Sunday, April 24, 2022

Clay Cross Town 0-1 Newark Town

It's Maundy Thursday (the day before Good Friday for any kids that have just tuned in). I'm holed up in West Bridgford, a place I have a love/hate relationship with. I love a tick off and this teatime I'm able to chalk one off. Escabeche is an upmarket, independent Spanish tapas restaurant, located just off The Avenue, which has a maize of chain restaurants and high street coffee shops. 

It's a posh nosh place that has somehow slipped under my radar in its 12- year-old history. It's a team building treat from our employer - a piss up in old money. I finish the evening off in the more familiar surroundings of a spit and sawdust watering hole called Stratford Haven. I quaff a few ales with 'Our Joe and my comedy gold 'Work Son', Tommy the Tottenham fan, who has kept my spirits up for the last 12 months as I recovered from major eye surgery. Clifton All Whites legend and friend to the stars, James 'Tosh' Turner pops in to say hello.

Good Friday is usually spent with Trumpy Bolton at some northern outpost. He's deserted me and betrayed me. Well, actually, he's with wife Jayne up in Barnard Castle, along with Dominic Cummings having an eyesight test at Specsavers.

I'm being a good lad as I've a hectic four days planned. It's a glorious sunny morning. Ms Moon and I walk the two miles into town (Nottingham). We drop onto a narrow pathway that leads us onto The Promenade, with it's wonderful bright coloured three storey terraced houses. This leads us through St Mary's Rest Garden, where legendary Nottingham boxer 'Bendigo' Thompson is buried.

The city centre is alive with folk as NFFC have a 12.30 ko at Luton Town's Kenilworth Road ground - it's a place I've somehow never ticked off. A schoolboy error sees me have tapas twice in the space of 24 hours. We have lunch at ViDa by Lorentes, on Stoney Street, in the Lace Market.

After a heavy food shop, in the Marks and Spencer food hall, my patience is rewarded with a a few hours free time (drinking) - Ms Moon doesn't do daytime scoops. I peg it up Derby Road as word has it that a new boozer has opened. I enjoy a pleasant hour in the Whistle and Flute - an old tailor's shop.

Tricky Trees fans are emerging from pub doorways in a right old two 'n eight. The Hatters have beaten them 1-0 in a game shrouded in controversy. They are angry and worse for wear. Can't win 'em all folks.

Saturday morning is spent pottering about in the garden. I've cut the grass and scarified the lawn. It's in a worser state than those Forest lads yesterday. We pop over to Bingham to see Ms Moon's granddaughter Bonnie, before heading west towards the old brewery town of Kimberley, once HQ to Hardy's and Hansons. It's another tick off -what a weekend - as we hook up with Mr John Harris and wife Jackie at Roots Micropub. I enjoy a Snake Eyes from the Black Iris stable as we bask in the early spring sunshine. 

Kimberley Miners Welfare are on the crest of a wave and on the verge of being crowned champions of the United Counties League Division One North. A point today, against Harrowby United from Grantham, will kick-start the celebrations.

The town has turned up in large numbers to watch the champions elect. We stand on the far side of the Stag Ground at the top of a grass bank - my eyes work better with an elevated view. Exciting prospect Aaron Coyle opens the scoring on 7 minutes, but Kimbo look nervous and snatch at the chances they create. 

Ryan Wheatley looks to have put the game to bed and the champagne on ice as he doubles their lead. KMW had reckoned without the craft and guile of the game's best player, Jack Gurney. He pulls a goal back with a great strike and almost grabs an equaliser. The final whistle is blown, and the champagne corks are popped. We quietly slip away as I have a big night ahead.

Ms Moon drops me off at the top of Maid Marian Way. I wander down Chapel Bar, past Fat Cat, a bar/restaurant, whose windows were put in by neanderthal 'Leicester City fans' a few months ago. I grab a small Five Guys cheeseburger before heading up Market Street and crossing the road towards Lillie Langtrys

I enjoy a couple of real ales with Ackers, Coops and 'Widdow' in a bustling city centre. It's my first Rock City gig in over 30 years. Peter Hook and the Light are in the building. It's a fantastic evening and a cracking two-and-half-hour set. We have a few finishers in the The Bell Inn, to see the night off.

It's Easter Monday. We have a disappointing breakfast at the highly-rated Annie's Burger Shack in the Lace Market area of Nottingham. This is in contrast to a first-class Sunday lunch at The Plough, Normanton on-the Wolds, yesterday afternoon.

I'm literally back in town, a few hours later, hanging around the railway station. Tony Mac and I jump on a train to Sheffield. We're off to see Benefits, an issue-based music collective from Teesside. There's plenty of time for a reconnaissance for a future real ale trip to the 'Steel City' on May 20th. After a few scoops in the Kelham Island Quarter, we head down to Sidney and Matilda to see the gig. Benefits never, ever disappoint; tonight is no exception!

