Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Shepshed Dynamo 0 Sheffield FC 4

The bedroom door is slammed shut. A ‘do not disturb’ sign hangs lopsided on the handle. The radio is cranked up to full power. A crap RnB track shatters the silence of the house.

Mrs P says to leave him alone and not to wind him up - I’m the one wound up - I can’t stand RnB! She says he’s gone off his food. This is serious shit folks. I ring him up. He’s on answer phone. We are all walking on egg shells.

I enquire with ‘The Skipper’ what’s wrong with his brother. The truth is out. Little un has stitched him up good and proper. Seems that Sticky junior’s girlfriend has gone on a German exchange trip and won’t be back until the weekend.

It’s 20p per text to Deutschland. It’s five ‘I love you’ for a quid. Like I said to him later, when I shoulder-barged my way into his bedroom, give it five years son and she’ll be watching EastEnders and Holby City, whilst you’re groundhopping with your dad.

I wake up on Sunday morning with a banging head. I’m never going out with Trumpy Bolton again – well not this season. Apparently he had to be escorted home from the Salutation Inn last night, well before the final bell.

Sticky junior can take his mind off Cupid’s arrow this morning. He has a few scores to settle up at Greasley, close to Eastwood. I’m told they are worth watching. On this evidence I wonder why.

Keyworth Utd U14s pass them to death, but lack their normal killer instinct in front of goal. Sticky jnr has as good a first half as I have seen him play. He takes the piss. The fellow who bad-mouthed him on our manor a few months ago seems to have lost his tongue.

It’s tipped it down for a few days now. I had pencilled in a game in Leicester city centre between St Andrews and Gedling Miners’ Welfare. By Tuesday lunchtime there’s a P-P against this fixture on the excellent East Midlands Counties League website.

John Ramshaw is at a loose end tonight. According to the Eastwood Town website last Thursday, he has left the club with immediate effect. We’ve been on texting terms for a while. He agrees to pick me up in The Fairway car park at just gone 7pm. We’re off to see how Screats is doing at Shepshed.

We drive down the A60, turn right at Rempstone, drive past Hathern and are parked up next to the Black Swan in 20 minutes.

Shepshed is a town in north Leicestershire with a population of 14,000. The football club play at the Dovecote on Butt Hole Lane. They were once managed by Martin O’Neil. Any more pummelings, like the one dished out by Chelsea on Saturday, and the Northern Irishman will be looking for work with Rammers.

It’s £6 on the gate and £1.50 for a programme, which Rammers very kindly buys. First port of call is the public address Portakabin to collect a team sheet. The DJ welcomes the ‘Derbyshire’ club on the PA system. He notices my raised eyebrows. He explains that Sheffield FC play in Dronfield, which is in Derbyshire.

He hardly covers himself in glory, a few moments later, when he plays Craig David, followed by Whitney Houston. One more bad record fellow and I’ll be standing in the away end.

There’s no White Van Man tonight. The closet Manchester United supporter will be propped up in his pit, with a pint of coke and a bucket full of popcorn.

We stretch our legs and stroll around this charming ground. It has bags of character. I’d put it in my top ten. The welcome is warm and the football always entertaining.

We pitch up to the right of the Sheffield dug out. We shelter from the driving rain, which has left puddles of water dotted around the Dovecote.

I saw this reverse fixture in Dronfield in early December. Shepshed were walloped 4-1 by ten men Sheffield. The visitors sit in 4th spot. Dynamo are ten places further down the table but have proved difficult opponents to beat having only succumb to defeat on eight occasions in this campaign.

Screats is a smashing lad, giving good value on and off the pitch. It’s been a stop-start season for him, following a miserable spell at Grantham and a silly suspension recently served after a red card in a County Cup match.

We’ve been joined by Screats’ dad and Big Darryl. Sheffield have height and strength. They waste no time in looking to exploit the lack of height in the home defence, by pinging diagonal balls in at the tiny full backs.

There have already been a few alarm bells ringing in the home rearguard when Sheffield take the lead on ten minutes, with former Alfreton Town striker, Brian Cushworth, smashing home a loose ball.

The tackles are getting tastier by the minute, on the greasy and worsening surface. Referee Robert Earl of Hinckley is experiencing a miserable night. He has the personality of a plant and zero rapport with the players. He has more bookings than Susan Boyle.

Sheppard, Screaton, Civzellis, Walker and Outram all find their way into Mr Earl’s soggy notebook. Shepshed have looked promising on the attack. Luke Barlone has a presence and Roland Agbor can bomb down the right flank. But it often comes to nothing.

The visitors double their lead shortly before the break with Outram scoring from the spot following a foul on Ben Leonard.

We all file into the clubhouse. Sticky treats Rammers to a bottle of ‘Roaring Meg’ from the Springhead Brewery at Sutton-on-Trent, near Newark. It’s £2.50 per bottle. It’s half that price at Morrison’s in Gamston chaps.

I stare up at the TV and take note of the postponement of Accrington Stanley v Barnet. It should have been a big night for the referee Mark Halsey, who was taking charge of a game for the first time since his recovery from throat cancer.

We sup our beer and chew the crud. Screats dad mentions the big debate in our village at the moment, which is the application by T***o to build a supermarket on derelict land. ‘Over my dead body’ is my reply. Me and Finley will lie in front of the JCB diggers if we have to.

The second half has begun and Rammers is chatting to a knowledgeable, elderly chap with connections at Blackwell Miners’ Welfare. Erm, might pop up there on Easter Monday.

It’s still pelting it down with rain. Passing becomes an art. They are often undercooked and lacking accuracy. Sheffield step it up a gear and add a third. Nick Jupp blocks the initial shot, it falls fortuitously to former Ilkeston Town winger, Chris Adam, who side foots the ball into an empty net.

Dynamo storm forward through the swish swash of standing water. The impressive Barlone rattles the bar with a thumping effort.

Controversy occurs on 84 minutes and it’s no surprise that Screats is at the heart of it. He is penalised for, I presume, raising a foot whilst the keeper is releasing the ball from his hands. He is harshly awarded a second yellow card. He takes the news extremely badly. I daren’t make eye contact with his dad.

The final nail in the coffin is hammered home by Ashley Longstaffe on 88 minutes, as ten man Dynamo throw caution to the wind.

We retire across the road to the Black Swan for a pint of Timothy Taylor’s. I have a cunning plan to stop T***o’s building a supermarket in our village.

Man of the Match: Rammers

Attendance: 115


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