Friday, December 18, 2009

Shepshed Dynamo P Belper Town P

It’s Saturday December 12th. The Groundhopper is sat in the Great Gonerby Social Club, a mile outside the town of Grantham. It’s Mrs P’s friend’s 40th birthday party. It’s like a scene from Peter Kay’s Phoenix Club.

My mood is dark, very dark. You might remember that I used to support Lincoln City. My love has been put on hold until that clown, Chris Sutton, is removed from his position as ‘manager. The team I have followed all over the country for nearly 40 years, the team who makes Sticky’s heart miss a beat, when James Alexander-Gordon reads out the Sports Report results on Saturday tea-time, have lost again. Rochdale are the latest team to give ‘us’ a good hiding.

October 10th was the last time ‘we’ registered a League victory. ‘We’ sacked the experienced Peter Jackson and appointed a clown (Chris Sutton) as his replacement. He once refused to play for his country, you know.

He has lurched from one crisis to another. He has no idea on how to manage a football club or team. We are nose-diving towards the Blue Square Conference – at least I can blog them next season.

They’ve no strong beer behind the bar. I’m reduced to tears and cringe with embarrassment, as I order my first pint of Carlsberg in over 25 years. I’m sure I saw a Double Diamond pump in the corner of the bar.

There’s a guy on the stage giving a speech. He fancies himself. He’s probably got a mirror in his jacket pocket. He’s trying to be funny, but is not amusing Sticky. I down my ‘maid’s water’ and announce we’re off. Mrs P looks puzzled, it’s only 10pm.

“What’s wrong with you?” asks the good lady as we head up the A52 towards Nottingham. “Why are we leaving so early?” “Because I want to grab someone around the throat love.” “Who? You don’t know anybody in that room” replies Mrs P. “You know the guy giving the speech?” says Groundhopper “Yes”.” replies Mrs P. “Well his name is Steff Wright and he is the chairman of Lincoln City. He is the man responsible for steering ‘our’ club into the Conference. He is the man who appointed Chris S****n. He is the man who has put me in a foul mood tonight.” We don’t speak for the rest of the journey home.

Sticky junior is cocker hoop. He was loitering down one of the aisles at Budgens on Friday evening, browsing at the chewing gum section, when a stray wallet caught his eye on the floor. It had over £70 in it. He handed it in at the till. Good lad. We still await a thank you call from its owner.

It’s Saturday morning and poor old Groundhopper is suffering again. I slipped down to the Wysall Plough last night and sunk a few real ales. I was with The Architect and Bobby. I draw back the curtains and am greeted with a frost-covered lawn. This could be the first blank Saturday of the season.

I’ve already been tipped the wink that there will be a pitch inspection at 11am at Redditch United’s Valley Stadium. I’ve two hours to kill, so decide to clean the bathroom. I know readers, I’m a domestic god.

Next on the agenda is a date with my furry little friend, Finley Palmer. He’s proper got the face on with Groundhopper. He’s been grounded for a month since I let him out and he hid under the shed for an hour, whilst I shivered on foot patrol.

I clean out his cage, whilst he turns his back on me. I notice that his water bottle is frozen up. Perhaps I should put some anti-freeze in it. It would probably poison the little fella, but hey, at least he wouldn’t die of thirst.

There’s a peace offering from Sticky of some white chocolate drops. He gratefully accepts and eats them out of my hand. I’ll let him out for a run on Christmas Day morning.

I’m looking forward to be reacquainted with the best player I’ve seen in three years of groundhopping today. On Oct 1st 2007 I went to Boston United’s York Street to watch a FA Trophy game. Buxton took a pummelling that day, but they had a guy in midfield with a heart as big as a bucket. His energy levels, tackling, closing down and passing were superior to anything Sticky Palms has seen in part time football. His name is Anton Foster and he has the body of a temple.

The first bad news of the day comes in the form of a text from Eastwood No.2 John Ramshaw; it’s short and sweet –‘game off.’

