Saturday, March 31, 2012

Staveley MW 2 Dunston UTS 2

It’s Friday evening and I’m grooming myself for a night out in town. There’s a guest appearance from Mrs P. We’ve booked a table at The Living Room on High Pavement, in Nottingham. It’s just the two of us – Sticky jnr is dossing outside Budgens, whilst ‘The Skipper’ is on a German exchange trip.

After a pleasant meal, with good service, we meet up with a few work colleagues at the soulless Baa Bar pub chain on Goosegate. The only toon of note to report on folks is ‘Gravel Pit’ by the Wu-Tang Clan.

We’re back home by 10pm, I can’t do late ones anymore. The landline is ringing out. A friend has called to say Sticky jnr has fallen off a park bench and cut his head open. He walks through the door five minutes later. His head is swathed in bandages. He looks like former England captain and Ipswich Town defender Terry Butcher.

I have to give ‘Terry Butcher’ a dig out with the papers in the morning. Mrs P is on a cleaning frenzy when I get back. Murphy Palmer (budgie) is in trouble again, he’s spat apple all over the cream carpet. I have a quick word with Finley the rabbit; he’s predicting a 2-1 win for Dunston. (Sorry Terry and Daisy).

I need to be in good books as I’ve a long day ahead. Sticky Palms Cleaning Services are required in the bathroom, the rabbit cage and budgie cage. I wolf down a sausage sandwich before heading out to Hucknall to hook up with Notts County’s Head of Youth, Mick Leonard. Peppa Pig is waving at me from outside a children’s nursery on Station Road in Plumtree, as I drive by.

Danny Baker is on Five Live. His show was hilarious last week. The special guest was James Alexander Gordon, who reads out the classified football scores at 5pm on Sports Report each Saturday tea-time. Baker persuades him to read the results out from 100 years ago to the day, from the old Division Two. There are classic old names such as: Glossop North End, Gainsborough Trinity and Leicester Fosse.

We have a wander around Hucknall Rolls Royce Leisure’s superb complex. There are an abundance of games being played, with ages ranging from under 7s through to under 12s. We notice a young referee in tears; apparently he has been verbally abused by a so-called coach. It disgusts me. I see more and more of this each week. The RESPECT campaign doesn’t appear to be working. I have a cup of tea and a Chunky Kit Kat before heading back home.

Five Live are talking-up an interview with the luckiest man in football - old moon face - (David Platt) at 2pm. I’d thoroughly recommend that folk take a siesta during this dull radio moment.

White Van Man arrives at 1.10pm. The wind-up merchant has Heart 106FM on. Toni Braxton’s ‘Unbreak My Heart’ is blaring out the car speakers. We’re going to leave WVM’s car at Big D’s house in Bramcote.

WVM is fresh from a weekend in Brussels. He complains it was 10 Euros for a Leffe shandy. Big D is sweating over a hot stove when we arrive. He’s preparing the final ingredients for a Beef Dopiaza curry. He’s full of drunken tales from his recent golfing holiday in Northumberland.

We exit the motorway at Junction 29A and drive through the old south Derbyshire coalfields. Big D parks his 4x4 smack outside the Inkersall Road front doors. It’s £5 on the gate and £1.50 for a superb programme. We immediately bump into Staveley’s biggest fan, Daisy Bruce, who has been roped-in to sell raffle tickets.

Staveley is a town within the borough of Chesterfield in Derbyshire. It is situated alongside the River Rother and has a population of over 15,000. It is a well known former mining area. The Staveley foundry and chemicals works formed an important part of the town’s history. Rock and roll and jazz guitarist Chris Spedding was born in Staveley. He had a Top Twenty hit in 1975 called ‘Motor Bikin.’

Dunston is in the Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead, in the county of Tyne and Wear. Mrs P’s favourite shopping complex, the MetroCentre, is close by. Dunston’s most famous son is Paul Gascoigne. A stand is named after Gazza at their UTS Stadium. AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson is also from the area.

Big D slopes off to buy a pie, while WVM shouts up a can of Stella and a coke in a packed clubhouse. Sheffield Wednesday are beating an out-of-form Preston North End 2-0. I get talking to a lady in the bar who turns out to be a QPR season ticket holder. She talks excitedly about their recent 3-2 win over ‘King Kenny’s’ Liverpool.

