Thursday, April 30, 2009

End of the Season


See you all on 25th July for a pre-season friendly. I'm off down Trent Bridge for the summer with my old friend Mr Bombay Sapphire.

Will post The Groundhopper Awards 2008/2009 Season on here next week.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Rushall Olympic 1 Shepshed Dynamo 0


It’s been doghouse.com for Sticky Palms this week readers. I ventured out to Leicester on Sunday looking for talent. It led me to Aylestone Park where Gary Lineker played as a boy, before being snapped up by the Foxes. I had a cup of tea in Lineker’s Lounge; I’d only mark it a six out of ten.

On Tuesday I slipped down to one of my favourite clubs: Greenwood Meadows. The first team were waiting to travel to Graham St Prims in an important EMCL clash, as I walked through the gate. I watched one of their junior teams play a smashing game of football.

Thursday was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back with Mrs P. I went to the Leicestershire FA’s HQ at Holmes Park for a County Cup final. I’m keen to make an impression at Notts County and want to add some real quality to their youth teams.



It’s Saturday morning 6am and as per usual I’m wide awake. I make a quality brew and pour myself a bowl of Cheerios. I log onto the blog and tinker around with my list of new grounds to visit for the 2009/2010 season. If Mrs P spots the list, it will be an instant red card and White Van Man will be clearing his spare room out, awaiting my arrival.

‘The Skipper’ has a schools’ tournament at Ruddington this morning. It gives me the perfect opportunity to watch him and scout the district of Rushcliffe’s finest ten and eleven year old schoolboys.

Mrs P drops me off at The Munch Box sandwich shop. I’m just gnawing my way through a breakfast cob, when my phone goes off. White Van Man puts me on a high state of alert. He’s spotted Trumpy Bolton catching the 8.30am Trent Barton bus into town. He’s off to Wetherspoons for a liquid breakfast. Oh my God!



We’re late back from the football; I had to conduct a little business. It’s well after 12pm when I drive up to Trumpy’s abode. He comes waltzing out the front door with his litre bottle of beer in a Co-op plastic bag.

We stop outside White Van Man’s house, five doors down from Trumpy’s. He’s a non-attendee today as he has a darts tournament. He bolts out the door with a vodka ice bottle in his hand. We all exchange insults.



We drive through Kegworth, onto the M42 and then the A5. Glasgow Rangers are on Five Live, but Trumpy’s tales of recent sessions in Tunbridge Wells, London and Gloucester are far more interesting.

JK phones in asking if I fancy a trip up to Coronation Park to watch Eastwood Town clinch the Unibond Premier League title. I decline his offer; I don’t want to inflict any bad luck on that wonderful club. He promises to keep me updated.

We finally pull into the car park of the Shire Oak.. Some young Asians are washing cars at £3 a go. The council have also dug a big hole close by.



Trumpy has a pint of Butcombe real ale. The Groundhopper has a pint of Stella. The landlady is as miserable as sin. It’s hardly surprising though, as the pub is tuned into the dreadful Heart FM radio station. Sticky’s favourtite singer (not) Lily Allen is mumbling lyrics that I could have written during my tea break.

Trumpy has a ploughmans. I select a bacon and cheese melt baguette. We can’t escape the place quick enough as Heart FM churn out one woeful tune after another.

We’re only three miles from Rushall and are soon outside the ground. There’s a pub adjacent to Dales Lane. Trumpy sees it as an opportunity to tick another off. A couple of drunks are at the bar talking jibberish. I remark from their accent that perhaps they are from Kosovo or Albania. It turns out that they are locals talking in a Black Country accent.



Summer Nights is on the jukebox. Jesus Christ where’s Heart FM when you need it. Trumpy has a tap-footing moment to German DJ Sash’s 1997 hit ‘Stay.’

We leave the car in the pub car park and stroll across the road to the ground. It’s £6 admission. The programme costs £1.50. It’s difficult to describe the quality of this programme. In three years of groundhopping it is without doubt the finest publication I’ve seen. It has 82 pages of toilet reading. Programme editor Darren Stockhall should be given the freedom of Walsall.

Rushall Olympic were originally formed in 1893. If results go their way today they will end up sneaking a play-off spot. They need to win and hope either Carlton Town or Glapwell slip up.