I meet up with a couple of Nottingham Forest supporters on Wednesday evening up at the Bread and Bitter on Mapperley Tops. We'd got chatting on Twitter where I found out they were looking to raise money to help the victims and bereaved from the Hillsborough Disaster get specialised therapy treatment - this includes NFFC supporters still traumatised by the events of that tragic day. I'm IN for the 20 mile walk starting and finishing at Anfield on July 2nd.

Friday teatime is spent in the village of Keyworth where I resided for over 45 years. We're raising a glass to the legend Paul 'Willy Gee' who recently passed away. The celebration of his life takes place at The Salutation Inn, where Brian Clough's chief scout, Alan Hill, was once landlord in the late 1980s. Willy had razor-sharp wit, was a mighty fine footballer and a good friend. Rest in peace mate, we all love you and miss you xx.

We finally reach Saturday. This time next week I will have some massive news to share with you all. I load up the boot with crap and scrap from the garage after a spring clean. It's emptied at a recycling centre near Nottingham Showcase Cinema. A mundane half an hour is spent in Dunelm buying quilt covers and bed sheets. Ms Moon drives up the A610 and onto the M1 North bound carriageway.

Paul Gambacinni is smashing it outta the park on Radio 2's Pick of the Pops. 1981 is the year and there are some belters including Rescue Me by Madonna. Star of the show is Buster Bloodvessel and his band, Bad Manners. 'Just a Feeling' is a song I haven't heard in ages.

We have to settle for a 'Meal Deal' in Tesco Clay Cross car park. Today's Central Midlands League North Division fixture could decide who wins the title as both teams are level on points and games played.

I love it up here and have been previously four or five times. The folk are so friendly and engaging. It's £3 each on the gate. We snap up 3x 50/50 draw tickets. The visitors, from Newark, are managed by former Lincoln City legend Nathan Arnold, who came close to giving me a heart attack live on BBC TV when he scored a last second winner back in 2017 to see off Ipswich Town in an FA Cup replay. St John's at Sincil Bank were on standby after that chuffer went in.

I'm unsure if there's too much at stake in the first half, but it's devoid of any quality or bravery on the ball. I don't do 0-0s and this has one written all over it. I'm dispatched to the tea hut by Ms Moon to see if we've won the 50/50 draw. I return pale-faced, lip wobbling and tears streaming down my cheek. "How the hell are we going to pay the gas bill?"

Thankfully there is a goal. The Newark striker smashes home from close range. Clay Cross are below par and will be bitterly disappointed. It was an enjoyable afternoon out in North Derbyshire though.

Attendance: 147

Man of the Match: Young referee was excellent.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Gresley Rovers 2-2 Heanor Town

It's Thursday 7th April and I'm hanging around that infamous bus stop outside the Fox and Grapes ('Peggers' in old money) in Sneinton.  Let's not forget folks, it's the scene of the oldest unsolved murder in Nottingham. The Landlord of 'Pretty Windows' was found dead at the very spot where I now stand, back in 1963. 

I'm on my way home to rustle up another award-winning supper, after a couple of scoops in Junkyard and Neon Raptor. A mum and daughter rock up at the bus stop. The young girl is carrying an ice hockey stick - the rink, where Nottingham Panthers play, is within my view. Mum fishes her mobile from out of her handbag. She talks out loud to her daughter: "I'm going to Google who Craig David is"

I begin to feel light-headed, break out into a sweat, as the red mist begins to descend. Me 'n David have got previous. My old budgie, Murphy Palmer (a nasty piece of work when he'd got it on him) and Sticky Palms used to terror the Southampton-supporting RnB DJ and Rapper on his Twitter account - I think we finally got blocked.

Murphy insisted that a towel was to be placed over his cage if David ever appeared on Top of the Pops 2 or Ken Bruce, such was the young budgie's disdain for his music. I stare at the billboards just around the corner. Christ on a bike, Craig David is appearing at Nottingham Arena tonight - 3-2-1- I'm Walking Away straight onto the Carlton No.27 bus. 

I've managed to watch a few games at the 'World Famous City Ground' this week. Jack and Joe swerve the FA Youth Cup semi-final game versus Chelsea on Monday evening. I have tea with 'Daddy Shanks' from the Marketing dept and 'Big Al' (not the clown who bought Notts County) from Sales. 

We're seated in the Brian Clough Lower. I'm sat next to Keyworth legend Mick Widdowson, who belts out the lyrics to 'Mull of Kintyre' despite it being a crowd just shy of 4000. Ideagen PLC, CEO, Ben Dorks sits close by - the software company sponsor the youth set up at Nottingham Forest.

It's nip 'n tuck in the first half, with lots of energy but not much doing. The game springs to life in the second half. Chelsea take the lead from a looping, deflected shot, following a training ground short corner routine, which catches the Forest young 'uns napping.

