Sunday, July 22, 2007

Rainworth MW 0 Eastwood Town 2

Mrs P has mentioned cutting back on my groundhopping duties, purely on financial grounds and yet I’ve just found an e-mail confirming she has bought two tickets to see Britain Lacks Talent winner, the pie-eating opera singer Paul Potts for £46, what a bloody cheek, I can get eight games in for that princely sum.

I noticed during the week that Uriah Rennie was having a run-out at Rainworth MW and let’s face it; it is on the to-do list. The taxman is travelling with me today down a very wet A614 but the lady at the welfare confirms to me that the game is definitely on.

In 1975 the notorious murderer The Black Panther, Donald Neilson, was captured in Rainworth. He kidnapped two policemen in Mansfield Woodhouse, shot one of them, but was apprehended by the afternoon shift of Rufford Colliery, who were queuing up for supper at The Junction Chippy in Rainworth. Neilson got battered.

Rainworth MW have always had a useful team, they have had some epic battles, in the past, against my local club Keyworth United. I remember a Senior Cup Final at John Player’s ground on Aspley Lane where they were awesome.

They won the Notts Alliance six consecutive years in a row between 1978-1983. They still hold the record for the highest attended FA Vase game, outside the final, when a crowd of over 5000 watched their semi-final clash with Bedfordshire’s Barton Rovers. 10,000 people from Notts were at Wembley for the final, even The Junction Chippy closed for the day. They lost 3-0 to Forest Green Rovers but what an achievement for a small pit village.

This season they have been promoted from thehe Central Midlands League to the Northern Counties East Div 1 and the ground is being upgraded. We park in the Welfare car park and stroll into the bar. I’m off champagne after last week’s escapade and settle instead for a couple of cold Guinness.

It’s slinging it down with rain but the local bowls team are out in force. The welfare is very cosy, outside they are erecting a smoking shelter, this doesn’t half make me chuckle.

The lady behind the bar is welcoming, she tells me that Mr Rennie has attended Sportsman's Dinners in the past and is very popular in these parts, she says he is “a bit of alright” – don’t think the prawn sandwich brigade of the Premiership will agree with you there love. Groundhoppers are constantly ringing her up asking for the postcode of the ground for their sat navs. I thought they caught trains?

The ground is beautiful and is set in a valley below the welfare. They are undergoing a massive refurbishment, with new changing rooms, offices and tea bars being built to Northern Counties standard.

It’s £4 to get in and the programme is free. Gordon Foster produces the programme and I have to say what a fine publication it is too, as good as I’ve seen. It’s full of stats, reviews and write-ups and is written by a man with a passion for the game. Gordon is on the microphone before the game and he is the half-time DJ too.

I haven’t seen Eastwood since Cammell Laird turned them over at Coronation Park last winter. Eastwood had the last laugh beating the Birkenhead outfit in the Unibond League play-offs.

Manager Paul Cox isn’t here today and his assistant Richard Cooper is playing in defence. I criticised their style back in February but today they keep it on the carpet. Lindon Meikle, The Badgers’ forward has just returned from a trial at MK Dons, Eastwood are not happy with his agent, the boy appears to be getting bad advice. Word on the street is that he is to have a trial this week at Russell Slade’s Yeovil Town.

There is no gulf in class in an evenly balanced first half, Rainworth’s Lee Wilson and Eastwood’s Ricky Hanson both miss sitters. Rainworth don’t look the fittest team in the world and many of their squad appear to be carrying excess baggage, I’m sure their manager Rudy Funk will address this problem in pre-season training.

Ex Forest Academy star Matty Turner is making his debut for the Wrens and he shows some good touches. Apparently he used to play in the Danish Super League; from where I stand he looks to have been partial to a Danish pastry or two.

Gordon spins a classic tune at the break Love Song by The Damned. Players and crowd share the same toilet; I have the honour of being in the next urinal to the Rainworth captain.

Eastwood prove too strong for Rainworth in the second period, Paul Mitchell scores the first goal of the game at the second time of asking and Meikle puts the game to bed, seizing on a loose ball on the edge of the area. Mr Rennie is in cruise control and all the players respect him. O’Brien and Mitchell command the midfield for Eastwood.

The game is now being interrupted with a steady stream of substitutions. Anton Bonnick once of NSL Boots makes his Badgers debut. His first touch is terrific and he is not afraid to shoot. Keep an eye on him he could be a surprise package in the Unibond Premier this season, he is hungry.

There is a sickening collision between Niall O’Brien and a Rainworth midfielder and an ambulance arrives on the scene. Mr Rennie blows for full-time. As friendly matches go the second half is very entertaining. Rainworth is a smashing club and I wish them well in the Northern Counties this season and will watch them again.