Trumpy is in overdrive now and bulldozes his way into the bar. His face lights up when he sees they sell Younger’s Scotch Bitter. He claims not have supped this brew since heavy sessions in the 70s at Keyworth Tennis Club.

We’re outside now holding a post mortem with the Shepshed fans on why their season has ended so miserably. They were shambolic last time Sticky saw them at home versus Lincoln United. Manager Lee Wilson picks a weakened team today. First team regulars: Screaton, Millns, Norris, Hateley, Robinson and Ben Saunders are all on the bench.



Johnny Cash’s football anthem Ring of Fire is on the speaker system as the teams come out to commence battle.

I leave Trumpy behind the goal talking to a Shepshed supporter, and take an amble around the stadia. I bump into Ian Screaton’s dad and exchange pleasantries. Across the other side of the pitch the noisiest fans in the Unibond Division One South are in full flow. I chat with Shepshed’s Director of Football Andy Macmillan who points out a few of the strange faces playing today for Dynamo.

The first half is grim. I’ve seen better entertainment on BBC2’s Saturday afternoon film matinee. Shepshed have been on holiday since Easter. It’s basically a getting to know you session for their untried players.



Rushall look tense and tentative. The pitch is not conducive to playing good football; the grass is as long as a racecourse on the final run-in.

Pics’ striker Nathan Lamey heads wide as Rushall take a stranglehold on the game.

I’ve not seen Trumpy for half an hour but rest assured the social club till will have been ringing at an alarming rate. Ironically we meet up in the bar at the break. It’s another Scotch Bitter for the legend.



Sky Sports Soccer Saturday show is on the TV. Eastwood are winning and Ilkeston are losing up at one of Sticky’s favourite watering holes: Whitby. Trumpy is miffed to hear that the Tricky Trees have grabbed a much-needed point against a ten man Tangerines at Bloomfield Road. He despises Nottingham Forest.

The second half is an excellent game of football. Shepshed throw on a few of their big guns to even things up, but Rushall are hungrier for a result. Dynamo go close from a free-kick.



Trumpy said all along whoever kicks down the hill after the break will win the game. Rushall turn up the heat and play without fear. But stand-in Dynamo ‘keeper Gavin Saxby is looking invincible. He tips goal-bound shots away for corners from both Lamey and Hayward.

Shepshed’s Rob Norris goes on a long mazy run but is denied by a brave block from Pics’ ‘keeper Tony Breedon.

Saxby is flinging himself all over his area; he makes one save after another.



The guy next to me is listening to Walsall versus MK Dons on a radio that looks like it was made in the early 20th Century. It’s crackling and picking up interference. Trumpy asks him if he can tune into Radio Caroline or Radio Luxemburg.

There’s a close scare on 75 minutes when a Rushall midfielder smashes a shot from 25 yards out, just wide of the post, narrowly missing Trumpy’s pint of bitter, sitting on the wall. He remonstrates with the offender.



Glapwell are getting beat at Stamford, all Rushall need now is a win to secure a play-off spot. There’s two minutes to go, Saxby has made another spectacular save but has conceded a corner. The ball in is inch perfect and headed home by a leaping Preston.

It’s Rushall’s biggest game of the season and yet only 110 people have bothered to turn up; over a third of those are from Shepshed.

There’s punching of the air and jubilation at the final whistle. Rushall Olympic have sneaked through the back door into the play-offs by plus one goal difference.

Man of the Match: Gavin Saxby

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kirby Muxloe 1 Borrowash Victoria 0


We’re jogging out the Pirelli Stadium at Burton upon Trent. The Brewers are somehow 1-0 down. There’s two minutes to go. If Burton score now, then both White Van Man and Sticky Palms, who have travelled to over 50 games this season, will miss the biggest celebration in their history.

We’ve only ran about 200 metres and already WVM is flagging. My chest is tight and my legs are like lead. By now I’ve shown WVM a clean pair of heels. He claims to be a member of ROKO Gym, but he must be doing doggy paddle in the pool and reading Nuts magazine in the cafeteria.



I’ve already started the car, got the heater going and put on Five Live by the time he appears on the scene. He stops all the traffic whilst I perform a textbook (?) three point turn. We’re on the A38 within minutes.

Reports on the radio suggest there has been a Metropolitan Police type melee at the Pirelli. Shaun Harrad has been sent off deep into injury time. Oxford have taken all three points.

