The game was played and Forest were well beaten, but ‘Old Big Ead’ was supportive to the players throughout. On the bus journey home he ordered Albert, the coach driver, to stop off at the nearest chip shop. Nobody had got a brass farthing on them.
The old gal behind the counter was built like a brick outhouse and wore glasses as thick as the bottom of a milk bottle. She was not one to mess with. Clough had to use all the charm and charisma he could muster: ‘Hello Darling, my name is Brian Clough and we would like twenty portions of your finest fish and chips, but there’s a slight problem, I haven’t any money on my person. I’ll send you a cheque in the morning.”
“I’ll trust you, Mr Clough”, replied the lady. The following morning Perkins knocked on Clough’s door: “Gaffer, don’t forget to pay the lady for the fish n chips.” “Oh yes, how much was it pal?" Sixty two pounds” replied Perkins. Clough wrote a cheque out for £90 and accompanied it with a note: “Thank you Darling, treat yourself and be good. Brian Clough” As Perkins walked out the door Clough shouted out: “Hey, next time your team play like that, you can buy your own fish n chips!”
Any plans of a scouting trip to Mansfield in the morning are scuppered by a night of torrential rain. Mrs P deploys me to labouring duties in assembling ‘The Skipper’s’ new bed with ‘The Angler.’ I make an award-winning cup of tea for the two of us. There won’t be a better brew made than that in England today.
Mrs P has an open day up at Sutton-in-Ashfield; it means I can slope off early today. After last week’s near miss, a confident Finley Palmer predicts another goal bonanza, 5-3 to Congleton, he predicts with his paws.
I pull in at the Egerton Arms in Astbury, just a few miles south of Congleton. I’m greeted by a cheerful landlord and The Jacksons singing ‘Show You the Way to Go.’ A pub bore announces to all and sundry that West Brom have taken the lead at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.
I select a pint of Robinson’s ‘Dizzy Blonde.’ I’ve not quaffed one of these since a weekend away in Abersoch last September. Plentiful amounts of food are on offer on the menu. Sticky loves his Somerset brie and pickle baguettes though.
I’m anxious to get to the ground though. According to my Twitter timeline, fixtures are falling by the wayside. As I head into Congleton the skies begin to darken; bloody hell it’s starting to rain.
I park the car on a side street, opposite the cricket ground and take a peek around the place. Congleton is a town in Cheshire that lies on the banks of the River Dane, with a population of 25,000. Popular sports in the 17th Century included bear-baiting and cockfighting. Congleton is well-known for its manufacturing of airbags and golf balls. Former Manchester City defender, Ian Brightwell, grew up in the town.
A guy on the gate gives me the thumbs up; the game is on. I pay £6 on the turnstile. The programme is good value and an interesting read. Two pieces of trivia catch my eye. There’s a report from a Bedlington Terriers FA Vase game. Former Newcastle United striker Paul Brayson is mentioned. He is the shortest footballer to have ever played in the Premiership.
The programme also reports on the resignation of former Nottingham Forest forward Peter Withe, who was until recently manager of Stockport Sports. Withe scored the winning goal for Aston Villa in the 1982 European Cup Final.
The DJ, who I’d put as late fifties, has already inflicted Queen and Status Quo on the perishing crowd, as I position myself on the far side of the ground, behind the away dugout, sheltering from the rain. I’m taken back at the quality of passing from both teams, particularly the Bears of Congleton.
Sticky Palms is elated on three minutes to get his hands on the match ball. I throw it powerfully into the midriff of a less than impressed visiting defender. On six minutes Congleton take lead with a net buster from the edge of the area by Matthew Worrall. Ten minutes later left back Louis James starts and finishes a fine move.
The Bears, may regret that their dominance has only left them two to the good. News is filtering through from Guiseley’s Nethermoor Road ground that Sooty is making his debut as the supporters’ mascot.
I stand in the Club Function Room for a wee warm. I grab a cup of piping hot coffee. The lady behind the tea bar is promoting home-made vegetable soup at a bargain £1.30 per cup.
Barnoldswick play as if someone has put a firework up their backsides. Chance after chance is spurned, until on 63 minutes Billy Priestley nods in a header at the back stick, following a corner. They can’t turn their second half superiority into goals though. The driving, incessant rain has turned the pitch into a quagmire. The two teams put on a show though. I’ll catch up with both later in the season.
Man of the Match: Vegetable Soup