I scour the World Wide Web. Staveley Miners Welfare have an inspection at 12.15pm. I phone their chairman Terry Damms. He invites me up to the boardroom for a Black Velvet or two if the game is on.

I’m down at the Wysall Plough, collecting ‘Sally Gunnell’ when the call comes through from Terry – “sorry son, game off.” More and more games fall to the weather. Kidsgrove are the latest with a P-P next to their fixture.

As the old saying goes: ‘the further you look, the less you can see.’ Right beneath my nose, on the Shepshed Dynamo website are the words ‘Shepshed Dynamo v Belper Town, match definitely on.’

I’m just walking out the door when I notice condensation on the windows. Somebody has written the words ‘GAY’ in large letters. There will be a disciplinary hearing around the tea table tonight.

The Architect picks me up at 1.15pm. We head across to the dry village of Willoughby on-the-Wolds, close to the Leicestershire border. 'Mad Dog' – Chopper Harris – lives in the parish. The Architect turns his engine off outside Chopper’s crib. He always takes an age to get ready. He’ll be pressing a shirt, putting a crease in his trousers, grooming his hair and polishing his shoes. Bloody hell Harris, we’re only going to The Dovecote.

Sticky plays with Chopper’s cat (Snowball), whilst The Architect strikes up a conversation with the lovely Liz (Chopper’s wife).

The journey is barely twenty minutes, through the rolling countryside. We pass through Costock, Rempstone and Hathern. We’re just pulling up in the Black Swan car park in Shepshed, when Groundhopper’s mobile goes off. I look at the display panel; Screats’ name is in lights: “Game off Hopper.” The official referee has turned up and is unhappy about a 20 metre strip of hard ground.

Sticky Palms is inconsolable, he has to have his weekly fix of football on a Saturday. I don’t know who’s crying more The Groundhopper or a tiny baby waiting for his bottle of milk. I make a few calls but they all draw a blank. Non League football is wiped out for the day.

We trudge across the road and up Butt Hole Lane towards the ground. I see Andy Mac driving out the car park. We wish each other a Merry Christmas. What should have been a great day for the Club and a bumper crowd, has turned into a damp squib.

Dave The Van is selling programmes. I feel sorry for him and purchase one for £1.50. The publication is top drawer.

We have another round of drinks. Chopper enjoys a bottle of Roaring Meg, brewed at Sutton-on-Trent, near Newark.

Soccer Saturday is on Sky Sports on the TV in the corner of the clubhouse. It turns out to be the nearest we’ll get to a game today. Liverpool’s miserable form continues with a 2-0 reverse at Fratton Park.

One or two Shepshed players enjoy an unexpected lunchtime beverage. Screats has already scarpered back to Notts. He’ll probably be joining White Van Man at The City Ground for the evening kick-off.

I’m in no rush to get home. The kids have gone ten pin bowling. We nip up The Salutation Inn in our village. It’s a pub where Sticky got in the way of a stray ashtray 25 years ago. The idiot who threw it burst my main artery and severed all the tendons in my right hand.

We have a few more beers and watch the scores roll in on Soccer Saturday. There’s another 40th birthday party in the corner of the pub. It gives the place a nice ambience. And at least at this party I don’t have to put up with a speech from the chairman of the club I once loved.

Man of the Match: Sticky junior

Footnote: An anonymous Christmas card arrived yesterday for Sticky Junior. Inside the card was written: “thank you for finding my wallet Jack, it was a huge relief. Merry Christmas.” His reward was £5. He was made-up.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Market Drayton 2 Shepshed Dynamo 1

My stomach’s churning over and over. My nerves are jangling. My cheeks are beetroot red. It’s about to be my most embarrassing moment of 2009 – no readers, I’m not off to Sincil Bank to watch Chris Sutton’s spineless Lincoln City – it’s far more humiliating than that.

