Sunday, November 20, 2022

Gedling MW 2-6 Aylestone Park

It's Tuesday evening and it's teeming down with rain. There's no footy for Sticky Palms. I pick and choose my midweek games these days. It's not an option if they are on 3G. I'm walking down a snicket off the bottom of Carlton Road. I've just spent a few hours at the Broadway Cinema, located in Hockley; the coolest place in Nottingham. The film was feel-good and called Living. It starred the brilliant Bill Nighy.

I slip through the side door of our joint, and into the sitting room. Ms Moon is crying a river of tears. I stare at the TV screen and see a man sitting in an red bib. It's visiting time at HMP Hotten, close to Emmerdale Farm. I haven't the heart to tell the princess that it's not real life and just a soap opera. "Cain's an innocent man" she cries out. On this rare occasion the 'Hotten Hardman' is not guilty. He's coughed up to the murder of the worst TV actor (Big Al) since Sandy Richardson off Crossroads. To be honest I'd have pulled the trigger if they'd asked me to. 

You'd have Cain Dingle in your prison five-a-side team though wouldn't you? He'd put a Graeme Souness GBH type tackle in, if they were playing HMS Strangeways in a War of the Roses prison cup final. You'd be down to four players in the blink of an eye. He'd be on first name terms with the Prison FA. Cain would break Joey Barton's all-time record disciplinary points tally. What a lad, eh?

It's been raining all week. I've had it all on not to get bored. I jump on two buses and head to the south of Nottingham. It's a second attempt to find the grave of former Notts County full-back Pedro Richards, who made 399 appearances for the Pies in the 70s and 80s. I'm fully armed with the whereabouts of his final resting place, thanks to a message from Non League legend 'Upo', who was a friend of Pedro's from back in the day. 

Pedro is laid to rest in the far corner of Wilford Hill Cemetery, behind the chapel. Upo tells a tale from the day of the funeral. A mate of his lived behind the church. He said during the burial "any nearer Pedro and you would have been in my back garden." lol.

It's 5.30pm on Thursday evening. I'm propping up the bar in the Partizan Tavern. It has the best-kept beer in Sneinton and is a recent new entry to the CAMRA guide. I down a pint of cask ale from the Two by Two stable, who are based in Byker, Wallsend, in Newcastle, where Alan Shearer and Ant 'n Dec are from. The owner of the bar is a guy called Tony Perkins, who is a die-hard Notts County fan. He's telling me about his recent trip to Eastleigh where the Pies ran out 2-0 winners. I'm more interested in the pubs and microbars he ticked off in Southampton city centre after the game.

I bid farewell to Tony and head across Sneinton Market ('the New Covent Garden') and into town. There are already a few tanked-up folk walking out of the ghastly Christmas market and fair the City Council have set up in the Market Square. We're in a recession and a cost of living crisis, and yet parents are being pressurised by their children to pay extortionate prices for fairground rides and overpriced hot dogs.

I head down Friar Lane and finally walk through the front doors of The Southbank sports bar after twenty questions by the guy on the door. "No mate, I haven't got a ticket. but a pal inside has." I'm with Craig Farina and Matt Dring for a 'Curry and Rice (Brian) Night' which is being hosted by BBC Radio Nottingham's sports commentator Colin Fray. It's a no show from the busiest man in Nottingham and 'friend to the stars', Jitz Jani. Apparently he's autograph-hunting in the swanky Six Richmond House cocktail bar up on Hurts Yard.

Former Hibernian and Nottingham Forest left winger Brian Rice is guest of the evening. He is doing a Q and A with Colin on stage. He's an engaging and honest sort of guy, who admits that maybe he didn't fulfil his potential at The City Ground. The curry is provided by an executive chef from Bombay Bridgford on Radcliffe Road, in West Bridgford. The lamb curry is delicious and mouth-watering. Rice shares a few funny Brian Clough anecdotes that I've not heard before. The curry is washed down with Jute craft ale from the Salt Brewery, in West Yorkshire.

I'm back in town myself on Friday evening, having a few sherberts with Tony Mac. I negotiated a pass out with Ms Moon as I've been a good lad and have prepared a curry in the slow cooker. I'm back home by 7.45pm and I remain in good books for the rest of the evening.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is a massive day in our house. It's my debut making brisket in the slow cooker - talk about pressure, eh? I've been fully briefed by the Big Man on cooking instructions. All me and him talk about these days are air fryers and slow cookers. Ms Moon bags a 1kg brisket from Netherfield Morrisons; it's not cheap either folks. The original plan was to hook up with Upo and go to watch Stapleford FC v AFC Dunkirk. The rain has scuppered any chance of that. The game has moved to a 3G pitch in the Tory stronghold of Rushcliffe.

There's an opportunity of watching Lincoln City v Morecambe at Sincil Bank, but a United Counties League Division One game has caught my eye, that is being played only a few miles up the road. League leaders Aylestone Park and their pocket-bursting big budget are up at Gedling Miners' Welfare. Ms Moon is chillaxing on the sofa watching Location Location Location. I can't bear that bloody toff, Kirstie Allsop, whose father is the 6th Baron of Hindlip. What's even more staggering is she named her two children Oscar Hercules and Bay Atlas. If I ever catch that family in YOLK cafe in Hockley I will march them out of the premises.