WVM is on the brink of collapse. He revives his flagging spirits by ringing our local Chinese takeaway and ordering a sweet and sour chicken and chips. It hasn’t half cheered the big fella up.



It’s Saturday morning. I had a late one last night. I can never get to sleep when I’ve come back from a football match at night. I decided to unwind with a glass or two of wine, and surf on the net.

It’s 8am when I awake from my slumber. I’m normally up with the larks. Mrs P is coughing and spluttering. Bless her she’s full of cold. I try and convince her that it may be the fumes from the creosote she used on the six fence panels she painted, whilst the kids and I sloped off to Coronation Park, Eastwood last Bank Holiday Monday. She’s not in the mood for tomfoolery.

I shoot down to one of my favourite clubs, Greenwood Meadows, to watch a junior game. They play a smashing game of football. I arrange to watch them again.



I’ve already broken the grim news to Mrs P that I’m heading off to north Leicestershire this afternoon. To be honest I think she’s past caring. To pay for my sins, she has cadged the high pressure jet wash thingy off ‘The Angler.’ Sticky has to power wash the patio before my pass is stamped.

There’s time for a bacon sandwich before jumping in the car and setting off just before 2pm.

I’m on the blooming A46 again; it’s as straight as a dye. I’ll be back on it again tomorrow as I’m off to Aylestone Park.



They are talking on Five Live about Rory Delap’s throw-ins and how they consumed 11% of the 90 minutes played against Newcastle last Saturday. Graham Taylor is rattling on and on about it.

The satellite navigation system has a Dicky fit and sends me away from Kirby Muxloe. It’s probably my fault; I must have typed in the wrong house number on the postcode section.

I pull into the Royal Oak car park. I’d noticed it was in the lucky dip section of the Good Pub Guide. The Everards Tiger Bitter is tempting but I’m more interested in finding out where the ground is. An old guy having a quiet beer and a smoke points me in the right direction.



I manage to snuck into the last available car parking space. Ratby Lane is already bustling.

The set-up looks terrific. The view is elevated from behind one goal and tree-lined most of the way round. To the right runs the M1 Motorway.

I can’t find anyone on the gate; God knows how many people have sneaked in for nowt. After a desperate search I find a lady with a small cash box and a pile of programmes and pay my £3 entry and £1 for an excellent programme for this level. It has a history of Kirby Muxloe FC, a write-up on the visitors, plus squad details, fixtures, tables and latest news. A big pat on the back to programme editor Corey Shackleton for such a fine publication.



It’s a lot colder than I’d imagined; I’ve only got my £15 prison-issue fleece from H&M on. I pine so much for my £34.99 groundhopping coat, which I’ve left on the coat peg, in our hall.

Kirby Muxloe is five miles south west of Leicester in the parish of Glenfield. Kirby Muxloe FC were founded in 1910. They have played at the Kirby Muxloe Sports and Social Club since 1992. Floodlights were erected in the 1997/98 season and a floodlit all-weather surface opened in 1999. Previous players include: fiery Scotsman David Speedie, Paul Culpin and Calvin Plummer.



Borrowash is a village in the Erewash district of Derbyshire. They are fighting tooth and nail for the inaugural EMCL championship. Sticky saw ‘The Vics’ down at Dunkirk a few months ago; they played a smashing game of football and were mightily impressive.

I had earmarked a visit to Kirby a while ago, for the visit of Gedling Town. Unfortunately a pea souper of a fog descended on our patch that night. The Groundhopper would have probably ended up in the nearest river had he bothered to venture out that murky evening.



I stand facing the sun, with a strong breeze and the M1 at my back. There’s no team sheet, pre-match music or PA system. It’s a real shame as the set-up is spot on: one of the best in the league. I pay £1 to go on the number card; it contributes towards the payment of the officials’ expenses.

Borrowash play a breathtaking game of football. They terrorise either full back but over elaborate in the box.

It’s clear for all to see who is doing the pressing. I decide to meander around to the raised area at the back of the goal that ‘The Vics’ are attacking.



The Kirby Muxloe ‘keeper looks to have spent some time at the Melton Mowbray pork pie counter; he can barely fit into his shirt. He shouts absolute inane nonsense for the entire game. Not one player listens to him. All the crowd comment on it. But fair play to the youth because he is an excellent shot stopper.

