Saturday, March 23, 2013

Colchester United 0-1 Bournemouth

Brian Clough anecdote by Archie Gemmill “In September 1970 I was playing for Preston North End when my manager, Alan Ball [father of the World Cup winner] told me Derby were interested in signing me. Ball and I, Brian Clough, his assistant manager Peter Taylor and the Derby secretary Stuart Webb all met at the Pack Horse Hotel in Bolton. There was no doubt who was in charge from the moment he swept into the lounge bar. Clough dominated the room, deciding exactly how he wanted the bar staff to arrange the table for our negotiations.

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.”

It’s a quick getaway for Trumpy and Sticky from Warrington Town’s Cantilever Park. Trumpy is crying his eyes out into his empty one litre plastic bottle, which only hours ago was full of cider. Two pieces of bad news have just been relayed to the legend: Lewis McGugan has notched a late winner for the Tricky Trees, a team Trumpy despises and his beloved Foxes from Leicester are 2-0 down at Pride Park.

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 quaff a pint of Sanctuary from the Blue Monkey Brewery on Thursday lunchtime in the picture postcard village of Wysall, as we bid farewell to my old boss, who is moving to pastures new.

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.

BBC Five Live’s northern football reporter, Peter Slater, has invited me to link in with him on LinkedIn. Trumpy and I met Peter a few seasons ago at Bury’s Gigg Lane. Perhaps he’ll offer Trumpy a job fetching beer and sandwiches from the corporate hospitality suite.

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.

Trumpy tells an extraordinary tale from last Saturday. He nipped into town (Nottingham) at 10 am and was back home for 4 pm. In that time he downed pints at the following watering holes: The Roebuck, Joseph Else, Coach & Horses, Yates’ Wine Lodge, The Bank, the Bell Inn, the Canal House, the Monkey Tree and finally the Stratford Haven. It’s a session that Best, Reed, Katona and Denise Welch would have struggled to live with.

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.

Next stop is the Three Horseshoes in Fordham. The landlady queries why I’m taking photos of the joint. She’s well tidy and makes a real fuss of Trumpy, who has bought 2 pints for himself, a Pepsi for me and a take-out bottle of raspberry and lime Kopparberg cider.There’s a Brat Pack evening in the pub tonight. Trumpy remarks that his uncle does a Frank Sinatra tribute act. “Both are shite”, he remarks.

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.

Colchester is a historic town in the county of Essex with a population of 100,000. It claims to be the oldest Roman town in Britain. Brit Pop duo Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon met at Stanway School, in the town, to form the band Blur.

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.

Former Republic of Ireland international and Charlton Athletic midfielder Mark Kinsella is the Joe Dunne’s assistant manager at Colchester United.

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.

There’s an icy blast blowing down the ground. It’s not long before Trumpy is shivering. We’ve both under clubbed on the amount of clobber we are wearing.

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.

We both dive down to the soulless concrete concourse for a warm. There’s no cosy-carpeted clubhouse with character like you get in the Non League. ‘Jerk it Out’ by Swedish rock band Caesars blasts out the ground’s speakers, as we view the half time scores.

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.

Attendance: 4727

Man of the Match: Sam Walker (Colchester)


Anonymous said...

That sums it up perfectly.Is there a reason why you should have expected free ticket and food, we all pay for ours.

AFCB said...

Free ticket and food?

Why not, if its available?

I'm sure if you put the effort and mileage in this bloke does you'd maybe deserve it as well.

ragebe said...

Bundled in? Looks like it was hammered in, on the Football League Show.

Anonymous said...

I like this blog. I became a fan of Yeovil Town and AFC Wimbledon watching the FA Cup. Check out my blog