Saturday, March 23, 2013
Colchester United 0-1 Bournemouth
Brash, big-headed, just as he had appeared to me on television, Brian had everyone running around after him. There was another offer from Everton, but Clough was determined to sign me. After the hotel, he came back to my house. I said: 'I’m away to my bed. I’m signing nothing tonight.’ With that, Clough plonked himself down on the fireside rug, took off his shoes and announced he would sleep there for the night.
In the morning, Betty [Gemmill’s wife] was preparing breakfast when she heard someone come into the kitchen. Clough was standing there rubbing his hands together, dressed in no more than his boxer shorts. He ate a hearty breakfast and then, before I had a chance to put my last forkful into my mouth, he dragged me into the sitting room to finalise our negotiations and sign all the papers.”
We agree on a 9.30 am meet for our trip to Colchester on Good Friday. “Don’t come any earlier, as the pubs aren’t open till midday”, remarks a sulking Bolton.
It’s been a miserable, tiring week at work. We settle around the TV on Tuesday evening and watch a performance with blood, guts, courage and spirit; sadly it’s in the operating theatre of Holby City and not England on the pitch in Montenegro.
I pull up the blinds in the kitchen on Friday morning to be greeted with blue-painted skies. I pour myself a strong cup of coffee and rustle up a couple of poached eggs. New York indie rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs are belting out their new single on 6Music.
I notice on the Colchester United message board that a very friendly U’s official has kindly offered to usher Trumpy and I pitch-side for a few photo opportunities before the game. It’s a lovely touch.
I’m outside Bolton’s house at 9.30 am on the dot. His set doesn’t look too good folks. The ‘Primarni’ shirt hangs below his charity shop blue jacket. He swings his East Midlands Airport carrier bag, where a bottle of Bulmer’s pear cider is buried at the bottom.
A cheese onion toasty has already been washed down with a bottle of Tanglefoot ale. As we pull on the A1 southbound, Ken Bruce’s Pop Master is about to start on Radio 2. Sticky storms into a healthy lead in the first round; Trumpy is aghast. There’s a Montenegro type comeback from Bolton in the second round, as honours end even.
We cruise past the sugar beet factory at Bury St Edmunds and chug down the bustling high street of Long Melford, where Bolton brags how he downed a pint in all eight pubs in a lunchtime session.
First port of call today is a Chef & Brewer establishment in the village of Great Horkesley. Trumpy shouts up two pints of Asphall Cyder and a pint of Adnams Southwold. Yes readers, he always drinks 2 pints to my every one. Scampi, chips and mushy peas are a steal at £4.95.
The Weston Homes Stadium is plonked in the middle of nowhere. It’s the completely different experience to my usual non-league soiree. We have to part with £6 to park the car on an industrial estate, a 15 minute walk away from the ground.
Bolton requires a hip replacement and is none too chuffed with the hike to the ground. He has a drunken rant about Mark McGhee, Steve Wright, Adrian Durham and Sarah Cox It brightens up the day.
Other notable personalities from Colchester include: ‘and in no particular order’ Dermot O’Leary, cricketers Neil Foster & Graham Napier, love rat Darren Day, and snooker player Ali Carter.
Colchester United were formed in 1937 and are nicknamed The U’s. I nipped into their old Layer Road ground on my charity tour of 108 grounds back in 2000. Capacity at their new ground is 10,000. Record signing is Steven Gillespie £400,000 from Cheltenham. Record fee received is £2,500,000 for Nottingham Forest cult hero Greg Halford from Reading.
I’ve arranged for a couple of tickets to be left on, unfortunately there appears to have been as they say on Fawlty Towers ‘a bit of a cock-up on the catering front.’
After queuing for an eternity we finally bag two tickets for the South Stand at £20 a piece. The programme is £3 and is a good read. The teams are just kicking off as we take our seat behind the goal the Cherries of Bournemouth will be attacking.
Bournemouth soon find their groove after a bright opening by The U’s. League One Player of the Year, Matt Ritchie is tormenting the Colchester defence. He has a low sense of gravity and a beautiful touch. He always wants the ball and is rarely wasteful in possession. Ritchie shows the full back a clean pair of heels on 18 minutes; his cross is bundled into the back of the net by Brett Pitman.
Poor old Colchester, not sure if the wind is playing a factor, but I can’t see them scoring in a month of Sundays. The Cherries are wasteful in front of goal. No-one is more guilty than former Brentford and Rotherham striker Lewis Grabban. He misses a hatful of chances as on loan Chelsea ‘keeper Sam Walker single-handedly keeps his side in the game.
Colchester look hungrier with the wind at their backs, but take an age to deliver the ball into the box. On the hour journeyman striker Clinton Morrison is removed from the attack; we didn’t even notice he was playing.
The Cherries are dangerous on the counter-attack. Harry Arter forces Walker into action on two separate occasions. Colchester’s Billy Clifford clips the ball from the edge of the box; it curls agonisingly the wrong side of the post with the ‘keeper beaten.
We don’t hang around for injury time; there’s plenty of that due to Bournemouth’s time-wasting tactics and play-acting dramatics. Bolton endures a 15 minute hobble back to the car.
Man of the Match: Sam Walker (Colchester)