Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Shepshed Dynamo 0 Carlton Town 6
It’s been an unproductive Sunday morning, talent-spotting in Arnold. I’ve covered three games and drawn a blank. I’ve driving through Daybrook on my way home for Sunday lunch. Five Live presenter, the smooth-talking Ian Payne, is chatting to Andy Dunn, Ian Dowie & Michael Gray about the previous day’s events in the Premiership.
Ian Payne suddenly interrupts one of them “Oh my goodness, we have some very sad news. I hardly know what to say.” He hands over to Nigel Adderley who is about to commentate at Swansea City’s Liberty Stadium. Adderley announces, through an FA of Wales press statement, the untimely passing of Welsh manager Gary Speed.
I’m totally in shock. He’s a player that has been admired at every club he’s represented and has made 85 appearances for his country. It’s live radio at his best as they round up his former colleagues and friends to pay tribute to Speed. It puts a dampener on the rest of the day. All I can think about are his two sons that he has left behind, who are the same age as my boys.
Yesterday (Saturday) was a more positive day. ‘The Skipper’s’ team made it one defeat in six games with a convincing win on the Notts/Derbyshire border. We then headed into town to watch the fast feet and close ball control of Sticky junior.
He played in one of my favourite spots in town. It’s against a club who I have had a tug-of-war with about junior players in the past. They choose now to send their conveyor belt of talent down the A52 to D***y County. It breaks my heart that boys from inner city Nottingham will learn the ropes and develop their skills at the Sheep Dip, and not at a breeding ground like Notts County who have a history of discovering talents from these parts.
Sticky jnr's team have the last laugh, with an injury-time equalizer. Both teams behaviour is exemplary. The same cannot be said of some of the adults. The game ends in chaos with a confrontation with one of their coaching ‘staff.’
Mrs P is down the ‘Smoke’ on a girlie weekend. I take full advantage. Last night we visited a KFC establishment close to Meadow Lane; tonight we have a take-away pizza from the village.
I give the ‘Nuclear Scientist’ a tinkle. He ventures round for the Spanish Football. Real Madrid dish out a drubbing in the local derby, whilst Barca suffer a rare defeat. We complete a hat-trick with Match of the Day. Three bottles of Rioja are polished off. Oops!
Monday morning has a miserable, solemn feeling about it. I’m starting an eleven day detox to shift some weight. Out the window go carbs, alcohol, fatty foods and red meat. Into play comes fish, water and lemon, salad and cranberry juice.
Anxiety has reared its ugly head too. On Thursday I have a visit to the dentist at 3.30pm (not tooth hurty) for the removal of a tooth. I’m petrified.
I’ve buried my head into a great cricket groundhopping book for the last few evenings. It’s about a guy who trawls the Northern leagues in Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Northumberland. It’s titled ‘Slipless in Settle’ by Harry Pearson. His endless anecdotes have cheered me up no end.
White Van Man is back from the wilderness. We travel to the Dovecote executive style. I glance at the panel on the radio. It’s lit up in neon lights with words GEM 106. ‘Every Breath You Take’ by The Police is talked over by an annoying DJ.
It’s a filthy, cold, wet and windy evening. The Market Place in Shepshed is lit up with Christmas decorations. As we turn left up Loughborough Road and approach Butthole Lane, the woeful Robbie Williams ‘Rock DJ’ is played on 106.
White Van Man is sporting his £140 navy blue Barbour jacket from John Lewis. It overshadows my little nifty number from Next. It’s £7 on the gate. I have a little natter with Dave the programme seller. He asks me how Finley is. It’s good of him to enquire of the well-being of my rabbit. I daren’t tell him that ‘Fin’ doesn’t like teams from Leicestershire because of their association with foxes.
We poke our head into the bar. It’s a cosy little joint that’s carpeted. It has chairs and sofas. Braga are playing Birmingham City in the Europa League – boring hell.
Shepshed Dynamo have had an interesting start to the season. John Ramshaw resigned as manager to take up the gaffer’s role at struggling Conference North side Eastwood Town. Rammers has unfinished business to attend to at Coronation Park.
The board of directors at The Dovecote have appointed Chris ‘Chalky’ White as his replacement following a string of successful results during his caretaker role.
I once saw Lincoln United when ‘Chalky’ was in charge –Rammers had gone walkabout again – it was below an old colliery spoil heap at Frickley. The Whites lost 4-1. ‘Screats’ was sent off for an x-rated tackle. Justin Jenkins didn’t break sweat that day – his brother Zeke is playing left back tonight for Dynamo.
We hook up with Big Sean (for some reason I always call him Darrell) and Mick Sloan. Both are die-hard Dynamo. We observe a minute’s silence for Gary Speed.
Shepshed make a bright start. Former Millers’ striker Steve Chaplin sees a shot beaten away by Danny Marshall and another effort hit the side-netting. Carlton begin to get into their groove. They are lightning on the break, as they were last week versus Ilkeston. Ian Brown gives them the lead with a speculative shot; Ashley Grayson slams in second, minutes later.
Chalky becomes animated and frustrated with his team. I daren’t even look at Big Sean and Mick because they’ll be hurting. Dynamo go close twice before their ‘keeper Sam Andrew punches a corner into his own net, when under no pressure.
I’ve lost my car keys and so trudge back to WVM’s car for a butcher’s hook on the floor. There’s no sign of them. I phone home, apparently I forgot to take them. You can hear a pin drop in the clubhouse. Modric claws a goal back for money-bags Tottenham as they trail PAOK 2-1.
I’m dreading the second half as this could turn into an embarrassment. 3-0 flatters Carlton Town somewhat. Shepshed fluff a couple of early chances. I decide to have a wander around this lovely old ground. I take a gleg at the groundsman’s den. It’s cluttered up with skips full of discarded England flags. There are three old turnstiles tucked away in the corner, along with some traffic cones, an incinerator, an old wheelbarrow and a flat-bed trolley.
I wander past the far goal, kicking pieces of gravel off the cinder path. Behind the concrete fence are huge leylandii, which sway in the swirling wind. I walk past a fluttering corner flag towards the ‘Shepshed Ultras’, whose numbers are dwindling. One of them amuses me, though. He sings at the top of his voice ‘Gold’ by Spandau Ballet. It’s followed up with “We’re going to win 5-4.”
Ashley Grayson has bagged a further two goals whilst I’ve ambled around the ground. By the time I return to base a negative steward is winding up the crowd. He has moaned at, and verbally abused most of the players this evening. He shouts out loudly that people are leaving the ground early. Of course they are you fool, can’t you see that they are all hurting, or perhaps just want to catch the fag end of ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.’ “Come on WVM, we’re off home, son.”
Man of the Match: Ashley Grayson