Monday, August 27, 2007

Nottingham Forest 1 Leeds United 2

You’d never go short of a quote if you were a journalist in Leeds, not with the likes of Ken Bates and Dennis Wise on your patch: “99.9 per cent of fans support us. Saddam Hussain never got those ratings and he was was fiddling the figures”, is another classic from Bates.

I have poked fun at Leeds in my blog (who hasn’t?) the alleged match-fixing, the high profile Bowyer-Woodgate saga and Peter Risdale’s ill-feted reign, but you have to take your hats off to Wise and Poyet and the way their paper-thin squad have begun the season.

Leeds is in West Yorkshire and has a population of over half a million and is located on the River Aire. Famous people from Leeds include: pseudo fan Chris Moyles, proper disc jockey Jimmy Saville and cult indie group The Wedding Present.

I whisked Mrs P away up there for a weekend break twelve months ago (I know how to treat a girl). It has an excellent shopping centre. I had to drag the good lady out of Harvey Nicholls and out of Henry’s Bar on Greek Street after she had demolished a 8% bottle of Scrumpy. I nipped in the LUFC club shop; there wasn’t a soul in there.

'The Skipper' is at cub camp this weekend and fails to make the trip. It’s just Sticky Junior and me. I’ve got tickets for the Main Stand, Block “B”. We’re four rows from the front, and it’s our favourite vista.

We’re on our way to the game; a Leeds coach has took a wrong turning and is heading up the narrow lane that leads to Wheatcrofts Garden Centre.

We’re fleeced for £4 at County Hall to park the car and a further £3 for a programme. I refuse to buy food or drink at professional football grounds as the prices are obscene, so I’ve smuggled a couple of cans into a small rucksack.

A Polish security man is patrolling outside the Main Stand turnstile, he insists on searching the bag; we have to down our cans in one.

There’s something special about watching a football ground fill up. We are always in the ground 45 minutes before kick-off, so the lads can get autographs, Wise and Poyet oblige and sign his programme, I’m impressed.

The music has improved, gone are Westlife, replaced with the football anthems of Oasis and The Fratellis; both sets of fans trade insults.

Forest boss Colin Calderwood has had to prune his squad. They only have 24 to choose from. Out of today’s line-up and subs, nine are either Nottingham born or out of the Academy.

There’s still no sign of summer signings from Yeovil Davies and Cohen. Leeds rely on the experience of David Prutton and Alan Thompson.

The atmosphere is fever-pitch and Forest begin the game brightly. Leeds squeeze the midfield and are happy to allow Forest full-back Luke Chambers plenty of space down the right flank. He whips in three dangerous crosses but there is no-one on the end of them. James Perch goes close for the Reds in the early stages.

Leeds begin to get a grip on the game and take the lead on 17 minutes, with former Barnet and Darlington striker Tresor Kandol smashing one in off the post following terrific play from strike partner Jermaine Beckford.

Forest go into their shell, they are frightened again like they were towards to the back-end of last season.

Leeds take the initiative, Kandol goes close again with a snap shot, Reds’ keeper Paul Smith makes a point-blank save from a Prutton header and Beckford wastes another chance.

Forest are relieved to hear the half-time whistle, former non-league strikers Beckford and Kandol have plenty in the locker; Wilson and Morgan are being dragged all over the park. Leeds pinpoint the Forest left flank.

I see a friend at the break, he’s proper Forest and proper upset: “You’d have thought it’s Forest on Death Row not Leeds” he says.

Forest up the tempo, Clingan begins to have more of an effect on the game, they’re pouring forward but I’m not impressed with the front pairing. Agogo is just plain lazy whilst Holt is not up to the mark, and it’s easy to see why Calderwood was so keen to offload him to Bristol City last season.

Dennis Wise is getting some serious stick from the Forest faithful but takes it in his stride. He responds to ”you’re only four foot tall” with a trademark Clough thumbs-up to “A” Block, I’m beginning to warm to this guy.

