Saturday, April 24, 2010

Armthorpe Welfare 1 Bridlington Town 3

It’s Saturday evening, September 21st , 1985. I’m in the Plough public bar, supping Hofmeister lager (you tramp Sticky that’s only 3.5% ABV). Madonna’s ‘Into The Groove’ is on the jukebox.

We all stagger up to ‘The Sal’ for last orders. I’m sitting on a bar stool at the corner of the bar when an almighty free-for-all takes place between a couple of guys and a gang of lads I know. A man picks up a glass ashtray, smashes it in two and hurls it in my direction.

My right wrist feels the full force of the missile. I look down to see that my Wrangler denim shirt has torn away. It reveals a huge gaping hole in my wrist. Blood is spurting out all over me. My main artery is burst. My tendons are severed. I’m losing blood quicker than D***y County lose league games.

A mate spots me clutching my arm. He performs emergency first aid and probably saves my life. I’m in plaster from my fingertips to the top of my arm for 8 weeks. I’m off work for 3 months.

The case goes to court. The individual concerned is found ‘not guilty.’ It’s why to this day I have a mistrust and disdain of the police force and the judiciary system.

The man who saved my life passed away a few years ago. I think about him most days. My two boys play cricket at the club he loved, where he holds legendary status. We were rivals on the pitch but good friends off it.

On Friday night I had a pint of Black Sheep at the Club. I turned to the photo of him that hangs behind the bar and raised my glass to him. ‘God bless you Kev.’

It’s Saturday morning. There’s just time for a bowl of Cheerios before leaving the house at 8.45am. I’m heading north, where I’ve arranged to meet Notts County’s Head of Youth, Mick Leonard. We watch a couple of kids games and invite a boy into one of our younger age groups.

I’m back at the house at 11.45am. I cram a cream cake down me and a glass of milk.

I’ve been worried for most of the morning. Trumpy had mentioned that he was going to ‘The Bank’ before travelling up to Doncaster – it’s a Wetherspoons pub in Nottingham. I’m relieved to hear that he had two appointments at the real bank, although he does confess to having a liquid breakfast at Joseph Else on South Parade. He complains that the service was slow due to people ordering full English or tea and coffee. He says that teetotallers are a menace to society.

Newcomers to this blog may not be aware that Trumpy Bolton’s sole aim in life is to make a financial transaction, supported by a credit card or bank statement, in every city, town or village in England, Wales and Scotland. It’s been his hobby for over 30years.

He failed to drink a beer on St George’s Day because of a late shift at work. He’s more than making up for it today. In the last few weekends he has trawled the bars of Ripon and Swansea. He eagerly awaits his £9 Sun Holiday, in West Wales, in May.

He’s earmarked a watering hole in the picture postcard village of Spotbrough, close to Donny. Second World War hero Sir Douglas Bader was brought up in the nearby parsonage.

We park up in the bustling car park of the Boat Inn, adjacent to the river and the Spotbrough Waterfalls. Trumpy has already guzzled his way through a litre of cider on our way up the A614 (A1M). The legend has a look of horror on his face when he sees that the orderly queue at the bar is above a dozen.

Trumpy is never one to panic. Within minutes we are ordering scampi and chips, a cheese salad sandwich, washed down with two pints of Samuel Smiths, at the Ivanhoe Hotel close to High Melton.

The run-down hotel backs onto a cricket ground. We wander around to the rear of the pub and take a pew on a wooden bench. Both opening batsman look ring rusty against a useful seam attack.

The landlady has just told Trumpy that Samuel Smith has withdrawn all credit facility. The legend produces a cheque book from his back pocket and convinces ‘Auntie Flo’ to accept a cheque accompanied by a banker’s card.

We soon rock up in the Markham Main Social Club car park. Nani has just clipped the ball over Gomez to put ‘United’ 2-1 up against Spurs.

Trumpy does a spot of shopping, whilst Sticky pounds up and down the main drag. I notice a pet store. Finley’s on emergency rations at the moment. I really ought to buy the fat lad some food.

Trumpy has snaffled up eighteen rolls of toilet roll for £5.98. He manages to squeeze into his shopping basket some shower gel and four tins of McEwans. A bemused check-out girl stares in disbelief.

Armthorpe is a village on the eastern of Doncaster in South Yorkshire. It has a population of 12,000. It is well known for its coal mining. The local mine was called Markham Main. Between 1916 and 1996 – when the colliery closed – a total of 87 miners were killed underground.