I’m back outside as the atmosphere begins to build. Dunston are one to the good from the first leg. The ultimate prize is a day out at Wembley. We bump into Staveley Chairman Terry Damms. He‘s as busy as a beaver but never looks flustered. He’s climbing up to the gantry at the newly erected Tower to take photos and film the game.

We’re stood on the opposite side of the ground, at the top of some concrete steps. It’s another new feature of this charming ground. A marquee has been erected to cater for the FA and League big wigs.

The game sets off at a fair old pace. It’s not the “cat and mouse” affair of the previous week. The tie is all square after five minutes, with ex Matlock striker Simon Barraclough smashing home a shot following a fine three man move.

Dunston are soon 2-1 up on aggregate. A cross from the left is knocked back by Michael Dixon for top scorer Andrew Bulford to skilfully steer his shot into the net. He races to celebrate with the travelling contingent and is yellow-carded for his sins. He pays the price moments later for a shocking challenge in the middle of the park. Dunston are down to ten men.

Staveley seize the initiative and gain in confidence. They begin to pepper the visitors’ goal. The influential Chris Coy restores their lead to put the tie at 2-2 on aggregate. We all draw for breath at half-time after 45 minutes of high drama and tension. Big D and WVM decline a further visit to the pie stall.

A quick check on Twitter reveals that Lincoln City are turning over Tamworth. I’m surprised by that having watched the Staffordshire side more than match Grimsby Town last Wednesday evening.

Dunston emerge for the second half with their sleeves rolled up. They have what I would call some ‘proper blokes’ in their side. I’ve been disappointed with some of the chanting from a minority of their supporters behind the Staveley goal. Is “We are the Staveley haters” and “You fat b****rd” (aimed at Ian Deakin the Staveley ‘keeper) really necessary? “The referee’s a Mackem” is far more amusing.

The away support have congregated on the terrace outside No.15 Bar Cafe. The sun is shining and the sky is sea blue. Dunston dominate the second half. Their left winger Lee McAndrew is skinning the Staveley full back for fun. Fortune is on their side when Barraclough is sent off for an elbow on the Dunston centre half. Connell, the visiting ‘keeper, is a lucky lad, when appearing to throw his head at a Staveley forward.

The inevitable winning goal comes in the 84th minute. A ball is played in from the left, it takes an eternity to reach substitute Stephen Goddard, bouncing five or six times, before he rifles a shot in off the underside of the crossbar and into the roof of the net. We witness wild scenes of joys from the noisy away following.

WVM is also doing a little jig of joy, with news from Selhurst Park of a Raddy Majewski hat-trick. Sticky Palms is cheered that Lincoln are thumping Tamworth 4-0.

The tank has run empty for Staveley. The dream is over. They’ve tried 4-3-3 and 4-4-2. Referee Dean Mohareb shows a remarkable turn of foot as he dashes down the tunnel following his final blow of the whistle. With seven bookings and two red cards to deal with, it will take him an hour to complete the paperwork.

There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle outside the Clubhouse door. The Feds, with sirens blazing, screech into the Club car park as the Dunston supporters become over exuberant.

I can’t bear to face Terry or Daisy; they’ll be hurt in their eyes. There time will come; maybe next year.

Attendance: 1050

Men of the Match: Lee McAndrew, Dunston and Chris Fawcus, Staveley.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tamworth 1 Grimsby Town 1

It’s August 2003. I’m sat up in the Hound Road Stand at a sun-kissed Trent Bridge. England and South Africa are locking horns in the third Test. Michael Vaughan’s men have racked up over 440 runs. Proteas captain Graeme Smith is at the wicket. The miserable sod is in invincible form, arriving here on the back of two double centuries.

Smith nurdles, nudges and drives the ball to all four corners of the ground. He looks set. We’re all bevied up and making a killing at the bookies. We place the normal bets of ‘top run scorer’, ‘runs scored in a session’ and ‘how the next wicket will fall.’

