Sunday, October 25, 2020

Carlton Town 1-2 Leek Town

Ms Moon drops me off, after the Hucknall game, on Mapperley Tops, close to where Freddie Mercury's sister lives - that's the word on the street. Former Liverpool and Notts County striker, Tony Hateley, (Dad to Mark) and the greatest wicketkeeper the world has ever seen, Chris Read, have resided up here at some point too.

I walk past The Woodthorpe Top, a 'Spoons I used to frequent until founder, Tim Martin, started spouting off. I open the front door of the spit and sawdust Castle Rock real ale house, Bread and Bitter. I check-in for track and trace and get seated in a booth, that is sealed off either side by large plastic screens. Castle Rock brew some lovely session ales. I down a pint of Elsie Mo, a name derived from its Low Colour Maris Otter malt. I finish off with a Citra Smash, from Lenton Lane Brewery, before calling a cab and heading home.

Sunday lunchtime is spent with the wee man, 'Bruiser', down the banks of the river, in the Trent Bridge area. We wander past County Hall towards the village of Wilford, crossing over the old toll bridge where south and north Notts are now connected by a tramline. Victoria Embankment is peaceful due to the road being closed to traffic. There is a sobering reminder of a time gone by as we stand in silence gazing at the Great War Memorial and the 13,501 names inscribed, including civilian casualties, who lost their lives over 100 years ago. 

Refreshment is required. We have a sandwich on the patio of Waterside Bar + Kitchen, observing the rule of six, Tier 2 restrictions. Nottingham has come under the COVID microscope since the return of students to the large universities in our city. Some of the blithering idiots aren't helping themselves by holding parties and blatantly flouting the laws. Later in the week, four students are fined a total of £40k, placing our city not only in the media spotlight but teetering on the brink of Tier 3. 

Ms Moon and I continue to work from home. It's particularly challenging being in the same room (working) as I haven't sorted out an office yet. We grapple over which DAB radio station we should listen to. We meet halfway with Radio 2 - it's an upgrade on Capital FM, Absolute 80s and TalkSport. It does have its downside. Steve Wright in the Afternoon is cringeworthy. Events take a turn for the worse. 'Silly Boi' is on his jollies and is replaced by Gary Davies. Older readers may remember GD from his days on Radio One in the 80s. Whilst New Wave and Indie music were exploding onto the scene and happening right under his snout (and let's face it, what a big 'un) Davies was playing Five Star, Womack and Womack and Milli Vanilli on his show.

There's no midweek football fix for Sticky. The floodlights dazzle my eyes and I can't see chuff all. And besides, I don't expect to be driving the car until next year at the earliest - this will come as a relief to the residents of Carlton, Keyworth and Ruddington. 

The first time I pop my head out of the door is on Thursday evening and what a special moment it is too. Ms Moon and I part company in Victoria Retail Park. Sticky keeps it real and visits Morrisons. Ms Moon legs it across to Marks and Sparks. Tears of joy stream down my face as four slices of haslet are sliced, wrapped and bagged at the butcher's counter for the princely sum of 55p. Add to that a box of Yorkshire Gold tea bags and four cans of Northern Monk craft ale for £6. I skip back to the car beaming from ear to ear.

Three hours later I'm in the depths of despair and at my lowest ebb. The good lady has flicked over to ITV. The worst presenter in living memory, Philip Schofield, is hosting a load of twaddle called The Cube. Blog regular, Mr John Harris, nails it good and proper on his Twitter timeline, saying it's 'torture' and calling out ITV for 'scraping the barrel.' I head to bed to listen to Celtic v Inter Milan on Five Live.

I've put a decent shift in at work this week, with my half an eye, (stop going on about it). I've pencilled something into the diary on Friday morning at 11am. It's non-work-related but a matter of life and death. With Tier 3 on the horizon and all wets pubs about to close, I log onto Neon Raptor's Beer Shop and order a mixed case and a new glass - it should see me out for a week.

