Sunday, March 31, 2019

Didcot Town 1-2 Bromsgrove Sporting

The Big Man and I have witnessed an absolute humdinger of a game at Worksop Town's Sandy Lane, as the top two teams in the Northern Counties East League cross swords. I'm back in sunny Carlton well before 6pm. Ms Moon whisks me up to 'Spoons on Carlton Hill; it's cheap, cheerful and rowdy. A pint of Strongbow cider and an Elsie Mo from the Castle Rock Brewery is £3.98 for two drinks, with my 50p off CAMRA vouchers. This is in stark contrast to the pint of Arbor, a Bristol-based craft ale, that I'm necking an hour later at the splendid Brickyard, 50 yards up the road, at £6.46 - what's the mark up on that?

It's a glorious Sunday morning as a group of friends are gathered outside the derelict Red Lion public house in the village of Stathern, out in the Vale of Belvoir, in Leicestershire. The Test Match Special radio commentator, Jonathan Agnew, lives just down the road in Waltham on the Wolds. Gold Cup winner and housewives' favourite, Desert Orchid, used to spend his holidays in nearby Ad Kettleby.

The Big Man is chairman of the Groundhoppers' Sunday Walking Club. It's a tough old hike up Tofts Hill. There are stunning and breathtaking views looking out towards Belvoir Castle. We're feeling it in our legs when we arrive back in the village a few hours later. A pleasant lunch is spent at the Nags Head in Harby - a place I used to frequent with 'Lord Geoffrey' when I was holed up at his 'Southfork Ranch' for three months back in 2015.

Tuesday evening is spent at Radford FC's Selhurst Street ground in the heart of Nottingham's inner city. It is without a doubt one of my favourite all-time grounds. I'm usually on the receiving end of a verbal volley or two from Radford manager, Big Glenn Russell, as I'm a somewhat Jonah on his team - there's no sign of Big GR tonight; rumour has it he is serving a one-match stadium ban following an altercation with an official earlier in the year - that sounds totally out of character?  I text him five times during the evening to let him know his team have been soundly beaten 4-1 by Heanor Town. The highlight of the night is tucking into John Harris's bag of Revels - Sticky bags a coffee and a toffee one with one free dip. To be fair to Heanor, their third goal, a volley thumped home by Kyle Daley is a contender for goal of the season.

I sail up the M1 on Wednesday evening before exiting at Junction 27. Destination tonight is Selston FC's Parish Hall ground; another personal favourite of Sticky Palms. I stand behind the goal on the 'Spion Kop' - it has about six concrete steps. Selston chairman J C McKeith always gives me a warm welcome. He once insisted, during a Notts Senior League groundhop, that the lasses in the kitchen mashed my tea in a teapot - it was the finest brew that I've ever supped.

I catch up with legendary Hucknall groundhopper Malc 'the Bearded Wonder' Storer. He's such a lovely, warm chap and the fountain of all football knowledge in this neck of the woods. Malc' does so much to promote the Notts Non-League scene through social media - check him out on Twitter folks; his work is tireless @ontheroadblog

Clifton All Whites and the longest-serving manager in the universe, James 'Tosh' Turner are in town tonight. I grab a quick word with the wee baldy man at the break - he denies blanking me at Belper a few weeks back. He has a grin from ear to ear. His patched up side are 1-0 up against the League leaders. The Bells Whiskey Manager of the Month award beckons.

Tosh has changed since he moved to West Bridgford. A hipster beard has suddenly sprung up and he's even started drinking Porter. He's suffering from a touch of jet lag after a long weekend in New York - it's another thing the jet set folk of Bridgford like to boast of too - only joking Tosh .. lol.

That grin gets bigger on 80 minutes when Nathan Kelly puts them two to the good. In a breathtaking finale, Selston claw two goals back and miss further gilt-edged chances before the referee blows the final whistle. Tosh will still be chipper because that's the nature of the man; he's a glass half full sort of guy.

