He’s dismissed from the field of play. There are no arguments.
Incredibly Romulus equalise eight minutes from time with ‘Captain Fantastic’ Phil Hale rising unchallenged to nod home a corner.
Almost immediately Rail restore their lead with a fine strike from the excellent Michael Duckworth (no relation to Jack and Vera).
It’s a deserved victory as the visitors have more composure and quality on the ball.
Man of the Match: Wayne Harratt.
Friday, October 22, 2010
It’s an autumn Sunday morning in 1984. I’m lounging around the Men’s Bar at Stanton on-the-Wolds Golf Club. I’ve frittered away a fiver on the £100 Jackpot fruit machines and have played a couple of frames of snooker with my best pal ‘Keebo.’
We’re dating the Steward’s daughters. We enjoy the luxury of late bars and free food from the kitchen. This morning there is an exhibition match being held at the Club. Worksop pro, Brian Waites, is playing against TV ventriloquist Roger De Courcey.
An appeal goes out in the bar for someone to caddy for Roger – step forward Sticky Palms. Me and ‘Rog’ have an instant rapport. We’re on the 2nd Hole. He asks me what club he requires. I know the course like the back of my hand. He hits a six iron to the back of the green, 40 foot from the pin.
I line the putt up for him. I tell him to stroke it gently down the hill. The ball rolls into the centre of the cup. There are high fives and hugs from Roger. Sticky is loving it.
We’re on the 4th tee. It’s a tight dog leg to the right. ‘Rog’ hits one out of bounds. He asks me for a replacement ball. I’m ferreting about in his bag, pulling all his waterproofs, brolly and towels out of the side pockets. “What you doing son?” the ventriloquist enquires. “Trying to find Nookie Bear” remarks Sticky. The crowd are in stitches. “I do the gags around here” says a bemused and embarrassed Roger.
It’s Wednesday teatime. I’m all set for a Notts Senior Cup clash between Gedling Town and Radcliffe Olympic, which is to be played on the banks of the River Trent. I routinely check the excellent Football Mitoo website to see what time kick off is. They announce the game is off. The changing rooms have no water supply.
It’s a crushing blow. Last night I suffered Holby City and 71 Degrees North. Tonight my brain will be numbed even more with Waterloo Road and The Apprentice. Thank the Lord that I can bury my head into William Hill award-winning author, Duncan Hamilton’s, latest offering – ‘A Last English Summer.’
It’s Saturday morning. I have a long lie-in. No scouting. No coaching. I’m on my first groundhop in 17 days. I traipse down the concrete steps to let Finley out of his cage. The wee man’s a bit miffed; he’s moving house tomorrow, back up the steps, outside our back door.
Mrs P very kindly makes me a bacon sandwich, as I fill up the car with rubbish from my old den, which she is now renovating into a fourth bedroom. I don’t remember being consulted on this matter, but hey, I haven’t a creative bone in my body.
I drive down to the tip. The boot is loaded with my old computer cabinet and a huge CRT monitor. Brian Matthew is playing Frankie Valli on Radio 2. We love his 1967 hit ‘Beggin’ at work. The guy was simply miles ahead of his time.
I quickly valet the inside of the Rolls Royce, before driving round to Rammers house to pick him up. Next stop is always the highlight of the day. I toot my horn and hear a door slam. Around the corner he waltzes. His Stone Island shirt hangs out his navy blue, Nike tracksuit bottoms. He clutches his 6.3% ABV litre bottle of Weston’s cider as if it is the £113 million Euro Lottery winning ticket.
He’s reunited with Rammers; they haven’t seen each other in years. Rammers is in between jobs (part-time non-league) after a successful coaching spell with Eastwood Town.
Despite it only being 11am, Trumpy has already had a couple of real ales for breakfast, at a Wetherspoons establishment in town.
We’re treated to a couple of anecdotes of his recent weekend trips to Bury St Edmunds and Llandudno. He begins to guzzle his super strength cider. He’s soon discussing his pet hate – the Labour Party. This is like red rag to a bull to Rammers. I feel like the Speaker in the House of Commons.
