It’s New Year’s Day morning and I’m driving to the Nottingham Showcase Cinema to watch the delightful Jim Carrey in his new film Yes Man. It’s based on the book by Danny Wallace, which is well worth the read. The kids have got Candy Shop by 50 Cent on the CD player; I turn it down a notch as I’m feeling a bit under the weather. Yes, it’s self-inflicted. I started on Champagne, moved on to Guinness, had a large Bombay Sapphire and finished on the top shelf.
We spent the evening with ‘The Architect’ and the Ergo Assistant Contracts Manager in a quaint old country pub. There was a Hog Roast on and a disco. I shuffled about to Crazy by Gnarls Barkley with Mrs P on the dance floor. I move, these days, more like Austin Powers, than Austin Healey. To add a bit of spice to the night I spotted an old girlfriend in the corner of pub. It certainly fired up Mrs P; you’ve got to keep them on their toes readers.
I had the chance to go and watch Sheffield FC v Retford United on New Year’s Day. I had to be in a pub car park to get a lift with ‘Big D’ by 1.45pm. I missed the cut off time, and a five goal thriller, to watch the end of the excellent Yes Man. There were only six of us in the cinema. It was like a private showing.
I was sat in the kitchen last night, sipping a cold Stella, listening to ‘Whispering Bob Harris’ on a Radio 2 request show. Somebody text in a good luck message to Kettering Town in their FA Cup match against Eastwood Town. Knowing that the BBC are always keen to redress the balance, I immediately text in a good luck message for the Badgers. ‘Whispering Bob read it out within five minutes of me sending it in, he even said ‘from The Groundhopper.’ I was well chuffed.
Trumpy Bolton caused quite a stir during our afternoon out in Goole a few weeks back People have e-mailed me and posted threads on message boards, asking when he’d be groundhopping again. I phoned him during the Christmas period; he was on the piss in Portsmouth. He was more than interested in visiting Dinnington, as it’s another pub for him to chalk off. I arrange to pick him up at 12.30pm.
White Van Man is eating camel pie in Egypt, The Nuclear Scientist is skiing in Austria and The Taxman is off the radar.
Trumpy comes stumbling out his front door. I don’t bother asking him if he’s been to Wetherspoons for ‘breakfast.’ He spent New Year’s Eve in the Isle of Wight. He confesses, in previous years, of having been on all day New Year’s Eve benders, but being tucked up in bed well before the first band strikes a chord on the Jools Holland Show.
He has a crumpled atlas in his hand. I have a flick through and enquire why lots of villages have a highlight pen through them. He explains his dream is to make a financial transaction in every village in England. He keeps all receipts or credit card transactions as a proof of purchase. He’s well on his way to his goal, as he has been a delivery driver for Pork Farms and Ginsters for over thirty years.
We’re fully armed with the 2009 Good Pub Guide and the 2006 Non League Club Directory, in case of any postponements. Dinnington Town confirm the game is 100% on. Trumpy has a plastic litre bottle of Sainsbury’s lemonade; predictably it’s full of real ale.
We drive up the A614, past Worksop, and head towards the village of Thorpe Salvin. Trumpy has his eye on chalking off another pub, which is called The Parish Oven. I haven’t put the Tom Tom on, I didn’t want to insult Trumpy’s map reading skills. Of course we are lost and end up in Rhodesia! I don’t feel I‘ve driven that far and certainly can’t remember catching a plane or boat. But what the hell.
There’s no food on at The Parish Oven. Trumpy has a pint of Black Sheep, and I have a diet coke. He also procures a couple of bottles of cider for take- out purposes.
We finally end up at the Little Mester at North Anson. Meals are two for one and Trumpy treats me to scampi and chips. He washes that down with a bottle of Bulmers Pear Cider.
We finally reach Phoenix Park at 2.30pm. Trumpy has a trot up Dinnington High Street in search of a watering hole.
Dinnington is in South Yorkshire. Close by are Sheffield, Worksop and Rotherham. Like most towns up here it was devastated by the closure of the local coal mine in 1992, with the loss of 1000 jobs. It has a population of 11,000.
