Sunday, April 28, 2019

Boreham Wood 3-3 Eastleigh

It's Easter Bank Holiday Monday and I'm stood on the 'Spion Kop' (four concrete steps) viewing the D H Lawrence derby between Selston and Eastwood CFC. A win for Selston will see them crowned as champions of the East Midlands Counties League. I say hello to Mr and Mrs John Harris and daughter Lucy. Over 500 folk have rocked up despite it being a long weekend.

The Eastwood 'keeper is wasting time from the first minute; it's not long before the clown is cautioned by the referee. He's a lucky lad to stay on the pitch when he sarcastically claps the ref after conceding a second goal, having been nutmegged for the first one, to put Selston well on their way to the title.

I catch up with north Notts and South Yorkshire groundhopper,  'Dudsey' at the break. We have a good natter as Selston appear to have put the game to bed by taking a 3-1 lead. I keep my beady eye on proceedings at Sincil Bank, where the Mighty Imps need a point to secure the 'Division 4' title, which will see Sky Bet payout Sticky Palms £55 for a £5 each way wager I placed last August - let's not forget that Notts County were 2/1 bookies' favourites back then.

Astonishingly, the Badgers of Eastwood score two late goals in a dramatic finale at the Parish Hall ground. The final whistle is blown, the two teams have played out a 3-3 thriller in breezy conditions. Players, management and supporters anxiously refresh social media on their mobile phones in a desperate attempt to find out how rivals Newark Flowserve are faring at West Bridgford. There are huge cheers, celebrations and tears flowing when news filters through that Flowserve have lost 2-1. I'm delighted for Selston, it's a properly ran club, with some smashing volunteers. The ground has a lovely community feel about it, with a roped-off cricket pitch and pavilion to boot.

I try something different on Tuesday evening. 'Dafty' and 'Mad Dog' have clocked there's a Notts Sunday Senior League cup final to be held at Basford United's Greenwich Avenue ground between Hucknall Town and RHP Sports (Newark). Basford's ground isn't my cup of tea; it's nothing personal, it's just that I can't abide artificial playing surfaces - nobody seems able to put a tackle in.

The game and standard surpass my expectations. Hucknall's line-up have the baller of the game in Kye Simpson, who scores an absolute banger at the fag end of proceedings, having bulldozed Stan Collymore style halfway down the pitch. I'm unsure who he plays for on Saturdays; I need to ask the 'Bearded Wonder' Malc Storer, my Hucknall correspondent. 'Mad Dog' spends most of the evening in and out of the snack cabin. I've never known a bloke eat so much tucker and yet still maintain a decent weight.

I take a lot of pride in my lawn. It was in a right old 'two an eight' when we first bought the house, but I got it looking mighty fine last summer (no water meter). I spread it with feed, weed and moss killer on Tuesday. The heavens open over the next few days following a Sticky Palms Indian rain dance on the patio.

I meet Ms Moon, Jamie and Lily in the laugh-a-minute Wetherspoons on Carlton Hill. There were one or two half cooked fools who suffered sunburn following a baking hot Easter weekend. I was lathered in all day factor 30 Piz Buin. I call in at The Brickyard for an expensive pint of Snake Charmer craft ale at 6% ABV. I stagger down the hill and up the wooden hill for an early night - tomorrow is going to be soo long.

I'm wide awake at the crack of dawn. I shower, shave and have a toasted crumpet, smothered in Anchor butter and a large lump of Stilton cheese (I'm sure you wanted to know that). I fill up the car with fuel before heading over to Keyworth. Two of my best friends are aboard the Fun Bus today - Trumpy Bolton and the Big Man. Ironically they live just a few doors down from one another.

Trumpy comes trooping down the road clutching his litre plastic bottle of Koppaberg cider filled full to the brim. He whines that I'm early and that he's only managed to gulp down one bottle of Ghost Ship. He's not had time for his usual weekend breakfast delicacy of chicken liver pate on toast. It's 7.30 a.m. by the way, folks. I have to stop the car for Bolton, a mile later, outside Keyworth United's ground. "You want the toilet already Trumpy?" asks the Big Man. The legend just wants to take off his new coat from Littlewoods.