The village is the birthplace of former Liverpool, Hamburg, Southampton and Newcastle Utd striker, Kevin Keegan. Bill Shankly signed him from the Iron for £35,000. He played for Hamburg in a European Cup final against Nottingham Forest in 1981, which they lost to a solitary John Robertson goal.

We have a chat with the charming Bridlington Town chairman Peter Smurthwaite, who’s sitting in the club mini-bus outside the ground. Brid have already been crowned champions, but are stalling on a decision on whether to accept promotion to the Unibond Division One North.

The chairman shows us a mileage chart which displays this season’s and next season’s travelling time. They will drive double the distance. Wages and expenses will also increase. Bridlington Town had their fingers burnt a few years ago. It’s a case of once bitten, twice shy.

Armthorpe sportingly form a guard of honour for their opponents. It’s a touch of class. Armthorpe have yet to lose to the visitors on the three occasions they’ve crossed swords this season.

Armthorpe pin back Brid in the opening 20 minutes but are wasteful in front of goal. Holden, Hardy and Sibenge (Trumpy calls him Michael Essien) all fail to work Wilberforce, the ‘keeper, when in good positions.

Bridlington look a bit leggy, but begin to find their feet. Trumpy remarks that their numbers 8 and 10 are like Hoddle and Molby – he has necked a few by now readers.

The champions take the lead on 20 minutes, with Tom Chippendale diverting a Craig Hogg shot into the bottom corner of the net. Thankfully Chippendale doesn’t remove his shirt whilst celebrating.

Trumpy has clocked a pub across the road. He asks if I fancy a swift one, minutes before the break. The Wheatsheaf looks a little shady from the outside. The legend waltzes through the lounge – he’s not one for reputations.

A guy in the bar is setting up a speaker system. It’ll probably be a Techno and Trance night. Trumpy is rattling away to Mrs Trumpy on the phone, who is keeping the legend updated with the score from Deepdale, as his team, Leicester, pursue a play-off place. He asks her if she would mind mowing the lawn.

We arrive back at Church Street to hear that Armthorpe have bagged an equaliser on the stroke of half-time. I have a chat with a Grantham Town fan, who lives in Worksop. Remarkably, we were also at the same game on Tuesday night, between Gedling MW and Radcliffe Olympic.

Bridlington take the lead with the goal of the game. A left wing cross from Fleming is smashed home first time by Frankie Belt at the far post.

The game is over as a contest moments later with Ashley Allanson converting a spot kick after Hotte was chopped down.

The league trophy is to be presented to Bridlington after the game. We bid farewell to a couple of friendly supporters’ trust members and leave the club to enjoy their moment.

Attendance: 92

Man of the Match: Peter Smurthwaite, Bridlington Town Chairman.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Attenborough 2 Boots Athletic 4

It’s Friday 27th November 2009. I’m at work. We’ve all been called into an end of year ‘Company Presentation’ in the canteen. The Managing Director gives us all a ‘heads up’ on the ‘scores on the doors.’ Everybody seems distracted – they have one eye on the weekend.

The MD announces that one or two people in the room have completed ten years service. I start to swallow and feel my stomach begin to churn. ‘Taggart’s’ name is shouted up and he is presented with some ‘Call of Duty’ software and hardware. One of the guys gets some concert tickets. Three of the girls are given vouchers for a health spa.

Suddenly the Power Point presentation displays a photo of an Italian football stadium. The MD talks about a guy who never leaves the office. A guy who is passionate about groundhopping and scouting. Ooh eck. I recognise the bloke he’s talking about. Mrs P and I are off to Florence for the weekend. Next season Mrs P will make her groundhopping bow in Serie A.

It’s Friday morning. I receive a text from Mrs P. Do I fancy a bite to eat at CafĂ© Rouge, on Bridlesmith Gate, in Nottingham? Plan is, to pick up Sticky junior and his crew, who are down the road at a ‘Foam Party’ at the Ice Arena. I don’t want him wandering around town at that time of night.

The meal is superb; unfortunately there’s no bitter on draught and they’ve ran out of Stella. We take a stroll around Hockley and stop for a drink at the award-winning Cock and Hoop on High Pavement. It’s half a pint of Blue Monkey for Groundhopper, which is brewed in Ilkeston. We pick junior up. He’s soaked to the skin with foam.

