Sunday, October 28, 2018
We walk for an hour around Colwick Country Park, adjacent to Nottingham Racecourse, on a beautiful, autumnal Sunday morning. The leaves are changing colour; the setting is peaceful and tranquil until we bump into around 200 bleating Canadian Geese sat on the lake - I avoid these buggers like the plague, particularly when I'm cycling.
I exit the car on Weekday Cross and slip down a passageway next to the Ibis Hotel. I swing open the front door of the Herbert Kilpin and shout up a pint of Kilpin from the Black Iris Brewery. I watch the fag end of a seven-goal thriller in Serie A - Sticky doesn't do 0-0s. I pop into the Six Barrel Drafthouse on Carlton Street and the Fox and Grapes in Sneinton before settling in for the evening.
I have a daft £1 bet on Crystal Palace, Serbian international midfielder, Luka Milivojevic, to score the first goal of the game up at Goodison Park on Merseyside; he's at a juicy odds of 28/1. I'm proper cross six hours later when I see the blithering idiot fluff his spot-kick on Match of the Day.
Monday is Lincoln manager Danny Cowley's 40th birthday. This living legend has turned our Club on its head with his younger brother, Nicky, and has brought back a feel-good-factor around the city not seen since the late great Keith Alexander was the manager of the Imps.
The Club have given Danny the honour of picking a playlist of his favourite tunes to be played before the clash with Carlisle United. Being a Cockney he's bound to have some Blur, The Jam and The Clash up his sleeve. I'm so excited about the sell-out game at Sincil Bank as I hurtle down the A46 on Tuesday tea-time.
I park the 'Rolls Royce' at my lucky spot outside the old people's home on St Botolph's Crescent, where my Nana, Lucy, spent her last few years. I peg it up the High Street past the Ritz, where I'll have an all-nighter if we beat 'Dirty Mansfield' on November 24th. I slip down a walkway onto the Brayford Waterfront. I like having some pre-match pasta at ASK Italian, which is rammed full of Imps fans. As per normal, I'm one of the first folks to go through the turnstile at Sincil Bank just before 7pm. I sit high up at the back of the Selenity Stand, where I have no recollection of the last time I saw the Mighty Imps lose a game.
There's some strange music blasting out of the PA. Michael Jackson's 'Man in the Mirror' and Lionel Ritchie's 'Destiny.' I look at Lincoln's Twitter account and notice DC's playlist - blimey they were his picks, along with Elton John. Danny, are you sure you're only 40?
Tonight's visitors, Carlisle, have a makeshift central defender who usually plays as a striker and Steven Gerrard's cousin, Anthony Gerrard , playing as his partner. It's an exciting first half which ends 2-2. Carlisle are great value and have caused our defence some uncomfortable moments with their hassling, harrying and movement. The second half is a non-event with the game ending in a stalemate. Danny Cowley is furious at the end of match Press conference, not only at the sloppy defending but also that they were unable to water the pitch due to an internal cock up - I prefer to blame it on some of those song choices, Danny.
The highlight on Friday is a reduced 20p off a cheese and pickle sandwich at Tesco. I spend the early evening with 'The Keyworth Georgie Best' and 'Sizzers', the hottest property in the Notts Senior League. I've allowed them a night out - we haven't got a game tomorrow. We have some tea at the 'World renowned iconic Trent Bridge Inn' (a posh 'Spoons) in West Bridgford. I've got my 50p off CAMRA vouchers again and Liberation is a guest ale - it's a steal at £1.65 - you wouldn't get a Latte, Mocha or Flat White for a sniff of that down 'The Avenue', the coffee capital of Notts. We sink a few more at a refurbished Southbank Bar, before I'm very kindly dropped off at base camp by Sticky jnr's girlfriend, Alix.
Blimey Charlie, I've got a banging head on Saturday morning. It was well worth it though, to spend some time with Sticky jnr. Ms Moon is off to Cheltenham at the weekend to help her daughter find some accommodation, as she has just landed a job as restaurant manager at The Botanist. I won't need any excuses to visit the Regency spa town and get the odd game in somewhere in the Cotswolds.
