Sunday, November 3, 2019

West Bridgford 0-2 Heanor Town

It's 11 p.m. on Saturday evening; the last one in October 2019. A gin-fuelled Sticky Palms and Ms Moon (bubbled up with prosecco) have flagged down a black and white cab, after a day on the sauce in 'Dirty Leeds' city centre. The plan was to have lunch up in Thornton, on the outskirts of Bradford, where the Bronte sisters were born, and take a game in at Campion AFC. The filthy black clouds and driving rain have put paid that.

20,000 steps have been logged on Ms Moon's mobile device. I've dipped in and out of a few real ale establishments including the 300-year-old Whitelock's on Turks Head Yard and the glorious Victoria Hotel on Great George Street. I'm in a jovial mood and clutching, for dear life, a large Five Guys cheeseburger, with all the trimmings wrapped up in tin foil. We've not had our usual fill of Saturday afternoon Non-League football - the previous week our choice of game was abandoned due to a serious injury, but great fun has been had in Leeds.

I slump into the back seat of the cab and rest my tired, drunken head onto Ms Moon's shoulder. The good lady tells the taxi driver our hotel name and address. "Who do you support mate?" I ask the thirty-something taxi driver (not Uber btw; I'd never stoop that low) "Leeds United." he replies. I put on my best Brian Clough impression, "As far as I'm concerned you can throw all your medals in the dustbin because you got them from cheating." Ms Moon digs an elbow into my kidneys; the driver steps on the gas and doesn't talk to us for the rest of the journey. "Don't tip the Young Man" are my final words to Ms Moon as I stagger into Reception and jump in a lift before 'supper' commences.

What a football-starved weekend we've had. We both fall in love with Leeds. 86 year old Dame Joan Collins was in the city, headlining the 'Leeds Made Up Festival' at Trinity Shopping Centre. Ms Moon asked if I fancied it? "Maybe 40 years ago when she starred in The Bitch, but I've got a real ale pub to tick off.

It's Sunday afternoon and Ms Moon has dropped me off at the wonderful, refurbished Lillie Langtry's pub on South Sherwood Street, Nottingham. I knock back a couple of pints of Titanic Iceberg pale ale as I play on my phone. I notice that Newcastle Utd are playing 'The Wolves.' I've always had a soft spot for former NFFC central defender Jamaal Lascelles, who now captains the 'Toon Army.' It's a mystery to me why he doesn't partner Harry Maguire at the heart of the Three Lions' defence. I place a £1 bet on him to score the first goal of the game and to bag at any time. I'm pleased as punch to see him return a dividend as I jump on the bus home in Sneinton Market. Our Joe says he hasn't scored for nearly four years - about the same as you Joe!

There's no game for me on Tuesday evening as I have a 90-minute work call with a customer from New Zealand - I choose wisely not to mention the All Blacks defeat in the Rugby World Cup, or the Cricket World Cup anguish for the Kiwis earlier in the summer - it'll help keep the deal open and on the table.

I catch (unfortunately) the first 15 minutes of Emmerdale Farm on Wednesday evening. Let me tell you folks Cain Dingle is in a foul mood. Some buffoon (who turns out to be his son) has been having it away with his missus - they love a massive High Six in Hotton village.

I'm down Stoke Lane watching table-topping Carlton Town play Northern Premier League Matlock Town in the FA Trophy. It's £9 on the gate. There's been an upturn in fortune for The Millers since the return of legendary manager Tommy Brookbanks. He's invested in young 'uns, with heart and soul. One of them is Sticky's favourite, Oliver Clarke, a former artist in the parish of Dunkirk. Ollie loves to tackle and swear; there's more of the latter this evening as Carlton show too much respect to their opponents in the first half as Matlock race into a 2-0 lead.

I get chatting to a football clued-up Dad in the second half. His lad is left-back for The Gladiators. At 12 years old he was playing for Bradford City before joining Leeds United. At 16 years old he lived the dream and signed for Chelsea, where he remained for six years before playing in Scotland and dropping down the leagues. Dad, who knows his onions, says Lad has a 90% completed pass rate. I never see him lose possession in the entire second half, in which Carlton are superb, and can consider themselves unlucky not to force a replay.

On Friday evening Ms Moon is up Mapperley Tops (it knocks the spots off West Bridgford's social scene) with her bestie, Jill. I've been tee-total all week in the run-up to 7 days carnage in Tenerife with the lads. I settle down with a pot of tea for one and tuck into a film called Unbroken that's set in World War II and is directed by Angelina Jolie. Two hours later there are tears of sorrow and joy - Jack O'Connell's portrayal as Louis Zamperini is spellbinding. On a brighter note, I've had a 50p punt on Welsh international Ashley Williams to score the first goal of the game for Bristol City at Oakwell. 28/1 ensures a £14 pay out - Our Joe is disgusted with my stake  .. lol.

I traipse down the stairs on Saturday morning and flick the kettle on. I walk bleary-eyed into the Lounge. I'm looking forward to a couple of episodes of Heartbeat from the back catalogue on ITV3.  "What this wack?" BTW it's not Sam Dingle muckin' out on Emmerdale Farm. I suffer in silence as Ms Moon watches the egg-chasing in Japan. England hoof the ball more than John Beck's Lincoln City in the 1990s.

It's tipping it down with rain and my preferred choice of game between Clay Cross Town and Sherwood Colliery has already fallen victim to the weather. I'm going stir crazy in the house. I've got Keebo's massive golfing umbrella in the boot of my car.

I enjoy a 90-minute stroll around Colwick Country Park, adjacent to Nottingham Racecourse. A duck is disturbed from washing itself in a puddle by a young pup tugging at the leash. I'm stopped in my tracks by the sound of the Last Post being played from close to the vicinity.

The choice of game is down to two: West Bridgford v Heanor Town in the FA Vase or Keyworth United v AFC Dunkirk in the NSL. Both are confirmed as on, and as much as I love Keyworth, you can't beat a Cup tie.

Five Live presenter Mark Chapman is holding a Post-mortem into Man Utd's 1-0 reverse down at Bournemouth, on the south east coast, as we park up on Regatta Way, close to the National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont.

It's £5 on the gate. We bump into legendary ex Keyworth United manager Arthur Oldham and his son Bobby, who are good friends of mine. Bobby's lad, Jack, is a big mate of the 'Keyworth Georgie Best' and 'Our Joe.' His brother, Sam Oldham, won a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics; he's also down here supporting his brother.

A young Bridgford side, missing a couple of players through suspension, show way too much respect to their opponents in the first 45 minutes. They're a goal down at the break, and it could have been more.

There isn't that community-feel about the place that you get Oop North on a weekend. There's no PA, 50/50 or raffle tickets. 203 people have turned up for the biggest game in the Club's history with a population of nearly 50,000.

The second half showing by West Bridgford is much improved, but they are still unable to cope with a streetwise Heanor and the movement of Jamie Sleigh, despite his tantrums and childish behaviour. Heanor double their lead at the fag end of the game, and see the tie out to go into the third round draw with £900 winnings.


Man of the Match: Jamie Sleigh

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