I’m sat with my good friend ‘Jam Fool’ who is a top batsman for a local West Indian club. It’s my turn to put the syndicate bet on. ‘Jam Fool’ remarks on how far back Smith is back in his crease. “I reckon he’ll hit his own wicket” remarks ‘Fool’

I scour the bookie’s blackboard. I notice that ‘hit wicket’ is 100/1. I place my £10 bet on the next wicket to fall will be LBW at 2/1. I make the short, booze-fuelled walk back up to the stands. There’s a huge roar. Everyone is dancing, laughing and cheering. Smith is trudging his way back to the pavilion with his head bowed and his bat tucked under his arm.

I glance up at the scoreboard it says ‘Smith hit wicket b Flintoff 35. I look up to ‘Jam Fool’ he’s shaking his head and mouthing towards me “I told you so.” I could have won us a grand.

The highlight of the week is a trip down Carlton Town’s Stoke Lane ground. League leaders Grantham Town are the visitors. A 99th minute winner for the Millers’ Josh Thornton is a sweet moment. I can’t hide my dislike for Grantham Town and their bawling bench.

Saturday is same old crazy day. I can’t find Murphy. A furious Mrs P finds him pecking away at a banana in the fruit bowl. I spend the morning at Vernon Park and it’s cultural surroundings in urban Nottingham. ‘The Skipper’s’ team lose narrowly in the afternoon to Dunkirk on the banks of the River Trent.

Brighter news emerges from Keyworth United’s HQ. Sticky junior’s team have won 4-3. I celebrate with a £3.15 pint of Guinness.

I’ve twice been to The Lamb. The first occasion was against Aldershot a few years ago when Aaron McLean, ex Posh, now of Hull City, proved to be a thorn in their side. The second time was five years ago when Dagenham and Redbridge romped away with the Conference title.

I get a text on the day of the game from Jacko to say he has too many problems with team selection for his midweek reserve game tomorrow evening. Surely none of his pissheads can overlay for an evening kick off?

The Taxman’s car passes a late fitness test at Barn Garage. I hear the honking of the horn. I blow some kisses at Murphy Palmer (budgie) and say cheerio to Mrs P and ‘The Skipper’, who has an early start tomorrow. He’s off on a German exchange trip to the town of Weinsberg.

A revitalised Taxman and his turbo-charged vehicle breeze down Bunny Lane (30mph). The road to Gotham is closed and there are roadworks at Rempstone. We have to detour through East Leake before driving through picturesque Kingston upon-Soar and onto the M42 via Kegworth.

The Taxman is miffed to have missed his art class due to his missus refusing to catch the bus to work. He talks about Nottingham Forest with enthusiasm for the first time in weeks, following their recent renaissance. A DHL freight plane almost comes within touching distance as the pilot prepares for landing at East Midlands Airport.

We cruise down the A5, with its white heathers flourishing in the early spring sunshine. We pass signs for Tamworth Castle and Tamworth Amateur Boxing Club. I don’t know what part they’ve changed on his car but The Taxman has driven like James Hunt. The speedo touched 50mph at one point.

Tamworth is a town in Staffordshire, 14 miles north-east of Birmingham. It has a population of over 70,000. It is home to Tamworth Castle, Moat House and The Snowdome. Drayton Manor Theme Park (who are the Club’s away shirt sponsor) is situated just down the road. It was once home to the Reliant car company and the Scimitar sports car.

The Lambs are managed by former Quorn, Kettering and Barwell manager, Marcus Law. I rate him highly but find his tweets deadly boring. Well known footballers to have played at The Lamb include: Paul Devlin, Gerry Taggart, Steve Walsh, Clint Marcelle, David Oldfield and Paul Merson.

Notable personalities to come from Tamworth or have been brought up in the town include: former Bluenose ‘keeper Tony Coton, Swansea City defender Ashley Williams and Teardrop Explodes frontman Julian Cope.

Grimsby is a seaport in the Humber Estuary in Lincolnshire, with a population approaching 90,000. Notable alumni from Grimsby include: Some Mothers Do Ave Em actress Michelle Dotrice, Nottinghamshire fast bowler Darren Pattinson, former Nottingham Forest and Leeds United striker Duncan McKenzie and the snooker players Dean Reynolds and Mike Hallett.

Well known former managers of the Mariners are: Bill Shankly, Lawrie McMenemy, Alan Buckley, Mike Newell, Lennie Lawrence and Brian ‘Chicken Bones’ Laws.

