Saturday, October 17, 2009
Gedling Southbank 3 Caribbean Cavaliers 3
It’s Sunday evening. I’m back home chillaxing on the sofa, after watching an entertaining 2-2 down ‘The Lane.’ I can hear an awful droning noise coming from the TV set. Mrs P and the kids are watching the X-Factor. I peer over my Non League Paper and catch the final act attempting to sing. The guy must be in the over 25s section. He looks lifeless, soulless and has beads of sweat pouring down his forehead. The lyrics are atrocious – I’ve written better on the toilet.
I grab my phone and start to text the number on the screen. I presume that you can vote off the person you DON’T want to go through. And I certainly don’t want to see this fool back next week. I tap away at my keypad, as the phone number flashes up on the screen. “What are you doing Dad?” asks ‘The Skipper.’ “I’m voting off that clown, whose just been stumbling around the stage son. He’s look like he’s had an afternoon on the sauce with Trumpy Bolton”, replies The Groundhopper. “You idiot” pipes up Mrs P, “that’s not a contestant, it’s the 15 times Brit Award winning karaoke king from Burselm, Stoke on-Trent – Robbie Williams!” “Oh sorry, my mistake”, replies Sticky Palms.
I get a text on Monday from JC in London. He’s a massive Pies’ fan and a big help to me on this blog. I’m not particularly shocked to read, on the text, that Ian McParland and Notts County have parted company. It was inevitable and not helped by a toothless second half performance yesterday. I’m still convinced that Notts County will win this League. Barthez got 33/1. There’s still three quarters of the season left.
I often wax lyrical about my car – Sally Gunnell – (not much to look at but a bloody good runner). I was driving her out the works’ car park on Tuesday evening when there was an enormous rattle and clunk as if something had fallen to the floor. The front exhaust pipe and box had rotted away. The Reaper very kindly cable tied it together for me. It was pretty embarrassing limping down the A60 into Big City Tyres (‘they’ll put it right’). The car sounded noisier than Dick Dastardly and Muttley’s off Wacky Races.
It’s Saturday morning and I’m watching schools’ football. It’s not a part of the job I particularly enjoy, but I’ve been redirected. The cream of the crop don’t always represent their schools for the district. In my experience I have found it a situation surrounded with politics and a lack of communication. I know boys at Keyworth United Community Football Club who would cake-walk it into South Notts schools rep sides - they’ve never been approached for whatever reason.
I dash home and see Mrs P and ‘The Skipper’ briefly. He won his cup game 23-0. It’s the equivilant of child abuse. I drive out of Keyworth. I flick on Five Live. Villa are playing Chelski. French striker – The Incredible Sulk – Nicolas Anelka, wipes out Martin O’Neill in the technical area, with his first tackle in English football in over 12 years. O’Neill has grazed his elbow and jarred his knee.
I pick up The Reaper at a bus stop in Bradmore, close to the delightfully named village of Bunny. He’s like a country squire with his two dogs and peregrine falcon. I call him the Birdman of Bradmore.
Today he looks dishevelled and weary. I’d forgot that yesterday was Homebird’s 40th birthday. A few from work had slipped away early into town to watch the weigh-in for the Carl Froch fight that is to be held tonight.
The Reaper tells me an amusing anecdote. Apparently Froch’s opponent, the American Andre Dirrell, was over the limit on the scales. The entire Old Market Square sang in unison: “You fat b****rd.” Welcome to Nottingham son.
The Reaper’s breath smells like a microbrewery. He didn’t hit the sack until 4am. Maybe a loosener will perk him up. “Fancy a hair of the dog at the King Billy in Sneinton, Reaps?”
The pub is at the bottom end of Sneinton. The streets behind it are paved with terraced housing, which are dwarfed by high storey flats The pub’s a hidden gem. It’s one I’ve been meaning to tick off for a while. There is an array of real ales on. The Reaper has a pint of Swinging Gibbet, whilst Sticky prefers a Big Red One from the Ossett Brewery.
The Reaper is ravenous. He’s wobbling about more than Robbie Williams last Sunday. He grabs a cheese and Spanish onion cob. The onion reeks. It’s that strong that tears begin to stream down Sticky’s face. I’ve not cried this much since I watched The Secret Millionaire from Warrington last Thursday.
We head up Carlton Road and reminisce about the halcyon days of legendary pub crawls up this famous stretch of town. Another tear rolls down my cheek when I notice that my old favourite haunt – Smithys – has finally closed its doors.