I meet Ms Moon for a few scoops on Thursday evening before we settle in for the night. We watch a depressing documentary about the 'Babes in the Woods' murders. A local man, Russell Bishop, is sensationally and mistakingly cleared of the murders of two nine-year-old schoolgirls from Brighton in 1986. He then, three years later, snatched a seven-year-old girl off the street, bundled her into the boot of his car before sexually assaulting her and leaving her for dead. Miraculously the girl survived and provided vital evidence to the police which led to the successful conviction of Bishop. Incredibly, on the verge of parole, nine years later, vital DNA evidence was discovered by scientists which led to two life sentence verdicts being delivered by a judge at Lewes Crown Court. I struggle to sleep on Thursday evening, tossing and turning, thinking about those poor young girls and their grieving families.

There's incoming news from the Canary Island of Fuerteventura where blog legend, Trumpy Bolton, and his lovely wife Jayne, are holed-up in an all-inclusive hotel for seven days. It is a tradition in those parts to have a glass of cava with your breakfast. What is unusual, is for a guest to pour a whole bottle on top of their corn flakes.

Ms Moon is riding shotgun and fuelled up with Costa coffee as we head out to Oxfordshire for the weekend. Despite being well travelled, neither of us have been on the sauce in Oxford - I did go on a stag night in Headington and also went to Oxford United's Manor Ground with Trumpy and Coops back in the day, where a Leicester City away following pitch invasion nearly saw the FA Cup tie abandoned.

There's no Danny Baker Show or Colin Murray's Fighting Talk on the car radio, as the 'Princess' won't tolerate that until her caffeine levels have risen - I suffer in silence to the Graham Norton Show on Radio 2. He does play a couple of toe-tappers from Joe Tex and Johnny Cash that ease the pain slightly.

The M1 and M40 are clear of traffic. We've arranged to meet a mutual friend called Chris Hepburn at a pub called the Red Lion in the quaint village of Chalgrove. Ms Moon used to work with him at Asda over 30 years ago when they were teenagers. I used to open the bowling for Keyworth Cricket Club with Chris's younger brother, Tim, around the same time - Tim is now living in the Cayman Islands. Ms Moon is mesmerised and caught in the moment as Chris describes seeing Duran Duran live in concert in the Cayman's a few months ago, as they are both big fans of the New Romantic band. I pipe up that I saw them at Rock City for £2.50 in 1981 - Heppers nearly chokes on his ale

'Heppers' is studying form in the Racing Post as he takes a swallow of a pint of Butcombe bitter in a sun-soaked beer garden. Ms Moon and I order up some drinks and sandwiches, as we catch up on the gossip. I know chuff all about horseracing, as previously mentioned in these journals, but have followed a professional gambler during the Cheltenham Festival, which made me a serious wad of cash, despite only placing small bets. I tip Heppers the wink on Auxerre who is running in the William Hill Lincoln at Doncaster this afternoon. 'Heppers' has very kindly penned a few tourist attractions (pubs) out on a map, so we can plan our evening.

The drive to Didcot's ground is only 25 minutes away. It's another one of those out of town grounds where the club has chosen or have been forced out of the old home; away from their community, where folk can actually walk to and from the ground like you can at Lincoln City's Sincil Bank.

Didcot is a railway town in Oxfordshire with a population of 25,000. It is also well known for its power stations. On February 23rd, 2016, part of the boiler house collapsed at Didcot Power Station, killing four men. In 2017 researchers named Didcot as the most "normal town" in England. Didcot Town were founded in 1907 and play at the Loop Meadow on the outskirts of the town. In 2005 they beat A.F.C. Sudbury in the FA Vase final.

Ms Moon pays us in at £9 a pop and £2 for a programme. The stadium is already filling up with the visiting supporters from Bromsgrove Sporting. Their team were pleasing on the eye down at Welwyn Garden City a few weeks back. They are fighting tooth and nail with Peterborough Sports for the one automatic promotion spot. Bromsgrove forward Jason Cowley scored a wonder goal against Corby Town last week that went viral. I even heard him interviewed on TalkSport's Hawksbee and Jacobs show. He is more than capable of playing higher up the Pyramid; who knows, even the Football League.

I confidently predict an away win to Ms Moon, as we position ourselves level with the penalty area that they will attack. Cowley takes six minutes to get off the mark, leaping unmarked to head a corner that loops over the 'keeper into the roof of the net. I expect an avalanche of attacks; this doesn't materialise due to the rutted and bumpy playing surface, which makes a comfortable first touch impossible.