He's soon guzzling the cider and waxing lyrical. The Boltons have just returned from the mother-of-all benders in the market town of Marlborough, in Wiltshire, where he drank the county dry. The Big Man mentions an article in the Press about a beer-mad grandad who claims to have visited 50,000 pubs, supping over 125,000 pints. Trumpy chortles before confessing that he's beaten the chap on both counts.

We're soon parked up in Britain's first-ever designated New Town - Stevenage. There's a bit of a palaver on whether we can rummage enough change up for the two hours 'breakfast' time parking we require. To be honest, the town is a bit of an eyesore. Whoever designed these buildings should be brought to task.

The Standard Bearer 'Spoons ain't too shabby though. Trumpy makes a darting off-the-shoulder Jamie Vardy run to the bar. He shouts up two pints of Ruddles for himself, a pint of Silver Adder for Sticky and a cup of tea for the Big Man. I push a couple of 50p off vouchers into the palm of his hand; his eyes light up.

The Big Man has a fry up, whilst I have a 'West Bridgford Breakfast' - eggs Benedict. There's no Hugo, Tarquin or Darcy dashing around the pub, playing dobby on and cheesing me off, like they do at Cote D'Azur on The Avenue. Trumpy's brekky is pathetic, it consists of two slices of toast and marmalade. He complains that he might only have room to eat one slice.

Trumpy has slurped five pints by the time we exit the pub - the Big Man can't even match him with cups of tea. I ask the Legend if he's off to the King Power tomorrow to watch his beloved Foxes versus 'The Arsenal.' "I'm on the beach, Chap", he replies. The litre bottle of Koppaberg has been dispatched down the hatch. A thirsty Bolton is frothing at the mouth and salivating at the thought of a session in the Boreham Wood social club. We park a short stroll away from Meadow Park.

Borehamwood is a commuter town with a population of just over 30,000. It's situated close to Elstree Studios where many films, sitcoms and reality TV shows have been shot. Former Blackburn and Spurs midfielder, Tim Sherwood, was born in the town. The Club were formed in 1948. My team, Lincoln City, nicked their fleet-footed Portuguese winger, Bruno Andrade ( 'The Lincoln Ronaldo'), last summer for a song. His return on investment for 'The Lincoln' has been nothing short of astonishing.

A charming, and very helpful steward, on the bar door, says we can pay £20 to sit in the East Stand. An anxious Bolton needs confirmation that he can slip in and out of the bar throughout the game. Trumpy necks a San Miguel shortly before kick off. We take our seats towards the back row of the stand. To be honest there's bugger all doing in the first half an hour. 0-0 is looming on the horizon; these pair of Herberts will make my life hell on the 100-mile return journey home if that's the end result.

Eastleigh, with nothing to play for (already in the play-offs) take the lead with a flowing move and smart finish. A thirsty Bolton returns to bar and misses the leveller from Ralston Gabriel. There are a few concerns in the social club that the San Miguel barrel may need changing as Trumpy ups the gears and his game.

Eastleigh breeze into a 3-1 early second-half lead. Trumpy, oblivious and unaware of the scoreline takes a seat a few rows in front of us, whilst gnawing his way through a Twix bar. He sees impressive 'Wood' sub, Bradley Ash, reduce the deficit, before remonstrating with a few cheeky blighters (under 8s) who he has overheard saying that the Gunners of Arsenal will tonk Leicester City in Sunday's lunchtime kick-off. A finger-wagging Trumpy staggers back to the bar to supervise the changing of the said San Miguel barrel. He misses the goal of the game, a stunning 25-yard strike from Keiran Murtagh.