I sit in my bedroom listening to Paul Gambacinni's Pick of the Pops. Jimmy Somerville and June Miles-Kingston are up 13x places to number 20, in the 1989 charts, with the 'Comment Te Dire Adieu (It Hurts to say Goodbye) . I find it hard to decipher the Scottish accent, never mind a Scot singing in French. In between the dross there are some good tunes from Stone Roses and Rochdale's finest Lisa Stansfield. I confessed to Ms Moon, a while back, after a couple of strong craft ales, that I had a thing for Stansfield and her mole. She didn't speak to me for the rest of the evening.

We park up at the Nuffield Health Gym on Mapperley Tops. It's £5 each on entry and £2 for a couple of raffle tickets. Aylestone Park are 3-0 up by the break. The game looks dead and buried. I catch up with Notts Non League legend, Chris Marks, in the clubhouse at the break, and introduce him to Ms Moon. 'Marksy' was a brilliant manager and a good servant to Gedling MW, West Bridgford and Wollaton FC. 

He's attending a 50th anniversary of Gedling Southbank FC this evening, where he volunteers as a coach. The event is taking place at the Robin Hood Suite at The City Ground. Martin O'Neill is the guest speaker. If I was the chairman at any local club I'd have 'Marksy' in as manager without hesitation.

There is an extraordinary incident in the 65th minute and a breach of groundhopping protocol. Ms Moon ups sticks and announces to all and sundry that she's off home to toast her feet because it's freezing cold. The Groundhopping Gestapo will be sitting in the morning as she awaits her fate, which will be much like Blackadder's was, when he shot dead General Melchett's favourite carrier pigeon.

The game livens up when the Miners score twice in two minutes. Aylestone look rattled. A ball is played into the channel to the lively Jack Jepson. An elbow is raised and Jepson falls to the floor. There's no flag from the assistant, who is stood a few yards away. The game isn't stopped for a head injury. Aylestone scurry up the field to put the final nail in the coffin. The officials are surrounded but the decision stands.

Two further goals are scored, but by then Gedling are deflated and have thrown the towel in. The officials get dog's abuse at the final whistle. It's not helped that they laugh it off. I've a drunken, thick-as-a-brick oik, from Leicester, stood next to me. I suggest to him that they have got away with one. It's met with a torrent of abuse. I can't help myself when I ask him how many times they've lost to Radford this season. It's twice by the way. I can't 'arf pick 'em.

Man of the Match: Marksy

Attendance: 76

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Lye Town 4-0 Ollerton Town

I'm stomping my way down to the worst store on this planet. Carlton Tesco is a five minute walk away from my crib. It's a necessary evil that is so bloody convenient during an hour of need e.g. when you've run out of toilet roll or in Ms Moon's case, fags and bubbles. The shelves are often laid bare, the staff are unhelpful and rude and it suffers from the worst mismanagement since those pair of clowns, Reg Holdsworth and Curly Watts, ran Freshco's into the ground in Corrie. Alf Roberts could run it standing on his head.

I've already popped a couple of extra Ramipril blood pressure pills to prevent a nailed-on cardiac arrest. The red mist usually appears when there are no shopping baskets available at store entry, or when I see the three ladies on customer services gossiping instead of serving a long queue of folk who are bringing back torn clothes, crushed cans of beer or out of date custard powder.

The good folk of Carlton have recently been 'treated' to a 'store revamp.' This has been ongoing for four months now. I use the word revamp loosely. They've replaced tills, where banter was available, and put in a load of new self-service tills to remove any staff interaction with the customers - probably a good thing. The new fridges are the star of the show. They mostly remain empty. I pass a manager on the aisle and remark that 'Rome wasn't built in a day', and that luckily Tesco weren't involved on that particular job - it falls on deaf ears; a Tesco tumbleweed moment.

Ms Moon has been away in Tenerife all week. So if you're tuning into this blog looking for the latest happenings on Emmerdale Farm, Corrie, Four in a Bed or Place in the Sun (she probs watched this in the Reef) then I'm sorry to disappoint you. In fact Virgin Media phoned up during her absence from the U.K. to see if everything was okay, as the TV set hadn't been switched on for three days.

It's Tuesday evening. I'm off to a rearranged game up in Mansfield. It should have been played a few months back, but was postponed as the country mourned the loss of Queen Elizabeth II. I decide to catch the train, as the bus takes an age to get up there. £7 for a return journey is good value.

I've never caught the train on this route before. It goes through the old pit towns such as Bulwell, Hucknall, Newstead, Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Sutton-in-Ashfield. It's blowing a gale and spitting with rain as I alight the train at Mansfield station. I'm taken aback with a heavy police presence. Perhaps Carlton Tesco have tipped local plod the wink that I'm good at windmilling or having a fit of pique.

Bradford City are in town. I saw them dump Hull City out of the EFL Cup, earlier in the season, up at Valley Parade. I was very impressed with the City of Bradford. The architecture is stunning and they have a cool, underground beer scene up on North Parade. It's in Tony Mac's tour diary for next year. The football team play a beautiful game too, and are managed by Manchester United legend Mark 'Sparky' Hughes.

