Friday, October 24, 2008
Barwell 2 Coventry Sphinx 1
Juan comes up to the Mexican border on his bicycle. He's got two large bags over his shoulders. The guard stops him and says, "What's in the bags?" "Sand," answered Juan. The guard says, "We'll just see about that. Get off the bike." The guard detains Juan overnight and has the sand analyzed, only to discover that there is nothing but pure sand in the bags. He releases Juan and lets him cross the border.
A week later, the same thing happens. The guard asks, "What's in the bags?" "Sand," says Juan. The guard does his thorough examination and discovers that the bags contain nothing but sand. He gives the sand back to Juan, and Juan crosses the border on his bicycle.
This sequence of events is repeated every day for three years. Finally, Juan doesn't show up one day and the guard meets him in a Cantina in Mexico. "Hey, Buddy," says the guard, "I know you are smuggling something. It's driving me crazy. It's all I think about...Just between you and me, what are you smuggling?" Juan sips his beer and says, "Bicycles."
I feel a bit rough this morning, and by my standards have a lie in. The kids and Mrs P went to the school disco last night. I foolishly went round to The Nuclear Scientist’s for a game of table tennis. The Canadian beat me again. He got me drinking Hoegarden. I was Kerry Katonaed by 11.30pm.
I’m on a week’s leave from work and boy do I need a break. Mrs P has a list of jobs as long as Lincoln City’s current unbeaten run. I’m in the garden chopping and scything down bushes faster than Forest full back Julian Bennett clatters into wingers.
‘The Skipper’ has no game today and I’ve took the weekend off from scouting. He announces he wants to go down The City Ground to watch Nottingham Forest versus Cardiff. I race down the ground and get him a ticket next to where The Nuclear Scientist sits.
I’m on Selby Lane in my village; there are some glorious houses down here. I turn right into Stanton -on-the- Wolds. The properties here have long gravelled driveways. I pass the golf club and think of the happy times I spent up there as a youngster.
I hit the A46 to Leicester; it’s the most unexciting road in the world. I’ve been singing along to a CD them fools have left in my car: it’s Girls Aloud, I Don’t Speak French.
Former Radio Trent and Century FM reporter Darren Fletcher is commentating on the Everton v Manchester United game at Goodison Park, for Five Live. It sounds an entertaining match. Rooney is winding up all the ‘calm down’ Scousers by kissing the club badge on his shirt. Ferguson whisks him off.
Everton’s James Vaughan comes off the substitute bench. He is still the youngest player ever to have scored in the Premiership.
It’s straight over to the Stadium of Light where Newcastle’s Liverpudlian serial coward, Joey Barton, is also partaking in a spot of badge kissing. Bottles rain down from the stand towards his direction. I hope they are made of glass and smash.
I drive past a huge Co-op in Leicester Forest East; that gets Sticky’s juices flowing. I’m now in the historic town of Earl Shilton. The traffic is heavy, but not for long, as they are soon to open a by-pass.
I finally reach the destination of Barwell. I’ve sussed out where the Kirkby Road Sports Ground is, so park up a side street and have an amble around the village. It’s a busy old spot. It also has the ugliest Co-op Shop I’ve ever seen. It sits beneath one of those concrete tower blocks they used to erect in the 1960s.
I’m standing in the centre of the village admiring an old public house. Close by is a fish bar that sells Pukka pies; poor old White Van Man has missed out again.
Barwell has a population of over 6000 people. It lies close to the town of Hinckley. Wigan stopper Chris Kirkland was born in the village. The area was once famous for shoe production.
Barwell was the victim of a meteor impact on Christmas Eve night in 1965. The village was showered with fragments. When put together, they were the size of a Christmas turkey.
Barwell FC were formed in 1992 and play in the Midland Football Alliance at Step 5 level. They are on a nice little unbeaten run and sit in 5th place in the table.
Coventry Sphinx were formed in 1946 and are currently in second place; chasing the leaders Market Drayton. Last season they reached the quarter finals of the FA Vase; bowing out to eventual winners Kirkham & Wesham (now AFC Fylde) in a replay at Sphinx Drive.
