I was saddened and shocked to hear of the impending closure of the Selectadisc record shop on Market Street in Nottingham. It has become an institution in our fair city and will be sorely missed. Sticky’s favourite Selectadisc was on Bridlesmith Gate. It was a pokey hole with two floors, but boy, what a shop. I can remember buying Three Imaginary Boys by The Cure from there for £3.29 back in 1979. As I said to Mrs P, if you walked in there and asked for Ronan Keating or Westlife’s latest single you were asked to leave the shop.
I was in big trouble again last week. I went out on a works do on Thursday. The plan was for a few quiet beers and a Mexican. It all got a bit messy; I was still tucking into a few at some establishment down St James’ Street in the early hours. I bulldozed my way through the door at 2am and clattered about the house. There was a frosty atmosphere the following morning and a thick head.
It’s been a bit of NSL frenzy for The Groundhopper recently, as he’s keeping Mrs P sweet. The games have to be cheap and cheerful. I’ve not delivered the grim news that I will be in Cambridgeshire next week, at the delightful Glassworld Stadium, watching Histon taking on Barthez’s team Ebbsfleet United. Blog legend Trumpy Bolton and Man United closet fan White Van Man will be on board.
It’s Saturday morning 10am. I’ve already washed both cars and vacuumed them out. Mrs P is rubbing her eyes in disbelief. I’m on a mission and have to bank some Brownie points.
Mrs P nips up the gym to a bums, tums and thighs class (lol). I dive straight back in the house and give ‘The Skipper’ a good thumping at cribbage. The MOBO Award-nominated, London-based, grime music collective, Roll Deep are on the Soccer AM sofa. They play a clip of one of their songs. Their lyrics are worse than Lily Allen’s: “Roses are red, violets are blue, you know that I’ve got my eyes on you.” God give me strength.
I’m in the car and driving down Lings Bar. Sticky junior is up Keyworth Rec playing for a new team who are short on numbers. I drive over Ladybay Bridge. Small pockets of Forest fans are edging the way to The City Ground to watch the Reds take on Swansea City.
I navigate my way up Huntingdon Street and down Mansfield Road. I realise that time is on my side and decide to tick a pub off that’s situated Woodborough Road side of Woodthorpe Drive. Breckhill Park is to my left; it was Sticky’s lucky ground when he was coaching. ‘The Skipper’ scored a stunner there once, in a junior tournament. He still bores us to death about it.
Mapperley Top is a bloody awkward place to park. There’s no room at the Castle Rock pub, the Bread and Bitter. I have to park up in Farmfoods’ car park. They charge a quid for thirty minutes parking. I could have bought a meal for that inside their shop!
I saunter into the Bread and Bitter and order a pint of JBH, which is Oakham Ale, and costs £2.60. The pub is thriving. It has brick walls and wooden flooring. There are twelve real ales on, and a good selection of food.
I’ve a smelly old Jack Russell next to me. He spots a Labrador lounging about on the bar room floor. He goes for his throat. There’s an almighty kerfuffle; I’ve not seen anything quite as violent as this in the NSL. They are pulled apart and go their separate ways.
I head towards Mapperley Hall Drive close to the Carrington Sports Ground. I can’t remember where the ground is and phone up Big D, who bizarrely is stood next to Mrs P, watching Keyworth United U13s playing Wollaton. He guides me into Alverstone Road.
There’s been a lot of nonsense written on the NSL message board this week. People seem threatened by Caribbean Cavaliers recent upturn in fortune. People have come on the forum moaning about shabby goalposts that aren’t upright, pitches that aren’t roped off and an official/supporter from Wollaton gives lame excuses as to why they were well beaten at Carrington last weekend. No-one congratulates them. Nobody applauds them for having the strength and vision to set-up a club in the inner-city and provide their community with an opportunity to do something positive in their lives. People like Everton Richards, Wayne Morrison and Roberto Pietrafonte should be saluted, not knocked back.
Thankfully the level-headed Wollaton management team come on the forum and are gracious in defeat.
I park up in a very affluent part of Carrington. The sight of my Citroen stationed amongst the 4x4’s, Mercedes and BMW’s should knock £20,000 off some of these properties.
I potter around this lovely ground. I’ve played Evening League cricket here, many moons ago, when Notts Police owned the ground. Many of my long hops have sailed through the windows of these adjoining, exclusive, extravagant properties.
Reports are exaggerated about the goals, the pitch is roped off and the playing surface appears fine. It will hopefully shut up the moaning Minnies; I was fully expecting to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
I have a chat with Cavs manager Robert Pietrafonte. He’s a charming, calm character. The sort of mentor these boys need. I’m alarmed to hear from a supporter that Cavs are charged £80 to stage a game.
Ruddington are today’s visitors; it’s south of the river and the workplace of The Groundhopper. They were involved in a bruising encounter against Cotgrave Welfare a few weeks ago, which resulted in two Cotgrave players ending up in hospital.
Effervescent Cavs’ winger Wes Burke is telling a supporter how he scored from the half-way line in a Sunday morning game last weekend. Shortly before kick-off a Cavs’ player warming up hits the crossbar from 55 yards out; it’s something St Mirren failed to do on the Crossbar Challenge this morning.
It’s a good, open game in the first half. Cavs look the more dangerous of the two teams. Sticky’s favourite, Winnie Brown hits a fizzing, rising shot from 25 yards out which stings the hands of the Ruddington ‘keeper. Wes Burke shows great technique out on the right but fires straight at the ‘keeper. ‘Cookie’ and Joseph look sharp for Cavs and keep the Ruddington defence on their toes, but the visitors are rapid on the counter-attack.
Ruddington open the scoring with a sweet left foot strike from left back Adam Waddeley, which takes a deflection en-route to goal.
Cavs don’t let their heads drop and are well coached by the mild-mannered Pietrafonte. They restore parity when Joseph is flattened by the Ruddington ‘keeper, who escapes with a yellow card. Burke remains calm and tucks away the penalty with consummate ease. Cavs finish the half on top.
I’ve now been joined by ‘Jam Fool’, Big D and ‘Addo.’ Jam Fool puts his hands in his pockets for the first time in ten years and buys the tea and banana cake. The girls are delightful in the tea room. I’d give the tea a seven (it’s better than the Happy Shopper teabags at Pelican, eh Swifty).
The second half is not as invigorating or stimulating as the first. Cavs rely on the mule like kicks of Curtis MacDonald. The game becomes disjointed and lacks quality.
‘Cookie’ and ‘Shawy’ are having an entertaining tussle; apparently they’re good friends. ‘Cookie’ shrugs off a shirt-pulling Shaw to put Cavs 2-1 up. Their game becomes edgy and frantic. Winnie is not imposing himself on proceedings like he did when I saw him at Cotgrave last season.
Ruddington flash one past MacDonald’s post, with the Cavs’ ‘keeper not short of a word or two for his tiring defence. In the final moments the Ruddington winger finds the ball at his feet in acres of space, he tries a shot that comes of his toe end, it falls fortuitously at the feet of substitute Orlando Grinley, who shot comes off the inside of the ‘Leaning Tower of Pisa’ and nestles in the back of the net. For once Curtis is lost for words.
Special mention for the referee; he’s not the most mobile but he treats the players like adults, referees with commonsense and gains the respect of the players and officials. He always has the game under control.
It’s been a great afternoon, at a superb club. Roll on Cotgrave on Wednesday night.
Man of the Match: Rob Faulkner