There's a fun fair at the back of the ground that has grabbed my attention. Some god awful ride emerges from the ground and into the sun-kissed blue skies. I pray to God that Ms Moon doesn't ask to go on the helter-skelter at the break. I check the result of the Lincoln at Donny - Auxerre has romped home at 3/1 - that's all the drinks paid for at the Varsity Club later this evening in Oxford.

The Railwayman of Didcot are full speed ahead in the second half and deserve their equalising goal after some sloppy defending by the visitors. Sporting are on the ropes and survive a few scares before the impressive Charlie Dowd fires home the winner following a brilliant advantage played by the young referee.

Attendance: 305

Man of the Match: Charlie Dowd

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Worksop Town 2-1 Penistone Church

It's Tuesday 13th March. Sticky Palms is tootling along the A52 between Staffordshire and Derbyshire. I've just finished a business meeting in the town of Leek. Comedy duo Hawksbee and Jacobs are broadcasting live at the Cheltenham Festival for TalkSport. They're interviewing a professional gambler/champion tipster about his fancied horses for the opening day of the meeting. He mentions two names: Beware the Bear and Espoir D'Allen - who is running in the Champion Hurdle.

I know jack diddly squat about horse racing. I have a few each way bets on the Grand National, like most folk do, but that's about my lot. I think little more about it until someone pipes up in the office, an hour later, asking me if I've had a punt on anything. I log-in to my Sky Bet account (used for football, Eurovision Song Contest and Dancing on Ice only) and place two small bets on the said horses. I check a few hours later, one has won at 16/1 the other has won at 20/1. I immediately look up the gambler on Twitter and peruse his tips for the rest of the Festival. I place a further six bets of which three won at 12/1, 5/1 and an astonishing 50/1 - it'll pay for a few weekends away groundhopping folks!

It's Sunday lunchtime and I'm snooping around Nottingham General Cemetery, on Canning Circus - you can't beat a bit of celebrity grave-hunting. I've trying to locate the final resting place of Mr John Player - he of cigarette fame. All my mates used to smoke Johnny Blue back in the day. If you were brave enough you'd pinch one of your grandad's Players No.10 - they'd blow your chuffing head off; they were that strong. I've moseyed around the graveyard for a good thirty minutes now, without success. It's an aborted attempt as rain and hail fall from the slate grey skies. I retire to the Sir John Borlase Warren for warmth and a pint of Lincoln Green real ale. John Player will have to wait for another time. Louise asked me later in the week: "are you sure he wasn't cremated, Sticky?"

There's a knock on the door on Tuesday teatime; it's my wingman, The Taxman. We're soon shooting up the A60 towards Mansfield. There's always time for a spot of snap, so we pull into an old Berni Inn called The Hutt, in Ravenshead, which is now a Chef and Brewer. I have to force my tea down as I've lost my appetite. My stomach tightens, the nerves and anxiety start to kick in. The Mighty Lincoln City are due to face Mansfield Town in a crunch clash at Field Mill in one hour's time.

It was a bloodbath in the Checkatrade Trophy tie between the two sides at Sincil Bank, back in September. 'Dirty Mansfield' had six players booked in the first half an hour. Lincoln's patience finally snapped when fiery Northern Ireland midfielder, Michael O'Connor, received a straight red card. Stags' manager, David Flitcroft, and Imps' assistant manager, Nicky Cowley, had to be pulled apart at the final whistle. Flitcroft said there was 'a smugness about the place' (Sincil Bank). There's clearly no love lost with the Cowleys. Danny and Nicky are former secondary school teachers who have bucked the trend of ex-professionals being appointed as managers. Flitcroft, with his screwed up, chiselled and contorted face, accompanied with his Mancunian dulcet tones, reminds me of the bitter and twisted DCI Gene Hunt from the police drama Life on Mars.

There's bad news to report; tickets have sold out in the away end; we've somehow ended up being housed in the West Stand. I'm an infiltrator amongst their singing section - The Taxman is neutral on these occasions. Boy oh boy, these Stags fans can sing. They ramp it up on four minutes when Krystian Pearce nods them in front. 'The Lincoln' are played off the park for the first thirty minutes and are relieved to hear the half time whistle. I barely mutter a word to The Taxman at the break as I'm so flipping cross at what I've just seen.