'Hopper' and the Big Man don't do 0-0s and we can't 'arf pick em. We make a sharp exit, calling by the Tap and Run, a pub and kitchen in the picturesque village of Upper Broughton, on the Notts/Leics border. It's owned by the cricketers Stuart Broad and Harry Gurney, and is close to the village of Ad Kettleby, where Desert Orchid used to spend his summer holidays.

Attendance: 502

Men of the Match: Trumpy Bolton and the Big Man - fantastic company xx

Monday, April 22, 2019

Ilkeston Town 0-4 Walsall Wood

I've been tipped the wink of a 'ground to die for' out in Staffordshire by a Stokie groundhopper. It's located just outside the city centre. Prior to the game, I grab a bite to eat at a ghastly Marston's pub, close to the ground. Foley Meir are playing their final game of the season against Eastwood Hanley in the Staffordshire County Senior League. It's £2 on the gate, which includes a free programme. The views are breathtaking, looking out over the city centre, where Stoke Minster sticks out like a sore thumb. I do a full lap of the McIntosh Arena before taking up a vantage point on top of a mound above the dugouts.

Foley Meir football their visitors off the park in the first half, and are soon two to the good. An extraordinary incident happens midway through the game. The visiting striker has had a bit of rough and tumble with a home defender. He exchanges words with the Foley Meir manager; it's much ado about nothing until he starts swearing uncontrollably before firing over a mouthful of saliva in the direction of the Meir bench. A young referee's assistant bottles it, whilst the man in black claims to have not witnessed the incident. Thankfully the Eastwood Hanley coach sees sense and removes the perpetrator from the field of play. Foley Meir go on to win the game 4-1.

I'm in the car, driving back across to Nottingham. I flick on Five Live; Sticky's favourite commentator, Big John Murray, is in situ at the Etihad Stadium for the Man City v Spurs, Champions League quarter-final 2nd leg. Murray says it's 2-2, I look at the clock, it's 8.12. pm; that can't be right? What the Dickens is going off?

I burst through the French window patio door, back at HQ, an hour later. I glance at the TV, Ms Moon is watching this morning's episode of Jeremy Kyle - pray for Sticky readers. "This is wack, can we watch the second half of the Champions League, please Princess? I have to justify the BT Sport subscription fee." The game is pure theatre which builds to a crescendo with an unbelievable ending. Good old VAR, eh?

I had the opportunity (green light) to drive up to Carlisle United's Brunton Park, to hopefully watch Lincoln City clinch the Division 4 championship. The thought of jam-packed motorways and caravans being towed along at 40mph, whilst the occupants admire the Lake District scenery, has turned me right off. Instead, we spend a gorgeous, sun-drenched day in Nottingham. We eat al fresco at Sexy Mamma Love Cichetti in Hockley, a hipster area of Nottingham. Killing time before watching a film, we bask in the sunshine at the Hockley Rebel, where I sink a pint from the Tiny Rebel stable based in Newport, South Wales.

I switch my phone off as we enter the Broadway Cinema, just shy of 3 p.m. Two thousand of Lincoln's flock will be biting their fingernails, whilst we watch, Wild Rose, starring Julie Walters and Radio 2's 'Whispering Bob Harris.' It's a feel-good film set in Glasgow; we both thoroughly enjoy it. On the way out I slip into the gents and switch my phone back on - ten man Lincoln have lost 1-0. I commiserate with a couple of real ales in Sneinton Market and a few more at HQ - The Brickyard in Carlton. I took a punt on them at 8/1 back in July. Nowt daft though, just £5 each way.

Saturday morning is spent at Brookfields Garden Centre, up at Mapperley Plains, a posh area of Notts where Freddie Mercury's mum lived, until her death at 94 years old, in November 2016.  We buy a couple of rose bushes as I continue to reconstruct (blag it) the garden. I wave Ms Moon off at twelve bells; she's spending the night with her daughter in Cheltenham.