Borrowash pepper the goal without reward. Kirby look nervous and tentative. Their approach play is direct and aimless. Any game-plan they have tucked up their sleeve appears to have gone up in a puff of smoke.

The Sports and Social Club is enchanting and also full to the brim. I manage to crawl my way to the bar and purchase a can of Coke. The half-times are coming in and I notice one or two Unibond Premier League scores trickling through. I’m anxious to find out how Ilkeston and Eastwood are doing, but they are just about the only two scores I don’t see.



Borrowash have Michael Lyons playing today. The former D***y County and Burton Albion player once appeared on a TV documentary about up and coming England Youth players a few years ago. He was released by the Rams in 2000 and after jumping on the non-league merry- go- round; he’s finally washed up at The Asterdale. Today he is outstanding. The Kirby ‘keeper makes a point-blank save from Lyons.

The Architect drops me a text; James Perch has put the Tricky Trees one up against the Sky Blues.

Against the run of play Kirby take the lead. An excellent through-ball finds Jamie Mason, who races away to fire home. It’s a huge weight off everyone’s shoulders.



Borrowash keep plugging away without reward. I’m told by a supporter that Anthony Tansley, their talented, driven midfielder, has spent time in the ressies. The guy is immense. He hustles and bustles, takes people on and wants to win the game so badly.

Borrowash pull off their front two North and Spencer; it’s like waving the white flag. The game opens up for Kirby, but they still play with nerves.

Kirby can’t finish it off. I’m walking towards the car when the excellent referee blows for time. I’ve got groundhopping burn-out. Two games to go and I can put my feet up and watch cricket for four months.

Man of the Match: Anthony Tansley.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Burton Albion 0 Oxford United 1

Sticky junior turns out for two teams now; he’s as fit as a fiddle. He’s entering the dark world of puberty. I love it when he takes his angry pills before a game of football. He’s as placid as they come, but has a personality change before entering the field of play. It gives him an edge to his game. His first yellow card is literally just around the corner. I’m looking forward to it because he doesn’t know it yet, that it will be coming out of his pocket money.

I’ve two games in two days at the weekend but haven’t plucked up the courage to speak to Mrs P about this impending matter. I fly in the front door from work and straight out the back door and cut all the lawns. I’m back in the house an hour later cleaning all the windows. I’m a modern day Mrs Doubtfire. The good lady has a look of disbelief on her face. It’s an unexpected, jaw-dropping moment for Mrs P.



I still summon up the energy to go out scouting for ‘The Pies’ on the same evening. I’m at the beautiful setting of Wollaton Park watching a small-sided game. There’s a central midfielder on show with an incredible engine. He’s up and down the pitch like Roadrunner. He wins countless headers and second balls. He’s finally substituted and complains of a migraine. I’m not surprised. But he’ll do for Sticky. I book him in for his six week trial.

We’ve gone corporate tonight. I normally contact Robbo and stand on the popular side at the Pirelli Stadium. I’ve called in a favour and tonight we will be seated.



White Van Man has been on the road since 4am; I volunteer to pilot, he accepts my gesture. I pick up the big man at 6.15pm; he looks totally drained and needs rations.

They call me ‘Driving With Miss Daisy’, it’s because I’m an unhurried driver. We’re still in Burton in thirty five minutes. We park a fifteen minute stroll away from the ground. I’m parked on the wrong side of the road facing oncoming traffic.

Oxford is in the south of the Midlands and has a population of over 150,000. It lies on the rivers of the Thames and Cherwell. It has the oldest university in the English-speaking world.



It is the home of Inspector Morse and his dim-witted sidekick Lewis. Famous folk from the area include: Patrick Mower, Hugh Laurie, Oliver actor Mark Lester, former Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa midfielder Garry ‘Nosey’ Parker and Professor Stephen Hawking.

Notable former managers of the U’s include: Jim ‘Bald Eagle’ Smith, Match of the Day pundit Mark Lawrenson, spitting victim, the scowling Brian Horton and Mark Wright. Former Czechoslovakian Olympic sailing champion and deep sea diver Robert Maxwell once owned the club in their halcyon days.

The city of Oxford is twinned with Bonn in Germany and Grenoble in France. The Morris Motor Car Company mass produced vehicles before the demise of British Leyland.