A heavy spell of Forest pressure bears fruit in the 50th minute when a Commons free-kick goes through a ruck of players, taking a deflection en-route to goal.

Forest are inspired and pour forward, Leeds on-loan left-back Jamie Clapham is on overtime. Perch stabs one wide, Holt hits the side-netting and Commons goes close again. Forest fans taunt their rivals with “let’s all have a whip-round”.

Wise makes a bold move bringing on Tore-Andre Flo and going three up top, (can you imagine Calderwood doing that away from home?). Still Forest create chances.

Nathan Tyson enters the fray to rapturous applause from “A” Block: “bloody hell it’s Tyson not Collymore” shouts a wag, he like me is not convinced. Tyson creates a gift-wrapped chance for young German winger Felix Bastians, who blazes wide of the post.

French midfielder Sebastian Carole on the counterattack wriggles his way through the Forest defence unchallenged and threads a ball through to Beckford on the far post, who makes no mistake.

The away fans are delirious, Wise and co go mental, you’d have thought they’d won the European Cup Final. Calderwood looks forlorn; it can’t help that ex Leeds manager David O’Leary is sat in the stands for the second consecutive match.

Forest are unlucky but pay for a shocking first half performance. Leeds on the other hand are a tight-knit unit who give their all for their manager. The away support today are a twelfth man. They all have a huddle in the centre-circle at the final whistle.

I’ve been disappointed with ex-Pie Kelvin Wilson today. He’s hardly won a header and looks off the pace. Wes Morgan has his critics but he’s won his headers and cleared his lines. What he lacks in intelligence he makes up with endeavour.

Forest have been outwitted by a couple of strikers who a few years ago were plying their trade at Thurrock and Wealdstone respectively. Perhaps the Reds should employ a scout to scour the non-leagues because there are plenty more out there like them.

Nottm Forest 1 Commons Leeds Utd 2 Kandol and Beckford

Attendance : 25,237

Man of the Match: Jermaine Beckford

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Matlock Town 2 Lincoln United 1

Yes, I did note that League 1 basement club Leeds United, beat the mighty Shrimpers 4-1 last weekend, with a glut of goals in the last five minutes. 24,000 of West Yorkshire’s finest turned out: Was it 'Kids for a Quid?'

I’ve looked forward to visiting Causeway Lane, home of Unibond Premier League side Matlock Town for a while now; their fans have been very welcoming on the website message board.

The Inland Revenue has joined me tonight; he’s got the non-league bug. It’s a one hour journey, clogged up with speed cameras and speed restrictions. We’re in the chavomobile.

The ground is a stone’s throw from the town centre and it’s easy to park. It’s £7 admission and £1.50 for yet again another well produced programme.

Matlock is in the Derbyshire Dales and has a population of over 10,000. Former Blue Peter presenter Simon Groom is a resident. Mrs P’s favourite drama, Peak Practise was filmed here. She was often baffled why I watched such dross but I couldn’t tell her I fancied the pants off Amanda Burton.

Cult film director Shane Meadows based his classic Dead Man’s Shoes in Matlock. I recommend you watch it. I hid behind the settee at the end.

The Gladiators’ joint manager, Phil Brown, is a Lincoln City legend and his centre-forward, Dene Cropper, has graced the Millennium Stadium for The Imps.

Lincoln United manager, John Ramshaw, who lives in my village, has three players in his squad who have all played for my local team Keyworth United: Iain Screaton, Rob Norris and my favourite Tom Aldred.

The Taxman, typically, buys the cheapest round of the season at £4.20, as we sample a very fine Marston’s Smooth. The ground is delightful and has an olde worldy charm to it. The views looking out to nearby Riber Castle are breathtaking.

The game starts at a furious pace; there is no time on the ball. Matlock begin to find some width and former Magpie, Paul Riley, is causing problems down the left flank.

Warne and Holmes miss good chances for The Gladiators. Lincoln play like a team of strangers, which is exactly what they are, as manager Ramshaw has drafted in over 10 players into his squad. Another former Magpie and Keyworth boy, Iain Screaton, remains unflustered at the heart of The Whites’ defence.