We’re parked up at the ground 25 minutes before kick-off. I buy a glossy covered programme for £2.50 and a bottle of king-sized Tango for £1.20. The programme has 23 pages of adverts, but to be fair it’s a decent read for the neutral.

We take a pew on red tip-up seats in the Main Stand. The guy on the gate has already said the place is stacked out with scouts. Liam ‘The Hitman’ Hearn’ is in town. He has found the back of the onion bag on twenty six occasions this season. He looks a snip at £60,000 from Alfreton Town. I have banged on about the Nottingham-born striker on this blog for a few seasons now.

The sun is hanging around as the temperature begins to dip slightly. I love this 78 year old ground. It’s painted red, with an open end behind one goal close to the Clubhouse, with deep concrete steps. The other three sides are covered. Grimsby’s 263fans congregate behind the far goal. It’s admirable and commendable that they should make the 260 mile round trip with only a play-off spot up for grabs and on a school night too.

The DJ plays some random toons. The Killers, Cee Lo Green and Murphy’s favourite, Rihanna are the pick of the bunch. ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ is the final track before the players emerge from the tunnel tucked away in the far corner.

I notice Kidderminster Harriers’ manager Steve Burr snuck into the ground as 34 year old Loughborough born official Amy Fearn blows her whistle. The sloping pitch looks tight and narrow. I think Murphy Palmer has more room to play footy on our dining room table than the players have here.

Tamworth are neat and tidy; they have an abundance of left footers who are pleasing on the eye. Former Nottingham Forest youth team players Richard Tait and Danny Thomas are amongst their ranks.

Hearn looks hungry. His first touch is deft and his movement electric. He drags the clumsy-looking Tamworth central defenders into wider areas.

The moment I have dreaded arrives on the half hour. The excellent Amy Fearn awards Grimsby a hotly disputed free kick. A guy four rows back shouts out: “You’d be better off at home washing the dishes love.” Not one person laughs. The lady behind me is spitting more feathers than Murphy Palmer.

Hearn has a couple of half chances before a marauding run by Grimsby’s Michael Townsend ends with a shot flashing past the right hand post. Both keepers are kept busy in an entertaining first half with Tamworth more than matching promotion-chasing Grimsby.

Tweets and texts are flying in from mates at the break predicting a 0-0. Regulars know that Sticky doesn’t do shut-outs. Ironically both NFFC and Lincoln City are goalless in vital relegation games at Leicester & Hayes and Yeading respectively.

I expect Grimsby to press on and they do. Hearn conjures a chance up from nothing but his effort comes back off the post. The visitors open the scoring minutes later, with Hearn flicking home from an Ian Miller header.

Tamworth roll up their sleeves and are soon on level terms with a goal from substitute Connor Taylor, following fine work by Tait down the right.

There’s a grandstand finish with chances at either end. A draw is about right, but I’m really impressed with Tamworth. They certainly play the better football and are less direct than Grimsby.

Man of the Match: Richard Tait

Attendance: 892

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rothley Imperial 1 Thurmaston Town 0

It’s Monday September 25th 1995. I’m laid out on the settee having a power nap whilst Mrs P is rustling up some tea in the kitchen. I’ve the hangover from hell after a 50th birthday bash and also Europe winning the Ryder Cup yesterday.

The landline rings out wakening me from my slumber. A bleary-eyed Sticky makes his way over to the phone. It’s my Dad, he doesn’t sound himself. I can barely hear his words. Mum has collapsed outside a shop in our village. He’s ringing from the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham where she has been rushed in by ambulance.

I drop everything and race up the ring road. My heart is pounding and tears are streaming down my face. What has happened to Mum? We sit in a waiting room for what seems an age. A doctor finally enters the room. He gently and compassionately informs us of her condition. It seems like Mum may have suffered an aneurysm. She is being kept alive by a ventilator. Dad sits beside her and holds her for the final time as the machine is switched off. She was only 55 years old.

My brother doesn’t quite make it to the hospital in time as he fights his way through the rush-hour traffic. We are all in total, utter shock. We are given Mum’s belongings and head off home to Dad’s. He pours my brother and I a large 25 year old malt whisky. I light up my final ever cigarette, vowing to kick the habit tomorrow. My wife is eight months pregnant. Mum will never get to see ‘Our Jack’

Tomorrow (Sunday) is Mother’s Day. I’ll take that sad, lonely, agonising walk for the seventeenth year in a row up to our local cemetery to lay some flowers on Mum and Dad’s grave. I miss them both so much.

