Sunday, March 11, 2007
Stafford Rangers 0 Tamworth 4
Revenge is a dish best served cold. I have just told Mrs P I'm off to Stafford, she is not best pleased. I'm expecting ice cream for pudding tonight! I took the Citroen into Big City Tyres this morning for an exhaust change; the kids call the car Sally Gunnell (not much to look at but a bloody good runner) She'll be coming to Stafford for a run-out this afternoon.
Stafford lies between Stoke On-Trent and Wolverhampton and has a population of over 60,000. The comedian Dave Gorman, of Googlewhack fame, was born here as was Travis lead singer Fran Healy.
The town holds a long tradition of shoe making. Sadly 12 months ago RAF Stafford closed down. I pass the base on my way to Marston Road. Enfant terrible and flawed genius Stanley Victor Collymore had a spell at Stafford Rangers before signing for Crystal Palace. He is still the finest centre forward ever to grace The City Ground.
Both today's managers have had illustrious playing careers. Stafford born Phil Robinson was a tigerish midfielder for Notts County during Neil Warnock's reign. He didn't quite reach the dizzy heights of Tamworth manager Gary Mills. He made his Nottingham Forest debut at the age of 16 and had a European Cup Winners medal in his pocket at 18 years old. He also played for Leicester City and Notts County.
Mills had a Annus Horribilis whilst managing The Pies. The club was in administration at the time, he was forced to sell his best players and cut his cloth accordingly.
He dipped into the bargain bucket, buying good players like David Pipe and Mike Edwards. The Notts County board are weak and spineless, they bowed to fan pressure and sacked Mills. The fans felt he talked the talk too much particularly in the local paper. I rate him, he knows the game at this level inside out and has a proven track record in the non-league and boy is he turning this team round.
I will be honest, Marston Road is not a great ground, it looks a little tired. It's £12 to get in, a tad overpriced considering the dross they serve up.The pitch is on a sideways slope, but looks in fairly good nick.
Sometimes you can tell from the body language in a warm-up who is going to win. Stafford look tense during their rigorous routine, The Lambs are calm and relaxed.
There is a heavy police presence outside the ground for this Staffordshire Derby, a massive waste of money. There is no sign of trouble.
The bloke on the public address system sounds like he's talking out of a loud haler. Tamworth have brought a good following, their fans were good value when their team committed daylight robbery at The Pirelli a few months ago.
I spot a memorial plaque on the wall commemorating an old manager, Roy Chapman. You may remember his son, Lee Chapman, ironically he was born on Scorer Street in Lincoln.
This is a relegation battle but their is a gulf in class from the first whistle. Stafford are dire. They begin the game with five at the back, a tactic they deployed so successfully in midweek at league leaders Dagenham and Redbridge, where they grabbed a precious point.
Lambs forward, Taiwo Aiteno, is proving a handful. He has a deft touch for a big strong lad and only starts the game because Matty Williams feels a twinge in the warm-up. He takes advantage in the 13th minute, pouncing on a loose ball, 1-0. Ten minutes later it's 2-0 as Atieno sweeps one home after hesitation in the home defence. Only a smart save from keeper Duggan prevents a first half hat trick.
The Rangers defence is about as organised as a Chinese fire drill. Daniel and McAughtrie, the giant Stafford defenders are grand masters at the alehouse ball. McNiven and Madjo live off crumbs.
David McNiven, the Stafford forward, is on loan from Morecambe. He once scored 23 goals in the Conference for Leigh RMI (Railway and Mechanics Institute) Since then he has hibernated up at Queen of the South, where by the looks of it he has spent many an hour queueing at the pie stall. He has Stafford's only real chance of the half. Jake Edwards heads home a wicked McGrath corner on 43 minutes.
The home faithful are rattled but to be fair to them they never get on Robinson's back. I try to strike up a conversation or two with them but they are not interested (fair play I am a boring old sod)
The bloke next to me has spent the entire first half eating a Marks and Spencer Wild Salmon and Cucumber sandwich complete with Sea Salt and Black Pepper crisps. If you want a picnic surely Cannock Chase is the place to go? Who knows a visit to the car park at night and you might see Stan Collymore. Babyshambles blasts out the loud haler at half-time, shambles being the appropriate word. The Lambs supporters are in party mood, let's all have a disco.
Edwards completes the rout on 65 minutes following more shambolic defending. Irishman John McGrath, Tamworth's diminutive midfielder has ran the show, he is their creme de la creme. His left foot is like a magic wand. He has a 45 minute showboat session in the second period. The football league surely beckons for him.
Stafford Rangers 0
Tamworth 4 Atieno (2) Edwards (2)
Man of the Match: John McGrath
Footnote: The MFI headboard saga came to an abrupt end last Sunday. The father in-law was seconded to Sticky Towers to engineer proceedings in the construction of the bed. The headboard was fully took out the packaging one side was suede the other leather: It was in fact the correct headboard!!! To the MFI stalker from Lambeth who surfs these pages a thousand apologies. To the customer services manager from Sunderland who received a Roy Keane stylee anger management call from myself I'm sorry!! MFI are the best furniture store in Great Britain and whoever bought them for a quid you got yourself a bargain.
Further Footnote : You may remember that excuse for a team called Altincham and how awful they were at Burton. There is no doubt they were stung and hurt by my match report, maybe manager Graham Heathcote pinned it up on the dressing room wall. It has had the desired effect. They beat Cambridge Utd 5-0 on Tuesday and followed it up with a 2-1 away win at Weymouth. The first on their travels this season. Well done Alty.