Sunday, February 11, 2007

Radford FC 1 Greenwood Meadows 1

Pilates has been postponed and a pass out has been provided. The inclement weather of late has produced a virtual fixture wipe out but the Central Midlands Supreme League has a couple of games on, I can be in Radford in 20 minutes and it's a local derby.

I endure a horrific journey, taking the customary wrong turning, and end up asking an Eastern European family where Asda is (the ground is close by) I stumble across the ground by chance, this is the lowest level of football I have seen this season, but I am impressed. Radford have a lovely set-up and the folk are friendly.

The admission fee is £2.50, a bargain, and I grab the last programme from behind the bar, as well as a pint of Kimberley Cool, but they'll be running out of that soon; Greene King have bought them out, another Notts brewery bites the dust.

Radford and The Meadows have a poor and unfair press, yes there is a drug dealer turf war but is it any different to say Birmingham, Bristol or Manchester? Radford Road is a vibrant and multicultural area of inner-city Nottingham. The streets are packed with shoppers and littered with small cafes, shops, real ale pubs and curry houses; the trams make it easily accessible.

The ground backs onto the main road, it has a social club and there is a small stand behind the goal seating 100. One side of the pitch is lined with conifers, the pitch is heavy, wide and on a slight slope, it reminds me of Gresley Rovers.

They have not sold their soul and moved away from their community like Grantham Town, quite the opposite. Thirty years ago Radford played in local leagues at Melbourne Park to the west of the city, they have now returned to the heart of their community.

I like this ground and club, they are on the up and well supported. I note, in the excellent programme, that Radford state they are a multiracial club, but today there are no black players in their starting line-up.

Nottingham has produced some fine young black and mixed-raced players in the past, Jenas, Pennant and Andy Cole to name a few. When I first began scouting for The Pies I deliberately targeted Hyson Green, St Anns, Radford, The Meadows and Clifton and formed friendships with their communities. This is where you will find future professional footballers, not in leafy West Bridgford, where children live life within the comfort zone.

Greenwood Meadows have won 4 games out of 26 and have conceded 83 goals. I have brought the abacus. Radford management pairing Julian Garmston and Pete Kelley are a double-act and interact with the crowd with regularity. They are calmness personified, despite a sorrowful first half.

Greenwood Meadows belie their lowly league position. Their central defenders, Kitchener and Simms are no-thrills but resolute. The front three, Munn, Manders and TJ Majoni wreak havoc with the Radford defence who are unsettled with their movement. TJ scores a terrific goal, in off the post, following a diagonal run. Meadows are good value, the natives are restless.

I pop into the social club at the break, Ceefax confirms Lincoln are hammering Torquay 1-0. Radford up it a gear in the second period, but Simms is magnificent for Meadows, cajoling and encouraging his team. Radford striker, Matt Eastwood restores parity with a thumping drive, he has just joined from rivals Bilborough Pelican in an acrimonious transfer, angry words from both managers are found on the Radford guestbook.

The game ebbs and flows, with chances at both ends. 1-1 is the final score, it's a fair result.

I have sympathy for Greenwood Meadows, they have worked hard and have impressed me. I will watch them again I am only 10 minutes from their ground, Kitchener (your club needs you) and Simms have been a colossus at the back. Referee, Mr S Fisher, deserves a special mention he was that good I hardly noticed him.

Radford FC 1 Eastwood Greenwood Meadows 1 TJ Majoni

Man of the Match Simms, Greenwood Meadows

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