Wednesday, April 22, 2015
It's Friday evening. I've had a long old week at work. We've all been in sales training for two solid days. It's intense, but also fun. I need a couple of pints to unwind for the weekend. Mrs P and I take a 30 second stroll down to The Pear Tree, my new local. It has replaced the artist formerly known as The Fairway. The old pub was an eyesore and a blot on the landscape. It only took a few months to restore the place.
I have a couple of pints of 'Fool Proof' from the Caledonian Brewery. I miss the old jukebox in here. They'd often leave the back doors open on a hot summer's day, whilst I was spanking the Bombay Sapphire on the patio at my house. It would be accompanied with Boney M or the Bay City Rollers belting out from the public bar.
I dash home to keep Murphy the budgie up to speed on the latest score from Carrow Road as his beloved Canaries take on Middlesbrough. An Alex Tettey own goal puts the kibosh on Murphy celebrating anything this weekend. He asks for the 'Do not disturb' sign to be placed over his cage (towel) as he sulks on his swing.
Murphy's mood has not improved in the morning; he's asked that Brian Matthew's Sound of the 60s Show is not switched on - the mardy little sod. It's not gone down too well that I'm travelling to Harrogate. The top of the Conference North is on a knife's-edge. It's a two horse race between Barrow AFC and AFC Fylde.
Danny Baker is broadcasting out in the USA for his Five Live Show. He's near to where the NASCAR Racing takes place. Baker is filming an eight part series called Cradle to the Grave, an adaption of his autobiography 'Going to Sea in a Sieve' which features Peter Kaye playing Baker's father, 'Spud.'
The journey through South and North Yorkshire is without incident. Darren is on board today. I've picked a pub in the affluent village of Ferrensby that requires a tick-off. The General Tarleton is way out of my league. It's a renovated 18th Century coaching inn, and a bloody posh un, at that.
We're pounced upon by a waiter who sounds like Rene from the sitcom 'Allo Allo.'There about 20 odd tables vacant, 'have I booked one?' No I bloody haven't. I only want a quick pint and a sandwich. After some banter we have a pint of Black Sheep and a beef with horseradish sauce sandwich.
It looks like folk are pouring in from the local Darby and Joan club. Those ladies will be dropping like flies if they clock my new Vans and blue shirt from Next. I'll have to put my first aid skills to the test at this rate. We 're comfortably the youngest in the pub by a country mile.
We can't exit the joint quick enough. It's a beautiful drive to Harrogate through the picturesque town of Knaresborough. We park just off the Wetherby Road, opposite 'Town's' ground. Harrogate has a population of 75,000 and in 1982 hosted the Eurovision Song Contest. Notable people born in the town include: footballers Andy O'Brien and John Scales, actor Hugo Speer and commentator Jon Champion. Electro-Techno band Utah Saints are from Harrogate - they are a personal favourite of 'The Auctioneer' who I worked with for many years.
We stretch our legs and manage to find the only council estate in the town. A Ford Capri flies around the corner and over a speed bump - I thought it was Bodie and Doyle from The Professionals. We pay £12 on the gate and £2.50 for a disappointing programme that is stuffed full of advertising. The ground is a beauty. I grab a cup of Punjana tea from 'Thompson's Tea Bar' and head over towards the 'Eddie Brown Stand' to hide from the sun for a few minutes. I while away the time amusing myself at the PA guy's choice in music. I roar with laughter when he plays 'Rasputin' by Boney M - I thought I was on the patio at home for a minute.
The pitch is patchy, the grass is short. Groundstaff try to revive it with water from sprinklers. Harrogate Town were founded in 1914. They are managed by former Lincoln City defender Simon Weaver, who played alongside Northern Ireland international Gareth McAuley when Big Keith Alexander was the boss of the Imps.