Today is 'We Hate D***y Day' in our fair city. A beer-fuelled Sticky switches on after Corrie. 'Cocu's Clowns' begin to get the upper hand and take the lead with an excellent free-kick from Waghorn. One of Danny Cowley's old lads, Lyle Taylor, opens his account for the Tricky Trees. He gives a great interview after the game, explaining why he has pink hair and the tireless, voluntary work he does for cancer charities. 

Marcus Rashford has run the Tories and Paris St Germain ragged this week. The buffoon of an MP for Tory held Mansfield (did I really say that? #BREXIT) has proper put his foot in it with a massive Twitter faux pas and is now backpedaling quicker than the PSG defence on Tuesday evening. Non-League has embraced the campaign and are hurriedly organising Food Bank collections for this afternoon's fixtures, as it's half-term next week. 

Carlton Town Football Club, as expected, step up to the plate. They ask for donations from supporters. It's where socialism comes to the fore. A good friend, sunning himself in Spain, messages me on Twitter to make a pledge. Ms Moon very kindly pops to the supermarket where she fills up three bags with emergency supplies.

I pull up my armchair to about five metres from the TV screen on Saturday lunchtime, so I can view 'The Irons' v 'The Citizens,' Ex NFFC forward, Michail Antonio, scores a spectacular bicycle kick to give West Ham a deserved lead. 'Citeh' send on the ace up their sleeve, 'The Stockport Iniesta' {Phil Foden). He looks a proper 'rum 'un; well he was in Iceland. His impact on the game is instant, scoring a cracking goal on 51 minutes. His movement and intelligence keep me on the edge of my seat. Southgate needs to forgive and forget.

Carlton Town's ground is a 25-minute walk from our crib. Black clouds are rolling in, with the forecast set for torrential rain. I double-check that the 'golfing' umbrella is in the back of Ms Moon's Fiat 500 with the go-faster Italian stripes.

Because of the short journey we've only got time for one toon from Radio 2's Pick of the Pops. Would you Adam 'n Eve it, when Milli Vanilli pipe up with 'Girl You Know It's True'. I ask Ms Moon if Gary Davies is sitting in for Paul Gambacinni?

We park off Stoke Lane, just over the railway crossings. We lug the three bags of shopping over the road. It's £9 on the gate and £2 for a couple of raffle tickets. We put our masks on before venturing into the clubhouse to drop the food off. The DJ is playing the best set on the Non-League circuit. Today's bands include: The Jesus and Mary Chain, The House of Love and The Mission - Gary Davies won't have heard of any of 'em.

We stand over the far side of the ground. Ms Moon is unfamiliar with the Carlton team as I often slope off down Stoke Lane for evening games whilst the Soaps are on. She's fully briefed on my love for and obsession with 'Clarky' and 'Bally' - sadly both are missing today. 

The heavens open as the referee blows his whistle to kick off proceedings. There's not much in it early doors as the game settles down,  Opoku opens the scoring for the Millers with a left foot swinger that the defender should have blocked. The visiting 'keeper doesn't move.

The conditions deteriorate as the rain becomes relentless. We're pretty much the only people stood on the far side of the ground as supporters scurry towards the stands like drowned rats. Leek look dangerous going forward. I suggest to Ms Moon we stay where we are for the second half, as we stand in six inches of water. She fishes a pair of armbands and a snorkel from out of her handbag.

Leek are magnificent in the second half, playing some scintillating footy on a boggy, and in patches, waterlogged surface. The equaliser is a well-crafted goal. Their 11 jacket is running the show down our side. He whips in a corner that is nodded home. Ms Moon says rainwater is dripping from my eyes. I burst into tears. "How can we win the game without Oliver Clark"? I blubber. 'The Carlton Cattermole' would love an aqua-plane tackle on this surface. 

We slope off a few minutes before the final whistle, soaked to the skin with footwear squelching and overflowing in rainwater. I can't 'arf pick 'em.

Attendance: 163 (I salute you all)

Man of the Match: Marcus Rashford

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