Sunday, February 18, 2024

Carlton Town 1-3 Liversedge F.C.

It’s Tuesday evening and I’m walking down Burton Road, in Carlton, with Notts County diehard fan ‘Faggsy.’ The Millers are playing Liversedge F.C. from West Yorkshire. There’s only a small gathering this evening as the usual attendees will be at the World Famous City Ground for NFFC v Arsenal.

The game we're watching is thoroughly entertaining. Carlton are 2-1 down at half-time, with the visitors reduced to ten men after a rush of blood to the head for Liam Hardy sees two quick yellow cards -  young refs, these days, can’t wait to issue a caution. It spoils the game. The FA and their referee assessors need to have a brainstorming session sometime, as the standard of officiating, particularly the game management side and communication to the players, is mediocre to say the least. At Step 4 many officials seem to be unapproachable. 

Carlton fail to take advantage of having an extra man. A superb free kick from Liversedge’s Jack Carr seals their fate. There’s an extra bitter taste to the excellent real ale at the Old Volunteer, as Faggsy and I hold a post mortem over the proceedings.

Happier times are had on Wednesday evening at Jam Cafe, one of Nottingham’s coolest bars (of course it sells craft ales). There appears to be a vibrant underground indie scene in our fair city right now. Bloodworm headlines the gig. Their music sounds similar to The Cure’s debut album, Three Imaginary Boys. The lead singer’s haunting voice reminds me of Bauhaus’s Pete Murphy. They were a Northampton goth band from the 80s. 

Local band, The Rain Age, play a blistering set too. It’s dark wave Manchester band, The Solution, who steal the show, despite being third on the bill. They are definitely one for the notebook, providing they manage to keep their young, wayward singer on track.

I get in big trouble with Mac for buying him a 12% abv imperial pastry stout. He’s up at 5 am each day, whilst I’m on a day off on Thursday. Carlton crew, 'Chief Wiggum', 'Casually Dan' and 'Herr Harlow' are all in attendance at the gig too.

I grab some tea with my two lads and ex work son Tom at Trent Bridge Inn, in West Bridgford on Thursday evening. It ties in quite nicely with a speakers’ evening at Notts Cricket Lovers, in the Derek Randall Suite. There is a question and answer session with new Notts skipper Haseeb Hameed. He is still only 27 years old, despite being on the scene for what seems an eternity. He’s stepped into Steven Mullaney’s shoes, who will now captain the Second XI.

I’m on the choo choo train with Tony Mac on Friday lunchtime. We change trains at Leicester as we head over to the town of Hinckley, where famous people come from such as: William Bass (Bass Brewery), William Butler (Mitchells and Butler), Human League singer Phil Oakey, and Alan Taylor, the scorer of two Wembley goals for West Ham United in the 1975 FA Cup final

The pubs are delightful, particularly Elbow Room Cask and Craft, where I buy my beers from, after a tip off from programme editor ‘Big Joe’ at Carlton Town. They import beers from the USA that blow your mind and head off. We finish up at a CAMRA heritage pub called Wharf, located on the outskirts of the town. It has an interior of national historic interest. Hinckley certainly is another hidden gem.

It’s just after dawn on Sunday, and I’m on the phone to my taxi driver, who has overlaid for an airport run. It’s Tenerife time of year again. I’m 60 years old tomorrow and it’s Ms Moon’s birthday on Friday. The Big Man (Bish) is also out in the 'Reef' celebrating his 50th with the Squadron. We’re on the beach front by 3.30pm, at Los Cristianos, eating prawns at a restaurant called Chill Out. It’s 26 degrees with a cooling breeze. Had I come 24 hours earlier I would have witnessed another 0-0 up at CD Tenerife in Segunda B.

It’s Monday morning, and my 60th birthday. Lord knows how I’ve made it this far with my unhealthy lifestyle. It coincides with my 30th anniversary of no smoking, which I commemorate with four comedy drags of Ms Moon's fag. I celebrate in style with Ms Moon at a stunning restaurant in the harbour of a fishing village called La Caleta. We sit on a terrace just a stone's throw away from the Atlantic Ocean. A guy sat behind us proposes to his girlfriend. He then spends the rest of the evening facetiming his friends. I feel like lobbing his mobile phone into the sea.

I had a couple of pints earlier in the day with some of the bruised and battered 'Battalion' at a bar around the corner from the Cleopatra Palace Hotel, where we are staying. There's a lovely touch from Dafty who has bought me a smart Lincoln City away shirt with Palmer 60 emblazoned on the back. Thanks mate.

