Sunday, February 24, 2008

Alfreton Town 0 AFC Telford 1

It’s Super Saturday. Two games in one day. It’s gone down like a lead balloon, but it would feel like a missed opportunity. White Van Man picks me up at 11.30am. Our aperitif is in the Derbyshire Dales. Matlock Town are playing Eastwood Town and WVM likes to watch his mate Screats, who plays for the visitors.

We’re treated to HEART 106 FM on his car radio. They play three in a row from Spandau Ballet, Anastasia and Robbie Williams. I think I’m heading for a nervous breakdown

WVM is coughing and spluttering. He’s missed out on his Full English this morning. There’s no runny egg, just a runny nose. We’re driving up the M1. He drives like he’s playing Grand Theft Auto on the PlayStation. I’m amused by it all but The Taxman, when he can be bothered to attend, is a quivering wreck.

Parking is tricky in Matlock Town Centre and we settle for a spot in Sainsbury’s. We just miss the kick-off. The game is as poor as the food on offer at the Tea Bar. WVM has an inedible beef burger. Eastwood are woeful. Their manager Paul Cox seems more interested in talking to the linesman, rather than coaching the tripe his team are serving up. Eastwood’s eleven jacket Lindon Meikle is worth the admission alone. His feet and movement are lightning.

Matlock win the game because their delivery is better. But the game is not a good advert for the Unibond Premier League.

We’re dashing out the ground. Next destination is North Street, the home of Alfreton Town FC. We pass Screats’ Dad on he way out. He’s had the misfortune to befriend a groundhopper who has travelled up from the New Forest. He’s waxing lyrical about all the grounds he’s visited but we haven’t time for a chin wag.

We’re flying up the A515. WVM skilfully negotiates the side streets of Alfreton, as if he’s lived here all his life. We dump the car outside the turnstile.

It’s £9 to get in. And the programme is top notch. There ‘s a great view of the ground from outside the ground, above the turnstile.

Alfreton Town were formed in 1959. The town has a population of 20,000. I came to a night game versus Kettering last season and could not believe the amount of public houses in this town. It’s an area decimated by pit closures. I conveniently forget to tell WVM there’s a Thorntons chocolate factory down the road.

Telford is a new town in Shropshire. It has a population of 130,000. IT companies EDS and Fujitsu are major employers in the town. A local businessman invested heavily a few years ago ( I thought it was Coldseal Windows, but that must have been elsewhere) As is the norm in Non-League, it ended in tears. AFC Telford has risen from the ashes of Telford United and are currently second in the Blue Square North.

Boy, I love this ground. It doesn’t matter where you sit; you’re tight to the pitch. We’re perched up in some seats in the corner, the view is ideal. WVM has left his mobile in the car. He’s ably assisted by Alfreton Town FC Director Dave Gregory, who organises a pass out for WVM.

While he has gone that bloody boring groundhopper has reappeared on the scene. He’s
telling me he’s only got one ground in England and Scotland to do. I ask him where his wife is and he replies that she’s in Thailand. I can’t say I blame her. Thankfully he buggers off to Hucknall Town for the second half.

The first half is average. Alfreton seem intent on launching the ball. Their football is quite ugly. Their manager is Nicky Law who had relative success in the Football League as a manager. He did well at Buxton FC last year. I remember him as no nonsense centre half at Notts County a few years ago. His son Josh plays on the right hand side today and looks a tidy player.

Both teams strike the woodwork. Alfreton smash another ball over the top which their striker Brian Cushworth runs onto. He only has the keeper’ to beat but slices badly wide.

The whistle goes for half-time. WVM is eyeing up a Full Monty (Pie, Chips, Peas and Gravy) at the Food Bar. It’s just a pot of mushy peas with mint sauce for Sticky Palms. Alfreton make and serve food with style. Matlock take note. The Disc Jockey plays a rave and rock and roll medley.

We walk around the ground and mingle with the away support, who are a loud and jolly bunch. AFC Telford turn up the heat in the second period and show their class and mettle. They go close on several occasions before Jon Adams converts a tap in at the far post, following great work by Gary Birch. I remember Birch when he played at Sincil Bank. He always looked partial to the occasional Full Monty. He’s way too good for the Blue Square North, though.

Ex Lamb Lee Moore, Telford’s number 10, is full of running and a very clever player. He is the creator supreme but the visitors cannot put the final nail in the coffin. What Alfreton lack in quality they make up with endeavour. Lawrie Wilson, son of Hartlepool manager Danny forces a fine save from Telford’s Ryan Young.

Rob Smith, the Telford manager, brings off his strike force and shuts up shop. The final whistle is blown; the game has reached its conclusion. And it’s Telford who grabs the points, despite an edgy and nervous ending.

Super Saturday is just like Sky’s over-hyped Super Sunday. It’s turned out to be a bit of a damp squib, although Telford were good value.

Alfreton 0 Telford 1 Moore

Attendance: 635

Man of the Match: Lee Moore

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