AFC Fylde, from Preston, are managed by former Tranmere defender Dave Challionor - he of the famous long-throw fame. Ironically the two sides could meet in the Conference Premier next season. A coach load of flat-cappers, with trays of pie and gravy, troop off in the direction of the goal their team will attack.
A guy walks by at the break as the PA bloke spins Madonna's 'Holiday' for the second time today. He has a cat in a flap on his head. He says he misheard the guys travelling say 'wear a flat cap.' It's Lancastrian humour at its best.
Two further goals in the second half for Fylde kill off any chances of a Harrogate comeback. 'Cat Flap Man' starts off a Conga in the Eddie Brown Stand, which all the Harrogate junior teams join in with amusement. It caps off another fine day in 'God's Own Country.'
Man of the Match: Danny Rowe
Monday, April 13, 2015
I arrive home in Keyworth just in time for Sticky jnr's semi-final clash with our good friends from Kimberley. A smashing game of football is spoilt by a referee who has no man management skills or personality to handle a 'big game' or razor sharp audience. What should have been a night to remember for the Keyworth young guns turned into a Brian Rix farce.
I had planned to watch FC United up at Witton Albion, as 'The Skipper' didn't have a match this weekend. His semi-final against Heath Hayes is suddenly brought forward by a week. Mrs P kindly agrees to take him. It gives me the chance to visit a ground I've had my eye on for a while since excellent blogger 'The Onion Bag' rocked up here earlier in the season.
I would have settled for a good old spit and sawdust public bar, but Mrs P is in tow and wants to go upmarket. We end up in one of those God forsaken chain bars called Revolution at Nottingham's Cornerhouse complex. I gently tap my fingers on the bar patiently waiting for ten minutes as barmen chop up cucumbers and mint for ridiculously overpriced cocktails. My patience finally snaps. I beckon Mrs P from her comfy seat and storm past a confused doorman, who I'd only said good evening to ten minutes ago.
I shout up a bottle of Becks and a glass of wine in the theatre bar and get gassing to Dringy who I've bumped into. The play is magnificent and worthy of a standing ovation.
I jump onto the A614 and head up towards the A1. Paddy McGuinness is guesting on the Danny Baker Show. Baker asks him who his favourite ever footballer is. The Bolton fan replies Jay Jay Okocha. The A1 southbound is gridlocked. Some poor sod has died in an accident. The police are recovering a vehicle.
I notice signs for Pontefract. I was given the impression by one of their officials on a messageboard that I wouldn't be welcome up there for having the audacity to lambast their management team for using foul and abusive language.I'm soon driving through Goldthorpe towards Grimethorpe. These places are synonymous with the Miners' Strike in the 1980s.
I pass factories and distribution centres on the outskirts of the village. A sad statistic I did notice is that more men died at the mine than did during two World Wars. The village is in far better shape than I'd imagined. I mistakingly pull into the Working Men's Club, before finding the entrance to the Grimethorpe Sports Ground.
A covered stand has signage above it saying 'Grimet' the 'horpe' is missing. Two teenage boys and two girls are sat on the wall. "What happened to the 'horpe' in 'Grimet'?" I enquire. "Someone 'borrowed' it" pipes up one of the lads. "Are you a 'Bobby'?" asks the other boy. I've got one of my new range of coats on from Next. It'll probably have the ladies in Grimethorpe in all of a lather.
I'm asked again if I'm a Bobby while I take photos of the WMC. Wounds have been slow to heal since the Miners Strike, when Maggie Thatcher sent up to South Yorkshire some of the Metropolitan's finest thugs.
I chance upon a gang of youths swigging from cans of Strongbow cider. I ask about the adjoining cricket pitch. "Not played in ages, team were disbanded, full of drunks." All that is left is an artificial strip. I ask the same youth what he does for a living: "I'm the local knobhead, and him, see him, (pointing at his mate) is a smackhead." I'd already seen remnants of a fire in the stand opposite, where local druggies congregate at night.