Despite their best efforts the Tricky Trees look out for the count. An incredible last eight minutes of football sees Forest score three times. Leicester-born Detlef Esapa Osong will take the plaudits for his brace of goals, but the whole team, to a man, are immense. The right back is 15-years-old and still yet to take his GCSE'S. Manchester United away at Old Trafford, in the final, is their reward.

I rustle up king prawns and egg fried rice for tea on Wednesday evening. I jump off the bus opposite Nottingham Arena. It's a blustery evening, with conditions not conducive for fast-flowing football. I'm seated in my favourite spot, 'B' Block in the Peter Taylor Stand.

Expectations are set for another win, as NFFC chase down AFC Bournemouth. Coventry City prove to be a tough nut to crack. Forest take an age to get going, but once they do, the opposition are run off the pitch. Brennan Johnson can do no wrong. He bundles the ball over the line for the first goal. Jimmy Garner, in the form of his life, wallops home the second with his left peg, to get Forest over the line. Fireworks are let off by Eva's Grill at the end of the game as Depeche Mode belts out of the stadium PA system.

Tony Mac is sidelined on Friday evening. His missus is down in Torquay watching Notts County. Mac is on 'babysitting' duties. Ms Moon is drafted in as a replacement. I've already had a couple of stiff craft ales in Bunkers Hill as well as can of Resist, a chocolate and beetroot stout, in Raptor, where 100% of the profits are to go to the Red Cross, who are helping out with the war effort in Ukraine and on the border with Poland. We spend a few pleasant hours in Sneinton winding down for the weekend.

It's Saturday morning. I'm browsing through my Gordon Ramsay Quick Recipe Book. This can only mean one thing: there'll be loads of swearing and shouting in the kitchen this evening. I have to nip down to the hell hole that is called Carlton Tesco to buy all the ingredients. Ms Moon makes a sandwich for lunch before we head out the door towards Derbyshire.

Rightly or wrongly I'd heard that Gresley FC might be leaving their wonderful old Moat Ground in the near future. I've visited twice in the last 20 years. Its sloping playing surface is one to die for. Radio 2's Pick of the Pops is on. Gambacinni is playing the Top 20 from 1983. Kajagoogoo's 'Ooh to Be Ah' is at No.7 in the hit parade. It's an old terrace chant from the Trent End "Ooh to be a Midlander.'

We hit the village of Church Gresley in 50 minutes, parking on a sidestreet a five-minute walk away from the ground. Ms Moon and I take a short stroll through the Maurice Lea Memorial Park. It has a football pitch, bowls club, tennis courts and an impressive bandstand.

It's £7.50 on the gate, £2 for a programme and a couple more quid for some golden goal tickets. The ground is at its jaw-dropping best, with all its nooks and crannies. We stand on the far side. Gresley need four more points for promotion. Their only defeat, the entire season, was against Heanor, a club I have enjoyed visiting many, many times.

Gresley storm into an early two goal lead. Heanor are never out of the game and pull back a goal on the stroke of half-time. I fancied their chances at 2-0 down as they constantly cause havoc and create opportunities. Ms Moon has already ripped up her golden goal tickets and is having a wee sulk.

I get chatting to the dad of Heanor Town midfielder Max Thornberry. He's a lovely bloke. He tells me about Max's 8-year stint at the Nottingham Forest Academy. I think folk forget how parents have to ferry kids to academies 3-4 times a week as their child chases the dream. He was in the same age group as Ben Brereton and a year below star midfielder Ryan Yates (more on him later).

Heanor's Kyle Daley bags his second goal of the game with another great finish, following a cracking move. The game peters out somewhat but has still been brilliant entertainment for the neutral and the 452 who have rocked up.

Ms Moon flicks on the Grand National on the car radio. Yesterday I placed 3x small bets for myself. Ms Moon piped up that she'd like two £5 each way selections (claimed she meant £2.50 e/w after the event). I've had a massive £1.50 e/w on Noble Yeates (pronounced the same as Ryan Yates but spelt differently, obvs). 

Ms Moon's bottom lip is wobbling and her eyes are welling up with tears as her horse has hit the deck at the second fence. Her other horse has barely been mentioned. Yeatesy storms home at 50/1. Somehow Ms Moon's horse sneaks home in 5th place. I have to payout £21 winnings to the good lady.

I'm up and at 'em first thing on Sunday morning. 'The Keyworth Georgie Best' is playing against Clifton Mad Squad at Gresham Playing Fields on Wilford Lane. I catch a bus to town, dive into the nearest Greggs for a sausage and bacon cob before jumping on the No.1 bus. KGB is warming-up (having a fag) as I wander up to the pitch.