The first-ever sub four minute mile run was recorded by Roger Bannister at Oxford University’s Iffey Road track. I once saw Binchy, a colleague at work, eat a very hot meat stir fry, at the Three Crowns Thai restaurant in Ruddington, Nottingham, in less than four minutes – this is called ‘Doing the Roger Bannister.’

Oxford were formed in 1893 as an amateur club called Headington United. It was only in 1960 that they had their named changed to Oxford United.

They were elected to the Football League in 1962 at the expense of Accrington Stanley, who folded.



In 1986 they defeated Queens Park Rangers in the Milk Cup final 3-0 at Wembley Stadium, with goals from Trevor Hebberd, Ray Houghton and Jeremy Charles in front of over 90,000 people.

This is their third season in the Conference. Former Halifax manager Chris Wilder is at the helm. He performed a miracle on a shoestring at The Shay. He’s started like a train at Oxford; they’ve had one league defeat in the last twenty games.

Burton is famous for its beer, Bovril and car manufacturing. They have seen an eighteen point lead eaten away by Cambridge United. They have been beaten six times in their last twelve outings. I tell White Van Man that the form book suggests an away victory. He’s more concerned about his empty stomach.



We pick up tickets in reception. We walk up the stairs, down the corridor and end up in some plush, swanky bar. I have a Guinness and White Van Man decides on a blackcurrant and soda. There are a few Conference and Football League managers swanning around the room.

Everyone seems in celebratory mood. There’s a gang of mates in Hawaiian shirts, with coloured garlands hanging from their necks. One unfortunate Brewers’ fan has a home shirt on, with a double-barrelled surname of it. It’s not quite as bad as Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, but I bet it still cost a few bob.

White Van Man swipes a couple of team sheets from off the bar. Leading scorer Greg Pearson is still suspended and there’s no sign of veteran ‘keeper Kevin Poole. Oxford appear to have all the big guns on show.



Poor old White Van Man is starving; there’s not a pork pie or Puuka pie in sight; not even a prawn sandwich. I’m seriously worried he’ll pass out.

I don’t bother buying a programme as it’s normally stuffed full of adverts. We do buy some 50/50 tickets though to ease the guilt.

As we take our seats, on the second row from the front, they are just turning off the water sprays. It’s rained buckets in these parts over the last few days. But Burton like to zip the ball all over the park.



Six thousand fans are packed into the Pirelli Stadium tonight; it is said that some are locked out. The Burton PA man keeps it simple and treats us to a bit of Ska, Pigbag, Coldplay and The Script.

The atmosphere is electric; both sets of fans are in fine fettle. There’s an incredible turnout from Oxford for a night game on a working day.

Oxford set about Burton from the off and intend to give them little time on the ball. They have packed the midfield. The U’s top marksman James Constable will plough a lone furrow up field.



Oxford have a physical edge to their game, and a snap in the tackle. Their game-plan is stop Burton getting on the ball. The referee hasn’t the inclination to play advantage; there’s endless occasions when he could have and should have. He doesn’t dish out punishment for persistent foul play of which one or two Oxford players are guilty.

Ironically it’s a Brewers’ player who finds his way into the referee’s notebook. Arron Webster body-checks the impressive Oxford on-loan winger Lewis Haldane.



Club stalwart Darren Stride is playing in an unaccustomed role as centre forward; well it’s the first time Sticky’s seen him play there. He’s putting himself about and plays in Keith Gilroy who fires a shot straight at Oxford ‘keeper Billy Turley.

It’s deadlock at the break; there’s just too much at stake. I’ve the weakest bladder in Nottinghamshire and decide to hunt down the nearest toilet. I end up behind the goal where there’s a queue of about 200 folk in the same predicament. The toilet only has five urinals.



Mrs P texts in at 9pm, to take the piss out of me because it’s 0-0. She’s stumbled upon Setanta Sports on the new Virgin Media package she recently shelled out on.

Oxford come out and play in the second period. The talented Constable and central defender Wilmott both go close. There’s a real ebb and flow to the game, as the pace hots up. Goodfellow forces another smart save from Turley. The ball’s played back in by Stride for Morris to somehow scuff his shot wide of the post, from six yards out.

Oxford go 4-3-3, they have to get maximum points this evening; the game opens up even more for the Brewers.