On the hour Lincoln take a surprise lead, Matlock fail to clear a free-kick with Douglas bundling the ball home. Whites’ striker Justin Jenkins has the chance to put them two to the good, but fires wide. Matlock are soon back on level teams, Lincoln keeper Ben Scott fails to hold onto a shot, striker Ian Holmes is on hand to restore parity.

Paul Riley has terrorised Lincoln full back and former Gingerbread man Alex Rodman all evening and it’s his crazy push on Riley that results in a penalty. Simon Barraclough makes no mistake from the spot.

It’s only now that Lincoln up the tempo but it’s too late they’ve not worked hard enough, Matlock have too much class for them.

The Matlock bench and crowd have harangued referee Plowright of Mansfield all night but he has allowed the game to flow and (fans won’t agree) did a good job in my opinion.

His final act is to send off Gladiators’ substitute Hall following a bit of afters between him and Whites’ Ben Brown at the final whistle. It results in a 22 man melee, with both dugouts entering the field of play. It’s a shame, the game is played in a good spirit and the best team has won.

Matlock Town 2 Holmes and Barraclough Lincoln United 1 Douglas

Attendance: 331

Man of the Match: Paul Riley

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Mansfield Town 1 Lincoln City 3

Steve Bruce, that ugly dinner lady and manager of Birmingham City has slammed the English Football Academies this week in the press saying “there’s a dearth of young talent … we’re not producing them like we used to”. I immediately e-mailed pan face (Bruce) telling him to get his arse down Sincil Bank and watch our No.7 Lee Frecklington, he’s the best I’ve seen down 'The Bank' in years.

I asked the kids if they fancied watching The Imps at Field Mill today, “no Dad they’re crap” was there response. I’ve stopped all pocket money until further notice. Lincoln City are my team and a “club in crisis”, we’ve shipped eight goals in two games, and our defence has more leaks than Tewkesbury town centre.

Mansfield has a population of 70,000 and lies on the banks of the River Maun. It has a history of coal mining which was brutally decimated by Margaret Thatcher’s despicable government in the 1980’s. Only two collieries remain: Welbeck and Thoresby.

It’s a good night out round Mansfield, I can testify to that, when my colliery closed in 1999 we had our leaving do there, I still get a headache thinking about that hangover to this day.

Stags’ managing director, Keith Haslam is an outcast in these parts; two years ago he borrowed over £500,000 from the club as an interest free loan. The club also gave half a million to Haslam’s holding company, Stags Limited, to purchase land for an academy. Have they built on it yet?

John Gaunt is the Centre of Excellence Director for Mansfield, I used to work for him at The Pies, and he is a top man.

Flicking through the £2.50 programme I notice that one of the lads I got in at Notts County from the the Meadows area of Nottingham is now an apprentice at Mansfield. At Notts they kept telling me I wouldn’t find 15 years olds at grassroots good enough for academies, as I used to say to them, Chelsea didn’t pick up John Terry until he was fourteen!

There are strong connections between these two clubs, John Scohfield, our Head Coach, has played for both clubs, as has Mansfield’s Commercial Manager, ex Newcastle United player, Tony Lormor. We had a tricky winger once, who we signed from The Stags, called Derek Asamoah, he’s now plying his trade in France for Nice, now that is a tough one to swallow. Cult hero Phil Stant has also played for both clubs as well as nearby rivals, Notts County.

It’s a short drive down the A60, past the old Home Brewery in Daybrook, up the Mansfield Road, passing Lord Byron’s ancestral home at Newstead Abbey.

I’m listening to Radio Nottingham’s match day programme, they are taking the p**s out of Lincoln’s defensive record. They ask a good question though. Who was the first Spaniard to score in a FA Cup tie in England?

I park the car down a cul-de-sac opposite Sainsbury’s, and stroll through a mass of retail parks and down through a snicket, past the River Maun, where there is a lone fisherman. I keep my wits about me, as there has been a history of violence between these two sets of supporters before games.