I saw CMS get schooled by Poets Young Boys a few weeks ago in a cup semi-final Their League form is Played 13 and Won 13, with a goal difference of +78. Quite a few lads have rolled up to support the underdogs. Duds, Stolly, Sizzers and 'Our Joe' are in attendance. The banter is vicious and not going down too well with CMS who are under pressure to produce. They take the lead but are pegged back by a sublime finish from 'Hollywood' with a header that wouldn't look out of place a lot higher up the leagues. 

I take a look at another game on the adjacent pitch. Former Lincoln City and Notts County winger Terry Hawkridge is playing for Nottingham Legends. I loved Terry when he was with the Imps. He makes everything look so easy. By the time I return to KGB's game, they are dead and buried at 3-1. Final score is 4-2 - they've gave them a run for their money.

Man of the Match: Jake Carlisle, Heanor Town

Attendance 452

Man of the Match 2nd game:  Jack Kibble, Beeston Mariners heart of a lion.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Phoenix Top Spot 1-2 Amari's Universe

'Our Joe' drops me off in North Bridgford. I've thoroughly enjoyed my Sunday morning outing to Clifton. The local Nottingham characters, out in force, are well funny. Poets Young Boys are through to their second cup final. I'll be able to watch this one, as it's on my patch, at Carlton Town, and not some god damn awful 'plastic pitch.'

I swing open the front door of the Dispensary Bar at my all-time favourite pub, The Embankment - the artist formally known as Boots Social Club. Bar staff are preparing themselves for an avalanche of customers as it's Mother's Day. My mood is good. I down a chocolate and orange stout, peg it down London Road and bask in the early spring sunshine at the Word Famous Neon Raptor Taproom.

The Sunday morning cup semi-final blog is well received by both teams - thanks for the entertainment lads. Ms Moon celebrates this news with a six-episode TV binge watch of Bridgerton Season 3 on Netflix. I sit in the armchair shaking my head in disbelief, every now and then. There's still a week's worth of Emmerdale Farm and Corrie to catch up on after our holiday in Tenerife.

I'm only in at work for three days. Big news to report on that in the coming weeks. I manage to listen to a couple of Undr the Cosh podcasts. I don't really take to former Preston and Burnley winger Keith Treacy, but Wayne Biggins is good fun and seems a top bloke with a catalogue of witty anecdotes.

It's Wednesday evening, and I'm disembarking from the Ruddington 10 bus, outside the Ibis Hotel, on Fletcher Gate, in Nottingham city centre. I'm desperate for a haircut, a fact I'm quite proud of at 58 years old, despite my greying appearance.

I wander down hipster Hockley. There's no sneaky craft ale at Jam Cafe today. To my disappointment Curtis and York barbers are closed, with the front shutter pulled down. I'm seething folks. I mean it's not even 5 p.m. yet. I sulk and skulk across the bottom of Lower Parliament Street and head through Sneinton Market before turning left up Carlton Road.

I notice a barber's up a side street (Bath Street). A guy is just leaving the chair and settling up his bill. The barber is from Bosnia and doesn't mince his words - "get in the chair and I will sort you out." I have to shout out, into a remote control, a few songs I would like playing. It's like the Steve Lamacq Friday Request Show on 6 Music. He likes 'Blue Monday' by New Order despite it being a Wednesday.

The guy is a legend. He finishes off by giving me an Indian head massage. We've both shared some life stories. His are quite sad and life changing. I like him a lot and promise I'll be back. Eko Barbers if you're wondering.

It's Thursday morning. I kiss Ms Moon goodbye as I'm away for a few days on Sticky and Mac's Ale Tours. I'm obsessed with the north of England, where all the best beers are brewed. Mac and I share breakfast at YOLK, a business that's housed at the bottom of Goose Gate. It's sister bar, next door, is 31K, a cocktail place that Ms Moon is very fond of, particularly when it's my round ...OUCH!

I enjoy filter coffee accompanied by wild mushrooms on poached eggs, served up with crispy bacon and Hollandaise sauce on the side. It's soon mopped up and walked off up to the train station. Destination is the town of Halifax  - another northern, hidden gem.

We change trains at Leeds and stay on Northern Rail until we reach the town of Rochdale, where the singers Gracie Fields and Lisa Stansfield are both from. Remember Phoenix Nights? Where the quiz compere says "and the answer is, the Shroud of Turin." "What did we put?"   ..... "Lisa Stansfield" ... lol.

The purpose of this trip is to visit as many towns and villages we can that are situated on the Halifax to Manchester Victoria line. A couple of pubs are ticked-off in Rochdale and Todmorden before we check-in at the Premier Inn back in Halifax. 

There's time to get some snap before the evening session. I would say, next to Manchester and Leeds, that Halifax has one of the most exciting craft ale scenes in the north. Crowd favourite is the Victorian Craft Beer Cafe which I previously ticked off after managerless Nottingham Forest beat Huddersfield  back in September.

We're back on the train line in the morning. Star of the show is the beautiful sun-soaked town of Hebden Bridge. 'Our Kid' correctly points out, on Facebook, that it often gets flooded, after I say I want to live here, following a two mile stroll up the canal. We hop on and off the train in the afternoon visiting Mytholmroyd and Sowerby Bridge.

