Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Burton Albion 3 Torquay United 1
Mrs P is as happy as Larry; Hell’s Kitchen is back on TV, with its assortments of freaks and wanabees. Sticky is a happy man, it means a cheeky midweeker in Burton.
I had a stroll round the NFFC Academy last Saturday lunchtime, the highlight being a Lancaster Bomber circling the area. Liverpool U18s were in town, the gulf in class was enormous. Be assured, there is no Dawson or JJ amongst this current crop. Forest Youth are predictable and unimaginative; typical of the type of footballer academies produce these days. Keep an eye on the progress of Kop duo: Astrit Adjarevic and Marvin Pourie; they ran the Tricky Trees ragged.
Tonight, top of the table Torquay travel to the Pirelli Stadium, to take on Burton Albion in the Blue Square Conference. The architect joins me; it’s a 40 minute drive down the A453, past the new Nottingham Forest White Elephant Stadium. We’ve arranged to meet Robbo; he’s an old school friend and lives near Ashbourne.
Torquay is in South Devon, and is commonly known as the English Riviera. Famous people from the area include: Basil Fawlty, Soccer AM presenter Helen Chamberlain and murder mystery writer Agatha Christie. How Nottinghamshire Police could do with a Miss Marple to solve all the shed burglaries and attempted robberies at Sainsbury’s they’ve had of late.
Back in 1985, Sticky was on tour in Torquay. I had endured a winter of discontent during the miners’ strike and had witnessed at first-hand the sickening actions of our beloved Metropolitan Police on the front of the picket lines and their brutal assault of a workforce fighting for their future.
I found myself, one balmy summer’s evening, standing outside Torquay Central Police Station singing at the top of my voice: “Maggie’s Boot Boys”, but they were too busy dunking McVities digestive biscuits into endless cups of tea, to bother feeling Sticky’s collar.
In 1987, Torquay, Burnley and Lincoln are all one game away from reaching the Conference. It was looking good for The Imps until the 89th minute at Plainmoor, when a police alsatian dog, called Bryn, took a chunk out of Gulls’ midfielder Jim McNicoll’s leg,. the referee played 4 minutes added time, in which Paul Dobson grabbed the winner; Lincoln were relegated. The Mayor of Torquay supplied K9 with free steak for a week and people wonder why I’m anti-police.
We meet Robbo in the bar; there’s still no sign of a social club, a vocal point where all the community can meet. He’s brought his 13 year old son, Tom; he is sport mad and wears a Brewers’ replica shirt, good boy. It’s £12 entry and Dafty treats me to a programme; it’s poor, 30 pages out of 48 are adverts; for £2.50 it’s a joke.
The pitch is like the baize of a snooker table, guest Neil Warnock would not have seen anything like this in the steel city. Burton are still part-time. The young man continues to perform miracles with his hands tied behind his back. Combative midfielder John McGrath has arrived from Tamworth along with the unpopular Jake Edwards. Sam Aiston and Mark Greaves are other new signings.
Ten things to do before you die should include watching Emerald Isle winger Keith Gilroy; the boy just blows me away with each breathtaking performance I see. He forces Torquay full-back Hinshelwood into an early booking giving him license to dribble. The ball sticks to his foot like evostick.
The Brewers are peppering the Gulls’ defence but it is in bizarre circumstances that they take the lead. Defender John Brayford punts an aimless free-kick 60 yards up field with ex-Imp and Torquay keeper Simon Rayner hopelessly out of position. There are hush tones as the ball sails over his head and into the back of the onion bag; it’s nothing more than they have deserved.
Burton go for the jugular, they are sweeping the ball all over the pitch with pace. Andy Gooding, on loan from the Sky Blues makes it 2-0 sneaking through the tightest of gaps with a beautiful finish. Torquay look laboured and are walking the tightrope.
They remain under siege in the early part of the second half but after a few substitutions begin to edge their way back into the game. Bedeau is having an impact down the right hand side and provides an inch perfect cross for Elliott Benyon, on loan from Bristol City to slide home. He could have equalised minutes later but his control lets him down. The tireless former Magpie Shaun Harrad clinches the game for Burton from yet another Gilroy assist; he has worked himself into the ground.
There’s over 2000 here tonight (a school night), the referee has been excellent. The game has flowed and Torquay return home empty-handed and end the game with 10 men, when their only player with any real desire, Lee Mansell, is red-carded for a cynical challenge. All I want from Mrs P for Christmas is a Burton Albion half season ticket.
Burton 3 Brayford Gooding Harrad Torquay 1 Benyon
Man of the Match: John Brayford