I receive some devastating news on Thursday. One of my best friends, blog legend 'The Taxman' (Steve Belz) passed away peacefully in the early hours of the morning. I managed to have a telephone conversation with him the night before we flew out to Tenerife. We reminisced about our groundhopping journeys around the Midlands over the last 15 years. He was such a kind, gentle and friendly man, who never had a bad word to say about anyone. I have to admit some tears were shed at the end of the call. Rest in peace, I will miss you so much, my friend x

I've lazed around the pool at the hotel for six days on the bounce. I read a brilliant groundhopping/travel book, written by Daniel Gray, called The Silence in the Stands. Gray travels the north of England and Scotland watching football during the dark days of COVID restrictions. It's a riveting read with some heart-warming stories told by the author.

The final night in the 'Reef', Ms Moon's birthday, is spent at the highly recommended Limonella Italian restaurant, which offers an authentic experience with a focus on recipes from the Amalfi Coast. It's a lovely way to end a fantastic holiday in our happy place.

It's back to earth with a bump on Monday. I'm on shop duty at the world's greatest newsagent, MSR Arnold. I breeze through the afternoon, happy talking with customers about football, cricket and the weather (particularly in Tenerife).

Carlton Town's Tuesday night fixture versus West Yorkshire big babies Pontefract Collieries falls victim to the weather after another deluge of rain in the afternoon. My backup fixture at Clifton All Whites is hosed off too. I settle in with another cracking book by Daniel Gray called Food of the Cods - a history of fish and chips in the United Kingdom. Ms Moon is gripped by a weeks' worth of binge-watching 'The Farm.' 

Wednesday is a day I have patiently waited for in a long time. I'm ecstatic when Trainline confirm that the £70 transaction has been made. I am now the proud owner of a three year Senior Railcard. Readers, you'll see me on more train journeys than Michael Portillo.

The rail card celebration (soft drinks only) begins at Baresca, a Spanish award-winning restaurant on Byard Lane, in Nottingham. Ms Moon's daughter, Becky, very kindly treats us both to lunch; and very nice it was too. The afternoon is spent at Broadway Cinema. I now have a concessionary membership which means I can view any film for £6. Today it's The Iron Claw, starring Zac Efron. It's the tragic, true story about a wrestling family called the Von Erichs. Wrestling hasn't really been my cup of tea since the unmasking of World of Sport wrestler Kendo Nagasaki in the ring at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall in 1977. But I'd thoroughly recommend this film.

Even if Carlton Town were to survive a pitch inspection there would be no Sticky Palms down at Stoke Lane this weekend as I've volunteered to do a 12 hour shift on Saturday as a colleague wants to take his lad down Forest. Friday evening is spent with Tony Mac in Nottingham city centre. We visit the Organ Grinder, Good Fellow George, Sir John Borlase Warren, Crafty Crow, The Castle and Junkyard (thanks for heads up Tim Widdowson re the tap takeover). We tip up at Neon Raptor at the fag end of the crawl for a couple of rocket fuel nightcaps. I can't 'arf pick 'em.


Monday, January 29, 2024

Stocksbridge Park Steels 0-0 Carlton Town

There was a lovely moment, for me, the other week, whilst wandering through the backstreets of Hyson Green. A young lad, be around 9 or 10 yrs old, came  flying out of a front gate and started dribbling a football down the road. “Who do you support?” asked Crazy Steve. “Pass Move and Grin” shouted out the boy. It’s a community club that does a lot for the underprivileged in the area. It brought a smile to my face and made my day.

Sean Paul's window cleaning services rocked up on Wednesday morning. It's a fall from grace for the 51 year old Jamaican rapper, but I guess we all have to make ends meet. He can always do a spot of Karaoke across the road at the Nags Head. I was in a taxi in the Algarve, just after the European Championship in 2004 were held there. We passed a football stadium close to Faro Airport. I said to the driver: " Who plays there?" He replied: "In July, Sean Paul and Simple Minds," .. lol

I'm in massive trouble with Ms Moon, later in the day, when I blurt out that there's going to be a massive scrap between Cain Dingle and Aaron on 'The Farm,' I tell her that I read at work in the Inside Soap magazine that Cain is going to kill Aaron with a monkey wrench. She's absolutely fuming folks. 

It's Thursday morning and I'm mooching around Sneinton Market. I call in to see my Bosnian barber, Mr Eko, for a holiday haircut. Thankfully he doesn't offer me a vodka shot; it's just a strong percolated coffee. I wander through the market, up into Hockley and down towards Carrington Street. 

Huge crowds are gathering outside Nottingham Crown Court. Back in June of last year an awful atrocity happened in our great City. A madman attacked a school caretaker on his way to work. and two students walking home together after a night out. All three were to lose their lives. Others too were badly injured  in the attacks. The defendant has just been sentenced to indefinite hospital order after admitting manslaughter charges.

I stand amongst the Press as the grief-stricken mother of student Barnaby Webber reads out a prepared statement. She is angry that the system has let them all down. The CPS, Nottinghamshire Police and the NHS all come under fire.

It preys on my mind, for the next hour or so of my walk, what those poor, bereaved relatives must be going through. The attacks brought our City to a standstill as there was an outpouring of public grief when a number of vigils were held. 