Former Rotherham United manager Dave Cusack was born down the road in Thurcroft.
Dinnington Town Football Club are celebrating their centenary this season. They play just behind the Dinnington Resource Centre. The ground is fairly basic but it has soul. It’s £4 entry and £1 for an excellent programme. I buy a raffle ticket off a miserable lady, who doesn’t even say thank you when I produce £1 from my pocket.
They are playing Hallam FM Radio on the PA system. It’s as equally bad as Heart FM. I suffer in silence to Gabrielle and Erasure.
There is a charming lady, strolling around the ground, with a smile on her face, selling scarves and ties. They are coloured amber and black, although Dinnington play in all white strip today.
A ruddy faced Trumpy appears on the scene, he’s not too chuffed as he’s been unable to find a hostelry that is open. The clown took a wrong turning. He promises a re-visit at the break.
I saw today’s visitors Bridlington Town at Shirebrook back in August; they were subliminal that day. They have balance and beauty. There Achilles heel is that they are young and inexperienced in the heart of their defence.
The Seasiders attack our end. They are on the top of their game immediately. They have already peppered the Dinnington goal before taking the lead on ten minutes with an extraordinary strike from 25 yards out by the imposing Ashley Allanson.
Bridlington are rampant. Sticky’s favourite, skipper Phil Harrison, is pulling all the strings. His decision making and passing are first rate. He is on fire. Trumpy compares his to Tottenham Hotspur’s Croatian international Luka Modric. I think he looks more like Take That singer Mark Owen.
Bridlington increase their lead on eighteen minutes with Craig Palmer firing home.
Dinnington keeper Rob Poulter is called into action time and time again. He produces fine saves from both Hotte and Fleming. Bridlington make it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time with Craig Palmer scoring his second of the afternoon, diverting a goal bound shot into the corner of the net following a goal mouth melee. The Seasiders have wasted endless opportunities but a better attacking force I’ve yet to see this season. Their passing game makes a mockery of a bumpy and rutted surface.
Trumpy is suitably impressed but doesn’t hang around for the referee’s half-time whistle. He troops off up the road to quench his thirst with a pint of John Smiths at the nearby Squirrel Inn.
I miss out on a crate of Stella by one strip of numbers in the raffle. I’m not too gutted as I start a two week detox plan on Monday, but when will I win a bloody raffle?
I chat with a fellow groundhopper who tips me off that Stockbridge Steels are worth a look. It’s in the notebook.
Hallam FM Radio continue their mediocre music theme with Lily Allen’s latest offering. It has the worst lyrics of 2009. Check these out: ‘But it doesn’t matter cause I’m packing plastic and that’s what makes my life so f****g fantastic.’ Dear, oh dear, oh dear.
The smiling scarf seller pours me a cup of tea at a pricey 75p. It’s ten out of ten for service with a smile, but sadly only a five out of ten for the tea.
Dinnington Town kick down the slope. The locals inform me that the second half will be a different kettle of fish. They have pushed midfielder Ben Rosser up front. He has an immediate effect on the game. I’m informed that he has been sent off twice recently and lacks discipline; apparently he’s a police officer!
Rosser bulldozes his way through the Bridlington defence on 55 minutes to finish off a fine move. He creates a goal twenty minutes from time for partner Gavin Allot. Rosser gets in some terrific positions but rarely lifts his head and flatly refuses to pass. He doesn’t appear to be a team player.
Bridlington continue to spurn chances at the other end. It’s an enthralling encounter and easily the best game I’ve witnessed this season.
It’s approaching injury time and Dinnington have been awarded a free-kick deep in their own half. They punt the ball forward, the Bridlington back four wobble like jelly. Substitute Cartledge is through on goal and tackled from behind. Gavin Allott makes no mistake from the spot.
Incredibly both teams have chances to win the game deep into injury time. Trumpy for once is captivated and has thoroughly enjoyed the match.
There’s a special mention for The Groundhopper’s man of the match. Referee Mr David Lawrence of South Yorkshire has handled this game superbly. He’s allowed advantage and has hardly blown his whistle. He has treated the players like adults and has gained RESPECT. Well done David.