Sunday, April 17, 2016

Handsworth Parramore 5-0 Armthorpe Welfare

There are pivotal moments and small margins in any sport, I witnessed such one 12 months ago. I was stood shoulder to shoulder in a raucous away end at Turf Moor with a beer-fuelled Trumpy Bolton, watching a nerve-jangling, nail-biting relegation tussle between Burnley and Leicester. The Clarets Matthew Taylor scuffed a penalty off the outside of the post. Thirty seconds later Leicester's Marc Albrighton hared up the line, his cross was bundled home by Jamie Vardy. A draw or loss up in the Pennines could have spelled curtains for the Foxes.

Fast forward a year and look at them now. One of their talisman is skipper Wes Morgan, a bargain buy from down the A46 road in Nottingham. He was brought up in the Meadows, a tough inner-city estate, rife with crime and drug dealing. Big Wes was released by the Pies as a 14 year old. He refused an offer to return there two years later because of weight issues, opting instead to ply his trade with local Non League outfit Dunkirk FC. He was soon spotted by Nottingham Forest and played on trial at a game in Sheffield. John Pemberton offered him a contract if he promised to wear a bin bag for a year and shed two stone. The rest is history.

Leicester City's biggest fan is blog legend Trumpy Bolton. This incredible man has followed the club's fortunes through thick and thin. He's hooking up with me on Saturday for a day out in Scunthorpe. He's comedy gold and a writer's dream.

Tuesday evening is spent at the gorgeous setting of Attenborough FC's Strand ground, on the edge of a nature reserve. Wollaton are the visitors, as they chase down a second consecutive NSL title. The Taxman, a groundhopper from Essex and I are treated to an enthralling game of football. Attenborough score a wonder goal, when a Nick Knight 60 yard ping from out on the left is hammered into the roof of the net with a first-time volley from a 16 year old winger. Wollaton leave it late, until the last kick of the game, to snatch a victory that is harsh on the Attenborough young guns.

It's Friday tea-time and I'm with Ms Moon in the Malt Cross on St James's Street, just off Nottingham's Market Square. It's a refurbished former Victorian music hall, with a vaulted glass roof and a gallery that looks down onto the bar area. I sink the 'Pint of the Season' Navigation's Charles Henry Strange IPA. It has a kick like a mule, and doesn't half get my juices flowing.

It's tipped it down with rain all night. Bottesford Town, near Scunthorpe, have assured me that their ground drains like a sieve. Photos on twitter suggest different, as pools of standing water put the game in doubt.

I'm down a sleepy West Bridgford at 8:30am. I collect the football kit from the laundrette and grab a bacon cob for breakfast at No.8 Deli.  I check-in with Trumpy Bolton, we have a couple of back-up games at Gainsborough and Handsworth Parramore, who play in Worksop and would count as a tick-off.

Bolton is wandering his way through the 'The Bronx' when I clock him on Spinney Road. Graham Norton is playing Geordie synthpop band Dubstar as Bolton clambers his way into the front seat, plonking down a litre bottle of cider in the footwell. He shakes my hand and wishes me a Happy New Year.

I've inserted my Leicester City ear filter. It's to no avail as Trumpy rattles on about his three day bender in the city of Sunderland last weekend, which is topped off with a Jamie Vardy double. He has no recollection of returning to his Premier Inn headquarters on Saturday evening. The legend announces he's booked two nights in Glasgow in July when the Foxes take on Celtic in the International Champions Cup.

Trumpy has a pub to tick-off in the village of Kirton in Lindsey, it's where Catherine Parr the sixth wife of King Henry VIII once used to live. It's a tidy little town, but the Queen's Head isn't much to write home about. Bolton downs a pint in a time that would have had Roy Castle excitedly clicking his stop watch and Norris McWhirter confirming him to be a record breaker.

Next port of call is The Shires just down the road. A pint of distinctly average Black Sheep Ale is accompanied with a chip cob. 'Stevie Don't Wonder' by Olly Murs hastens our departure. I sneak Graham Norton back on as Trumpy guzzles his way through his litre of pear cider. We both singalong to 'This Charming Man' by The Smiths. I check my twitter timeline, Bottesford Town confirm that they've been hosed off.

We pop into the White Swan in Blyth enroute to Worksop, it's a nice little Good Pub Guide tick-off. Bolton necks another pint before one of his infamous sneezing fits. Handsworth's twitter is reporting a cloud burst along with puddles of water on the pitch; we're going to end up watching Linby Colliery Welfare v Keyworth United at this rate.

Parking is a nightmare on Sandy Lane. We abandon the car across the road. We're hesitant to pay-in as a grumpy official won't confirm whether the game is on or not. There are pools of water in the goalmouth.

Trumpy's gone missing, he'll be lining-up the Strongbow. I get gassing to a youth coach, who's a really nice guy. I mention I saw Handsworth U19s earlier in the season and how taken aback I was at the behaviour of their bench towards the match officials. They were 2-0 down at the time, a scenario they weren't familiar with. Top of the table Handsworth Parramore were formed in 2014, due to a merger between Handsworth FC and Worksop Parramore. Handsworth is a city centre suburb in Sheffield. Notable folk from Handsworth include the actor Sean Bean and my nasty budgie Murphy Palmer.

Fat Boy Slim is on the PA. Mansfield Town have thumped Notts County 5-0 in a lunchtime kick off at Field Mill. The clouds have lifted, the wind has dropped and the sun is beaming. Armthorpe is in South Yorkshire, it's where former England and Liverpool striker Kevin Keegan was born. They are in the nether regions of the Northern Counties League, you wouldn't have thought so as they are out the traps fast. No.9, 'Charlie' is too good for these. His touch and movement bamboozle the Handsworth defence. It's no wonder they leaked 5 goals up at Tadcaster last week.

Armthorpe are punished for the chances they have spurned, a header from Will Eades just before the break put the hosts into the lead. I can't find Trumpy for love or money at half-time. What is more baffling is the no-show from him in the bar. I catch him wiping flakes of pastry away from his mouth after wolfing a chicken and balti pie. He has a Twix bar and another cider for dessert.

Poor old Armthorpe couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo. 'Charlie' has a hammer of a left foot, he sees a couple of efforts whistle over the goal. How they've managed not to register a goal, God only knows. Handsworth bang in a further four goals as the vistors heads drop and the towel is thrown in. Kieran Wells scores the third goal with an outrageous finish with the outside of his boot. He's somehow a friend on Facebook, I don't recall a bromance. He does hilarious live chats and is well worth a follow.

We finish the day off with a beautiful pint of Bass at the Earl of Chesterfield in Shelford. There's a comedy moment on a garage forecourt in Cotgrave when we spend 15 minutes ringing Bolton's phone, which he has managed to mislay. We finally find it wedged under the seat of the car.

Attendance: 74

Man of the Match: Trumpy and Charlie

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi there - I am working on a new non-league football magazine and putting together a piece on groundhoppers, would be great to speak to you. Could you send an e-mail to if you're up for it? Thanks!