It's 6 p.m. and we're settled in the back room of Three Pigeons in Halifax. The pub is humming with talk after the Qatar World Cup draw. An elderly guy in the corner grabs my attention after he hears me mention Notts County. Turns out his brother, Bob, made over 200 appearances for the Pies. It then dawns on me that he must be the brother of legendary Huddersfield Town and Leicester City striker Frank Worthington. The guy is so modest and unassuming that he doesn't even mention that he was chief scout for Sam Allardyce at Bolton and was responsible for bringing Nicolas Anelka to the club. Check his Wiki.

We finish the evening back at the Victorian Craft Cafe with its 28 beer selections chalked up on the blackboard. Mac and I enjoy the company of Ian, a Notts County fan, who lives close by and follows this blog. He's a lovely guy. And thanks for reading 'em mate.

It's Saturday morning. We have a full English at Ricci's in Halifax. It soaks up some of the alcohol we have consumed over the past few days. It's a long journey back home due to changing trains. We finally dock in at 1 pm. 

Sticky jnr has gone to Blackpool to watch the Tricky Trees with the lads from The Boot Room in West Bridgford. Forest are already one to the good as I part company with Mac in town and head towards Bunkers Hill to watch the second half. On entry to the pub I stare at the TV screen in disbelief. "Johnson has just scored two goals mate" says a customer.

I watch the second half with a cross breed 18-month-old Collie/Spaniel called Roy. He's got the hots for me and won't leave my side. Must be the splash of Joop I put on earlier in the day to disguise the beer fumes. We have a little kiss and cuddle when Sam Surridge wraps the game up on 82 minutes with a smart finish.

Ms Moon says she's off to see her mum who is recovering from a hip operation. I cross over onto Manvers Street and spend an hour with landlord Steve at the Partisan Tavern. His boss, Tony, will be feeling chipper, as the Pies have beaten Southend 3-0 at Roots Hall. Lincoln City have bagged three points too, down at The Valley, at Charlton Athletic. Not a bad day, eh?

Ms Moon is so excited that she hardly slept a wink. I've a proper little treat lined-up for her. Yep, a Sunday League debut for the good lady. The plan was for breakfast at Albie's on Carlton Hill. We're a bit short on time though as real hoppers never miss a kick-off. We settle for a croissant from Tesco Carlton. 

A Notts Premier League fixture is being played a ten minute walk away at Carlton Rec. We wander up the road through a Frank Goulding housing estate that leads us to the ground. Phoenix Top Spot are playing a Clifton team called Amari's Universe - named in the memory of a young lad who passed away unexpectedly at just 21 years-old. He was a team mate of 'Our Joe' at Clifton All Whites Under 19s, who was a lovely lad. He was training to be a lawyer. Life's not fair!

It's an excellent, open game of football. Josh Gardner, a player I admire, opened the scoring after some untidy defending by Phoenix. Cameron Thurgood equalises in the second half and at one stage they look like they could push on. The excellent Conor Moore scores a late winner to secure the three points. To be fair, Amari's Universe have worked the Phoenix stopper hard and he has done well to keep 'em at bay.

I notice a lady on the sidelines watching her son playing. She works on the tills at Carlton Tesco. I say to Ms Moon shall we ask her what's 'on offer' this week. Ms Moon says not to bother her on her day off!

Man of the Match: Dave Worthington, Big Sam's scout in Three Pigeons, Halifax

Attendance: 33 - Ms Moon head count - I'm still bleary-eyed from West Yorkshire

Sunday, March 27, 2022

CMS Football Club 2-4 Poets Young Boys FC

I climb out of my sick bed on Sunday March 13th. I've been holed up in my room for time. It feels longer than a week in prison. There's been no moaning and groaning about Ms Moon watching Emmerdale Farm, Four in a Bed and Tipping Point. I've been living on a diet of pea and ham soup, Five Live, Podcasts and Desert Island Discs - Arsene Wenger and Tony Adams are different class if you get the chance. 

I smother two slices of toast in butter and thinly spread some Marmite on them. I pour a strong pot of Yorkshire Tea for one, with a drop of milk, into my 'The The' tea mug. I open the French door window for the first time in nine days, and take in a huge breath of fresh air, as I wander down the passageway towards the bottom of Carlton Road.

There's a Notts Senior Cup semi-final taking place at Carlton Recreation Ground - some call it 'Dog Shit Alley' - personally I think it's a proper old school venue for real football. None of your soulless 3G cages. A bumpy playing surface and a stiff breeze that will test a footballers ability playing at any level. I stand with a good friend called Bobby Oldham, whose lad Jack is playing for Poets Young Boys. PYB are on top in the first 45 minutes, but only have a one goal lead to show for it.