I retrace my steps to the ground and back to the station as the lighting is dim. My poorly eye isn't much cop in the dark. I've time to kill and don't feel the need for an alcoholic beverage or pub tick off. The lights are still on at Greggs, on a retail park, 90 minutes before kick off. I slump into a seat and peck away at a cheese salad cob, followed by a white chocolate cookie. Frankie Valli's 'December 1963' (Oh, What a Night) is on Radio Greggs.

I slog it up to Field Mill. The weather is turning. I sit high up in the Ian Greaves Stand. It's a filthy, cold evening. I give my Stone Island beanie hat its first outing of the season. It should scare off any Bradford fans, back at the station, after the game .. lol. I wish I'd stopped in and watched Emmerdale Farm. No I don't.

Nigel Clough's Mansfield are stuttering in the League a wee bit. They arrive here on the back of a good FA Cup away win, up at Barrow-in-Furness last Saturday. Some of the natives are restless. A supporter behind me remarks that last season the average age of a player on the books was 30 years old. I agree with him that it's a young man's game these days.

The Stags are nervous and tentative with their passing. Their decision-making is poor. Bradford smell blood. Elliott Hewitt, a former Pie, is out of position at left back, and being run ragged. The Bantams take the lead through a fine strike by Richie Smallwood. Andy Cook, an ex-Stag, rubs salt in the wound. He catches 37 year old ex Tricky Tree, James Perch, dilly-dallying on the ball. He robs him close to the corner flag and finishes emphatically, bagging his 14th goal of the season.

Mansfield are given a lifeline when Bradford's Alex Platt stupidly gets a second yellow card for  needlessly booting the ball away. The visitors see out the final 40 minutes (including ten minutes added time following some brilliant time-wasting that Danny Cowley would be proud of) despite the Stags pulling a goal back.

I bag a last minute £25 ticket for the Forest v Spurs  sell-out Cup clash, thanks to Big Al (Williamson, not Hardy). Forest are magnificent all over the park. Brazilian full back, Renan Lodi, gives them the lead with a curling right footed shot after a surging run.  A revitalised Jesse Lingard nods home the winner.

Spurs bring on £50 million misfiring misfit (zero goals in ten outings) Richarlison. This is a man who disrespected The City Ground fans and players, back in August, with a pathetic display of keepy-uppies. His shooting is skew-whiff. He throws himself to the ground at every opportunity. The crowd give him the bird. He looks like he's about to burst into tears. I'm laughing my head off. 

It's Friday tea-time. I head out of the Trentside Medical Centre, in Netherfield, and jump onto a 44 city bus. I'm making hay whilst Ms Moon is in the Reef. It's the Friday Club Christmas Party Planning Meeting with Tony Mac. We meet up in The Barrel Drop, on Hurts Yard, adjacent to that swanky bar, Six Richmond House, which local celebrity, 'Big Sean Dyche' likes to drink in (and Jitz and Dringy).

Barrel Drop is full of fans of a South Yorkshire indie-rock outfit called The Reytons, who are playing at the 'World Famous Rock City' on Talbot Street, later this evening. We get gassing to a couple of lads who have come on the train from Lincoln. We compare notes on the best pubs to drink in Lincoln and Nottingham.

It's the usual trot around Hockley and Sneinton. Tony Mac looks worse for wear after too many 8% DIPA's, as we part company at the bus stop outside the Fox and Grapes. I have doner kebab in some pitta bread. No chips though, as I'm an athlete.

I've arranged to go to the West Midlands with 'Crazy Steve' and the best map-reader in the business, 'Faggsy', on Saturday. It's the usual drill; a bacon cob and Americano at Greggs and a 10.45 a.m. meet up outside Laguna curry house on Mount Street. There are a few Crystal Palace fans kicking around the city centre.

'Crazy Steve' doesn't piss about when he's piloting. He upsets a driver on Clifton Bridge. They exchange Rodney Trotter middle-finger insults for a full mile. The lads are on song after a well earned point for their beloved Magpies on Tuesday evening at Southend United's Roots Hall.

Steve introduced me to the CAMRA Heritage Pub Guide a few months ago. Today we're hoping to tick off three watering holes in the Dudley area.  We visit the Britannia in Upper Gornal, Beacon Hotel in Sedgley and Ma Pardoes in Netherton. Two of them are Grade II listed buildings. The pint of Bathams at the Britannia is one to have on your deathbed. The crusty cheese and onion cobs or pork and stuffing are priced ridiculously at £1.90.

We park opposite the ground. It's £7 to pay-in. I buy a couple of raffle tickets. It's not often I visit a ground outside of Notts twice, but this is rare and a beauty. There's a stand behind the goal and another running along the far side of the ground. There's a steep bank at the furthest end of the ground. The other side is where the cricket club play. Someone is actually netting today. How mad is that?

Ollerton Town, from north Notts, play a step below Lye. They have travelled light today as two strikers have cried off this morning. I spot their media man, Liam Kent, in the crowd. The playing surface is heavy and the pitch is rutted. Lye throw the kitchen sink at the visitors who are courageous and brave in defence, throwing their bodies on the line. It's 0-0 at the break, but I fear the worst.

'Crazy' and 'Fags' have got the cob on. They've just heard that Morgan Gibbs-White has put NFFC 1-0 up. I love their contempt. That's how rivalries should be. Ollerton run out of steam in the second half. 4-0 is a tad harsh, but fair play to Lye, they've never stopped running.

