Friday, January 8, 2010
Coventry City 3 Barnsley 1
There’s a character in the cult comic Viz called Sheridan Poorly. He’s a hypochondriac and always on the verge of death. He thinks he has every disease on earth. I used to work with a guy who called me Sheridan, as I often complained of feeling unwell. This is how I’ve felt this week.
Yes readers, I’ve got the New Year’s blues. It started when I chewed on a brown-wrapped Quality Street toffee, which Robin had kindly bought in a tin of to the office. I remarked how long I’d been chewing on it, when I realised I’d dislodged a filling. Inevitably, a few days later I succumbed to toothache.
The following day I jumped out of bed like a spring chicken, only to crick my neck. I suffered the countless jibes at work like: ‘No Neck’ and ‘Gladstone Small.’ I couldn’t even turn around to remonstrate with the said perpetrators; such was the pain when turning sideways.
It’s Friday night and I’m consoling myself with a couple of Stella’s. The Taxman and Nuclear Scientist have invited themselves round to watch the West Bromwich Albion v Nottingham Forest game. The Tricky Trees are sublime and pass ‘The Albion’ to death. Moussi, McKenna and Majewski are par excellence in the engine room.
We awake on Saturday morning to further snowfall. I do my good deed of the day and heavily grit an alleyway next to our crib, so the old folk can get to the shops without fear of taking a tumble.
Finley, our pet rabbit, laughs in the face of the adverse weather conditions. He is as hard as nails and was born in the north of the county. He rolls around in the snow, licking at the melting ice. He grabs a couple of treats from The Groundhopper’s fingers. He’s my best friend.
Mrs P and I take a stroll up to the village. I’m praying to God that the Ricoh Arena survives a pitch inspection. The only other alternative is D***y Clownty v Scunthorpe United. I’ve already enquired how much tickets are in the away end.
We bump into Notts County legend Brian Stubbs in the village. He played 426 times for ‘The Pies’ before being dumped on from a great height by Howard Wilkinson – this is the same idiot who closed down Notts’ centre of excellence four years ago.
We take a wander around the new Keyworth Co-op shop. The moment should have been beautiful (Sticky loves the Co-op) but it’s spoilt by a whack RnB track on Radio Co-op. Mrs P ignores the special offers in the white wine section, but manages to bag some heavily discounted barrels of Foxes biscuits.
Coventry City confirm the game is on. Thank Christ for that. As Elvis Costello said in 1978: ‘I Don’t Want To Go To D***y.’
I sit watching Soccer Saturday whilst sharing a bowl of M&S carrot and coriander soup with Mrs P. Lord only knows what they are going to talk about, as only six games have survived the Big Freeze. They’ll probably be chatting shit for six hours, like they normally do.
I was slightly underdressed for the visit to the Britannia Stadium last Saturday and won’t be making the same mistake again. I purchased some thermal socks from Keyworth’s number one over 60s shop – Tweedies. It’s an establishment often ridiculed on this blog, but it aint arf saved my bacon today readers.
Big D has arranged to pick me up outside the HQ of Keyworth United Community Football Club on Platt Lane. He arrives bang on time.
Big D is on top form. He’s been beavering away in the kitchen all morning, preparing his lamb stew for tonight.
Roscoe has already scoffed nearly half a pack of Maynard’s Sour fruit pastills. Radio Trent is on the car radio, but thankfully the volume is switched to low.
We head up the A46, M1, M69 and M6 and park inside the Ricoh Arena within 45 minutes for the princely sum of a tenner. At least it will ensure a hasty getaway.
Coventry lies 19 miles east of Birmingham and has a population of just shy of 300,000 people. It was once well known for its car manufacturing.
The city suffered heavy bombardment from the German Luftwaffe during the Second World War. It became known as the ‘Coventry Blitz’ and was a retaliatory act by Adolf Hitler following the RAF’s aerial onslaught of Munich. Coventry Cathedral was left with just its outer walls.
Coventry was one of the world’s first twin cities, when it forged links with Stalingrad, Russia (now Volgograd) during the war.