We leave the M1 at Chesterfield. Trumpy has a pub to chalk off in the Peak District. The setting is gorgeous as we pull into the car park by the canal at The Navigation Inn at Buxworth, High Peak. It was once owned by Coronation Street star Pat Phoenix, who played Rovers Return barmaid Elsie Tanner.
We sample real ales from Congleton and Derbyshire. The landlord flings some wood onto a roaring fire. With its nooks and crannies and homely atmosphere, we could easily have a session on. But Trumpy has another pub to tick off in Mossley.
We’re in the Britannia Inn on the main drag. The place is decked out for Halloween. The bar is rammed full of ‘Darlo’ supporters. No one bats an eyelid at Spurs v Everton on the TV.
We have a pint each of ‘Summit Special.’ Trumpy selects a suet pudding to soak up his cider; Rammers and I prefer the more traditional northern fayre and plump for fish and chips. We all mop up.
Rammers speaks with a textbook north east dialect. He left his hometown of Newcastle over 35 years ago. Trumpy asks him if he practises his Geordie accent?
They’re just kicking off as we enter Seel Park. It’s £7 on the turnstile and £2 for a programme. I’m immediately taken a back by the views out onto the moors – they are breathtaking.
Mossley is a town in the foothills of the Pennines, on the western edge of Saddleworth Moor. It lies within the metropolitan borough of Tameside and has a population just shy of 10,000.
The model and TV presenter, Melanie Sykes was born in the town. She rose to fame as the bikini-clad girl from the Boddington’s beer adverts. On a personal note, Tameside’s first ever Co-op opened in 1856.
The Lilywhites play at Seel Park and were founded in 1903. Previous managers include: Howard Wilkinson, Dick Bate and Terry Curran. Former Manchester City winger, Mike Summerbee, famously played one game for Mossley against Crewe Alexandra in the FA Cup in 1980.
Darlington is a town in County Durham. Its borough has close on 100,000 living in it. It was once famous for its railways.Famous folk born in the town include: the actress Wendy Craig and ex Lazio defender Giuseppe Wilson (296 appearances).
The Quakers were founded in 1883 and have a somewhat chequered history. They have recently been relegated to the Blue Square Bet Conference Premier League.
We walk in an anti- clockwise direction, past the goal that the Lilywhites defend, which also houses the numerous Darlington fans that have rocked up today. We’re perched up on the top of the terrace, with our backs facing the Pennines.
Mossley are on top in the opening stages. Darlington ‘keeper Sam Russell is tested by Chalmers from close range. The game turns on its head on 25 minutes when the visitors take the lead against the run of play. Livewire striker Chris Senior whips the ball off the toes of Andy Watson, but is upended by the Mossley goalie. The referee has little alternative but to brandish a red card.
Tommy Wright is about to take the penalty. Aberdeen once paid £100,000 for his services. He’s clearly someone the Quakers’ fans hold close to their hearts -“Come on Tommy you big, useless twat” shouts out a Darlington wag. He puts the visitors one to the good.
On the half hour, former Port Vale, Carlisle and Bradford City midfielder, Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, seemingly puts the tie to bed.
One or two squally showers break out. Rammers protects his fading sun tan by scurrying for cover. Five minutes before the break a plucky Mossley reduce the arrears with a fine strike from Mike Oates.
Trumpy’s got a thirst on. I shout him up a Guinness (in error) and leave him to sulk in the bar with Chelsea v Wolves on Sky Sports Germany for company. Rammers is checking the non league scores on his i-Phone. I take a stroll and a few piccies. I’m hunting down Mossley’s favourite postie, Mike Smith, from the excellent Six Tame Sides blog. There’s no sign of him amongst the 615 attendees (looks like there is a lot more here than that).
We stand on the opposite side for the second period. I could quite happily die on the spot, looking out to the hills of Lancashire.
Rammers has commented that the Lilywhites can’t cope with the movement of ex Altrincham striker Chris Senior. He gives his side a two goal cushion on 48 minutes.
Trumpy has returned from the clubhouse with two stragglers in toe, who recognise his picture from my blog. It’s the second time in Manchester that a stranger has walked up to him in a bar and enquired: “Excuse me, are you Trumpy Bolton?” Henry and Alex are groundhoppers from Leeds. They prove to be excellent company.