Player of the Match: Tony Mac - put a shift in for the second week in a row.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Radford 2-4 Bourne Town

It's Monday morning and I'm alighting from the Ruddington 10 bus, at the top of Greythorn Drive, opposite an old people's complex, where once stood a mighty fine Shipstones watering hole called the South Notts Hussars. I cross the Lougborough Road towards Wilford Hill; it's a cemetery and crematorium.

I'm celebrity grave-hunting - well I thought I was. I had hoped that legendary Notts County goalkeeper Albert Iremonger might have been laid to rest here or another famous player of theirs, William Gunn, who also played cricket for Notts and England. Please let me know if you are aware of their final resting place.

Pedro Richards died in 2001, at the age of 45 years old, from a rare strain of pneumonia. He made 399 appearances for the Pies between 1974 and 1986. He was a County Roadside terrace favourite. I used to love his loping, easy stride runs down the right hand flank. I have to abort looking for his grave too, as it's akin to looking for a needle in a haystack. It's a shame, as I scouted his son, Jordan, when he was at Grantham Town, who later went on to make 12x first team appearances for Notts County.

I'm back down Meadow Lane on Tuesday evening. The Magpies are flying high at the top of the National League. Luke Williams, 42 yrs old, is their likeable and affable Head Coach. His interviews with BBC Radio Nottingham's Charlie Slater, pre-match and post match, are honest and insightful, in contrast to former manager Ian Burchnall, who looked startled, confused and often caught like a rabbit in the headlights. 

The DJ raises the stakes in pre-match music down the lane when he plays 'Hard to Beat' by London indie band Hard-Fi. A very apt title you would have thought, but sadly Notts are below par for the final 25 minutes of the first half, despite taking a 1-0 lead through a fine strike by Adam Chicksen, after the Portuguese attacker Ruben Rodrigues had threaded the ball through an eye of an needle.

Bromley are excellent on the eye and well set up. They must be scratching their heads, Stan Laurel style, wondering how they have wasted so many chances. County are in debt to 'keeper Sam Slocombe for some fine saves and shot-blocking.

I notice, during the break, that The Right Honourable Lord Clarke of Nottingham (Kenneth Clarke), is sat behind me in the Directors' Box. A penny for his thoughts on the shit show of a shambles the Tory party find themselves in, right now.

Sat close by are the Reedtz brothers, the Danish owners of Notts County. I contacted one of them, Alexander, to tip them the wink, for their Football Radar business, on a player, and to forewarn them of him, as Coalville Town were drawn out of the hat to play the Pies in a FA Cup 4th qualifying tie. I got a reply to say thank you and how he hoped the player didn't play too well on the day. Well Alex, he set two up, so not bad, eh?

Bromley grab a deserved equaliser and scrap for their lives. I haven't the time to hear the moans, groans and general bellyaching of County fans on the referee's performance or Bromley's time-wasting tactics. What do you expect when you have won one game in the last six matches and you are playing the League leaders who have won seven on the spin? Six minutes added time was fair and square.

I rise early on Tuesday and meet Tony Mac at the award-winning Yolk, an independant cafe in a hipster part of town. The next three days have been planned with military precision due to expected train strikes. Ms Moon has granted me an extended day's holiday leave, meaning I'll miss the end of the road for the worst actor on the planet, Big Al off Emmerdale. If the train had gone through Leeds, I'd have shot him myself.

Mac and I check-in at our hotel - there are a huge amount of things to tick off in the town of Stockport, famous for its hat-making in the 19th century, when it exported six million hats per year. We have 15x pubs to tick off from out of the Heritage pub and CAMRA guide. Add to that, we have to hunt down a number of murals and blue plaques. The best pub on day one is Magnet, a former CAMRA Pub of the Year. It's so good we visited it twice, ending the night up there, as it's only a few minutes stroll away from the hotel.

Breakfast is spot on at Covent Garden Cafe. I give it a Google five star review. The chatty, friendly owner is well chuffed. We walk some serious miles to take in the Phil Foden and Danny Bergara murals. The Foden one is laugh out loud, with some folk saying it looks more like Ross Barkley. Bergara is a legend in the town and a former manager at Stockport County. They are raising funds to build a statue of the Uruguayan, who passed away in 2007, aged 65 yrs old. 

We tick off the blue plaque on a house at 33, Carrington Road, where three-times Wimbledon Men's Singles Championship winner Fred Perry was born. He was also the first player to win a career Grand Slam, at the age of 26 yrs old. We swing by Edgeley Park, home to Stockport County and visit The Alexandra, a Heritage pub entry, before jumping on the train to Manchester.

Two nights are to be spent in the 'Big Manny.' Outside London, it's our favourite English city for watering holes. The architecture is stunning and the locals are savvy and proud of their City. After quaffing many a real ale at some of their fine establishments we end the evening sinking strong craft ales at the Cloudwater and Track taprooms, located on the Piccadilly Trading Estate. As Mac often says, drinking 8% DIPA crafts isn't a game for children.

I'm in trouble with Mac on Friday morning. Not only have I mucked up on Google Maps (I blame my bad eye) but also booked in for breakfast at some pretentious, vegetarian cafe - to be fair the scrambled eggs were warm and fluffy.

