Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ossett Albion 0-3 Padiham FC

I was reminded by Fod that I'd forgotten to mention Too Tall Tony's virtuoso performance on the recent Hull to Rotterdam stag weekend. He hit the sauce at breakfast time on Day 1 and I'm not talking tomato or brown, folks.  He ended up in the Guinness Book of Records for falling asleep in the most pubs in England and the Netherlands on a 24 hour bender . He left his party piece for the early hours of Sunday morning. So sozzled, was our Tony, that boat security had to wheel him back to his cabin, Sandy Richardson style - more like 'Too Tired Tony.'

Easter weekend is spent in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. It's a treat from Mrs P for my 50th. I use the Friday as an excuse to chalk off a few real ale pubs from out of the Good Pub Guide. The Café Royal is the crème de la crème, tucked away in a corner of West Registry Street. The weather is kind to us. We sunbathe in the delightful surroundings of Princes Park.

I'm back in rainy Nottingham and football is at the forefront of my mind. For my sins, this season, I've volunteered to coach two youth football teams. The season seems never ending. My eldest lad, Sticky jnr, has been known to run off at the mouth at referees and officials during a game. One drunken Stella Sunday I foolishly said that I would cough up £100 if he went the whole season without a yellow card. As it stands, with one game remaining, he has yet to receive a caution -GULP.

Murphy the budgie has got it on him this morning (Saturday) I've tuned into Mary Ann Hobbs on 6Music rather than Brian Matthew's 60s show on Radio 2. She plays Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel's 'White Lines' which reminds me of a hazy, lazy two weeks in Ibiza. Murphy cheers up when she plays 'Twenty Five Miles' by Northern Soul sensation Edwin Starr - he was found dead in the bath at his home near Nottingham in 2003.

Murphy, 'The Skipper' and Groundhopper are queuing up in the kitchen for a bacon sandwich. Mrs P drops the grill pan on the floor. Six rashers of bacon and a river of grease are on sitting on a floor tile. I remark it's a child protection issue when Mrs P swears in front of Murphy.

I firm up a date for the next Real Ale Trail around Nottingham with The Zuffler. It's on FA Cup final day, with a 1pm kick off in the Cock and Hoop. There was a good question on the Colin Murray Show yesterday: Who was the last player-manager to pick himself in the Premier League?

I have to give 'Howard Webb' a lift down to Dunkirk, as he's reffing an U12 title decider. I'm impressed with what's on view and make a mental note to follow up. The 50mph speed limit on the northern stretch of the M1 is an irritant.

Destination is Crofton, in West Yorkshire, home to Nostell Miners' Welfare and an area where the Bronte sisters were educated. I can't find a decent pub in the guide so opt for a re-visit to the Brewers Pride in Ossett, adjacent to the Ossett Brewery. It has  olde worldy charm about it and has a bustling main bar. I grab a pint of Durham Citra Nova and a steak baguette.

I'm scrolling down the Evostik Division One North fixtures when I notice that Ossett Albion are playing Padiham from Burnley in Lancashire. Ooh, I've never seen those two teams before. I'll put Nostell MW on the back-burner. Murphy will be cross as he's predicted a 4-0 win for the visitors Pickering Town.

Ossett is a market town in the metropolitan district of Wakefield in West Yorkshire, with a population of just over 20,000.  The town is mentioned in the song ‘It’s Grim up North’ by cult alternative techno group KLF. Famous folk from the Ossett include: Stan Barstow, Black Lace, Helen Worth (Gail off Corrie) and the novelist David Peace of the Damned United fame.

The drive to Dimple Wells Road is a breeze. Adjacent to the football ground a cricket match is taking place. A ring rusty batsman fails to keep a low delivery out, as the bails go flying up in the air.

It's £7 on the gate and £2 for the programme. That Durham Citra Nova has done for me, it's time for a toilet inspection. It's a good start, they have Armitage Shanks but they could do with Sticky Palms Cleaning Services as they are filthy.

I like the rugged look of the ground. It has soul and character. I stand on the far side close to the goal that Ossett will attack. Behind me are sweeping views out towards Emley, with it's big tower of a transmitter dominating the skyline.

It's a bloody nightmare trying to jot the teams down as the PA guy has a Norman Collier faulty microphone moment. I'm sure he says that Benjamin Britton is on the subs bench, so at least we'll be good for a tune at half-time.

Ossett play with the wind behind them and enjoy the lion's share of possession. Padiham have pace and technique in their locker. Kieran Pickup thumps a half volley from miles out, only to see it bounce back off the crossbar.

I've got some guy next to me with a headphone in one ear who repeatedly shouts out 'bloody hell' like Dave off the Royle Family. On my other side are two referee assessors. They won't have much to report as the young man in the middle is brilliant.

I bump into Zac a 5 year old Springer Spaniel at the break. He supports the Albion. Not missed a game home or away for two seasons, apart from Lancaster City, where dogs are banned. His owners' lad plays left back. I say lad; he's 42.