I enter the shop. It feels like all eyes are on me. There’s a huge queue at the till. My secret is soon going to be revealed. I’m sweating up like a racehorse in the stalls. It’s my turn to be served.

I step forward. My throat’s dried-up. I’m all tongue-tied. “Yes love” says a smiling shop assistant. I turn around. The queue is as long as Santa’s grotto. “Erm. Erm.” Words fail me. Eventually they just spill out. “Can I have the new Westlife CD please?”

I love Nottingham at this time of year. They are prepping up the ice rink in the Market Square. The Salvation Army brass band strikes up a few Christmas carols on Lister Gate. I walk past a doorway and hear my favourite novelty Christmas record – The Waitresses, ‘Christmas Wrapping.’

I was in town before 9am. I like to beat the mad rush. I visit the normal haunts – Marks and Spencer, Body Shop, Hotel Du Chocolat and Waterstones.

I’m back at Fletcher Gate car park and out of town before 10.15am. I drop in at Wilford and watch a game for 20 minutes or so. There are some school games on further down the road. I witness some appalling behaviour by a coach, who lambasts a linesman over a marginal offside.. The guy is associated with a professional club. What sort of example is he setting to school children?

Sven is up at Vernon Park presenting the Basford club (AFC Vernon) with its Charter Standard certificate. I could have gone up there and tossed it off, but it’s not really for me – I’d rather be out in the field looking for undiscovered talent.

I’m back at base for 12.30pm. Mrs P has knocked up a mushroom soup and French stick. I unpack some mature cheddar and tuck in. ‘The Skipper’, ironically is playing AFC Vernon today, whilst ‘Angry Kid’ is up against Sticky’s favourites – Hyson Green Cavaliers.

White Van Man picks me up at 1pm. He already has Heart FM booming out the speakers, just to wind me up. ‘Fame Forever’ by the Kids From Fame is currently on the turntable. Jesus Christ, this is going to be a tortuous journey.

He’s nearly wiped out by an Asda van at the Bunny/Bradmore junction. He throws his arms up in the air and gesticulates at the delivery driver. “That’s why I shop at Morrisons you ****” he shouts out the window.

We swap cars like getaway drivers in the aptly named village of Gotham in south Notts. We leave the ‘Blue Rocket’ outside the Everards Sun Inn and jump in Screats’ dad’s BMW.

I don’t bloody believe it – he’s also got Heart FM on. It’s got to be a conspiracy theory. The music deteriorates even further with ‘Teardrops’ by American soul duo Womack and Womack.

White Van Man is getting all ‘messy’ tonight. He’s on a works party and the bar tab is free. He’s ‘on it.’ He brags to me and Screats’ dad that he woke up last Sunday morning with a ‘bird’ either side of him. Give over son.

I express concern that he’ll be missing his regular dose of the X-Factor tonight. “All’s good” he replies. “I’ve got it on Sky Plus” He’s not a big fan of Stacey Soloman. He gives her the thumbs down. I remark that the girl is the only contestant that can actually sing.

We fly down the A50 and breeze through Stoke. We hit the A53 to Shrewsbury and are parked up in Market Drayton Rugby Club car park in less than an hour and a quarter.

Market Drayton is a small town in north Shropshire. It lies on the River Tern and has a population of 10,000 people. It is the home of gingerbread, which has been baked in the town for over 200 years.

The men’s rugby team are on one pitch, adjacent to that, two girls’ football teams battle it out.

It’s £6 entrance and £1.50 for a decent programme. We pay Screats’ dad in and thank him for driving.

The ground is basic and unsophisticated. They must have worked bloody hard to pass the Unibond League inspection test. I like the ‘main stand.’ with its rickety, old wooden tip-up seats.

A guy is sat at the back of the stand. He’s rigging up his laptop. Maybe he’s a reporter, radio man or just the PA guy.

