Saturday, April 3, 2010
Notts County 5 Bury 0
There’s a spring in his step and a smile back on his face. He no longer snaps and snarls. She has crossed the body of water that separates France and England. She’s back in Old Blighty after her German Exchange trip. She’s on the motorway. Texts are free again. They are typed in a hurry and arrive in a flurry.
They’ve been apart for ten days. No Facebook. No Tweets. No texts. Nothing. RnB is replaced with ‘Welcome Home’ by Peters and Lee. Sticky junior’s chick is back in town. ‘Achtung Baby.’
I broke up on Tuesday evening from work for a week. Mrs P issued me with a list of jobs to be carried out. Don’t be surprised if you hear that Hollywood bosses have been on the blower to ask me to audition for Mrs Doubtfire 2.
I’ve worked my fingers to the bone. The cars are washed and valeted. The house is spick and span. The garage is cleared of rubbish. The Rushcliffe Recycling Centre has been paid a visit or two.
There’s a great start to the weekend when Mrs P and Sticky Palms slip away for an hour to the picture postcard village of Wysall for a couple of pints of Timothy Taylor’s at the Plough Inn. The Libertines 2005 smash hit ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ shakes the pub’s foundations.
It’s Saturday morning and Sticky Palms is doing a bit of downloading onto his i-Pod. I’m going to need some new toons for when I walk Finley (pet rabbit) around the garden this summer.
I’ve a match to go to this morning at the gorgeous setting of Wollaton Park, a couple of miles outside Nottingham city centre. A fantastic game of football is played out between two under 9s teams, scrapping it out for the League title. Most scouts only watch half a game but I don’t want this one to end and stay until the final whistle.
I’m walking back to my car. I’ve got my undercover gear on, including a beanie hat. A man winds down the window of his car and shouts out in a gruff Scottish accent: “Oi trainspotter, you found me any players yet?” It’s former Notts County forward Iain McCulloch, who’s a coach at the club’s centre of excellence.
I’m back home for lunch. I tuck into a cheese and ham roll whilst watching Joe Cole showboat his Chelsea team into a one goal lead at Old Trafford.
Mrs P is off shopping with her mum in Loughborough this afternoon. I’ve agreed to take the kids down ‘The Lane.’ ‘Hallsy’ and Josh join us. ‘Stolly’ misses the team bus to spend the afternoon with his girlfriend, who lives across the road from our house.
We’re soon parked up in County Hall (free of charge). I’ve had to suffer the sounds of Radio Trent enroute.
The kids scurry across Trent Bridge. They love visiting the world’s smallest sweet shop which is adjacent to Topknot Hair Salon, a place where Mrs P spends more dosh on hair-do’s than Sticky Palms will ever do on groundhopping. Sticky opts for a quarter of a pound of humbugs – I don’t do metric readers.
The lads like to lark around behind the goal in the Family Stand. The Groundhopper sits at the back of the Derek Pavis Stand near to the Kop Stand. I stop for a chat with Keyworth United legends Alan Jackson and ‘Barthez.’ The latter is still confident of landing a 33/1 punt he had in the summer on ‘The Pies’ winning the title.
I read an alarming stat this morning on the world’s second best message board (Notts County MAD), on the last eight occasions Notts have played the Shakers they’ve only picked up five points.
Bury is a town in Greater Manchester with a population of 60,000. It lies on the River Irwell. Bury emerged during the Industrial Revolution as a mill town centred on manufacturing textiles.
It is famous for its market. Bury Market’s biggest delicacy is black pudding – White Van Man will wipe the floor with it when I whip him up to FC United’s ground next season – they play at Gigg Lane.
Famous folk born or raised in Bury include: former Prime Minister and founder of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Robert Peel, comedian Victoria Wood, singer Suzanne Shaw, Manchester United motor mouth Gary Neville (still remember when he head-butted Steve McManaman), Philip Neville, goalkeeper Andy Goram, actress and serial pie-eater Lisa Riley, Cherie Blair and Vicky Binns (Molly Dobbs off ‘Coro’ – the one Kevin Webster has been servicing).
I have a browse through the excellent ‘Mag’ publication that I purchased in the club shop for £3. There’s an interview with Gillingham first team coach Mark Robson, whose goal in March 1998 secured Notts County’s last promotion.
Notts kick towards the Kop. Within four minutes they have their tails up. Bury stopper Wayne Brown palms a Hughes cross to Mike Edwards, who’s lurking ten yards out, he gleefully smashes the ball into the roof of the net.
The Pies go for the jugular; Graeme Lee, Luke Rodgers and Lee Hughes all waste opportunities. The Shakers inch their way back into the game. Manchester City loanee, James Poole, is a cut above the rest; he sticks out like a sore thumb. He drifts in from the right flank and hits pinpoint crosses with his left peg. They lack a target man to convert his creativity.
There’s a moving moment in the game when Sticky’s favourite player ‘Rocky’ Ravenhill collides with a Bury player in the box. He lies motionless. Bury ‘keeper, Wayne Brown, races off his line to put ‘Rocky’ in the recovery position. The Kop applaud en masse.
I chat to a couple of coaches from the centre of excellence at the break. Mick Leonard, my boss, is busy organising a parade of the under eight kids we have signed for next season. They are given a rousing reception by the 7000 strong crowd. All those hours standing in blustery, cold wet conditions on Saturday mornings are paying dividends.
The Pies play champagne soccer in the second half. Luke Rodgers tees up Craig Westcarr for his tenth goal of the season. Four blokes in front of me have moaned and groaned throughout the first period about ‘Westy’ – my only complaint is that according to the programme he likes RnB – it’s not on in our car Craig.
A flowing move down the right hand flank results in Ben Davies scoring the third goal of the afternoon.
Big Ben Futcher, at the heart of the Bury defence, is struggling with Rodgers and Hughes running at him. He’s mopped up in the first half and won countless headers. He’s the cousin of Fulham midfield dynamo Danny Murphy.
Hughes scores a fourth from a Ben Davies free-kick, cleverly wheeling away from a static defence and finishing with a deft header. Cult hero, Delroy Facey, taps in at the far post to complete the route.
Poor old beleaguered Bury have lost four on the bounce and now have a fight on their hands to make the play-offs. They look toothless in attack and are short on confidence.
Referee Trevor Kettle has allowed the game to flow and has kept his cards in his pocket. He’d slot in nicely alongside Bury’s huge defenders Futcher and Cresswell. He easily the tallest referee I’ve seen this season.
Man of the Match: Ben Davies