Sunday, October 20, 2013

Dronfield Town 2-1 Hall Road Rangers

It's Friday Oct 11th and I'm boarding the 09:55 Trent Barton bus into Nottingham city centre. Bloody hell, my mother in-law has clocked me. How am I going to wriggle out of this one? "Not at work today? Where are you off to?" "Ooh, er, pub", I blurt out. "At this time of the morning?"

Don't worry folks, I'm not the new Trumpy Bolton. It's the Nottingham Beer Festival. We all hook up at The Roebuck, a Wetherspoons boozer on St James' St, just off the Market Square. I'm with 'The Zuffler', 'The Auctioneer' and Samuel Jackson. It's an hour's wait for breakfast.

We have a swift one in the newly-opened Ned Ludd on Friar Lane. We walk across Maid Marian Way and head up towards Nottingham Castle; the venue for the real ale festival. We sample a few of the 1500 beers on offer. After a five hour session, we stagger up to the Canning Circus and Alfreton Road area of town. More alcohol is consumed in The Falcon and Organ Grinder, Blue Monkey's finest. I bid farewell where it all started, in the Ned Ludd. I hop back on the bus and wolf down a kebab and chips, before collapsing in a heap on the settee. Murphy the Budgie is disgusted.

It's Saturday Oct 19th. I'm wandering around one of my favourite venues scouting for youth. Vernon Park is now known as Queen Elizabeth II Playing Fields. My boss at Notts County kindly arranged for Sven Goran Eriksson to open the new pavilion during his short stay at the Club in the Munto era. I view a few games and chat to one or two folk. I bump into Pablo and his lad Warren who plays for Notts County.

I'm soon back in the 'Rolls Royce' snarled up in traffic in Bulwell. I notice that The Oxford pub is showing Forest v Bournemouth live on TV. I exit the M1 at Junction 29. In the distance is Chesterfield's famous old crooked spire. I turn right at the roundabout, onto the A61 towards Sheffield.

I'm soon in the north east Derbyshire market town of Dronfield. It has a population of 20,000 and lies in the valley of the River Drone. It is twinned with the German town Sindelfingen, home to the Mercedes Benz. Notable people born in Dronfield include: one-armed Def Leopard drummer, Rick Allen and Chelsea and England international footballer Gary Cahill.

There's only one pub to go to in Dronfield, or so I thought. The Coach and Horses is situated next to Sheffield FC's ground, who are the oldest football club in the world. The pub is as dead as door nail. A disinterested barmaid pours me a real ale. A dreadful American rock ballard is piped out of the speakers. I'm greeted with the news that Chef has gone AWOL. Bugger.

I'm delighted to find 'Stan's Guide to Dronfield Pubs' on a Google search. I plump for the Miners' Arms in Dronfield Woodhouse. Three youths are playing pool. Blackpool and Wigan is on the box. I order a pint of Wainwrights and a sausage and onion baguette at a bargain £2.99. I try to strike up a conversation with one of the lads racking up at pool. I tell him that old 'Orville' - Paul Ince - has been banned from football stadia for five games. "Who?" he replies.

The real ale and sausages are accompanied with Eminem, S Club7 and Caesars 'Jerk It Out.' I sidle out of the pub back door unnoticed. Sat Nav takes me past the Stonelow Road ground. I park up on some snazzy housing estate.

The ground is part of the Gosforth Fields Sport Complex. It has a state-of-the-art 3G pitch which was opened by Sir Trevor Brooking in 2010. I amble across the adjoining Coal Aston Cricket Club. It's £3 on the gate and £1.50 for a copy of the 'Talk of the Town.'

The pitch is nestled in the bottom of a slope. It's another hidden gem. There's just the one, covered standing area. It's three-sided, with the far side out of bounds to supporters due to it not being hard-standing, I presume. The dug-outs are situated over there, so they'll be no banter to be heard today.

I have a little chat with Poppy the dog. I tell him that Finley my rabbit has predicted a 3-0 win for the visitors. Poppy cocks a deaf un. "Don't worry son, his predictions are usually wide of the mark."

I've racked-up a few grounds in the NCEL Div One. The standard isn't great, but there are plenty of goals in this League. Don't forget readers, Sticky doesn't do 0-0s. Today's visitors are Hall Road Rangers from East Yorkshire, near Beverley. They play in blue and white hoops similar to QPR. Dronfield don the Manchester City away strip of deep red and black stripes.

