Sunday, February 14, 2016
Bromsgrove Sporting 0-1 Nuneaton Griff
It's 2am in the early hours of Wednesday morning. I've woken up with a start. My stomach is making more rumbling noises than the island's volcano, Mount Teide. I'd scoffed a seafood pizza earlier in the evening. It's come back to haunt me. An hour later the inevitable happens, again and again and again. I spend the rest of Thursday in searing heat on bottled water reading Stuart Maconie's 'The Pie at Night.'
We're back in Old Blighty on Thursday evening, it's blooming freezing. Murphy the budgie is pleased as punch to see me. He's perched on my hand listening to my tales in Tenerife. He reminds me that our favourite programme, Death in Paradise, is on BBC1 tonight.
It's Friday evening and I'm on the Trent Barton Keyworth connection bus. I'm meeting Sticky jnr and 'The Skipper' in the Pear Tree sports bar. I dish out some duty free gifts to the boys. Dafty joins us for a few beverages. DJ Stag is knocking out some retro toons. 'Michael Buble' is on here tomorrow night for a Valentine's Tribute Night - I think I'll give it the swerve.
I finish the night in the 'World renowned' Trent Bridge Inn - the most expensive Wetherspoons in the UK. I bump into a couple of old mates, Chopper and KUFC legend Willy Gee. I have a trot down Radcliffe Road, before venturing into the Spice kebab shop for my first one of the season. The miserable sods behind the counter aren't up for banter, though.
Bromsgrove Sporting has been on the Hopper radar for some time now. I met the old assistant manager of Bromsgrove Rovers in Cleethorpes, from back in the day, when they were pushing hard for promotion to the Football League. The guy is a director at Alvechurch now - his name escapes me.
We stick to the M42 like shit to a blanket. Graham Norton has somehow managed to remain on the car radio. He plays 'Instinction' by Spandau Ballet and 'The Hustle' by Van McCoy. First port of call today is Bromsgrove Cemetery.
We park the car opposite St John's Church. A couple of well known people are buried in the churchyard. It's a good twenty minutes before I chance upon the first one. Anthony Pratt was the inventor of the board game Cluedo. He sold the patent onto Waddington board games for a tidy sum. Former wrestler and actor Pat Roach is also laid to rest here. He is better known as 'Bomber' from the hit 80s TV series Auf Wiedersehen Pet. Pat also played parts in Indiana Jones, a Bond film, Rising Damp, Clockwork Orange and more memorably Heartbeat (Sticky and Murph's favourite).
A couple of people are tending their loved ones graves. In hindsight, I perhaps shouldn't have asked them where Pat's grave was. One was particularly upset. Nobody seems to know though. After a thorough search of Extension B we give up the ghost. It's bloody embarrassing to be honest. Pat was 6 ft 5 inches and nearly 20 stone. It must be one helluva grave. I didn't have this problem finding that fat lad Daniel Lambert in Stamford.
We're running late for lunch now. We pull into the car park of gastro pub the Queens Head in Stoke Pound. It's recently been refurbished by the Lovely Pubs group. The jet set of Bromsgrove have turned out in force this lunchtime. The place is stacked out with folk. I grab a pint of HPA from the Wyre Valley brewery. There's Bob, Maurice and no hope of getting any food here.
Ms Moon squeezes the Insignia into a car parking space at Bromsgrove Sporting's Victoria Ground. The steward is a lovely chap, my club official of the season by a country mile. He tells us a few gags, including the time he declined the Chairman a parking spot because he turned up late. He merrily limps away using a stick as a walking aid.
It's £6 on the gate and £1.50 for an excellent programme. The ground is an absolute belter. The old school Stand on the far side is a must-see. Ms Moon dashes towards the snack bar. She picks the local delicacy, a chicken Balti pie, I opt for chips and curry sauce. We wander over to the glorious old stand, taking a pew on the front row to the right of the halfway line. The Club DJ plays an interesting set that the Pear Tree's DJ Stag would learn a lesson or two from. Songs from the Manic Street Preachers, Cheap Trick, Travis and The Verve brighten up the day.
I venture out into the cold, heading over towards the snack bar. I order up a piping hot cup of Bovril and give the old pepper pot a good shake. I muck up Ms Moon's coffee order by clicking a couple of Sweetex in. She's proper got the face on.
The guy next to me has a Bromsgrove rattle, which fascinates me. He's accompanied by an American guy who is comedy gold. He shouts out encouragement to the home team. Near misses are met with "sugar" or "nuts." A Griff player is poleaxed by a shuddering challenge. "Get up you big Jessie", shouts out our American friend.
'Mr Bean' has refereed today's game. He's a tall and gangly guy. He communicates with the players well, and you couldn't argue with many of the seven yellow cards he has brandished in 90 minutes.
The only goal of the game is superbly executed by substitute Luke Shorthouse. They manage to hang on for a win despite a long range effort from Bromsgrove hitting the inside of the post and rolling along the face of the goal.
Man of the match: The Car Park Attendant.