Apologies folks, I've gone big time on the snap front. I break into the packaging of a pretentious Wensleydale and carrot chutney sandwich on soft, malted bread from the Marks and Spencer food hall on the drive up to Ilkeston. Paul Gambacinni is playing the cringeworthy 'Honey' by Bobby Goldsboro on Radio 2's Pick of the Pops. It somehow reached No.2 in the charts in 1975 - cough up now folks if you shelled out 50p for this garbage.

I was going to have a quick pint in either the Burnt Pig or Spanish Bar, but 'Ilson' are expecting a crowd in excess of 1,000, so parking might be tricky. I swerve an ale and join the queue to park in the ground. The parking attendant is oblivious to the traffic blocking the main road as he talks to all and sundry about the weather and what a nice Easter he's having. I part with £2 and I'm told to find a spot at the back of the ground.

The glorious weather has flushed out the locals as they turn out in their droves - there's an easy 1500 in attendance here. It's £5 on the gate. I buy a 50/50 ticket and grab a team sheet. I bump into Martyn Cheatle and Simon Morgan who are raising money and awareness for prostate cancer, by cycling from Barnsley to Amsterdam. I mention that Walsall Wood are dangerous opponents and I think they will win the game.

The 'Ilson' 'Ken Bruce' plays it safe with a few pre-match tunes toons from George Ezra, Rag'n'Bone Man and Jack Savoretti - I prefer it more leftfield myself, like a lot of northern Non-League disc jockeys do.

A win today for Ilson will see them pretty much assured Step 4 football next season. Former Aston Villa striker, Darren Byfield, Walsall Wood's manager, will send out his troops all guns blazing. This is how it pans out. Ilson are under the cosh from the start and their defence are asked questions.

Walsall Wood race into a three-goal lead within the first half an hour, following some pitiful defending. I'm unsure if it's stage fright, incompetence or a lack of tactical nous, but the Robins fall well short. Wood's left winger John Atherton is running rings around the Ilson full back who is hooked on 25 minutes, as are two more players during the break. There's a fourth sub at half-time as 'Ken Bruce' is replaced by 'Steve Lamacq' who pumps up the crowd with Primal Scream and The Hives.

I've been chatting to a hungover Aston Villa fan who spent yesterday on the sauce up in Bolton watching Villa continue their charge up the Championship table. I mention that I saw them pass Martin O'Neill's Nottingham Forest off the park a few weeks ago. I clock Ilkeston Town owner Alan Hardy wandering around the ground (probably in a daze) with a phone glued to his ear. Notts County coach and former 'Ilson' manager, Steve Chettle, hangs onto his coat-tails.

Ilson are having one of those days. A chink of light emerges on 65 minutes when they win a penalty and Wood are reduced to ten men. Jamie Walker fluffs his lines, his spot kick is hit with little conviction and is easily saved. Wood go for the jugular and score the goal of the game, despite being one man light, through Kaylum Mitchell, which puts them top of the table with a plus-one goal difference.

Man of the Match: John Atherton

Attendance: 1578

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Lincoln City 1-1 Cheltenham Town

I'm fist pumping my way through a police cordon, celebrating Lincoln's Portuguese winger Bruno Andrade's injury-time howitzer of a shot at Stadium MK. Ms Moon is parked up in the getaway car at the side of Asda. I ride shotgun as we head out of the ghastly, gloomy retail park and onto the M1 North. My heart is beating ten to the dozen; not due to Bruno's spectacular strike, but because it's the first time I've had to run in decades.

Talking of starting orders, I flick on Five Live, as the runners and riders approach the tape for the  Grand National at Aintree, in Liverpool. Ms Moon has a £5 stake on Tiger Roll at a measly 7/2. I admit if it jumps around the course it will win, but can't be bothered at such stingy odds. True to form Ms Moon is on the money; my two bets come in 3rd and 5th; my lolly is on the nose though. I haven't backed the winner of the National since Bobby Jo in 1999. I owe Ms Moon £22 winnings as she bet on my account. The tickets for the game are the same price. I start a Facebook poll asking if honours are even or should I cough up the winnings. I'm ran out of town folks 80/20 .. lol.