I catch the 26 Southwell bus, on Saturday morning close to an award-winning chippy called Oceans, which sits at the bottom of Carlton Hill. Ms Moon and I demolished a chippy tea from there on Thursday evening.

I jump off at Florence Avenue where I’m joined by Alan Murphy, who is head of the supporters group. We make the short walk down Stoke Lane, crossing the rail tracks where a Nottingham to Lincoln train has just whistled by.

There’s a small gathering of fans at the ground, as a Silverdale coach driver squeezes his vehicle through the club gates. It’s my first outing on the team coach as I usually travel by train or cadge a lift.

The second pick up point is at Millers Barn, Phoenix Park, where there is also a tram stop. We drive past a memorial stone that’s laid on the roundabout. It pays tribute to the miners who died from fatal injuries at Babbington Colliery between 1841-1986.

My first ever day at work was on 7th September 1981 at this very coal mine. I use the term ‘work’ loosely, as I was white collar staff. 

Memories came flooding back, the other evening, when Channel 4 screened a documentary called ‘Miners Strike 1984: The Battle of Britain. It was Margaret Thatcher versus National Union of Miners leader Arthur Scargill.

It was a long, bitter two year feud with neither side willing to compromise. The notorious, cocky, baton-wielding Metropolitan Police were based at Linby Colliery where I later worked, at the height of the strike.

The Management team and players are picked up, as are a few more at Junction 29. The Woodhead Pass is a pig of a road as we approach Stocksbridge. We sit in standing traffic for what seems an age.

The players and staff seem in a relaxed mood as the club look to continue their good form as the race for the play-offs enters the final stages. There’s plenty of chit chat and banter as the bus drops off some beer thirsty supporters on the high street.

The pubs don’t look all that, and I’m not one for viewing a game through beer goggles. I tag along with the infamous fish and chip reviewer ‘Danny Bhoy’ and his 12 year old lad Reuben.

It’s a steep climb up the hill towards the highly-rated Shelly’s chippy, that’s been open for over 30 years. I’m gasping for air but admiring the panoramic views of the Pennines, as the kind lady behind the counter throws us in three fresh haddocks, coated in two lots of batter, into a piping, red hot fryer.

The long wait for the chippy lunch bears fruit. Underneath the crisp batter is thick, fleshy meat. The chips melt in your mouth. Danny is suitably impressed, although he’s disappointed that they’ve ran out of curry sauce. The lady, behind the counter, mistakenly gives my haddock away to another customer. There’s no fuss or drama as I settle for a huge piece of cod. For good measure, and as an act of goodwill, she wraps up a couple of fish cakes.

There’s a hive of activity in one of the best clubhouses in Non League Football. Maidstone have just pulled off a major Cup upset at Portman Road, despite defending an astonishing 38x shots. The Millers field a strong team. Speedy winger Lamin Manneh is missing as is Lewis Durow, after a final whistle misdemeanor the other week. It’s a shame as both have looked in fine fettle. 

I bump into Carlton supporter Stuart and his legendary dog ‘Barton’ (Joey). They’ve had a bit of lip off the 'Stocksbridge Baby Squad' behind the goal. I suggest to Stu that he unleash Joey on the young ‘uns. Stuart says he’ll probably lick them to death.

Entertainment levels are zero in the first half, it’s an absolute snooze fest. Steels look most likely to score with their 9 jacket looking lively. 

We agree in the clubhouse that we’d take a point as it stands, as Steels are our bogey team. This stat is repeated throughout the second half by DJ Murph. Carlton improve in the final half hour with debutant Jebbison stinging the hands of the home ‘keeper.

I’ve stuck up for referees on here for years. The FA seem to fast-track the younger ones up the Pyramid too prematurely. The latest trend, for the men in black, is to get their cards out way too early, instead of letting common sense prevail. Today’s buffoon has zero man management skills and is another FA robot. Jebbison is sent off after two harsh yellow cards.

I don’t do 0-0s, but will take one today. It’s a tough place to come to. and Steels are a better side than their League position suggests.

I jump onto a tram at Phoenix Park, alighting at Queen’s Walk in the Meadows area of Nottingham. The Big Man is having a gathering for his 50th birthday, at a gin bar called The Botanist on The Avenue, in Sticky’s favourite place, West Bridgford .. lol.

I manage to get lost in the Meadows, which is easy to do with its rat runs and ginnels. I finally emerge onto Trent Bridge. I swing by the TBI pub where Ms Moon and daughter Becky are drinking following afternoon tea at Josephine’s, opposite Nottingham’s Theatre Royal. A well oiled Trumpy Bolton gives me a hug following Leicester City’s FA Cup win over the Bluenoses.

I’m on shop duty early doors on Sunday morning. I’m back home just after 9 am. I grab a couple of hours kip. I’ve had my pass stamped by Ms Moon to attend a charity event for the homeless called Beat the Streets. I meet music aficionado Tony Mac in the Barrel Drop on Hurts Yard.