Grimethorpe Sports are unbeaten this season in the South Yorkshire Amateur League. The visitors, New Bohemians, are third from bottom and leaking goals. Today I'm a goal whore. The referee is only about 17 and has no linesmen. The players treat him with respect, never questioning any decisions. Grimethorpe are 3-0 up at the break and go on to win the game 7-1. The highlight of the game is the goal scored by the visitors, who have stuck to their task.
The ground and club need some tender loving care and a hug. I'm told the under 14s are their only junior club. The ground is tragic, but also beautiful. It will go straight into my top five, just for those reasons.
Mrs P backed the winner of the National. £43 isn't a bad return for a £1 each way stake.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Today the media is saturated with football coverage. There are dedicated sports channels and radio stations. It's took away all the enjoyment for me with its over analysis and waffle of the pundits. It's still a lifetime ambition to visit and see a game on all 92 grounds. I'd planned to visit ground No.76 on Good Friday, for the clash of two Lancashire clubs: Morecambe and Accrington Stanley. Blog legend Trumpy Bolton had agreed to accompany me.
It's Wednesday evening and I'm at my wits end. Not only is another episode of the ghastly Midsomer Murders on ITV, but it's also bucketing down with rain in the north west of the country. I punch out 'T' for Trumpy on my mobile. I express concern over a potential 300 mile round trip to Morecambe to see a game that might be hosed off. A sober Bolton (he doesn't touch a drop on a school night) asks about an alternative venue. "How about Barton Town v Cleethorpes Town near the Humber Bridge, Wetherspoons at Brigg serve ale after 09:00am?"
He takes a huge slurp of cider to wash down the toasted teacake he chewed on for breakfast. Murphy's hero, Alan Dedicoat, hasn't even read out the 8 o'clock news on Radio 2 yet. He salutes the soon to be opened Pear Tree in our village. We both have a good old groan and moan as Arsenal supporting self-promoting northerner Sara Cox's annoying dulcet tones are heard across the airwaves, accompanied by some wretched Christina Aguileri song.
Bolton is all set for two nights in Chepstow over the weekend, as he continues his quest to make a financial transaction in every village, town and city in England, Wales and Scotland - I kid you not.
We hit the market town of Brigg at just gone 9:00am. The White Horse, a Wetherspoons establishment, has only been open a few months. "Bloody hell, it's a bit quiet in here love", remarks an already booze-fuelled Bolton. "It's only 9 o'clock darling, wait until midday, it'll be bumper to bumper" quips the blonde barmaid.
The legend treats me to a full English and an Americano. He plays around with his bacon cob, whilst potting a pint of Ruddles ale and a cider. We're soon parked up on a grass verge on the edge of Barton upon-Humber staring out towards the Humber Estuary and the Humber Bridge shrouded in mist.
Barton upon Humber is a town in North Lincolnshire with a population just shy of 10,000. Isaac Pitman, the inventor of shorthand hand writing was once a Master at the Free Charity School in the town.
I clock clean-shaven Cleethorpes manager Marcus Newell. He looks less scary than he did at Wisbech Town earlier in the season, when he sported a beard and looked like he burst a blood vessel in his neck when they exited the FA Vase. He chews gum more furiously than Wee Billy Davies and Sam Allardyce put together.
Cleethorpes take a battering for the first 40 minutes as Old Boys football them off the park. 9 Jacket, Scott Phillips, is too hot to handle. His touch is majestic, headers are cushioned, not a ball is wasted, unlike the chances that his side spurn, in a one sided first half. When a chance comes their way, the Owls of Cleethorpe take advantage. Brody Robertson curls a 20 yard shot into the bottom corner of the onion bag to give the visitors an undeserved lead.
Old Boys have lost their best player in Phillips, who has picked up a hamstring injury. Cleethorpes finish the game off with two late strikes, the first of which sees the whole team pile onto the Owl mascot, who has his head ripped off during the raucous celebrations.
