Saturday, November 10, 2012
Guiseley AFC 7 Whitby Town 0
The Charlie Hall Chase is the next race. Memories flood back from 12 years ago; it was Dafty’s 30th. Our clapped-out Sunshine Tours bus pulls into a waterlogged car park. We pile into a private bar. Pint after pint is quaffed. It’s a boys versus girls syndicate. We go through the card. Sticky’s favourite, See More Business, aqua planes down the home straight, at a canter, to win the Charlie Hall.
I’m steaming readers; it’s the final race. My bleary, bloodshot eyes scan the racecard. Bottom weight is a horse called Truckers Tavern. Bloody hell; we all drink in The Tavern in Keyworth. Every person on the bus has a punt on ‘Truckers’, who jumps like a stag and wins by a distance at 7/1.
I’m up at the crack of dawn, researching the West Yorkshire town of Guiseley. I wash and valet the ‘Rolls Royce’ – royalty are aboard today (Sooty & Trumpy).
I reverse up Trumpy’s drive. The legend is limping like Darren Anderton. He spots Sooty strapped up in the back of car on his booster seat. He asks the puppet if he wants to sit in the front.
We drive through the Bronx. Sticky jnr is doing what he does better – dossing on a park bench with his homies. Trumpy winds down the window and hurls some football-related banter at the troubled teenager. Leicester City and Nottingham Forest commence battle in a couple of hours time.
“What’s that Sooty, you’re feeling travel sick, bloody hell, we’re not even out of Keyworth yet.” Trumpy has already necked a Greene King IPA and a bottle of Tanglefoot, as he untwists the cap off his litre bottle of Bulmers.
We sail up the M1 and pull off at Junction 41. First port of call is the Bay Horse in Morley. It’s 11.50am; we’ve ten minutes to kill before opening time. The doors are unbolted and opened at smack on midday. Trumpy tucks into a pint of Tetley’s, Sticky has a diet Coke, Sooty plumps for half a cider and is challenged for his ID.
There are pictures hung up on the wall of the late Gary Speed, Brian Close and the ‘Dirty Dirty Leeds’ team of the seventies. Some awful satellite TV music channel is churning out Westlife’s dreadful version of the Jimmy Ruffin classic, ‘What Becomes of a Broken Hearted.’
Sooty is fagged out after his half a cider. He has a wee siesta, while we have a spot of lunch at the Stone Trough in the leafy suburb of Rawdon. I wash down my 7oz gammon with a pint of Leeds Pale Ale. Trumpy doesn’t show a flicker of emotion as Liverpool-born striker David Nugent edges Leicester ahead in the East Midlands derby. Paul Weller’s ‘Wild Wood’ is piped through the speakers.
We drive up the bustling high street in Guiseley. The traffic is nose to tail due to those annoying, soulless, endless out of town retail parks. We drive passed Guiseley’s Nethermoor Park ground before having a swift one in the excellent Ings. It’s a traditional back street boozer. Copper Dragon is the best ale on view. Edwin Starr and Shakin Stevens provide the entertainment.
Guiseley is a small town in West Yorkshire with a population of just over 20,000. Crompton Parkinson and Silver Cross prams were once major employers in the town. Harry Ramsden traded in a small shed next to the tram stop in White Cross. It was later to become the largest chippy in the world, seating 250 people and having a million customers a year.
Children’s entertainer, Harry Corbett, was the nephew of Harry Ramsden. He used to play piano in the chip shop. Whilst on his holidays in Blackpool, Corbett bought Sooty the puppet for 37 pence. He later teamed-up with Sweep the dog. Sticky Palms once saw them at a gig at the Lincoln Drill Hall. Harry died in his sleep in 1989 at the age of 71, following a performance in front of a capacity audience at Weymouth Pavilion. His son, Matthew, took over puppet master duties.
The legend pays me in for £10 on the gate and treats me to a belter of a programme for £2. Security is lax. I smuggle Sooty in under my coat. I take my customary stroll around this neat and tidy ground. Supergrass are blasting out the ground’s PA system. I notice Bolton has already sniffed out the bar. I find him downing a pint of Blonde beer, staring out the window at the adjoining cricket pitch.
I leave him to it and join the crowd in remembering our armed forces who have lost their lives fighting for their country. Nethermoor Park is bathed in glorious sun-kissed skies. Whitby have brought a decent following. Their supporters sing a few amusing ditties: “It’s full of fish, chips and seagulls, oh Whitby is full of fun.”
Guiseley miss a hatful of chances in a very entertaining half, before Holsgrove and the impressive Walshaw put the game beyond Whitby’s reach. Trumpy is watching the half-times rolling in. He lets it slip that Mrs Trumpy has a secret crush on Sky Sports reporter Johnny Phillips.
The Lions enjoy the luxury of a couple of early substitutions. They play a beautiful game and move the ball very quickly. 6-0 up with half an hour to go, a proper trouncing looks on the cards. Former Sunderland midfielder Darren Williams is the gaffer at Whitby. He looks like his head is going to explode. It’s not a good time for Trumpy to sing “You’re getting sacked in the morning.” Or for Sooty to ask for his autograph.
I meet him back at the car and remove my coat. My heart begins to beat ten to the dozen, as I rummage in my coat pocket. I’ve only gone and lost Sooty. Who’s going to tell Sweep?
Man of the Match: Whitby supporters (never lost their humour)