It’s a cracking afternoon’s entertainment.  The Rain Age and Bloodworm knock it out of the park in the Rescue Rooms. I'm seeing them both again at the hipster Jam Cafe on Wednesday evening. We bump into newlyweds Casually Dan and Katie. 

We take a short break in Junkyard where we partake in a couple of rocket fuel craft ales from Amundsen, Norway and Basqueland, Spain.

Local band, Board Marsh, are playing upstairs at Rough Trade. The place is mobbed out with gig goers. They play a rip roaring set, and are definitely one for the notebook.

The night ends in tears for our man Mac. He’s totally unimpressed with feel good factor band The Chase (from St Ann's) - I liked ‘em. He announces he’s off. I’m dog tired so join him. He misses his tram home to Hucknall by seconds. He can’t ’arf pick ‘em.

Attendance: 210

Man of the Match: Danny Bhoy for picking that chippy out

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Carlton Town 0-2 Basford United

Radford FC have been turned over 2-0 by UCL Div One leaders Bourne Town, from Lincolnshire. I don't think Radford Director of Football, Big Glenn Russell, will be knocking me up a cheese and onion cob anytime soon, as my jinx from the terraces tightens its grip.

We turn off Selhurst Street onto Radford Road. It's my favourite area of inner city Nottingham. I'm with Faggsy, Little Al and Crazy Steve. We chew over the fat at The Lion, a corner pub on Mosley Street. It has a magnificent beer garden and a community feel about the joint. It has an array of real ales and craft beers to choose from. I could quite easily settle in for the evening. I jump off the tram in Market Square and say cheerio to Faggsy, who I'll see again down 'The Bill' on Tuesday evening.

Sundays have been a bit lazy of late. I'm usually up at 4 am for an early morning shift at the paper shop. I tend to have a kip on return to HQ. Afternoons are spent listening to episodes of Radcliffe and Maconie, whilst writing up notes for my blog. Ms Moon is usually as happy as Larry watching a chick flick from the sofa's edge.

It's Tuesday evening and I'm hanging around outside the Nags Head at the bottom of Carlton Hill, waiting for Faggsy. It's not a pub I frequent, as a ten minute walk away is the glorious Old Volunteer with its stunning frontage and good selection of guest cask ales.

The Mighty Millers of Carlton are playing noisy neighbours Basford United in the quarter finals of the Notts Senior Cup. The visitors, as a club, aren't my cup of tea. They've had more managers than the Rovers Return. They are battling to stay in the Northern Premier League and rely on visiting supporters to swell the crowd. Not many have bothered to make the six mile journey across town.

It's £8 on the gate and £2 for the best value programme in East Midlands Non League football. It's superbly headed up by Joe Standen and a small band of volunteers who contribute with regular columns. There's a huge gulf in class between the two sides in the first period. It's astonishing that it takes a whole 45 minutes for a fully fired-up, but off target Basford, to take the lead. 

They've fluffed their lines in the final third on many occasions. There's a comedy moment from the penalty spot when one of their forwards is wiped out by 'Felix the Cat', who is in the nets for The Millers. The resulting scuffed spot kick hits the bottom left post, rolls across the line and smacks the inside of the right hand post. A rebound finally falls to another player whose shot is well saved by Felix.

Tommy Brooksbank, the Carlton Town manager, will have the Sir Alex Ferguson hairdryer on full blast after a sub standard first half performance. Basford will be fuming that they aren't out of sight. The Carlton players are dropping like flies. Felix is playing on one leg, the dangerous Lamin Manneh has pulled up with a tight hamstring, Alex Hardwick limps off and Niall Davie is in the wars again. The visitors put the game to bed and coast to victory. The Millers, to their credit, put a shift in for the final thirty minutes.

The highlight of the game is another relentless set by DJ Murph. This has also been picked up by When Saturday Comes reader Martin Naylor, who actually wrote into the cult football magazine, singing the praises of our esteemed DJ. Alan has two rules with his music: he plays what he likes and always includes a track by The Fall. His killer track this evening is 'Pssyche' by Killing Joke from back in 1982.

There's bad news to report for the rest of the week, reader. I fall victim to a vicious virus that lays me low and bedridden for four days. I'm excused (relieved) from Emmerdale Farm and Corrie duties. I use my time effectively to finish off a mighty fine travel book by the broadcaster Stuart Maconie called The Full English: A Journey in Search of a Country and Its People.

I also listen to a few podcasts from the BBC Sounds app. I'm amused by 'My Mate's a Footballer' which features the comedian Joe Wilkinson, who plays the postman in Ricky Gervais's After Life, and the Leeds United, Nottingham born striker, Patrick Bamford. I've always been a fan of Bamford, who not only gives insightful interviews to journalists, but also scored some extraordinary goals at youth level for Nottingham Forest, when I used to take a keen interest in their academy. By chance he scores a worldie in an FA Cup tie at Peterborough United. which is the main topic of conversation in the latest episode.