Trumpy is miffed that Henry and Alex are sober, despite catching the train from West Yorkshire. He asks them if they would like a J2o orange from the bar.
The Lilywhites’ never-say-die attitude earns them another goal, with Steve Settle cracking home an effort from 15 yards.. All five of us raise our arms and cheer.
Big Kevin Austin (what a player he was at Lincoln) gives a jittery Darlington a two goal lead on the hour. Shortly after it’s daggers drawn. Mossley’s Chris Rowney commits a dreadful challenge. A few handbags are slung in the Rovers Return Snug. Two more are off for Mossley. They are eight men standing. A Quaker has thrown a haymaker that is missed by the officials.
It’s shooting practise for the visitors. Gary Smith smacks home a 25 yard drive, whilst Senior completes a brace of goals for the afternoon.
Don’t be hoodwinked by the score line. A shaky-looking Darlington won’t be returning to the Football League on this showing.
Man of the Match: The Mossley PA announcer, who according the Non League Paper shouted on the tannoy following the third Mossley player to be sent off: “I don’t believe you referee, you’re turning this into a farce.”
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
It’s 28th September 2009. Lincoln City, the team I’ve followed all over England for 40 years, have been managerless for over three weeks now. An appointment is expected this morning.
The smart money is on former Crewe, Sheffield United and Crystal Palace defender John Pemberton. He has had a good upbringing with Dario Gradi and Paul Hart. He was well respected at Nottingham Forest as a coach with the Academy, Reserves and 1st team.
My phone goes off. The news is unexpected. I nearly choke on my Penguin biscuit. Those fools on the Lincoln City Board of Directors have appointed Chris Sutton as manager.
He has no managerial pedigree. He comes across as arrogant and unapproachable. He once refused to play for his country (I always like to get that one in). I can’t imagine him going out scouting on a wet, windy Wednesday evening.
He uses his contacts though. Young, fresh blood is injected into the team from Aston Villa and Fulham. I doubt he’s ever seen them play. Probably took someone’s word for it.
His sidekick is Ian Pearce, who he played with at Blackburn Rovers. The pair of them spend more time in the stands, than the dugout.
I’ve already made a decision not to go until these pair of jokers are off the payroll. We survive relegation by six points. Leeds loan striker, David Somma’s, nine goals in fourteen outings keeps ‘us’ up.
The usual assortment of Bosmans and rejects roll up at the Club during the summer.
We make a dismal start to the new season. Goals are hard to come by; there’s no Somma to bail us out this time. A thumping at Accrington and a loss to Stevenage are the final nail in the coffin.
Sutton walks out on Lincoln, like he did on England over twelve years ago, citing personal reasons.
There was no rhyme or reason (unless it was investment) for appointing this fool. He had no interest in the club’s centre of excellence, even sacking a loyal servant who had helped produce such gems as Jack Hobbs, Scott Loach and Lee Frecklington, whose inflated transfer fees kept the club afloat.
It’s Sunday night. Mrs P has her eyes firmly fixed on the X-Factor Bootcamp. Cheryl Cole is releasing a few on Bosmans. I’ve already tipped the winner a few weeks back – some lad from Blackpool, who sings a bit like David Gray.
Anyway, this Zimbabwean lass can hold a few notes. It’s a formality that she’ll go through. Cheryl has to break the bad news. Mrs P is off the sofa, shaking her fist at the Geordie temptress. I haven’t the heart to tell her that Gamu Nhengu is an illegal immigrant.
I ring up The Taxman to sort out the travel arrangements for tonight’s Midland Alliance clash in Birmingham. He’s just come back from a trip to Asda and has proper got it on him.
We had planned on a soiree in the West Yorkshire town of Garforth. Word had spread that flawed genius, Paul Gascoigne, was to be appointed manager of the Unibond Division One North team. It appears that the ‘News of the Screws’ have jumped the gun.
I wake up Monday morning in a depressive state of mind. I’ve had a disheartening weekend on the talent-spotting front. The bloody weather hasn’t helped.
