Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fleetwood Town 0 Nottingham Forest 1

I’m home from Rotherham within an hour. What a smashing FA Cup tie I have just witnessed between South Yorkshire’s Parkgate FC and Runcorn Town from Cheshire. I will take another peek at Runcorn later in the season. They might have whinged and moaned with their irritable, squeaking, high-pitched Scouse twang, like Ron Dixon off Brookside, but they didn’t half play a beautiful game of football.

Saturday night is spent troughing through a half price Chinese banquet from Marks & Spencer. It’s accompanied by half a bottle of Red and a Gold Medal for Mo Farah. Sticky junior crashes through the front door at 2.30am. It sounds like he’s been on the sauce.

I’d spotted that Nottingham Forest had been drawn away at newly-promoted Fleetwood Town in the Capital One Cup a few weeks back. Sticky junior is NFFC crazy and immediately gives me the green light. I’m trying to do ‘the 92’ and this will prove to be a handy tick-off. JK drove to Wycombe Wanderers last year in the same competition; it’s my turn to return the compliment.
It’s 4.30am on Monday morning, the day of the game. I’m regretting that bottle of special offer Merlot I supped during the Olympic closing ceremony. I leave work at midday after an uneventful morning. ‘The Auctioneer’ has played a prank on the Warehouse lads and left an Albanian radio station blaring out the speakers.

I drive to the pet shop. Finley needs some sawdust and that idiot budgie (Murphy) wants a few treats. Murphy is squawking and flapping about the lounge. He starts dive-bombing. I wonder what is wrong with my feathered friend. He’s normally pretty chipper during the Jeremy Vine Show. Hang on a minute, this doesn’t sound like Jeremy. Poor Murphy is having to suffer Vanessa Feltz, who is standing in. I may have to book him an appointment with a budgie psychologist.

I pick JK up from his mansion in Tollerton at 3pm. His eldest lad, Josh, has missed the team bus, as he’s working in Scotland. His little brother, Lewis, snaps up his ticket. Sticky junior’s mate, ‘Sizzers’ is on board, but without a ticket.
The route is straight forward – A453, A50, A500 & M6. There are early warning signs that it’s going to be a long journey when Lewis, who JK pays a King’s ransom out on private education, asks if Fleetwood is near Portsmouth – he’s wisely dropped Geography as one of his options.

The radio is bloody awful – Capital FM, Signal FM & Rock FM only seem to have six records in their collection. If I hear Ollie Murs one more time I swear the ‘Rolls Royce’ will career off the Thelwall Viaduct. We hit the town of Fleetwood at 5.30pm, passing the Fisherman’s Friend factory, heading towards the docks, where I’ve pencilled in a visit to ‘Richardson’s Fish Bar.’
Fleetwood is a town and seaside resort located on the Fylde Peninsula, within the Wyre district of Lancashire, with a population of 26,000 people. It’s a famous old deep-sea fishing port. At its height in the 1920s it employed over 9000 people. The fishing industry collapsed in the late 60s and early 70s due to the ‘Cod War’ dispute with Iceland.

Syd Little, one half of ‘comedy duo’ (?) Little & Large lives in the town, as does professional darts player Wes Newton. The actress Kelsey-Beth Crossley, who plays ‘Scarlett Nicholls’ in Emmerdale, was born in Fleetwood. The seaside town has often popped up during filming in the TV programmes: GBH, All Quiet on the Preston Front and Mrs P’s favourite, Hetty Wainthropp Investigates (yawn).

We all tuck into a hearty tea with a friendly service. Cod, chips, mushy peas, bread and butter and a pot of piping hot tea does not come cheap. JK very kindly settles the bill. We beat a hasty treat as Ollie Murs reappears on Rock FM. ‘The Auctioneer’ and ‘The Reaper’ have landed in Manchester where they are on a job. I arrange to meet them in ‘Jim’s Bar’ which is situated just outside the Highbury Stadium.
‘Sizzers’ snaps up a ticket for the Percy Ronson Stand. Ronson holds the record number of appearances for the Trawlermen. ‘The Auctioneer’ and ‘The Reaper’ are supping ale outside ‘Jim’s Bar.’ I grab a quick chat with Clifton legend Jitz Jani, and bump into Johnny Buttery, a travelling dog food salesman.