Wednesday lunchtime is spent in Nottingham city centre. I've shaken off my ailments. I meet Ms Moon outside a new restaurant located on Heathcoat Street called Taquero. It's the brainchild of the folks who brought into Nottingham, Iberico World Tapas and Bar Iberico. It's highly-rated on Google review and good value at just over £30 for lunch for two, including a service charge.

It's 8 am on Thursday morning and I'm sitting in The Hungry Pumpkin, a family run cafe on High Pavement. Tony Mac and I hoover up a full English before walking it off up to the railway station. We've planned our return to Manchester for an age now, following the publication of Manchester's Best Beer Pubs and Bars, by Matthew Curtis. We've both ticked off 61 out of the book, leaving another 140 to go at.

We alight the Norwich to Liverpool EMR train at Manchester Victoria at just shy of twelve bells. We're tucking into a paddle of craft beers at Bundobust, on Oxford Street. We decline the kind offer of some Indian tapas, as we're booked in to have some street food later in the day.

There is time to call into a few more bars before checking-in at our Airbnb, located in the heart of the Northern Quarter. We're soon out and about in town. One of the picks of the day is the newly opened Pomona Island craft ale owned bar called North Westward Ho, on Chapel Walks. This splendid building was a former Thai Restaurant. It's named after a pub ship that moored in the Pomona Docks in the 1970s.

Tony Mac has grabbed some tickets for a beer festival that are a steal for £3. It's being hosted by GRUB who are based in Cheetham Hill, just a short walk away. Former Wimbledon and Norwich City striker Efan Ekoku was born in the area, as was the brewer Sir Edward Holt, playwright Jack Rosenthal and Grime artist Bugzy Malone.

Curtis describes GRUB as a 'trailblazer on the Manchester food and drink scene.' On entry we can see why. There are 18x taps downstairs with further choices from Sureshot, Neon Raptor, Cloudwater and Northern Monk upstairs. We tuck into some food too. Tony enjoys some South Korean chicken. The rest of the evening is murky and hazy; a bit like the beer. 14x pubs in a day is a good return though.

Breakfast is taken at Koffee Pot. It has American-based breakfasts during the day and serves tacos and craft beer by night. Refuelled, we cross over the road and board a tram to Bury, where Gary Neville and Phil Neville are from.

I'm not a 'Spoons fan nor an admirer of their Tory donor owner, the recently knighted Sir Tim Martin. But you have to admire the architecture and pub fronts of some of his pubs. The Art Picture House is a tastefully restored 1920s cinema.

Across the road, just past the Robert Peel statue, is a three star CAMRA Heritage pub called the Old White Lion. Again, it's a stunning building with a jaw-dropping interior. They only have Timothy Taylor on cask. I have a Boddingtons for old times sake.

We hop back on the tram down to Prestwich. The lights are out at Church Inn, so we tick a few more pubs off on the main drag.. We give a punter short shrift as he sits on his laptop whilst hosting a Teams call. We talk loudly to cheese the poser off. The landlord at The Crooked Man is a lovely bloke and a Bury fan too. He's surprised to learn that his bar is an entry in the Curtis book.

We bump into Gary Neville on Deansgate as he poses for a selfie with two ladies who have pounced upon him. There's time for a swift one in Rain Bar before the 7.38 pm train home to Nottingham.

Man of the Match: DJ Murph

Attendance: 181 

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Radford FC 0-2 Bourne Town

It's been 28 days since I last put pen to paper. It's a winter break that Jurgen Klopp can only dream of. Christmas has been and gone in the blink of an eye. It's been action packed both pre and post Santa.

It's Thursday 14th Dec and I'm sitting in the car with Crazy Steve and Little Al. Cotgrave Trev is at wheel and is about to turn off the M1 at Junction 35A. We're not all that far from Stocksbridge Steels FC which has sweeping views of the Pennines. It is, of course, where Foxes striker Jamie Vardy began his career. Just my luck he was on an electronic tag the day I went to watch him play v FC United of Manchester in 2010.

I'm on a day out with the gang, looking for Victoria Cross graves, CAMRA Heritage pubs and celebrity graves. The first pub we visit is The Old Bridge Inn, in picturesque Ripponden. It's a Grade II listed building which is reputed to be one of the oldest pubs in West Yorkshire. It's also home to the Annual Pork Pie Competition where butchers flock from far and wide. Hinchcliffe's Farm Shop, in Huddersfield are the 2023 champions. There's no Melton Mowbray pork pie on the counter, so I have a smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich instead.

