Sunday, December 17, 2017

Lincoln City 2-0 Accrington Stanley

God strewth, it's been a miserable week on the football front. Gainsborough Trinity was frosted off on Tuesday. The following evening I could have gone to Carlton Town, but its Stoke Lane ground is open to all the elements, plus they have an elderly chap who bangs his bloody drum all night.

I've been confined to the bargain buy Next armchair for most of the week, reading a book called 'Six Stickers', which has raised a few smiles. It's about a guy who discovers an old 1996 Panini sticker album in his parents' loft. He flicks through it, only to discover that six stickers are missing. The book records his comical, laugh out loud attempts at tracking down the players across Europe so he can take a photo of them to complete the album. The players, who are good sports are: Keith Curle, Lars Bohinen, Stuart Ripley, Phillipe Albert, Scott Minto and Gary Penrice.

I can still confirm that 99% of contestants on Tipping Point are as thick as a brick and that Bradley Walsh is still dyeing his hair on The Chase. In other news, the M1 is still going straight through the Dingles' yard and Oscar-winning actor, Michael Le Vell, (Kevin Webster) is back on the set in Corrie.

It's Friday tea-time and I've hot-footed it through the streets of St Ann's, onto Mansfield Road and waltzed through the door of Wisdom Hairdressers- the best barbers, bar none, in Nottingham. All the lads, with scissors in hand, are from Kurdistan - Sticky loves them all to bits. The old 'Barnet Fair' gets a good old shearing - it's changing colour (grey) faster than Bradley Walsh's.

Blimey Charlie, this Christmas shopping malarkey is thirsty work, I think I'll nip into the Herbert Kilpin, my favourite watering hole, for a quick scoop. Crikey Moses it's a bit quiet in here. My tongue is salivating at the prospect of a real ale, as I clock the Kilpin beer pump on the bar; it'll be down the hatch in the blink of an eye. The landlord is sat in a corner of the downstairs bar tossing it off on his tablet. "Sorry mate, we have a private party on, we're closed." I feel the red mist beginning to descend with a hate that is only reserved for Mansfield Town manager Steve Evans.

The Herbert Kilpin has sold its soul to Santa. It's a different story on Sunday lunchtimes when I'm handing over lolly in an empty bar, whilst watching another dreary 0-0 in Serie A. Well I tell you what, I'm done with all those beard-stroking hipsters!

It's Saturday morning 4:15. My outstretched hand reaches out to the bedside table, as I fumble around for my phone. I check the cricket score from Australia. Jeez, Steve Smith's scored another big ton.  I don't bother switching the TV on five hours later. The Ashes are gone and Greengrass is up before the beak on Heartbeat for the umpteenth time.

We're on the road at eleven bells. I'm in radio heaven as Colin Murray is hosting the brilliant Fighting Talk. They asked a cracking question the other week: Who scored the fastest ever goal in the Premiership? (answer at the bottom of the blog).

Ms Moon's got the 'face on', she's sick and tired of Five Live. We have to switch over to Absolute 80s (yawn). I continue my tour of the UK's best fish and chip shops as we pull into the 'Sea Queen' on Rookery Lane, on the outskirts of Lincoln city centre. Britney Spears' 'Toxic' is on the chippy radio as two mini haddocks, chips and peas are served up

We're parked up two hours before kick-off and only a ten minute walk away from Sincil Bank. Ms Moon randomly announces she fancies getting her nails done. There's no shortage of takers as Lincoln's High Street has more nail bars than Albert Square.

I spend lunchtime sitting on a wall gazing at Lincoln Cathedral, which is bathed in winter sunshine. An eastern European trio, playing an accordion, saxophone and keyboards, strike up some tunes. I do a little jig before throwing some money into the hat.

Third-placed Accrington Stanley are in town with an in-form Imps chasing their tails. Accrington is a town in Lancashire four miles east of Blackburn and six miles west of Burnley, with a population of over 50,000. It is well known as once being the centre for cotton and textile manufacturing. It is also famed for producing the Accrington Brick which was used to build the foundations of the Empire State Building and Blackpool Tower. Another well-known association the town has is the 'Accrington Pals' the nickname given to the smallest home town battalion of volunteers formed to fight in the First World War - 865 men were killed from the town during the War. I'm raising money next season for Help for Heroes to commemorate 100 years since the end of the War.

