Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Alfreton Town 3 Newport County 2
I leave work at 3.20pm. I’m ghost white and trembling with fear. I make the short ten minute journey back to our village. This dreadful day has finally crept up on me. That bloody 70p bag of broken rock from Whitby has done for me.
The dentist said I could have root canal treatment for £250 or an extraction for £47. It’s Hobson’s choice folks. I tentatively climb the stairs up to the surgery. I flop into one of the chairs after some pleasant chit-chat with the receptionist, who has worked here for 33 years.
There are some magazines lying on the table. I’m not in the mood for Golf Monthly, February 2008, or the Reader’s Digest from May 1999.The girls on reception are having a hoot, whilst I stare into space, absolutely kacking myself. I scroll through my Twitter timeline and fire off a few texts.
“Mr Palmer.” Ooh bollocks; that’s me. The toothache worsens when I hear Steve Wright and his condescending cronies on the radio. Two massive needles are plunged into my mouth. How the hell did Gazza enjoy the dentist’s chair?
There’s crunching, twisting and turning, but out she finally pops. Never again readers. Never again, will I buy a bag of broken rock, from a seaside resort, at the fag end of summer.
There’s no time for groundhopping at the weekend. We’ve a big contract at work to fulfil. The MD asks for volunteers for the weekend. I work Saturday morning. I coach ‘The Skipper’s’ team in the afternoon. It’s a tough, uncompromising game, played in Stapleford, to the west of Nottingham. We bow out of the Notts FA Shield, but not without a fight.
I’m as miserable as sin on Sunday. There’s no tea-time alcoholic beverage or evening bag of pork scratchings. I plod on with my pre-Christmas detox. Mrs P raises a glass of Chardonnay in my direction, whilst Sticky Palms downs a pint of water out of a Stella glass.
On Monday I’m up with the larks for a 6am start. I weigh in after seven days of torture. A five pound loss lifts my spirits. I’m back home for 3pm. I watch the hilarious satirical comedy Black Mirror. It’s Channel 4 at its best.
Tuesday evening can’t come quick enough. I leave ‘The Skipper stretched out on the sofa listening to Jessie J. The Taxman arrives at 6.40pm. We’re on the guest list tonight and he’s volunteered to pilot. The ring road is as dead as a dodo, and the M1 as clear as a bell. We turn off at Junction 28. I’m already annoyed that The Taxman has Deano and Pete on Capital FM 96.2.
The Taxman has been Christmas shopping in town with The Taxlady. Having pounded the streets of Nottingham for four hours, his patience finally snapped in Marks and Spencer. An altercation with ‘er indoors’ resulted in a single bus fare home for the Inland Revenue’s finest.
We fly down the A38. Smoke billows out of a chimney on an industrial estate at Broadmeadows. We park up off North Street in a residential area of Alfreton. We follow a guy wrapped up in Alfreton colours up a snicket.
I squeeze through the turnstile and pounce upon a programme seller. I’m disappointed, having parted with £2.50, to find no player profiles for the Exiles.
I glance at the line-ups and recognise a familiar name, who was once an icon at Meadow Lane. David Pipe wears the No.19 shirt for Newport. He recently signed on non-contract terms following his release from prison, having served just over a year for a 38 month sentence for fracturing someone’s skull in an unprovoked attack.
It’s Alfreton’s maiden season in the Conference Premier. They are finding it tough without their grand fromage, Liam Hearn, who has flown the nest to the Mariners of Grimsby Town.
The 70 hardy souls from Newport, who have made the 300 mile round trip, are tucked away in the corner. It’s my first experience of segregation in the non league this season. There are even a couple of Taffy plod tossing it off for the night.
Newport is a city in South Wales with a population of over 100,000. The city stands on the banks of the River Usk. It’s port grew during the Industrial Revolution, with the transportation of coal and iron.
Notable people born in the city include: Animal Magic presenter Johnny Morris, author Leslie Thomas, actor Michael Sheen, footballers Chris Gunter and James Collins and Stoke City manager Tony Pulis.
The Celtic Manor Resort is situated just outside the city. It was, of course, the scene of a dramatic victory for Europe over the USA in the Ryder Cup in 2010.
Newport County were founded in 1912. They were relegated from the Football League in 1988 and went into bankruptcy in 1989. I once saw them trounce my team, Lincoln City, 4-1 in 1982. I left with half an hour to go. John Aldridge and Tommy Tynan bagged a brace a-piece that cold, wet night. Oxford United paid £75,000 for Aldo’s services. Liverpool shelled out ten times that, three years later.
Record transfer received by the club is £100,000 for Craig Reid from Stevenage. Record transfer paid is £80,000 for Alan Waddle from Swansea City.
As we take a stroll around this lovely old ground with its bucket full of soul and endless character, The Taxman drops out that his Dad once lived in Newport when he left Poland to head for these shores. We’re ambling behind the goal chin-wagging when the reserve keeper blasts a shot that misses my head by inches. I toss the ball back over the wall and give him an icy stare.
We stand on the back row at the bottom of the slope that Newport will attack. The pitch is flat, the surface short and greasy. The DJ plays Emerson, Lake and Palmer and ‘Radar Love’ by Golden Earring. I’d put him as late fifties.
Newport start like a house on fire. Matthews and Buchanan look a menacing partnership for the Exiles. Buchanan lashes home a loose ball after Danny Potter had blocked a Matthews shot. He’s inches away from doubling his account only minutes later. He twists and turns and let fly from 20 yards out, only to see his shot flash the wrong side of the post.
There’s some interesting folk here tonight, dressed in an array of different headgear. There are flat-cappers, Bear-skins, pom pom hats, beanie hats and baseball caps. Alfreton are soon on level terms. A Josh Law corner is swung in from ther left and is headed home by Anthony Church. The Exiles lose their way as the home team enjoy possession and exert pressure. Jake Moult hits a rasping 20 yard drive to put Alfreton 2-1 up.
We’ve picked another cracking game. It’s 28 matches ago since I blogged a 0-0. I’m keen to stand in the away end in the second half but a couple of burly stewards put paid to that. I peer into the John Harrison Suite. It’s packed to the rafters.
Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman continues his Pick of the Pops at the break. Rod Stewart and Hocus Pocus by Focus must mean the Golden Year is 1973. We consider whether to nip out to the off license to purchase a Worthington’s Party Seven and four bottles of Mackeson.
Newport come out all guns blazing. The ball is pinging about the Alfreton area when captain Gary Warren equalises on the hour.
It‘s all Alfreton in the final ten minutes but they can’t find their way past the Newport goal. With a minute remaining a loose ball finds its way to hard-working substitute Nathan Jarman who gleefully dispatches the ball through a ruck of players and into the net to send the Alfreton Town Baby Squad into raptures.
I really can’t half pick em.
Man of the Match: Referee (Darren Bond), who was superb. Let the game flow and only one yellow card.