Sunday, March 4, 2007
Burton Albion 2 Altrincham 1
The bombshell was dropped last Saturday night whilst devouring the finest home-cooked curry our kitchen has ever seen: "Don't think you're going to football next Saturday we're off to some friends for tea" said Mrs P. I can't complain, I've had a good run, been to six matches on the spin! "Sticky it's Dafty, Burton Albion are playing on Friday night; fancy it?"
We used to go and watch the Brewers at their old ground, Eton Park, they've since moved to a new £7 million stadium across the road. Burton Albion were formed in 1950, they have a good pedigree in managers (get it ... Marston's) Ian Storey-Moore, Peter Taylor and Neil Warnock have all been in the hot-seat. Trivia question: Which East Midlands town, geographically is the furthest away from the sea?
The main employers in this area are Pirelli Tyres, Toyota and the Coors and Marston's Brewery. Singer/Songwriter Joe Jackson ("Is she really going out with him?") was born here.
Altrincham is 8 miles South-West of Manchester, and has a population of 40,000. On their official site there is a mailing address for manager Graham Heathcote, I drop him an e-mail suggesting he sends his scouts to go and watch Cammell Laird winger Eddie Jebb, because if he is not better than Alty 7 jacket Robbie Lawton then I will bare my backside on the Altrincham Town Hall steps. Sadly, there has been no reply.
Nigel Clough is of course The Brewers manager, and what a player he was. That ugly dinner lady, Steve Bruce, had no answer to young Nigel's silky skills when United used to visit The City Ground, it was before the tackle from behind was outlawed, Bruce was a butcher, in the modern game he wouldn't get into Gillingham Reserves.
His assistant manager is Gary "Bing" Crosby. It is often said that he only got a game out on the wing for NFFC because he used to do Cloughie's plumbing and gardening.
I've been to thee Pirelli Stadium twice already. Burton Albion play a beautiful game of football on the carpet; they play 4-2-4. They have an elegant Irish winger called Keith Gilroy, who began his career at Middlesbrough. He didn't make it and went off to sulk at Scarborough. Clough rescued him. His skills are sublime and he has a swagger, he hugs the touchline like John Robertson used to for the Tricky Trees. The ball sticks to his feet, but the end product is not always there. He is worth the gate admission alone (£12 by the way)
The attendance tonight is the lowest of the season (1400) this is due to a game being played across the cattle grid at The Sheep Dip. I can not bring myself to type the words of this team; they are despised in my adopted county. Tonight's referee, Mr A S Watts, is a Pierluigi Collina lookalike, sadly that's where the similarity ends, he is dreadful.
The stadium is fantastic and would put many Football League clubs to shame. Despite the inclement weather the pitch is immaculate, reminiscent of my father's lawn in the 1970s. The numerous bars at The Pirelli are awful; they are soulless. The old social club at Eton Park was a gem; I once saw 500 Hereford fans drink the bar dry of Bulmers cider. There is no Bass on tap in the bar, I am disappointed.
Alty have not won on their travels this season and are in the relegation zone. The Brewers are on the shoulders of the play-off pack. Burton Albion have a nasty habit of not finishing teams off, I recently saw them play Tamworth off the park, and then let The Lambs score two late goals to dump The Albion out The FA Cup.
Burton are off to a flier, Gilroy glides with the ball on the counter-attack and feeds leading scorer, fox in the box, Daryl Clare, he is lethal, 1-0. Jersey born Irishman Clare is 28 years old and has already had eight clubs and more signing on fees than Phil Stant, but he is Albion's big cheese, grand fromage, big fish in a little pond.
Altrincham, first half are awful, devoid of any ideas. Ex Railwayman, Colin Little is their only player worthy of note, but even he wastes their best opportunity. They are miles off the pace and second to the ball, Gilroy has the freedom of Staffordshire.
Darren Tinson, Burton's centre half is brilliant, and heads for fun. He played nearly 300 games for Macclesfield and had two good seasons at Shrewsbury. He is awesome, mind you he needs to be.
Tonight Burton have a right back called Andy "Ronnie" Corbett, and it really should have been "a goodnight from him" at half-time. He has one of those nights, a Sunday People stinker, they used to call it in my day. He can't pass, clear, head, intercept, tackle or stay on his feet.
The crowd don't help, and boy can they moan. Corbett and Ducros feel the wrath of their tongues. They don't appreciate what a great manager and team they've got. Burton dominate the first period and should be two or three to the good, ex Owl Shaw, who has been a good foil for Clare, misses when it looks easier to score.
Heathcote has roasted Alty at half-time, they play with no heart or spirit. It's all too crowded, they have no width. They finally suss that Corbett is having "a mare" Chalmers, Owen and the impressive Little combine well, and the chances begin to come.
Chalmers equalises after another slip from "Ronnie" The game ebbs and flows, it's a fantastic advert for Conference Football. The rain is lashing down, the pitch can handle it. Clare, Gilroy and Shaw all hit the woodwork. Burton are playing champagne football.
They have stole a boy from Crewe called Lee Bell, they will do well to keep hold of him, he is dynamic. Clare grabs the winner, with the goal of the game. On-loan Walsall winger, Alex Nicholls, rampages through the paper-thin Alty midfield and threads a ball through to the 'grand fromage' His finish is clinical. There's still time for Alty's O'Neil to clip the crossbar at the death, but 'The Albion' have footballed them off the park.
How The Brewers have only scored 35 goals in 32 games before this game God only knows. I will watch Altrincham again, next season, in the Nationwide North!
Burton Albion 2 Clare 2 Altrincham 1 Chalmers
Man of the Match: Lee Bell
Footnote: The headboard for the bed arrived on Tuesday, IT WAS THE WRONG ONE. I installed a site meter on this blog on Tuesday and noticed that someone from MFI in Lambeth is logging onto my site every day!!! Message for you young man, "stop tossing it off and sort my bed out" Apparently MFI was recently sold for a quid, to whoever has bought it you've been ripped off!!