It's late on Tuesday evening and I've just returned from a game up at Kimberley Miners' Welfare, close to Junction 26 of the M1. I've spent the evening eating Fruit Pastilles and Jelly Babies with John Harris and family. He predicts a good hiding for a 'depleted' KMW versus Belper United. The Miners' run out comfortable 3-1 winners.

I've had a massive sugar rush and can't be bothered to climb the wooden hill. A documentary called Losers, on Netflix, has been given rave reviews by TalkSport's Paul Hawksbee and Andy Jacobs. The first episode is about a boxer called Michael Bentt, who was London-born (East Dulwich), but raised in the Cambria Heights section of Queens in New York City. He sensationally knocked-out WBO Heavyweight champion Tommy Morrison in 1993 but went on to have a somewhat chequered career.

The second episode, in the series, is about Torquay United; my ears immediately prick up. I know what's coming here. In 1987, on a sultry, muggy May day in Bottesford, on the Notts/Leics/Lincs border, Sticky Palms is fielding/patrolling at fine leg for Keyworth Cricket Club. My team, Lincoln City, on the final day of the Football League season are in dire straits. Burnley are bottom of Division 4, but have beaten Leyton Orient. 'The Lincoln' have been thumped 3-0 at Swansea City's Vetch Field. At Plainmoor, Torquay United, needing a draw to stay up, are 2-1 down to Crewe with a few minutes remaining. Torquay player, Jim McNichol, sprints across the field to retrieve a ball, but manages to upset a police Alsatian dog called Bryn, who takes a chunk of flesh out of his thigh. Four minutes injury-time is played; yep, you've guessed it, the Gulls score again to send the Imps into footballing oblivion. They even show footage of the Mayor of Torquay presenting Bryn the German Shepherd with a juicy T-Bone steak.

In the summer of 2016, Lincoln City made the somewhat left-field appointment of part-time Braintree Town manager and Head of PE at FitzWimarc School, in Rayleigh, Essex, Danny Cowley, as their new manager. The club had been in the doldrums of the fifth tier of English football's Pyramid system; on one occasion nearly dropping out to the Conference North. What is astonishing is, with a tight budget and shrewd signings, Cowley and his brother Nicky won the Conference title and led 'City' to the quarter-final of the FA Cup; bowing out to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

I'm back up The Brickyard (my local) in Carlton on Friday evening. I make out to Ms Moon that I know all the locals - I don't really. I usually find a quiet corner of the pub and read my Kindle. Outspoken ex England and Notts CCC off-spinner Graeme Swann's autobiography is very entertaining. It passes a couple of hours and more importantly three pints of real ale, as I relax and take my mind off the big game tomorrow.

I have a restless night's sleep after watching another depressing episode of the Madeleine McCann disappearance on Netflix - one thing's for sure, Portugal's top copper hasn't much time for the McCanns. I'm already a bundle of nerves, so decide to do a couple of hours gardening. Ms Moon makes some sandwiches as another 'Fish 'n Chip Special' from Oceans will clot up my arteries and send me to an early grave.

Ms Moon has Virgin on her car radio system. It's no better than Absolute or Radio 2. She claims that they bang out some good toons, just as the first bars of a Nickelback 'song' begin to ring out. We eat our sandwiches in the car, outside a care home where my Nana lived out her last few years, on St Botolph's Crescent, close to Robey Street. Paul Gambacinni's Pick of the Pops is playing Bernadette by the Four Tops. I scarper from the car after 'Gambers' sticks on Edelweiss by Vince Hill.

We wander through a snicket onto the High Street. There's a real vibe around the place. The city is alive with folk. Flags are hanging from pub doorways, there's laughing, joking and football fans chanting - this is what The Cowleys have done for Lincoln; pride has been restored and the community is made to feel part of the club.