The Stags just can't find that second elusive goal. Their loan signing from Nottingham Forest, Jorge Grant, is hooked on the hour, as Flitcroft tries to protect their lead. Grant looks a luxury player on this showing, and won't put a tackle in, which doesn't go down too well with the locals, who know their football in these parts. Lincoln grow into the game and end up with a point after Big John Akinde rolls in his fourteenth League goal of the season from the penalty spot.

I'm back out again watching football on Tuesday evening in Borrowash close to D***y. It's an East Midlands Counties League cup semi-final between Belper United and Sticky's favourites Clifton All Whites. In a pulsating game of football Clifton run out 2-1 winners. My old pal James 'Tosh' Turner will be as pleased as punch that his troops have dug in and ground out win against a decent Belper outfit.

Massive news reaches me by Ms Moon's social media on Friday. It has been announced that the Big GC has recorded a romantic ballad about her split with 'Arg (don't ask me) with the record producer and songwriter Naughty Boy. Folk are saying it's right up there with Beyonce and that she'll probably scoop up the lot at next year's BRIT awards.

The Big Man is aboard for Saturday's groundhopping excursion, sadly his car has failed it's MOT. Luckily I've had the 'Rolls Royce' washed and vacuumed by the Kurdistan lads at a car wash in Gedling. Whilst the boys are polishing and valeting my car I try to phone as many people in our Scottish office in East Kilbride to take the rise out of them about the Kazakhstan Disaster (3-0) on Thursday. My mate, Jimmy Henry, a Glaswegian, has gone missing on social media.

I give the back lawn its first cut of the season on Saturday morning and take Ms Moon's empties (bottles of prosecco) down to the bottle bank at Carlton Tesco - it was two trips folks. Okay, so maybe there was the odd gin and red wine bottle in there too. I make my debut at the Oceans chippy just a stone's throw from our back garden. A fish and chip special at £3.70 is a steal and proper scrumptious.

The plan was to drive up to Swallownest, in Rotherham, and tick their ground off. But I was made aware by the blog's north Notts and South Yorkshire correspondent, 'Dudsey' that a top of the table clash was taking place up at Sandy Lane in Worksop. It's a bugger to park your car up here at the best of times and with a large crowd expected we arrive early at two bells. I find a side street across from the ground. After two failed attempts at parking, I hand over the keys to the Big Man and 'leave it to the professionals.'

Worksop is a town in the Bassetlaw district of Nottinghamshire with a population of 45,000. Coal mining provided thousands of jobs in the 19th and 20th Century. By the 1990s the mines had all closed. Premier Foods are now the town's biggest employer. Famous residents from Worksop include: the golfers Lee Westwood (who sponsors the players shirts), Mark Foster, Maurice Bembridge, goalkeepers Darren Ward and Ian Bennett, Iron Maiden lead singer Bruce Dickinson, John Parr of St Elmo's Fire fame, former Lincoln City and England manager Graham Taylor and the actor Donald Pleasance.

The Big Man kindly pays us in at £6 on the gate. I buy a couple of golden goal tickets and enter the raffle draw for a 40" JVC flat screen TV. The place is stacked out with folk, with reports of an expected four-figure crowd. The DJ is all over it with The Cure and Pulp. There's a real buzz of anticipation and excitement in the ground. The bar is doing a roaring trade, as is the snack bar, where customers are served quickly - what a payday this is turning out to be.

We take our position behind the nearest goal, the end at which the Tigers will attack. 'Dudsey' is holed up at the other end; we'll catch up with him at half-time. Any early nerves for the hosts are settled early on with a fine strike by Craig Mitchell to put them 1-0 up. The visitors are pegged back and fall further behind on 14 minutes following a wonder strike by the impressive Matt Sykes, which leaves the Penistone 'keeper catching flies. Like Sticky and the Big Man said earlier to a couple of Penistone supporters, 'we don't do 0-0s.'

We wander up to the far end at half-time so we can stand with 'Dudsey' for the second half. He is an absolute mine of information on football in these neck of the woods. I've not seen him for a couple of years, so it's great to catch up with him, as he's a cracking lad. I nervously scroll down the live scores. Lincoln are 1-0 up down at Crawley Town, in Sussex.