I'm off out to the Fens to pick up my best mate from school, 'Ackers' for a day out in Suffolk. He has legendary status in our village for being accident-prone and the worst driver since Maureen off Driving School. I pick him up in Thorpe Meadows, at the Peterborough Rowing Club, where he's enjoyed a few strokes on the water - I hope for the crew's sake he wasn't the cox or they might have ended up in The Wash.
He's still dressed in his rowing gear as we head down the A14 towards the village of Great Finborough, in Suffolk. I park on a sleepy road adjacent to St Andrew's Church. Back in 1978 when I was at school, I was still into disco and pop music. Ackers mentioned a late-night DJ on Radio One called John Peel was worth a listen - it was a life-changing moment in my childhood.
John Peel died in 2004 at the age of 65 years old from a heart attack whilst holidaying in Peru. He was laid to rest in the village churchyard. On his gravestone are the words "Teenage dreams so hard to beat, lyrics from The Undertones classic 'Teenage Kicks.'
I stick the car in a long stay car park right outside Ram Meadow - home of Bury Town. We head into town for a spot of lunch at the Mason Arms - and very nice it is too. Ackers eats like a horse.
Bury St Edmunds is a historic market town in Suffolk with a population of 40,000. It is known for brewing and malting (Greene King Brewery) and for a British Sugar processing factory, where Silver Spoon sugar is produced. On the 3rd March 1974 a Turkish airline jet crashed shortly after take-off, killing all 346 people on board. Among the dead were eighteen members of the Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club who had been watch and play rugby in France. There are two memorial stones in the area to remember those who passed away in the tragedy.
The town's main football team, Bury Town, were founded in 1872 and are the fourth oldest Non League team in England. English actor Bob Hoskins was born in the town. He appeared in many well-known films including: The Long Good Friday, Mona Lisa and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Bury take advantage in the second half scoring three fine goals. The second one, in particular, is worth the gate money. Ten-man Tilbury plug away but don't get a goal their efforts deserve. 'The Lincoln' have had a miserable time of it 40 miles down the road in Colchester - I saw that one coming a mile off.
Man of the Match: Ackers
Sunday, October 21, 2018
Ms Moon's brother, Andrew, is having his 40th birthday bash at the Cock Inn in Wivelsfield Green, out in the sticks. It's a joint do with the landlady, who has turned fifty. I have a couple of pints of Harvey's best bitter; a barrel that has been very kindly bought by the birthday boy. I'm dog tired - talking of which, Ms Moon mentions that there's an unpleasant whiff and pong in the air. I turn up the heel of my shoe; Jesus wept folks, I've traipsed into some poop in the back garden, which matches the colour of my shoes. I spend the rest of the evening wiping my dog shit coloured and covered shoes clean on a nearby grass verge, much to the amusement of onlooking partygoers.
It's an early exit from the Premier Inn on Sunday morning. There's no second chance for the buffoons on the Beefeater waiting staff to serve me a cooked breakfast, after yesterday's omnishambles. A rare outing to McDonald's on a nearby retail park, to bag a sausage and egg McMuffin, is relatively successful. Not the same can be said for an hour of Steve Wright's Love Songs with Ms Moon's Mum riding shotgun - the company is better than the disc jockey.
By 2pm I'm sat in the King William IV (better known to the locals as the King Billy). It's an old Victorian boozer in the heart of Sneinton, with bags of character. I have a few ales from the Black Iris stable, as a couple of old boys play out a game of cribbage. A wry smile comes across my face as I think of the time I locked Ms Moon out on the balcony when she beat me at crib by two legs to zero in Spain back in early September.
No games catch my eye on Tuesday evening; it's a rare night in, where I suffer in silence at endless soaps and cookery programmes. It's a relief to be back on the training ground the following evening. Our army is growing; even some of the first team lads are buying into the philosophy of giving their limbs a midweek stretch.
I officially take the team over (Keyworth United Dev) in early January. In the meantime caretaker manager, Chris Thompson, is doing a cracking job lifting the spirits of the young guns after a mixed start to the season. I address the boys at the start of the session and congratulate them on their Cup win at the weekend that puts Us into the quarter-finals. I'm keen to find out who has been booked and sin-binned as discipline is high on my agenda.