The Shepshed Barmy Army are holed up in the stand. They are a noisy bunch. But they do amuse me with their unique ditties. They add 40 odd to the gate. They sing to the locals: ‘Did you come on a tractor?”

I’ve a raging thirst that’s been caused by the old soup, cheese and bread. I grab a can of Coke. WVM marks the tea with a seven out of ten, just for the meticulous preparation by the tea lady.

We catch up with a few Shepshed fans, who we’ve not seen since the Sheffield FC debacle. The north Leicestershire outfit somehow beat high-flying Witton Albion 2-0 the previous Saturday.

Five Live’s commentary game at the Britannia Stadium between Stoke and Wigan is on the PA system. It sounds exciting stuff.

We take an amble around the ground and position ourselves 10 metres to the right of the Shepshed dugout. Dynamo’s manager Dave Stringer stands in the technical area, complete with clipboard. His assistant – Jimmy Ginnelly – is strangely subdued. He takes a pew.

Shepshed make a great start. Tom Bates and Millns exchange passes; Bates whips a ball into the area for Luke Barlone to smash home.

The game is enthralling and end to end. Market Drayton prefer to hit the channels early, to test out the 3-5-2 formation that Stringer has chose. Both teams waste opportunities.

The highlight of the game takes place on a quarter of an hour. The Gingerbread Men have launched a skew-wiff clearance towards White Van Man, who has his i-Phone glued to his ear. He nonchantly cushions a header delightfully back into the arms of a player. He takes a bow and bollocks the Shepshed centre-half Matt Millns.

I’ve already become concerned about the referee’s performance. I honestly haven’t come to watch him. He’s a tall, well-groomed fella, who doesn’t half fancy himself. He wears short sleeves, has cropped hair and is tattooed-up. He harshly penalises the excellent Shepshed ‘keeper – Nick Jubb – for time-wasting in the 30th minute (?) Jubb was genuinely looking for options so he could release the ball.

Shepshed fail to clear their lines from the resulting free-kick, the ball falls to Tom Rodgers who strikes the ball cleanly into the left hand corner of the net.

‘Worse ref in history .... worse ref in history’ roars out of the main stand as the Butt Hole Ultras stoke up the fire.

The Gingerbread Men enjoy a golden spell. Dynamo are rocked by the goal and lose their discipline and concentration. Haynes picks up the ball 20 yards out, a minute before the break and hits a delicious, curling effort into the top right hand corner. It’s worth the gate money alone.

Referee Williams has the Dynamo fans baying for his blood. They are hanging over the stand, hurling abuse at the official. It’s a bit out of order to be honest, but they have paid their dough.

I have another can of coke and lurk outside the hospitality suite (Portakabin) listening to the half-times. It cheers me up no end to hear that David McGoldrick has scored for the Tricky Trees. It will do his confidence the world of good.

Rumours are circulating around the stand that Shepshed No.2 - ‘Grumpy Ginnelly’ - has got the hump and is going to walk after the game. It’s a worrying thought as he may take a few players with him.

The second half is a complete farce. The Shepshed fans complain that referee Williams misses an elbow. I think he was busy splashing on the Old Spice in preparation for his night out with the ladies of Market Drayton.

I’m stood with ‘Dave The Van’ behind the goal when full back Dominic Reece shows all his studs in a desperate lunge. The referee produces a red from his tuxedo top pocket.

It all boils over shortly after with a 21 man free-for-all, right in front of White Van Man and, more importantly, the referee’s assessor. A player from each side is shown red and the game is stopped for a full five minutes.

I’m talking to Edwin Van Der Sar lookalike (Market Drayton’s ‘keeper). He’s just come from Bridgnorth Town. I ask him why he’s not had a trot up the pitch to throw a few haymakers. He says he can’t be bothered.

Shepshed pepper the Gingerbread Men’s goal in a desperate attempt to restore parity. There are clearances off the line, shots blazed over and bodies thrown in front of the ball. It’s all to no avail. A good game has been spoilt by some over-zealous refereeing.

