Sunday, March 13, 2011
Stalybridge Celtic 1 Hinckley United 1
Mr and Mrs Trumpy Bolton are travelling back from Reading after a romantic weekend in Berkshire. The legend is in fine fettle after chalking off a few new pubs. New readers may not know that his sole mission in life is to make a financial transaction in every village or town in England.
They pull into the Lamb Inn, in Oxfordshire, for some Sunday lunch. The pub is nothing out of the ordinary; the food is plain, unimaginative and overpriced.
After swilling a few real ales and a pint of cider Trumpy peruses the bill and spots a service charge of £3.95. He’s having none of that. The landlady is called over to his table. “Scrub that off the bill love, I could have fetched my own food from the kitchen if you’d asked” says Trumpy.
There’s a standoff at the bar as his credit card goes through the machine, minus the service charge. Trumpy has a final pop at mein host as he heads out of the pub door. He turns to all the remaining diners and shouts at the top of his voice: “make sure you’re not screwed for £3.95 as a service charge.”
He is escorted off the premises. It’s the first time in 35 years of professional drinking that he has been asked to leave a hostelry. Good on yer Trumpy lad.
It’s 4.20pm on Friday evening. I’m racing out the Ergo Computing car park. I’ve a hot date with Mrs P at the Apple Tree. The England v Bangladesh game, in the most exciting Cricket World Cup in ages, is reaching a crescendo.
Despite the array of real ales on show Sticky plumps for a pint of Stella, Mrs P has a medium glass of dry white wine. She pulls a face at every sip. Sticky’s face is also screwed up: one, there is no cricket on the TV and two that clown Ollie Murs is on the jukebox. ‘The Skipper’ saves my bacon by texting in: England have lost by two wickets.
I’m on the paper round again. I enjoy it in a perverse sort of way. The biggest earthquake in Japan, since records began, dominates the front pages. I’m just delivering my final paper, when the front door viciously swings open. The paper is snatched out of my hand: “better late than never”, smirks the customer. It’s typical behaviour of a Daily Mail reader.
It’s a rare day off from scouting for youth. Before my pass out is rubber stamped by Mrs P I’ve a few chores to do. Finley’s cage requires a spring clean. He has a little ball that he plays with (humps). He rolls onto his back and does a few keepy-uppies. He has more tricks in his locker than Nani. It bad news for Hinckley Utd fans though, Finley predicts a 4-0 drubbing.
Mrs P has very kindly knocked me up a bacon and sausage sandwich. I wash it down with an award-winning pot of Yorkshire tea.
Trumpy is just screwing the top on his faithful plastic bottle, which is filled to the brim with Bulmers Pear Cider. He has a couple of pubs lined-up for us in High Peak, Derbyshire.
I switch on the Graham Norton Show on Radio 2. I find the Irishman amusing. Trumpy is not a fan. Although as quick as a flash he identifies the song Norton is playing as “Bridge to Your Heart” by Wax from 1987.
We drive through Chesterfield and up through the Peak District. We discuss the Council cuts and the new levy on recycling green bins. Trumpy’s blue bin (cans and plastic bottles) tends to gets more hammer than his green one.
The first pub we rock up at is The Vine near to New Mills. Trumpy is flapping that they don’t do credit card transactions: he’s right on the money, they don’t. It’s a relief as it felt like we’d walked into God’s waiting room.
The second pub, called the Pack Horse Inn, is situated on top of a hill. It has spectacular views over the rolling countryside. There are four different ales on draught, we plump for a pint of Pirate’s Gold from the Wooden Hand Brewery in Truro.
The legend has a cider to accompany his chicken baguette. The Stowford Press cider is from Much Marcle in Herefordshire, the birthplace of serial killer Fred West.
The pub has a plethora of antiques and nick-nacks hanging from the varnished wooden beams. I ask Trumpy if he knows what they are: “I’m not David Dickinson” is his reply.
By now we are in the third pub of the day – the Moorfield Arms - Trumpy is giving the attractive, curly-haired blonde barmaid some of his best lyrics (sorry Mrs Trumpy).
The highlight of the day is when we finally hit the town of Stalybridge. We park at the train station and head up to the world renowned Stalybridge Buffet Bar, which is situated on the station platform.
