Sunday, March 24, 2024

Notts County 1-2 Salford FC

It's 7.30 pm on Monday evening. The announcer on ITV has just said, prior to the theme tune of Emmerdale Farm striking up, that viewers might find some of the scenes in tonight's episode upsetting. The camera immediately pans to the soap character Mandy Dingle in her beauty salon. I ask Ms Moon if this is the upsetting scene. The Princess isn't speaking to me since I let slip the world exclusive spoiler that Mandy and Paddy are set to tie the knot. I clocked this in What's On TV magazine when I was displaying them on the newsagent's shelf the other day. Paddy can't 'arf pick 'em. Well, actually he can't, as he's already been married four times and is still only in his early 50s.

I jump onto the 58 bus, on Tuesday evening, after a full shift at the 'fun factory.' It's always a busy one on EuroMillions day. Whilst I was tucking into a hearty breakfast, recently, at the Hungry Pumpkin on High Pavement, Nottingham, I asked the Italian owner where the best pizza experience was in our great city. He said, in his opinion, that his top two in no particular order would be: Pizzamisu and Rudy's Pizza Napoletana.

Rudy's 'follows the tradition and artistry of pizza from Naples - the birthplace of pizza.' It's located in a wonderful old building with a high ceiling (probably an old bank) that was previously French Connection, until its closure in January 2020.

I'm stuffed after a spicy sausage pizza. I walk it off around the city centre as the working day comes to a close and the student nightlife begins. I kill an hour looking up at the stunning architecture Nottingham has on offer, and is quite rightly proud of.

I part with £6.50 at the counter, as a concessionary member at Broadway Cinema. Tonight's film of choice is called Perfect Days, a co-production between Japan and Germany. It's a gem of a film about a public toilet cleaner from Tokyo. It captures a series of unexpected encounters he has during his routine working day. It warms my heart and make me cheery. No wonder it won awards at the Cannes Film Festival.

I'm back in town the following day with Ms Moon. It's a cheap lunch date with a window-watching seat at Birds Bakery, on Lister Gate. We wander up to the Cornerhouse complex and buy a couple of tickets at Cineworld. The weather is too unpredictable to venture out much further.

Cabrini is another two hour plus epic, based on the life of the missionary Francesca Cabrini, as she encounters sexism and anti-Italianism in late 19th Century New York. Her life was celebrated when she was later to become the first American saint (patron saint of immigrants). Ms Moon was disappointed as she thought the film was called Lambrini. She settles for a bottle of Oasis orange instead.

The Millers of Carlton Town are forced/ordered by the Northern Premier League to play their Wednesday night home game versus Pontefract Collieries at Basford United's ground. It's no-go for Sticky. I don't do Basford or 3G. The final score is 0-0. I don't do them either. I knock up sweet and sour chicken for Ms Moon and I as we enjoy a quiet evening in.

I get 'shit done' on Thursday including my two monthly trim at the best barber in Notts. Mr Eko, is Bosnian, and is mad as a box of frogs. He makes me a strong cup of coffee before getting down to business. Let's be frank about this, a haircut doesn't take too long when you reach the age of 60 years old. He finishes off with a head and neck massage. He's up there as a massive Sneinton legend, alongside the boxing champion Bendigo.

The evening is spent at Trent Bridge Cricket Ground for the final meeting of the Notts Cricket Lovers' Society. The guest speaker is a former Test and First Class umpire called John Holder. He also appears on radio's Test Match special, usually at lunch, for a spot called 'Ask the Umpire'. Holder is a brilliant storyteller. He shares some fantastic anecdotes on a career that spanned over five decades.

Friday Club has been meticulously planned by Boots method study man, Tony Mac. We travel with the UK's worst rail operator in its 100 year old history. EMT's carriages are shabby, the wireless connection never works and as Boy George said in 1983, 'It's a Miracle' if you can find a phone charging socket.

A full English breakfast is devoured at Bank, in the City of London. As you'd expect, The Ned, a posh hotel, is full of filthy rich businessmen. I hope you're sitting down folks when I say we part with £22 each for nosh, which excludes the pot of tea for two and the service charge. It was bloomin' lovely though.

