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

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