Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sandhurst 3 Attenborough 5

Brian Clough anecdote by Ben Robinson, chairman of Burton Albion: When [Clough’s son] Nigel took the player-manager job in October 1998, Brian Clough became a regular visitor to the club. He bought a vice president’s ticket and attended virtually every home match and he also attended some away matches. The fans loved him; for every game he was inundated by people wanting to shake his hand and get his autograph. Lots of fathers would bring their sons to meet him and they’d introduce him as their hero, he was a legend.

Generally he didn’t try to offer too much advice, sometimes he’d shout from the sidelines but usually he just let Nigel get on with it. On one occasion though, when we’d beaten Torquay United away in the FA cup we were travelling back on the coach when Nigel’s mobile phone rang. After a bit he said it was his dad and he wanted a word with me. Brian came on the phone and said, 'You should take a lot of credit for this win,’ I asked why and he explained that he thought it was important that I’d taken the players down to Torquay the night before and prepared them well rather than making them have an arduous journey before the match. I said, 'Well, I think that win proves you’ve now got two geniuses in your family.’

He said, 'When you find the second one let me know.’

It’s been over a month since I last visited a new ground and wrote a blog. I’ve been coaching my team on Saturday afternoons and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Midweeks have been either wet or frozen.

I did take in the Alfreton Town versus Cambridge United fixture at North Street on Tuesday. The standard of play was high and so was the admission; £18 for Conference Football, you are having a laugh.

It’s Friday evening. There’s a howling wind and the sound of rain pitter pattering on the lounge window. I’m so proud of my boys. They abandon their X Box for a night’s dossing on Budgens wall. Top dossing lads; a commitment to the cause.

That bloody Rioja was on offer again; it doesn’t mix well with Stella. I wake up with a thumping headache. I shower and shave and head out to West Bridgford early doors. I park up outside Slades the florist on Melton Road. I collect a winter mixed bouquet of flowers. No, they’re not for Murphy, but for Mrs P, of course.

My Twitter timeline suggests there’s Bob Hope of a game on this afternoon. Please God, no. I’ll settle for anything within a 160 mile round trip. Murphy is whistling his little head off to Chris Rea’s ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ as I scour the non league fixture list. There seems to be a small micro climate up in the north Notts/Lincolnshire border. Lincoln United and Gainsborough Trinity both confirm that games are on. I’ve already blogged from both.

A tweet from legendary Notts groundhopper Rob Hornby catches my eye. He says that NSL Premier Division side Sandhurst never gets hosed off – not been there, book me in Danno. A quick phone call to Sandhurst Jack-of-all-trades, Bob Crawford, confirms that the game has got the go ahead.

I’m driving the ‘Rolls Royce’ towards the old mining village of Cotgrave. Water gushes down the hill from the village of Clipston on-the-Wolds. They won’t be doing much trade at the award-winning Harker’s Farm Shop.

Wigan versus ‘The Arsenal’ is on the radio. It’s 0-0 ‘in the most exciting league in the World.’ The worst manager in Premiership history – Paul Jewell - is summarising. He’s waxing lyrical about James McCarthy, the Latics one million pound signing from Scottish club Hamilton Academical.

I sweep through Cotgrave and head out towards Stragglethorpe. The roads are flooded and the weather is atrocious. Stuart Pearce once had a lucky escape on this very road when he wrote off his car after colliding with a dustcart.

There are speed cameras all the way up the A614. I don’t think the chuffing things work but decide to stick at 50mph. A police car comes hurtling down the road. Those boys in blue won’t have time for card schools today.

Bloody hell, I haven’t the foggiest idea where the ground is. I turn left at the Carpenter Arms and take a sharp right hand turn. A paperboy, with probably the easiest round in Notts, redirects me back up the road.

Sandhurst play in the village of Walesby, which has a population of just over 1000. It’s famous for its International Scout Camps. I only joined the cubs because they had a football team. I had the athletic prowess of Billy Casper from Kes.

I drive down a flood hit Forest Lane and pull into the car park of the Walesby Village Sports Club. I wind down the window to enquire with a linesman if the game is on. He sarcastically points at his kit and looks out towards the pitch. The car park is submerged in water. But not a drop of water is on the playing surface; it must drain like a sieve. I walk passed a couple of hosepipes laid out on the grass – is someone taking the rise?

Sandhurst are named after a local garden centre that recently closed down. They sponsored the club for over 20 years.

I hook up with Rob Hornby and another Hopper from ‘Sunny Scunny’ called ‘Colpic.’ Rob’s a bubbly character and can talk the hind legs off a donkey. He tells me he was born at Radford’s Selhurst Street ground. I said: “What, at half-time?” Apparently the ground wasn’t built then.

The man in black is Sticky Palms all-time favourite official, Andy Rolph. He stubs out a Winston Churchill cigar before entering the field of play. He doesn’t take any shit off anybody, as the young Sandhurst centre forward finds out to his cost.

I recognise a lot of the Attenborough players. I reckon they are going to be a tough nut to crack for Sandhurst. Tobias Richardson, Wes Burke and Justin Whatmore could comfortably play at a higher level.

Attenborough are managed by Roberto Pietrafort. He has had more clubs than Mark Hughes. If you asked him to name his previous clubs on Twitter, then he would struggle to fit them into the 140 character stipulation. He has more tracksuits in his wardrobe than JJB Sports. Roberto – I sound like David Platt – is always up for banter, we exchange hellos.

With Attenborough playing a high line and squealing for offside, Joe Fletcher gives Sandhurst the lead on 10 minutes. One or two hoppers frantically scribble down the goal times and scorer, they have a full list of starters and subs. Sticky doesn’t buy-in to this strange groundhopping ritual. I’ll nick it all off someone’s blog a bit later.

Ireson restores parity for the visitors. A mazy run and smart finish from the classy Whatmore puts them 2-1 up. Andy Cameron pegs it back to 2-2 on the stroke of half time. I venture into the brick-built clubhouse and despite a large queue, a cup of tea is thrust into my hand. Rob is holding court with a group of hoppers from London and Ipswich who have dropped into the ground on their way home from the Blackpool v Wolves game on Friday evening. They must be potty.

I grab a quick word with Attenborough’s Tobias Richardson, who is still stewing over the equaliser. I tell him that his team will push on in the second half.

Whatmore thumps home a third goal on 47 minutes. The impressive and talkative Wes Burke looks to have put the game beyond Sandhurst’s reach. Refereeing legend Rolph points to the spot to give the home side a chink of light. Wes Burke hits another net rippler with ten minutes to go to put the game beyond doubt.

With dark descending, I walk through the mist back to the car. Watford are beating Forest 2-0. The moaning Minnies fill up my timeline. Some folk are never satisfied.

Rob is doing an NSL Groundhop in April. For more details please visit his blog

Man of the Match: Chris Myton (Unlucky not to score)

Attendance: 30