It’s £17 to sit down in the impressive West Stand. I pay £1.80 for a Diet Coke. They are playing Rihanna’s tiresome tune, Umbrella, on the public address system, it was somehow number one for 10 weeks.

Mansfield are now managed by likeable Lancastrian, Billy Dearden, they picked up a useful point last week down in West London, at Terry Butcher’s Brentford.

The team news comes through, there’s no place for Lincoln’s Gary Croft in the starting line-up. Bit of trivia for you here but he was the first professional footballer to wear an electronic tag after being caught driving whilst disqualified.

I’m worried about our makeshift backline. Ex Aston Villa trainee, Paul Green is left back but is right footed, while Ryan Amoo is playing right back. I’m not a big fan of his. There’s a little old lady up our road who is 87, every day she walks down Sainsbury’s for her groceries, put a ball at her feet and even she would run past Amoo. Nat Brown and Adie Moses, our centre halves, have never given me much confidence.

We take the lead after 90 seconds, Marriot’s goal kick is flicked on by Forrester to Leicester City loanee, Louis Dodds, he holds off a couple of challenges and finishes coolly. The 600 travelling faithful celebrate.

The home fans give goalkeeper White some unfair criticism, he’s only a young lad and it’s the first home game of the season.

The Stags bounce back but most of their efforts are hit from distance, their ageing centre half Martin McIntosh hits a couple of long rangers. They resort to hitting long balls to ex Huddersfield striker Jon McAliskey. I read somewhere that McAliskey had said he hoped to score 20 goals this season; on this showing he’ll do well to have 20 shots, and may well be retired to Skegness beach.

Lincoln continue to play sleek football, Jamie Hand, their new signing from Chester City, is the perfect foil for the emerging Frecklington and gives him more license to push forward.

Mansfield deservedly equalise on 36 minutes from the penalty spot following a push on Boulding by Green. Boulding dispatches the penalty with ease. The Imps respond immediately from kick-off, a marauding run from ex Glasgow Rangers forward, Dany N’Guessan leaves a trail of Stags players in his wake, he whips a cross in from the by-line, which McIntosh turns into his own net. 2-1 Lincoln.

Jimmy Saville, the Mansfield Town Disc Jockey, gives Rihanna’s Umbrella a second outing at half-time. I don’t think this record is due for release in Mansfield until Monday morning.

In the second half we play the best football I have seen from us in years and exert real pressure on the Mansfield defence. We counter-attack with pace. Dany N’Guessan is battering the highly rated Stags full-back Alex-John Baptiste, who recently signed a lucrative three year deal with the club.

Lee Bell, who I saw at Burton Albion last season, is caught napping in the centre circle, Forrester finds Stallard in acres of space on the left, and he runs at the Stags’ defence and finishes with an audacious curling shot which goes in off the post. It’s goal of the season so far.

Lincoln give a master-class of football, the movement is terrific. Mansfield play with no urgency or ideas. Lincoln are now in for the kill, Green and Forrester both miss chances and Frecklington fires over from 25 yards. Owain Warlow, our young left winger, comes on for a cameo role and looks an exciting prospect and gives us more balance.

The Stags’ sponsor’s award right winger Matt Hamshaw man of the match, he hasn’t beaten his fullback once in 90 minutes. He is on Radio Nottingham as I drive home; he gives an articulate and honest assessment of the game.

We won’t play a poorer side than Mansfield, this season, and I take no pleasure in saying that because I have a soft spot for them. As the bloke behind me said to his young son: “you’re not here to enjoy it, you support Mansfield Town”

Mansfield Town 1 Boulding (Pen) Lincoln City 3 Dodds, McIntosh (og) and Stallard

Attendance: 3357

Man of the Match: Dany N’Guessan

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dunkirk 2 Blackwell MW 1

Emmerdale, Eastenders and Holby City or Dunkirk v Blackwell MW; it’s a bit of a no-brainer really, isn’t it?