Ossett's 19 year old loan 'keeper from Rotherham is caught napping as a 40 yard free-kick catches the wind and sails over his head to give Padiham the lead. On the hour Mark Sharples doubles their lead with a smart finish, following good work down the left.

The best player on view, Kieran Pickup, puts the game to bed in the dying embers. I check the score from Nostell as I exit the ground. It's 4-0 to Pickering. "Bloody Hell, Finley."

Man of the Match: Referee, Luke Watson

Attendance: 227

Quiz answer: Stuart McCall

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lutterworth Athletic 2-3 Irchester United

It's 8:45 on a Saturday morning. I'm stood chinwagging to White Van Man in the Keyworth Tavern car park. A ruddy-faced gentleman emerges from a car. He's wearing a navy blue Berghaus coat, a blue and yellow-striped polo shirt and tracksuit bottoms. Tucked under his arm are four cans of Tanglefoot ale from the Badger Brewery. He's probably already necked a can of McEwans and had pate on toast for breakfast.

The chap's name is Trumpy Bolton. He has dominated the pages of this blog for over six years. Today is his stag weekend. We're off to Hull, via Goole, final destination: Rotterdam. The banter is flying about on the mini bus, as Brian Matthew's Sound of the 60s show on Radio 2 is piped out the speakers. I'm already pining for Murphy the budgie. We're seldom apart.

We mull over the morning papers during a breakfast stop at the City and County 'Spoons' in Goole. Everyone has a tip or two for the Grand National. We have the race covered off. Next stop is the port of Hull. Famous Hullensians include: William Wilberforce, Amy Johnson, Sir Tom Courtenay, Maureen Lipman, Paul Heaton of The Housemartins, John Prescott, Dean Windass and Nicky Barmby.

We're holed up in another Wetherspoons. The boys are happy though, racing from Aintree is on the big screen. There's complete and utter silence as Pineau De Re romps home in the National. The pub floor is decorated in ripped up betting slips.

It's carnage on the ferry to Rotterdam. Over 100 Dutch marines mob the casino and main bar area. Little Clem breakdances and spins on his head. A Dutch marine matches him pound for pound. Mr Moonshine, fresh from the National, shows his behind through the stage curtains. Boat security guards whisk our man away to a standing ovation from both the Dutch and English contingent. Thankfully all the kids are in bed.

Eight sore heads make their way to Rotterdam by coach. Big and Little Clem tip up 2 hours later in a rickshaw, having been booted out their cabin by 'our friends' from Security. Highlight of the day is seeing 'White Van Man' forking out out nearly 8 Euros for a vodka.

We watch 'The Arsenal' suffer a 3-0 drubbing at Goodison Park in a tidy little Irish Bar in the drinking quarter of the city. The trip home is less eventful but just as enjoyable as Fod and Trumpy come to the party. I retire to my pit at 2:00pm back in Nottingham after a few sherberts enroute home. I'm too old for this.

It's Saturday morning and I'm down on the banks of the River Trent at Dunkirk FC's Lenton Lane ground. 'The Skipper' is refereeing a top of the table junior football game. It's an absolute cracker and has the lot. Unfortunately it ends 0-0. Sticky Palms doesn't do 0-0s. I'm flipping fuming. The last one I saw was Hinckley v Luton in the FA Trophy. Andre Gray skinned the Hatters alive that night. He signed for Luton for £20,000 the following day. He's leading scorer in the Conference Premier. Wonder what he's worth now?

The ride to Lutterworth is a piece of cake.  We exit at Junction 20. Mrs P has nicked the Tom Tom. I've scribbled down a route to a pub called the Grey Goose in the village of Gilmorton. It has a lavish bar and open fire. I grab a sandwich and a pint of San Miguel.

It's a short drive to Lutterworth Athletic's Hall Park complex. Lutterworth is a market town in the Harborough district of Leicestershire, with a population of 8,000. In the days of the stagecoach Lutterworth was a stopping place on the road from Leicester to Oxford and London.

Sir Frank Whittle, the inventor of the jet engine, developed some of the world's first jet engines at the British Thomson Houston works in Lutterworth. The Brightwell brothers, David and Ian, were born in the town.

I can hear Sky's signature tune 'Alive and Kicking' by Simple Minds as I part with £5 on the gate. The programme is £1 and frankly a waste of money. It's a typical out of town ground; soulless and characterless. Although they do have the Mark English Stand on the far side of the ground. The grass could do with cutting too.

The turnstile operator is on good form though. "I'd have sent you down Costa Coffee in town if I'd know you were going to drink that muck they serve in the Clubhouse." Big Clem sends me a message to see if I'm popping down to the NSL Groundhop Day at Keyworth United. 370 hoppers have rocked up at Platt Lane.

Lutterworth look like they been told to turn up and they'll win. Irchester take the lead early on and look sharp in the final third. To be fair Finley my rabbit and Murphy the budgie could run rings around the 'Atho' back four. Irchester don't look like a side with no wins in 12 games, while you'd be shocked to hear that Lutterworth are in the top three. The visitors take a well deserved 3-1 scoreline into the break with them.