We bag a bargain £7 all-day tram ticket and head out towards the market town of Altrincham. First stop is close neighbour Timperley, which had a very famous resident. The creator of Frank Sidebottom was Chris Sieve. His alter ego was an entertainer with a papier-mache head, who often popped up on shows such as The Tube. He became somewhat of a cult hero. There's an incredibly sad documentary about 'Frank' on You Tube.

After admiring the Frank Sidebottom statue, on Timperley High Street, we decide to walk into Altrincham. There's an old market hall where everyone seems to congregate. It has a plethora of food outlets as well as some bars. We drink a few ales at Jack in the Box, a brewery tap from Manchester Blackjack beers. We're tipped off about a bar called Batch, located in a courtyard. We sink a few more crafts accompanied by a mighty fine cheesboard.

Manchester is revisited for the main event. Mac is treating me to a gig at Manchester Cathedral where The Afghan Whigs, a grunge rock band from Cincinatti, are playing. I stand open-mouthed gazing at the windows, ceilings and pillows in this Grade 1 listed Gothic building, that was built between 1421-1882. The gig ain't bad too, as I view side on, due to lighting affecting my damaged retina. We see the night off at Lass O'Gowrie - what a three days we've had. Thanks Mac.

It's 6.30 a.m. on Saturday morning. A bleary-eyed Sticky and Mac are trawling through the Trainline app to see if 'owt is running from Manc, as the strike has been called off last minute. No such luck folks. We grab a Greggs breakfast and board a National Express bus to Sheffield via Leeds. There's time for a beautiful pint from the Pentrich Brewery at the award-winning Sheffield Tap before the final leg of the journey home to Nottingham, by train.

I'm treating Ms Moon to an afternoon out in Radford, an inner city suburb of Nottingham. I've arranged for the good lady to pick me up in Lidl car park, in Sneinton, at 2.30 p.m. I've half an hour to kill, so I head down to the Fox and Grapes, to find it full of Forest and Brentford fans. I have half a pint of Side Spin, a Play Brew beer from Middlesbrough.

I'm reunited with Ms Moon after three days away - she loves it up at Raddy. One person who doesn't love me at Radford is Big Glenn Russell - his team rarely wins in my presence. The big 'un is all over Ms Moon like a rash. Charming her and complimenting her. "You need the George Cross for putting up with him" (me). I whisk her away before any more damage is inflicted, as Anita Ward's 1979 classic 'Ring My Bell' blasts out of the P.A system.

Radford are 2-0 up at the break, with the visitors still firmly in the game; a point I make clear to Big Glenn as he passes by, following a heated argument with the Bourne Town manager - they won't be sharing a bottle of Lambrini after the game, for sure.

We've spent the first half with our good friend Roberto, who is a tireless fundraiser for children's charities. His football team travels the county raising funds for those that need it. Recent efforts have been thwarted by the inclement weather. Radford don't heed any of the warning signs that have been there for all to see.

They are ripped apart, in a short space of time, by a flurry of goals. I ask my getaway driver (Ms Moon) to start the car. Big Glenn's baseball cap is removed and thrown to the floor as the fourth goal sees off any comeback.

Man of the Match: Tony Mac - only Ryan Yates has more energy.

Attendance: 92

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Barnsley 0-1 Lincoln City

It's Tuesday, 25th Oct. I'm sat in a carriage on the EMR 13.45 from Nottingham to Barnsley. They must rate as one of the most underperforming rail operators in the U.K. Actually they aren't, but folk have short memories. Turn the clock back to May 2022 when they hung out to dry those poor Tricky Trees fans on their big day out to Wembley. Taking money from passengers, and then not giving two hoots when not enough carriages were put on. One customer service person had to break the news to the thousands of queuing fans that EMR had mucked up. Another gripe I have is that their ageing rolling stock doesn't have power points or a reliable Wi-Fi connection.

Anyway, I digress. The Mighty Lincoln (1,231) are descending on the town of Barnsley, in the Republic of South Yorkshire. The Imps are on a roll. Big players have returned to the squad, free from injury. I change at Sheffield and hop onto a proper train, government-owned Northern Rail have got the lot including some beady-eyed ticket inspectors. Two passengers are caught red-handed without a ticket. They are fined £20 on the spot and have to pay for their fare too. I peer over my Shankill Butchers book and start to giggle at the pathetic excuses they give the guard for not buying a ticket. Our man from Northern is having none of it.

I want to pay my respects to another Busby Babe whose life was cruelly and tragically taken away on Feb 6th, 1958 in the Munich Air Disaster. Two of the players were from Barnsley - one of them is Tommy Taylor, who was laid to rest at Monk Bretton Cemetery, a two mile walk from the station. I pass a sea of ugly, soulless, characterless retail parks on the way to pay my respects. 

The final mile is uphill and leaves me sweating and gasping for air. Tommy Taylor scored 159 goals in 237 appearances for Barnsley, Manchester United and England. A blue plaque was unveiled by the former umpire Dickie Bird, a school friend of Taylor's, in 2011, at the lodgings where all the United players stayed at in Stretford.

I feel really sad on my walk back into Barnsley town centre. I noticed that Taylor's mother died aged 61 and that his brother also passed away at the age of 46 years old. You're never going to get over that sort of loss, are you?