Notable born and bred from Accrington include: Dire Straits drummer Andy Kanavan, Jon Anderson the lead singer of rock band Yes, Coronation St actresses Vicky Entwistle (Janice Battersby) and Julie Hesmondhalgh (Hayley Cropper), ex-Test cricketer Graeme Fowler, Sky commentator David 'Bumble' Lloyd, astrologer 'Mystic Meg' and former Manchester United defender Mike Duxbury.

Sticky Palms and Ms Moon had a lovely afternoon and evening out in Accrington a few seasons' back. Before taking in the League Two game versus the Stags of Mansfield, we visited the picture postcard town of Whalley in the Ribble Valley and dined out for tea at the Aspinall Arms in Great Mitton. We both adored The Crown at Accrington Stanley (the ground, not the pub). I seem to remember that less than 1,000 turned up on a balmy summer's evening. Their brilliant manager, John Coleman, and his backroom team deserve more than that. They sit third in the table on a shoestring budget. Accrington have the 23rd lowest average crowd (1,699) in League Two, Lincoln on the other hand top the table at 8,608 as the Cowley affect continues.

We're shoehorned into a corner of the back row in the Selenity Stand. To view the goal at the Stacey West end of the ground we have to look through a dirty old window (can we have it cleaned please, Danny?).

The Lincoln DJ plays it safe with the Dave Clark Five, Bruno Mars and Tears for Fears. My stomach begins to churn as the players emerge from the tunnel - if I came to every game then St John's would be on full alert. My last viewing of the Imps was at Swindon Town's County Ground. We played them off the park but left it late when my hero Sean Raggett brought home the bacon. I sang in the car all the way home.

It's nip and tuck in the first 20 minutes as both teams eye each other up. Lincoln begin to get on top. I love watching Harry Anderson galloping down the right flank. He's a speed merchant with a much improved final ball. It's the same old story as 'The Lincoln' are either thwarted by the 'keeper or by last-gasp clearances.

The game is officiated by Sebastian Stocksbridge (it's no surprise he's a school teacher, sorry Danny Cowley). I remember this bungling fool down at Meadow Lane earlier in the season. We were controlling the game until the blithering idiot sent off Billy Knott for a 'foot up' as it was trending at the time from a Sadio Mane incident at the Etihad Stadium - we lost 4-1 and fair play to Notts who were terrific in the second half. He must still have a guilty conscience as Lincoln are given the softest of soft penalties. The industrious Matt Green dusts himself down before planting the ball into net for his fourth goal in four games - thank you Steve Evans for letting him go on a Bosman.

The game's been on simmer for some time. Big Rhead is putting himself about and Stanley don't like it up 'em. Cowley drapes an arm around his shoulder and pulls him away from a baying pack of seething Stanley players at half-time. Lincoln are physically and mentally stronger than the Lancastrians.

The Lincoln DJ goes hell for leather and proper old skool with 'Rappers Delight' and 'The Message' at the break. Ms Moon has drunk more coffee than PC Alf Ventress off Heartbeat. Sticky knows 'The Lincoln' need a second goal to be sure. Accrington are down to ten men with 'Seb' controversially sending off Nottingham lad Farrend Rawson (on loan from D***y) - a boy who I scouted at 11 years old that Forest didn't fancy.

The game's never in doubt following a cool finish by Matt Rhead who's celebrating a contract extension until 2019. Credit to Harry Anderson and Neil Eardley for great work down the wing. I can chillax for the first time in ages - Stanley aren't going to score in a month of Sundays. I spend the rest of the second half having banter with 50/50 ticket seller, Paul, who's a cracking lad.

Attendance: 7,696 (135 from Accrington)

Man of the Match: Paul the 50/50 ticket seller - great banter

Quiz answer: Ledley King

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