The wind drops leaving cotton wool shaped clouds and blue skies. The visitors fail to put the game to bed as the missed chances stack up. Lutterworth pull one back, leaving Irchester's nerves jangling for the final 20 minutes.

Attendance: 30 (head count)

Man of the Match: Big Clem & Little Clem

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hallam 0-2 Shirebrook Town

An invitation to the Wedding of the Year popped through the letterbox this week. Blog legend Trumpy Bolton will be tying the knot in May. The ceremony will take place at the Rothley Court Hotel in Leicestershire. It's a place that former England Test captain was allegedly caught with his pants down. The chambermaid left his room tidy.

Plans were afoot for a stag weekend in the Isle of Man. I quite fancied a night in Liverpool, followed by a trip on the ferry and a stop-over in Douglas. We'd even been invited to attend a game in the Isle of Man Premier League by a chairman of a club. Imagine my horror on discovering that we now face a day In Hull, two nights on a North Sea ferry and eight hours in Rotterdam. Trumpy can't half pick em.

The weekend is a quiet one on the football front. My under 16s nick a point off Radcliffe Olympic. I celebrate in the Rancliffe Arms, in the village of Bunny, with a homemade steak and kidney pie washed down with a couple of pints of Jennings Lakeland Stunner.

It's Sunday afternoon. I've had a miserable morning up in D H Lawrence territory. I went to watch a lad play who quit the club the week before. It's a no show from him and Sticky ain't happy. I get the lawn mower out, well actually it's Finley Palmer the rabbit, who doubles-up as the worst non league pundit this country has ever seen.

I mow my back lawn up and down for over half an hour. I catch the little monkey scampering down to the bottom of the garden and diving under the shed. He remains there for over three hours. I entice the Bolt out with a carrot.

Hallam FC's Sandygate Lane is the 'Oldest Ground in the World.' Quite how I've failed to chalk it off in eight years of groundhopping remains a mystery. The M1 is a pain in the arse with its long stretches of two lane carriageway with 50mph speed limits.

I've Simon Mayo and his Radio 2  'Confessions' for comfort. He plays Southern Soul Memphis band Booker T and the MG's 1962 smash hit 'Green Onions.' Bloody hell, who's responsible for the road system in Sheffield. It doesn't help matters that I've not updated my Tom Tom for six years. After what seems an eternity a rather grumpy and stressed out Groundhopper arrives in the leafy, middle-class suburb of Crosspool (population 7000) in Sheffield. Olympic athlete Sebastian Coe was brought up in the area.

Hallam FC were formed in 1860 and are the second oldest football club in the world. Former Owls and 'Dirty Leeds' manager Howard Wilkinson once played for the club. In 2010 well known local referee Uriah Rennie was unveiled as Club President.

I pull into the car park of a tired-looking Plough Inn, opposite the ground. I could do with a bite to eat but the barman says that they don't serve food on a Monday and Tuesday. The place is as dead as doornail. The classic tune 'Take it Easy' by the Walker Brothers is followed up by Thin Lizzy's 'Killer on the Loose' on the pub's i-Pod shuffle. I quaff a pint of Farmer Blonde from the Bradfield Brewery in Sheffield. It's a beauty, to be fair. And so is the ground across the road.

It's £5 on the gate. In 2010 a supporter of the Club, Roger Bell, left hundreds of thousands of pounds in his will to Hallam FC. They have spent the money wisely. There's a beautiful, brick-built clubhouse as you enter the ground. The main stand, with its blue and white tip-up seats, provides a birds-eye view of the surrounding countryside and neighbouring cricket club. I grab a sausage roll from the tea hut as I amble around the ground. I stand at the bottom of the vicious slope and admire the beauty and charm of this glorious old ground.

Shirebrook Town, from north Nottinghamshire are warming-up behind the far goal. It's the birthplace of Elephant Man actor John Hurt. I take note of their accuracy in the shooting drill prior to the game. They take an early lead in the fourth minute with Aaron Pride blasting the ball into the net.

I notice former Nottingham Forest striker Tom Mullen is playing up top for the visitors. He trialled for Rangers after being released by the Tricky Trees, but suffered a serious knee injury.

There's certainly no love lost between the two sides as the tackles fly in. Referee Daniel Bennett from West Yorkshire is dishing out more cards than Clintons. Both sides return to the dressing room with the full compliment of players.

I reckon the Hallam PA guy has been on the Farmer Blonde. The sound system is spewing out Billy Ocean's 'Red Light Spells Danger.' Surely referee Bennett will be marching up to the Press Box to brandish a red card for this off-the-ball incident.

Shirebrook 'keeper Sam Andrew has been impressive in the first period. His communication and distribution are first-class. A neighbouring fan remarks how he's a dead ringer for Westlife 'singer' Brian McFadden.

Shirebrook put the game to bed with a close range finish by the unfortunately named Steven Wankiewicz. I exit the main stand and walk past a proper hopper, whose programme sits neatly in a plastic cover, whilst mine is scrunched up in my back pocket.

Attendance: 45

Man of the Match: The Walker Brothers