They are wasteful from dangerous set pieces. Phoenix Top Spot gain confidence and score a brilliantly-worked equaliser. They fluff their lines, missing a sitter with the clock ticking towards closing time. PYB seize on the opportunity presented to them. Dan Neary fires home a spot kick to see them through to the final. Sadly, the game will be played at Basford, so I'll have to follow it on social media.

On Wednesday night I enjoy watching NFFC play their best 45 minutes of the season versus 'Dirty QPR.' It wasn't on the cards at half-time, with a 1-0 deficit to overcome. They pinned the opposition back in their own half and passed them off the park in a breathtaking second half display. A clueless, out of his depth, Mark Warburton, looked a broken man during the Press conference. 

We're out of bed in the early hours of Saturday morning. Our regular taxi driver rocks up at 4.15 a.m. We enjoy a full English breakfast at Castle Rock Tap Room and Kitchen in East Midlands Airport. Our Ryanair flight kisses the tarmac at Tenerife South Airport just shy of midday. Cases are quickly unpacked at Hollywood Mirage hotel, located at the top of the hill in the resort of Los Cristianos.

The walk back to the hotel would test Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing - it makes Steep Hill in Lincoln look a doddle (Up the Imps). We both gasp for air after a nine-hour sesh on the seafront. I managed to fallout with a Bluenose fan, in Cafe Ole, who told me Lyle Taylor is the best thing since sliced bread - my loaf of Hovis is worth more and falls over less.

It's Monday evening. The sun is beating down on Zizzi's bar and Daft Punk's 'All Around the World' is on the bar dukey. We're hanging about with around 20x die-hard CD Tenerife supporters waiting for the ex-pats supporters coach to turn up. Ms Moon is in for a treat tonight folks. I'm taking her on a 140 km return trip up to the island's capital, Santa Cruz, oop north, for a Segunda B promotion-chasing clash versus Almeria. It's a club who splashed out a reputed £7 million for Nottingham Forest winger Arvin Appiah - once of AFC Vernon Colts, Basford, in Nottingham.

We stop off halfway up on the coast for a toilet break and more beers. These trips have been organised for years by a guy called Chris Todd. It's a bargain €30 for ticket and travel. We all congregate at a small bar close to the ground. Incredibly Ms Moon bumps into a young lad, who used to work for her, who is visiting family on the island and is also going to the game.

Regular readers will remember me going to a game at Estadio de Tenerife a few years ago with 'Mad Dog', after a five hour session in Santa Cruz. It ended 0-0. My first in over two years. I didn't speak to anybody for the rest of the holiday. I was that cross. I don't do 0-0s or 3G.

CD Tenerife couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo. The bar is rattled and the visiting 'keeper pulls off a worldy save. I'm getting rinsed on social media by folk back in Nottingham who are saying the game has 0-0 written all over it - it would be my third consecutive blankety blank in the Reef if it happens.

CDT don't come out in the second half. Almeria win a penalty that is converted. The bus journey home is in silence as folk realise that CDT have blown a chance of automatic promotion to La Liga, with the only route possible being the lottery of the play-offs.

The rest of the holiday is spent relaxing around the pool sun-bathing and reading. We even get the chance to spend a few hours drinking with blog legend Trumpy Bolton and his wife Jayne, down at Playas de las Americas. Obvs it was a struggle to entice him out of his all-inclusive hotel, but he seemed pretty chipper after the Foxes beat the Bees 2-1. He reminisced about the time he took Mrs Bolton to Leith, a few miles outside of Edinburgh. I asked him if he took the good lady to see Royal Yacht Britannia. "No, but I took her to the Royal Oak" he replied .. lol.

The plane journey home is so, so long. Ms Moon watches three episodes of Bridgerton on her phone - don't ask me, haven't got a Scooby. I flick through the latest issue of cult football magazine When Saturday Comes.

I'm aghast to find that I only have two cans of craft ales left in the fridge. I sup 'em both as Ms Moon chuckles away at Ant 'n Dec (somebody has to). Attention turns to twitter. There's a gentle reminder on Poets' timeline that they have a big semi-final tomorrow away at CMS Football, in Clifton.

I'm dog tired from that bloody flight back from the Reef. Ms Moon drops me off at Farnborough Academy at just after 10.35. A huge crowd has congregated. I can see with one eye that it's more than Basford United got in the Northern Premier League yesterday on Non-League Day. 

There's a huge cheer, and a mass celebration, early doors, when CMS open the scoring. Hello, hello, this could be tasty. Sam Harbottle restores parity. Poets go further ahead with two more goals, but CMS always look a threat. Zydane Richardson's long throws are a weapon. Arrears are reduced further following another missile that's launched.