There's still time for the legend and I to visit four more pubs, including the delightful Dam Busters, in Scampton near Lincoln, with all it's fantastic RAF war memorabilia.
Man of the Match: Trumpy Bolton
Sunday, March 22, 2015
It's Tuesday evening, Mrs P is watching those two twonks on Masterchef. Murphy is sat on my shoulder staring at the Live Scores app on my phone. He suddenly starts crying and blubbering like a little baby. I glance at my phone, James Vaughan has put the Terriers of Huddersfield 2-1 up against the Canaries of Norwich in the 96th minute. Within two minutes he's pecking on the glass of my mobile in delight as Jamaican youngster Jamar Loza poaches an equaliser with the last kick of the game.
It's Saturday morning, Murphy is nowhere to be seen. He's upped and gone, flapping his wings on the long journey east to Norwich. The Big Man (the artist formerly known as White Van Man) had forgot to buy my feathered friend a train ticket. I'm up at the Big Man's for a full English. The fried eggs are served sunny side up. Breakfast is mopped up with a slice of bread and butter.
The train departs bang on time and is soon rattling its way through Grantham and Peterborough. There are a few Chesterfield fans making their way to London Road to watch the Spireites. The Big Man reads the Mirror and terrors a few 'rowdy birds' on Facebook, while Bruiser gives me the lowdown on the Tricky Trees - I haven't watch them since December 2013.
We're met off the train by Keyworth United legend Dean Bennett and his family. Deano lives just outside Norwich city centre. Norwich lies on the River Wensum in the county of Norfolk, with a population of 140,000. It has the most visited library in England. It had 1.3 million visitors in 2013. ITV Anglia is based in the city. Famous custodians from the area include: news reader Carol Barnes, war heroine Edith Cavell, turkey farmer Bernard Matthews, actor Sir John Mills, Horatio Nelson, singer Cathy Dennis, politician Ed Balls and footballers Danny Mills and Chris Martin.
Record appearances for the Canaries is held by 'keeper Kevin Keelan at 673. Record transfer fee received is £8 million from QPR for Leroy Fer. They shelled out £8.5 million on Dutch flop Ricky Van Wolfswinkel from Sporting CP. He's currently been farmed out on loan to St Etienne. Players to have played for both Forest and Norwich include: Dave Phillips, Jim Brennan, Matthieu Louis-Jean, Justin Fashanu, Darren Huckerby, Chris Woods, Ian Butterworth, Rob Earnshaw, Gary Holt ( now Norwich 1st team coach) and Grant Holt.
Forest kick against a swirling wind. Gardner and Lansbury sit deep as the Tricky Trees invite Norwich to attack. The Canaries full backs hug the touchline, peppering the penalty area with an endless stream of crosses which are dealt with superbly by Wilson and the impressive Lascelles.
Plan A bites the dust, Blackstock pulls a hamstring and is withdrawn. The dangerous Antonio is drafted in from the wing to become a lone ranger. Ruddy hares off his line to save bravely from him. Osborne stings the 'keeper's hands with another effort. Forest look dangerous on the counterattack, but it's Norwich that have a lion's share of the possession.
There's a mesmerising spell of play from Norwich in the first 20 minutes of the second half. Mancienne, a square peg in a round hole, is getting terrorised at right back. Another cross comes in from Olsson, it's cheekily back heeled into the net by Jerome.
Norwich are rampant. Chris Burke lazily fails to track back, Olsson takes a tumble, it's a stonewall penalty. Hoolahan scores his first goal at Carrow Road in over two years. The Canary faithful suddenly find their voice, including Murphy Palmer, who I swear is perched on the gantry.
The score and performance is too much to take for the usually partisan Bruiser. He is the original 'the bloke behind me.' It takes it's toll on the three guys in front of us who depart the stadium to escape Bruiser's effing, jeffing and constant moaning with ten minutes remaining.
There's an eventual end to the day when the train home is delayed and the British Transport Police summoned as drunken, loutish Forest fans fall out with one another over seating arrangements.
