Thursday, January 10, 2008
Arnold Town 0 South Normanton 0
Well it’s finally happened, Nottingham Forest have dipped their toes into the icy waters of the Blue Square Nationwide North and took on trial one of the hottest properties plying his trade in Non League football. Paul Taylor of Vauxhall Motors took just over sixty seconds to open his account for Forest in a reserve match against WBA. £100,000 should secure his services. And yes, he does come with a bit of baggage.
Faced with the prospect of watching the dreadful One Show, fronted by the perfect face for radio, Adrian Chiles, I decide to head out early and pick up The Taxman. White Van Man has tootled off to Calverton to watch his mate, the mercurial Tom Alldread, play for Gedling MW.
We’re in Arnold in 25 minutes. It’s their final season at Gedling Road and, quite rightly, there’s been little development here for years. Their fight for a move to pastures new has been a longer saga than Hollyoaks. But they’ve finally scooped the jackpot in grants and fundraising. The curtain will be raised at their new home at Eagle Valley, just off the A614 near Calverton, next autumn.
Arnold, population just over 20,000. The town hit the headline news in 2003 when Marian Bates, a local jeweller, was gunned down in her own shop in a senseless and tragic murder. The chief suspect remains on the run.
I remember my old PE Teacher being a decent centre half, for this club, back in the 70s, when Arnold graced the Midland League. His name was Tony Purcell. And he always seemed to sport a broken nose.
The Eagles have always produced good players and even tonight have an emphasis on youth. Ben Hutchinson is on the catwalk at he Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough. He has already broken his Premiership duck at The City of Manchester Stadium this season. Chris Freestone trod a similar path. Tonight 16 year old Josh Thornton leads the line, with sought after 18 year old Tom Watson parading down the right wing.
When I was scouting I was so close to picking up a gem from Arnold. His name was Jordan Bedward and he was playing a year up for the U14s when he was only twelve. His Dad foolishly (or maybe not) took him to Mansfield instead. I was gutted. Remember the name.
It’s £5 admission and £1 for a snorter of a programme. It’s called Eagle Eye and features a page from a well known groundhopper called Osbourne, who tells of tales of visits to Bristol and Bulgaria.
Ex- Forest full-back Bryn Gunn is first team coach and is chatting to a player before the game who has obviously got a trial.
South Normanton is in Derbyshire, near to Alfreton. They are in the bottom half of the table and are crying out to volunteers to help run their club next season. They are nicknamed ‘The Shiners.’
The game itself is a non-event. There’s a swirling wind with a forecast of worse to come. Both teams try to keep it on the deck. The only highlight of the first half is the booking of Shiners’ keeper’ Ross Whalin for time-wasting. When the truth is that the ball won’t keep still.
Eastwood management, Paul Cox and John Ramshaw are having a saunter around, on the prowl for young talent. White Van Man’s mate, Iain Screaton has just signed for the Badgers and used to be captain of Arnold Town.
Arnold press the game after the break and camp themselves in the South Normanton half. On 65 minutes there is an incredible blizzard. The sky is filled with rain, sleet and snow. Referee Dexter whips the players off down the tunnel and play is suspended for fifteen minutes.
By now we’re under cover and sat behind the goal with the humorous South Normanton Ultras. The players return but their fans take the rise out of Eagles’ 'keeper Broster. The pitch is a mass of water and sludge. “Thas not gonna dive are you keeper?” says the wag in the crowd.
Arnold continue to pour forward in search of a goal. The excellent Tom Watson shows sublime skill in atrocious conditions. He is turning the Shiners’ left back inside out.
Mark Clarke marshals the Arnold backline as sweeper. Craig Mitchell sees a shot tipped over and Clarke grazes the woodwork. Normanton's Murdock peforms some desperate defending for the visitors.
There’s a minute to go and Normanton have hardly had a shot worthy of mention. The ball falls to Shiners' Martin Bowles. He strikes the ball sweetly. Brosster, in goal, makes a token gesture, sticking out a hand. It hits the base of the post and bounces to safety. “Keeper thas was right, thas not gonna dive tonight”
Special thanks to club photographer Mick Gretton for permission to use photos of the Arnold Town players.
Final Score: Arnold Town 0 South Normanton 0
Attendance: Nearly a ton and bucket loads of humour from Derbyshire.
Man of the Match: Mark Clarke