The highlight(s) of the day for me are the visit to the grave of former 'It Ain't Arf Mum' actor Don Estelle ("Lofty") and a game of cribbage with Crazy Steve, supervised by the landlord and landlady in the games room of the Bridge Inn, in Rochdale, a town where the singers Gracie Fields and Lisa Stansfield were born. It reminds me of Rave On's quiz in Phoenix Nights where a few folk are huddled around Young Kenny's table. The quizmaster shouts out: "And the answer is ... the Shroud of Turin." What did we put?" asks a confused quizzer. "Lisa Stansfield" is the reply. 

I'm back out on manoeuvres on Friday. It's bad news for Tony Mac and I at our favourite breakfast haunt, YOLK, in Hockley. The manager Jan and his partner (the eggs Benedict chef) have upped sticks and opened a new joint in Bristol. We have a below average fry up at Hockley Kitchen.

It's the 'Keyworth Massive' Christmas party in Peterborough. Matt Limon and Coops join us on the train and we're met in Posh by 'Chopper Harris' and my old school chum 'Ackers.' Hand and Heart is a big heritage tick off for Sticky. It has an art deco frontage and a Second World War memorial inside the front bar - one of only 60 such memorials in the UK. A cracking day is had by all as we visit some more Good Beer Guide entries in a residential area of the city called Werrington.

There's no football on at the weekend as I'm on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory duties at MSR Newsagent, on Front Street, in Arnold. A table is set up outside the shop where I sell chocolate to the general public. The British shopper has a weakness for confectionery, particularly during the festive season, and this is despite blustery conditions and squally showers - it's bloody freezing folks; the new set of thermals, recently purchased from Blacks, don't 'arf come in handy.

I'm down Stoke Lane on Tuesday evening after hoovering up a wonderful chippy tea at 'The Plaice.' Newton Aycliffe, from County Durham, are the visitors - a 250 mile round midweek long haul trip. Carlton's poor disciplinary record is questioned again with yet another ridiculous sending off for retaliation - it nearly cost them relegation last season, as well as valuable funds being drained from club coffers in payments to the FA. Playing with ten men, for well over an hour, results in a 3-0 reverse. It's annoying as the visitors aren't all that - they only raise their game in the final half an hour when some fresh legs are sent on from the bench.

I barely move from my armchair over the three days of festivities. I've an annoying dry cough and the sniffles. The two Paddington films cheer me up somewhat. I suggest to Ms Moon that we pick up a jar of marmalade from the worst supermarket in western Europe (Carlton Tesco) on our next visit, so I can make some sandwiches.

The afternoon of Friday 29th December is the Carlton Town Supporters' Club Christmas Party. A gaggle of supporters gather in the back bar of the King William IV, on Eyre Street, in Sneinton. We finish up at the glorious Bath Inn to the rear of Sneinton Market. Regular readers will know the landlord of the pub is the son of former Dr Who actor, Tom Baker.

A few of us jump on the 26 Southwell bus, which drops us close to the Millers' Bill Stokeld Stadium. Grimsby Borough are tonight's opponents. Carlton have shown character and bounced back from  disappointment. On Boxing Day they beat Margaret Thatcher's (the milk snatcher) Grantham Town 3-2. Fortune is hiding for Tommy and Mark's young guns this evening. The woodwork is Grimsby's saviour, although they themselves fluffed their lines from the penalty spot earlier in the game. Another home loss is a tough one to take, as is a malfunctioning sound system that has cheesed off East Midlands DJ of the Year, 'Casually Dan' no end.

It's the first Wednesday of the New Year and the beginning of four days off work. Ms Moon and I have lunch at a traditional and elegant restaurant called Josephine's, which is opposite Nottingham's Theatre Royal, a stunning building, which is where Laurel and Hardy played at the fag end of their career in 1952.

The afternoon is spent at Broadway Cinema where we watch a tear-jerker of a film called One Life. It stars the Welsh actor Sir Anthony Hopkins. It's the true story of a London stockbroker who rescues more than 600 children from Nazi-occupied Prague. Your heart must be made of stone if you don't weep at the ending. I fought long and hard to fight back the tears. But boy did they stream.

It's the first Friday Night Club outing of the season. Because of the inclement weather, we thought we'd keep it local. We witness scenes of devastating floods, particularly in Newark, where the banks of the Trent have burst like a party balloon. 

I was born in Lincoln in 1964. It has never felt like home, but I enjoy my visits to Sincil Bank and the city's magnificent hostelries. Mac and I head down High Street to begin our session at the Golden Eagle. It's a tough area of town, with groups of undesirables hanging around on a few street corners - this will only grow in a few weeks' time when D***y County's flock rock up in town.

We tick off a further 8x pubs which include some beauties such as: Imp and Angel, Tiny Tavern, BeerHeadZ and Adam and Eve. The train conveniently stops at Carlton on the journey home. I'm back at HQ for 10 pm.

The Millers are away at North Ferriby, up in the East Riding of Yorkshire on Saturday. I've had my eye on Radford FC v Bourne Town for some time now. Big Glenn confirms the game is 100% ON. Ms Moon fails a late fitness test due to an Emmerdale Farm back catalogue series record frenzy.

