My team, Lincoln City, won at Meadow Lane for the first time in donkey’s years last night. I’m still disappointed by the sacking of charismatic ex-Imp Steve Thompson and refuse to pay the £18 it costs to sit in the main stand. Nothing has improved with the appointment of the less experienced “Charlie” McParland. He’s tried to be clever by signing untried youngsters from Birmingham and Liverpool. They are now well and truly in the mire. I follow the game on page 319 of ceefax. We never look in trouble.
The real reason for my non attendance at The Lane last night is because I fancy a gleg at Whitby Town, who make the awkward midweek trip to Ilkeston’s New Manor Ground tonight.
White Van Man is playing table tennis at Rushcliffe Leisure Centre and makes his excuses; there must be some snap laid on for after. The Taxman returns after a short break and picks me up at 6.45pm. We chew over our sons’ game at the weekend. Sticky junior bagged another at the far post; his confidence is rising.
It’s £1 to park the car just outside the ground. We pay £7 at the turnstile and a further £1 for the programme. The Taxman cannot believe his eyes at the condition of the pitch. You could make the winning putt at the Masters on this surface. It is second only to Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium. It is like the Centre Court at Wimbledon on the first day.
The Ilkeston PA man has clearly had a bad day at the office; he spins the woeful Rihanna and played out Pussycat Dolls. The only escape is the smart social club. The team sheet is pinned up on the bar. We keep warm from the biting wind.
Whitby is in North Yorkshire and has a population of just under 15,000. Bram Stoker is believed to have written his Dracula novels at the Royal Hotel in this fishing port. Captain Cook has strong connections in the area too. 1960s pop star Arthur Brown of Fire fame was born in Whitby.
My father’s solicitor had an apartment up on the picturesque West Cliff. I’ve fond memories of family holidays up there until a few years ago. Whitby Town Football Club backs onto the apartments. I used to love a fish supper at the Magpie Cafe, washed down with a couple of real ales at the Duke of York, overlooking the estuary.
It’s Heartbeat country and I always took Mrs P to Aidensfield to see where PC Alf Ventriss used to brew his tea and where daft David used to walk his dog Alfred.
Both teams are struggling in the nether regions of the Unibond Premier League. It’s a six pointer.
We take our position level with the eighteen yard area on the main stand side of the ground.Ilkeston attack from the off. Their talisman, Adam Muller, looks in a menacing mood tonight. After just three minutes he races away from the visiting defence, and smashes a shot that Whitby keeper’ David Campbell does well to beat away; it falls to the feet of Lee Featherstone who makes no mistake from close range.
Moments later Muller slips the attentions of the Seasiders rearguard, racing away down the right flank. There’s nothing much on and he tries an outrageous shot from a tight angle which bounces off the woodwork.
Whitby have their chances too, although mostly from set pieces. Raw misses a free header, they have one cleared off the line and Phil Senior also makes a fine save. It’s a breathtaking passage of play.
By now I’m chatting to two guys next to me. They are a couple of groundhoppers from Liverpool. I have to say my limited experience of meeting them (that is groundhoppers not Scousers) has not been favourable. But these guys are charming and amusing. They have been to Stamford AFC the night before and had stopped overnight in a B&B at the romantically named Burton Lazars, near Melton Mowbray. They are impressed with Ilkeston Town Football Club. I tell them they are my favourites (apart from Cammell Laird) They tell me a few amusing anecdotes of their trips to Ireland.
Featherstone and Muller combine again, with the latter finishing emphatically. Ilkeston are well on top. I text Chester Barnes to tell him he’s missing a good game.
We grab a large cup of piping hot tea and seek refuge in the club house. Everyone is crowded around the television watching the Premiership half-times. We’re not interested and take a seat in the corner.
We strike up a conversation with two Ilson supporters. They are telling us a takeover is imminent following the recent death of their benefactor. Numerous Nottinghamshire millionaires’ names are banded about. There’s even talk of Keith Alexander being appointed in some sort of advisory role despite him earning a short contract at Macclesfield Town. There’s a huge cheer; D***y have conceded again at Stamford Bridge.
The PA’s choice in music fails to improve. New York gay disco band the Scissor Sisters are given an airing. Ilkeston is a town for men, but not these sort of men!
Ilkeston continue where they left off. They have a goal disallowed for a foul on Campbell. On the hour Knight races through and is upended by David Campbell. The ball appears to have been running out of play. The referee points to the spot. Campbell doesn’t wait for a card to be produced. The decision to send him off, to me, looks harsh. Former Nottingham Forest midfielder Ross Gardner places the ball to the sub keeper’s left. It’s game over.
Martin Carruthers the former Peterborough United striker is warming up and chatting to the crowd. He steals a couple of chocolate chip cookies off a steward. The match has become stop start and is littered with fouls. A wag behind the goal tells the referee to get on with it as he’s got a paper round to do first thing in the morning.
The game peters out. Robins’ manager Nigel Jemson is furious that his team fail to test emergency keeper Ashley Lyth. Whitby’s best player is their sub, number 14 jacket. He is tiny but runs at the home defence, twisting and turning. He also has a fine end product.
Whitby leading scorer Danny Brunskill is way off the pace tonight. He took a knock earlier in the game and has hardly showed since. It’s hard to fathom out, on this evidence, how he’s managed to break the net on 25 occasions this season.
Whitby have played some neat football but have no cutting edge. They have been swept aside by a resurgent Robins, who go to Osset on Saturday brimming with confidence.
We finish the night with a couple of pints of Jennings Cocker Hoop at a village country pub. Next stop Coalville.
Ilkeston 3 Whitby 0
Man of the Match: Adam Muller