Man of the Match: Wes Hoolahan
Monday, March 9, 2015
I worked tirelessly for the Pies for over seven years as Head of Recruitment at their Academy. I sometimes sacrificed watching my own boys play the beautiful game to be sent on a scouting mission in the back and beyond. It didn't matter a jot to some folk down there. It broke my heart to leave the Club. I had to resign as a matter of principle. Mrs P is with me. We walk down to Iremonger Road; it's named after legendary Notts' 'keeper Albert Iremonger, who made 564 appearances between 1905-1925.
It's a breathtaking three mile walk down the canal towpath. You can see at first glance the development that has taken place in our wonderful city. Anglers cast out for Bream, Perch and Gudgeon. Joggers pound the pavement, running endless miles in training regimes for their next marathon. Cyclists ring their bells to gain our attention.
It's Friday evening, and after a stressful week at work, it's time to chillax. I'm in the Gamston Lock pub with the lads from work. It's my second appearance here in seven days. I down a couple of pints of Cocker Hoop from the Jennings Brewery up in Cumbria. One of the lads from work spills a full pint down my trousers. It doesn't dampen my enthusiasm for the evening ahead. The highlight is a couple of pints of Punk IPA in the Brew Dog in Hockley.
Christ, I'm rough as a badger's backside on Saturday morning. Murphy Palmer the budgie is still sulking over Norwich City's midweek 1-0 reverse against Wigan Athletic. Wigan, is of course, the home of Northern Soul. Murphy has banned this genre of music in our house until further notice. I've had to box up my Edwin Starr collection and carry it up to the loft. Murphy threatens to attack the aerial of my DAB radio if Brian Matthew plays a Northern Soul track on his Radio 2 show this morning.
First team manager James 'Tosh' Turner is parading around the ground in his QPR tracksuit. He spent last night with his pal Jermaine Jenas at Noel Gallagher's Flying Birds gig at the Nottingham Arena. Rumour has it Tosh even got to go in the dressing room. Word spreads around the ground that Jenas and Gallagher are due down any minute. It's got to be a wind up.
I leave Tosh to roll the pitch on his tractor and head off up the Nottingham ring road and onto the A610. I decline an invitation to watch MK Dons v Preston North End in League One.The brilliant Big John Murray is commentating at Valley Parade on the Bradford v Reading FA Cup tie. Former Pies midfielder Gary Liddle sees a shot come off the post.
I roll through the village of Brinsley before pitching up in Underwood. D H Lawrence courted a lass from here who lived at Hagg's Farm. Back in the day this area was a colliery district. I had hoped to have a swift one at the Red Lion on Church Lane, which has an entry in the 'Lucky Dip' section of the Good Pub Guide. To be honest I'm still feeling fragile from Friday night, so decide to give the boozer the swerve.
I find Bracken Park, the home of Underwood Villa just off the Mansfield Road. The brick built clubhouse sits above the two football pitches. I can see Keyworth Utd are being put through their paces. The No.7 looks gangly. He wears socks over his knees and has black cycling shorts on. I see one of his trademark mazy runs, despite it being a passing drill. It's my lad of course - Sticky junior. He has represented his village for 14 years.
It's Division 2 of the NSL. What I do like though is that both teams invest in youth. Sticky junior's usual manager isn't here today. My lad has a lot of time for him. He's brilliant at motivation and relaxing the boys in the changing room.
Seasoned veteran Dave Fisk is helping out in Lee's absence. He always has an encouraging word or two for junior. Underwood has always produced good players. We picked up a lad for Notts at 16 years old, who went on to become a scholar with the Pies.
I hook up with Alan and Dave in the clubhouse. Alan kindly buys me a coffee as we watch the half times roll in. I glance at the food menu in the bar. I'm not really in the mood for any of Nobby's Nuts or a Fredo bar.