I have a chat with Our Joe on the bus into town. He's buzzing after Keyworth United recorded their eighth win in a row, The feelgood factor has returned to the club now it's ran by, and played by, Our Own. I meet Crazy Steve and Little Al in Six Barrels Drafthouse. We have a couple of pints before jumping on the tram towards Noel Street.

Big Glenn kindly shouts me up a cheese and red onion cob from the kitchen whilst I sup a pint of chesnut mild. Crazy is invited into the kitchen to see what meats are available. He turns up his nose at beef tongue and corned beef, prefering instead chicken tikka.

I say hello to 'Asbo', 'Tank', 'Daisy Reilly' and 'Shoey' before joining the lads and Faggsy. The first half is uneventful apart from an unfortunate own goal after an in-swinging corner isn't dealt with by the 'keeper.

I avoid Big Glenn like the plague at half-time. as I've previous form here. that Radford usually lose when I attend. It's a good game in the second half. League leaders Bourne have strength and energy in abundance. A free header from another corner seals Radford's fate. The only thing to cheer us up is a little ditty from the Raddy Army congregated behind the goal. They sing "Oh Hyson Green ... is full of fun ... it's full of crack, prossies and Asda, oh Hyson Green is full of fun"

Attendance: 107

Man of the Match: Bourne 8 jacket

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Keyworth United Res 2-6 Bilborough Town

Tony Mac and I have a stroke of good fortune on our journey back from Birmingham New Street Station, after 24 hours on the sauce in the city centre and neighbouring suburbs. We catch an earlier train than anticipated, as we were concerned about the build up of traffic from the 'World Famous City Ground' following the Forest v Everton late kick-off. We both receive an email from Cross Country Trains to say our later train had been cancelled at short notice. It's a lame excuse from another inept and underperforming train operator. Please put them back in the hands of the People like Northern and TransPennine Express are.

I'm dog tired as I bid farewell to Mac on arrival back in our great City. I jump into a taxi outside Loxley House, that heads back up towards Carlton. Grim news is breaking from NFFC. Big Sean Dyche has turned up the heat on NFFC's head coach, Steve Cooper, with a 1-0 win. The goal has come from Dwight McNeil, a player Dyche helped develop during his time at Turf Moor.

Ms Moon isn't interested in my boring, endless anecdotes of high jinks and drinking escapades with Tony Mac in Brum, as she is engrossed in the fag end of Strictly Come Dancing. I ask her if the lass from Corrie is still in poll position, before climbing the wooden hill and falling into a coma, dreaming of 13% abv boozy pastry imperial stouts with Bourbon and Cognac flavouring.

My alarm beeps at 4 am. Us Media lads don't have time to rest on our laurels - I work at a newsagents by the way. I fire up the kettle and pour a treacle-coloured Nescafe Alta Rica coffee, with a splash of milk in it. I can usually flop into my armchair and book an UBER ride to the shop in two minutes at this God forsaken unearthly hour of the morning. I draw back the curtains and notice, to my horror, that around three inches of snow has fallen during the night. In my drunken haze I had totally ignored a severe weather warning on my Accuweather app the previous evening.

I start to panic as I get the wheel of misfortune on my UBER app. A lot of these Herberts can't drive in ideal driving conditions, what are they going to be like on untreated, snow-covered roads? I finally get a booking, after what seems like an age. Miraculously, the papers arrive from 'the Smoke' in good time to be delivered. A massive hat tip must go to Dayne Lowe, in our shop, who delivers the shop's papers to hilly areas of Nottingham such as: Mapperley, Sherwood and Arnold.

I flick the Vs at UBER for the journey home to Chez Palms. A £4 bus fare for two rides on the excellent Nottingham City Transport bus numbers 58 and 27, see me back home for 3 pm following a nine hour shift at the MSR branch in Arnold.

It's Tuesday evening and I'm back on that 58 bus heading into the city centre. I turn a blind eye (my bad one) to the monstrosity that has pitched up in our Market Square. I remember back in the day how beautiful Slab Square used to look with its huge, towering trees, fountains and flower beds.

I meet 'Our Joe' and ex work son Tommy, in Hooters on London Road. I always feel uncomfortable there, if I'm honest, but the snap isn't too bad. On arrival at Carlton I'm asked by the lads if my glasses steamed up whilst I was eating my tea. I blame it on the cold, Baltic conditions.

Carlton Town versus Cleethorpes Town has somehow avoided a postponement despite a downpour of biblical proportions. The Carlton faithful have been starved of games of late, this is despite the valiant efforts of the World's greatest groundsman and blog legend Swifty.

I stand with 'Herr Harlow' for the first half. We're nearer to the end that the Millers attack. On reflection this looks a foolish decision as it's the visitors from Lincolnshire who have the better of the first 45 minutes. Thankfully they snatch at their chances as they raid down the flanks.

