Saturday, August 18, 2012
Hemsworth Miners Welfare 3 Rossington Main 4
I’m driving out of Highbury, the one in Fleetwood, and not where ‘The Arsenal’ used to play in north London. Rain is pelting down and bouncing off the ‘Rolls Royce’ windscreen as we head out towards the M6.
What a charming and engaging club Fleetwood Town are. The stewards and bar staff are friendly, obliging and courteous. Their mascot, ‘Captain Cod’, is a legend. He was flamed good and proper by the Tricky Tree supporters, but took it in his stride by flapping his fins.
The two highlights of the week have been the performance of Sean Bean, playing a cross-dresser in the brilliant Jimmy McGovern drama ‘The Accused’ and Mrs P writing off a saucepan which she forgot to turn off whilst boiling three eggs for my snap tin.
It’s Friday evening, and I’m driving along Cotgrave Lane. Sticky junior is off for a night’s dossing in Cotgrave, an old mining village. Mrs P has gone to a leaving do at the swanky Sanctuary Restaurant in Saxondale.
I grab a pizza. Murphy sits on my shoulder as we listen to Five Live’s ‘Kicking Off’ show presented by Colin Murray and featuring the amusing Perry Groves and Pat Nevin. I take a wander round to the ‘Nuclear Scientist’s’ crib on Debdale Lane. We neck a couple of bottles of real ale and fight it out on the table tennis table. Honours are even as I turn in for an early night.
I manage a quick chat with Keyworth’s favourite rabbit, Finley Palmer. Poor old ‘Fin’ had a torrid time with his Euro 2012 score predictions. He gives Hemsworth Miners Welfare the kiss of death by predicting a 3-1 home win. The silly old sausage hasn’t taken into account the gruelling extra time they played out at Runcorn Linnets in an FA Cup replay last Tuesday.
The Sat Nav is having a wobble as I hit a new road off the A1. I’m soon driving up Kirkby Road in Hemsworth. I’d planned to pop into the Victoria Hotel for a swift one, but the place looks deserted and the building in disrepair. Further up the street is the Hippodrome Bingo and Social Club – Mrs P would like a bit of ‘eyes down in there.
I clock where the MDC Sports Stadium is before pulling up at The Catchpenny public house situated on a busy crossroads. It’s a pub where I shared a pint and some hot dogs with Trumpy Bolton on the day of the Royal Wedding.
The landlord is a right miserable so-and-so. A group of blokes crowd around a TV set to watch the Racing Channel from Newmarket and Newbury. Racing Posts are thumbed through and the formbook is studied. A nervous punter rolls up a cigarette. Minutes later a losing betting slip is screwed up and tossed into the air.
I stroll around the edge of the boundary and chance upon a couple of pensioners sat on a wooden bench behind the bowler’s arm. I ask if Boycott was born here. “Aye, he was born t’other side of that fence lad.” I ask if they ever see him around. “Nay lad, not seen him in ages.” I’ve never forgiven ‘Sir Geoffrey’ for running out my boyhood hero, Derek Randall, in the Silver Jubilee Test at Trent Bridge in 1977.
Its £4 admission and £1 for an excellent programme. They have a quiz page with a superb question: Which English player has scored the most Premiership goals without getting a full cap?
I walk in from behind the clubhouse and I’m immediately taken aback with this tight little ground. On the far side are the dugouts with perspex see-through side panels and white tip-up seats. Adjacent to this is a small stand with green tip up seats. There are neatly trimmed conifers, metal fencing and concrete panels. The nearest side is where the clubhouse is situated. It has been funded by the Football Foundation. There is a small, raised concrete terrace outside the bar, where most of the locals congregate.
Hemsworth are brimming with confidence and are two the good within 12 minutes. A ball is sprayed out to Will Kemp on the right wing; his cross is turned into the net by Neil Towler. The second is courtesy of an error by the ‘keeper who’s washing windows – as Boycott would say “my granny could have caught that in her pinny” – Towler gleefully taps the loose ball home.
The game’s best player, Kemp, limps off on 25 minutes. His replacement, Robbie Crapper, is every bit as good. The game turns on its head on the half hour. A needless penalty is given away and is coolly converted by Sidebottom – that’s Dean, not Ryan. On 42 minutes its 2-2 with a close range finish by Ben Clark. Rossington even have the audacity to hit the post with a 25 yard left footed howitzer by their 9 jacket.
It’s déjà vu on the opening day of the season, as I scroll down the live scores: NFFC are 0-0, the Pies are winning and Lincoln City are losing.
It’s a classic game of non league football; I don’t want it to end. The visitors regain the lead with 15 minutes remaining with a peach of a free kick from their captain Dave Holvey. Hemsworth literally throw the kitchen sink at them but Rossington hang on for a famous victory.
Man of the Match: Rossington Main ‘keeper
Quiz Answer: Kevin Campbell