Man of the Match: Ben Twigger

Attendance: 115.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Manchester City 3 Arsenal 0

It was while we were on our way to Manchester that we heard the sad news. The actress, Maggie Jones, who plays Blanche Hunt in Mrs P’s favourite soap opera – Coronation Street had died in Salford, Greater Manchester, at the age of 75.

It’s the only reason that I occasionally tune into ‘The Street.’ Blanche’s put-me-downs and sarcasm will be sadly missed in the snug of the Rovers Return. Without her beady eye on proceedings, no doubt Ken Barlow will return to womanizing, whilst his loser of a son – Peter will once again hit the bottle. Oh well, at least it will give an opportunity for old ‘Turkey Neck’ – Deirdre to do some over-acting.

‘The Guvnor’ has pulled a few strings and conjured up a couple of tickets in the away end for the Man City v Arsenal Carling Cup tie. He is a Gooner. Sticky likes ‘The Arsenal’ and their total football. He also prefers the gallows humour and misfortune that is often bestowed on ‘City’, rather than the glory-hunting, self-satisfied smugness attached to following ‘United.’

Mrs P is none too chuffed that I’ve done two games in two nights. The best I can come up with is: ‘well love, you’re off to London on a girlie weekend on Friday.” White Van Man told me to say that. I know, it isn’t fair.

We exit the works’ car park at just after 4pm. ‘The Guvnor’ is one of our senior managers, so Sticky P has to be on his best behaviour.

There is a multiple accident of the A50 just before the Ashbourne turn off. It's cost us half an hour. We cruise through Stoke and fly up the M6. It’s a race against time to make kick-off now. I’m flapping as to whether we should come off at junction 19 or 20 on the M6. ‘The Guvnor’ is unflappable and leaves me to make the decision.

The M56 is snarled up and congested. We finally pull off the main road, half a mile before the stadium, onto an industrial estate. A shady looking character (well we are in Manchester) makes me part with £4 to park my car securely.

We hit the ground at bang on kick-off time. ‘The Guvnor’ shells out £12 for two hot dogs and a bottle of Coca-Cola each.

It’s £20 for the ticket and £3 for the best programme I have ever bought in three years of groundhopping (sorry to the programme editor of Rushall Olympic … yours was shit hot mate). There’s a good quiz question in the programme: Which player has the most League Cup winners’ medals?

Manchester has a population of just under 500,000. It is famed for its cotton mills and contribution towards the Industrial Revolution. The Manchester Ship Canal was built in 1894 at a cost of £15 million. It was 36 miles long and gave the city access to the sea.

The Manchester music scene has played a major part in the history of British modern music. Bands to have sprung up in Manchester include: Joy Division, The Smiths, Buzzcocks, The Fall, Happy Mondays, The Charlatans, Inspiral Carpets, James, The Stone Roses and Oasis. Many of these bands performed at the world renowned Hacienda club.

The Halle Symphony Orchestra was founded in the city in 1858. It became the first professional symphony orchestra in the United Kingdom.

One of city’s most famous citizens is Mark Addy. He was a publican and champion oarsman, who rescued over 50 people from the highly-polluted River Irwell. He was awarded the Albert Medal for lifesaving.

Other famous Mancs include: Michael Atherton, David Lloyd George, Bernard Manning, Emily Pankhurst, John Thaw, Nobby Stiles and the dislikeable Jay Kay from Jamiroquai.

The city is well known for its Granada TV studios and TV programmes such as: Coronation Street, Life on Mars, The Street, Making Out and Clocking Off.

Manchester is twinned with the cities of St Petersburg, Faisalabad and Los Angeles.

Sticky Palms used to visit Manchester frequently in the early Eighties. My mate ‘Neavie’ was studying at Manchester Polytechnic. He lived on the top floor of an enormous block of high-rise flats in Ardwick, where coincidentally Manchester City were formed.

