Sunday, January 24, 2016
West Bridgford 2 -1 Clifton All Whites
I trudge down the stairs and into the kitchen. I'm still dead to the world after the longest Friday ever. I was up and out the house for just after 5:00am for a meeting in Rochdale. Late in the afternoon I sloped off to a wedding reception in the Hemlock Stone in Wollaton. My old boss got hitched. He's the best gaffer I've ever worked for in the business. It was a small gathering, and I felt privileged to be invited.
I pegged it from the pub onto Derby Rd, where I jumped on a bus to Maid Marian Way. I traipsed across town to the KFC on Daleside Road, the artist previously known as the Magpie pub. I'm not sure who was more stupid, the customers or the staff. Ms Moon and I shared a KFC moonlit supper before hitting the sack.
Murphy Palmer, the budgie, is swinging on his perch to the 'Animal Magic' theme tune on the Brian Matthew 60s Show. I tell him how funny it was when Johnny Morris, the zookeeper, used to talk to and feed the penguins, fish each week. Murphy has a little chuckle. I daren't tell him that Norwich are playing Liverpool today.
It's been a hell of a week. I've been up in Glasgow. I declined a stay-over in East Kilbride. My boss text me later to tell me East Kilbride had won their 4th round Scottish Cup match, and that they would now entertain the mighty Celtic in the next round. Their ground capacity is 500.
Thursday evening was spent at The City Ground. Nottingham Forest U18s entertained Birmingham City in the FA Youth cup. It was a fairly dour and unimaginative fayre dished up. The Reds deservedly won 1-0. Former legendary Dunkirk manager 'Uppo' points out Cyrille Regis sitting in the Main Stand. There are more agents here than you would see in a Bond film.
I've decided to be a West Bridgford person for the day. It's a leafy, affluent suburb to the south of Nottingham city centre, where the jet set live. It is nicknamed Bread 'n Lard Island, in the belief that its inhabitants spend most of their money on big houses and fur coats, so they can only afford to eat bread and lard behind closed doors. It's the land of ciabatta, champagne and tapas. Famous residents past and present include: former Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke, cricketer Stuart Broad and Crackerjack host Leslie Crowther.
I'm not a big fan of The Avenue to be honest, but have decided to throw myself into its culture for the day. I stroll down Daleside Road (I've cheated already, as I have no large, shiny 4x4). As I turn onto Meadow Lane, I notice a bloke remonstrating with a traffic warden outside the Cattle Market about a parking ticket. A dismissive hand waves him away back to his black Land Rover. Further down the road the smell of burger and fried onions wafts in the slight breeze from a van opposite Notts County's ground.
Bright sunshine shimmers on the still waters of the River Trent as I cross the bridge. The 'world renowned' Trent Bridge Inn sits on the corner of the Radcliffe Road. It is the most expensive Wetherspoons in the United Kingdom. Sticky P held his 21st birthday party there in 1985. 'The Lincoln' held D***y County 0-0 the following day. Floodlight pylons from Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club tower above the pub. It's the third oldest Test venue in the world.
I turn left onto Bridgford Road and walk past the Parr Stand. In 1976 I saw 6' 5" tall Tony Greig take a brilliant catch on the boundary rope in front of the old stand to dismiss Viv Richards for a swashbuckling 232.
I clock the Stratford Haven Pub close to the Co-op. It took the original licensee Chris Holmes five years to be awarded a license for this real ale establishment, it was previously a pet shop. My father opened that pub. West Bridgford was mostly owned by the Musters family, who I presume were methodist, which would account for the lack of public houses in the area. I remember Harvey's Bar, a nightspot on Musters Road. Even they managed to get its licence revoked, before finally being shunted out to the greyhound track in Colwick.
Things have changed, pretentious bars have sprung up, as have many eateries. It's the coffee capital of the county. Tee-total 'Wee Billy Davies' and his entourage would often embrace the coffee culture. They had a season ticket for Caffe Nero. I nip in the library to see if any of Dad's book are in. The Farmers' Market is on. I buy some cheese and olives. A man is playing an accordion outside Greggs. Kenneth Clarke will have him moved on soon. Cyclists relax in the sunshine outside Copper cafe on the strip.
No visit would be complete without dropping into the Marks and Spencer food hall. You can't move for fur coats in the aisles. I start to think about the big game. Clifton manager James 'Tosh' Turner and his squad will be tucking into a full fry-up in a greasy spoon on Ruddington High Street. It will be Costa Coffee and a croissant for Chris Marks and the Bridgford boys.
Ms Moon kindly drives me over to Wollaton to pick the 'Rolls Royce' up. We have a fish finger sandwich at the nearby Wollaton Arms. I wash it down with a Harvest Pale Ale. I'm soon repeating this morning's walk, as I head down to Regatta Way. I cross Lady Bay Bridge. The road is gridlocked due to an accident at the traffic lights. I'm fagged out as I part with £3 at the gate, and £1 for a very good programme.
I sit in the Tom Maccabee Stand. It's named in the memory of a former Colts player who tragically died in a car accident in Malaysia at the age of 22 years old, whilst working for a cancer charity.
I catch up with 'The Taxman.' We were only here a few weeks ago for a cup game. Unity FC were the visitors. The game should have been out of sight by half time, as Unity fluffed chance after chance, including a missed penalty. They were reduced to ten men after a fantastic goal-line save by a defender. Bridgford went on to win 1-0 that night. Today they look stronger on paper, and make two changes, with Wayne Jones and Jay Kirby returning to the team.
West Bridgford sit 11 points clear of the chasing pack. All-Whites have a couple of games in hand. They have underperformed and underachieved this season. They are still in the stalls as Bridgford are 'on it' from the off. 'Jonah' crunches in the tackle, and drives forward with purpose. It's one way traffic as the NSL photographer wanders towards us and the end Clifton are attacking. "What's the score mate?" he enquires "0-0 pal, but I'd camp out behind the other goal if I was you."
I'm chatting with South Normanton groundhopper Scott Ward and Real United coach Chris Galley. The Taxman coughs up that he hasn't paid to get in. OAPs and U16s are in for free. Despite Bridgford's dominance, they create very little in the final third. Clifton aren't at the races. Assistant manager Steve Hardie has sparked up more tabs than the chain-smoking Argentinian manager Cesar Menotti. At this rate I'm going to have to shoot off up to the Co-op to get him 10 Gold Leaf and a box of Swan Vesta.
All Whites can't get a second that would put the game to bed. Bridgford don't know when they're beaten, as they all pull together. Back they come again with Jones and Ryan Mart having a stranglehold on the midfield. Jones' lung-bursting runs are a feature of the second half. Substitute Westcarr's deflected effort loops over former Nottingham Forest 'keeper Ben Gathercole and into the net. The winner, they so richly deserve, comes late in the game, when a ball from the right finds leading scorer Jurgen Charlesworth in acres of space. He thumps home the ball to scenes of pandemonium on and off the pitch.
Referee Mick Leslie has let the game flow, but has missed many a late tackle. Clifton focus on him, rather than the game. They become ill-disciplined. They moan about offside decisions and penalty claims not going their way. The finger of blame should be squarely pointed at their own inept performance. Bridgford have energy, passion and desire.
I can see Tosh is upset at the final whistle. He approaches the referee to ask for an explanation for a penalty not being given. He shows a touch of class as he turns away disconsolately to shake the hand of a jubilant Bridgford player. "you were the better team, and deserved to win", he says.
Man of the Match: Patrick Newsome