Finley Palmer always cheers me up though. He might escape from his cage, go missing in action or refuse to go to bed, but what a character he is.
Finley loves his non-league football and certainly knows his onions. I ask him to stop chewing on my shoelaces and to concentrate on predicting tonight’s scoreline. He takes into account Coleshill’s thumping of Lincoln United in the FA Cup and their recent victory at high-flying Coalville Town. He predicts 3-1 to the Warwickshire side.
I’ve perked up by the time The Taxman picks me up at 6.20pm. I’ve had my hair cut at the newly-opened Flynn’s Hairdressing in Ruddington. I’m showered up, gelled up and dressed to kill (H&M prison-issue hoodie).
The Taxman is in sparkling form. He’s going away with some pals to Norfolk tomorrow for three nights. I’m already missing his moaning and groaning.
The Taxman overtakes a vehicle for the first time in five years on the A60. Admittedly it’s a cyclist, but hey, it’s a start.
We see a Boots lorry heading in the opposite direction. Their Nottingham HQ has announced that 750 white collar jobs are to be lost earlier today.
We’re in the market town of Coleshill within the hour. A few chavs are milling around the town’s famous coaching inns on the High Street.
Just over 6000 inhabitants live in the town, which is named after the nearby River Cole. The Market Square is the location of the town’s Pillory and Whipping Post. Historically these were use to punish drunks and bakers who sold underweight loaves. It was a wise decision not to bring Trumpy Bolton this evening.
British-Jamaican poet, Benjamin Zephaniah, was born in the town. He famously turned down an OBE in 2003. He was voted, in 2008, by The Times, as being in the Top 50 post-war writers.
The Sat-Nav takes us down a cul-de-sac and into a farmyard: We haven’t got time for a cup of tea with The Archers. Minutes later we are at Pack Meadow.
It’s £5 per man and £1 for a cracking programme. We park up behind the stand. I’m still trying out ‘The Architect’s’ camera for night games, but to be brutally frank readers, I’m bloomin hopeless (sorry for the whack photos).
We’re queuing for tea as the players exit the changing room. Coleshill Town were founded in 1894. Former Aston Villa striker, Gary Shaw, was picked up from Coleshill at 16 years of age.
The Taxman phones his lad up to make sure he’s completed his French homework. Sticky Palms checks in with Mrs P to be told next summer’s holiday in Ibiza has been finalised.
Dunkirk’s pace in the final third is already causing panic in the home defence. Lavell White, Jarrod Westcarr and Theo Smith are too hot to handle for most in this league.
The two teams’ colours are similar to Plymouth Argyle and Swindon Town.
The Boatmen take the lead on 20 minutes. Ross McCaughey punts the ball forward, there’s miscommunication between the ‘keeper and defender. The ball glances off Edwards’s head and is ushered into an empty net by White.
Coleshill create a few half chances, but Dunkirk go close again when their play-maker, Darren Garmston, flashes a shot just wide of the upright.
We have a potter around the cosy clubhouse at the break. We purchase a cup of tea (no teapot in the vicinity) at the Tuck Shop for 70p per cup. The toilets are not Armitage Shanks and the hand drier is out of use.
Dunkirk are dangerous on the break, as the home side increase their risk-taking. Theo Smith is wreaking havoc down the Dunkirk right. Coleshill’s left back receives a caution for upending the youngster. Smith has a shot beaten away.
A couple more chances are spurned by the Greens, who are finding the Boatman ‘keeper a more confident custodian in the second period.
We’re stood near ‘Uppo’ (Dunkirk joint-manager). He acknowledges me. He has razor-sharp wit, which has the pair of us in stitches, but he’s less than impressed with the fussy officials tonight. But he has to learn to get them on his side. He chips away at them, as frustration creeps in.
Suddenly Uppo’s phone goes off. There’s trouble at mill. It sounds like they’re struggling to change a barrel of beer at the pub he runs on the outskirts of Nottingham. This diminutive character takes it in his stride.
Dunkirk roll their sleeves up for the final moments. Westcarr rolls a shot inches wide of the post, when clean through on goal. The excitable referee finally blows for full time. ‘Mystery time’ has felt like an eternity.