I’m up and out the house on Saturday for 9am. I’ve a scouting assignment in Northamptonshire. Hope I have better luck than last time I was in these parts – I got hopelessly lost and ended up ringing up Notts County’s chief scout, Graham Carr, (father of the comedian Alan Carr) for directions. I put the Sat Nav on.

I drive through the Leicestershire rolling countryside – the home of the pork pie and Stilton cheese and reach my destination within an hour. The welcome is warm but the football is a tad disappointing. I offer a player a six week trial.

Britain’s best broadcaster, Danny Baker, is on Five Live. His phone-in has been Grand National themed for the last 20 minutes or so. He has a fella on the line who lives near a farm. He plays a game with the guy. He reads the runners and riders out. As soon as one of the cockerels cockle doodle doos then that’s the horse to win the National. It stops on Black Apalachi. I immediately ring ‘The Architect to put me a fiver on the nose.

I arrive home to find Sticky junior is having a late fitness test due to horrific blisters on the back of his feet, caused by wearing incorrect sized-footwear at the ice rink. His team are playing our French twin town down at Keyworth United HQ.

They are showcasing the game on the new pitch at Platt Lane. The committee have played it safe and left some grass on the pitch. Passing proves to be difficult, although the French master the conditions superbly. Technically they are streets ahead of our boys. Their passing and movement are simple and effective.

I slip away to Attenborough just as Keyworth are awarded a dubious penalty. The French goalkeeper is annoyed. The enfant terrible kicks out at the new goal post in frustration.

I’m parked up at The Strand in Attenborough within 25 minutes. Is there a more picturesque setting in this county? The ground sits on the edge of the Attenborough Nature Reserve. The Village Green is often flooded. Today the sky is sea blue. The pitch is perfect.

I look towards the clubhouse and notice a couple of characters wandering towards me. It’s none other than Boots club secretary Dick ‘Dastardly’ Durrant and his faithful slim-looking sidekick Muttley (Roscoe). We went to Stoke and Coventry together at Christmas when the non-league programme was wiped out with snow and frost.

The Chemists are looking for a volunteer to look after the valuables. Roscoe wisely keeps his hands by his side. He’d lose his bollocks if they weren’t in a bag.

The youngster has a bit more on his mind – he’s clocked a couple of the Attenborough WAGS loitering around the home dugout.

There’s a minute’s applause in the memory of a young referee called Blaine Thomas who tragically passed away this week at the age of 17 years old.

Boots settle the better of the two sides. Club stalwart Gareth Rees sweeps up in the back five. Alex ‘The Penguin’ Bowles patrols in an unfamiliar midfield role. Patrick Bakone and Jack Smith terrorise the Attenborough backline.

The Chemists score twice early on. Both goals follow a familiar pattern. Congolese striker Bakone hold the ball up well and hits a raking ball out to wide man Marley, who delivers the ball quickly into the box for ‘Sniffer Smithy’ to bury both attempts.

Moments later Attenborough are denied a cast iron penalty. From the resulting corner Scott Thompson – nicknamed ‘Space hopper’ by the away support, heads home to reduce the arrears. Fair play to Thompson, who has travelled back from Scotland to make up the numbers.

Dick shouts out instructions to African striker Bakone. The boy shrugs his shoulders and looks gone out at Dick, like Manuel used to with Basil Fawlty.Bakone’s legs are taken from under him. ‘Sniffer’ makes no mistake from the spot and completes his hat-trick.

I stretch my legs around this gorgeous venue at the break. I could quite happily die at this ground. I’ve played cricket here a few times but never witnessed a football match on the Village Green.

Boots are wasteful in front of goal. It frustrates their crafty Cockney vice chairman, Dick Tunney, who is getting more excitable by the minute.

There’s a serious head injury on 65 minutes. Dick has scratched a scab off the top of his bonce. He flatly refuses first aid from Roscoe.

Reports are filtering in from the nature reserve that there’s a flasher on the loose. It’s hardly worth bothering plod, as they’re probably all parked up in a lay-by listening to the big race from Aintree.

Steve Oldham is Sticky’s all-time favourite NSL player. He always turns it on for The Groundhopper. His touch is sublime. He covers the ground gracefully. His strength and determination pose problems for ‘The Chief’ at the heart of the Chemists’ defence. Oldham produces a fine save from Grayling with a far post header.

Former ‘Pie’ youngster Sam Mannion hits a 30 yard fizzer to put ‘Boro’ back in the game. Are Boots going to regret all those missed chances?