We roll up at Carlton Hill Recreation Park fifteen minutes before kick off. The car park is full. I have to guide ‘Sally Gunnell’ onto a grassy area, to the right of the goal, and leave her on a steep side slope.
Carlton is to the east of Nottingham close to Sneinton, Bakersfield and Netherfield. Famous residents from the area include the actor Richard Beckinsdale – he of Rising Damp and Porridge fame and WBC Super Middleweight Champion, Carl Froch. He’s due to defend his title tonight at the Trent FM Arena in town.
The teams perform a rigorous warm-up routine. The Reaper calmly enquires which team are the Caribbean Cavaliers. He is taking the Michael of course, although the GSB 5 jacket does have dreadlocks.
Reaper’s bad beer breath has been fired-up by the Spanish onion. I swear to god that one brief exhalation could start a fire and wipe-out the entire Australian Bush.
Officials and supporters are milling around the clubhouse. Roberto, the GSB manager, spots me and makes a beeline towards us. The last time I saw him he was manager of today’s opponents Cavs.
The World’s greatest message board has been a tad placid of late. I love it when a beer-fuelled fan, player or manager posts a rant in the early hours of a Sunday morning, only to feel regret and shame the following morning. ‘Big Glenn’ had to delete one the other day.
I saw both teams last season and there seems to have been a shift in personnel. Roberto has been busier than ‘Charlie’ McParland in the summer, whilst the Cavs have no Wes Burke or Justin Evans (‘Cookie’).
Sticky loves the Cavs. I often spend a Saturday morning drinking tea and chewing over the crud with their friendly chairman Everton Richards, at their Forest Recreation Ground.
The GSB ground is known locally as ‘Dog S**t Alley.’ I become its latest victim just before the kick off. I’m still wiping and flicking away the mess as the referee gets the game underway.
GSB look sharper and more inventive. Danny Walker controls the game and plays in the wide men. GSB have an abundance of left footers and are soon testing a stranded Cavs’ ‘keeper with a series of crosses.
The game is stopped in the 10th, 15th and 30th minute for the removal of dog dirt from the playing surface. It nearly smells as bad as that Spanish onion.On the third occasion the world record holder for having played for the most amateur clubs in one season – Anthony Shannon – is sent on from the subs’ bench with a shovel to perform the grim task.
Cavs are under the cosh. Their defender Eggi has lost more balls with his clearances than the Californian ‘Wild Thing’ golfer – ‘Long John Daly.’ Coming to think of it The Reaper necked more than him last night as well.
An elderly gentleman has positioned himself next to us on the far side of the pitch. He’s muttering and rambling to himself. The cheeky sod mocks my Keyworth Cricket Club fleece. He says he only watches Premier League cricket.
‘Terry’ has already toe-poked one wide when they finally take the lead with a far post finish from Nicky Labbate. Cavs have hardly had a worthwhile attack. Faulkner and Joseph just don’t gel up front. Sticky’s hero Winnie Brown can’t get in the game.
Terry Guerboury doubles GSB’s lead a minute before the break, straight from a corner. As Cavs’ captain Dan Smith quite rightly points out: “the ball just keeps coming back.”
We hear the heated discussion in the Cavs’ dressing room as we queue for a brew. Everton Richards wisely waits for them all to air their views before entering the dressing room and choosing his words carefully.
They are fired up from the off and are on level terms within minutes of the restart. A rejuvenated Rob Faulkner powers through onto a Winnie Brown through ball to peg one back. Moments later the the number two heads home from a corner. On the hour Faulkner rounds the keeper’ to put them 3-2 up.
GSB are shell shocked. Todd and Guerboury, who had kept the visitors busy in the first period, are removed from the attack. They have lost their shape. The GSB ‘keeper is on overtime. ‘Sky’ is added to the Cavs’ attack to inject some pace. He has a goal controversially chalked off for offside.
The Reaper is beginning to flag now after his all-nighter and is slowly losing the will to live. We’re heading towards the car having enjoyed some brief banter around the Cavs’ dugout. Dan Smith gives away a free kick after winning yet another header. Cavs can’t clear their lines, an alert Karl Clowery strokes home a loose ball into the back of the net.
It’s harsh on the visitors who have been magnificent in the second half. The NSL: it’s the best league in the world.
Man of the match: Dan Smith.