If I had a pound for every Costa coffee shop the Princess has ticked off, I could retire from selling software. A new one is ticked off - there are five chains in Lincoln #coffeeshophopping. We take a steady stroll towards Sincil Bank, down Scorer Street where former Leeds, NFFC and Sheff Wed striker Lee Chapman was born - you tell us that one every time Sticky  .. lol.

There's a corner shop on Sincil Bank that I usually dive into for some tuffies. I ate a whole bag of Haribos during the Lincoln v Exeter midweek game the other month. I was awake for most of the night and had enough energy levels to run further than Lincoln midfielder Mark O'Hara - I'll stick to a bottle of water today to keep the stress levels down.

Ms Moon has a suck and blow on her vape thingy whilst I squeeze through the door of a jam-packed club shop. I buy a couple of T-shirts and some shorts to lounge around in - not today, but I could have done as the ground is bathed in wall-to-wall sunshine. Tickets for the game a few weeks ago were selling so fast that I could only find room on the front row of the Stacey West Stand. Abba's, Gimee! Gimee! Gimee! (A Man After Midnight) is blasting out of the PA system as we take our seats.

Lincoln City legend Grant 'Hoof' Brown is inducted into the Club's Hall of Fame. I remember Colin Murphy shelling out over £50k to sign Sunderland-born Brown from Trumpy Bolton's Leicester City  in 1989 - that was serious money back then for a club the size of the Imps. Brown repaid Murph's faith with a club record 407 appearances. He's picked a few tracks to be played over the tannoy today which includes the excellent Summer by Manchester indie band The Courteeners.

Cheltenham Town aim to be the party poopers and are unbeaten in their last four outings. Ms Moon likes them as her daughter is restaurant manager in the spa town's Botanist restaurant situated in the Brewery Quarter. The Imps require a win to confirm promotion. I'm not happy that Danny Cowley has shaved his beard off during an eighteen match unbeaten run. What was he thinking?

The Co-op Stand do their best to lift the lads but the game is edgy and cat and mouse. Nerves vanish on 18 minutes, the Cheltenham 'keeper goes down in instalments after a Shay McCartan 25 yard shot skips off a surface sprinkled with water and into the corner of the net. "We'll need another one as they are bound to score", I remark to Ms Moon, who is eyeing up a procession of supporters returning from the pancake stall. Cheltenham can't break through the Imps' rearguard.

Ms Moon's got the face on; the queue for pancakes is snaking around the back of the stand. The bloke next to me takes a huge bite from his pancake, a piece of banana, smothered in chocolate, drops onto my newly-polished black and white Adidas Sambas - he gets a filthy look as my nerves are frayed, and now is not the time to be scoffing chuffing pancakes.

Cheltenham get some joy down their left-hand side as Neal Eardley gets overloaded. Their goal is richly deserved and superbly crafted. A cross from the left is guided home by the head of substitute George Lloyd. There are chances at either end as the game plays out at a frantic pace.

Promotion is only announced five minutes after the game ends once Lincoln CEO Liam Scully contacts Rachel Riley, from Countdown, to run through all the permutations and calculations so that the news can be broadcast to the fans 'hot off the press.' Up the Imps.

Men of the Match: The Cowley Brothers - Billy Waters brilliant for Cheltenham btw

Attendance: 9,820 (164 visiting supporters)

Sunday, April 7, 2019

MK Dons 0-2 Lincoln City

The hotels in Oxford are ridiculously overpriced. We stop the night at a Premier Inn, four miles outside the city centre, at a third of the price. A taxi into Oxford is only £8. I sink a pint of real ale in the courtyard of one of the city's oldest pubs, the Turf Tavern, where a list of the rich and famous who have walked through their doors is chalked up on a blackboard. We sit on a wall, basking in the late evening sunshine in the beer garden of the Bear, which dates back to 1242. Drinks continue to flow at the four-floored Varsity Club, with its long list of cocktails and gin palace. There's time for a couple more drinks at the poshest 'Spoons in Oxford, before retiring to our room accompanied by kebab meat and chips.

