Where is the White Van Man? He seems to have gone off the boil in recent weeks. His whereabouts for the Nottingham Forest v Barnsley game are shrouded in mystery. He is a part time employee of the Club but failed to show in the ticket booth for the visit of our South Yorkshire brethren.
I’ve got wind of this through Facebook and decide to phone the Big Man up on our way to Banbury. He’s playing it cagey and claims it was a training night at The City Ground for new employees. As I always say though, the truth will out. He breaks down, blubbering like a little child. He confesses all like a serial killer. Instead of watching the Tricky Trees, the big, soft girls’ blouse was sat in the stalls at the Nottingham Royal Centre watching that fishmonger’s wife – Alesha Dixon – throwing a few shapes.
Mrs P knocked up a chilli on Saturday as we watched the talentless John and Edward sail through to the next round of X Factor. They did a piss-take of ‘She Bangs’ by Puerto Rican, Latin American singer, Rikki Martin. It got my vote readers.
I headed out to north Leicestershire on Sunday looking for under 15 talent. I watched four top sides but nothing caught my eye. Sir Trevor Brooking once famously said that if a boy is not in an academy or centre of excellence by the age of 12 then there’s little chance of him making a professional footballer. What a load of bollocks!
It’s Tuesday lunchtime. I‘ve broken up from work for the rest of the week. I’m in the garden chopping trees down and bagging up. Finley, my pet rabbit, gives me a helping hand by gnawing his way through the twigs and branches that lay strewn across the garden.
Finley soon gets bored and dives under the shed for a gag. It takes me half an hour to rescue the little monkey. It was a delicate operation to set my furry little friend free. At one stage I thought I was going to have to phone West Bridgford Fire Station and tare away Bluewatch from their DVDs and card schools.
Having put the little fella back in his crib, I make a brew and log on to the East Midlands Counties League message board. Daggers seem to be drawn between Radcliffe Olympic and Gedling Miners’ Welfare. There are three pages of insults and accusations. It’s school playground behaviour.
I enjoyed my visits to both clubs and I’m surprised by the hostilities. I tentatively pencil in Saturday Jan 2nd for a visit to Mapperley Plains, when the two sides are due to meet again.
Tonight will be the 14th club I’ve visited in the EMCL. St Andrews and Ellistown are the two left in Leicestershire to do.
The Reaper and surprisingly (?) White Van Man are late withdrawals. The Taxman rings the door bell at 6.45pm. The drive is straightforward enough. We’re parked up at Bardon Close 20 minutes before kick off.
Bardon Hill is near Coalville in Leicestershire and is the highest point in Leicestershire at 278 metres (912 feet) above sea level. It has been the site of a quarry for nearly 400 years.
The Club had battled its way through 3 rounds of the FA Cup this season, beating the likes of Arnold Town, Coalville Town and Barton Old Boys, before succumbing to Conference North team Northwich Victoria 8-0.
Holwell Sports are based in Melton Mowbray. It’s an area renowned for the pork pie and stilton cheese. Holwell’s grand fromage – Scott Mooney – has fled to pastures new and has joined Hyde United. He rolled around the floor and cried like a baby when Sticky saw him play a friendly against Huntingdon Town back in August 2008.
It’s £4 entry to the ground and a further £1 for another outstanding programme for this level. There are match reports, team news, a profile of the visitors and a column by a well known groundhopper. It’s an excellent read.
We stand at the top of some concrete steps, the view is decent. It’s a tad chilly. Sticky is underdressed and only has three layers on. I hadn’t accounted for a biting wind.
Stood to our right is a referees’ assessor. I do hope his presence doesn’t ruin the game. He’s an affable chap. We strike up a conversation with him. He certainly does carry out the task for his love of the game.
The game is devoid of any quality in the opening minutes. It’s all huff, puff and energy. Bardon Hill winger Liam Hebberd has the x factor. He has too much in his locker for Holwell left back Leigh Fox. Old ‘Foxy’ has to resort to shirt-pulling and body checking as Hebberd skips by him time and time again. You may remember Hebberd’s father Trevor. He used to play for Southampton, Oxford United and D***y County.
The visitors take the lead on fifteen minutes. Bardon’s Vernon Hart-Harper, who looks the unfittest player I’ve seen in three years of groundhopping, gets himself in a tangle. Seventeen year old Mark Cowling seizes upon the opportunity to poke the ball home.
Bardon respond immediately with visiting keeper’ Cragg making a point-blank save from Hawker. Further chances fall to the home side but they find Cragg in inspired form and are unfortunate to go in at half time 1-0 down.
The Sports Club is a tidy affair. The Taxman spots an old work colleague and catches up on the office gossip. It leaves the poor old Groundhopper to queue up for a brew. I notice on the Sky Sports vidiprinter that my old favourite’s Eastwood Town are 2-0 up against Hyde United.
The tea is poured from the pot and is piping hot. The lady puts too much milk in and the bags are not quite mashed for the required time. It results in a weakened effort but is still marked with 6.8 out of ten.
The Taxman is loving all this tax talk. They are having orgasms over VAT returns, inheritance tax, and corporation tax. I bet they are having a right old chuckle at the number of small businesses they investigated and rumbled in the Melton Mowbray area. Lucky White Van Man’s not here, he’d be having a fit by now.
The Taxman’s mate’s son is a sub for the visitors. His brother plays for EMCL league leaders Heanor Town.
The writing looks firmly on the wall for Holwell in the second period. Only their keeper and the immense ‘Roo’, at the heart of their defence, stand firm. Their skipper is having a footballing nightmare. They are getting battered, although ironically, Holwell miss a sitter straight from kick off.
Within ten minutes Kyle Robinson races through and restores parity. Holwell somehow hang in there. Cragg, the Holwell ‘keeper, makes more spectacular saves and tips around the post, but he is left helpless by an exquisite free kick from out on the left by Jake Duffy. One or two Holwell fans behind me question the ‘keeper. You are taking the rise lads.
The game has been on simmer for a while but the referee has been brilliant and never lets it boil over. He talks to the players like adults and plays advantage time and time again. I’m no assessor but I am a qualified referee and I would give this guy top marks.
Taxman Two’s lad comes off the bench and bizarrely plays on the right wing, despite being pre-dominantly left footed. He’s only been on the pitch for a short while when a cross from the left falls to his weaker right foot in front of a gaping goal. The poor lad can only scoop the ball over the bar with an empty net staring him in the face. It’s the first time ever that Sticky Palms has ever felt sorry for a bloke from the Inland Revenue.
Men of the Match: Holwell ‘keeper and the referee.