Mac and I are passionate about CAMRA Heritage pubs and Good Beer Guide entries. He's built a list of 16x classic watering holes that we're to swing by at some point today. The first pub, Jamaica Wine House is a beauty, sadly the beer, Whitstable Bay, from Shepherd Neame, in Kent, is below par.

Pub of the day, without a shadow of a doubt, is the George and Vulture. We're loitering around outside the pub front door at midday, on the nose, as the landlord opens up. We're made to feel very welcome by our hosts. The proprietor explains that they are only open five days' a week, as are most pubs in the banking area of the city. I ask if the working from home culture (skivers) has had an effect on trade. 'TWATS' he calls them - they only work Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, he chuckles.

We're given a history lesson about the early 18th Century chop house. Charles Dickens penned some of his novel, Pickwick Papers, here, as he resided at the pub and name-checked the watering hole many times in the book.

We spend the rest of the day pounding the streets of London or jumping on and off tube trains. Places of interest we pass include: Savoy Hotel, The Ritz, the Great War Memorial and a building in Westminster where the RAF was first formed. 15x pubs are ticked off including some belters such as: The Tipperary on Fleet Street and the Black Lion in Kilburn. I'm dog tired when we finally tip up at close to 10.30 pm at Nottingham station. Of course we're late on arrival, thanks to those buffoons at East Midlands Trains. 

I wake up at 7.30 a.m. the following day. I open up my Untappd beer app. The drinking machine that is Tony Mac had a tipple or two more at the Brew Tavern before heading back to Hucknall. Sticky Palms Easter Egg Independent Traders is meant to be doing a roaring trade this morning at MSR on Front Street, Arnold. Squally showers and 18 mph winds result in an early finish.

I meet Keyworth United and Notts County diehard supporter Alan 'Jacko' Jackson and his son Stuart at Meadow Lane half an hour before kick off. The Pies are in freefall since the departure of popular leader Luke Williams to Championship side Swansea City.

We're sat high up in the Derek Pavis Stand, level to the 18 yard box at the Kop end of the ground. I know it's Non League Day but this fixture caught my eye as I liked what I saw of Salford FC at Field Mill a few weeks ago, despite the 5-1 reverse.

There's no sign of Ammies manager Karl Robinson on the touchline. I can only presume that he's sat up in the Directors' Box with Ryan Giggs due to a suspension, if his behaviour at Mansfield Town was anything to go by. Robinson is a brilliant coach though, and I'll be having a punt on them to get promoted from League Two next season after only losing a few games since his arrival.

The game is lifeless and without creativity for the first 45 minutes. Conor McAleny seizes upon a loose ball and hits a sweet strike into the corner of the net. County are back on level terms shortly after the break through ex Arsenal midfielder Dan Crowley. Salford are on the ropes, but by hook or by crook they stay in the game.

Jacko, a tireless volunteer at Keyworth United for over two decades is happy as Larry after bagging a selfie with former Pie, Dave Regis, in the concourse. (Jacko messages me later to say he thinks it was actually Carlton Cole). He (Jacko) still sits with lads who won him a cup final back in the day for the 'Green Army.' 

Notts have played a 'Russian Roulette' game of tippy tappy ball in their own half. Slocombe and Cameron are the main perpetrators. Ironically it's a long ball that's their downfall. Matt Smith has won headers for fun all afternoon. Once again he's the architect. It's deja vu as McEleny bursts through before smashing a low shot into the bottom corner of the net.

It's an uncomfortable post match interview with BBC Radio Nottingham's Dave Bracegirdle and manager Stuart Maynard. It's good journalism with some probing questions fired at the under pressure manager. He responds with a plethora of FA coaching cliches such as 'big moments' 'levels' 'zones' 'switch up.' He's like a rabbit in the headlights. The owners look to have made an error of judgment. Would this appointment have happened under the previous CEO?

Attendance: 9,967

Man of the Match: Charles Dickens

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