Generally he didn’t try to offer too much advice, sometimes he’d shout from the sidelines but usually he just let Nigel get on with it. On one occasion though, when we’d beaten Torquay United away in the FA cup we were travelling back on the coach when Nigel’s mobile phone rang. After a bit he said it was his dad and he wanted a word with me. Brian came on the phone and said, 'You should take a lot of credit for this win,’ I asked why and he explained that he thought it was important that I’d taken the players down to Torquay the night before and prepared them well rather than making them have an arduous journey before the match. I said, 'Well, I think that win proves you’ve now got two geniuses in your family.’
He said, 'When you find the second one let me know.’
I did take in the Alfreton Town versus Cambridge United fixture at North Street on Tuesday. The standard of play was high and so was the admission; £18 for Conference Football, you are having a laugh.
It’s Friday evening. There’s a howling wind and the sound of rain pitter pattering on the lounge window. I’m so proud of my boys. They abandon their X Box for a night’s dossing on Budgens wall. Top dossing lads; a commitment to the cause.
My Twitter timeline suggests there’s Bob Hope of a game on this afternoon. Please God, no. I’ll settle for anything within a 160 mile round trip. Murphy is whistling his little head off to Chris Rea’s ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ as I scour the non league fixture list. There seems to be a small micro climate up in the north Notts/Lincolnshire border. Lincoln United and Gainsborough Trinity both confirm that games are on. I’ve already blogged from both.
A tweet from legendary Notts groundhopper Rob Hornby catches my eye. He says that NSL Premier Division side Sandhurst never gets hosed off – not been there, book me in Danno. A quick phone call to Sandhurst Jack-of-all-trades, Bob Crawford, confirms that the game has got the go ahead.
Wigan versus ‘The Arsenal’ is on the radio. It’s 0-0 ‘in the most exciting league in the World.’ The worst manager in Premiership history – Paul Jewell - is summarising. He’s waxing lyrical about James McCarthy, the Latics one million pound signing from Scottish club Hamilton Academical.
I sweep through Cotgrave and head out towards Stragglethorpe. The roads are flooded and the weather is atrocious. Stuart Pearce once had a lucky escape on this very road when he wrote off his car after colliding with a dustcart.
Bloody hell, I haven’t the foggiest idea where the ground is. I turn left at the Carpenter Arms and take a sharp right hand turn. A paperboy, with probably the easiest round in Notts, redirects me back up the road.
Sandhurst play in the village of Walesby, which has a population of just over 1000. It’s famous for its International Scout Camps. I only joined the cubs because they had a football team. I had the athletic prowess of Billy Casper from Kes.
Sandhurst are named after a local garden centre that recently closed down. They sponsored the club for over 20 years.
I hook up with Rob Hornby and another Hopper from ‘Sunny Scunny’ called ‘Colpic.’ Rob’s a bubbly character and can talk the hind legs off a donkey. He tells me he was born at Radford’s Selhurst Street ground. I said: “What, at half-time?” Apparently the ground wasn’t built then.
I recognise a lot of the Attenborough players. I reckon they are going to be a tough nut to crack for Sandhurst. Tobias Richardson, Wes Burke and Justin Whatmore could comfortably play at a higher level.
Attenborough are managed by Roberto Pietrafort. He has had more clubs than Mark Hughes. If you asked him to name his previous clubs on Twitter, then he would struggle to fit them into the 140 character stipulation. He has more tracksuits in his wardrobe than JJB Sports. Roberto – I sound like David Platt – is always up for banter, we exchange hellos.
Ireson restores parity for the visitors. A mazy run and smart finish from the classy Whatmore puts them 2-1 up. Andy Cameron pegs it back to 2-2 on the stroke of half time. I venture into the brick-built clubhouse and despite a large queue, a cup of tea is thrust into my hand. Rob is holding court with a group of hoppers from London and Ipswich who have dropped into the ground on their way home from the Blackpool v Wolves game on Friday evening. They must be potty.
I grab a quick word with Attenborough’s Tobias Richardson, who is still stewing over the equaliser. I tell him that his team will push on in the second half.
With dark descending, I walk through the mist back to the car. Watford are beating Forest 2-0. The moaning Minnies fill up my timeline. Some folk are never satisfied.
Rob is doing an NSL Groundhop in April. For more details please visit his blog http://aroundthegrounds2012-13.blogspot.co.uk/
Man of the Match: Chris Myton (Unlucky not to score)