I park in the huge, impressive sports complex. They have an indoor bowling centre and cricket club. It’s £5 at the gate and £1 for a programme that has more adverts in it than ITV.
I’m feeling the after effects of my Thai red curry and that bloody Hoegarden; I settle for ‘The Bearded Wonder’s' favourite tipple: Vimto. The lady at the tea bar is very chatty and makes me feel welcome. She’ll have it all on today, as she’s on her own and Sphinx have brought a few.
I take a pew in the stunning cantilever stand that was opened by local boy makes good, Chris Kirkland. I’m surrounded by WAGS and players’ mums. They’re playing the superb Stop Me by Mark Ronson featuring Daniel Merriweather on the PA system.
The Canaries are Sphinx’s bogey team; they’ve already dumped them out the FA Cup. The home team elect to kick up the slope and into the swirling wind. The referee awards a free kick after two seconds; I’m not feeling the love between these two opponents.
Thacker and Murdoch look lively for the visitors; the latter has only recently been plucked from the relative obscurity of the Coventry Sunday Morning League. But he has strength and pace and holds the ball up well.
Sphinx take the lead on 12 minutes. McAteer finds the ball at his feet in acres of space on the edge of the area; he steadies himself, gets his body shape right, and blasts the ball into the roof of the net.
The tackles are flying in now and it’s not long before the young referee, Richard Cooper, of Whititwick , under the watchful eye of an FA assessor, is brandishing yellow cards.
By now I’m at the back of the goal chatting to a lovely guy who turns out to be Barwell chairman Dave Laing. He takes the time out to tell me a bit of club history and the ambitions and aspirations of Barwell FC. It’s whilst we’re stood there that Barwell deservedly restore parity, with a far post finish from Jouel Potter, that goes in off the post.
Moments later the game takes a turn for the worse. The Sphinx number five goes through the back of Potter. A melee ensues. Punches are thrown. The game is stopped for five minutes. Both linesmen are consulted. More yellows are dished out. Potter is lucky; he threw a couple of punches.
Potter looks a fine player; but moments later seeks revenge on the Sphinx five jacket. He slings out an elbow and is shown a straight red. There are no complaints. It’s the most incident packed 45 minutes I’ve seen this season.
A Barwell committee member is baiting the visiting goalkeeper. He calls him a midget and is roaring with laughter. He proudly boasts he’s going round the back of the goal in the second half to wind him up further. Is this really necessary?
Barwell’s right winger is Ryan Amoo. This guy somehow blagged himself a two year contract at my team: Lincoln City. As I‘ve said in a previous blog, there’s an 88 year old great granny up our street , who moves quicker across the ground, with her shopping trolley, than Amoo does. He misses an open goal from eight yards out. Nigel Julian also spurns a chance from point blank range, producing a fine save from the visiting ‘keeper. We all catch our breath at the break.
Amoo doesn’t show up in the second half. He comes walking round the pitch and leans on the dugout, eating a sandwich. He’s wearing a leather bomber jacket, designer jeans and shiny white trainers. He looks like ‘The Fonz.’
Why is that ten men play like eleven? Barwell are par excellence in the second half. The Sphinx spend most of it on the back foot; their defending is woeful. Second place; you are having a laugh.
The Canaries are coached splendidly by former Sphinx and Quorn manager Marcus Law. He has words of encouragement, and makes valid coaching points at crucial times.
The winner comes midway through the half. Man of the match Scott Lower goes on a long mazy run; he plays the ball across to the guy who replaced Amoo. He drills in an unstoppable left foot drive into the left hand corner of the goal. I find myself clapping, justice has been done.
Coventry Sphinx are awful. Apart from the last few minutes, when they throw bodies forward and go close twice, they’ve rarely troubled the ‘keeper.
I dash across the car park and jump into my motor. Sports Report is on. There’s more doom and gloom at Forest. But Lincoln make it four wins on the spin.