It's another barnstorming 45 minutes, as the game ebbs and flows. 'Church' are always in it, but find the Worksop 'keeper in fine form. They finally peg back a deserved goal with eight minutes remaining to set up a grand finale.

There are gasps in the crowd when the stadium announcer confirms the attendance as 1628; surely this is a League record?  Penistone Church fall short in the end, but they can feel proud that they played their part in this epic encounter.

'We can't 'arf pick.

Man of the Match: 'Church' 7 jacket Elliott Firth

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Welwyn Garden City 0-3 Bromsgrove Sporting

What a wonderful afternoon out we've had at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium, home to Lancashire's Bamber Bridge FC. We spend the night at our favourite haunt, The Sun Hotel, in the heart of Lancaster. I slope off for a few pints at my favourite pub, the Borough, with its stylish chandeliers, antique tables and first class ales. The comedian Justin Moorhouse has played a few nights here on his Northern Joker tour. Ms Moon and I have a trot around the city centre, calling in at 'Spoons and a Gin Palace, before retiring for Match of the Day - you old romantic Sticky.

It's late on Tuesday afternoon and deja vu. The Taxman is riding shotgun, with Lincolnshire once again the choice of destination, except it's the bright lights of Lincoln City's Sincil Bank and not Boston United's York Street ground. I spare The Taxman the agony of a slog up Steep Hill. We turn off the High Street, down a narrow passageway, adjacent to Stokes High Bridge Cafe. It leads us onto the Brayford Waterfront, with its array of pubs and chain restaurants. We grab a pizza at Ask Italian and chew the cud, before legging it up Scorer Street, the birthplace of former Nottingham Forest striker Lee Chapman.

We're housed in the Stacey West Stand. It's not my favourite viewing point but will have to do, as another near capacity crowd fills the ground. 'Paul Scholes' Oldham Athletic are tonight's visitors - that's what Sky Sports and TalkSport call them. Scholes looks miserable, vulnerable and alone as he prowls the touchline. 'The Lincoln' sweep aside his team, after a bright start by the Latics. It's no surprise to me when a few days later it is announced that Scholesy has quit his role by text.

The Taxman gets the green light from his missus for the trip up to Field Mill, in Mansfield, next Monday, for the top of the table clash between the Stags and the Imps. I'll be sat on my hands for most of the evening, as once again I've missed out on a ticket in the away end, so will be parked up in the West Stand with the home fans, like I was last season, when Ollie Palmer grabbed a last gasp equaliser, much to the annoyance of the baying pack.

There are further footballing duties on Wednesday evening. A rejuvenated Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa lock horns at The City Ground. I grab a bite to eat with the Big Man, Moysie and Bruiser at The Botanist in West Bridgford. The Big Man makes a steak 'n ale pie disappear in seconds. I slip off, as I like to take my pew in the notorious 'A' Block, before the drunken hordes arrive.

It's a helluva of a first half for the neutral. The Tricky Trees take the lead after a freak cross (shanked) by Jack Colback catches the wind and evades the 'keeper. Villa roared on by a large away following are 2-1 up on fifteen minutes, both strikes coming from the impressive John McGinn, a bargain buy from Hibernian. Kortney Hause puts the game to bed on 61 minutes, bundling in another cross that a shaky Forest defence fail to deal with. It's eerily quiet in 'A' Block. Most folk sober up, realising another year is to spent in the Championship, as the Club throw a load of wonga, chasing the elusive Premiership dream.

On Friday evening I have a couple of craft ales from the Tiny Rebel stable, up at The Brickyard, on Carlton Hill, two miles outside Nottingham city centre. I'm chatting to two-year-old St Bernard, Henry. He's comfortably the biggest dog I've seen and could clear the pub with one swish of his tail. Back at base camp, Ms Moon and I watch a depressing documentary on Netflix about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. I honestly don't know what to make of it, but would you ever leave three kids under the age of four years old unattended? Doctors an all, eh?