‘Sniffer’ and Bakone are withdrawn. The fresh legs of youngsters Peach and Whatnall are thrown on. Peach spurns two golden chances as the Attenborough paperboy ‘keeper is called into action time and time again.

The clock is ticking away when Boots finally put the game to bed with the excellent Paul Markowski pouncing onto a loose ball to end the game as a contest.

Man of the Match: Attenborough ‘keeper.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Blackwell MW 1 Gedling MW 2

We shuffle down the steps of the Pavis Stand. The Pies have battered the Shakers. I’m walking down the concourse, towards the huge oak tree outside the main gates, where I’ve arranged to meet Sticky junior and his pals.

I glance up at the TV screens. Soccer Saturday presenter Jeff Stelling is jumping up and down. There’s been late drama at the Emirates Stadium. Twenty two year old Dane, Nicklas Bendtner, has given the Gunners a 94th minute lifeline.

I start to think about my tea. And then the enormity of that Bendtner equaliser hits home. The goal has been scored against Wolves. Tonight we’ve been invited around to tea at Wolves’ biggest supporter. Some may remember that he’s a ‘Junior Wolf’ and goes by name of ‘Gangsta.’

The youngster is only six years old. He’ll take this defeat badly. He’ll be trashing his playroom and kicking off big style. I was with him at Molineux when Pompey whipped their ass. He hardly said a word all the way home.

Gangsta’s bro answers the door (he’s my Godson). I expect mum and dad will be clearing up the carnage and wreckage.

Gangsta appears from nowhere with a broad grin on his cheeky face. Nobody dare tell him that Wolves have lost to the last kick of the game.

We have some tea and watch a ghastly farce on TV – no not Ant and Dec’s Push the Button but Burnley v Manchester City on a saturated surface at Turf Moor. City are 5-0 up at the break.

Sunday is a day with the family and another big tea at the in-laws. PC Plod is in attendance. We’re forced to watch Guinness Premiership rugby. He has a sissy fit when Mrs P channel hops to Coronation Street. He retires to the study to read his Mail on Sunday.

It’s the day of the game. Mrs P drags me down the Riverside Retail Park. We manage to become separated in B&Q. The good lady is in the paint section, whilst The Groundhopper is wandering around the gardening department.

I’m fully expecting the public address system to shout up for Mrs P to pick up Groundhopper in ‘lost property.’

It’s time to depart for the game. Mrs P is touching up the woodwork in the living room. Sticky junior is all set for the Forest v Cardiff clash. ‘The Skipper’ is playing hide and seek with the girls down at Tollerton Park.

I start the engine and switch on Radio 2. ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears is being played on some retro show. I quickly change channel to Five Live.

‘Dirty Dirty Leeds’ are two to the good at Yeovil’s Huish Park. By the time I’ve reached junction 26 of the M1 their lead is hanging by a thread.

I turn off the motorway at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet (should have brought Mrs P). I’m soon having a nosey around Blackwell. I’ve already driven past the old colliery winding wheel down the road.

I drive up Primrose Hill and swing left into the Welfare car park. I amble up a narrow path past the Cottage Inn. They are advertising a sportsmans’ dinner where the main speaker will be English cricket’s chief Test selector, Geoff Miller, who was born down the road in Chesterfield.

There are two further stand-out people who have connections with Blackwell. Famous goalkeeper William ‘Fatty Foulkes’ was spotted playing for Blackwell MW by Sheffield United. He led the Blades to two FA Cup final wins.

Percy Toplis once worked as a Blacksmith at Blackwell Colliery. He became Britain’s ‘most wanted criminal’ in 1920. He is more famously known as ‘The Monocled Mutineer.’ He was played on TV by the actor Paul McGann in Alan Bleasdale’s award-winning four part series. He led a munity in the British Army in France in 1917 and went AWOL. He died in a hail of police bullets close to Penrith in the Lake District.

It’s £4 entry and a further £1 for a dream of programme. It’s amazing how much effort people make to produce a programme, even more so at this level.

I pass the time of day talking to the Blackwell MW gateman. The guy (think his name was Steve) is a mine of information. He points beyond the football pitch at the cricket square behind the rope.

He explains that a world record was made on that wicket nearly 100 years ago. I check my Playfair Cricket Annual (you geek Sticky) on my return home. In 1910 in a match between Derbyshire and Warwickshire, held at the Blackwell Miners Welfare Ground, a record ninth wicket partnership of 283 was made by J Chapman and A Warren. It still stands to this day.