The Taxman returns tonight after a ten day break in Cornwall, he moans about The Reds’ bore draw at the weekend. I’m still smirking after my nine goal thriller at Wharf Lane.

Dunkirk is just outside Nottingham City Centre, on Lenton Lane. Three clubs play in a 500 metre stretch; Greenwood Meadows and Bilborough Pelican being the other two.

The Boatmen (it’s on the banks of the River Trent) were formed in 1946. They played in the old Notts Alliance but have kicked on and performed well in the Central Midland Supreme Division last season.

Nottingham Forest nicked Wes Morgan from Dunkirk and haven’t done too badly out of him (forget the Yeovil game), playing over 150 games for The Reds. Jake Sheridan is another from these parts, Gary Mills signed him for Notts County in 2005. He’s now back with Mills at Tamworth.

Blackwell MW are from near Alfreton, in the South Normanton area, just off Junction 28 of the M1, they finished mid-table last season.

The PA system has Radio Nottingham’s football night blaring out its speakers; another classic encounter at Chester’s Deva Stadium for Colin Fray to commentate on.

We’ve time for a drink at the refurbished bar and sit on one of the comfy leather sofas. The whole ground has had a lick of paint.

Entry is £3 plus a £1 for the information packed programme. The pitch is in pristine condition and the huge poplar trees sway in the evening breeze.

Across the other side of the pitch, from where we are, is a covered stand, on closer inspection all the seats are ripped out. In the distance above all the power pylons are the high-rise flats on the Clifton Estate.

Dunkirk are managed by ex-pie David Harbottle, who is a legend on the Notts non-league circuit and a bit of a character. He has an eye for a player and has assembled a strong, young, mobile unit.

The Meadows area of inner-city Nottingham is close by, and is a happy hunting ground for recruitment for clubs like Dunkirk. At junior level this club is respected and feared, I bought my U9’s here last season, we grabbed a 1-0 win, we rode our luck that day.

I have come to the conclusion that football scouts are bone idle because each week I see lads who should be playing way up the pyramid, tonight is no exception. Marquin Smith is a class above the rest, this evening. He has pace, he pushes, probes, drives with the ball at his feet and is positive in his play. I believe he is at university, so maybe that is why he is happy at Dunkirk. His mate, Tyrone Cairns, is not far behind him. In the second period his energy levels and running are astonishing.

I get my first touch on 14 minutes a full minute before any Blackwell player. Dunkirk play a beautiful game, Harbottle looks on with immense pride. Their midfield is tenacious and tigerish and play without fear. They are hungry and play with their hearts on their sleeves.

Jack Reid is dominant in the first half. Another left footer would complete the jigsaw, both the left back and left winger are pre-dominantly right-footed but both have solid games and are not shy of a bit of verbal.

Smith is singled out for some harsh treatment from Blackwell and referee Mr Maltby is weak in his decision making. Harbottle and Manners on the Dunkirk bench, plead with the ref to protect Smith.

Dunkirk forward, Michael Evans, gives the Blackwell defence the slip and finishes with poise and precision. I get my second touch of the ball on 29 minutes. Against the run of play Blackwell equalise with a well struck shot by left winger John Harris.

The Boatmen continue to swarm all over Blackwell, Joel Wilson misses a sitter and has a penalty saved by “Casper” the Blackwell keeper. The away team can be relieved to be going in all square.

Black clouds begin to gather and the floodlights light up the murky sky. Blackwell start brightly but Dunkirk turn up the heat. They play for one another and refuse to bow down to the bully boy tactics of Blackwell. Blanchard, Smith, Wilson and Evans all go close, before a Wilson header from a Whatnall corner clinches the win.

Blackwell are disappointing and play without any real purpose. Their no.9, Mark Deakin, scored 30 goals last season, tonight he’s way off the pace even managing to fresh air one. A Champions League place beckons for Dunkirk on this showing. They play with soul and spirit that you often see from a side in the inner-city.