Ms Moon and I meet in the Free Man, a 'Spoons establishment on Carlton Hill, at 6pm Friday teatime. Anglo Saxons gave Carlton their name. Coerl is the Anglo Saxon word for freeman, while ton or tun means an enclosed settlement. Anyhow, the beer is spot on. Liberation real ale is a snip at £1.49 per pint with my 50p off CAMRA voucher.
It's an early start on Saturday morning, as I head over to the village of Keyworth, in South Notts, to chauffeur HRH King Trumpy Bolton. Chippenham and Maidenhead fans I need to explain something to you (sorry about this regular readers). For forty years Trumpy Bolton has travelled the length and breadth of England, Scotland and Wales, making a financial transaction (usually a pub) in every village and town. He highlights the place off in a crumpled old atlas, once he receives a credit card statement telling him where he went on his beer-fuelled visits.
The Legend is loitering half way down Spinney Road, on the 'Bronx', swinging a Co-op carrier bag full of Koppaberg mixed fruit cider. He 'fesses up to having Ardenne smooth pate (on offer at Fine Fare) on toast, smothered in butter, accompanied with a bottle of Lancaster Bomber ale, for breakfast. There's a release of gas as he untwists his bottle of booty, before taking a huge swig of 'apple juice.'
I know all the right buttons to press. I ask him if he wants to listen to the Graham Norton Show. He immediately starts fiddling with the DAB radio before settling on 6 Music. I enquire if he's listened to the Jim White Show recently on TalkSport. It's met with a full-on ten-minute rant about the celebrity-obsessed, name-dropping Scottish presenter.
After sweeping through Moreton-in Marsh (where Gloucestershire CCC used to play Sunday afternoon John Player League Cricket) Stow-on-the-Wold (where I once saw Morris dancing) and the market town of Royal Wooton Bassett (where military funeral repatriations take place) we finally pitch up at at the picturesque Dumb Post Inn in Bremhill, near Calne.
We're driving up Rowden Hill, where on April 17th 1960 American rock and roll legend Eddie Cochran lost his life at the age of 21 years old, after his speeding taxi blew a tyre, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle - Gene Vincent, also in the taxi that night, survived the crash.
Huey Morgan from the Fun Lovin' Criminals is spinning some tunes on his lunchtime show on 6 Music. He plays the 12" version of 'What' from The Damned's Captain Sensible. I give Trumpy a full rendition - he remains unmoved.
The town's turned out in their numbers for this FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round tie. A mouth-watering £25,000 is up for grabs to the winners. Folk are saying they've never seen queues like it at the turnstile, as we pay £12 in and £2.50 for a programme. I daren't tell 'True Blue' Trumpy that staunch Red, Jeremy Corbyn was born in the town. Ex Chippenham Town player Tyrone Mings signed for Ipswich Town for £10,000, before AFC Bournemouth shelled out £8 million for his services - crikey I hope there was a sell-on clause negotiated by Chippenham.
Trumpy has retreated to a jam-packed social club for a few pints of Old Speckled Hen. I'm on the far side of the ground, opposite the lovely old main stand, basking in the glorious sunshine, which is shielded by my Lincoln City baseball cap.
Maidenhead United, from Berkshire, are managed by ex-West Ham United fleet-footed winger, Alan Devonshire, who stands motionless in the technical area sporting a flat cap. I fancy their chances as I saw Chippenham capitulate at the fag end of last season at Hemel Hempstead.
The playing surface looks uneven and bare in places. The first half is utter dross, with neither 'keeper being tested. Trumpy emerges from the bar to ask what the score is. I tell him to trot back as neither team are going to score in a month of Sundays.
Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel and Pinball Wizard by The Who fail to lift my spirits at the break. Sticky P doesn't do 0-0s; hasn't done for 18 months, but this has one written all over it. The fans swap ends without fuss; it's the beauty of Non League.
Man of the Match: Trumpy Bolton (who else)
Monday, October 15, 2018
Monday evening is spent in the northern city of Carlisle following a windswept journey up to Scotch Corner and onto the exposed A66. My boss and I have a meeting in the morning with a rail company in the area. We jump into a taxi outside the 'Purple Palace' and head into the city centre. We have a quick jar in the Kings Head on Fisher Street before legging it up to The Thin White Duke - named after a David Bowie persona in 1975 and 1976. It's a converted monastery building which is now a fashionable bar. My ears prick up when I hear a familiar tune coming out on the Spotify playlist. It's 'How Much Are They?' by Jah Wobble (ex-Public Image bassist) from 1981, a record I bought as a kid on 12" from Selectadisc on Nottingham's Market Street. The barman says it was a hit on the New York club scene.