The form book suggests an away win. On the first half display, nothing could be further from the truth. Dronfield camp themselves in the visitors half, but don't look capable of finishing a dinner. Hall Road show glimpses of form on the counter-attack, with no end product. Dronfield take the lead just shy of half-time through Nick Horsfield.

Tea and coffee are served in the cricket club pavilion. I sit on the wooden bench looking out to the square, basking in the late autumnal sunshine. Twitter suggests that Sticky jnr's favourite player, Henri Lansbury, has scored a 'banger' for the Tricky Trees. Dronfield appear to have put the game to bed when an unchallenged Dan Wood squeezes his shot into the bottom corner.

Hall Road find their feet as the Dronfield skipper and 'keeper clash in a war of words. A cleverly crafted goal with 20 minutes remaining sets up a grandstand finish, with Dronfield deservedly holding out following a heavy spell of pressure from Rangers.

Man of the Match: Stan's Pub Guide

Attendance: 45

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Altrincham 4-1 Guiseley AFC

I'm traipsing out of a rain-soaked Huish Park in Yeovil. The Foxes have beaten the Glovers 2-1. A rather grumpy and drenched blog legend, Trumpy Bolton, is limping up the single track road with his dodgy right hip. It's a miserable mile and a half hike back to the soulless Premier Inn.

He rivals White Van Man in the snoring stakes. Sticky only grabs a few hours kip. Trumpy still manages a couple of pints with his breakfast at Wetherspoons in the village of Street - it's only 10:00. We call in at Evesham and Coventry for a beer on the way home.

It's Friday evening and I'm at the headquarters of Keyworth Cricket Club. I present a trophy in memory of my father to the 'Professor' who has broken a few Club records this season. I only have a couple of pints and am back home for News at Ten.

I begin to research the history of Altrincham FC. I follow their former captain Mark Maddox on Twitter. Mark was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease three years ago at the age of 37. His fundraising has been immense. In April of this year he became the first person to complete the London Marathon with MND. I really want to meet him tomorrow, so text him my number.

I drive up through what they call in our village 'the Bronx.' White Van Man' has invited me up for breakfast. Bacon and eggs are sizzling in the pan as I admire the panoramic view out of his back garden, of the church in Bradmore.

The 'Mayor of London' picks us up at 10:30; 'Dafty' is also on board. After 20 years of flogging himself to death in 'the City' the 'Mayor' has finally returned home to roost. He's renting a huge farmhouse in the Vale of Belvoir; it's like Jock Ewing's Southfork Ranch in Dallas.'The Mayor' is soon blowing a fuse at 'White Van Man's' bleeping and hooting sat nav. WVM is ordered to press the mute button.

We're treated to an ancedote from the 'Mayor' about the time he played a charity cricket match in Barnsley against a Coronation St and Emmerdale XI. That miserable bugger Boycott was sat in the stand. Anyway, that fat ginger lad, who's always stuffing himself with sweets from Dev's shop or hanging around the kebab shop, came on to throw a few pies (rather than eat them). The 'Mayor' dispatched him all over South Yorkshire; leaving the boy in bits. His Mum and Dad caught up with the 'Mayor' at Tea to give him a ticking-off.

That bloody A50 has let us down again - 'Workmen in the Road.' We pull into the Smoker pub just off the M6 in the village of Plumley. It's a 400 year old thatched roofed coaching inn. I'm straight on the Robinson's 'Dizzy Blonde' as we get comfortable on the swanky furniture, chewing over the crud. Jazz-rap group US3's 1993 hit Cantaloop is playing in the background.

'White Van Man's' stomach is rumbling, despite a hearty breakfast. He clocks 'the Good Catch', 'the best chip shop in Hale and Altrincham' opposite Alty's Moss Lane ground. I manage a meat and potato pie. We decide to head to the Alty Social Club as Man City and Everton kick off for the second half. Dafty and I pretend we're back abroad again by sinking a few San Miguels. I've took a day off from coaching today; we're in the Cup at Newark. My mate texts me to say our 'keeper has come with two right-handed gloves.

A little ginger-haired chap (a common theme in this blog) gently persuades our group to buy a golden goal ticket. There's shock news on Twitter, apparently Feargal Sharkey has been named in the England squad. Roy Hodgson said: "A good Hart these days is hard to find."According to the comedian Bob Mills, Leyton Orient have the chant of the year: "We are top of the League, we are staying up."

It's a rather steep £13 on the gate, to stand on the terraces and a further £2.50 for a bumper programme, which is honest and to the point about last week's shock exit from the FA Cup against Evostik North club Trafford. It's a huge financial blow for Alty. Winnings from that tie alone would have been £4500.

