I was meant to be watching the film Control tonight. It’s about the life of Joy Division cult lead singer, Ian Curtis. Apparently it’s more depressing than being a season ticket holder at Field Mill.
My mate Taggart, (miserable Scotsman) is stuck on the M25 and can’t make the film. Sticky jnr is on a residential trip with school in Derbyshire and “The Skipper” is training with his team down the Powerleague.
I surf the net for a fixture and come up with a gem on football mitoo: a blood and guts local cup clash between Bilborough Pelican FC and Dunkirk FC.
The Taxman is up for it and we arrange to meet White Van Man at the Brian Wakefield Memorial Ground on Lenton Lane.
It’s a bargain £2 entry, including programme and parking. I bump into a few junior managers I know from my scouting and coaching days; they express concern that I no longer coach. “The Skipper” is sought after, but he just enjoys playing for his village, with his mates.
Bilborough Pelican FC is an amalgamation of two clubs; this season they have dropped back into the NSL. They share this venue with Unity Casuals Cricket Club. Dunkirk play in two leagues above. I rate them highly; a few weeks ago I saw them blow away Blackwell MW with a powerful display of high tempo football.
The midfield engine-room has departed since then: Marquin Smith has gone to Carlton and Jack Reid to Heanor, they will be missed. Dave Harbottle’s men dug deep into their reserves last weekend, with an epic encounter against Gedling MW in the FA Vase.
The mist rolls in off the chilly waters of the nearby River Trent. It’s an absorbing game of football for the neutral. Tyrone Cairns is Dunkirk’s centre-forward this evening; I prefer him on the right wing, but his pace unsettles the home defence. He wastes two good chances early on.
It’s a man’s game, without malice. There are personal battles all over the park, but total respect. Everybody wants it; Bilborough Pelican that little bit more.
Roy Sharp has done the rounds, but tonight he looks lean and mean, and more importantly, hungry. He is dynamic. He cushions the ball and is full of ideas and not afraid to unleash the trigger. He opens the scoring, turning his defender, finding space, and expertly curling a delicious shot over the visiting keeper, Lowe. He’s denied a penalty before the break; he has plenty to say about that one. Bilborough Pelican are impressive.
I’m informed by an official of the Notts FA that tonight’s referee is being fast-tracked through the leagues, he is young and ambitious. I hope for his sake there’s no referee’s assessor here tonight, he blows his whistle louder and more frequently than Tony Blair’s mate, Dr David Kelly. There are five or six unnecessary bookings. The tackling is hard but not crude.
Footballing journeyman, Mark Nangle, has landed at Dunkirk, he’s still got it, but BP’s big number four is dishing it out. Nangle is to be commended for showing tremendous restraint. Young Joel Wilson is absent tonight, both he and Nangle will be a formidable partnership for The Boatmen.
A familiar pattern continues in the second half with BP playing the better football. Sharp converts a left wing cross, to put them two up. He draws breath on an imaginary cigar, playing to the crowd, he is loving it.
Word on the touchline spreads that some cars have been broken into. I nip and check that Sally Gunnell (not much to look at but a bloody good runner) is OK.. By the time I return James Hendry, who has bust a gut tonight, has made it 3-0.
Dunkirk are not at the races, they are disappointing and play without width. They camp in the BP half for the final 15 minutes and have a late rally, scoring from a corner.
They find the BP goalkeeper in fine form. Ian Barker gives a master class in the art of goalkeeping. His handling, punching, kicking and positioning are first-class. Too much is often mentioned about outfield players. Barker has been a major influence in his side’s cup upset tonight.
We finish the night off with a couple of pints of Thwaites Lancaster Bomber in a nearby country pub, with a roaring log fire. It’s the perfect end to the day.
Bilborough Pelican 3 Sharp (2) Hendry Dunkirk FC 1 Pratt
Attendance: Unconfirmed (nearly 100)
Man of the Match: Ian Barker