I'm fagged out on my return to HQ, the following day and decline an invite to Owen Street to watch Coalville Town v St Neots Town in an FA Cup replay. The game is an epic with the visitors clawing back two goals at the death to make it 3-3. They eventually win on penalties - I can't 'arf miss 'em.
I pick up Ms Moon's mum, Val, at just gone twelve bells on Friday lunchtime, as a convoy of cars head 'down 'Sarf.' Sat Nav is predicting a three and a half hour journey. We're sailing along the M1 with not a worry in the world, and only two miles away from the M25. I'm dreaming of slumping on my 'Purple Palace' double bed for a lovely cat nap when suddenly the traffic comes to a grinding halt during Terry's weekly allotment update from Merthyr Tydfil on the Jeremy Vine Show. We don't move for two hours as a seriously injured lorry driver is air-lifted to hospital by a helicopter.
We've pretty much polished off the mint imperials and Murray Mints by the time we get going again. The torture continues with the Steve Wright Show on Radio 2 - I didn't think Val would appreciate Hawksbee and Jacobs on TalkSport. I wince and shake my head in disbelief and embarrassment at 'Silly Boy' and his Serious Jockin' - and no, I'm not saying it.
I feel sick on Saturday morning. Scoffing that birthday cake on top of everything wasn't a good idea. The service at the breakfast bar is nothing short of a shambles. Waiting staff play with their hair, giggle at hushed conversations and saunter around. I twice have to chase up coffee and breakfast - Ms Moon can be a madam without her early caffeine fix.
The sleepy village of Rottingdean is our first port of call. The purpose of our visit is to pay our last respects to Thin Lizzy, Belfast-born guitarist, Gary Moore, who died in Estepona, southern Spain, a resort we stayed at a few weeks ago. Moore is buried in the churchyard at St Margaret's.
Our timing isn't great, it looks like a funeral is about to take place, as we snoop about the graveyard, before Ms Moon frantically waves at me from the far corner. I'm quite cross, as I like to find the celebrity headstone first as a rule (we have done this a few times - gravehoppers). Ms Moon clocks Kipling Gardens. I mention that they sell exceedingly good cakes there - it falls on deaf ears. Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling lived in the village for several years.
We by-pass the channel ferry port of Newhaven, where the abandoned car of Lord Lucan was found in 1974 on a residential street following the murder of the nanny of his children, who was bludgeoned to death with a piece of lead piping in Belgravia, London.
We arrive on the seafront at Eastbourne with plenty of time for a mooch around. The pier is a beauty, despite being seriously ravaged by fire in 2014. It was bought by a local hotelier a year later for a reported £5 million. Ms Moon and I part company for a while (Caffe Nero). I peg it up through town before turning onto Lushington Road. There's a blue plaque on a property at No.7 (now a dental surgery) where Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll used to holiday in the late 19th Century. I manage a quick pint of lukewarm London Pride ale at The Marine, a cosy residential pub tucked away on a back street off the front.
As we stroll back to the car, two yellow Coastguard vans with flashing beacons accompanied by a police car are speeding up to Beachy Head, where we later hear a glider has crashed-landed into the sea, with no injuries reported.
Eastbourne Borough's ground is a short three-mile ride out of town. Eastbourne is a seaside town and resort in East Sussex with a population of 100,000. It's east of Beachy Head where I'll be visiting later today if 'The Lincoln' come away from Port Vale empty-handed. The MP for Eastbourne is the Liberal Democrat, Stephen Lloyd, who holds a 1,609 majority - the party only have twelve seats. Eastbourne Pier was built between 1866 and 1872 at the junction of the Grand and Marine Parades.