I've lots of meetings on the road with work this week, and I'm only able to squeeze in the one Non-League game. The setting is sensational, though, with Matlock's Riber Castle providing the backdrop. I pull into the Cricket Club car park an hour before kick-off. A friendly steward tips me the wink of a chippy up the road. "Don't kick my head in, youth, if it's rubbish, will you?" The fish and chips are to die for; I don't even leave a batter bit on my tray. I give my man the thumbs up on my return to the car park - he cowers in jest.

It turns chilly as the sun drops at Matlock Town's Causeway Lane ground. I hook up with Big D (Dick Durrant) whose son, Ross, is in the nets for the Gladiators. Big spending Basford United are tonight's visitors in this Northern Premier League clash - they have recently parted company with their long-serving manager Martin Carruthers.

Basford will wonder how they've only come away with a point after dominating the game throughout. They have experienced campaigners Matt Thornhill and Liam Hearn in their ranks, who influence the game. Two late goals by Matlock earn them a point, when all looked lost. Dick and I enjoy some craic. He gives me the heads up on Budapest, where I'm due to visit in early June.

The MK Dons game has been on my mind for most of the week. If the Imps can avoid defeat then surely the title is within their grasp. I've only ever been to Milton Keynes once in my life, back in 2006, when Nottingham Forest lost 1-0 at the National Hockey Stadium. We were housed in a temporary stand behind the goal that evening. Every time the fans stamped their feet the stand began to shake, wobble and move. I remember eating tea in a pizzeria in Centre MK: and being unable to find a pub in the weird, visionary grid road system that was put in place.

I binge watch the brilliant After Life, starring Ricky Gervais, on Netflix, whilst perusing the runners and riders for the Aintree Grand National, hanging on the coat tails of the professional gambler who saw me bring home the bacon during the Cheltenham Festival - he actually says Tiger Roll will win, but isn't happy to back him at such a short price.

Early on Friday evening, I shift a couple of pints of craft ale at the wonderful Lincoln Green, Brickyard pub, on top of Carlton Hill, two miles outside Nottingham city centre. I peg it back home, full steam ahead, down the hill, just in time to catch the Southampton v Liverpool game. The Saints give a good account of themselves before getting caught out twice on the break, through Mo Salah and Jordan Henderson. I retire to bed and flick through a few pages of ex England cricketer Graeme Swann's entertaining autobiography.

Ms Moon returns home in the early hours after session on with her friend Jill up on Mapperley Tops. The Marks and Spencer's Lincolnshire sausages (an omen) are sizzling under the grill as I head down to Carlton Tesco to pick up the crusty cobs and Calzone cheese.

There's a coffee stop-off at Clifton, as a hungover Ms Moon drinks the place dry of Latte. The journey to Milton Keynes looks pretty straightforward on paper, but I'm wary of any delays on the M1. As per usual we end up at the ground two hours before kick-off. Imps' fans have been pre-warned of traffic chaos in the vicinity.

The MK Stadium is situated in a sea of retail parks and industrial estates. We do a full reconnaissance of the area before parking up at the back end of a business park, a full fifteen walk to the ground. I'm already not enjoying the experience. There's not your normal pub lunch followed by a stretch of the legs around a town centre, before heading past terraced-housing on tight back streets with cobbled roads, like you do at Sincil Bank.

I watch Non-League football most weekends. I love the community-feel good factor, the volunteers, the atmosphere in the cosy clubhouse, the raffle and 50/50 draw and how a club is situated in the heart of the town or village. Stadium MK (yuk) isn't even in Milton Keynes; it's situated in Bletchley, famous for Alan Turing's Enigma code-breaking machines during the Second World War. Turing, a man ostracised for being homosexual, was outed and humiliated; he accepted chemical castration as an alternative to a prison sentence. He died from cyanide poisoning in 1954. At an inquest, the coroner recorded a verdict of suicide. Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a posthumous pardon in 2013.