Villa restore parity with a comedy goal. Harbottle in the nets, who always sports a cap when around at our house, forgets his headwear for the game. A low sun catches him out, his reflexes are too late, a 35 yard free-kick somehow finds it way into the net. The winner comes ten minutes later, following Villa's umpteenth corner of the second half.
Junior and Goran are substituted. My lad is frustrated at not getting on the ball. I tell him to keep his chin up. There's always next week.
Attendance: 23 (Head Count)
Man of the Match: Goran Seymour
Sunday, March 1, 2015
I arrive home to an empty house. Mrs P is on the lash with the girlies in Nottingham. I scour the fixtures on the Net. I clock Uttoxeter Town are entertaining Littleton from Evesham in the Midland League Division One. Uttoxeter impressed me a few months back in an entertaining game at Nuneaton Griff. I check facebook. Bruiser and Piers are taunting me from Marseille. They are at a French Ligue 1 game at a ground I haven't been to. Marseille throw away a 2-0 lead, going on to lose 3-2. Bruiser can't arf pick em.
I sleep like a log and rise at 8:00am. New Zealand have scraped home by one wicket against Australia in the World Cup. Murphy Palmer the budgie is mean and moody. He's been feathering all week. I can tell he's nervous about the East Anglian derby on Sunday. He'd love to 'Glasgow Kiss' Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy. I caught my little feathered friend red-handed the other evening eyeing up that new copper in Death in Paradise. Personally, I was appalled at her tight denim shorts, legs up to her backside and an off the shoulder T-shirt.
I drive across to Clifton. Today is 'The Skipper's' 17th birthday. He celebrates in style by bagging a brace for the world famous Clifton All Whites. I check-in with first team manager James 'Tosh' Turner. His mobile phone is glued to his ear, as he makes a few last minute transfer enquiries, before heading off to Mickleover for a Central Midlands League game. The chairman is overseeing the installation of the new floodlights, which is scheduled to take place next week.
My phone suddenly goes off with a text alert. It's White Van Man confirming that tickets and train have been booked for Norwich on March 21st when Forest take on the Canaries. At £77 it ain't cheap folks. It's a short trip to Uttoxeter. Crystal Palace are leading West Ham 1-0 courtesy of a Glenn Murray goal, as I turn off the A50 and head into the back of the town centre.
Uttoxeter's Oldfield Sports Club, on Springfield Road, is a piece of cake to find. There is no repeat of the last week's drama, when I verbally volleyed the Tom Tom. The ground is shared with the Rugby Club. It has a lovely old pavilion, which looks really cosy, but it's mobbed out with folk. I pay £3 on the gate and £1 for the programme.
The weather is a bit gloomy. The only place with any cover is behind the furthest goal. The dugouts are on the nearest touchline, with the rugby pitch on the far side. It's a bit of trek back to the clubhouse if you were to get taken short, as I often am.
'Tox' are on level terms on 24 minutes. 'Jack the lad' hits a howitzer of a free kick from 22 yards out which goes in off the underside of the bar. I take a stroll to the refreshment van at the break. I bump into another referee's assessor. They are usually without character. This guy is different. He thanks me for my positive comments about the ref.
A guy is walking towards me, and he doesn't look too chuffed to see me. Bloody hell, it's that groundhopper from Wigan that I met at Stapenhill the other week. "I don't sound like Eddie Waring" he shouts at me. "He was born in bloody Dewsbury." He produces a book from his bag. It's called Lancashire English. I gratefully accept this very kind gift.
It's a terrific game of football as both teams search for a winner. There's a melee on 85 minutes which sees Littleton's 10 jacket dismissed from the field of play. On 88 minutes a ball is cleared to Holloway who is 40 yards out and hugging the touchline. He's been the game's best player. His touch and passing has never deserted him. He hoists the ball towards goal, the 'keeper is stranded and despite furiously backpedaling, can only watch aghast as the ball hits the back of the net. Hollway takes the plaudits as he is piled on by his whole team.