I have a mooch around Oakwell, home to the Tykes, so I can familiarise myself with the area. I have visited the ground on two occasions - in 1987 with freelance photographer Robert Rathbone, for an FA Cup replay versus Caernarfon Town and in 1992 for a League Two game versus Wolves.

I slog it back uphill into town. I visit the statue of Billy Casper holding the kestrel from the film Kes. I took Ms Moon on a tour of where the film was shot. It included the common where Billy trained the bird and the chip shop, in Hoyland. There is also a blue plaque on a pub wall honouring the local actor Brian Glover, who plays the PE teacher in the film, whilst dressed up as Bobby Charlton.

It's a Greggs pepperoni pizza for tea, washed down with a pint of local bitter from the Acorn Brewery at the wonderful pub, Old No.7. I take my seat in the East Stand with the home fans. 'The Lincoln' always seem to win when I use this tactic, and the view is better than where the visiting fans are housed, behind the goal. The DJ's set isn't a patch on Carlton Town's. The guy does play a few good 'uns from Fat Boy Slim, Elbow and Swiss electronic band, Yello.

I've a few moaning Minnies sat around me. The glass is half empty. Can't say I blame them, to be honest, as Barnsley are bloody awful. Lincoln grow into the game, their impressive on loan winger, Jack Diamond, from Sunderland, strikes the base of the post, following a mazy run, after latching onto a superb ball thrown out by alert 'keeper Carl Rushworth. The Imps take the lead with a stunning goal from Danny Mandroiu, with Diamond once again heavily involved. Former League of Ireland player, Mandroiu has caught the eye (my good one) and looks a steal from Shamrock Rovers.

The second half follows a familiar pattern. Lincoln play a beautiful passing game, that falls short with the final ball. My stomach churns and aches as the minutes go slowly by. We see the game out easily during the five minutes added time. I walk briskly back to the station to be greeted by the Barnsley Big Baby Squad on the opposite side of the platform. They've got some brass neck to rock up after a sub standard performance like that. Their taunts and insults are ignored by the Imps fans. I travel home smiling from ear to ear. Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, jingle all the way, oh what fun it is to see Lincoln win away.

I continue my walk around the old pit villages on Thursday morning. I chance across a CAMRA Heritage pub in Woodthorpe a few miles outside the city centre, called The Vale. I down a diet Coke as I admire the structure. I stroll up to Bestwood Country Park, dropping onto a bridal path that takes me down to the village and the pit memorial where the winding wheel stands. I glance at the old South Notts Coal Board offices opposite the Welfare, where I spent my first day at work in September 1981. You can't beat a trip down memory lane. It fills my soul with happiness.

There's no pub meet up with Tony Mac on Friday night. The blog legend is down 'the Smoke' watching punk rock band The Damned. I blow a gasket from my armchair. That Al bloke off Emmerdale has pulled more women than Georgie Best. He has the worst chat up lines on earth, and his acting skills aren't much cop either. This is followed by Corrie which features that irritable 11 year-old little know-it-all, Sam Blakeman. The last time I saw the spoilt, little brat he was bound, gagged and in the boot of a drug dealer's car heading towards, hopefully, the Manchester Ship Canal. He somehow wriggled his way out of it. 

It's 8.30 a.m. on Saturday. Ms Moon and I drive to Copper Cafe up on Mapperley Tops. We've had many a fine breakfast up here when it was part of the Great Northern Group. Ms Moon's poached eggs are firm and not runny and my sausage cob isn't all that. Standards have dropped since being acquired by Redcat Pub Company. We won't be bothering again, anytime soon.

I wave off Ms Moon just before lunch. She is spending time with her sisters and brother at a spa in Northamptonshire to celebrate the life of her mother, who passed away in September. I've a couple of games to go to today. 'The Keyworth Georgie Best' (my lad) is playing for Keyworth Ressies, a fifteen minute walk from my crib, at Burton Road Jubilee Park, against Greyfriars - the artist formally known as Netherfield Seniors. It's a ground I need to tick off.

They're kicking off as I walk over the main road. I'm alarmed there is no Josh Stolworthy in the Keyworth starting line up. The 27 year old is a man mountain of a centre-half. They miss his imperious, dominant presence. In a battle you'd want him by your side. At any other club, such as Dunkirk or Clifton All Whites, where they give youth a chance, he would have made over 300 first team appearances by now. Circumstances currently prevent this from happening. 

Honours are even at the break although the Keyworth managers aren't happy with the performance or by some of the backchat. I wouldn't argue with the referee, who has been excellent by the way. He's harder than any player on the pitch and will probably be running the doors at a pub in town later.

'The KGB' isn't getting the rub of the green. He shines on a wider pitch, when in space. He somehow ends up at right-back when Keyworth have to chase the game at 3-1 down. It's 3-2 in the end and a deserved victory for Greyfriars. The lads retire to the pub whilst Dafty drops me on Stoke Lane outside Carlton Town's ground. His Son, Will (my Godson) has been a colossus in the last 20 minutes.

The Millers are deadlocked at 0-0 against the seaside town of Cleethorpes. I bump into 'friends to the stars', Jitz Jani. I mistakenly thought he was on the sauce in north London prior to NFFC's visit to 'The Arsenal' tomorrow lunchtime. He's chatting to former Forest legend Ian Storey-Moore. 

