Sunday, January 15, 2012
Hinckley United 0 Luton Town 0
It’s Friday morning. We’re gathered around our pod at work talking about people’s plans for the weekend. ‘The Reaper’ pipes up that he is down London, clearing up after an exhibition at Olympia.
He seems quite excited. He’s sussed out a parking spot adjacent to Brompton Cemetery and has a few hours to kill. The Reaper is obsessed with celebrity death. He’s scouring a list of well known dead on Wikipedia that are buried in Brompton Cemetery, when he lets out a huge squeal.
His all-time favourite film is the 1969 kitchen sink drama Kes, which is set in South Yorkshire (he bought a hawk on the strength of it) starring balding Bobby Charlton wannabee Brian Glover, who controversially awards a penalty to himself in the film. He is The Reaper’s hero and is buried in Brompton Cemetery.
It’s Saturday morning, I’ve delivered the papers, devoured my poached egg on toast. I’m getting ready for the afternoon’s junior football. I hear a message alert go off in my pocket. The text is short and sweet and accompanied by a picture: “Look what I’ve found” Attached is Brian Glover’s gravestone ‘1934-1997 wrestler actor writer.’ The Reaper strikes again!
Monday evening proves to be a stressful one for Sticky Palms. As part of my FA Youth Award badge I have to put on a 25 minute session for the Notts County under 9s squad. I’m a bundle of nerves folks. FA tutor Mark Kearney rigs up a microphone and sets the camera rolling. The kids are fantastic and make the session easy peasy.
There’s a sharp frost on Tuesday morning. Already the game looks in doubt. I log onto the BBC Football website and notice that the tie at Hinckley has been put back 24 hours. They claim it is a victim of the weather, but a high police presence is expected at the King Power Stadium this evening for the FA Cup replay between the Foxes and the Tricky Trees.
By the time I get home Sticky junior has already text me from the Supporters’ Club bus, en-route to Leicester, to inform me he’s drawn Guy Moussi out in the ‘first goal’ sweep. Honestly, they still do first goal-scorer at NFFC?
I watch the first half. I’m totally shocked and appalled. I opt out of the next 45 minutes and watch a re-run of Channel 4’s Coppers from Monday evening, who follow the Nottinghamshire Constabulary during the summer riots.
It’s Wednesday, the day of the game. I fly through the door at home, wolf a pizza down, put on a heading session for ‘The Skipper’s’ team and finally pick up ‘The Taxman’ at just gone 6.30pm.
We have to take a diversion down the A606, through the village of Upper Broughton, as the A46 slip road is closed. The drive to Hinckley is a cinch, although the queues into the ground are blocking the Leicester Road.
The guy on the gate gleefully fleeces me of £2 to park the car. It’s £12 on the gate. I don’t think I’ll bother with a programme tonight. I make a donation to the Hinckley Sea Cadets instead.
Luton is a town 30 miles north of London in Bedfordshire. It was once famous for hat-making and was the home of the car manufacturer Vauxhall. During the Second World War the factory built Churchill tanks as part of the War effort. This led them to be vulnerable to the German Luftwaffe, with 107 people losing their lives during air-raids.
Other notable firms with headquarters in the town include: Easy Jet (the club shirt sponsor), Monarch Airlines and Thomson UK.
Well known folk born in Luton include: One Foot in the Grave writer David Renwick, music composer David Arnold (Bond films), the author Arthur Hailey, film director John Badham (Saturday Night Fever), Britain’s ‘most violent prisoner’ Charles Bronson, cricketers Monty Panesar and Will Smith, ex Chelsea striker Kerry Dixon and crap singer from the 1980s Paul Young.
Luton Town were founded in 1885. Their chairman is the former ITV sports presenter Nick Owen. They are managed by former nightclub bouncer Gary Brabin. Their most famous fan was the comedian Eric Morecambe, who became a director at the club.
Well known former managers include: David Pleat, Joe Kinnear, Lennie Lawrence, Ray Harford and Mike Newell. The Hatters most capped player is Northern Ireland’s Mal Donaghy who was capped 58 times. Record transfer received is £3 million from WBA for central defender Curtis Davies. Record transfer paid out is £850,000 for Lars Elstrup from Danish club Odense Boldklub.
I’ve a good mind to ask the gateman for a full refund once I hear some of the toons Bruno Brooks is churning out: East 17 ‘Stay Another Day’, New Kids On The Block ‘Right Stuff’ and ‘I Owe You Nothing’ by Bros have me pulling my free-issue FA beanie hat over my ears.
The stadium is a belter. I’ve been a few times before. There’s a main stand on the half-way line (£2 extra... sod that). Covered terracing is to the right and on the far side. The end to the left backs onto a leisure centre.
We have a mosey around the wonderful club shop. It’s stacked out with old programmes, videos, scarves and football books. I admire the passion of the guy who runs it. We’re thumbing our way through the programmes and having a right old chuckle at a Nottingham Forest v Wolves game from 2000. Number 7 on the team-sheet is old ‘Moonhead’ (David Platt), who single-handedly ruined the Tricky Trees during his disastrous tenure.
The man now lives off the back of ‘Roberto’ at ‘City.’ You’d be begging for a power cut at one of his press conferences. He just talks and talks and talks and talks..... utter baloney.
Luton Town have sent their second string. The numbers are up in the 40s on the back of their shirts. I thought we were watching an American football team. Youth are amongst their ranks.
Both teams defend with a high line. The Knitters’ forward Andre Gray is playing on the shoulder, he has pace to burn. He rifles in a shot that stings the hands of former Posh keeper Mark Tyler.
Luton’s 37 jacket, Alasan Ann, clearly doesn’t fancy it. He feels the force of a Denham Hinds clearance and is felled to the ground. Five minutes later he is waving the white hankie.
The Hatters begin to turn the screw. They counter-attack at break-neck speed. Liverpudlian midfielder John Paul Kissock takes a stranglehold of the game. He has a beautiful balance, a low sense of gravity and can thread the ball through the eye of a needle. He is the Scouse equivilant of Georgi Kinkladze.
Luton are wasteful in front of goal. Dance, Woolley and Fleetwood are guilty as charged as Kissock and the Hatters up the tempo.
I thinks Bruno Brooks has been reunited with Liz Kershaw at the break, as the appalling sounds of pop rock all-brother USA teen band Hanson ring around the Greene King Stadium. To top it all the clown on the decks inflicts further misery with ‘Love Me For A Reason’ by The Osmonds.
It’s at times like this that I hope a power cut kicks in, like it did at Bedworth a few months back. How about a raffle draw? A bit of marching by the Sea Cadets? Or even a penalty shoot-out with both sets of supporters? Anything but the bloody Osmonds.
Hinckley are bursting with confidence but the Luton ‘keeper is in unbeatable form. Young Andre is causing chaos but Tyler is equal to everything he throws at him.
The game is fizzling out. Luton look totally disinterested and have set-up for a replay. Please God, not a 0-0. I don’t do them. It’s been nearly a year – I don’t count Bedworth, it was match abandoned. Where’s Brian Glover when you need him, he’d have awarded a dodgy penno in my hour of need.
It’s all over, bloody hell 0-0. I feel sick. The drive home is silent. Brighton have knocked Wrexham out on penalties. Plenty of goals to see at The Racecourse Ground. Every cloud has a silver lining though. The Normanton Plough has Legend Bitter on as its guest ale. It’s named after Brian Clough. Cheers, ‘Old Big Ead.’
Man of the Match: Denham Hinds (Hinckley ‘keeper – ex Leicester City Academy)