Dunkirk 2 Evans and Wilson Blackwell MW 1 Harris

Crowd: I counted 40.

Man of the Match: Marquin Smith

Monday, August 13, 2007

Radcliffe Olympic 6 Nettleham FC 3

Leeds United have lost their appeal, justice has been done. I despise this team; they cheated their way to success in the 60s and 70s. Gary Sprake, their goalkeeper at the time, alleged in 1977 that manager Don Revie and captain, Billy Bremner, tried to bribe opposing players.

The Daily Mirror ran Don Revie out of the country. They have always courted controversy and attracted lemon-sucking bitter individuals such as Lee Bowyer, Vinnie Jones and Allan Clarke. I look forward to them gracing the hallowed turf of Sincil Bank next season. Ken Bates, Dennis Wise and Leeds United deserve one another.

Two cds have arrived by post this morning: Now 67 for the kids and Lord of the Pies singer Paul Potts’ latest offering. That’s £56 this household has spent in the last month on this salad dodging individual.

Radcliffe-on-Trent Parish Council held a Zoo Day last Thursday where for a quid you could see rare attractions such as Meerkats, Iguanas, Tarantulas, Bearded Dragons, Scorpions and Ferrets. If they’d asked Dennis Wise they could have got a Weasel to come along too.

Radcliffe-on-Trent is in the East of the county and has a population of around 8000. Famous ex-residents include: Fat Larry Lloyd, (once the proprietor of The Trent Hotel) Ian Woan and Stanley Victor Collymore (very handy for “walking the dog” down Holme Pierpoint). President of Radcliffe Olympic FC is ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer the Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke MP.

It’s a quaint ground, close to the church in the centre of the village. The ground lies below a skate park and adventure playground and is on a slope. Admission is £3 including a programme.

There’s no licensed bar, the council won’t let them have one; it’s a shame because clubhouses provide a good social gathering and raise important funds for clubs like this.

The guy on the gate is an affable chap named John Watts, he is Radcliffe Olympic through and through and also the treasurer. He gives me a bit of background on the club.

Poor old Brendan, the programme editor and webmaster, is seriously ill but somehow manages to climb off his sickbed to produce one of the best programmes I’ve seen on my travels. It would put many a Nationwide North club to shame. Guys like John and Brendan are priceless to a club like this. John wonders whether Olympic have enough goals in them (no worries on that score John)

Radcliffe manager, Jamie Brodie, once of Clifton All-Whites, has been active in the transfer market, bringing in eleven new faces; many are from The Nottinghamshire Senior League.

I’ve seen a player at All-Whites who has always impressed me and I’ve never understood why he’s not played at a higher level, maybe he enjoys playing with his mates but Karl Mitchell would cut the mustard comfortably at this level.

Nettleham are today’s visitors and are from Lincoln. Last season they were fortunate to stay up. Wharf Lane is right on the Nottingham to Lincoln railway line and there are a procession of Central Trains throughout the match.

I get my first touch of the match ball on two minutes. Radcliffe take the lead on six minutes through Hawkes their central defender. Nettleham equalise shortly after with a stunning free-kick from their best player, Daniel Maddison, a recent signing from Grantham Town.

The goals come thick and fast and are mostly down to poor defending. Spencer puts Radcliffe 2-1 up only for Maddison to reply from a corner with a smart header.

Nettleham go ahead following fine work by Maddison again down left, Steve Mason coolly finishing on the far post. Aaron Korol wraps up a cracking first half with a cross from the left which Richardson nods in. Flipping heck six goals, and its 0-0 at Forest.

The referee, Mr M Senior, is allowing the game to flow but he never shuts up, he looks like one of The Chuckle Brothers.

A guy who used to work with me at Notts County joins me for the second half. He’s desperate to get a coaching role in the non-league but has been unsuccessful so far. He is a brilliant coach and it’s a waste of talent to see him kicking his heels on the sideline, he has so much to offer. He’s played at a high level and recognises quite a few of the Radcliffe lads.