Dan Thorpe is playing a Northern Soul set in the clubhouse. The tunes are outstanding. You can't beat a Hammond organ. I stand with him and Nige in the second half. Carlton are chasing the game after going a goal down on 80 minutes. There's a melee close to the dugouts. It doesn't look all that. A player from both teams are shown the red card. There's an extraordinary goalmouth scramble in the dying embers which results in Brad Wells poking home a last gasp equaliser.

I run down the road and board the No.26 bus which drops me close to home. I shower up and change, putting on my best Adidas Hamburg trainers. I neck a couple of craft ales at Neon Raptor. I'm joined by the Horsburgh family. I tip Jay the wink on some good watering holes in Liverpool, as he's going to the races there next weekend.

I hook up with Dringy, his two lads and Jitz at The Dragon on Angel Row. We end the evening at some swanky cocktail bar called Six Richmond House, on Hurt's Yard.. It's where Jitz drinks with his rich and famous friends. He knows it'll be too pretentious for me. But every cloud has a silver lining. The bar sells craft IPA.

We can't 'arf pick 'em.

Player of the Match 10 Jacket for Greyfriars

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Tividale 1-1 Radford (Tivi won 3-1 on Pens)

It's 5 a.m. on Sat, 2nd July, 2022. I'm in a taxi on my way up to Ripley, to a bloke's house ('Smiffy') - a Non League legend, who I've never met before. I'm shattered folks. I landed at East Midlands Airport yesterday afternoon, after a week away in Puerto Pollensa, in northern Majorca. I've overindulged in craft ales, gins, red wine and tapas. I'm fat, tired, mardy and irritated. I need to up my game, as I'm stepping out for 26 miles, later, for charity.

Let's 'Re-Rewind', as that Herbert, Craig David, would say. It's April 2022. I'm sat in the Bread and Bitter on Mapperley Tops with two die-hard Nottingham Forest supporters (Peachy and Pete). It's the first time we've been acquainted, We do have something in common though. By fate, chance and misfortune we stood close to one another at Hillsborough, 33 years ago. 97 people lost their lives that day. It became one of Britain's biggest ever cover-ups. Margaret Thatcher, South Yorkshire Police and that scum of a red top daily tabloid, that I can't bring myself to say, colluded and hatched a plot to firmly lay the blame on the supporters of Liverpool. Add to that the corrupt involvement of the West Midlands Police Force, with altered, fabricated and falsified statements.

Astonishingly, those bungling, incompetent fools at the FA insisted that the game should be replayed. Don't forget it was this joke of a governing body that chose the game would be played at Hillsborough - a stadium that was dangerous, with a history of near-miss incidents, a stadium whose safety certificate was 'very out of date.' Never forget that they got away scot free!

The reason we are all together in the pub is that a group of Nottingham Forest supporters are looking to raise monies for the Hillsborough Survivors Supporters Alliance. Funds need to be raised for private therapy for people affected by the events of that awful day - this includes folk from Nottingham too. To date this has changed 117 lives with a 98% success rate.

Despite being overcast, the air is humid and the heat stifling as we begin the sponsored walk from Anfield Stadium, adjacent to the Hillsborough Memorial, which breaks my heart when I stand and stare silently at it, 'Smiffy' and Martin point out that a young lad they knew of, from Swanwick, Derbyshire, was amongst those who lost their lives. He was just 18 years old. 

The walk is amazing and humbling too. Cars constantly hoot and toot us, in an effort to raise our spirits, as the heat intensifies. We pass Everton's wonderful old ground, Goodison Park, and one of Sticky's faves, Marine FC, up in Crosby. We stop for refreshments and go again, this time up to Aintree Racecourse and into Kirkby where Liverpool's state of the art training ground is located. We finish at Arkles pub, close to Anfield. 26 miles in total are chalked up on my Strava app. I celebrate with the group. It's a wonderful, emotional and tear-jerking moment. The Nottingham branch are led by Pete. He is an amazing, driven and passionate human being. Our small group have raised £2000 #RIP97 - well done to Ness and Michael too.

Fast forward to last Saturday. Carlton Town have let a two goal lead slip. I chance upon the referee's assessor in the car park. He's already having his ear chewed off by an angry Millers' supporter. The question is should Sheffield FC's 'keeper have been sent off for wiping out an attacker and conceding a penalty? According to the assessor the answer is NO. I zip up my gob (I've had two pints) and make a hasty exit. I'm still sulking an hour later as I try to relax in the Old Volunteer pub on Burton Road.

Sunday morning is spent with blog legend 'The Big Man' on the banks of the Trent and in the Stratford Haven public house in West Bridgford. We stop briefly on the Trent Embankment to view Poets Young Boys dishing out a walloping. Former NFFC striker, David Johnson, father of Brennan, is amongst the spectators. 'The Big Man' orders an Uber, as he has to be home for the Emmerdale Farm 50th anniversary special. Apparently there's a big storm brewing. It's called Cain Dingle. I retire to the armchair and read late into the night a case study of The Shankill Butchers - obvs I toss and turn all night and have bad dreams.

It's Monday and I'm on the train to York to see my brother for a few days. We enjoy teatime scoops at Star in the City and one of York's finest hostelries, House of Trembling Madness. It has craft ales to die for. I'm like a kid in a sweet shop. I book the Tony Mac Friday Club Christmas Party in York for December 16th.