I'm hurtling down the A52 towards Grantham on Saturday lunchtime. Ms Moon has very kindly packed me up a flask of coffee and a sausage and melted Italian cheese baguette for the journey. I'm heading over to Whittlesey, close to Peterborough, to pick up my old mucker Ackers. I've the brilliant broadcaster Danny Baker for company. He's asking listeners to call in if they've ever spoken to a famous person on the phone. A guy comes on who used to be an operator, back in the day, for directory enquiries - that's 192 kids. He said John Motson phoned him up once enquiring about phone numbers for Bulgarian airlines, as he had to fly to Sofia for a UEFA Cup tie. Imagine the commentators Darren Fletcher or Martin Tyler having to book their own flights these days.

I'm soon out in the Fenlands, passing the huge McCain potato processing factory in Whittlesey. Colin Murray's Fighting Talk is on Five Live. Someone is asked what their favourite Wow football transfer was. They mention Jonathan 'Bungalow' Woodgate's move from Middlesbrough to Real Madrid. He spent the entire first season injured and then managed to score an own goal and get sent off after 64 minutes of his debut.

Ackers scurries down the main road in Whittlesey, as I've managed to pull into a private, gated road and cheesed off a resident trying to drive out. We have a chit-chat and catch up, as we haven't seen one another since our visit to Bury St Edmunds back in October, when we saw a decent match and visited John Peel's grave in a Suffolk village.

Christ on a bike the bloomin' A1 is closed at the junction of the A14. Sat Nav navigates us cross country, before we rejoin the A1 just shy of Welwyn. Welwyn Garden City is in Hertfordshire and has a population of just over 50,000. It was a designated new town in 1948 and the second garden city in England (founded in 1920). It was once well known as the home of the breakfast cereal Shredded Wheat, formerly made by Nabisco.

The football team were founded in 1921 and are known as the Citizens, they are based at Herns Lane, one mile out of town. The club amalgamated with local rivals Shredded Wheat FC in 1934. Well known folk born and bred in the town include: 'singer' Alesha Dixon, golfer Nick Faldo, former Premiership referee Mark Halsey, goalkeeper David James, presenter and model Lisa Snowdon and the actress Una Stubbs. Lincoln City left-back Harry Toffolo was born in the town - not many of my readers will have heard of him - soz Harry.

There's already a buzz around the BP Mitchell Stadium, as I reverse the car up a grass verge just outside the entrance to the ground. The dreadful Gangnam Style is blasting out of the PA system as we pay £20 for entrance and two programmes. I could hear Ackers tummy rumbling all the way down the A1. He's soon getting stuck into a chicken and mushroom pie, chips and a large sausage roll - I'm still stuffed from breakfast.

The clubhouse is bustling with folk who are keeping a watchful eye on Watford's progress in their FA Cup quarter-final tie versus Crystal Palace. Andre Gray scores the winner, a lad I spotted in the Non League playing for Hinckley Town in Leicestershire as a raw 19-year-old.

The ground is tree-lined and lacks any real features. There's cover behind the nearest goal, with a smart stand running along the left-hand touchline. A guy with the initials DB on his tracksuit says hello to us; it's Welwyn manager Dean Barker, who seems a friendly chap.

The blustery conditions kill off any chance of standing between the dugouts. We shelter over the far side, nearest to the end Bromsgrove attack. I've heard all about their striker Jason Cowley; the boy doesn't fail to disappoint and is at the centre of all their attacks. The windy conditions don't affect them one jot. They are two goals up before half-time and look a constant threat with a variety of short range and long range passing.

I had hoped for an Alesha Dixon choon by the Welwyn DJ at the break. The cackling fishmonger's wife's voice is right up there with Houston, Ross, Stansfield and Sonia. We move further up the ground as we expect Bromsgrove to finish off the game, which they do with a smart finish by substitute Jake Heath with his first touch of the game.

We spend the final half an hour of the game chatting to a Dad and lad from Bromsgrove, who are travelling back on the team coach. They departed Bromsgrove at 10:15am and are thoroughly immersed in the Non-League scene. They give us the heads up on one or two of the lads in their squad. I've pencilled in to watch them again on March 30th away at Didcot Town, it'll give Ms Moon and I an excuse for a night out in Oxford.