We sample a pint of First Light from the York Brewery. The place is mobbed out with Man Utd fans waiting for the train. A group of Scousers are in a huddle, doing what they do best, chatting. Trumpy says they are the Liverpool Branch of the Manchester United Supporters’ Club.
En-route to the ground we pass the Stalybridge Labour Club. I ask the legend if he fancies popping in for a swift one. He declines the offer, he’s a true Blue. We park the ‘Rolls Royce’ on a cul-de-sac, a mere five minute stroll from the Bower Field ground.
Stalybridge is a town in the Metropolitan Borough of Tameside. It has a population of just over 20,000 and lies 9 miles to the east of Manchester.
During the Industrial Revolution the town was at the centre of textile manufacturing. According to Wikipedia (not always the most reliable of sources) the song “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” was created in the town’s Newmarket Tavern by Jack Judge.
Stalybridge has a public house with the longest name in Britain: The Old Thirteenth Cheshire Astley Volunteer Rifleman Corps Inn – I wouldn’t fancy waiting for Trumpy to write out a cheque in there after his liquid lunch.
The film Yanks, starring Hollywood actor Richard Gere, was shot in the town in 1978.
It’s £10 on the turnstile. Trumpy snaps me up a programme for £2. I’m disappointed there are no pen pictures or career statistics for either team.
The DJ is playing Now 23. Rick Astley, Chesney Hawkes and a cheesy Iron Maiden toon blares out from the speakers, whilst Trumpy downs a pint of Thwaites bitter in the Social Club.
The ground would pass Football League standard, it’s an absolute beauty. Two big stands run along the touchline, with covered terracing behind both goals. The pitch looks in fine fettle after a harsh winter.
The teams walk out to the New Order anthem, ‘Blue Monday’, a song I’ve not heard in ages. I lean on a blue-painted crash barrier. Next to me a young woman rolls up a cigarette and tries to spark up, a slight breeze keeps blowing out her lighter.
Celtic look to play it out from the back. In contrast the Knitters ping the ball forward towards their giant orange-booted journeyman Gary Ricketts. (Trumpy calls him Pierre Van Hooijdonk).
There’s absolutely nothing doing. Trumpy has been booted out another bar; they’re not open again until half-time. We’re both chuckling about the young lady who’s now trying to light up a nub end.
The game livens up on 24 minutes with the opening goal. Ricketts finds Sam Belcher in space on the edge of the area. Despite not connecting properly with it Stalybridge ‘keeper Jan Budtz (who looks like Van der Saar) can only help the ball into the net.
The game really is dire. Trumpy is happy enough that his adopted county are one to the good. He waltzes off to the Social Club to join the orderly queue that is waiting for the shutters to come up.
Celtic spurn a couple of decent chances before the break. I’ve noticed that former Nottingham Forest player James Reid is playing for the Knitters. He was often talked up whilst I worked at the Academy, but I often questioned his fitness and engine. The game passes him by today.
Leicester, Lincoln and the Pies are all one to the good at the break. It will be a particularly sweet moment for Lincoln’s manager, Steve Tilson, whose side are playing Southend United, a club he was sacked at, and not fully compensated.
Trumpy strikes up a conversation with an elderly lady who is tapping away on her laptop. She explains that Jim Harvey’s young charges have only lost once in their last ten outings. She expects a marked improvement when they kick down the slope.
The legend enquires how old Celtic’s bald headed 11 jacket is. He remarks that the poor fellow looked fagged out after 15 minutes.
The DJ is thankfully fading out the dreadful ’Uptown Girl’ by Billy Joel, as I return to my spot to view proceedings.
Stalybridge dump their passing game. They shove a big fellow (Hobson) upfront and go route one. It’s ugly and unproductive until the 56th minute, when another long ball is headed home, following hesitation by the Hinckley goalkeeper, by 34 year old silver haired striker Lee Elam.
Celtic increase the tempo, with 21 goal leading scorer Phil Marsh looking dangerous. He darts in from the left and fires shot inches over the bar.
Remarkably one or two Celtic fans begin to leave the ground as the home side begin to turn the screw. “We can see you sneaking out” sings T Bolton, who is now making enquiries about a Hinckley Utd season ticket.
There’s still time for Trumpy to dish out a bollocking to the young Hinckley stopper who stupidly fires the ball twice at Hobson’s back whilst twice trying to clear the ball.
Man of the Match: Cyrus Christie