Thursday, March 15, 2012

Asfordby Amateurs 0 Caterpillar 1

It’s Thursday evening and I’m about to leave the house to take ‘The Skipper’ football training at his Sunday club, Clifton All Whites. Baby budgie and Norwich City’s number one fan Murphy Palmer is chewing on a computer cable under the coffee table, having completed six circuits of the room.
To kill a bit of time, whilst the young un is training, I call in at the White Horse, a back street boozer in the village of Ruddington. I take a pew in the cosy Lounge, necking a pint of Boundary from the Wadworth Brewery. I stare into space dreaming about my pal Murphy. I wonder what the little monkey is up to.

Back home a serious incident is unfolding right in front of Mrs P’s eyes. Murphy has collided into the radiator, it’s piping hot. The little fellow has fallen into the back of it and is trapped. Pet Rescue (‘The Angler’) is called out complete with toolbox. All you can hear is Murph’s wings flapping.

Sky News and Radio Nottingham are on standby. It’s been 20 minutes now since anyone has heard a flutter. I’m sat supping ale, blissfully unaware of the drama. Murphy finally emerges from the dark hole. He’s proper pecked ‘The Angler’, who has hands like shovels. He’s fast asleep on his swing by the time Sticky arrives home.

Saturday is the mother of all days. I hook up with my boss, Mick Leonard, who is Head of Youth at Notts County, down at Highfields, near to the University of Nottingham. City Boys u15s are playing Mansfield Boys. There’s nothing much going on.

We drive over to Eagle Valley, home of Arnold Town, to take a second look at a player I spotted last week. ‘The Skipper’s’ team are playing out at a village called Lowdham at 2pm. I grab a soft drink at the Old Ship Inn on Main Street, prior to the game.

The afternoon’s football is a disaster. We must have had over 20 shots at goal, but only trouble the scorers once. I take heart from a magnificent performance. I have three under 13s in my squad, playing a year up. A long term plan is better than a short-term fix.

I’m out on my feet by 6pm but have to crank myself up for the biggest night of the year. Geordie funk and soul band Smoove and Turrell are in town tonight. I’ve arranged to meet ‘Shifty’ and ‘The Reaper’ at the Lincolnshire Poacher on Mansfield Road.

We’re sat in the snug sinking a few real ales. ‘Shifty’ spots a guy outside in the beer garden sparking up a cigarette. He has black-rimmed glasses, a beard and is wearing a blue and orange checked shirt.

‘Shifty’ leaps out of his chair and wags his finger at the guy. He starts shouting out his name loudly. “It’s John Turrell. It’s John Turrell.” (lead singer of the band). They engage in conversation. It’s made Shifty’s evening that he’s met one of his heroes.

The gig is being held in a small room up the road at a venue called The Maze. Smoove and Turrell tear the roof off the place. It’s the best £13 I’ve spent in ages. Less enjoyable is the taxi ride back into town, with a driver who claims to have been in the UK for “only a few weeks.”

I’m as rough as a badger’s arse on Sunday morning. I drop ‘The Skipper’ off in Clifton and head out into the sticks to watch a game. I return to watch my boy play the second half. A sixteen year old lad is refereeing. Some of the parents of the visiting team should be banned from watching kids’ football for life. Here are a few snippets: “We’re playing against 12 men lads.” “You’re a cheat ref.” They sarcastically clap the official and boo him at the final whistle. I am fuming.

About 15 of them are milling around after the game. Two of their team have been booked for foul and abusive language, as the parents’ behaviour rubs off on some of the children. I rinse the lot of them and call them a disgrace. I ask them what sort of message they are sending out to their children. Not one of them has the decency or bottle to answer me, as they hang their heads in shame. No wonder their club lost their FA Charter Standard award a few years ago.

Murphy is squawking and spitting feathers around 5.30pm on Sunday tea-time. Victor Moses 68th minute leveller for Wigan Athletic sends Norwich City’s youngest Junior Canary to an early, sulky night on his swing.

