Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Eastwood Town 2 Boston United 2
All I seem to have done is drink lager, wine and eat cheese and biscuits. The build-up to Christmas was quiet. The Loughborough University v Gresley FC, Midland Alliance Friday evening Christmas appetiser was washed away by torrential rain.
Christmas Eve afternoon and evening was spent in the company of my Godson, Will, and his cheeky little brother ‘Gangsta.’ We went down to ‘Megabowl’ on the soulless Lenton Lane Industrial estate. I sank a couple of San Miguel’s, returned to our house for a few more and then devoured some smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches, accompanied by a bottle of champers.
Present opening on Christmas Day morning was the usual disappointment – there was no Murphy the budgie to report on folks. He would have been a breath of fresh air to this blog. I’d train him to whistle the EastEnders theme tune and to dive-bomb Mrs P during Holby City and Casualty. We (me and the kids) cling onto fading hope that he’ll turn up for my birthday in February.
I asked Mrs P if it would be alright to take a game in on Boxing Day morning in the Leicestershire Senior League between Asfordby Amateurs and Melton Mowbray. The good lady was having none of it and gave me an icy glare that even I knew meant NO.
I tentatively enquired about a treble groundhop at the weekend (including two re-visits). I craftily mention that I’ll take her Dad down Meadow Lane for the ‘big one’ against the Terriers of Huddersfield. It gets the royal seal of approval.
New Year’s Eve is spent with some good friends, one of whom is celebrating her fiftieth birthday. A curry is delivered to the door. I’m tucked up in bed by 2am, sober as judge.
I’ve not been to Eastwood since they battered Alfreton 4-2 at the fag end of last season. Looking back over the last few seasons I appear to have been a lucky charm. I listen to 6 Music, slurping on a mug of tea, whilst quaffing a crumpet, smothered in butter and Marmite. The DJ is playing ‘The Look’ by English Riveria band Metronomy.
We’ve two car-loads travelling up the North today. White Van Man, Groundhopper, Sizzers and Sticky Junior are in one, whilst the Nuclear Scientist, Snooksey & The Skipper join the convoy in Inspector Morse’s’ Jaguar.
I must have a ghost in the ‘Rolls Royce’ as the radio has suddenly been tuned into the woeful 96.2 Capital FM. Rizzle Kicks latest offering is blaring out. The kids know it annoys me. We collect a bleary-eyed White Van Man, who has only recently rolled out of his pit. He was on the West Bridgford run last night and finished up in the Pearl Bar. He drank them dry of shandy.
We seem to have missed a torrential downpour as water gushes down the road and congregates around the drains. I’ve literally had my wipers on intermittent for most of the journey. We manage to park up on Chewton Street, facing the right direction, ready for a quick get-away
It’s tipping it down with rain. We prefer the warmth and cover of the social club. Sticky jnr bags an Eastwood Town scarf for a bargain £2. The kids then fleece me for a tenner to get some drinks in. £7.20 for four small bottles of Coca Cola is bloody scandalous by the way.
I bump into ‘Lank’ in the lavatory. He’s not as chipper as usual. Turns out he had a skinful last night and has also made an early start on the beverages this morning - Trumpy would be proud of that performance. I notice that the taps have no running water.
I’m fleeced for a further £19 at the gate for one adult and three kids. I don’t bother with a programme as the well has run dry.
The golden era at Coronation Park appears to be over. John Ramshaw has returned to the Badgers from Shepshed Dynamo. He has unfinished business and a total re-building job in-hand. The money from the Rob Yong era dried up. With a ground not deemed fit for Conference football and the play-offs denied, despite finishing fourth, Yong upped and left. Another consortium took over at the beginning of the season – it was an unmitigated disaster.
Ramshaw began his second spell at the Club with them rooted in the lower echelons of the Blue Square Conference North. With a tight budget and dwindling crowds, survival in this league will be a cause for celebration.
I have to admit I didn’t enjoy the hullabaloo and razamataz at the time. Flashing the cash and big-time Charlie’s is not Eastwood Town’s way. It’s a working class area, steeped in a tradition of coal-mining. Folks say it as they see it. Take it or leave, but don’t be offended. The tables have now been well and truly turned. Hyde, Stalybridge Celtic, Guiseley and Gainsborough Trinity are now the league’s grand fromages.
I travelled across to Boston the other evening to see them take on the Steelmen of Corby. It was a terrific game of football played in arctic conditions. Jason Lee’s team play a passing game that is pleasing on the eye. Lee is always available for plan B which consists of a diagonal ball met with a knock-down or flick on by old ‘Pineapple Head.’
Boston is a town and small port in Lincolnshire with a population of over 55,000. It is estimated that a quarter of its inhabitants are immigrants, with a high proportion from Eastern Europe and Portugal. Their York Street ground would coast into my all-time top ten stadia to die for. So would the ‘Eagles’ chippy and Coach and Horses real ale house.
In the opening stages we witness how a centre forward should lead the line. Jason Lee’s supremacy in the air is frightening. He finds the runners and holds up play. A pumped-up Badgers take the lead slightly against the run of play, with a deflected Francis Green effort. The Pilgrims play-maker, Ben Milnes, hobbles off after 15 minutes after a late tackle.
Boston equalise on 18 minutes with a perfectly weighted free-kick from former Blade and Magpie Ian Ross, who had earlier seen a lob tipped over by Eastwood ‘keeper Deakin.
On 25 minutes there’s a mix-up between Jordan Fairclough and Paul Bastock, Eastwood’s Jervaise Christie can scarcely believe his luck as he rolls the ball into an empty net.
We’re stood behind the nearest goal to the clubhouse. At the opposite end is a huge following from Lincolnshire. We’ve hooked up with the Shepshed Van Man, ‘Dave.’ He and White Van Man are discussing the motorways and A Roads of Great Britain – it’s boring me to death, readers. ‘Dave has been hopping in Northants and the West Midlands at the weekend.
We then discuss the coldest we’ve ever felt at a football ground. Dave says it has to be Rossendale in Lancashire. WVM and I agree that Barrow Town, in Leicestershire, a few years ago would take some topping.
It’s 2-1 at the break in an open and entertaining game. WVM very kindly buys a full round of hot drinks. One or two famous faces are in the crowd: Ilkeston Town manager, the former Chelsea striker, Kevin Wilson and ex NFFC and Leeds defender Chris Fairclough are amongst them.. WVM spots an Eastwood WAG with long blonde hair, in tight denim jeans and knee-high leather boots – he can’t half pick em.
Sticky jnr has had an altercation with a Boston United fan at the tea bar. Junior claims he’s ‘Eastwood till he dies’ following his £2 scarf purchase. The DJ, right on cue, plays ‘Rebel Yell’ by Billy Idol.
Boston attack the end at the bottom of the slope where their supporters are crammed in. I’m stood in the middle of them, when a corner comes sailing over, Cannonville heads it towards goal, but it’s brilliantly blocked by the impressive Burge and clawed away by a busy Deakin.
Moments later Eastwood switch off from a Pilgrims short corner, Newsham’s predatory instincts restore parity for Boston. Eastwood hang on for a deserved point, in a fantastic advert for the Conference North. It’s my second 2-2 draw in 24 hours.
Slowly, John Ramshaw is assembling a competitive, strong, energetic outfit. I will definitely catch up with them on their travels soon.