Sunday, February 3, 2008
Ruddington United 1 Clifton FC 1
Chesterfield’s Jack Lester, the leading scorer in League 2, (Div 4) is currently taking his coaching badges. This week he was meant to have coached my local village team. Anyone who has seen Jack the Lad play will know he has perfected the art of the dying swan. Watch Keyworth United’s penalty count spiral out of control, as they take on board his crash course in the art of winning a penalty.
I was looking at Cooperman’s Leicester City season ticket before I handed it him back. On the front of the ticket it says ‘Leicester City .... One Team One Dream’. After what I saw it should read ‘One Game One Nightmare.’
No game for “The Skipper” today but his brother aint half chirpy after a cheeky 4-1 win away in Sutton-in-Ashfield. His two week swimming ban, dished out by Keyworth Leisure Centre, for high jinks and tomfoolery at inflatable fun, comes to an end today. We did talk about him dressing up in a sombrero and wearing a false moustache to avoid detection. But we didn’t think that even them jam fool lifeguards would fall for that one.
It’s a ten minute drive today. I park outside the White Horse public house. I was here two weeks ago, at a wake, to pay my respects to a Plumtree Cricket Club legend. A lad called Kevin Pickaver. He died so young and had so much more to give. An all-round top bloke.
I stroll around the village and take a few snaps. I work on the industrial estate up the road. One hundred and twenty people lost their jobs on the estate this week, with the shock news of the closure of IT software firm ZEDA. I saw the barrier was down when I was driving into work. They were turning people away. The food at the Three Crowns Pub and Ruddington Fish Bar is first-class and served with a smile.
I’m in the White Horse lounge supping a pint of Batemans XB. A couple sit nearby, bickering. She wants to walk around Rushcliffe Country Park, he wants to watch funny ball. They retire to the bar to watch the egg chasing.
They sell Black Rat Cider behind the bar. It’s 6.3% and available to take-out. It’s like rocket fuel. I was hoping to bump into The Comedian today, but he’s a little hen-pecked, and has gone shopping with the missus.
Ruddington United FC were formed in 1993. It was a merger between Ruddington FC and Ruddington Village. I could be wrong here, but there doesn’t seem to be a roadmap between Ruddington Colts and Ruddington United FC.
It’s free admission. The ground is pleasant, although the clubhouse is cold and soulless. There’s no vibe. They share this ground with the cricket club. I took a stunning catch here a few years ago. And no, before you start, it wasn’t with a tennis ball.
I pay a £1 for a programme. It’s a decent effort. Andy Littlewood’s manager’s column tickles me. He’s quite clearly feeling a bit sore about the 3-1 reverse the previous week against Keyworth United. He labels them a long ball team. I glance at the league table and notice the Greens are thirteen points in front of Rudd with two games in hand. Perhaps he necked a few Black Rat Ciders before he wrote his notes. Keyworth are unbeaten in ten and Barthez is in the form of his life. He has kept more clean sheets than Sketchleys.
Clifton is one mile down the road. It’s a club steeped in history. Famous players to have worn their brilliant white shirts include: Jermaine Jenas, Jermaine Pennant, Garry Birtles and Darren Huckerby. I rate the Clifton striker, Karl Mitchell, very highly. He plays with his heart and is all-action. Today he is suspended, along with two others. He will be missed, particularly by me. Discipline appears to be a problem.
Clifton FC had a wretched end to the year. Club stalwarts Norman Archer and Steve Brodie sadly passed away. They intend to name their new facilities in Norman’s honour.
Clifton are out the traps the quickest. The tackles are flying in but this referee is good, very good. He officiates with common sense and talks to players like men not children. Ruddington, as their defender keeps shouting, are ‘second best’ in the early stages. Waddley goes close for Clifton. I get my first touch of the match ball on five minutes. I cushion it superbly.
Ruddington score totally against the run of play. A ball comes sailing in from the right; they are all queuing up at the back post. It’s Riki Blagg who makes the decisive header. White Van Man texts on the half hour. He’s on the lash in Newcastle. He tells me Forest are already two down on the South Coast. Bloody Hell!
Clifton remind me so much of Kimberley MW, who I saw a few weeks ago at Wollaton. They are frustrated and give away possession cheaply. They look to blame the officials and not themselves. Tempers boil over at the break. There’s an angry exchange of words between the Clifton manager and referee. For me, the referee has been spot on.
I’ve been talking to the father of Clifton defender Michael Hartshorn. I express my disappointment at the absence of Mitchell. He tells me an amusing tale. The Clifton chairman bet Karl that he wouldn’t score 20 goals in a season and not be sent off all campaign. Mitchell won his bet. The 20 goals were nailed on. His prize was a barrel of beer.
I bump into Sean and John from Clifton at half-time and have a natter. Clifton improve slightly after the break. But Ruddington continue to look dangerous on the break. They counterattack with pace. They have on view today the game’s outstanding player. Neil Curtis(it says Russell in the programme but White Van Man assures me it's Curtis) has grabbed this game by the scruff of its neck and has delivered the ball into dangerous areas all game. He never shirks a challenge. His corners, in a swirling wind, are accurate and pinpoint. Left back Michael Holtham also looks a very tidy player.
Clifton’s Chris Waddley hits a ball in from the right, the Ruddington keeper can only wave at it, the ball smacks the bar. Clifton gamble, leaving gaping holes in their defence but the home team fail to punish them. Clifton’s number eleven starts pulling the strings. He hits the ball of the day, a fifty yard cross field pass on a plate for Clifton full-back Adam Waddley to run on to.
Ruddington are desperately running down the clock. The linesman on our side is having a good game. He has a disability but does not let it hamper him. We banter with him. I remind him of a shirt pull he missed earlier in the game. He’s laughing. Clifton manage a last gasp equaliser with Steve Langsdale smashing the ball home from close range. They have got out of jail and have been disappointing today.
Ruddington 1 Blagg Clifton 1 Langsdale
Man of the Match: Neil Curtis (Russell)