Man of the Match: Uppo
Saturday, October 2, 2010
It’s a spring evening in 2005. It’s the fag end of the football season. Sticky Palms is stood in his civvies, under the floodlights, at Cotgrave Colts Welfare Ground. Two under 13 teams are battling it out in a cup final.
There’s a small, slender, slight boy orchestrating the game in centre midfield. He can pick a pass, find space and bite in the tackle. I make discreet enquiries about the lad with a few parents. The feedback is that he’s been at Nottingham Forest, but he didn’t quite cut the mustard during his trial. He was considered too small – the same reason why Darren Huckerby wasn’t given a scholarship at Meadow Lane.
Someone has dropped a clanger across the river. The boy is quality. The best I’ve seen in donkey’s years. We sign him up immediately. He’s our star man.
Twelve months later Howard Wilkinson controversially rubber stamps the closure of the Notts County Centre of Excellence. I’m devastated. I get the boy a trial at Chesterfield.
I follow his career with interest. He gets a scholarship (apprenticeship). He becomes the Spirerites youth team captain.
On Saturday 2nd October 2010 I arrive home from watching Notts County narrowly lose to Sheffield Wednesday. I scroll my mouse pad down the League 2 scores. Chesterfield have drawn 5-5 against the Railwaymen of Crewe. Clifton boy, Craig Clay, has smashed home a stoppage time equaliser in the 92nd minute. The Groundhopper is bursting with pride. Well done Craig! He should be playing for ‘us.’
It’s Friday teatime. I’m sat in the glitzy, glamorous gastro pub, the Griffin Inn in the hamlet of Plumtree. The barman takes an age to serve us.
The peaceful surroundings are shattered by the constant bleeping of Mrs P’s phone going off.The kids are hammering her with texts and phone calls about bus times to Nottingham. They’ve cooked up a night out at the Nottingham Ice Stadium. They’ve hooked onto the fact that Nottingham’s finest teenage totty rock up with their skates on every Friday evening.
It’s Saturday morning. I rise from my slumber at 7.30am. I’ve promised to give the ‘Keyworth Babe Magnet’ a hand with his papers. He has about a dozen Daily Telegraph’s on his round – they weigh a ton on Saturday’s, with all those extra supplements.
I’m back home for 8.30am. I make a brew and flick on the DAB radio. John Inverdale (Lincoln City fan) is fronting Five Live’s Ryder Cup coverage from a wet and windy Celtic Manor.
Golf’s not for me with its stuffed shirts, men only bars and collar and tie. I was on the 7th hole at Stanton on-the-Wolds Golf Club about 30 years ago. I fluked a 6 iron from 165 yards straight into the hole. I thought, it will never get better than this, and retired on the spot.
I play with the DAB radio dial until I find the Sound of the Sixties Show, hosted by veteran DJ Brian Matthew. He’s playing a rare Northern Soul track, which is now worth £5000 on vinyl.
Sticky jnr departs for a Notts FA Shield tie at Welbeck, close to Mansfield. ‘The Skipper’ is playing at home against Bildworth Welfare in an early kick-off.
I’ve volunteered to help the team out, as our manager and good friend ‘Garts’ has suffered with his health recently.
I get all the kids in the changing room. We have some light banter. I ask them if anyone watched Strictly Come Dancing last night. Not one of them raises their hand. I try to explain that they might learn quick feet from Uncle Len Goodman if they watch the show. They reply that FIFA 11 on the PS3 is a better tutorial.
We play a beautiful game of football. We win well. The score is irrelevant. The match is played in a good spirit and is excellently refereed by Mark Bancroft.
The clubhouse is not quite open for business yet. It’s a shame we can’t sample the award-winning tea I purchased a few Sunday’s ago.
I manage to grab a few words with KUCFC legend Alan Jackson before racing across to Stapleford to scout a game.
It’s a local derby. There are some x-rated tackles flying in. They make me wince. No quarter is given. No-one complains. I make a mental note of a couple players who have caught the eye. I will enter them on the database. I don’t rush people into the centre of excellence. They have to tick all the right boxes.
