It’s Saturday morning and Sticky jnr has gone down his mate’s farm shooting rats. He was going to take Scott Dobie with him, but with three shots on target in three seasons, the place would be infested with vermin after 90 minutes.
I go and watch “The Skipper’s” team; they are currently in cruise control. But at least this week they pass the ball more frequently. It’s the only discipline I ever coached them. Parents and kids go for drinks and a bite to eat at the end of the game, but I head home.
The Nuclear Scientist picks me up in his Jag; it’s like being ferried around by Detective Chief Inspector Morse. We’re travelling down the A610 through Langley Mill. Five Live are covering the FA Cup tie between Chasetown and Cardiff City. It’s one a piece.
Heanor has a population of 23,000 and is in Derbyshire. Nigel Pearson, the footballer used to play for Heanor Town before embarking on a very successful career in the game. Associating himself with Bryan Robson in management and coaching has proved less fruitful. The American Adventure used to be the town’s answer to Alton Towers; sadly it’s no more.
Heanor Town had a managerial farce of its own this summer. It’s too complicated and tedious to drone on about on here but it has resulted in them using 42 players for the first team already this season. And no, before you ask, Barry Fry and Harry Redknapp were not involved.
We’re sat in the spacious social club. There’s horse racing on one TV and darts on the other. NS has a pint of mild and I sink to an all-time low in the drinking stakes by ordering an orange and mango J2o. And I’ve right got the hump. My camera is malfunctioning and I’ve only took one shot. NS is convinced it’s the batteries and kindly chauffeurs me into the town centre. We’re back in the club and now I’m well and truly miffed. The robbing newsagent’s I bought my batteries from have sold me some duds. Two years out of date. “Hello is that Trading Standards?”
Heanor Town are nicknamed The Lions and were formed in 1883. They share this fine ground with Heanor Cricket Club. They have two large covered terraces and were clearly playing at a higher level than this at sometime in their history. We pay £3 admission and another £1 for a well produced programme.
Greenwood Meadows are rock bottom but are Sticky’s favourites. I’ve never seen them lose. Their manager, I think he’s called Lloyd, is a lively character. And while he is not always politically correct, he makes me laugh. Two wins all season and 72 goals conceded and yet he still has an appetite for the beautiful game. I’m not chuffed with Lloyd though; he’s left my favourite, TJ Majoni, on the bench.
I notice the Lions’ goalie’s Dad (Belshaw) strolling round the ground. He used to be at Notts County’s Centre of Excellence. We have a quick chat.
The first period is utter dross. Meadows try to play football on the floor but are not up to the task and waste possession. Heanor play with energy but are direct and fall into Lloyd’s offside trap. Lions’ 10 jacket would have appeared on Roy Castle’s Record Breakers for the number of times a player was caught offside this season. Lloyd’s response is clear “Number 10, you were born offside.”
The game livens up five minutes from half-time when Sticky witnesses his third consecutive sending off. Meadows’ defender Tom Boyd is red carded for a professional foul.
At the break I get the teas in and check on the half-times. Notts are losing, Lincoln are drawing and the Stags are 2-1 up at Brighton in the cup.
We are now joined by Garts. His lad played alongside “The Skipper” all last season. And what a player he turned out to be. Garts has a snazzy camera on his phone and takes a few snaps for me.
Heanor coast the second half with their Number 9 Richard Groves helping himself to a hat-trick. Lloyd’s offside trap is breached with considerable ease. He’s still churning out the one-liners. “Number Ten, you’ve got the touch of a rapist.”
I’m moaning at Lloyd to bring on TJ Majoni. He obliges with 15 minutes to go. He has more shots in 5 minutes than the whole side can muster in three quarters of the game. Heanor goalkeeper Belshaw is equal to everything TJ throws at him. What a bright future lies ahead for him.
There’s a huge bloody phone mast outside the clubhouse and yet bizarrely I can’t get a signal to phone White Van Man the score in.
I’ve enjoyed the day and the match perked up a bit second-half. A good set-up and friendly folk and according to NS a cracking pint of mild.
Heanor Town 3 Groves (3) Greenwood Meadows 0
Man of the Match: Richard Groves.