The flag was at half mast at White Van Man’s abode this morning. His beloved, favourite food haunt, the White House Cafe, closes today. He devoured his final full English at 8am. I’ve promised to take him to a proper cafe next week.
It’s been a tortuous week on the television front; Mrs P has been in soap overdrive, thank God for Rob Grillio’s charming offering on the world of the footballing anorak. I’ve read this fine publication, whilst the good lady has trawled her way through the likes of Holby City, Holby Blue and Hotel Babylon.
I’ve promised Mrs P I’ll cook her a meal tonight, and rise early. I’m as fleet footed as Staveley Miners’ Welfare striker Lee Gregory, as I fly up and down the aisles at Morrisons, in pursuit of watercress and sea bass.
White Van Man has turned a freebie down at Villa Park to come on the hop today, The Taxman also gets his pass stamped.
I fancy another peek at Dynamo; they were very impressive last week. They are easily the best passing side I’ve seen at Step 5 level.
Loughborough is in Leicestershire and has a population of over 50,000. The town’s university is top rated and is famous for its sports scholarships. Sebastian Coe, Steve Backley and Paula Radcliffe have all studied there. Mrs P’s favourite, and top anorak, Roy Cropper was born in the town.
WVM’s mate Screats used to play for Dynamo, when he studied at the nearby university. I imagine the club must pick up a few young players this way. I also know my way to this ground like the back of my hand. Much to Mrs P’s displeasure, I spent three consecutive Sunday’s in a row, a few years back, tracking an Under 11 player at the club.
It’s a twenty five minute journey down the A60. As we enter the town we are met with a hail of smoke. I thought for a moment that Keyworth United reserve team manager Alan Jackson had lit up one of his legendary Hamlet cigars, but it is in fact an old steam train they are testing on a disused railway line.
We pull into Watermead Lane in plenty of time. I’m disappointed there’s no big sign saying ‘Welcome to Loughborough Dynamo Football Club.’ Loughborough Dynamo were formed in 1957.
It’s £5 admission and a further £1 for a gem of a programme. There are a couple of interesting articles written by two well known groundhoppers.
It’s straight into the bar for some light refreshment. Some guy has just scored for Spurs against Pompey, but I don’t even recognize him. It’s a tidy and busy bar. The walls are full of old photos and pendants.
It’s a cutting and biting wind out there today. WVM is wearing his Russian fur hat; he looks like one of Roman Abramovich’s bodyguards. We choose not to sit in the charming and unique stand behind the goal and choose instead to stand parallel to the eighteen yard area, with the wind behind us, and protected by a large fence.
Alvechurch look a very young team. They are managed by tough tackling former Sunderland and Grimsby Town player Shaun Cunnington. Ex-Arsenal and Leicester City striker Alan Smith began his career at the club. The guy next to me is a die-hard fan; his coat is covered in badges. He explains they are a bit short today, two lads are working, one has gone to Blackpool for the weekend and another can’t get a babysitter.
They should have taken the lead after five minutes. A cross from the right by Ferran is headed over from eight yards out by an unmarked Manning.
Dynamo soon begin to find their rhythm and play the fast flowing game I saw last week at Coalville. Karl Noble and Karl Brennan are pulling all the strings in midfield. But today they are trying to walk it into the net. Considering the amount of pressure they exert on the visitors defence, they have very few shots on goal.
WVM and The Taxman taunt me that it’s going to be 0-0. But there are goals in this game, something has to give.
I get the teas in at the break and what a cracking cuppa it is too. I’d rate it an eight again. I buy WVM a bacon cob for driving. I can’t say I actually saw the cob as it disappeared quicker than the Italian army in the Second World War.
Loughborough Dynamo turn on the style in the second period. Callum Riley is magnificent and has a tremendous first touch. He uses the ball intelligently and is roasting Alvechurch left back Jason Chiltern.
Leading scorer Kris Nurse has hit the net thirty times this season, but he’s having no such luck today. Alvechurch ‘keeper Joshua Coney beats away a rising drive from Nurse.
Alvechurch force a corner and Dynamo’s excellent goalkeeper Matt Nurse tips a point blank shot over the bar. Dynamo fail to heed that warning and are punished from the resulting corner.
Nobody picks up Alvechurch defender Sam Brooks and he heads home from close range.
Dynamo pile on the pressure but find the visiting ‘keeper in fine form. The Alvechurch bench are begging for the referee to blow for time. Dynamo are awarded a free-kick about 40 yards out, Karl Noble floats it into the box, where it skims off the head of Adam Hart and out of the reach of Joshua Coney and into the roof of the net.
They have deserved their equalizer and I can’t believe some of the moans and groans that have come from a minority of the home support today. Their team have given everything and it is only because of anxiety and expectation that they haven’t won today.
Special mention for referee Mr J Glover of Nuneaton, he is easily the best official I’ve seen this season. He has played his part in an entertaining game, which was played in a good spirit.
Loughborough Dynamo 1 Hart Alvechurch 1 Brooks
Man of the Match: Sam Brooks.