My bro and I spend a day walking up in Ripon at Fountains Abbey, a National Trust owned ruined Cistercian monastery. We lunch at the Sawley Arms where a 12oz gammon steak is polished off with a North Yorkshire pale ale. I arrive home in time to cut and scarify the lawn ahead of the incessant rain.

Thursday evening is spent in the Long Room at Trent Bridge Cricket Ground pavilion. I hook up with 'Drurs', who I shared a dressing room with at Keyworth Cricket Club. There are two speakers tonight. The first is a fascinating talk on other sports played at the cricket ground, which includes some touching anecdotes and crowd participation. 

The second speaker is 'one of our own', 23 year-old all-rounder Liam Patterson-White, who, just today, has learnt of his call up to an England Lions training\ camp in the UAE. He's so engaging and talks openly. 'Drurs' asks Liam who is the fastest bowler he's ever faced. Notts' new signing Ollie Stone is the answer. We finish the night off at the Fox and Grapes in Sneinton. The 1961 murder of the landlord remains unsolved.

It hoses it down for most of Friday. The coast is clear at just gone 6 p.m. It's a no beer day today - I don't want to end up as a bitter and twisted member of the Ryan Yates Beer Goggle Brigade, who claim he shouldn't be 'anywhere near the first team' at NFFC, despite another POTM accolade. 

I'm at one of Ryan's old clubs, Notts County, where that clown of an owner, at the time, Alan Hardy, bad-mouthed the Tricky Trees on social media during Yates' loan spell. It was catastrophic and Kamikaze from old motormouth-  resulting in Yates being ordered back over the water and then being shipped out to Scunthorpe United. The rest is history. The oldest Football League Club in the world were confined to Conference Football, on Hardy's watch. Three managers in one season. What a palava.

The DJ is playing 'Friday I'm in Love' by The Cure, as I take my seat in the Derek Pavis Stand, accompanied by Keyworth United legend Alan Jackson. The NFFC DJ should take note of this, as I've caught him out playing 'Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting' on a Friday evening, Sunday lunchtime and a Monday night game.

A massive shout out to the 279 hardy souls from Maidstone who have made the 350 mile round trip in testing and trying conditions. Their team don't give them too much to cheer about, planting 11 men behind the ball. 'The Non League Haaland', Macaulay Langstaff, has already seen a goal chalked off and fresh-aired a sitter before he opens the scoring. The impressive Ruben Rodrigues nets a beauty before fluffing a spot kick. Cedwyn Scott puts the game to bed, helping manager Luke Williams rest up a few weary legs ahead of Tuesday's trip to Wealdstone. I notice that Lincoln City's chief scout is in attendance.

It's Saturday 11 a.m. and I'm standing outside Laguna Tandoori, on Mount Street with Faggsy and Kimberley Al. A car comes haring around the corner, 'Crazy Steve' is behind the wheel. Today folks, we're ticking off three Heritage pubs in the West Midlands and taking in Tividale v Radford, in a FA Vase cup tie. Thankfully 'Crazy' turns off Capital FM on the car radio; it's for the best.

'Crazy' weaves in and out of traffic on the A50 and A5 before we roll into the car park of the Manor Arms, in Rushall. The pub is a beauty and the landlady is dead friendly and engaging. We quaff a real ale, before stop number 2, the Horse and Jockey at Wednesbury. The red-bricked building looks lovely from the outside, but the interior is spoilt with tables from what looks like a works' canteen. Faggs, Crazy and Al are massive Pies fans. They nearly choke on their ale when NFFC take the lead against Liverpool.

Our final call is the Waggon and Horses in Oldbury, close to WBA's ground. The pub is a gem and a worthy entry in CAMRA Heritage Guide. The lads are bitterly disappointed (seething tbh) to see the Tricky Trees secure three points. One of them says there will be a open-top double decker bus parade around Nottingham City centre this evening. There will be a sigh of relief at Eva's Grill on Radcliffe Road. They've been stockpiling the fireworks since the win against West Ham back in August.

It's £7 on the gate at 'Tivvy.' A below strength Radford are caught napping in the opening minutes. They grow into the match and play a beautiful game with crowd favourite (and Sticky's) Joe Meakin pulling all the strings. They equalise near half time through Jordan Alls with Tivvy down to ten men, as the ref has sin-binned a player for mouthing-off.

Radford control the game for long periods in the second half, although Tivvy are dangerous on the turnaround. Alls sees an effort come back off the woodwork, Jebbison hits the rebound narrowly wide. Scott 'Tank' Lichfield looked to have grabbed a winner, drawing a fine save from the 'keeper.

The young referee has made a song and dance of everything. His game management is appalling. He takes an age to sort out the slightest kerfuffle. It's clear to all and sundry that he's out of his depth. A Radford player is sent off for a clear handball, what is unclear is whether it's in the penalty area or not. The player is shown a red card before the ref consults his assistant and points to the spot. His skin is saved and so is the penalty.


The Pheasants bow out of the Vase on penalties. They can't 'arf feel hard done by. 

Player of the Match Joe Meakin

Thanks for driving 'Crazy', top navigating Fags and welcome to the blog 'Kimberley Al.'