Altrincham is a market town within the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford in Greater Manchester, with a population of 40,000. Former England and Lancashire fast bowler, Paul Allot, was born in the town. Altrincham FC were founded in 1891.  They have knocked out more League sides in the FA Cup than any other team. Former players include: Ryan Shotton, Alex Stepney and Duncan Whatmore, who was recently signed by Sunderland. Former Australian cricket captain Ricky 'Punter' Ponting is a shareholder at the Club. They were voted Conference North Community Club of the Year for 2013.
Today's visitors are Guiseley AFC. Regular readers may recall how I left prodigal son, Sooty the puppet in the Guiseley urinals last autumn. Former well known players include:Geoff Horsfield, Frank Worthington, Keith Walwyn and Dean Walling.

As I walk out the toilets in the bar, I notice all the dignitaries tucking into sarnies and slurping cups of tea in a private room. A lady is handing out team-sheets. "Could I have one please?" "No" comes her curt reply.

The ground still has an old-skool feel about it. The playing surface is outstanding. We position ourselves opposite the Main Stand. Mr Burns, from The Simpsons, is sat in a fold-up chair next to us. The teams enter the field of play to Emerson Lake and Palmer's 'Fanfare to the Common Man.'

The tallest guy on the pitch is the referee. But boy, oh boy, does he fancy himself, with his slick back hair, like the footman on Downton Abbey. His warm-up is extreme. "You're not playing mate", shouts out an amused 'Mayor.' He's as fit as a butcher's dog.

The visitors don't play like a side that have lost four on the bounce. They take an early lead on 3.05pm through Michael Potts, following good work by Swain. I rip open my golden goal ticket to find it has 6 minutes on it. I'm in the money. I'll donate it to the MND charity. Alty Twitter says 7 minutes, strangely at half time they announce 3 minutes. Apparently we kicked off late due to the referee having a final few looks in the mirror.

Alty have been poor in the first half; Guiseley look great value and could have easily added to their lead. Their's a slight delay to proceedings whilst the ref nips across the road for a facial. He's looked in more mirrors than Snow White.

Alty manager Lee Sinnott has made a double substitution at the break. They look fired-up and energised. Guiseley are blown away with a four goal blitz in an eighteen minute whirlwind as the game is turned on its head. I feel desperately sorry for the travelling support; some of who make a very early exit. Matters aren't helped that former striker James Walshaw has bagged a hat-trick.

Attendance: 838

Man of the Match: James Walshaw

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Yeovil Town 1-2 Leicester City

Folk are asking where has he been. It's almost October and so far it's been a no show from the legend. He phones me up on Saturday morning. He's holed up with Mrs Trumpy in a Wetherspoons in Loughborough. The pub is packed to the rafters with Barnsley fans who have stopped off to re-fuel on their way to the King Power Stadium. It's music to my ears. Terrace tickets have been snapped up and a double room booked at the Yeovil Premier Inn: It's League ground No.75 and the chance to spend two days with Trumpy Bolton in Somerset.

It's Tuesday morning and the legend is limping heavily down his driveway. He's scheduled to have a hip operation on 1st November. The trademark blue coat, yellow and blue striped Polo shirt and navy tracksuit bottoms are on show. He slides his hand into a grey bag and lifts out his new Garmin sat nav. His old one has finally bit the dust. "The girl who gives directions has alzheimer's" chuckles a perky Bolton.

A pint of Tanglefoot and three slices of pate on toast have engergised him into an early start. A litre bottle of cider has the top twisted off. His right hand clenches the plastic bottle in a vice-like grip as he guzzles the cider like my car does petrol. Recent booze fuelled holidays have taken place in: Wetherby, York, Cornwall, Kent and Scotland.

The hip operation means a six week lay-off from work. He frets about how he'll fill his time. I'll treat him to a few magazines from the local newsagents and I don't mean Match Weekly or Shoot, readers. Battle commences on the Ken Bruce 'Pop Master' quiz. Trumpy is out-of-sorts and off form; Sticky Palms struggles too. Trumpy sneers and tuts at a trailer advertising Sarah Cox's Sound of the 80s show. He can't abide her.

We drive at a steady pace down the old Fosse Way. New readers to this blog may need a cold flannel or a glass of water and a sit down when they read about Trumpy Bolton's sole mission in life. He has a crumpled, old dog-eared atlas with each village and town marked-off with a highlight pen where he has had a drink. This obsession has been going on for over 35 years. Today is the opportunity for two more tick-offs for him.