During the late 1970s the Two Tone phenomenon helped spring up local ska bands such as The Specials and The Selector.
Well known folk born in the Coventry area include: the actor Clive Owen, Specials singer Terry Hall, music mogul Pete Waterman, Sky Sports presenter Richard Keys, Warwickshire and England cricketer Ian Bell, England rugby international Neil Back and Great Britain sprinter Marlon Devonish.
We stroll across a footbridge and are just about to enquire about tickets when a guy earwigs our conversation. He offers us discounted, unused season tickets: It saves us a few bob. Admission would have been £27; it’s another £3 for an impressive programme.
Big D heads for the food bar as Roscoe’s tummy is a rumbling. He’s told he has to purchase a credit card, they don’t take cash. It all seems a lot of faffing around to me. Roscoe is fed and watered, its cost Big D the best part of £8.
Barnsley is in the People’s Republic of South Yorkshire and is populated by 75,000 people. Local lads include: one of the first black English footballers and also a top comedian: Charlie Williams, the cricketer Darren Gough, Sticky’s favourite umpire Dickie Bird, Wolves manager Mick McCarthy, journalist , radio and TV presenter Michael Parkinson and the late great Stan Richards (Seth Armstrong) off Emmerdale Farm.
The Ricoh Arena is a cracking stadium. They have wide concourses and plenty of leg room. We sit high up on the halfway line, opposite the main stand and sponsors’ lounges.
Both teams are lower mid-table. Coventry’s form is up and down, whilst the visitors are unbeaten in their last eight league games.
The match is being sponsored by health store giant Holland and Barrett. With my stiff neck, toothache and mouth ulcers, I think they are going to be seeing a lot of The Groundhopper in the next few days.
Barnsley are first to the ball in every department. It’s kept on the carpet and spread wide. The Tykes’ grand fromage is Buenos Aries born playmaker Hugo Colace. He rocked up at Oakwell from Newell’s Old Boys in August 2008. What a coup this must have been for the club. He is the dog’s bollocks. He arrows a volley to the bottom left of the goal, somehow Westwood tips it around the post. It’s breathtaking.
Coventry’s tactics are clear for all to see – get the ball forward quickly to former Notts County trainee Big Leon Best. He’s as strong as an ox and untouchable in the air.
The Tykes are battering the Sky Blues. Foster has hit the bar and they’ve had a good shout for penalty turned down by referee Lee Mason.
I have to check it’s not an FA Cup tie, such is the flow of the game. Coventry take the lead totally against the run of play. Stephen Wright’s flighted cross is nodded into the back of the net by former Grays striker Freddie Eastwood.
Three minutes later Northern Ireland midfield Sammy Clingan scores a spectacular scissor kick from 15 yards out after Barnsley fail to clear their lines from a McIndoe corner. It’s harsh on the visitors who have been great value.
Great news arrives from Pride Park: D***y 0 Scunny 2. We do a little jig of delight. Roscoe has been dispatched to the tea bar at the break. Big D gives him strict instructions about topping his credit card up and what to order. You can see it’s all too much for the youngster.
Barnsley manager Mark Robins throws caution to the wind in the second half, he throws a few more players up top - Adam Hammill and Iain Hume. They start where they left off and pull a goal back on 49 minutes with Jon Macken converting a Hammill cross.
Roscoe re-appears on the hour. The halfwit has made a right pig’s ear of the drinks order. He’s forgot to put milk in his Dad’s tea and sugar in his own coffee. His face is a picture; he looks like he’s been sucking on a lemon.
The chances stack up for the Tykes, but they spurn them all. Hume, Hassell and Hammill are the guilty parties.
Roscoe’s got a face like a wet weekend; he’s still sulking about the tea bar running out of hot chocolate. We hot foot out the ground with a few minutes remaining and miss Clinton Morrison wrap up the game for Coventry.
The cockles of our hearts are warmed with the news that The Iron have put four past The Sheep.
Attendance: 15,031 (600 from Barnsley)
Man of the Match: Roscoe.