Monday, January 12, 2015

Stapenhill 0-2 Radford FC

I'm still cooing over the eleven goal thriller at The Dovecote. In 45 years of watching football, it's my biggest aggregate scoreline. Christmas is a quiet affair. I'm dry on New Year's Eve for the first time in living memory. I spend most of it chuckling away at Danny Baker's autobiography, 'Going Off Alarming.'

Last Saturday I accompanied White Van Man and Bruiser to the Leicestershire Midland League derby between Quorn and Shepshed. It ended honours even at 1-1. WVM must have had Grand Theft Auto 6 as a present for Christmas, as we hurtle down the tight country lines near Prestwold, where ironically there is  a purpose built 1.8 mile racetrack, where his skills might be put to better use. Highlight of the day at Quorn is when the tea lady tells a head-shaking Bruiser that there's no tucker on at the snap cabin.

It's Saturday morning. I'm clipping a fruit stick onto Finley the rabbit's cage. It's a treat from his Uncle Fod for tipping him that Lallana would bag at anytime versus Swansea the other day. Finley's no mug when it comes to the Premiership, but is an utter fool on the Non League circuit. He sticks his floppy ears out his front door to assess the gusty conditions, before predicting a 0-0 bore draw. Big Glen Russell at Radford FC doesn't do 0-0s Finley. Anyway, it's been three years since I saw my last competitive blankety blank (Skeggy v Clifton doesn't count, Tosh took em on the lash at lunch).

Finley has been suffering recurring nightmares since Christmas. My bad readers. I let him in the lounge one cold afternoon. We curled up on the sofa and watched Watership Down together. I totally forgot the film has a few dark moments and a couple of rabbits bite the dust. He's only just got over Glenn Close butchering that pet rabbit in Fatal Attraction - unfortunately that was my fault too.

I nip in the lounge before dropping 'The Skipper' off at Clifton All-Whites. Murphy the budgie is dive bombing Mrs P. He's squawking and squealing. Who can blame him when he's being force fed Whitney Houston on the Graham Norton's Radio 2 show - well, she's not actually on it, because she died in a scalding hot bath in Beverley Hill back in April 2012 due to an overdose of prescription drugs. 'So Emotional' by the Newark born singer (that's the one in New Jersey, not to be confused with the town near Lincoln) is irritating my little feathered friend.

After dropping 'The Skipper' off, I pitch up at Bread 'n Lard Island (West Bridgford). It's Nottingham's version of Knightsbridge. I've got to get my windows fixed otherwise I'm going to have more plasters on those frames than Jack Duckworth. I have a Mr Magoo moment as I walk past Specsavers without seeing it. Once again, they provide excellent customer service. I bag a Swiss cheese and chorizo Panini at the brilliant No.8 Deli on Gordon Road.

Bloody hell, my phone's going off, what's popping? Ooh heck, The Skipper's game is off: it's a no show from the opposition from Birmingham.

I play around with my new Garmin sat nav, recommended by resident blog drunk, Trumpy Bolton, as I drive the 'Rolls Royce' through Kegworth and onto the A50. I'm soon turning off onto the A38 and navigating towards the village of Repton in South Derbyshire. I pull up opposite the Bulls Head on the High Street.

Repton is famous for its private school. There's a huge list of former pupils including: Harold Abrahams, Roald Dahl, Jeremy Clarkson, Basil Rathbone, Robert Sangster and Derby midfielder Will Hughes. Former Ipswich Town defender Russell Osman was born in the village.

The Bulls Head is a beauty and candidate for Pub of the Year. I was tipped it by a Bluenose at work. I love the low beams and pillars. They have six real ales on hand-pull. I opt for a pint of Purity Gold brewed in nearby Warwickshire. The main dining area is stacked out with folks. It has a wonderful ambience. Wood-fired pizzas are proving popular, as are The Smiths and Jake Bugg (one of our own) on the pub sound system.

White Van Man will be regretting missing out on this trip, there's a chippy adjacent to the pub called Good Buy Mr Chips - it sells the best Pukka Pies in the area. Stapenhill is a 15 minute drive up the road. After negotiating a few tight country lanes, I roll into the Maple Grove car park half an hour before kick off.

I'm greeted by a friendly chap on the gate. I part with £5 for admission plus a programme. The Club official tells me there's a groundhopper from Wigan in the social club. Bloody hell, I bet he's caught three trains and a bus.

I bump into Radford FC manager 'Big Glenn Russell', who is warming the troops up. He's left star turn John King on the bench. Glenn has brought a few with him from disbanded Nottingham outfit Bilborough Pelican.

I like the ground, it's in a nice spot. It has cushioned leather seats in the nearest stand, with further cover behind the goal closest to the clubhouse. You can only view from three sides of the ground, with the dugouts being situated on the far side. There are some dreadful RnB toons blasting out the PA. Norman Collier's faulty microphone is once again in use as the PA guy reads out the line-ups.

'Big Glenn' nearly loses his baseball cap in the swirling wind as he jumps off his seat in the dugout and stomps into the technical area to remonstrate with his two centre backs: "Stay in the f***ing hole", he shouts.

Radford take an early lead through Dave Udoh. They're soon 2-0 up, slightly against the run of play, following a cool left foot finish by the impressive Sheriff Babatunde. It's the same old story at half-time, as I warm my hands with a piping hot mug of tea, Forest, Notts and the Stags are all losing.

Joe Meakin continues to control the midfield. He keeps it simple and can pick a pass. Surely he is destined for a higher level of football than this. Where are the spotters ?

I've chanced upon the 'Wigan Groundhopper' - I can't understand a bloody word he says - he sounds like Eddie Waring. He's got to catch a bus and three trains back oop north. He's not happy when the ref plays 8 minutes injury-time. Golden rules of proper Hoppers are that you never leave until the final whistle. I'm sure I see him shed a tear as his choice of bus sails up the road. I offer him a lift into Burton, but he's having none of it - he'll be lucky if he's home for Songs of Praise at this rate.

Attendance: 56

Man of the Match: Joe Meakin

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