Attendance: 328

Man of the Match: Henry the St Bernard

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Bamber Bridge 1-3 Whitby Town

I've thrown myself full tilt back into the groundhopping scene. Last weekend Ms Moon and I spent a pleasant day out in Northamptonshire. It's a county we've explored a lot over the past few years, and very underrated it is too. It has some lovely picture postcard villages, one of which is Brixworth, where we dined at the 18th Century thatch-roofed Coach and Horses, before taking in Burton Park Wanderers v Long Buckby AFC in the UCL Div One. Latimer Park is ground-shared with Southern Premier League giants Kettering Town. Burton Park blew away the visitors 4-0.

We were back in Notts for 6:15. There was time for a quick wash, change of clothes before taking a short taxi ride into the city centre. I sank a pint of Infinity from the Blue Monkey Brewery in the recently refurbished Lillie Langtry's on South Sherwood St. We wandered across the road to the Royal Concert Hall where 70s rock band 10CC, formed in Stockport, played a stunning set. It's sad that Godley, Creme and Eric Stewart are no longer in the band, but nonetheless, they were bloody brilliant. Sticky's favourite track of the night was 'I'm Mandy Fly Me. Yes, I love my indy bands, but 10CC reminds me of a very happy childhood.

It's late afternoon on Tuesday, March 5th and I'm driving through the village of Tollerton, in south Notts. I glance to my left as a low flying aircraft emerges from the clouds and prepares to land at Nottingham City Airport. I park up outside Ives and Co Solicitors, in Plumtree. A tall, pale man saunters down Church Hill and crosses the road. He opens the back passenger side door of my car and throws in his hat and coat. It's a month since I last saw a game with The Taxman. That was a nine-goal ripsnorter of a tie in the Notts Senior Cup between Clifton AW and Gedling Miners' Welfare.

There are the usual tales of woe from The Taxman which include the patchy form of Nottingham Forest, where he has been a season ticket holder for the last 50 years, as well as the aches and pains caused by a day painting skirting boards in the house he is renovating - it's like something out of Grand Designs. I'll check the car seat later for any speckles of paint and invoice him accordingly.

It's a steady ride down the A52 through Grantham and into the flat, marshy land of Lincolnshire. It's a proper treat for the Taxman tonight, not only will he be sitting down for a chippy tea at the 100-year-old Tate's Fish and Chip Restaurant in Boston town centre, but he'll also be ticking off the wonderful, old York Street ground that belongs, for the time being, to National League North side Boston Utd.

Table-topping Stockport County and their large following (263 - 236 mile-round trip) are housed in a stand to our left. They are noisy, rowdy and in good voice. 6,311 rocked up at Edgeley Park on Saturday - It was a League record attendance. for the sixth division. The Hatters of Stockport win the game handsomely 3-1, following some ruthless and clinical finishing.

It's a less than happy journey back into Lincolnshire on Friday evening. There's a bad smash on the A46. Newark is gridlocked; traffic is diverted to the east of the town. I end up driving through the village of Stapleford, before having to cross four lanes of rush hour traffic to rejoin the A46 at Norton Disney.

Hell's teeth Carruthers, it's taken me two hours to make the 35-mile journey to Lincoln. I peg it up the High Street, over the railway bridge, as the crossing gates are closed, and up that chuffing Steep Hill. I'm fagged out folks, as I turn right at the White Hart Hotel and pull open the front door of BeerHeadZ just off Bailgate. A cheery barman recommends a Citra pale ale, which is dispatched down the hatch in ten minutes flat. I head down that bloody hill again, taking time for a pit stop at Hunters Fish and Chips for a Pukka pie and mushy peas. I plonk myself down in the Stacey West Stand (named after two Lincoln supporters who tragically lost their lives at the Bradford Fire Disaster in 1985).

Yeovil Town and their small band of supporters have made the 400 mile-round trip to Sincil Bank this evening. I saw them tonk Kevin Nolan's Notts County 4-0 at Meadow Lane earlier in the season, but just like the Pies, the Glovers are in big trouble now, too.

'The Lincoln' have been limping over the line of late, but incredibly are still unbeaten in their last 13 League games. I was unimpressed last week when I saw a 96th minute Big John Akinde goal earn them a fortunate point, in my opinion, versus Exeter City.

Yeovil prove to be no pushover and enjoy plenty of possession. City win the game following a brilliantly executed cross by mercurial winger Harry Anderson, which is headed home by the impressive Mark O'Hara, on loan from Peterborough United. The drive home is so much sweeter with three points in the bag, with the pressure firmly back on Bury and 'Dirty Mansfield.'

