Saturday, April 24, 2010

Armthorpe Welfare 1 Bridlington Town 3

It’s Saturday evening, September 21st , 1985. I’m in the Plough public bar, supping Hofmeister lager (you tramp Sticky that’s only 3.5% ABV). Madonna’s ‘Into The Groove’ is on the jukebox.

We all stagger up to ‘The Sal’ for last orders. I’m sitting on a bar stool at the corner of the bar when an almighty free-for-all takes place between a couple of guys and a gang of lads I know. A man picks up a glass ashtray, smashes it in two and hurls it in my direction.

My right wrist feels the full force of the missile. I look down to see that my Wrangler denim shirt has torn away. It reveals a huge gaping hole in my wrist. Blood is spurting out all over me. My main artery is burst. My tendons are severed. I’m losing blood quicker than D***y County lose league games.

A mate spots me clutching my arm. He performs emergency first aid and probably saves my life. I’m in plaster from my fingertips to the top of my arm for 8 weeks. I’m off work for 3 months.

The case goes to court. The individual concerned is found ‘not guilty.’ It’s why to this day I have a mistrust and disdain of the police force and the judiciary system.

The man who saved my life passed away a few years ago. I think about him most days. My two boys play cricket at the club he loved, where he holds legendary status. We were rivals on the pitch but good friends off it.

On Friday night I had a pint of Black Sheep at the Club. I turned to the photo of him that hangs behind the bar and raised my glass to him. ‘God bless you Kev.’

It’s Saturday morning. There’s just time for a bowl of Cheerios before leaving the house at 8.45am. I’m heading north, where I’ve arranged to meet Notts County’s Head of Youth, Mick Leonard. We watch a couple of kids games and invite a boy into one of our younger age groups.

I’m back at the house at 11.45am. I cram a cream cake down me and a glass of milk.

I’ve been worried for most of the morning. Trumpy had mentioned that he was going to ‘The Bank’ before travelling up to Doncaster – it’s a Wetherspoons pub in Nottingham. I’m relieved to hear that he had two appointments at the real bank, although he does confess to having a liquid breakfast at Joseph Else on South Parade. He complains that the service was slow due to people ordering full English or tea and coffee. He says that teetotallers are a menace to society.

Newcomers to this blog may not be aware that Trumpy Bolton’s sole aim in life is to make a financial transaction, supported by a credit card or bank statement, in every city, town or village in England, Wales and Scotland. It’s been his hobby for over 30years.

He failed to drink a beer on St George’s Day because of a late shift at work. He’s more than making up for it today. In the last few weekends he has trawled the bars of Ripon and Swansea. He eagerly awaits his £9 Sun Holiday, in West Wales, in May.

He’s earmarked a watering hole in the picture postcard village of Spotbrough, close to Donny. Second World War hero Sir Douglas Bader was brought up in the nearby parsonage.

We park up in the bustling car park of the Boat Inn, adjacent to the river and the Spotbrough Waterfalls. Trumpy has already guzzled his way through a litre of cider on our way up the A614 (A1M). The legend has a look of horror on his face when he sees that the orderly queue at the bar is above a dozen.

Trumpy is never one to panic. Within minutes we are ordering scampi and chips, a cheese salad sandwich, washed down with two pints of Samuel Smiths, at the Ivanhoe Hotel close to High Melton.

The run-down hotel backs onto a cricket ground. We wander around to the rear of the pub and take a pew on a wooden bench. Both opening batsman look ring rusty against a useful seam attack.

The landlady has just told Trumpy that Samuel Smith has withdrawn all credit facility. The legend produces a cheque book from his back pocket and convinces ‘Auntie Flo’ to accept a cheque accompanied by a banker’s card.

We soon rock up in the Markham Main Social Club car park. Nani has just clipped the ball over Gomez to put ‘United’ 2-1 up against Spurs.

Trumpy does a spot of shopping, whilst Sticky pounds up and down the main drag. I notice a pet store. Finley’s on emergency rations at the moment. I really ought to buy the fat lad some food.

Trumpy has snaffled up eighteen rolls of toilet roll for £5.98. He manages to squeeze into his shopping basket some shower gel and four tins of McEwans. A bemused check-out girl stares in disbelief.

Armthorpe is a village on the eastern of Doncaster in South Yorkshire. It has a population of 12,000. It is well known for its coal mining. The local mine was called Markham Main. Between 1916 and 1996 – when the colliery closed – a total of 87 miners were killed underground.

The village is the birthplace of former Liverpool, Hamburg, Southampton and Newcastle Utd striker, Kevin Keegan. Bill Shankly signed him from the Iron for £35,000. He played for Hamburg in a European Cup final against Nottingham Forest in 1981, which they lost to a solitary John Robertson goal.

We have a chat with the charming Bridlington Town chairman Peter Smurthwaite, who’s sitting in the club mini-bus outside the ground. Brid have already been crowned champions, but are stalling on a decision on whether to accept promotion to the Unibond Division One North.

The chairman shows us a mileage chart which displays this season’s and next season’s travelling time. They will drive double the distance. Wages and expenses will also increase. Bridlington Town had their fingers burnt a few years ago. It’s a case of once bitten, twice shy.

Armthorpe sportingly form a guard of honour for their opponents. It’s a touch of class. Armthorpe have yet to lose to the visitors on the three occasions they’ve crossed swords this season.

Armthorpe pin back Brid in the opening 20 minutes but are wasteful in front of goal. Holden, Hardy and Sibenge (Trumpy calls him Michael Essien) all fail to work Wilberforce, the ‘keeper, when in good positions.

Bridlington look a bit leggy, but begin to find their feet. Trumpy remarks that their numbers 8 and 10 are like Hoddle and Molby – he has necked a few by now readers.

The champions take the lead on 20 minutes, with Tom Chippendale diverting a Craig Hogg shot into the bottom corner of the net. Thankfully Chippendale doesn’t remove his shirt whilst celebrating.

Trumpy has clocked a pub across the road. He asks if I fancy a swift one, minutes before the break. The Wheatsheaf looks a little shady from the outside. The legend waltzes through the lounge – he’s not one for reputations.

A guy in the bar is setting up a speaker system. It’ll probably be a Techno and Trance night. Trumpy is rattling away to Mrs Trumpy on the phone, who is keeping the legend updated with the score from Deepdale, as his team, Leicester, pursue a play-off place. He asks her if she would mind mowing the lawn.

We arrive back at Church Street to hear that Armthorpe have bagged an equaliser on the stroke of half-time. I have a chat with a Grantham Town fan, who lives in Worksop. Remarkably, we were also at the same game on Tuesday night, between Gedling MW and Radcliffe Olympic.

Bridlington take the lead with the goal of the game. A left wing cross from Fleming is smashed home first time by Frankie Belt at the far post.

The game is over as a contest moments later with Ashley Allanson converting a spot kick after Hotte was chopped down.

The league trophy is to be presented to Bridlington after the game. We bid farewell to a couple of friendly supporters’ trust members and leave the club to enjoy their moment.

Attendance: 92

Man of the Match: Peter Smurthwaite, Bridlington Town Chairman.

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