There was no midweek fixture again for Sticky Palms; I hope Mrs P took a mental note. I had to endure three nights of ITV’s The Commander, starring ex Brookside babe Amanda Burton. I had a bit of a crush on her when she lived on Brookside Close. The Commander was predictably a load of codswallop, but hey Mrs P enjoyed it, and after all, it’s all part of my cunning plan to keep the good lady sweet during the evenings, before I drop the bombshell that I’m off to Goole and Solihull on consecutive Saturdays.
It’s a free reign for me this weekend on the scouting front. Thankfully I will not be scouting what some are saying is the closed shop of schools’ football. I opt instead to enter the lion’s den, or should I say, ‘The Sheep Dip.’ Yes I’ve crossed the cattle grid, and hope to return with some of their flock. I’m in D***y.
D***y County have missed this one; he’s a beauty. He’s tall, athletic, elegant, and got balance, poise, pace, delivery and finishing. Eat my goal. I book his place down our academy.
I arrive home in buoyant mood. There’s just time for a cheese and ham toasty, before bundling ‘The Skipper’ and Snooksy into the car, and picking up ‘The Nuclear Scientist.’ He’s thawed out and dried out, following our ‘Super Sunday’ soaking in Blackburn last week. We had the most miserable run back on the M6. The rain was bouncing off the bonnet.
Senegalese R&B singer Akon is on Radio 1 with his new single ‘Dangerous’ blaring out the speakers. I quickly tune into Five Live where Steven Gerrard has just made it 2-0 to Liverpool at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium.
White Van is peering through his window awaiting our arrival. If there was an Olympic event in swearing he’d be a cast iron certainty to be on the podium. But the kids are in the car, and today is a no swear zone. It’s going to kill him. The last time he felt this bad was when he went a whole weekend without a Pukka pie.
Our village has been in the news this week. Twenty five years ago a young girl was brutally attacked and murdered, the case remains unsolved. The last sighting of the killer was in the Generous Britain public house. in Costock. We’re driving past there now; it’s not the sort of pub you just stumble across. It is said he has local knowledge.
It’s a busy weekend in Loughborough, as well as the Dynamo derby, there’s also a local fair in the town. When we park up at Watermead Lane there are a few stationary wagons from the fairground adjacent to my car.
NS and WVM are both teasing me about my new H&M jacket (£34.99 in all good stores) that I’m sporting; they reckon I look like a proper hopper. I don’t carry a rucksack or a plastic cover to keep my programme dry. These pair of clowns are way off the mark. NS is wearing a £10 ski jacket from Asda, while WVM has got something on he bought from a bring and buy sale at the church hall.
It’s £6 admission, £1 for the kids and £1.50 for one of the best programmes in this league. There’s a message from the chairman, tales from a real groundhopper, reports on the ladies’ team, match reports from the last two away games and a review of some of the programmes in the League.
Loughborough Dynamo were formed in 1955 and have made great strides in recent times. Despite blowing the Midland Alliance title at the back end of last season, they were still deservedly promoted. I watched them twice last season and loved their style of play. They’ve settled in nicely into a higher standard of football.
Loughborough is in Leicestershire and has a population of over 50,000. The town’s university is top rated and is famous for its sports scholarships. Sebastian Coe, Steve Backley and Paula Radcliffe have all studied there. Mrs P’s favourite, who is also a top anorak and potential groundhopper, Roy Cropper (David Nielson) was born in the town.
It’s my second look at Shepshed; they were impressive at Spalding a few weeks back. They have a blend of experience and youth. Iain Screaton is their captain and was born in our village. He studied at Loughborough University and played for Loughborough Dynamo a few years back. He is a no-nonsense central defender who is superlative in the air. Thou shalt not pass is his motto. He can also play a bit.
The slate grey skies are full of rain again. We seek warmth and comfort in the spacious clubhouse. There’s a separate kiosk for food and drink. The girl behind the tea bar tries a hastily attempt at a rebrew. At least she fills the pot up, but unfortunately, due to the size of the queue, pours it out too early. The tea only gets a six out of ten; it’s too weak. ‘The Skipper’ and Snooksy have a ‘Glasgow salad’ (a tray of chips)
Considering the amount of water that has fallen from our skies over the last seven days, the pitch has to be seen to be believed. The surface is flat and lush. Perfect.
The ground is a shade too far out of the town centre to get the attendances it deserves. There’s a lovely old wooden stand behind one goal. The clubhouse and changing rooms are situated in the same area,
I spot Shepshed fan Andy Mac and ask him what went wrong at Glapwell last week. He says they were 3-2 down, and conceded one chasing the game.
The visitors look razor sharp in the opening exchanges, this is despite Wilkes going close for Loughborough Dynamo.
Shepshed’s right back Ricky Hanson forces Matt Nurse to push a 25 yard free kick onto the crossbar. Two minutes later Nurse, on his 100th consecutive game for Loughborough, is not so lucky. He comes careering off his line, but fails to clear his lines, whilst scampering back to his goal, the ball is played across the field to Sam Saunders, who nonchalantly side foots the ball home into an empty net.
Shepshed double their advantage on 11 minutes. Screaton claims a touch from an in swinging corner from Rob Norris. I’m taking a photo at the time, so can neither confirm it nor deny it.
The Shepshed fans have a non-stop repertoire of songs from behind Matt Nurse’s goals. It’s refreshing to hear this on the non-league circuit. They were pretty chipper at Spalding a few weeks back too.
Ian Robinson is giving a master class in the art of the midfield player. He breaks up attacks, sprays the ball around the park and supports the attackers. What a player.
Shepshed have forty winks on the half hour when Wilkes reduces the deficit, towering above Matt Millns to head home. Then star striker Kris Nurse wriggles away from the visiting defence, but takes an age to shoot; finally curling a shot over the bar.
It’s been a brilliant advert for Unibond Division One South.
We trudge back into the clubhouse, and the cup of tea served up at the second time of asking is different gravy. It’s accompanied by a glass of brandy to deal with the shock on hearing that Notts County are 4-0 up at Underhill. On loan Scunthorpe United striker Jonathan Forte has bagged a hat trick on his debut.
NS sees more goals for the visitors and wants to move to the other end of the ground. The romantic side of me fancies an equaliser.
Shepshed cuts the hosts to ribbons in the second period. The home defence has more holes in it than a Swiss cheese. The team from across the motorway carve out chance after chance.
Sam Saunders put the game out of sight with a cool finish on 69 minutes.
Substitute Shane Benjamin is unlucky not be in the starting line-up, he is replaced today by Scott Rickards, who has an arrogant swagger about him and has played at a higher level.
Benjamin is first to grab the ball when Shepshed are awarded a penalty in the 74th minute. He repeats this feat in the dying moments, once again with a spot kick.
The highlight of the day is in the 80th minute when White Van Man finally blots his copybook. He receives a text from a pal: “What does it say?” I ask. “F****ing hell” he replies. “Bristol City have equalised against Forest." The kids are in tears of laughter. Not bad Bish, nearly a whole afternoon without swearing. Good effort son.
Man of the Match: Ian Robinson (Unlucky Screats)