Sunday, October 21, 2018

Chippenham Town 1-1 Maidenhead United

We jump in a cab from what I can only describe as the worst 'Purple Palace' on earth (Burgess Hill, Sussex, for the record). The Beefeater bar still has no Guinness on, despite having two lit up pumps and a moaning Sticky Palms on their case. A gin-crazed British public have been left with the choice of Gordon's only. I shake my head in disbelief as we wander through Reception - "have a pleasant evening sir" says the lass behind the counter, trying her utmost to salvage the situation.

Ms Moon's brother, Andrew, is having his 40th birthday bash at the Cock Inn in Wivelsfield Green, out in the sticks. It's a joint do with the landlady, who has turned fifty. I have a couple of pints of Harvey's best bitter; a barrel that has been very kindly bought by the birthday boy. I'm dog tired - talking of which, Ms Moon mentions that there's an unpleasant whiff and pong in the air. I turn up the heel of my shoe; Jesus wept folks, I've traipsed into some poop in the back garden, which matches the colour of my shoes. I spend the rest of the evening wiping my dog shit coloured and covered shoes clean on a nearby grass verge, much to the amusement of onlooking partygoers.

It's an early exit from the Premier Inn on Sunday morning. There's no second chance for the buffoons on the Beefeater waiting staff to serve me a cooked breakfast, after yesterday's omnishambles. A rare outing to McDonald's on a nearby retail park, to bag a sausage and egg McMuffin, is relatively successful. Not the same can be said for an hour of Steve Wright's Love Songs with Ms Moon's Mum riding shotgun - the company is better than the disc jockey.

By 2pm I'm sat in the King William IV (better known to the locals as the King Billy). It's an old Victorian boozer in the heart of Sneinton, with bags of character. I have a few ales from the Black Iris stable, as a couple of old boys play out a game of cribbage. A wry smile comes across my face as I think of the time I locked Ms Moon out on the balcony when she beat me at crib by two legs to zero in Spain back in early September.

No games catch my eye on Tuesday evening; it's a rare night in, where I suffer in silence at endless soaps and cookery programmes. It's a relief to be back on the training ground the following evening. Our army is growing; even some of the first team lads are buying into the philosophy of giving their limbs a midweek stretch.

I officially take the team over (Keyworth United Dev) in early January. In the meantime caretaker manager, Chris Thompson, is doing a cracking job lifting the spirits of the young guns after a mixed start to the season. I address the boys at the start of the session and congratulate them on their Cup win at the weekend that puts Us into the quarter-finals. I'm keen to find out who has been booked and sin-binned as discipline is high on my agenda.

Ms Moon and I meet in the Free Man, a 'Spoons establishment on Carlton Hill, at 6pm Friday teatime. Anglo Saxons gave Carlton their name. Coerl is the Anglo Saxon word for freeman, while ton or tun means an enclosed settlement. Anyhow, the beer is spot on. Liberation real ale is a snip at £1.49 per pint with my 50p off CAMRA voucher.

It's an early start on Saturday morning, as I head over to the village of Keyworth, in South Notts, to chauffeur HRH King Trumpy Bolton. Chippenham and Maidenhead fans I need to explain something to you (sorry about this regular readers). For forty years Trumpy Bolton has travelled the length and breadth of England, Scotland and Wales, making a financial transaction (usually a pub) in every village and town. He highlights the place off in a crumpled old atlas, once he receives a credit card statement telling him where he went on his beer-fuelled visits.

The Legend is loitering half way down Spinney Road, on the 'Bronx', swinging a Co-op carrier bag full of Koppaberg mixed fruit cider. He 'fesses up to having Ardenne smooth pate (on offer at Fine Fare) on toast, smothered in butter, accompanied with a bottle of Lancaster Bomber ale, for breakfast. There's a release of gas as he untwists his bottle of booty, before taking a huge swig of 'apple juice.'

I know all the right buttons to press. I ask him if he wants to listen to the Graham Norton Show. He immediately starts fiddling with the DAB radio before settling on 6 Music. I enquire if he's listened to the Jim White Show recently on TalkSport. It's met with a full-on ten-minute rant about the celebrity-obsessed, name-dropping Scottish presenter.

We opt to drive the scenic route into the beautiful surroundings and towns of the Cotswolds, rather than the laborious, mind-numbing journey down the M42 and M5. Trumpy can name every pub on every corner, a mile before you reach it. He really ought to apply for Mastermind, with his specialist subject being British Pubs since 1976.

After sweeping through Moreton-in Marsh (where Gloucestershire CCC used to play Sunday afternoon John Player League Cricket) Stow-on-the-Wold (where I once saw Morris dancing) and the market town of Royal Wooton Bassett (where military funeral repatriations take place) we finally pitch up at at the picturesque Dumb Post Inn in Bremhill, near Calne.

Bolton's not mucking about, he shouts up two pints of Butcombe Bitter and a lime 'n soda for Sticky. They vanish in ten minutes and before you know it we're entering the ghastly Pheasant Carvery on the outskirts of Chippenham. There are kids chasing about the place squealing and crying. Even worse than that, 20 or so 'Manchester Utd' fans crowd around a TV cheering on 'their' team - we're in Wiltshire by the way, a 340-mile round trip away from Manchester. We chuckle later when Chelsea equalise at the death.

We're driving up Rowden Hill, where on April 17th 1960 American rock and roll legend Eddie Cochran lost his life at the age of 21 years old, after his speeding taxi blew a tyre, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle - Gene Vincent, also in the taxi that night, survived the crash.

Huey Morgan from the Fun Lovin' Criminals is spinning some tunes on his lunchtime show on 6 Music. He plays the 12" version of 'What' from The Damned's Captain Sensible. I give Trumpy a full rendition - he remains unmoved.

The town's turned out in their numbers for this FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round tie. A mouth-watering £25,000 is up for grabs to the winners. Folk are saying they've never seen queues like it at the turnstile, as we pay £12 in and £2.50 for a programme. I daren't tell 'True Blue' Trumpy that staunch Red, Jeremy Corbyn was born in the town. Ex Chippenham Town player Tyrone Mings signed for Ipswich Town for £10,000, before AFC Bournemouth shelled out £8 million for his services - crikey I hope there was a sell-on clause negotiated by Chippenham.

Trumpy has retreated to a jam-packed social club for a few pints of Old Speckled Hen. I'm on the far side of the ground, opposite the lovely old main stand, basking in the glorious sunshine, which is shielded by my Lincoln City baseball cap.

Maidenhead United, from Berkshire, are managed by ex-West Ham United fleet-footed winger, Alan Devonshire, who stands motionless in the technical area sporting a flat cap. I fancy their chances as I saw Chippenham capitulate at the fag end of last season at Hemel Hempstead.

The playing surface looks uneven and bare in places. The first half is utter dross, with neither 'keeper being tested. Trumpy emerges from the bar to ask what the score is. I tell him to trot back as neither team are going to score in a month of Sundays.

Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel and Pinball Wizard by The Who fail to lift my spirits at the break. Sticky P doesn't do 0-0s; hasn't done for 18 months, but this has one written all over it. The fans swap ends without fuss; it's the beauty of Non League.

Maidenhead score from a free kick with a wonderfully executed left-foot shot from Christian Smith. Chippenham finally start to believe in themselves. Chances going begging before a last-gasp strike from Mike Jones puts them into Monday evening's first round draw - it's nothing less than their team and fans deserve.

Attendance: 706

Man of the Match: Trumpy Bolton (who else)

1 comment:

Gary said...

Love the dogs poop story, great overall read!