Milton Keynes is in Buckinghamshire and was a designated New Town in the 1960s. It has a population of just under 250,000. Born and bred include: the footballer Dele Alli, Somerset cricketer James Hildreth and long jump Olympic Gold medallist Greg Rutherford.

Milton Keynes FC were 'founded' (reinvented) in 2004 - they stole the identity of Wimbledon FC, who were 'relocated.' The well-respected football magazine When Saturday Comes used to refuse to recognize them when they published their season review each August.

I'm in a filthy mood as the nerves and anxiety kick in at the magnitude of the game. Ms Moon, recognizing this trait, grasps the opportunity of some retail therapy and slopes off to ASDA for some 'coffee.' Marco chuffing Pierre White has got a restaurant here - I just want pie, mushy peas and mint sauce on a tray. Who the hell eats steak before a big game apart from Matt Rhead? - "raw please Marco, if you're asking?"

I leg it around the stadium in search of the Dele Alli statue; sadly there isn't one, well not until the add-ons kick in after a move to Spain. I pick up a programme for £3 before meeting Ms Moon outside Gate 3, minus the George bags (phew).

The tickets were £22 a pop for the 'Non-Signing Section.' The stewards are really friendly. Much to my amusement Ms Moon is frisked and her handbag is pilfered through - it's full of screwed up Costa coffee cups.

MK 'Dons', clearly threatened by a 5,500 away following have handed out Clappers and in conjunction with Nando's, free chicken, as the top two in League 2 go toe to toe. We are on the front row, with an excellent view. I get chatting to a steward (on his debut) and ask him if it's ok to jump the barrier if WE score a last minute winner. Deadpan, he tells me I'll get arrested.

The teams file out to a version of the 1969 hit 'Come Together by The Beatles - 35 years before MK Dons were formed.  My stomach tightens, vision is blurred and my heart beats ten to the dozen - it only happens when I coach, or watch 'The Lincoln.' The Imps are sporting a fetching all-grey away strip. Our Colossus, skipper Jason Shackell, has returned from injury. He replaces Cian Bolger, who can feel hard done by, after some sterling displays at the heart of the defence.

I get chinwagging to a lovely, old guy sitting next to me, who has travelled up from Sussex. He mentions that two players out of Lincoln's backline played together in the Premier League for Blackpool - Matt Gilks and Neil Eardley (signing of the Century).

'The Lincoln' are in great voice. After three minutes they sing 'You've Got No History' and follow it up with 'You're Only Here for the Nando's" The Imps see off early pressure and grow into the game, with Big John Akinde asking some questions. MK seem intent on scything down their opponents. It happens one too many times, when the lively Shay McCartan skips past his marker, only to be hampered. Akinde, as cool as Clough, strokes home the penalty.

Ms Moon makes a dart to the snack bar, trotting back ten minutes later with a bag of crisps and a Twix bar, but £2.80 lighter - should have stocked up at ASDA  .. lol.  At half-time, the whole ground rise as one to applaud, as participants from the Level Playing Field, a charity for disabled sports fans, do a circuit of the ground. It's a touching moment, with the parade also including members of the armed forces too.

'City' are under the cosh in the second half, as MK take a grip-like vice on the game. Wave after wave of attacks and crosses are defended stoically by the Imps' backline. Veteran 'keeper Gilks pulls off an astonishing point-blank save with minutes remaining. The good lady asks if 'Rheady' is warming-up. I reply that he's probably getting seconds in the queue at Nando's.

Ms Moon has very kindly shot off to pick up the car as it will be bedlam after the game. As I sidle out of my seat and race up the steps, Lincoln's Portuguese-born winger, Bruno Andrade, rifles home a shot to send the masses into delirium and the Imps a step closer to League One football.

Man of the Match: Mark O'Hara

Attendance: 15,851