We all drew for breath after a five-goal thriller of a first half. 'Our Joe' is here and a load of lads from Keyworth, who sadly don't play for the club anymore. Most of Keyworth's reinforcements have arrived from Big Glenn's Radford FC. Not that they are missing them. The Big Man (Glenn Russell) is smiling from ear to ear after dishing out a 7-0 drubbing to Borrowash Victoria yesterday, which leaves them in a Champions League spot. 

I was 'banned' from Radford earlier in the season by Big Glenn as they always lose when I rock up. They then went on a club record nine match winning run in my absence. I ask Glenn if I can watch them in the play-offs. "Only if we're away, Sticky" he replies.

Sam Harbottle completes a hat-trick early in the second half to spoil it for the neutral. It puts the game to bed. The match is played in a fantastic spirit, most of the lads know one another. There are two unnecessary second yellow cards waved by referee Dave Southern which reduces both sides to ten players. He certainly got himself into a pickle on those occasions. Aside to that, he has refereed it well and let the game flow.

CMS miss the energy and surging runs of midfield powerhouse Callum Barratt. His experience and presence would have made a difference. I enjoyed coaching him a few years back when he was returning from injury. Unfortunately he's on holiday today. Not on my watch, he wouldn't have been!

I manage a quick chat with Dave Harbottle, dad of hat-trick hero Sam. His other lad Riley is impressing folk in NFFC under 23s. I'd love to see him at my team Lincoln City on loan next season. Our manager Michael Appleton would be a brilliant mentor and coach-educator like Steve Cooper is.

There are a few rumours that the final could be at Meadow Lane. I can smell the mown grass already.

Attendance: 332 (I've only got one eye -'Carlton Stevie Wonder' headcount)

Man of the Match: Sam Harbottle

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Hull City 0-2 West Bromwich Albion

Rain looks set for the week. The wonderful volunteers of Non-League Football will be doing their upmost to get a game ON for their lads, lasses and community. The smug 3G/4G folk will be crowing about their facilities and 'grass' where games are played at a testimonial pace and nobody 'puts a tackle in.' I'd rather wash the pots (or at a stretch watch D***y County) - and yes, I get the commercial gain and use by the community.

It's the time of year where I turn to the professional game, assured with the certainty that a game will be ON unless it's at Russian-owned AFC Bournemouth's 'Meccano Stadium' where a gust of wind blows the house down.

The Tigers versus The Baggies looked a good game to go to a few weeks ago. But now Hull are safe and WBA have dropped like a stone. I'm more intrigued by the history of the city and the real ales they have on offer. Ms Moon doesn't need much arm-twisting. The Admiral of the Humber 'Spoons hotel is a steal at £75 for the night. 'Book 'em Danno' as Steve McGarrett used to say on Hawaii Five-O.

It teems down with rain for most of the week. I'm restricted to listening to football on the radio. It's doom and gloom from Radio Nottingham's Charlie Slater and Mark Stallard up at Chesterfield's 'Technique Stadium.' as the Pies are turned over 3-1; pretty much ending any realistic chance of an automatic promotion spot. The knives are out for boss Ian Burchnall. I enjoy 'Burch Ball' as the Pies fans call it. Notts have a soft centre though, that costs them some games when they are sussed out.

It's Thursday morning. I'm knocking off at 11 a.m. Reason being is that we're off to a wedding out Sleaford way. The ceremony is taking place at 200-year-old Aswarby Rectory in Lincolnshire. It's a country house set in 9 acres of private gardens and paddock land. The bad news for Sticky Palms is there isn't much demand for real ales or craft ales in those neck of the woods.

I'm feeling pretty chipper in my dry-cleaned Next suit that's on its second-ever outing. It all ends in tears when a guest on my table tips a glass of Shiraz wine all over my trousers. I laugh it off but obvs I'm seething. To help me come to terms with it I spark up my first cigarette in 27 years (Marlboro Gold). My breath stinks more than usual in the morning. 

It's Friday evening and I'm pegging it up a blot on Nottingham's landscape called Upper Parliament Street. I head up Derby Road past Nottingham Cathedral towards Canning Circus. It's Friday date night with Tony Mac. We're in the city's real ale quarter. The meeting point is the Sir John Borlase Warren, a multi-levelled traditional Lincoln Green pub, named after a distinguished naval officer born in Stapleford.

We swing by the The Falcon, Good Fellow George and old crowd favourite, Hand and Heart. We're planning our next trip, at the end of the month, to Halifax, where we'll be jumping on and off the 'Fax to Manc' real ale train, set in the Calder Valley.

Time is pressing as Nottingham Forest are due to kick off at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane at 7.45 p.m. We race through town but manage to find a spare table and seats at a jam-packed Bunkers Hill pub at the bottom of Hockley, a hipster area of Nottingham.

We're sinking crafts and going through the card (blackboard) of delicious ales as Forest pass the Blades off the park. Brennan Johnson wastes a chance from the penalty spot. It's the old Panenka that falls straight into the arms of a grateful 'keeper. Tony Mac is a pessimist when it comes to NFFC. He correctly predicts that Sheff Utd will score. It hurts even more that it's ex-Red Billy Sharp who does the damage.

