Monday, March 19, 2007
Belper Town 1 Cammell Laird 2
I'm in buoyant mood today, my U9's team played a beautiful game of football on the carpet this morning. I am so proud of these boys and try to teach them good habits.
It's a 30 mile trip to Christchurch Meadow, the home of Belper Town. The Nottingham ring road is in turmoil this afternoon; it's a lengthy journey. On my arrival I'm greeted by the flag of St George with Cammell Laird of Birkenhead printed on it. I've looked forward to watching them all week; at this level they are superior to anything I have seen. They have won their last nine games.
I first came to Belper back in October and witnessed my only goalless draw of the season, in a FA Trophy game against Skelmersdale. Ernie Moss was Belper's manager at the time, he has since resigned. There are eight new faces for me to look at today; sadly their style of play hasn't changed one bit.
Belper lies eight miles north of Derby, by the River Derwent. It's an old mill town, which is famous for the ancient art of nail making. They were formed in 1883. The actor and ex James Bond, Timothy Dalton, was brought up here, as was Coronation Street star Tracy Shaw. Not only did she have to battle with anorexia and drink-related problems but also had the misfortune to date Darren Day and support D***y County.
Headline news in Belper Today, the local rag, reveals that ten chicks have hatched their eggs at a junior school - they certainly live life to the full in the Derwent Valley. Bigger news, in my eyes, is that The Nailers somehow managed a midweek away victory at league leaders Buxton Town. Before that game The Nailers had lost their previous five matches.
The classic punk track, No More Heroes, by The Stranglers, blasts out the public address system. Two boys walk a Jack Russell dog round the ground - this reminds me will my hero, Cammell Laird winger, Eddie Jebb, be playing today? Cammell Laird won The Cheshire County Cup earlier in the week, pasting Conference side, Northwich Victoria 3-1. I hope there isn't a Freddie Flintoff type hangover.
There is a strong breeze but it's a gorgeous day. The setting at this lovely ground is stunning. It looks out into the Derbyshire hills. Off the pitch everything is well for Belper Town, they play behind the church and old mill, established in 1912.
The Nailers kick with the wind behind them and I'm horrified with their ugly style of football. This can only be compared with the reign of John Beck at any of his clubs - at least Beck's teams used to play it into the corners.
Belper aimlessly launch ball after ball into their opponents' penalty area. Laird keeper, Craig Bryan, is having a field day.
Cammell Laird keep the ball moving, they are pleasing on the eye. They have balance; Collins and Clampitt control the midfield; wingers Jebb and Adamson are always in space. The main man is forward Ronnie "The Rocket" Morgan. The guy is a cut above. He works the channels, shields the ball and has an end product - he is quality. Ian Doran, Laird's eccentric manager, may not agree, he gives Ronnie a bollocking for being "lazy".
I lean on the The Laird dugout, mesmerised. McGuire and Sheehan go close for the Birkenhead outfit. Morgan teases and torments the home defence. Someone has a radio on, the guy next to me shouts: "Forget the Premiership Mickey Mouse, how are Tranmere doing?". Good lad.
The inevitable goal arrives on 17 minutes, Lee Atherton lashing the ball home when Belper can only half-clear a corner. The Laird are rampant, surely an avalanche will follow. The game changes shortly after, Belper send another ball with snow on it, into the visitors' penalty box, Bryan drops it and appears to hold back Belper forward Tevendale. It's a red card for the keeper and a penalty to the home team. Goalscorer Atherton, saves Tevendales's weak effort.
I slip into the bar at the break for a pint and very nice it is too. The function room looks to have had a recent refurbishment. The toilets are five star. They have splashed out on Armitage Shanks, always a good sign in my book.
I glance at the Ceefax on the television, Boston United are 2-1 up. I despise that club and their weasel of a manager, Steve Evans. Tamworth are also winning, with the excellent Daryl Taylor the scorer.
Pakistan are 67-5 in the Cricket World Cup. I wonder if there have been any irregular betting patterns? Home Nations Rugby is on another television, personally I'd rather wash the pots than watch that game.
Cammell Laird are even stronger with ten men. Jebb is pushed up front alonside "The Rocket". Belper offer nothing, their number four Krystof Kotwylo (great name) is annoying The Laird bench, with some niggling challenges.
How the hell did Belper beat Buxton? Al Murray lookalike, Laird manager, Ian Doran, can talk the hind legs off a donkey. He banters with the crowd. He spots three old men and compares them to the Last of the Summer Wine.
Substitute Joey Gibilru appears to put the game beyond doubt with a close-range finish, after clever play from Morgan down the left flank. They are coasting, Doran revels in it, talking to the crowd more than watching the game.
Belper's Roden gives his side hope, finishing from a corner on 82 minutes. Laird survive a few late scares, the win is well deserved. They have outplayed The Nailers with ten men for over an hour.
Belper Town 1 Roden
Cammell Laird 2 Atherton and Gibilru.
Man of the Match: Ronnie Morgan.