The Skipper’ hits a slide-rule pass to a boy that’s been with us since he was eight. Adam scurries away from a tiring defender. He holds his nerve and blasts the ball into the back of the net. I can’t look at his Dad because I know I’ll burst into tears. What a journey we have had. I will make sure we enjoy the final at Arnold Town’s Eagle Valley ground on April 13th.
It’s Friday evening and I’m mooching about in the wine section at our local Sainsbury’s. That blooming 12% rocket fuel Rioja, that did for me the other week, is on offer again. I give it the swerve and plump for a bottle of Hardy’s Stamp. Mrs P has fallen victim to the dreaded lurgy. It means we can tuck into a fish n chip supper.
Twitter is reporting on the death of ‘faulty microphone’ comedian Norman Collier. The north west’s top blogger, Uwdi Krugg, tweets that the ‘Samba Boys’ of Runcorn have landed in Manchester for the NWCL top of the table clash with Maine Road.
We have royalty travelling in the ‘Rolls Royce’ today. Mr Trumpy Bolton is aboard the team bus, following a three month spell on the sidelines. The upholstery is treated to some lemon fresh spray that will hopefully overpower the cider fumes from his trusty litre plastic bottle of Bulmer’s.
He confesses to having successfully completed the ‘Dryathon’ in January. A stone has been shed and a penchant for green tea has been discovered. He claims that a sniff of the barmaid’s apron today may have him doing hand-stands, following a week off the sauce.
Warrington and Runcorn fans please remain seated while I reveal that Trumpy Bolton’s sole mission in life is to complete a financial transaction, usually involving a pint of cider, in every village, town and city in England, Wales and Scotland. He has a dog-eared, crumpled old atlas with each place visited highlighted off.
There’s almost a multiple pile-up on the A50 when the legend announces he is getting wed next year. Plans are afoot for a stag weekend in the Isle of Man – I’ll be checking out the local non-league scene in Douglas.
I chuckle at a tourist sign in Stoke that says Cultural Quarter.Ironically it’s close to Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium.
He sits gooey-eyed, in silence, admiring the drinking prowess of a young girl, who effortlessly downs 3 bottles of WKD in the space of half an hour. I wolf down a chicken and bacon salad before departing to our next watering hole.
Trumpy has sniffed out a Marston new build in the middle of nowhere. It’s a soulless joint. Sticky’s on Coca Cola now as Bolton ups it a gear in the drinking stakes. I’d put him in the same bracket as Best, Burton and Reed.
We hit the town of Warrington, on the banks of the River Mersey, at 2.15pm. The town embraced the industrial revolution and exploited the nearby Manchester Ship Canal, close to where the local football is situated. Back in the day, steel-making, brewing and textiles were the biggest employers in the area. IKEA opened its first store in Britain in Warrington.
A list of notable people from Warrington include: Stones Roses lead singer Ian Brown, the recently deceased actor Pete Postlewhaite, Brookside’s Sue Johnston, Radio 2 breakfast DJ Chris Evans, Kerry Katona, BGT winner George Sampson, ex-England cricketer Neil Fairbrother, flat race jockey Paul Hanagan and former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks.
We cross over the Cantilever Bridge and park the Rolls Royce outside the Latchford Baptist Church. A group of lads point Trumpy in the general direction of another hostelry. Steely Dan is blasting out the juke box of the Cheshire Cheese as the legend necks another.
We all stand in silence to remember those that lost their lives or were seriously injured 20 years ago. It’s a moving and special moment.
Warrington Town is a lovely club. They have Ollie the Owl as a mascot and attract loads of kids in club colours. The ground is neat and tidy. There’s a club shop and a modern brick-built clubhouse. There are seated areas on both sides of the ground.
I find Trumpy slumped in a seat on the back row of the stand, stuffing his face with a steak and kidney pie. The game is nothing much to write home about. All the action seems to take place off the field of play.
I’ve clocked former Barnsley and Wigan midfielder Darren Sheridan to my left. The woman in front of him has stood up. Sheridan politely asks her to sit down as she is blocking his view. Unpleasantries are exchanged. The woman storms off eventually. Trumpy is captivated by it all.
Darren Sheridan’s mood hasn’t improved much. He’s fished a few betting slips out of his pocket and has got Sticky on the phone checking the latest scores. He takes the news badly that Liverpool, Villa and Alfreton are all behind. He scrunches up his coupons.
Bolton has purchased another pint and half from behind the bar. It could be a no-show in the second from him as Italy entertain Ireland in the Six Nations. I have a quick chat with the ‘Salford Three’ behind the goal. Apparently the team are in transition.
I find Trumpy studiously looking up and down at Warrington’s manager, Shaun Reid (brother of Peter). Reid’s face is twisted and contorted. At no time does he appear to enjoy the game.
Warrington are 2-0 up by now. A nervy last 15 minutes are endured after Adrian Bellamy pulls a goal back for the visitors.
Man of the Match: Salford ‘Keeper