German philosopher Friedrich Engels' ashes were scattered from Beachy Head at his request and the author of The Graduate, Charles Webb, is housed in a far-from luxurious hotel, in the town, by social services. Current (not for long) British Prime Minister, Theresa May, was born in the town along with BBC weatherman Michael Fish, as were footballers Joel Lynch and Solly March (a bargain buy from Non-League, Lewes) and cricketer Ed Giddins. Legendary Radio 2 presenter Charlie Chester resided in the town -one for the kids there. Eastbourne Borough FC were formed in 1964 and play at Priory Lane. Notable former players include: Ashley Barnes, Carl Jenkinson and Lyle Taylor.
It's £13 on the turnstile and £2.50 for a programme. It's Non-League Day today, but I'm not aware of any discounts. Ms Moon notices that I have a face like thunder and that I'm pointing at the playing surface. It's 3G - Sticky doesn't do 3G. Oh well, it's a decent tick off. We stand on the opposite side to the dugouts, nearer to the goal the Gulls will be attacking. Their large following are housed behind the far goal. The DJ is in fine fettle. He plays Modjo, David Guetta and Babyshambles - no relation to Omnishambles at the Beefeater 'restaurant.'
The first half is nowt to write home about. Torquay are toothless in attack. Eastbourne work the 'keeper and thoroughly deserve to take the lead shortly before half-time through Alfie Rutherford. Torquay United manager Gary Johnson will be blow-torching the paint off the dressing room walls after witnessing that lacklustre display; they are sent out early onto the pitch.
A Jake Andrews wonder strike from 25 yards with a wand of a left foot restores parity for the visitors and has the Torquay supporters mobbing Ms Moon. Minutes later a tap-in from Jamie Reid puts the Gulls 2-1 to the good. They are pegged back to 2-2 when their fragile defence leak another goal, scored by the excellent Dean Cox. A stonewall penalty is dispatched by Jamie Reid, who completes a hat-trick in the dying embers to give Torquay a flattering victory.
Woman of the Match: Ms Moon's Mum, Val
Sunday, October 7, 2018
I put my headphones on as Ms Moon catches up with Bodyguard; everyone's chuffing talking about it. I shed a little tear as 'Troublemaker' by Olly Murs appears on the YouTube shuffle. Murphy Palmer my old budgie, used to whistle his wee head off to that tune. He never liked the bit where Flo Ryder starts singing in riddles - he only had ears for Murs.
On Sunday, after a morning's graft in the garden, I saunter down to the bus stop on Carlton Road and head up into town. I alight the bus opposite Nottingham Arena, before crossing over London Road and pegging it up towards the railway station. There's a lovely little pub, licensed for 36 people, called the BeerHeadZ at the Cabman's Shelter, on Queens Road. Next port of call is Castle Rock's VAT and Fiddle, an open plan 1930s brick pub on Queensbridge Road. I was going to risk the wrath of the good lady by potting a third pint at the Barley Twist on Carrington Street, but the place is closed on a Sunday.
Wednesday evening is the highlight of the week. I'm loitering outside the Nottingham Forest ticket office, having, a few days earlier, snapped up a couple of tickets at £20 a pop to sit in the notorious 'A' Block in the Peter Taylor Stand; my favourite area of the ground, where you can hear boot on leather and the players shouting. A pumped-up Sticky jnr has a quick jar in the Hubble Bubble bar just around the corner on Pavilion Road, before hooking up with Dad.
We bump into East Midlands Today sports reporter Angela Rafferty who is hanging around with a camera crew outside the turnstile. Angela's husband, Johnny Haslam, is a good friend of mine and an 'A' Block diehard.
We're sat in the ground (stood actually, as you do) half an hour before kick-off because Dad likes to watch the warm-ups, see the crowd file in and listen to the tunes on the PA system. The Forest DJ loves his alternative music. He plays snippets of 'Gangsters' by The Specials and 'I'm Free' by The Soup Dragons.
Millwall, tonight's visitors, have had somewhat of a rough ride this season, which finds them languishing in nether regions of the Championship. The atmosphere is terrific in the 'Main Stand' as I like to call it. The Forest faithful sing a little ditty about manager Aitor Karanka to the theme tune of Heartbeat. It goes on for about 15 minutes and makes me chuckle. How Millwall aren't 3-0 up in the first 20 minutes, Lord only knows, as the Tricky Trees have no answer to the Lions' aerial bombardment.