Shifty, Reaper and I are still buzzing about Smoove and Turrell on Tuesday morning. I notice a tweet from the band to say they are appearing on BBC Radio London at 2.30pm. We tune in to hear a couple of tracks.

Another tweet attracts my attention later in the day. It’s from Sticky junior and it says “In German exam trying to stay awake #boredom

I’ve not blogged a game for two weeks, and despite it being the lowest level of football that I’m about to witness this season, I’m really looking forward to my visit to Asfordby.

I eat my liver and onions whilst gazing into Murphy’s cage. He’s ferreting about in his seed box. I check in on Keyworth’s favourite bunny rabbit, Finley Palmer, for a crap score prediction. I’ve totally forgot he doesn’t give scores out for Leicestershire teams as he hates The Foxes.

Sticky jnr has texted in on his way to Pride Park for the D***y v NFFC clash. He’s stuck in heavy traffic in Nottingham and hasn’t moved for half an hour. The Taxman arrives at 7pm on the dot. We’re soon hooting and tooting outside Jacko’s house. I’m disappointed he’s not giving the old Munto Finance Notts County manager’s jacket an outing that I gave him the other day, to replace his Great Britain 1948 Olympics coat he is now sporting.

The Taxman finds third gear for the first time this season as we head down the A46, exiting at the Rempstone turn-off. We’re soon entering the village of Asfordby. The Asfordby Sports and Social Club is on Hoby Road.

Asfordby is a village to the north west of Melton Mowbray on the A6006. It has a population of around 3000. In 1993 British Coal opened Asfordby Superpit. Four years later the colliery closed due to geological conditions. My father-in-law finished his 35 year coal mining career at this pit.

Each year, as a scout for Notts County, I visit the Asfordby Junior Tournament. It is excellently run and raises in the region of £6000 which is vital to the upkeep of the Club.

Entry is free and there is no programme. There is hard-standing on all four sides of the ground and six floodlight pylons. It is tree-lined at both ends and has brick dugouts on the far side.

The clubhouse is a beauty at any standard. It is carpeted and has two dart boards, a fruit machine and a pool table. We await the toss to see which way Caterpillar are kicking as they are unbeaten this season and only dropped their first points on Saturday following a draw against FC Khalsa.

Asfordby are currently in bottom spot, whilst the visitors have racked up 90 goals. Murphy will firmly nail his colours to the Caterpillar mast as the play in canary and green. Asfordby are sporting a Luton Town replica kit.

Jacko and The Taxman are chin-wagging about a few pals who still work for ‘the Revenue.’ I get chatting to a supporter from Caterpillar. He remarks that the linesman on our side is 70 years old.

Jacko retrieves a stray ball that has gone out of play following a miscued clearance – I think I’ve seen Nathan Tyson limp quicker than Jacko can walk. He has more excuses than Kenneth Dalglish following his reserve team’s 3-0 reverse at the weekend.

Caterpillar are playing all the football as Asfordby huff and puff, but they couldn’t hit a bull in the ass with a base fiddle. Asfordby’s goalkeeper is smaller than Ronnie Corbett, and yet at no time do Caterpillar try to exploit this.

On the half hour Mark Bailey flicks a ball up and smashes a shot into the roof of the net. There’s little improvement at half-time as the crowd are soon scurrying out of the clubhouse following Ollie Murs’ latest single on Heart FM that appears on the giant screen.

The second half is bloody awful, as it is at Pride Park according to Twitter. Caterpillar barely work the ‘keeper. If anything an Asfordby equaliser seems more likely.

We retire to the Public Bar of the Plough Inn at Normanton on-the-Wolds. Former Stag Jake Buxton cruelly breaks Sticky Jnr’s heart with a 94th minute winner for D***y. An eagle-eyed Jacko spots a Bentley parked-up outside the front door with an out-of-date Tax disc. His work for Her Majesty is over for the day.

Attendance: 36 (head count)

Man of the Match: Smoove and Turrell

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