I'm such a curse on NFFC that I suggest we head over to Neon Raptor on 90 mins to see if it will aid Forest in any way at all in added time. By the time I've parked my backside on a seat in Rap Tap then none other than Sticky's favourite, Ryan Yates, has secured Forest a precious point with a last gasp header from a Jimmy Garner corner. I celebrate with a small doner kebab from the Carlton Fryer.

It's Saturday morning and we're on the A614 at just after 10 a.m. Claudia Winkleman is playing the 'Importance of Being Idle' by Oasis on her Radio 2 show. We hit Clive Sullivan Way just shy of 11.30 a.m. The road is named after the Welsh Rugby League legend who made over 550 appearances for Hull KR and Hull FC. He died from cancer at the age of 42-years-old.

We stick the car close to where the hotel is and head over to the Marina. The weather has taken a turn for the worse. I've been tipped off about a pub called The Minerva by Hull's number one crime-writing author Nick Quantrill and another character called Darren 'Knocker' Norton. It doesn't disappoint either. We enjoy broccoli and Stilton soup and a fish finger sandwich. I wash it down with a salted caramel stout called First World Problems, from Roosters Brewery in Harrogate. Lunch is somewhat spoilt when Craig David and Mark Morrison are played on the dukey.

It's a long hard slog to the MKM Stadium in driving rain and blustery conditions. The road is grim and soulless. We pass a number of ugly high storey flats that are an eyesore. I've been to Hull City's old ground, Boothferry Park on a few occasions. I was with Trumpy Bolton and Jimmy Henry in 1990 when Leicester were tonked 5-1 and also with the Imps in 1983 when Hull won 2-0. The omens look good for The Tigers. There are some nice touches outside of the ground including artwork and memorials.

I've paid £27 for seats in the West Stand. A steward sends Ms Moon in totally the wrong direction. I'm laughing as I take my seat. Steve Bruce, the WBA manager, returns to one of his old clubs today. Ms Moon and I were laid by the hotel pool at the Sir Henry Cotton Club Penina Golf Club in July 2016 when we were interrupted by the arrival of the entire Hull City FC squad following their relegation to the Championship. Bruce made time for the holidaymakers and the players were as good as gold too. Michael Dawson was a class act, always having time for a chat.

Ms Moon has clapped eyes on another man and Sticky Palms ain't too happy. She drools over the pony-tailed Andy Carroll who is warming-up for the Baggies. I'm blowing a gasket folks as I'm not the centre of attention for once. The East Stand is re-named the Chris Chilton Stand at the beginning of the game in the memory of the legendary forward who scored 193 goals for the club.

A Forest fan, who is now based in Hull, tells me a good anecdote on twitter. Forest fans on a visit to the KC Stadium a few years ago were singing the old "Hull's a shithole and I want go home" chant. Tigers supporters responded with "City of Culture  ... you'll never sing that" .. lol. 

The first half is a cracker for the neutral. It's a shaky start for the Tigers as WBA swarm forward. It was only a matter of time before Karlan Grant opens the scoring on 17 minutes, sweeping home an Alex Mowatt cross. At least it isn't going to be a dreaded 0-0.

We've both forgotten our gloves and have under-clubbed on the clothes front, as we suffer in Baltic conditions. The away fans do the 'Boing Boing' and ask Brucey for a wave. He duly obliges. I was hoping Sue and I might get one off him but there's nothing forthcoming despite our brief encounter in the Algarve, 2016.

Ms Moon sneaks out for a crafty smoke at the break. I'll leave it for another 27 years. I try to keep warm in the concourse. My team Lincoln City are holding Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 at Sincil Bank. The Tigers make another slow start to the second half and literally pay the penalty with Grant doubling his tally with a cool finish from a spot kick on 48 minutes. I liked the look of Grant when I saw him on loan at Crawley Town and at his parent club Charlton Athletic a few seasons back.

Despite City's best endeavours they rarely test the visiting 'keeper Sam Johnstone. The Tigers' best player Lewis-Potter spurned a couple of chances in the first half as does sub Tom Eaves in the second half. Ms Moon comes out in a hot flush with the emergence of Andy Carroll from the bench. It's a cameo role as Bruce runs down the clock.

I check my phone as we struggle to fight the elements on our walk back to the hotel. Lincoln have beaten Sheff Wed 3-1. I'm cockerhoop despite the squally conditions. We spend the evening in the wonderful Old Town. I tick a few good alehouses off including: Ye Olde White Harte, Vintage and The Lion And Key. I'll be back with Tony Mac and will do the city justice on the pub front. It's another hidden Northern gem of a town, steeped in history. We loved it!

I can't 'arf pick 'em.

Attendance: 13,643

Man of the Match: Karlan Grant