Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Carlton Town 2 Ilkeston FC 0
Mrs P and I spend a relaxing Friday evening on the sofa watching the ever-popular Children in Need on BBC 1. Mad Dog, a mate of mine, has walked from our village primary school to Chatsworth House to raise monies. It’s a 100 mile round trip that he completes in 24 hours. He really is as mad as a March hare.
I wake up to the desperately sad news of the death of the South African-born England Test cricketer Basil D’Oliveira. Sticky’s favourite reporter, Pat Murphy, reads out an obituary on the radio.
For those too young to remember, Cape-coloured ‘Dolly’ was unable to play first-class cricket in his homeland under the apartheid regime in the 1960s. He fled to England and forced his way into our Test team. In 1969, his inclusion in the England touring party to South Africa caused a huge rumpus, with the series eventually being cancelled and South Africa being exiled from international cricket.
His final few years were spent in a nursing home, where his death was announced earlier this morning at the age of 80. Although it is led to believe he was much older than this, but he never wanted the cricketing authorities to know his true age, as they wouldn’t have selected him, as his was 38 when he made his Test debut.
I feel quite sombre on the paper-round this morning. It’s bitterly cold and still dark. I have a snigger when I pop the Daily Mail through legendary Keyworth United Reserves team manager, Jacko’s letterbox. On the front page is the headline ‘Surge In Divorce For The Over 60s.’ Jacko turns 60 years old this week. I rib him later in the morning.
I’m down my local club just before lunchtime. I’ve arranged a friendly for Sticky Junior’s team against some lads from Notts County. Junior has a smile as long as the railway track that runs along the back of the goal when he pokes home Keyworth’s third goal of the game, shortly before half-time.
I change into my KUCFC rain coat after the match as I prepare my boys to do battle with Carlton Town. We play some champagne football during our 5-0 victory. One defeat in six games should clinch me the Bells Whisky Manager of the Month award. The perfect day is complete with a three course dinner prepared by The Taxman. I didn’t know they did puddings at the Indian take-away. You learn something every day, readers.
It’s Sunday afternoon. I‘ve just finished washing ‘The Beast’ and the ‘Rolls Royce.’ I pour a can of Stella into a pint glass and wander into the lounge. ‘Gangsta’ is sprawled out on the sofa. His brother has just rocked up from winter nets at Trent Bridge.
I witness Charlie Adam play a raking cross-field ball to the 27 year old serial under-achiever Glenn Johnson. He cuts inside leaving Ashley Cole on his backside and rifle homes the winner for Liverpool. It gets Groundhopper out of his seat.
The highlight on Monday occurs in the Warehouse at work. Shifty has got BBC 6 Music on. Huey Morgan from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals is hosting a film soundtrack show. He plays the Pink Panther theme tune by Henry Mancini. Sticky and Shifty practise their Inspector Clouseau impersonations for the rest of the day.
I hear the loud sound of a klaxon going off outside. I thought the QE2 had come into dock. It must be ‘The Taxman’ in his London cab. Finley looks proper miserable. I enter his crib to put my cuddly friend to bed. I ask him for a famous crap score prediction. His voice is croaky and hoarse. I barely catch his whisper in my ear “2-2”. No wonder he sounds like Bonnie Tyler, the poor little sod hasn’t any water in his bottle.
I’m in a bit of a flap by the time I reach the car. ‘The Taxman’ asks me what I’ve been faffing about at, and whether I’ve been watching Holby City on catch-up. “No I haven’t you cheeky sod.” I’m out of breath. I’ve literally been home for a few minutes, as it’s training night for ‘The Skipper’s’ team, and I’ve taken the session.
We drive down Gamston Lings Bar, over Lady Bay Bridge, onto the Colwick Loop Road, passing Nottingham Racecourse to our right. I’ve already clocked the Kentucky Fried Chicken establishment at the top of Meadow Lane. Me and the boys will be dining there on Friday evening, while Mrs P enjoys her soiree in London.
A fluorescent-jacketed steward waves us towards an overflow car park at Carlton’s Stoke Lane ground. We park next to an Astroturf football pitch. Ironically, the team we beat so convincingly last Saturday, are having a training session.
It’s £7 on the gate. Programmes are £1.50 each but ‘The Taxman’ has kindly sourced a team-sheet. I’m sporting a new olive trendy green coat, a fetching little number, that I bagged at Next last Sunday. I’ve kicked H&M firmly into touch.
There’s a vibrant feel to the place tonight. There’s a cracking away following from Ilkeston. The attendance looks set to break the 300 barrier. The visiting support at times can be raucous, challenging and daunting. We approach the far side of the ground where surroundings are more genteel and placid.
Ilkeston have risen from the ashes. They were wound-up over an outstanding tax bill in 2010. It’s their first season back. They are mainly a team full of lads let go by pro clubs. I saw Ilson get trounced by Lincoln City earlier in the season. They made the Imps look like European champions. A glance at the league table begs to differ. Ilson are top.
The Millers are up and at em from the start. Ilson struggle to cope with the pace and movement of Ian Brown, formerly of the Stone Roses, and Ruben Wiggins-Thomas.
The Robins have big Gary Ricketts up top for them this evening. A friendly game against Mansfield Town was abandoned earlier in the season when it was alleged that Ricketts hospitalised three Stags players in separate incidents. He has received a final written warning from the club.
The tempo and pace of the game is terrific. Carlton take the lead on 20 minutes. Wiggins-Thomas, a threat all night, wriggles away from his marker and blasts a shot at Alex Archer which is beaten away. Brown coolly slots home the rebound.
Carlton are frightening on the break. Adam Kimberley hits the bar and Wiggins-Thomas fluffs another chance when through on goal.
It’s The Taxman’s turn at the Tea Bar. Unfortunately the Millers have under-estimated a record league attendance. Despite cries for help and volunteers the queues just get longer. I feel like offering my services, but there’s little evidence of a teapot to brew in.
I studied Ilkeston Town manager Kevin Wilson (ex Chelsea) whilst The Taxman queued for tea. He seemed more interested in talking to the crowd than watching the game. His broad Oxfordshire accent reminds me of a character from Inspector Morse. One thing we both agree on is that his young charges are way off the pace in the first period.
We stand alone near the end the Millers will attack. I expect them to push on and win the game comfortably. The Ilson fans congregate at the far end. Their biggest contribution to the game thus far is the amusing ditty “My garden shed is bigger than this.”
Ilson continue their aerial bombardment with Ricketts the obvious target. The impressive Waite blazes over and Big Gary heads wide. Brown is slipped through again, the finish is calm and collective.
I notice a member of management from a rival Evostik team close by. I remember him being sent off in a game a couple of years ago, at this very ground, for some appalling behaviour. My abiding memory of him was watching him stood on a picnic table barking out instructions.
The final whistle goes; a Carlton fan begins to play a trumpet. Ilson have been desperately disappointing. The 2-0 scoreline flatters them.
Man of the Match: Matt Millns.