I look at the eye-catching locations that other world records were made at such as: Colombo, Perth, Port of Spain, Delhi and Cape Town. And yet here I am in little old Blackwell, with a population of just 4000, looking out onto a piece of land, adjacent to a football pitch, where history was made.

Steve recalls how the village once had a thriving rugby team. The old pit manager was a Welshman and brought all the best players from the Valleys with him. Behind the gate we are chatting by is the old colliery office block. Beyond that is the cable repair centre where all trailing cables from all over the country were overhauled.

I can see Gedling MW secretary Tony Hay walking towards the stand to view the game. I introduce myself. We’ve only ever met in cyber space. I leave Tony in peace to watch the game and take a position up close to the Tea Bar.

I adore this ground. It’s rugged, rustic and has spectacular views that look out towards Crich in the Peak District. It’s also over 100 years old.

The game is underway. Gedling MW kick up the slope and into the blustery conditions. They look lively in the opening exchanges. Rob Mawer and Craig Boulton have good movement.

I’ve bumped into a groundhopper from Bolton. He’s already been to watch Radford v Gedling Town in Nottingham earlier today. He tips me the wink on a selection of his favourite grounds in the North West.

We have to wait 40 minutes for the first goal of the day. Referee Craig Langton, who in my opinion is having an excellent game, spots a shirt-pull in the box. Stocky striker Boulton makes no mistake from the spot.

There’s plenty of huff and puff from Blackwell, including a succession of corners, but there’s little end product.

Tony’s not impressed with Gedling today. He invites me over to hospitality for a cup of char. This one comes out of the pot and into a China cup. I mark it with an 8 out of 10.

I stand with Tony and the travelling support for the second half. I last saw them play over two seasons ago in an epic FA Vase tie against ‘big time Charlie’s – Atherstone Town. There’s been a big change of personnel on the playing field since then.

Blackwell deservedly equalise on 54 minutes with a smart finish from Nick Hewer. Ten minutes later Gedling swing a free kick into the box, the ball is headed down for Robbie Mawer to bravely finish with the ‘keeper bearing down on him.

The away side have worked hard to earn their win. Corey Nightingale has been impressive at the heart of their defence. What an interesting day out it has been in Blackwell.

Attendance: 48

Man of the Match: Corey Nightingale

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Notts County 5 Bury 0

There’s a spring in his step and a smile back on his face. He no longer snaps and snarls. She has crossed the body of water that separates France and England. She’s back in Old Blighty after her German Exchange trip. She’s on the motorway. Texts are free again. They are typed in a hurry and arrive in a flurry.

They’ve been apart for ten days. No Facebook. No Tweets. No texts. Nothing. RnB is replaced with ‘Welcome Home’ by Peters and Lee. Sticky junior’s chick is back in town. ‘Achtung Baby.’

I broke up on Tuesday evening from work for a week. Mrs P issued me with a list of jobs to be carried out. Don’t be surprised if you hear that Hollywood bosses have been on the blower to ask me to audition for Mrs Doubtfire 2.

I’ve worked my fingers to the bone. The cars are washed and valeted. The house is spick and span. The garage is cleared of rubbish. The Rushcliffe Recycling Centre has been paid a visit or two.

There’s a great start to the weekend when Mrs P and Sticky Palms slip away for an hour to the picture postcard village of Wysall for a couple of pints of Timothy Taylor’s at the Plough Inn. The Libertines 2005 smash hit ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ shakes the pub’s foundations.

It’s Saturday morning and Sticky Palms is doing a bit of downloading onto his i-Pod. I’m going to need some new toons for when I walk Finley (pet rabbit) around the garden this summer.

I’ve a match to go to this morning at the gorgeous setting of Wollaton Park, a couple of miles outside Nottingham city centre. A fantastic game of football is played out between two under 9s teams, scrapping it out for the League title. Most scouts only watch half a game but I don’t want this one to end and stay until the final whistle.

I’m walking back to my car. I’ve got my undercover gear on, including a beanie hat. A man winds down the window of his car and shouts out in a gruff Scottish accent: “Oi trainspotter, you found me any players yet?” It’s former Notts County forward Iain McCulloch, who’s a coach at the club’s centre of excellence.

I’m back home for lunch. I tuck into a cheese and ham roll whilst watching Joe Cole showboat his Chelsea team into a one goal lead at Old Trafford.