There’s a pleasant beginning to the weekend, with a few cans of Stella and a couple of glasses of red wine accompanied by a plate full of paella. Channel 4 is having a comedy night. The Bank Job hosted by the talentless George Lamb drives me to an early bed.

A huge day lies ahead for me on Saturday, starting with that bloody paper round again. Where is that lazy sod Sticky jnr? Murphy Palmer collides with the venetian blinds whilst I plough my way through a bacon cob. The little fellow dust himself down and returns to his cage.

I head out to inner city Nottingham. I spotted a lad who could catch pigeons the other day. He doesn’t disappoint and books himself a six week trial starting on Monday.

I dash back to Keyworth as ‘The Skipper’ has an important League fixture. It’s an eventful start. We have two goals scrubbed off for offside and find ourselves 2-0 down. After a spirited second half performance we finally pull off a 5-2 victory.

I congratulate the lads, jump into the Rolls Royce and drive out towards Leicestershire. I foolishly ignore Sat Nav, opting instead to drive through Barrow upon-Soar and onto the A6. I listen to the closing moments of Everton v Sunderland in the FA Cup quarter finals. I take an exit too early on one of the roundabouts and find myself driving in the wrong direction down the A46. I am, readers, a blithering idiot.

I finally reach Rothley. It’s already 3.05pm. I can’t find the flipping ground. A couple are pushing a pram down the main drag. They very kindly point me in the right direction. I pass the Bowls Club and a children’s nursery, before parking up. Admission is free and no programme is issued.

Rothley is a village in the borough of Charnwood in Leicestershire, with a population of just over 3500. It is the home to the Great Central Railway which has been used for the film Buster and the TV series Miss Marple.

The village is one of the most affluent places in the county. The Ridgeway was identified in The Sunday Times as the most expensive place to live in the East Midlands. In 1988 the then England cricket captain Mike Gatting was sacked following newspaper stories of alleged shenanigans with a member of staff at the Rothley Court Hotel.

In 2007 three year old Madeleine McCann, who lived in Rothley, disappeared from a Mark Warner holiday apartment in Portugal. Her parents Kate and Gerry still live in the village.

As I enter the ground the Social Club is to the right. It would be fair to say the place is a little run-down. The dug outs are to the near side of the ground. I traipse along the hard standing pathway. The ground is really high up. It would be an interesting spectacle on a windy day.

Trees are behind one end with some junior pitches and wasteland on the far side. I walk past an electrical cable, an oil drum, a wheelchair and some slabs. There’s a mound to the far side where somebody has fly-tipped a sofa. Housing is situated behind the other goal (I am later told by Davina that this was once a Rolls Royce works).

It’s pretty much a local derby. A spectator tells me all the players know one another – you wouldn’t have thought so as they persist in kicking seven bells out of each other. One Thurmaston player is carried off; his replacement is soon limping towards the dugout.

I remain unimpressed at the standard of football in this League. There is no RESPECT for the referee or officials. Both teams are brilliant at swearing. I’ve had a good old chat with the baby-faced referee’s assistant. He’s only 18 years old and is from Essex. He’s studying at the University of Leicester. He’s a Level 6 referee.

Rothley take lead. The ball is crossed in from the right to ‘Harty’ who is lurking on the edge of the box, he takes a touch and thumps a shot into the bottom right hand corner past a wrong-footed ‘Paddy Kenny.’

I’m stood adjacent to the Social Club. The young couple pushing the pram have rocked up. He asks if I’m Sticky Palms. I’m gobsmacked. He’s read my blog for a while and had noticed I was due at Rothley today. I can’t believe that out of 30 folk here today someone knows me.

I chat at length to Alan and Davina. They have a built-in pint compartment on the pram. Davina hasn’t had drink in a while as the baby is only five weeks old. They are making up for it this afternoon, downing a couple of Newcastle Browns and ciders.

Alan has given up his Arsenal season ticket after Stan Kroenke banged on another £100 per year. No stellar signings and a baby on the way made it an easy decision for him. Alan also follows Woodford United who I saw play earlier in the season.