Rainworth MW 0 Eastwood Town 2 Mitchell and Meikle

Attendance: 155

Man of the Match: Paul Mitchell.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Day In York (And An Early Night For Sticky)

It’s York Races second biggest meeting of the year today, The John Smith’s Cup, and Dafty has organised a day out. We leave Keyworth early doors and pick up Mad Dog en-route. We’re staying at Sprakey’s and I’m looking forward to a hearty breakfast on arrival.

York has a population of 175,000 and our kid lives up there. Famous people from York include, Guy Fawkes, Dame Judi Dench and Hunter from Gladiators. Dick Turpin was famously hanged on York Racecourse and by 1730hrs today Sticky P was hanging in exactly the same spot!!

The journey up north is incident free and we arrive just after 9am at Sprakey’s gaffe. It’s a three storey Victorian house, over 130 years old; it’s only a 5 minute walk to the City Centre and 10 minutes to the racecourse.

Sprakey has sorted us a first-rate greasy spoon out, just round the corner, (The Hot Pot CafĂ©) four full English and a cuppa. I’m dispatched to fetch the morning’s papers, Dafty insists on a Racing Post; what a waste of time, the guy hasn’t backed a winner for 25 years, I’ve carried him all over the country and Ireland.

We’re all suited and booted and visit our first hostelry of the day, The Victoria Vaults, and very nice it is too. There is a framed picture on the wall with raceday badges for every course in Britain spanning over 30 years. I can hear Joy Division’s Ian Curtis on the jukebox. Mad Dog is thirsty, very thirsty!

The second pub is a gem and is called The Golden Ball; I can not resist the Everards Tiger. We cross York Common on our way to the course, I once took an incredible one-handed catch for my brother’s works rounders team, many moons ago, and they still talk about it to this day at lunch breaks at York City Council.

We pay £30 to go in The County Stand, it’s worth every penny. I bump into a lad from work, we exchange small-talk (it’s brief he’s from D**by).

We decide to hang around The Champagne Bar and buy our first bottle of the day (oh dear). We drew a blank in the first race; Dafty trots out his standard quote “Vicious Warrior …. yeah yeah .. was going to back that one” blah blah blah. Sticky opens his account in the second, we are up and running and crack open another bottle.

It’s time for the big one, The John Smith’s Cup, Sprakey backs 1st and 4th, and we re-visit The Champagne Bar. History is made in race four when Dafty backs his first winner in a quarter of a century; I’m well miffed, his horse has beaten mine by half a length and mine was 14/1 .. doh!! More champagne.

Heppers and Geoff have finally arrived; there’s been a bad smash on the A1. We retreat to The Champagne Bar and catch up on the gossip. I’ve been that busy rattling I’ve missed the last two races. I toss Dafty £15 for the last race, we are nearly all on it, and she romps home. This time it’s pink champagne we are into double figures and in my case double vision.

I have no recollection of the walk back to The Golden Ball but I’m now making as much sense as a night out with Shane McGowan and Charles Kennedy. I’m swaying in the corridor of The Golden Ball and refuse a pint of Everards (unheard off). I’ve hit the white wall “I’m gone” I repeat over and over again.

It’s 7pm and Sprakey is having to walk me home. I remember the walk it must have looked horrific. I slump in a chair and fall asleep before The National Lottery Draw and Casualty (where I would have ended up had I stayed the distance).

Ten hours later I’m wide awake and subject of much ridicule. Sprakey was unceremoniously turned away from York’s finest real ale house, The Maltings, “it’s a shit pub anyway” he tells the Yorkshire Brick Shitehouse on the door.

Dafty in true Geraint Jones style, fumbled a Pukka Pie into the gutter with the cheerful Yorkshire Chipmeister refusing a refund. Sounds like I missed a good night out. Thanks for the bed Sprakey but don’t ever send me out again to fetch The Mail on Sunday!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A Word From The Warren

Name: Finley (named after the Irish wrestler)

Age: Nearly One.

Born: Arnold, Nottingham.

Lives In: Sticky's Yard, in my crib.

Dislikes: Leicester (The Foxes) Brentford (The Bees) Rain and Veterinary Surgeons.

Likes: Sticky P, Mrs P but not Jack and Joe coz they boot the ball at my cage

Fave Food: Carrots, Hay, Yoghurt Drops and Dandelions.

Fave Actors: Bob Hoskins and Warren Beattie.

Fave Films: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Watership Down.

Fave Singer: Art Garfunkel and Chas and Dave.

Fave Group: Jive Bunny and Echo and the Bunnymen.

Fave Footballer: David Burrows.

Disliked Footballer: Ruel Fox

Fave Comedian: Jasper Carrott

Nickname: Houdini (more failed escape attempts than Steve McQueen)

Fave Holiday Spot: you takin the p**s