Tony James gives an unnecessary free-kick away, after a foul on Constable. Nineteen year old Northern Irish full back Adam Chapman, on loan from Sheffield United, curls a delicious, whipped effort, over the wall into the left hand top corner of the goal. Not one Oxford player can catch him on his celebratory run. The U’s fans up the noise a notch.

But Burton are a brave lot; they throw the kitchen sink at the U’s. Substitute Shaun Harrod races through on goal, Wilmott is last man and takes him out; it’s a straight red.

White Van Man’s getting itchy feet; his stomach is rumbling incessantly. We’ve time to see a flurry of blocks and saves from man of the match Turley before exiting the Pirelli Stadium in the 94th minute. It’s not the Brewers night, and now they really will be shaking in their boots for the visit to Plainmoor next Sunday.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Eastwood Town 4 Frickley Athletic 2

We’re exiting the New Manor Ground at Ilkeston Town. It’s been a good second half for the neutral. We sidle our way up the steps, past the morons who caused all the trouble earlier in the game. We are met at the top of the steps by the Derbyshire Constabulary. We’re prevented from leaving the ground as they are trying to clear the car park of Eastwood Town fans.

I tell Plod he’s wasting his time and chuckle at their jobsworth attitude. The guy’s a special constable; he’s been drafted in. After ten minutes we’re finally allowed to leave. Police are swarming about outside the ground.. I thought for one scary moment that Mrs Thatcher had returned to power. The last time I saw security this tight was when a lorry load of Pukka pies were delivered to White Van Man’s house.



We reach the ‘Green Rocket.’ WVM opens his boot to put his coat away. A police Alsatian dog is trying to take a huge chunk out of his backside. I tell the dog that if he wolfs up WVM for his dinner, then he won’t need a meal for a week. Even the copper is laughing.

The police have blocked the road off; we’re forced onto the A610. WVM spots a peroxide blonde caught up in the traffic. She’s a tidy piece. He asks her out on the spot. She doesn’t decline his offer.



We slip into West Bridgford for a few swift jars. I begrudgingly grace the Fire ‘n’ Ice Bar on Bridgford Road. It’s fur coat and no knickers territory. ‘Bruiser’ is in there drinking his designer shorts. I thought he was still stuck in the clubhouse at Shepshed Dynamo. He’s rinsing me big time about my poor performance in Putney High Street last Saturday.

It’s Saturday morning and I’m out spying for The Pies. I take a peek at a couple teams in Basford and Clifton and make a few mental notes.

I watch both my boys in the afternoon. They play with vigour and style. I knock up pasta in prawns in the evening. I’m grovelling big time and finally pluck up the courage to ask the question, following a bottle of Chardonnay.



I’d noticed on the Eastwood Town entertaining fans’ forum that Sticky’s number one favourite chairman, Robert Yong had rewarded the people of Eastwood with free admission for their final two home games.

“What are we doing Monday love?” “Not a lot” Mrs P replies. “I could take the kids to Eastwood, it’s on the house?” “Yeah, clear off the lot of you and leave me in peace.” Coronation Park here we come.



We spend Sunday in Leicestershire. I manage to grab a pint and a spot of lunch at the impressive Navigation Inn at Barrow upon Soar. We walk off our meal at Beacon Hill just outside Loughborough. ‘The Skipper’ and Sticky junior” are moaning more than Sir Alex Ferguson.

It’s Monday morning, the day of the game. Eastwood will still be bitterly disappointed about their no show at Ilson on Friday. There’s been 27 pages of discussion about the game on the Badgers’ forum.

White Van Man has been on an Easter Sunday bender with his shandy drinking mates. I give him a tinkle. He’s crying off, electing instead to watch Screats who’s playing at Quorn. The kids are upset as WVM is entertainment value.



I can’t tempt Mrs P to an afternoon out in Eastwood. I offer her lunch at the Man in Space; she says she’d rather creosote the fence (which she did).

JK picks us up at 1.45pm. He’s got Radio Nottingham on. They’re playing the awful Jason Donovan track Any Dream Will Do. Even the Ilson DJ wouldn’t stoop this low. We head off up the Nottingham ring road. He throws a left at Beechdale Swimming Baths. We drive past the The Beechdale public house; people are looking set for an all day drinking bout.

Parking is free at the secure car park at Coronation Park. I notice there are a lot of new sponsorship boards up advertising the Dusk Till Dawn Poker Club which is owned by the Eastwood chairman.