Mrs P is off shopping with her mum in Loughborough this afternoon. I’ve agreed to take the kids down ‘The Lane.’ ‘Hallsy’ and Josh join us. ‘Stolly’ misses the team bus to spend the afternoon with his girlfriend, who lives across the road from our house.

We’re soon parked up in County Hall (free of charge). I’ve had to suffer the sounds of Radio Trent enroute.

The kids scurry across Trent Bridge. They love visiting the world’s smallest sweet shop which is adjacent to Topknot Hair Salon, a place where Mrs P spends more dosh on hair-do’s than Sticky Palms will ever do on groundhopping. Sticky opts for a quarter of a pound of humbugs – I don’t do metric readers.

The lads like to lark around behind the goal in the Family Stand. The Groundhopper sits at the back of the Derek Pavis Stand near to the Kop Stand. I stop for a chat with Keyworth United legends Alan Jackson and ‘Barthez.’ The latter is still confident of landing a 33/1 punt he had in the summer on ‘The Pies’ winning the title.

I read an alarming stat this morning on the world’s second best message board (Notts County MAD), on the last eight occasions Notts have played the Shakers they’ve only picked up five points.

Bury is a town in Greater Manchester with a population of 60,000. It lies on the River Irwell. Bury emerged during the Industrial Revolution as a mill town centred on manufacturing textiles.

It is famous for its market. Bury Market’s biggest delicacy is black pudding – White Van Man will wipe the floor with it when I whip him up to FC United’s ground next season – they play at Gigg Lane.

Famous folk born or raised in Bury include: former Prime Minister and founder of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Robert Peel, comedian Victoria Wood, singer Suzanne Shaw, Manchester United motor mouth Gary Neville (still remember when he head-butted Steve McManaman), Philip Neville, goalkeeper Andy Goram, actress and serial pie-eater Lisa Riley, Cherie Blair and Vicky Binns (Molly Dobbs off ‘Coro’ – the one Kevin Webster has been servicing).

I have a browse through the excellent ‘Mag’ publication that I purchased in the club shop for £3. There’s an interview with Gillingham first team coach Mark Robson, whose goal in March 1998 secured Notts County’s last promotion.

Notts kick towards the Kop. Within four minutes they have their tails up. Bury stopper Wayne Brown palms a Hughes cross to Mike Edwards, who’s lurking ten yards out, he gleefully smashes the ball into the roof of the net.

The Pies go for the jugular; Graeme Lee, Luke Rodgers and Lee Hughes all waste opportunities. The Shakers inch their way back into the game. Manchester City loanee, James Poole, is a cut above the rest; he sticks out like a sore thumb. He drifts in from the right flank and hits pinpoint crosses with his left peg. They lack a target man to convert his creativity.

There’s a moving moment in the game when Sticky’s favourite player ‘Rocky’ Ravenhill collides with a Bury player in the box. He lies motionless. Bury ‘keeper, Wayne Brown, races off his line to put ‘Rocky’ in the recovery position. The Kop applaud en masse.

I chat to a couple of coaches from the centre of excellence at the break. Mick Leonard, my boss, is busy organising a parade of the under eight kids we have signed for next season. They are given a rousing reception by the 7000 strong crowd. All those hours standing in blustery, cold wet conditions on Saturday mornings are paying dividends.

The Pies play champagne soccer in the second half. Luke Rodgers tees up Craig Westcarr for his tenth goal of the season. Four blokes in front of me have moaned and groaned throughout the first period about ‘Westy’ – my only complaint is that according to the programme he likes RnB – it’s not on in our car Craig.

A flowing move down the right hand flank results in Ben Davies scoring the third goal of the afternoon.

Big Ben Futcher, at the heart of the Bury defence, is struggling with Rodgers and Hughes running at him. He’s mopped up in the first half and won countless headers. He’s the cousin of Fulham midfield dynamo Danny Murphy.

Hughes scores a fourth from a Ben Davies free-kick, cleverly wheeling away from a static defence and finishing with a deft header. Cult hero, Delroy Facey, taps in at the far post to complete the route.

Poor old beleaguered Bury have lost four on the bounce and now have a fight on their hands to make the play-offs. They look toothless in attack and are short on confidence.

Referee Trevor Kettle has allowed the game to flow and has kept his cards in his pocket. He’d slot in nicely alongside Bury’s huge defenders Futcher and Cresswell. He easily the tallest referee I’ve seen this season.

Attendance: 7005

Man of the Match: Ben Davies