We used to get in some right old dust-ups. I remember one night he took us to a party in Hulme, close to the poly. We climbed umpteen stairs in a block of flats and entered a room. It was only when I got in did I realise that we were at a shebeen (illegal drinks party without a licence). There’s me and ‘Neavie’ and 150 Afro-Caribbeans rocking to some reggae blaring out of a Rasta blaster. Happy days.

On Sundays we used to visit a pub in Ardwick called the City Gates. It was a shrine to Manchester City FC. It had memorabilia all over the walls. The barmaids used to wear the home and away kits behind the bar. I bet it has been knocked down now.

Times have changed since my last visit. That would have been to Maine Road in the mid Eighties, when City were turned over by Carlisle United 3-1 in the old Second Division. They showed a David Phillips volley from that game. at the start of Match of the Day for ages after that.

We’re in the lower tier of the South Stand. Arsenal have bought 4000+ - not bad for a 6 hour journey and a school night too! I’m taken back with the sheer size and scale of the stadium. It’s a beauty.

The police have already warned the away fans that there’s to be no Adebayor baiting or expect an early exit.

We’ve missed all the lights going out. City project a blue moon onto the East Stand and play their anthem. I’m disappointed to have missed the moment.

The Groundhopper is taken aback at the pace of the game. Adebayor forces a save from 24 year old Polish ‘keeper Lukasz Fabianski. Bellamy hits daisy-cutter inches past the base of the post.

The game hots up but needs a goal. Vela fires over, whilst Tevez forces a good save from Fabianski.

I don’t do 0-0’s readers. There’s definitely going to be goals tonight. Arsenal look powder puff in attack. Song and Rosicky are the only first team regulars starting this evening. Others have the chance to impress though.

Seventeen year old Stevenage born Jack Wilshere looks an exciting prospect. He has flicks, tricks, poise and balance. He doesn’t shy away from the more muscular Barry and Ireland.

The night gets better with the City DJ spinning ‘I Am The Resurrection’ by The Stone Roses during the break. It’s a feel good moment. It’s such a shame he follows it up with Heather Small’s M People.

I’ve just spotted Kevin Hitchcock, the Manchester City goalkeeping coach, warming-up the ‘keeper. I used to play cricket with him when he was in the nets for Mansfield Town. I saw him make a penalty save from Bristol City’s Gordon Owen to win the 1987 Freight Rover Trophy at Wembley Stadum.

City run riot in the second period. Sticky’s not seen anyone like Carlos Tevez on his non league journeys. Put an apron on him and a bandana around his head and you would mistake him for a kebab seller on the Alan Turing Way.

He picks the ball up on the left hand flank, drives at the retreating Gunners’ defence and unleashes a missile, which crashes off the underside of the bar and into the net.

The game opens up. Ramsey and Wilshere waste opportunities, as Arsenal attack the end their supporters are sat in (stood actually).

Shaun Wright-Phillips has had a relatively quiet evening by his high standards and has been well shackled by 20 year old Parisian left back Armand Traore. He bursts into life on 70 minutes and arrows in a spectacular, diagonal shot into the top left hand corner of the net.

The City fans mock ‘The Arsenal’ with a ‘Shauny Wright Wright Wright’ chant. An Arsenal fan loses his rag and starts waving his wallet and money at the City fans close by.

‘The Guvnor’ mumbles something about City putting out their first team. But apart from the movement and imagination of Tomas Rosicky, the Gunners have no answers.

Bellamy scampers down the left wing leaving two defenders in his wake. He drills in a cross which is stabbed in at the far post by 20 year old Slovakian, Vladmir Weiss.

There’s still time for Merida to beat Shay Given all ends up, only to see his effort bounce off the crossbar.

It’s been a cracking second half. I think even ‘The Guvnor’ has secretly enjoyed it. It’s only slightly spoilt by a whistle-blowing, card-waving Chris Foy.

Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez

Attendance: 46,015

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sheffield FC 4 Shepshed Dynamo 1

I can’t believe the cheek of it. The dishonour. The betrayal. When I think of how I have championed her for all those years on this blog, only to receive this crushing blow, below the belt.

I often lie in bed at night and dream of the happier times. The two for one offer on Volvic lemon and lime flavoured water in Blidworth, the meal deal offer at their branch in D***y or just keeping warm, whilst pretending to read the papers, in perishing temperatures, at their superstore in Glossop.

But the one I love has kicked sand in my face. Rather than let Sticky officially open their new Keyworth branch, the Co-operative Society, instead, allow a six year old schoolboy (he won it in a raffle), who has never bought more than a bag of Haribos, to cut the ribbon and open the doors to their new store. Shame on you the Co-op!

My team, Lincoln City, were showcased last Saturday lunchtime on ITV in a second round FA Cup tie at Northwich Victoria’s Drill Field Way stadium. I say ‘my team’ but at present my support is on hold. ‘We’ have a manager who once refused to represent his country. ‘We’ have a manager who has no managerial experience. ‘We’ have a manager who is a right old miserable sod.

By the time he is sacked (it won’t be long), we’ll be involved in another relegation dog fight. Do the decent thing Lincoln City. Do what you should have done two months ago. Appoint John Pemberton as ‘our’ leader, before it’s too late.

I took a step back from groundhopping and watched my two boys over the weekend. Sticky junior popped some angry pills at half-time on Saturday and got involved in an altercation with Billy Bunter from Hucknall.

The threat of his first career yellow card was well on track until he was smartly subbed by his astute coach. I cringed with embarrassment as junior booted his water bottle a full thirty yards across the recreation playing fields. It was his first shot on target all game.

‘The Skipper’ goes from strength to strength for his new Sunday side – Clifton All-Whites. They’ve won three on the spin and continue to play champagne football. It’s a club that is proud of its roots. Players to have moved onto better things, that once wore the famous all white strip include: Viv Anderson, Andy Cole, Darren Huckerby, Jermaine Jenas and Michael Johnson.

It’s Sunday evening. Mrs P and I are enjoying a bottle of dry white wine. The kids are giggling at Harry Hill’s TV Burp. He’s taking the rise out of Channel 4 chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. My phone suddenly goes off. It’s the White Van Man. Screats is back at Shepshed Dynamo and they’re playing the World’s oldest club – Sheffield FC on Tuesday evening. Would I like to come?

A penny for Mrs P’s thoughts anyone? I’m already booked in at the City of Manchester Stadium on Wednesday evening for City v ‘The Arsenal in the League Cup. Oh dear readers. Sticky P’s in trouble again.

I bumped into Screats last Tuesday evening. The Taxman and I had taken in the Carlton Town v Grantham Town game. Screats was suited and booted. I asked him if he was injured or suspended.. He replied that he wasn’t. It appeared that he’d fallen out of favour with the management. I was delighted to hear that he was on his way back to Shepshed (the clown shouldn’t have left in the first place).

Predictably, members of the Grantham management team were asked to leave the touchline last Tuesday evening, despite winning comfortably. One stood on a beer garden wooden table barking out instructions. Their erratic behaviour follows a similar pattern to when they were at the helm at Shepshed. They spent more time in the stand at The Dovecote than Alex Ferguson.

White Van Man picks me up in The Fairway car park at 6.25pm on the dot. We drive up to Screats’ Dad’s house and jump into his motor. We have an uninterrupted run up to Dronfield in the fading rush-hour traffic.

An eagle-eyed WVM spots a car parking space outside the Coach and Horses public house adjacent to Sheffield FC’s BT Local Business Stadium.

Dronfield is a market town on the Derbyshire/South Yorkshire border. It lies on the River Drone and has a population of just under 21,000. It is twinned with the German town of Sindelfingen, which is the home of the Mercedes Benz.