I take a stroll towards Chewton Street to take a few snaps. A little girl comes careering off her bicycle and smashes into the kerb. She’s grazed her knee and is being nursed by her sympathetic father.

We walk through the gate; its free admission. We buy a programme for £2 and put some money in the charity bucket. JK has a quick gleg in the already bustling social club.

The disc jockey is playing Liverpudlian band The Farm’s classic tune All Together Now. The cloud is breaking, the sun is peering out and the air is still.



Frickley Athletic (previously known as Frickley Colliery) is in South Elmsall, West Yorkshire. It’s an area that has been devastated by pit closures. The town has a population of 18,000. Famous folk from round these parts include Geoff “my Nana could have caught that in her pinny” Boycott, the late, great, Spurs player, Cyril Knowles and the old ITN newsreader, Leonard Parkin.

I saw them demolish Lincoln United 4-1 over a year ago. It was the day Screats was sent off for a two-footed challenge. Two hundred old miners were baying for his blood that day. They are currently mid- table, with contracts to play for.

Big D has appeared on the scene; he’s brought his son Roscoe with him. They are already muttering about having a pot of mushy peas and mint sauce from the excellent snack bar. There’s an army of volunteers already beavering away, attending to our needs, providing food and drink. The tea is outstanding and is perfectly brewed. I’m in the mood to mark it with nine. Only Holbrook MW can match its quality.



I can’t put my finger on the reasons for Eastwood’s mystifying display at the New Manor Ground last Friday. They looked confident in the warm-up but just never got going. Ilkeston are five points behind them with two games in hand. Today they visit Boston United’s York Street.

We stand to the left of the Eastwood Town dugout; Paul Cox is normally good value. The Badgers are pumped up and play at a greater tempo than Friday night.

Record signing Danny Holland, recently recruited from Harrogate Town, opens the scoring, chipping the young Frickley ‘keeper after only two minutes. Frickley look disjointed and are in disarray.



Already the Badgers are racking up the chances. Huge defender Mark Hume has a header cleared off the line. Richard Dunning doubles their lead on 10 minutes, firing a shot into the corner of the net.

Assistant manager John Ramshaw is in pensive mood; I know he has suffered this weekend. Meanwhile manager Paul Cox can talk for two. He is the king of clich├ęs. I play a little game with myself and note down a few: “up the tempo”, “raise it”, “organise”, “pressure”, “second ball”, “keep your shape.” No need for the swearing though Paul.

The chances keep coming and going for Eastwood. Knox, Robinson and Meikle are all guilty of misses. On 25 minutes Lindon Meikle scores an outrageous goal, striking the ball with the outside of his boot, his shot ending up in the top left hand corner of the goal. Eastwood are coasting.



JK has got his earpiece in; he’s listening to Radio Red at Bramall Lane. He’s whittling himself to death about a ten man Forest and is convinced that they will concede any minute now.

The Blues of Frickley begin to claw their way back into the game, they work Badgers’ keeper Ian Deakin. Davies and Towey both spurn chances.

Big D has been plucking the courage up to devour some peas. He required St John’s Ambulance treatment at the Wrexham game, after burning the roof of his mouth. Roscoe is dispatched to the snack bar. Unfortunately young Roscoe has a ‘Beadle Hands’ moment and spillage occurs on Big D’s coat.



I’ve got my new fleece on from H&M. I’m well chuffed with my £15 bargain. Mrs P reckons I look like a convict in it. I pull up my hood to fit in with the crowd.

Eastwood just can’t put the game beyond Frickley’s reach. Meikle misses a one on one and the Badgers have two more efforts cleared off the line. But Frickley Athletic are a plucky lot and reduce the deficit on the hour with a smart finish from Neil Towler.

The scary looking Peter Knox steers the ball into an empty net a minute later following a miscued clearance.



Frickley won’t go away. Dean Kilburn, their substitute, looks a tidy player. He tucks away a shot to make it 4-2. Eastwood have clocked off by now.

The final whistle goes. All the players and management applaud the near 1000 strong crowd. It’s been cracking entertainment. Both the referee and Frickley have played their part. Ilson have dropped two points in Lincolnshire. They’re not going to fancy the trip to Nantwich Town on Wednesday evening.

Man of the Match: Paul Robinson