Nettleham capitulate in the second period, Radcliffe have superior fitness levels and keep the ball moving. Nettleham are chasing shadows. Bull, Richardson and Hawkes add further goals.

Aaron Korol is terrific, his tricks and speed are too much for the Nettleham full back. Radcliffe sub, Dave Taylor hits a couple of sizzlers, boy he can strike a ball, I’d love to have seen him in his hey-day.

Radcliffe is a friendly and progressive club and I’m sure they’ll be looking for a top six finish. I’m driving home and there are some glum faces coming away from The City Ground, I’ve seen nine goals for £3. Bad news is always on the horizon, Lincoln have lost 4-0 but worse than that Leeds have won 2-1. Doh!!

Radcliffe Olympic 6 Nettleham FC 3

Man of the Match: Aaron Korol

Attendance: Unknown

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Barrow Town 2 Racing Club Warwick 3

It’s Saturday August 4th and I’m cockahoop. I’ve just spent a week with the family and the out-laws in sun-drenched Devon and am feeling relaxed and refreshed. I press 302 on the BBC Ceefax service to be greeted with some fantastic news: Leeds Utd have been docked 15 points; I’m doubling-up with laughter. More on them in the next blog.

According to Radcliffe Olympic’s myspace site they are to play a friendly in the delightful village of Barrow Upon Soar, Leics. I’ve got to admit I had a late one last night, it was The Keyworth Dream League Auction, a few bevvies up The Sal and a curry on the way home … perfect.

Barrow is a 20 minute drive through rolling countryside. Tthe sky is cloudless. The Navigation Inn, on Mill Lane, is one of my all-time favourites and backs on to the canal. Canoes and barges meander down the water, families partake in picnics and Sticky downs a Star Bitter (a pint before you start .. Drew) from the Belvoir Brewery.

Even though the ground is only half a mile down the road I somehow manage to end up in Quorn. A quick u-turn and I find the narrow turning into Riverside Park Unfortunately the game is off but they are to play Racing Club Warwick on Tuesday evening.

I return three days later, a Nuclear Scientist has come with me, despite me explaining to him that it’s Barrow in Leicestershire and not Barrow near Sellafield where I’m going.

It’s a fine-looking ground and they appear to have had, like my local club, a grant from the Football Foundation. The ground is encircled with trees; the traffic is noisy from the nearby A6 by-pass. Entry is free and we retire to the bar for a swift one.

Manchester Utd goalkeeper Ben Foster used to play for the visitors; he made eighteen appearances back in the 2000/2001 season. Ferguson spotted him playing for Wrexham, whilst on-loan from Stoke City. Sir Alex was only at the game because his son Darren was playing.

Racing Club play in a league above Barrow but from the first half performance this was difficult to tell. They are ordinary and it is Barrow who plays all the football.

Barrow storm into a two goal lead, the second goal is a beauty. The Barrow left winger teases two Warwick players and floats a cross to the back stick where his team mate heads home.

Warwick undeservedly pull one back on the stroke of half-time. Barrow play in yellow and Warwick in amber, the referee is not happy and Barrow have to change their shirts to blue.

The refreshment bar is awesome, and despite it being only a friendly we are treated to an array of hot food. It’s getting chilly now and I nip back to the car for my hoodie. It’s surrounded by cows: where the bloody hell did they come from?

A bucket comes round at half-time with contributions required to pay the match officials, we toss a fiver in. The referee has been excellent, and he’s hoping to be on the league list this season. Warwick improve in the second half and run out 3-2 winners, even managing to miss a penalty after a reckless challenge by the Barrow defender.

I meet a fellow groundhopper who has failed to renew his Forest season ticket for the first time in ages. He is visiting a lot of grounds that I intend to go to this season. He recommends a few in Leicestershire that I will visit. He tells me the Barrow Town manager has come from Coalville Town and brought 12 new players in.

On tonight’s evidence they are going to be difficult to stop in The Everards Brewery Leicestershire Senior League and I will catch up with them later in the season.