First port of call is the Nog Inn in the horse-racing town of Wincanton. I have a pint of Otter from the Otter Brewery in Honiton, Devon. Trumpy has a cider and real ale. We both have a fish finger sandwich. We're soon pulling into pub number two in the picture postcard market town of Sherbourne in Dorset. I plump for a pint of Badger. A chef emerges from the kitchen and serves up some warm complimentary home-made pork crackling to customers in the bar.

After what seems an eternity we arrive at a characterless Premier Inn adjacent to a retail park. Yeovil is a town in the county of Somerset with a population of 45,000. One of its largest employers is Agusta Westland, who manufacture Westland helicopters.

The Glovers - Yeovil's nickname due to the town once being the centre of glove-making - were founded in 1895. Huish Park (capacity 9565) has been their home since 1990. They are the only Somerset-based club in the Football League. Their previous home, Huish, had a sideline to sideline slope of eight foot.

The Club's record transfer fee received is £1.2M from Nottingham Forest for Arron Davies and Chris Cohen in 2007. Record fee paid is £250,000 for Argentinean striker Pablo Bastianini from Quilmes Atletico Club. Previous well known managers include: miserable sod Ron Saunders, Fedora-wearing and big fat Havana cigar-smoking Malcolm Allison, Graham Roberts and Russell Slade.

Trumpy necks a swift one in a neighbouring pub to the motel, before we jump into a taxi which has been booked by Brendan off Coach Trip in Reception. The legend engages in conversation with the driver. "Where you from then chap" "Bulgaria eh. Reckon your lads will beat Chelsea tonight." "Er Trumpy, that's Bucharest in Romania pal" whispers an embarrassed Sticky.

The town centre is in desperate need of some tender loving care. It makes Mansfield look like St Tropez. We book another taxi at 7pm, agreeing to meet the driver at the rear door of J D Wetherspoon's William Dampier. It's as cheap as chips in here. Trumpy slips into top gear as we quaff pint after pint of Dorset Knob and Piddle. A darker side of life emerges outside as we wait for the cab. Large groups of intoxicated teenagers stagger in our direction. A young girl collapses on the pavement like a punch-drunk boxer. Our taxi driver arrives just in the nick of time.

This time the guy is Romanian. Trumpy repeats his earlier conversation. We're dropped off outside the ground. Bolton slopes off in search of further liquid refreshment. I stand at the top of the open terrace, absorbing the atmosphere and admiring the huge away following. The PA announcer pumps up the crowd with tunes from The Jam, The Hoosiers and Calvin Harris. T Bolton appears back on the scene, but he's blowing a gasket having had an altercation with one or two suited and booted Yeovil officials. It's a dry house with no public bars for away supporters.

The pace of the game is frightening and is far removed from the non league scene that dominates my life. Leicester's Dyer and Knockaert hare down the flanks. Their million pound strike-force of Nugent and Vardy are lively and exciting to watch. It's not a level playing field, or shouldn't be, as the excellent Gary Johnson wheels and deals in the bargain basement and loan market.

I notice Joe Ralls is playing for the Glovers; he's on loan from Cardiff. My boss and I watched him for Farnborough Town under 18s in the FA Youth Cup a few years ago at Buckingham. It was at the time of Munto and Sven. He played a couple of trial games for the Magpies before Munto Finance were exposed.

The Foxes attack with speed but their shooting is off the radar, Nugent, Vardy and King fail to work the 'keeper. Yeovil come into the game. Former Crewe Alex and Wycombe winger Joel Grant poses problems with his trickery. Only last ditch tackles and some smart stops by Schmeichel prevent Yeovil scoring their first home League goal of the season.

Leicester come out for the second half more fired-up. Lloyd Dyer brings a smile back to a sulking Bolton's face by scoring in the 54th minute, after exchanging passes with Nugent. On the hour it appears that Nugent has put the game to bed by thumping a penalty straight down the middle as Leicester run riot. Dyer misses a sitter after Vardy chases a lost cause.

An exciting ending is set up after a needless challenge by Moore sees substitute Hayter, who holds the record for the fastest-ever League hat-trick, reduce the arrears from the penalty spot. Leicester see out an agonizing last ten minutes as the heavens open on an uncovered Trumpy Bolton. His hair frizzes up like Kevin Keegan's used to at SV Hamburg.

Attendance: 6476

Man of the Match: Lloyd Dyer