DJ Murph, aka 'Chief Wiggum', is in charge of the decks in the clubhouse this evening as 'Casually Dan' is on babysitting duties for 7 year old daughter Lily - although I must add both are attendees on a school night. 'Murph' plays a stunning, jaw-dropping set at the break that draws admiration from all quarters. He starts with Gangsters by Coventry-based Two Tone band The Specials. He follows this up with 'Love Like Blood', by post-punk band Killing Joke, whose guitarist 'Geordie' Walker passed away in Prague two weeks ago. The final track is 'Babylon is Burning' by The Ruts, whose lead singer Malcolm Owen died of a heroin overdose in 1980 at the peak of their fame.

This magnificent trio of records has fired up and galvanised the Mighty Millers both on and off the pitch. The ever consistent Niall Hylton scores a beauty from distance with his trusty left foot as Carlton look to run riot. The referee has spent most of the evening making a mountain out of a molehill, as both sides just look to play the beautiful game. Things boil over just as Gaz Bee is fleecing me for £4 on the football card (who won it btw Gaz?).

My back is turned as a huge roar goes up for a 'cast iron' penalty. It's a NO from tonight's referee Mr Richard Morris, but more importantly no flag is raised by assistant referee Grace Lowe who is only a few yards away from where the assault took place. She feels the wrath of Chief Wiggum's tongue with language I haven't heard since I worked in the coal mining industry.

At the final whistle the squad walk across to acknowledge the Millers support congregated behind the goal. One of the management team shouts out a derogatory remark aimed at the official(s) inept performance. "Put that in your match report" he shouts, before an about turn. It's another strong second half performance by Tommy and Mark's brave, young warriors.

Wednesday lunchtime and afternoon are spent once again in Nottingham. Ms Moon and I have a long lunch on the mezzanine floor at Delilah Fine Foods on Victoria Street. I buy some thermals from Blacks as Winter sets in and I browse the shelves of second hand book shops in hipster Hockley. I call by The Bell Inn for a soft drink before strolling up to the Cornerhouse on Burton Street.

It's a change of scenery on the film front today. Broadway Cinema is swapped out for Cineworld, which I must say is a lot cheaper and has comfier seats too. I'll always support the independent cinema that relies on donations. Saltburn isn't on the screens at Broadway. The film is set at Oxford University and stars Richard E Grant who plays the wealthy, eccentric father of a student who has been befriended by a scholar from Prescot, in Merseyside. It's a black comedy and psychological thriller that I would wholeheartedly recommend when it reaches our TV screens.

Friday evening is spent with Ms Moon and our good friends Roberto and Joanne who volunteer tirelessly for the AC Wollaton football charity, which raises monies and enhances lives through the power of football. We enjoy a few drinks at the TBI in West Bridgford, where the drinks are as cheap as chips and the company is first class.

I'd already made my mind up to go and watch 'The Keyworth Georgie Best' play for Keyworth United Reserves at 'the Theatre of 3G' - Sticky doesn't do 3G, but blood is thicker than fake grass. I jump on the Keyworth 6 that crosses over Trent Bridge, with views of the swollen banks of the river. Just two passengers are on board for the entire journey.

Johnny Harkins is filling out the team sheet as I seek the warmth of the clubhouse where on the TV screen Harvey Elliott has secured a late win for Liverpool, which means Sticky is through to the next round of MSR's Last Man Standing.

I briefly watch the teams warm up in the blustery, showery conditions. I catch up with Ressies manager Chris Thompson, who makes me feel very welcome by treating me to a cup of tea, The teams pay their respects to very popular Bilborough Town player Kail Thurman, who tragically lost his life in an accident.

I stand with Roberto as we feel the full force of a westerly wind accompanied by squally showers. Bilborough's 17 year old striker, David Olatomide, is posing problems. He's already missed a couple of chances before he opens the scoring. The Green Army also has an exciting young striker called 'Junior.' I've seen this kid open the bowling for Nottinghamshire CCC U18s down at Lady Bay Sports Ground  - he's only 16 yrs old. He gets a deserved equaliser as Keyworth grow into the game.

The wind advantage is Bilborough's gain in the second half. They go 3-1 up, but are then pegged back with a tap-in at the far post by 'The Keyworth Georgie Best.' He departs the game on 80 minutes, clearly yearning for a pint and a fag. The final scoreline is harsh on the Green Army young guns who have plugged away. The two in midfield are outstanding. The Ressies are in good health, as are the first team with six wins on the bounce. It's great to see the Keyworth community enjoying their football again now that the toxic atmosphere from seasons gone by has been extinguished.

The Bilborough Town team and management come into the bar for after match hospitality. What a smashing bunch of lads they are too. The game has been played in an excellent spirit and has been well refereed too. I can't 'arf pick 'em. The night is only to get better. More on that next week, if I get a game in.

Man of the Match: David Olatomide