Sunday, October 8, 2017
Stocksbridge Park Steels 1-4 Atherton Collieries
God, I love Sundays; it's my favourite day of the week. We head out to Leicester for a stroll around Bradgate Park, a former Medieval Deer Park, before swinging by The Crown at Old Dalby, where we have a Sunday lunch to die for.
We canned the National Lottery many moons ago. I wanted to contribute to a more worthwhile cause. The People's Postcode Lottery seems to tick the right boxes. I'm already dreaming of the £3 million jackpot, when someone famous is sent round our crib to knock on the front door, catch us aghast, waving that big fat cheque. I'll refuse to accept the winnings if the talentless Fiona Phillips is dispatched from HQ to Sticky Towers. I'll settle for Kym Marsh or one of the weather girls off ITV.
I'm in the heart of Nottingham's inner city on Tuesday evening. Radford's On Call Arena, in Selhurst Street, would be in my all-time top 10. I'm somewhat of a Jonah to the club - they never seem to win when I rock up. Tuesday evening is no exception when they get a good hiding from noisy neighbours Dunkirk FC. Steve Chaplin scores a goal of precision and beauty, but it's 19-year-old Timmy Berridge that catches the eye - another one missed by the 'scouting fraternity.' I scarper across to Asda car park at the fag end of the game to avoid a lifetime ban and cuff around the tabhole from a seething Radford manager, Big Glenn Russell.
The groundhopping gang are at it again on Wednesday evening. I'm scared stiff of Pat Phelan on Corrie and look forward to his grisly demise. We give 'The Street' the swerve and head over to Keyworth, my old parish. Talking of Phelan, I thought I'd clocked him in the shallow end of our hotel swimming pool in Nerja, in Southern Spain, back in August, on our summer holidays. I daren't take a dip for the rest of the week and slept uneasily. It was only on the plane home that Ms Moon revealed that Phelan isn't real; he's just a character in a soap opera.
Poor old Keyworth Ressies get turned over again. They're 3-0 down after half an hour at a windswept, rain-soaked Platt Lane. There's a spirited comeback in the second half from the Green Army, but they fall short in a 7 goal thriller versus Gedling Southbank.
The weekend can't come quick enough. I have a lucrative day 'in the office' on Friday. I meet a few folk for evening drinkies, before returning home to sink a few glasses of a chocolate-flavoured Chilean Merlot.
I'm wide awake at daybreak, excited for the re-visit to the wonderful Bracken Moor, home of Stocksbridge Park Steels. I'd hoped to do a spot of gardening, but right on cue the heavens open. I best pull my 'green fingers' out before Ms Moon returns from her shopping expedition. I mop all the floors in the house and clean the bathroom, as Massive Attack's 'Unfinished Symphony' blasts out of the speakers of the Roberts DAB radio.
We hit the road just before midday. Traffic is heavy, Sat Nav strangely takes us onto the M1 at Junction 27 - I can still hear someone hiccuping and burping. I need to put a call into Roy Castle and Norris McWhirter.
Radio 2 are reporting a lorry has overturned near to Glossop (hope the driver is ok). I'm hoping it doesn't impact our journey. Thankfully it doesn't as we roll into the car park of the Wortley Arms, a stone-built coaching inn, just a few miles away from Stocksbridge. The red mist descends upon Ms Moon when she spots there is a Men's Club adjacent to the pub - we thought this was exclusive to golf clubs in Scotland and the White House.
Sweet lemony Lincoln, what a choice of ales they have on the bar. I go for a pale ale from the Mitchell's Hop House, a microbrewery from Sheffield. We peruse the menu and both choose a roast lamb sandwich with mint sauce and homemade 'Yorkshire chips.' Mabel the Jack Russell is sat on the next table and has had more than her fair share of her owner's fish and chips. The greedy little sod starts salivating when our tucker rocks up - she gets Jack diddly squat off the pair of us.
We're parked up at Bracken Moor an hour before kick off. Ms Moon's got the 'face on' having seen the 1 in 3 gradient the car has climbed up to the ground, so declines an invitation for a stroll into town. I make the solo descent down Bocking Hill and Nanny Hill. I walk past a gated mansion. I hear the Alsation's scampering paws before the vicious snarling and barking. I nearly drop dead on the spot.
Stocksbridge is a small town just outside Sheffield, with a population of over 13,000. It is well known for its steelworks. Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy famously plied his trade for Stocksbridge Park Steels for six seasons. Sticky Palms came here back in 2010 when FC United of Manchester were the visitors. I've still got the programme and Vardy is listed. He didn't play that day as he was either serving an eight-match suspension or wearing an electronic tag with a night-time curfew. Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder was born in the town.
There's not much-doing downtown; unless you like curries, pizzas, Chinese takeaway or kebabs. I love a haircut on matchday. I've had memorable ear-lowering moments in Heanor and Stratford-upon-Avon. The barbers in Stocksbridge is full to the brim. I make the long, hard slog back up to the ground. I've climbed Lincoln's Steep Hill, Cherry Hill in Keyworth and Gedling Country Park in Notts, but nothing could prepare me for this. I swig a bottle of water at the summit and pat myself on the back. Sir Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tenzing wouldn't have conquered that.
I prepare myself for the moment we squeeze our way through the turnstile having parted with £17.50 for entry, programme and a good old Northern meat raffle. This ground is one of the greatest on our planet. I rarely go twice to a ground on a Saturday - this is the exception. I want Ms Moon to share my love, joy and excitement The good lady isn't disappointed with the sweeping views of the Pennines, the pristine playing surface, steep-terraced views and outstanding upstairs bar.
Atherton Collieries are today's visitors for this FA Trophy tie. I have a real soft spot for them after a mad dash up there a few Mondays ago, when they swept aside Colwyn Bay after being pinned back in their own half for the first 25 minutes. A healthy contingent have made the journey across the Pennines.
As we walk out of the bar a guy put his hand out and says hello. I don't recognise him, as it's been ages. Blimey Charlie, it's Dudsey, the oracle on north Notts and South Yorkshire Non-League Football. It's great to have a catch-up.
Ms Moon is singing away to Billy Ocean's 'Love Really Hurts' which is blaring out of the Bracken Moor PA system, pre kick-off. I'm not saying that the good lady is out of tune, but I notice a few cracks appearing in the perspex of the away dugout.
The weather is coming in, so we choose to sit in the Jamie Vardy Stand. There are three generations of a family sat in front of us. They've brought enough snap, hot drinks and brandy to feed an army. 'Colls' are out of the traps quicker than my old greyhound 'Prince Red Inca.' Jordan Cover looked the business versus Colwyn Bay, today is no different. He was in a band called the Blackout Crew who had a minor hit called 'Put a Donk on it.' - ridiculed by Radcliffe and Maconie on 6Music. He's now an international DJ, but boy oh boy can he play football and his mate, the 11 jacket Mason, who runs his socks off.
The Colls are two up by the break and in cruise control. Ms Moon is spewing that we haven't won the meat raffle. She'll be hunting down the aisles in Marks and Spencer tomorrow for the £10 'Meal Deal.' The Colls survive a second-half onslaught from the Steels and are in debt to their 'keeper for some smart saves. The game's best player, Iain Howard puts the tie to bed for the visitors. His football brain, movement and wand of a left foot are too much to cope with. 'Colls will head up to Kendal Town for the next round.
Man of the Match: Iain Howard