Forest are warming-up at our end, as we stroll past the toilets and onto the terrace. Fleetwood were originally found in 1908 but have reformed twice under different names. They are owned by Business Energy Solutions MD, Andy Pilley. Their record signing was ex Stocksbridge Steels striker Jamie Vardy, who they shelled out £150,000 from F.C. Halifax Town. Vardy recently left the Cod Army, joining Leicester City for over £1,000,000.

Frank Swift, the former Manchester City goalkeeper, used to play in the nets for Fleetwood. He later became a journalist for the News of the World. He was among the dead in the Munich Air Disaster in 1958.
The playing surface is in mint condition. It looks like a 3G surface. To our right is the impressive Parkside Stand, which cost a cool £4 million to build. Opposite it is the Highbury Stand, which curiously has the old stand tucked away behind it. JK remarks that maybe there are health and safety concerns about asbestos removal. Between 1948 and 1952 Highbury was also used for Speedway, with Fleetwood Flyers riding in Division Two of the National Speedway league.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is carrying out a shooting drill. It has to be said that he doesn’t look the most jovial of men. He throws a ball to the right foot of Republic of Ireland international Andy Reid. The Irishman scuffs his shot over the bar. He turns to remonstrate with the Dutchman.

Forest fans begin to file into the ‘Away End.’Supporters’ coaches have dropped into the seaside resort of Blackpool. There are an array of inflatables being tossed into the air and onto the pitch. The Fleetwood mascot, ‘Captain Cod’ is treated to a chorus of “get a proper job.”
Forest attack the far end. Guedioura, McGugan & the usually influential Polish midfielder Radoslaw Majewski struggle to find any space in a packed out midfield. There’s too much traffic as Fleetwood swarm all over the Reds. Jamie McGuire, a player I admired so much at Birkenhead’s Cammell Laird and Northern Ireland youth international Conor McLaughlin boss the game.

The first half is dull and uninspiring. A Danny Collins hoofed clearance scatters a pair of dozing seagulls perched high on the roof of the old club offices.

The away following mock Cod Army forward Jon Parkin: “Get your tits out for the lads.” The boy can play though. He bulldozes his way through the NFFC rearguard. Brendan Moloney is easily brushed aside and is sent sprawling to the ground. Fortunately for NFFC Parkin has no composure or confidence in front of goal.
Some buffoon has let a red flare off just behind me. A young steward shows no concern and continues to tap away at a text on his phone. Everyone is panicking about it being 0-0, after all ‘The Groundhopper’ doesn’t do 0-0s, particularly on 300 mile round trips. Sticky Palms has faith in Sean O’Driscoll, who makes a slight tactical change at the break by moving Greg Halford inside from the wide right.

Forest begin to find some width and success, with Reid becoming more effective on the greasy surface caused by the deteriorating weather conditions. McGugan takes hold of the game by the scruff of the neck, he fizzes a shot just wide of the post and sees a Blackstock effort bounce back off the bar from his left wing cross.

The goal finally arrives on the hour. A delicious cross by Reid requires two bites at the cherry by Blackstock. He runs towards the crowd whooping with delight, but avoids Sticky junior’s outstretched high-five. The chances come thick and fast as NFFC try to kill the game off. Halford, McGugan and Tudgay all spurn good chances.

Attendance: 3611 (1060 visitors)

Man of the Match: Jon Parkin


Anonymous said...

Lovely write-up, puts me in mind of John Shuttleworth. oof!

Malc Shents said...

Great read mate.... you're defo in the wrong job and should do this caper full time for a living ..... top notch.

The Comedian said...

I object to the sniping at Little and Large Sticky.They are up there alongside the all time greats of comedy.

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