There's still time for the referee to brandish two red cards as the game ends in chaos, but with a deserved victory for Littleton.
Man of the Match: Daniel Holloway
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Murphy whistles his way throughout the entire episode. I tried to break it to him gently that nobody has seen the Market Inspector in weeks. He asks for his towel to be put over the cage when it's revealed that little bro Bobby Beale bashed his big sister over the head with a jewellery box. We won't be watching it again.
It's Friday night and I'm sitting in the The Plumtree Restaurant on Nottingham Road in Keyworth next to the chippy. I've won a meal for two having been the 100th 'Like' on their facebook page. 'The Skipper' does a spot of waitering here at the weekend. There's not many folk in this evening, as people are scrimping and scraping, waiting for wages day next week. I polish off a huge portion of delicious haddock and share a Fruits of the Forest Gateaux with Mrs P. The food and service is par excellence. I tell the owner that I'll recommend that the Food Sleuth from the Nottingham Post pays them a visit.
Middlesbrough v Dirty Leeds is the commentary game on Five Live. Academy product Alex Mowatt has put the visitors ahead. Manager, Neil Redfearn, was one of my boyhood idols. He made 100 appearances for 'The Lincoln' in the 1980s.
I've brought the Tom Tom instead of the Garmin, it proves to be a costly mistake. The bloody thing takes me on a tour of the Derbyshire and Staffordshire countryside. Flipping heck, I thought I was in Cornwall for a minute, the roads are that tight and bendy.
I chance upon Brocton Hall Golf Club and drive up towards the clubhouse. Former Ryder Cup golfer Paul Broadhurst is the course record holder. An elderly couple, dripping wet, are packing up their golf gear. The lady gives me precise instructions. The club play just outside Stafford.
Brocton FC were founded in 1937 by the owner of a local pub. They are nicknamed The Badgers. It's £5 on the gate and £1 for a good programme. I love the ground. It's tight, tidy and tree-lined. The main stand is on the nearest side with green tip-up seats. I was tipped off about the ground by former UEFA official Phil Prosser.
Brocton are brimming with confidence. They are quick to close down and play a beautiful game. They take an early lead through a left footed strike by David Berks. It's soon 2-0. Young Jack Edwards rinses Walsall Wood's Kieron Richardson lookalike left back, his low cross is turned into the net by Sam Bell.
Walsall Wood are simply not at the races. Their centre forward, who didn't look match fit when I saw him a few weeks ago, is hauled off. A bloke resembling Emile Heskey replaces him. They are fortuitious to be handed a lifeline on the stroke on half time. Their winger already looks to be tumbling as he rounds the 'keeper. The lady lineman signals for a corner, the referee points at the spot. After consultation between officials, the spot kick is taken, but saved. The rebound is blasted into the back of the net.
I tell him an anecdote about the time I was in recruitment at Notts County. My boss and I went to see Buckingham Town v Farnborough Town in the FA Youth Cup. It was at the time when Munto ran the Pies and Sven Goran Eriksson was Director of Football. We picked up this lad. He reminded me of Gareth Barry. He played one trial game for Notts County U16s. They wanted £30,000 for him. Farnborough were managed by a guy called Steve King. He used to wear a cashmere coat and a pork pie hat. He looked like a used car salesman. Turned out Munto was a hoax. The boy was a quality player. His name was Joe Ralls. He's a regular pick for Cardiff City these days.
Walsall Wood emerge from the dressing rooms after only five minutes. I reckon their manager has booted them out after a royal rollicking. The game continues at a great pace. Brocton grab all three points with an emphatic finish from Jack Edwards who has hugged the right touchline all afternoon.
As I walk out the ground with the final seconds ticking away, I clock a man in the stand scurrilously penning away in a notebook. It's the dreaded referee's assessor. No wonder the man in the middle has been over zealous today.
Man of the Match: Jack Edwards