Sticky's favourite Championship striker is Millwall's Lee Gregory. I've always had a soft spot for him since I saw him playing for Staveley Miners' Welfare up at Borrowash Victoria in 2008, whilst on loan from Sheffield FC. I stood chatting with Lee's Dad at that game, aghast at why he was playing at such a low level when it was clear to see that he had all the right tools for the job. I phoned a well known and respected Midlands Non-League manager after the game to tip him the wink. His reply was "Nick, if he can't get in Sheffield FC's side, what chance has he got in getting in mine?" In 2011 Millwall paid Halifax £250,000 for his services. 57 goals in 146 appearances is a great return on investment. Gregory sees a header bounce off the bar in the opening minutes of the game.
Livewire, Joe Lolley, puts Forest ahead with a low shot that nestles into the bottom corner of the net. Everything is going to plan until with 25 minutes remaining some of the floodlights go out."We'll play in the dark" rings out from the 'A' Block. The players return after a short break with the result a formality after a 25-yard free-kick from a largely anonymous Joao Carvalho crosses the line after hitting the underside of the bar.
Neil Harris throws on a few subs, with Karanka slow to react to the visitor's aerial supremacy. Romanian 'keeper Costel Pantilimon is having a 'Weston Super Nightmare.' His kicking has been skew-whiff and his distribution, in general, is appalling. He hesitates as a cross is swung in for an alert Shaun Williams to head home. Michael Dawson is thrown on to soak up the pressure and win a few headers; he performs heroically. One final ball is driven in from the left for poacher Lee Gregory to stab home at the far post. Sticky jnr boots the seat in front of him before exiting the ground - he best be fit for Saturday.
I'm desperately trying to get a large deal over the line at work in time for the weekend. I inch towards it as I have my hair cut at a.j.richardson just off Mapperley Tops. It's a well cool barber that has 'I'm in Love With the German Filmstar' by The Passions piping out of the speakers on the Steve Lamacq Show on 6 Music. I share a drink with Ms Moon at the Woodthorpe Top before settling in for the evening.
There's a change of plan to the Saturday schedule. We were planning to travel up to Sheffield to watch Swallownest v Armthorpe Welfare (birthplace of Kevin Keegan). Duty calls to watch the 'Keyworth Georgie Best' aka Sticky jnr. He currently plays for the Keyworth Development team in the Notts Senior League. I have agreed with the club to run the side from January 2019 in an attempt to keep hold of the flowing production line of youngsters that the club produces. Don't worry, I'll still keep knocking the blogs out to report on junior's latest yellow card.
My new team are playing Magdala Amateurs at the back of ROKO gym on Wilford Lane. It's a bolthole for blog legend 'The Big Man' who has just completed a ten-day tour of Scotland - think they call it NC500 - basically it's a 516-mile scenic route in his camper van. We catch up for coffee in the bar along with Fod and Lou, who have come to watch 'Sizzers' (Fod's lad).
As we stroll towards the touchline my stomach begins to tighten and my heart starts thumping, just like it did four years ago when I coached the 16s and 18s in my final season. Today I'm just observing, as Chris Thompson has kindly stepped into the caretaker role until January.
Sticky jnr is captain (nowt to do with me) and looks fired-up. I immediately phone up Sky Bet to see what odds he is for a yellow card. Keyworth set about Magdala, refusing to be muscled off the ball by their older opponents. The Green Army survive an early onslaught and begin to settle into a rhythm. 16 year old Ben Antcliffe opens the scoring with a delicious curling shot that goes into the bottom corner of the net. Just after half-time Antcliffe becomes the creator supreme, setting up Tom Siswick to fire home from close range.
We're running out of legs, gas and air. Milo the Jack Russell has been told to warm up. The game is abandoned on 85 minutes with a horrific knee injury to the game's best player, young Ben, who is carted off to the Queens Medical Centre in the back of an ambulance. Get well soon, Son.
Our young guns retire to the Tailors Arms for a drink and some food with the opposition. The team-bonding has started. I can't wait for January 5th 2019, when the journey begins.
Man of the Match: Ben Antcliffe
Yellow Card for Sticky junior on 70 mins - Sky Bet refused to give me odds.
Gag of the day:
Fod to Lou: "She's come out of her shell."
Fod: "Amy Turtle."
One for the kids there!