Def Leopard drummer Rick Allen was born in Dronfield. His left arm was amputated in 1984 following a motoring accident in Sheffield.

I have a wander around the outside of the ground and try out my camera without the flash. It’s £6 admission and £1.50 for a splendid programme. I

I’ve been trying to tick-off this ground for donkey’s now and had hoped to visit during daylight hours. Not to come tonight would have been a missed opportunity. Holby City? I’m a Celebrity? It’s a no brainer readers.

WVM and Screats’ Dad are enjoying a brew, although WVM complains that tea is £1 per cup. I’ll wait for the break.

The DJ fills the sleet-laden skies with the dulcet tones of ‘No Limits’ from Dutch Eurodance outfit 2 Unlimited. He ups the ante further with ‘Everybody’s Free’ by Zambian dance singer Rozalla.

Sheffield FC were founded in 1857 and claim to be the World’s oldest football club. They celebrated their 150th anniversary in 2007 with a showpiece friendly against Inter Milan at Bramall Lane.

Their thirteen match unbeaten run came to an abrupt ending with a three nil reverse at Witton Albion last Saturday.

Sticky is captivated with the ground. It has the personal touch and has got the lot. I walk anti-clockwise past a covered terrace and towards an open end behind the goal. I spot my first photo opportunity of the evening. In the left hand corner is a fully working, old fashioned scoreboard. All the wooden numbers are lined up ready for the goal fest that lies ahead. It’s like the one from the 70s cult TV show It’s a Knockout.

I eventually join up with my companions who are stood to the right of the Shepshed dugout. Iain Screaton has already been booked by an over zealous Mr G Hock.

Jimmy Ginnelly is the Dynamo assistant manager. He chews gum and pours scorn over referee Hock. I saw him take defeat badly at Gedling MW a few years back in an FA Vase game. He only has eyes for the referee and rarely makes a coaching point.

Shepshed begin brightly and create a few half chances. Sheffield FC soon get into the swing of things and take the lead on 15 minutes. A poor goal kick by the highly-rated Nick Jupp lands at the feet of the nifty former Chesterfield trainee Jamie Jackson. He plays in former Alfreton powerhouse Brian Cushworth who crashes a shot into the corner of the net.

Referee Hock doesn’t allow for the appalling weather conditions. There’s barely a bad tackle in the game and yet the man in black keeps waving yellow cards around to both teams for the slightest contact.

Shepshed are hanging on for the break. Jackson’s pace causes problems down the right but they fail to double their lead on several occasions.

Screats’ Dad’s favourite player – Roland Agbor – has a bit of pace and tenacity about him. Unfortunately he hobbles off with ankle injury in the 42nd minute. His replacement, Joe Harris, wastes a golden opportunity shortly before the break.

It’s siling down with sleet. The brew is disappointing and expensive. I thought Yorkshire poured the perfect brew.The DJ knocks out New Order and Gorillaz. Sticky is enjoying the Sheffield FC experience.

Shepshed are bloody awful second half. It’s worse than some of the rammle I saw at The Dovecote last season.

We’ve been joined in the stand by the injured Roland Agbor. Screats’ Dad suggests he treats his swollen ankle with a horse’s placenta.

Sheffield FC stack up the chances but can’t find the target. Suddenly Luke Barlone latches onto a through ball and is wiped out by Sheffield ‘keeper Leigh Walker. It’s a straight red for Walker.

A tich of a lad called Roney goes between the sticks. His first job of the night is to pick the ball up from out of the net from the resulting free-kick.

Shepshed fail to push on. Reece is often caught too far up the pitch. Sheffield make hay down the right hand side, with Jackson rampant. Eagers knocks in a far post cross to make it 2-1.

Moments later another cross from Jackson is turned into his own net by Screaton. The game is over minutes later with Cushworth bagging his second of the night, after powering his way through a leggy and tiresome Shepshed defence.

Man of the Match: Jamie Jackson

Attendance: 192