I check my Twitter account to see how the Imps are doing. We’re playing bottom of pile Bath City. We’re already 2-0 down. Manager, David Holdsworth, has more excuses than Keyworth United Reserves supremo Alan Jackson.

The second half is God damn awful. I spend more time socialising with the charming Alan and Davina. Thurmaston come into the game more and start playing some football but they just don’t want it enough. They need to throw some more bodies forward.

With thirty seconds remaining a ball is clipped in from the right, it’s headed towards goal but somehow scrambled off the line by a relieved home defender. The final whistle blows, Rothley retain top spot in the League.

Attendance: 32

Man of the Match: Alan and Davina

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Asfordby Amateurs 0 Caterpillar 1

It’s Thursday evening and I’m about to leave the house to take ‘The Skipper’ football training at his Sunday club, Clifton All Whites. Baby budgie and Norwich City’s number one fan Murphy Palmer is chewing on a computer cable under the coffee table, having completed six circuits of the room.
To kill a bit of time, whilst the young un is training, I call in at the White Horse, a back street boozer in the village of Ruddington. I take a pew in the cosy Lounge, necking a pint of Boundary from the Wadworth Brewery. I stare into space dreaming about my pal Murphy. I wonder what the little monkey is up to.

Back home a serious incident is unfolding right in front of Mrs P’s eyes. Murphy has collided into the radiator, it’s piping hot. The little fellow has fallen into the back of it and is trapped. Pet Rescue (‘The Angler’) is called out complete with toolbox. All you can hear is Murph’s wings flapping.

Sky News and Radio Nottingham are on standby. It’s been 20 minutes now since anyone has heard a flutter. I’m sat supping ale, blissfully unaware of the drama. Murphy finally emerges from the dark hole. He’s proper pecked ‘The Angler’, who has hands like shovels. He’s fast asleep on his swing by the time Sticky arrives home.

Saturday is the mother of all days. I hook up with my boss, Mick Leonard, who is Head of Youth at Notts County, down at Highfields, near to the University of Nottingham. City Boys u15s are playing Mansfield Boys. There’s nothing much going on.

We drive over to Eagle Valley, home of Arnold Town, to take a second look at a player I spotted last week. ‘The Skipper’s’ team are playing out at a village called Lowdham at 2pm. I grab a soft drink at the Old Ship Inn on Main Street, prior to the game.

The afternoon’s football is a disaster. We must have had over 20 shots at goal, but only trouble the scorers once. I take heart from a magnificent performance. I have three under 13s in my squad, playing a year up. A long term plan is better than a short-term fix.

I’m out on my feet by 6pm but have to crank myself up for the biggest night of the year. Geordie funk and soul band Smoove and Turrell are in town tonight. I’ve arranged to meet ‘Shifty’ and ‘The Reaper’ at the Lincolnshire Poacher on Mansfield Road.

We’re sat in the snug sinking a few real ales. ‘Shifty’ spots a guy outside in the beer garden sparking up a cigarette. He has black-rimmed glasses, a beard and is wearing a blue and orange checked shirt.

‘Shifty’ leaps out of his chair and wags his finger at the guy. He starts shouting out his name loudly. “It’s John Turrell. It’s John Turrell.” (lead singer of the band). They engage in conversation. It’s made Shifty’s evening that he’s met one of his heroes.

The gig is being held in a small room up the road at a venue called The Maze. Smoove and Turrell tear the roof off the place. It’s the best £13 I’ve spent in ages. Less enjoyable is the taxi ride back into town, with a driver who claims to have been in the UK for “only a few weeks.”

I’m as rough as a badger’s arse on Sunday morning. I drop ‘The Skipper’ off in Clifton and head out into the sticks to watch a game. I return to watch my boy play the second half. A sixteen year old lad is refereeing. Some of the parents of the visiting team should be banned from watching kids’ football for life. Here are a few snippets: “We’re playing against 12 men lads.” “You’re a cheat ref.” They sarcastically clap the official and boo him at the final whistle. I am fuming.

About 15 of them are milling around after the game. Two of their team have been booked for foul and abusive language, as the parents’ behaviour rubs off on some of the children. I rinse the lot of them and call them a disgrace. I ask them what sort of message they are sending out to their children. Not one of them has the decency or bottle to answer me, as they hang their heads in shame. No wonder their club lost their FA Charter Standard award a few years ago.

