Sunday, July 22, 2007
Rainworth MW 0 Eastwood Town 2
Mrs P has mentioned cutting back on my groundhopping duties, purely on financial grounds and yet I’ve just found an e-mail confirming she has bought two tickets to see Britain Lacks Talent winner, the pie-eating opera singer Paul Potts for £46, what a bloody cheek, I can get eight games in for that princely sum.
I noticed during the week that Uriah Rennie was having a run-out at Rainworth MW and let’s face it; it is on the to-do list. The taxman is travelling with me today down a very wet A614 but the lady at the welfare confirms to me that the game is definitely on.
In 1975 the notorious murderer The Black Panther, Donald Neilson, was captured in Rainworth. He kidnapped two policemen in Mansfield Woodhouse, shot one of them, but was apprehended by the afternoon shift of Rufford Colliery, who were queuing up for supper at The Junction Chippy in Rainworth. Neilson got battered.
Rainworth MW have always had a useful team, they have had some epic battles, in the past, against my local club Keyworth United. I remember a Senior Cup Final at John Player’s ground on Aspley Lane where they were awesome.
They won the Notts Alliance six consecutive years in a row between 1978-1983. They still hold the record for the highest attended FA Vase game, outside the final, when a crowd of over 5000 watched their semi-final clash with Bedfordshire’s Barton Rovers. 10,000 people from Notts were at Wembley for the final, even The Junction Chippy closed for the day. They lost 3-0 to Forest Green Rovers but what an achievement for a small pit village.
This season they have been promoted from thehe Central Midlands League to the Northern Counties East Div 1 and the ground is being upgraded. We park in the Welfare car park and stroll into the bar. I’m off champagne after last week’s escapade and settle instead for a couple of cold Guinness.
It’s slinging it down with rain but the local bowls team are out in force. The welfare is very cosy, outside they are erecting a smoking shelter, this doesn’t half make me chuckle.
The lady behind the bar is welcoming, she tells me that Mr Rennie has attended Sportsman's Dinners in the past and is very popular in these parts, she says he is “a bit of alright” – don’t think the prawn sandwich brigade of the Premiership will agree with you there love. Groundhoppers are constantly ringing her up asking for the postcode of the ground for their sat navs. I thought they caught trains?
The ground is beautiful and is set in a valley below the welfare. They are undergoing a massive refurbishment, with new changing rooms, offices and tea bars being built to Northern Counties standard.
It’s £4 to get in and the programme is free. Gordon Foster produces the programme and I have to say what a fine publication it is too, as good as I’ve seen. It’s full of stats, reviews and write-ups and is written by a man with a passion for the game. Gordon is on the microphone before the game and he is the half-time DJ too.
I haven’t seen Eastwood since Cammell Laird turned them over at Coronation Park last winter. Eastwood had the last laugh beating the Birkenhead outfit in the Unibond League play-offs.
Manager Paul Cox isn’t here today and his assistant Richard Cooper is playing in defence. I criticised their style back in February but today they keep it on the carpet. Lindon Meikle, The Badgers’ forward has just returned from a trial at MK Dons, Eastwood are not happy with his agent, the boy appears to be getting bad advice. Word on the street is that he is to have a trial this week at Russell Slade’s Yeovil Town.
There is no gulf in class in an evenly balanced first half, Rainworth’s Lee Wilson and Eastwood’s Ricky Hanson both miss sitters. Rainworth don’t look the fittest team in the world and many of their squad appear to be carrying excess baggage, I’m sure their manager Rudy Funk will address this problem in pre-season training.
Ex Forest Academy star Matty Turner is making his debut for the Wrens and he shows some good touches. Apparently he used to play in the Danish Super League; from where I stand he looks to have been partial to a Danish pastry or two.
Gordon spins a classic tune at the break Love Song by The Damned. Players and crowd share the same toilet; I have the honour of being in the next urinal to the Rainworth captain.
Eastwood prove too strong for Rainworth in the second period, Paul Mitchell scores the first goal of the game at the second time of asking and Meikle puts the game to bed, seizing on a loose ball on the edge of the area. Mr Rennie is in cruise control and all the players respect him. O’Brien and Mitchell command the midfield for Eastwood.
The game is now being interrupted with a steady stream of substitutions. Anton Bonnick once of NSL Boots makes his Badgers debut. His first touch is terrific and he is not afraid to shoot. Keep an eye on him he could be a surprise package in the Unibond Premier this season, he is hungry.
There is a sickening collision between Niall O’Brien and a Rainworth midfielder and an ambulance arrives on the scene. Mr Rennie blows for full-time. As friendly matches go the second half is very entertaining. Rainworth is a smashing club and I wish them well in the Northern Counties this season and will watch them again.
Rainworth MW 0 Eastwood Town 2 Mitchell and Meikle
Man of the Match: Paul Mitchell.