Sunday, October 5, 2014

West Didsbury & Chorlton AFC 2-1 Rossington Main

It has broke my heart to resign as Head of Talent ID and Recruitment at the Notts County FC Academy. I'll miss trawling the three to four mile radius of inner city Nottingham each weekend, looking for fresh talent. They call scouts the 'Nowhere Men.' I'm the man who stands away from the crowd, dressed in plain clothes.

The guy I have reported into for over seven years is Mick Leonard, who played in goal for the Pies and the Spireites for over 500 games. He has been nothing short of first-class in his support for me in the role. One or two youth players are already regulars in the First Team. There's a conveyor belt of talent waiting to come through. For me though, it's time to move on.

It's 6:15pm on Friday evening. Murphy the budgie is sat on my hand predicting tomrrow's FA Vase score in Chorlton, Manchester. He whistles three times for West Didsbury and Chorlton AFC, sadly there's not a sausage for Rossington Main.

A grey Mondeo estate toots its horn outside my yard. It's blog legend White Van Man (aka the Big Man). As I slip into the passenger seat I eye-up the four cans of Stella that the Big Man has treated me to. He's just back in town after a trip to Borneo and Malaysia. He went with Bruiser, who is the biggest shirker in south Notts.

Blimey O'Reilly, the M6 is like a car park. Folk are shelling out big bucks for rides on Nottingham Goose Fair this weekend. You won't get a bigger thrill than the 'Death Ride' WVM' gives me on the country lanes off Junction 17 near Holmes Chapel. We pull up outside our plush apartment in Didsbury Village at 8:30 on the nose.

The Big Man has come up trumps with the accomodation, despite the landlord being associated with X-Factor act Kingsland Road. I'm soon necking a pint of Boon Doggle at the Royal Oak. White Van Man jaywalks the main drag and hails a black cab. We head up to the more popular area of West Didsbury. First port of call is The Metropolitan, which back in the day was a grand Victorian railway hotel. I down a pint of Vanilla Porter, a Colorado craft beer. It's absolute nectar and makes me feel all queasy.

We hook up with legendary Keyworth United centre forward, Tom Aldred, who works for Barclays in Manchester. I'm gutted I've forgot my autograph book and pen for Tom to sign. We visit a few more bars, before calling in at The Drawing Room. Manchester loves to embrace its musical culture. We're treated to The Smiths, New Order and The Stone Roses. We retire to the apartment for a late Grey Goose nightcap. Sticky Palms collapses on the sofa in a heap.

It's 11:00am when we finally awake from our slumber. We head out onto Barlow Moor Road and dive into the Crema Cafe, for a full English breakfast, with black pudding from Bury. There's a commotion across the road in the churchyard. Cops are crawling all over the joint. Rumours spread of someone being attacked in the early hours. A crime scene is taped off. A couple of ageing cops walk into the cafe to make discreet enquiries.

They are questioning the till girl in Ladbrokes as I place a £1 bet on Jordan Rhodes to score the first goal for Blackburn (the bolt later misses a penalty).

West Didsbury has a population of 14,000 and lies 4 miles south of Manchester. Neighbouring Chorlton-cum-Hardy is of similar size and is the home of West Didsbury and Chorlton AFC. Notable residents gone by to have lived in the area include: Alcock and Brown, the first men to fly across the Atlantic, the Bee Gees, Doris Speed (Annie Walker) off Coronation Street and the actor Warren Clarke.

We drive down what appears to be a dead end. It suddenly opens up to reveal the ground situated in a dip. It's a beautiful setting. It's tree-lined, with grass banks and housing backing onto it. A cheerful chap on the gate charges us £5 and £2 for a programme.

We stroll across to the modern clubhouse. I'm too hungover for alcohol and opt for a Diet Coke. The place is bustling. You can buy beanie hats, scarves and mugs. WVM spots me biting my nails. An early goal will settle our nerves. In 7 years of groundhopping we've never done a 0-0. The PA is crystal clear, sadly there's no Mancunian music being played.

It's a beautiful sunny day, as 'West' kick into a light wind. White Van Man has spotted some 'gripper' on the 'West' bench; he'll be taking his eye off the ball for most of the afternoon. The home team's bald-headed No.8 clatters into an opponent. The 'Big Man' remarks he may be taking an early bath today.

It's like a scene from 'Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' in the 'West' technical area. They only just all squeeze in there. 'West' boss the game. It's a miracle that they take 44 minutes to open their account, with a scruffy goal from a 'Rory Delap' long throw.

I shout a tea up for WVM at the break. I'm served by a glum-looking club official. The committees of both clubs tuck into egg and cheese sandwiches with pots of tea. We are kindly offered some left-overs. I stare at the TV screen in disbelief. Barrow Town in the Conference North are entertaining Lowestoft Town. It's a 650 mile round trip. It's bloody madness for a part-time club.

My old boss from my previous job walks into the bar. He lives in east Manchester. We have a good rattle and catch-up in the second half, which once again 'West' dominate. Scott, (old boss) has the brass neck to flick back the matchball with the outside of his left foot before I touch it. How rude!

Baldwin-Willis appears to have put the game to bed for 'West' with a thumping drive. The crowd of 59 are left on tenterhooks with Rossington chalking a goal back five minutes from time.

The inevitable happens close to full-time with 8 jacket being dismissed for a second yellow card. When Sky sacked Keys and Gray, they should have called up WVM and Sticky, because we can't arf 'call it.'

Attendance: 59

Man of the Match: The Drawing Room, in West Didsbury: "Sheila Take a Bow"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mick Leonard ? Hasn't he been suspended ? You must have been his Ned Kelly