Murphy is squawking and spitting feathers around 5.30pm on Sunday tea-time. Victor Moses 68th minute leveller for Wigan Athletic sends Norwich City’s youngest Junior Canary to an early, sulky night on his swing.

Shifty, Reaper and I are still buzzing about Smoove and Turrell on Tuesday morning. I notice a tweet from the band to say they are appearing on BBC Radio London at 2.30pm. We tune in to hear a couple of tracks.

Another tweet attracts my attention later in the day. It’s from Sticky junior and it says “In German exam trying to stay awake #boredom

I’ve not blogged a game for two weeks, and despite it being the lowest level of football that I’m about to witness this season, I’m really looking forward to my visit to Asfordby.

I eat my liver and onions whilst gazing into Murphy’s cage. He’s ferreting about in his seed box. I check in on Keyworth’s favourite bunny rabbit, Finley Palmer, for a crap score prediction. I’ve totally forgot he doesn’t give scores out for Leicestershire teams as he hates The Foxes.

Sticky jnr has texted in on his way to Pride Park for the D***y v NFFC clash. He’s stuck in heavy traffic in Nottingham and hasn’t moved for half an hour. The Taxman arrives at 7pm on the dot. We’re soon hooting and tooting outside Jacko’s house. I’m disappointed he’s not giving the old Munto Finance Notts County manager’s jacket an outing that I gave him the other day, to replace his Great Britain 1948 Olympics coat he is now sporting.

The Taxman finds third gear for the first time this season as we head down the A46, exiting at the Rempstone turn-off. We’re soon entering the village of Asfordby. The Asfordby Sports and Social Club is on Hoby Road.

Asfordby is a village to the north west of Melton Mowbray on the A6006. It has a population of around 3000. In 1993 British Coal opened Asfordby Superpit. Four years later the colliery closed due to geological conditions. My father-in-law finished his 35 year coal mining career at this pit.

Each year, as a scout for Notts County, I visit the Asfordby Junior Tournament. It is excellently run and raises in the region of £6000 which is vital to the upkeep of the Club.

Entry is free and there is no programme. There is hard-standing on all four sides of the ground and six floodlight pylons. It is tree-lined at both ends and has brick dugouts on the far side.

The clubhouse is a beauty at any standard. It is carpeted and has two dart boards, a fruit machine and a pool table. We await the toss to see which way Caterpillar are kicking as they are unbeaten this season and only dropped their first points on Saturday following a draw against FC Khalsa.

Asfordby are currently in bottom spot, whilst the visitors have racked up 90 goals. Murphy will firmly nail his colours to the Caterpillar mast as the play in canary and green. Asfordby are sporting a Luton Town replica kit.

Jacko and The Taxman are chin-wagging about a few pals who still work for ‘the Revenue.’ I get chatting to a supporter from Caterpillar. He remarks that the linesman on our side is 70 years old.

Jacko retrieves a stray ball that has gone out of play following a miscued clearance – I think I’ve seen Nathan Tyson limp quicker than Jacko can walk. He has more excuses than Kenneth Dalglish following his reserve team’s 3-0 reverse at the weekend.

Caterpillar are playing all the football as Asfordby huff and puff, but they couldn’t hit a bull in the ass with a base fiddle. Asfordby’s goalkeeper is smaller than Ronnie Corbett, and yet at no time do Caterpillar try to exploit this.

On the half hour Mark Bailey flicks a ball up and smashes a shot into the roof of the net. There’s little improvement at half-time as the crowd are soon scurrying out of the clubhouse following Ollie Murs’ latest single on Heart FM that appears on the giant screen.

The second half is bloody awful, as it is at Pride Park according to Twitter. Caterpillar barely work the ‘keeper. If anything an Asfordby equaliser seems more likely.

We retire to the Public Bar of the Plough Inn at Normanton on-the-Wolds. Former Stag Jake Buxton cruelly breaks Sticky Jnr’s heart with a 94th minute winner for D***y. An eagle-eyed Jacko spots a Bentley parked-up outside the front door with an out-of-date Tax disc. His work for Her Majesty is over for the day.

Attendance: 36 (head count)

Man of the Match: Smoove and Turrell