I don’t normally get the chance to watch the Pies on a Saturday afternoon, with scouting and groundhopping top of the agenda. This game was on my radar though. The Owls have sold out their allocation in the Jimmy Sirrell Stand. The atmosphere should be electric.
A text comes through from Mrs P, Sticky junior’s team have bagged a 3-2 win up north. The day’s going to plan.
We rock up at County Hall and park close to the water’s edge. I treat ‘Garts’, ‘The Skipper’ and ‘Paddy’ to pop and sweets at the smallest sweet shop in the world.
Garts queues up for a ticket. It’s £23 to sit the Derek Pavis Stand and £6 for a juvenile. The excellent programme is £3.
It is rumoured that Howard Wilkinson, Roy Hattersley and Paul Hart are sat close to the directors’ box.
Sheffield is in South Yorkshire and has a population of over half a million people. The River Sheaf runs through the city. It was once well known for iron, steel-making and coal mining.
Celebrities from Sheffield include: the politicians Roy Hattersley and David Blunkett, Sean Bean, Michael Palin, newsreader Sir Alastair Burnett, World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks, Bolton defender Gary Cahill, athlete Jessica Ennis, the boxer Naseem Hamed, referee Uriah Rennie and QPR manager Neil Warnock.
Sheffield Wednesday are due in court on November 17th over an unpaid debt to HMRC of £600,000.
The Pies are fresh off the back of a 3-2 win at the Posh. The game ended in mayhem. Sticky’s favourite ‘Rocky’ Ravenhill was dismissed from the field of play in the 97th minute. I want ‘The Skipper’ to watch his work rate, but sadly he takes no part today.
Notts are out of the blocks quickly. They play at a high tempo and force the Owls on the back foot. Lee Hughes thumps a shot at former Stags ‘keeper Nicky Weaver, who beats it away. Scottish striker Kevin Smith hits a cross shot across the face of goal.
The Pies play with high energy levels. Wednesday look punch drunk. Charlie McParland's Bosman signing, Neal Bishop, looks inspired. He’s taken to League One like a duck to water. He’s spraying passes all over the heavily-watered surface. Harley and Thompson bomb up the flanks.
A little ginger haired boy in front of me looks disinterested. He plays with his ‘Woody’ and ‘Buzz’ Toy Story models. He’s missing a treat.
Mark Beevers and Tommy Spurr, at the back for Wednesday, continue to fire fight. Shots are blocked and last-ditch tackles are made. Luck is not on Notts’ side.
Wednesday miss a gilt-edged chance on the stroke of half-time. A neat move prises open the Pies’ defence. Former Magpie forward Paul Heffernan tees up Marcus Tudgay, whose goal bound shot is deflected away for a corner.
We all drew breath at the half-time whistle. Notts have been par excellence, Wednesday almost anonymous. Their 4,800 following will be disappointed.
There’s not much doing at the break. ‘The Skipper’ is bleating that he wants some chips, Mr & Mrs Magpie are prancing about in their new outfits, and I can’t hear any music on the tannoy. Managerless Lincoln City (Chris Sutton tribute in next blog... lol) are losing at Southend.
The visitors come out all fired up. They’d have had a dressing down from Alan Irvine. Tudgay gives them the lead with a ferocious strike from 22 yards which has Pies’ keeper Rob Burch clutching thin air.
Alan Irvine shuts up shop earlier than Alf Roberts. With 30 minutes remaining both strikers are hauled off. Neil Mellor ploughs a lone furrow. As Wednesday go 4-5-1.
Gaps begin to appear as Notts chase the game. Mellor spurns an opportunity. The Pies lose their shape. Hawley and Rogers are the last throw of the dice.
Despite their best efforts Owls ‘keeper Weaver has been largely redundant for the second half.
Alan Judge is sent off for kicking out at a Wednesday player. That’s four reds in four games for Craig Short’s team.
Wednesday put the game to bed deep in stoppage time. Notts are caught up the field pressing for an equaliser. Darren Potter makes it 2-0. The scoreline isn’t reflective of the game. Notts will play worse and win.
Man of the Match: Neal Bishop.