Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Birstall United 2 FC Dynamo 0
We’re on the A5, driving on the way back from Heath Hayes. You couldn’t take your eye off the game, unless your name is Mr T Bolton. Hayes can feel hard done by. The 4-1 reverse is a harsh score-line.
Trumpy Bolton guzzles the final dregs of his litre bottle of cider. He has two emergency rations in the boot. Suddenly he tries to stand up and bangs his head on the roof of the car. The National Anthem is being played at Wembley Stadium, prior to the England v Spain friendly international. Trumpy belts out ‘God Save the Queen.’ He dusts himself down and takes a pew. There’s an outside chance that we may have another outing on Saturday December 17th. Histon v Gainsborough Trinity is on the agenda.
Mrs P has snapped up a Chinese banquet from the West Bridgford M&S Food Hall. It’s accompanied by a bottle of Red and the ghastly X-Factor. I peruse the non-league results on the Web, occasionally glancing at the TV set when I hear a catchy toon. I ask Mrs P what price London all-girl band Little Mix are at the bookies, to the bag first prize. The good lady totally blanks me.
I sleep like a log and don’t rise until 9am. ‘The Skipper’, ‘Cairnsy’ and Groundhopper wolf down a bacon cob, before shooting off to Clifton where young un has a game. I exit the Clifton FC car park and head off to Gedling to view an under 16 game. I watch my targets for 45 minutes, make an assessment and return to Clifton to watch my boy in action.
Mrs P has gone Christmas shopping in Nottingham with the Mother-in-law. It could be a good opportunity to have a little skive, but there’s work to do in the garden. Finley Palmer is on all-fours. He’s desperate for a run-out in the shrubbery. “Not on your Nellie, son” says Sticky Palms.
I spend Monday evening down the Notts County FC Centre of Excellence training ground at Dayncourt School, in Radcliffe-on-Trent. I meet and greet a trialist and his parents. I show them around the facility, make them feel welcome and ease the boy’s fears. The rest of the night is spent writing up the Heath Hayes blog to the sounds of the corny Ant & Dec on the new series of I’m a Celebrity.
It’s Tuesday evening, the night of the game. The Taxman gives me the thumbs up. I’ve just had a succulent meat casserole, which has been bubbling away all day in the slow cooker. I’m flopped out on the sofa watching Alexander Armstrong present the BBC1 tea-time TV show ‘Pointless.’
There is one helluva commotion going on upstairs. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 has found its way into our crib. Sticky jnr is ranting and raving at some Yank down his headset. Oh my good days, he’s started cursing the bloke. Suddenly I hear this gem: “No wonder we battered you in the War.”
I pick up my mobile and dial him up. I can’t be bothered to shift off the sofa. “Son, just thought I’d point out that USA and Great Britain fought on the same side in both World Wars.” “Ah, sorry, didn’t realise” replies an embarrassed jnr.
I phone up my boss at Notts County to get some feedback from the Monday evening friendly game for the Youth Team at Ilkeston Town. We lost narrowly 2-1.
I get wrapped up. According to the East Midlands Today weather girl it’s going to be a fresh one this evening. The Taxman is out of his front door like a shot. It’s been over a month since we last went to a game together. He looks as snug as a bug in his new Parka jacket. There’s probably a Lambretta scooter parked up in his garage.
The Taxman says he could of quite easily cranked up the heating, put on his Wallace and Grommit slippers and stayed in and watched England v Sweden on ITV. He later confesses that The Taxlady is catching up with a week’s worth of Coronation Street.
There’s an absolutely dreadful moment to begin the evening, which almost causes a road-rage incident. Radio Nottingham presenter Alan Clifford has just played a Robbie Williams track. I’m that keen to change station that I take my eye off the road and almost end up in a ditch.
The Taxman has just come back from his art class in Bottesford. He’s moved on from painting L. S. Lowry matchstick men. It’s week 3 on his latest effort by Monet. He tells an amusing story on how he was made to strip to his white y-fronts at the City Hospital in Nottingham last week in front of three student (lady) doctors. Can’t have been as thrilling as Aylestone 4 Rothley 2, surely?
We reach Birstall in 25 minutes as we breeze up the A46. Sat Nav takes us through a few rat-runs. We appear to be heading down a dead end, when we notice an opening to our right, and some players warming-up.
Birstall is the largest village in the Charnwood Borough of Leicestershire. It has a population of 12,000. Famous footballers to have first cut their teeth at Birstall United include: Stefan Oakes, Scott Oakes and Luke Varney.
We avoid another ditch to our right and park in an unlit and untidy area. It’s is down a dark lane that backs onto the Watermead Country Park, which stretches two miles to the north of Leicester, along the River Soar valley. Two brothers died at the park in January 2010 after falling through broken ice at a place known locally as ‘Mammoth Hill.’
Four youths are lurking about the car. If I’d been in Sally Gunnell I wouldn’t have been concerned. She’s but just a distant memory. The ‘Rolls Royce’ is a different kettle of fish.
We are greeted at the gate by ‘Trev’ who is a founder member of Birstall from back in 1961. He gives us a little insight into the history and running of the club. It’s £3 admission. There’s no programme issued this evening but Trev very kindly gets someone to fetch an old one from out of the Clubhouse.
Turns out it is from an FA Vase game against Yaxley from Peterborough. I mention to The Taxman that the Star Wars and Life’s Too Short actor Warwick Davis lives in Yaxley. “How the hell did you know that?” enquires The Taxman.
We walk past the plush clubhouse, with its flat screen TVs and real ales. There’s a brick-walled changing room facility and a covered area for standing. The rest of the ground is open. We make our way across to the far side of the ground. I’m hoping for a few lyrics from the Birstall United bench.
Each member of the Birstall backroom staff (they have more than Leicester City and Dunkirk) are carrying a cup of tea. Leicester has one of the most multi-cultural areas in the country. Birstall have no ethnic minorities in their starting line-up, whilst the visitors, FC Dynamo have a mixture of Asian and African lads, although their ‘keeper is white.
It’s the Dynamo ‘keeper who gifts the home side a goal following a poor goal kick. Captain Ryan Seals is the chief beneficiary, converting a chance from close range. The home bench celebrate with another round of teas.
I’m just informing Twitter of the opening goal when a stray clearance heads our way. The Taxman does a runner, whilst Sticky Palms pulls off a Gordon Banks type save. The chances stack up for United, but it’s like watching The Arsenal as they try to walk the ball in. Dynamo spurn two golden opportunities to restore parity. The referee blows early as the entire Birstall bench are dying for a pee.
I chat to a big guy at the break who is an authority on the local scene and also hook up with an old boy, originally from Basford in Nottingham, who now runs Kirby Muxloe Reserves. Their passion and love of the game is jaw-dropping.
More teas are brought to the dugout for the second period. At this rate the Ref will need to halt play so that someone can nip out to Happy Shopper to stock up on teabags. After missing a hatful of chances ‘Chalky’ White taps in at the far post to put the game beyond doubt.
Special mention to both linesman, who were spot on all evening. One had hair like Sideshow Bob off The Simpsons, whilst the other will surely bring home Gold for GB in the London Olympics next year in the ‘Spitting the most in a minute event.’
Man of the Match: The Taxman.