I have a fitful night's sleep which I can only put down to demolishing a bag of Haribos at the match. The game is confirmed as ON by Bamber Bridge's excellent twitter feed. Ms Moon asks whether we''re going celebrity grave hunting. I'm still seething that we spent the night in Ross-on-Wye totally unaware that the 'Queen of Crossroads' 'Meg Richardson' (Noele Gordon) and playwright, Dennis Potter (stayed the night at our house once, true story) were laid to rest in the local churchyard.

Ms Moon can be a nasty pants without her coffee fix, so first port of call is the Esso garage in Clifton for a Costa latte. I have to put up with Graham Norton on the car radio, although he does play the superb The Love I Lost, by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, which was one of the tracks on Johnny Owen's jaw-dropping Nottingham Forest documentary 'I Believe in Miracles.'

The M6 is a breeze at this time of day. We are soon rolling into the Cavendish Arms, in the Lancashire village of Brindle, with St James' Church providing a beautiful backdrop. The barman pulls a nice drop of ale. Lunch is disappointing; we both choose homemade pies, as after all, it is National Pie Week. Sadly both aren't piping hot and the chips arrive well after with profuse apologies by our server - I still tip the lad a couple of quid, as he looks stressed out.

We take a stroll down the High Street in Bamber Bridge town centre, but to be honest, nowt is going off. Ms Moon hoodwinks me to going into some 'department store' to see if they have any footstools. The shop reminds me of Reginald Perrin's GROT store; it's full of valueless items sold at extortionate prices.

A super friendly steward navigates Ms Moon into a parking spot behind the Whitby Town team coach at Bamber Bridge's Sir Tom Finney Stadium. 'The Preston Plumber' scored an incredible 187 goals in 433 appearances for Preston North End and 30 goals in 76 international appearances for England.

Bamber Bridge or The Brig as they are known were formed in 1974. Their record attendance is 2,300 for a friendly versus the Czech national squad who were using their ground as a training camp for Euro 96. Former Preston North End and Nottingham Forest tenacious midfielder, Paul McKenna, has played for the club. McKenna does some brilliant impersonations and tells amusing anecdotes on the Undr the Cosh podcast - it's well worth checking out (thanks for the tip Barthez).

It's £9 each on the gate and £1,50 for a cracking programme. Ms Moon buys some raffle tickets from a chatty lady. There's a real community feel about the place. The ground is a little belter. The two-tiered clubhouse, bar and club shop are behind the nearest goal, with the Gerry Lawson Stand (named in the memory of a former club stalwart) running up the right-hand touchline. There's a low roofed, covered terrace behind the far goal and an open standing area to the back of the dugouts.

I'm not sure whether it's Dave Pearce, Judge Jules or Danny Rampling on the decks. The chap is banging out an unbelievable set of dance/trance toons from the late 90s early noughties. We sit in the stand to start with, to keep out of the howling, bitterly cold wind, but are soon on the move as some young kids are causing havoc dashing about - guessing they're fuelled with Haribos. The Whitby coaching staff are furious with the sluggish start their team have made, following their 140-mile coach journey.

A youthful-looking Brig side are running the legs off the visitors. They take a deserved lead on five minutes through an Alistair Waddecar header following a whipped in free kick by Matt Dudley. The dangerous Regan Linney sees an effort go agonisingly the wrong side of the post. Whitby get lucky minutes from half-time, although the move is sublime and the finish exquisite from Bradley Fewster.

'May's Place' is doing a brisk, roaring trade in hot food, coffee and Yorkshire Tea. We're back in the Gerry Lawson Stand, nearest to the end Whitby will attack. I expect The Seasiders to push on after seeing my earlier 3-0 score prediction blown out of the water after five minutes play.

The Brig huff and puff but can't blow the Whitby defence down. The visitors take the lead on 75 minutes with the Brig failing to clear their lines. A thumping finish from Fewster on 85 minutes ensures a happy journey home to North Yorkshire. I hope their coach driver hasn't blocked us in.

Attendance: 314

Man of the Match: Ms Moon for putting up with me this week.