Sunday, 15 July 2012

Hucknall Town 3-2 Lincoln City

First pre season game for Lincoln City today and with it being in one of the suburbs of Nottingham that meant only one thing. An all day drinking session to start the new season off. This fixture hadn't been given much prominence on the Imps website as the club had designated it a "Youth Team" fixture, but would that put me off? Course it didn't.
Midland Youth cup winners 2011/12
And nor should it. There may well a lot of problems in a lot of areas of the Sincil Bank set up at the moment but the youth side and the youth development section is one of the few things we have got right. One of the high points off last season was watching the youth side demolish Chesterfield 3-0 on their own ground in the Midland league youth cup final. Five of that side went on to sign professional contracts with the club and some of them featured here today. The youth side is led by Imps legend Grant Brown who it would seem is doing a cracking job.

I had sampled a few beers the night before so the first thing that i needed to do was liven myself up and what better way of doing that than having a good old full English breakfast to start the day off. Whenever i am in Notttingham and i am need of breakfast i always head over to Debenhams to sample one of their delightful eight item breakfasts, washed down with a pot of tea. The eight items i selected were sausage (x2), fried bread, scrambled egg, black pudding, beans, and hash brown (x2) Toast was included free and with a pot of tea it all came to less than £6 a bargain if I ever a saw one. The only slight complaint was that the beans were a tad on the cold side so maybe tomatoes would have been a better choice but never the less the breakfast did the trick and it set me up for a day of drinking.
I met up with my cousin Richard in the Bank pub in Nottingham market square at just gone midday. The Bank my not be one of Nottingham's more classy watering holes but it is one of the few that you can get two pints of lager for £5 hence why we quite often make it our first port of call. Because of the price of drink the  pub does to seem quite popular, but it never takes long to get served.
Even though this game has been on the radar for a good few weeks now i hadn't done a huge amount if research on how to get the ground. I have been here twice before but only in a car and never by public transport. The tram line does run to Hucknall but i received information that it was a good 30 minute walk to the ground so that option went out the window quite early on. After looking at a couple of timetables the best bet appeared to be grabbing a bus from Victoria bus station, getting off at the Weatherspoons pub, then grabbing a cab up to the ground.
Although the plan seems to tad hit and miss it actually worked out very well. We boarded the bus at about 2pm ish and alighted at the pub at just gone 2.20pm and not a moment to soon. The drinks in the city centre had taken their toll on my bladder despite emptying it before we left. Unfortunately the buses were running slightly late due to roadworks en route. This added to the bumpy ride really didn't help matters.
After waddling over to the toilet to empty my bulging bladder i got the dog and bone out to book the cab for 2.45pm, here's a snippet of our conversation

Me: Can i book a cab from the Weatherspoons pub on Hucknall high street please.
Operator: Certainly sir where to?
Me: Hucknall Town football club's ground please.
Operator: Oh you mean the shed, certainly sir.
This is the Shed!
Hucknall Town's ground may not be in the same class as the City Ground or Meadow Lane but its certainly a bit better than a shed. I can certainly think of worse grounds in the Nottinghamshire area. The cab was bang on time so after wolfing down our beers it was off to the ground. Its only a short drive and the cab only set us back £3 and we arrived with about 5 minutes to spare. Hows that for timing?. So after two trains a bus and a taxi i had arrived for the first Imps pre season game of the season. Entrance for the match was a very reasonable £5 with the programme costing 50p. This basically consisted of a folded piece of paper with two squad lists on and that was pretty much that. Any programme is better than no programme though and its always good to have something to remember the game by.
The sides were just walking back in after the warm up so we figured we had a few minutes till the K.O (It kicked off a few minutes late) So we dived into the clubhouse for a swift pint. Unfortunately you weren't allowed to take drinks outside, Not even in plastic cups so we missed the first 5 minutes or so.
The Hucknall squad had a very familiar look to it. Manager Brett Marshall (the Jose Mourinho of Nottinghmshire football) fresh from winning the NCEL premier division has decamped to Hucknall and taken much of that side with him. This season he is being sponsored by Malc and Kev who produce the on the road football blog. And it was with these that we watched much of the first half. I didn't take any pictures of the game but there are a few on their blog for you to check out here.
The Young Imps side started the game well and carried on playing the same type of football they played last season. One of the stars of this side is midfielder Karl Cunningham who made a couple of first team appearances for the Imps last season. It was his well taken goal that gave Lincoln the lead when his shot completely wrong footed the Yellow's keeper who could only stand by and watch it roll into the back of the net. We went further ahead in the 28th minute when a good team move finished with Kieran Walker blasting in a volley from about 12 yards out.
The Homeside got back into it when a poor throw out by the keeper was intercepted by one of the Hucknall players the ball was slung in and Julian Topliss slammed the ball home from close range. It got even better for Marshall's troops a minute before half time when they equalised through a Theo Ganderson pile driver that gave Nick Reason in goal no chance. I was doing a quick lap of the ground at this moment. (The highpoint being shaking hands with Imps legend Tony Cunningham) Inevitably the lap ended up at the clubhouse bar where we spend the half time break (and about 10 minutes of the second half) On reflection the game had been pretty level. The Imps had been the better footballing side with Hucknall looking a little more streetwise than their opponents.
By the time we rejoined the action the Hucknall comeback was complete as they had taken the lead. Having not seen the goal i can't comment on its quality or how it came about. We watched the second half from the clubhouse end but as normal with these kind of games a boatload of substitutions broke up the flow of the game. The only real action of note came in the 67th minute when Lincoln were awarded a penalty kick. Aaron rice stepped up and saw his effort saved by the outstretched leg of the Hucknall keeper. Both sides could have added the score but it ended 3-2 to the homeside.

After the match we had another couple of pints in the clubhouse before walking back into the town. Halfway between the ground and town centre is the Central Social club so we called in there for a good hour or so after an invitation from one of Richard's friends Rob. From there on we went back to the Weatherspoons for "One for the road" before heading our separate ways. With me heading to the train station and he the bus stop. We had just about worked out where they both were thanks to asking a few locals, although they didn't seem too sure where they were and looked as if they had been on the piss all day, tut tut. Having not eaten all day i was hoping that there would be a kebab shop en-route but alas we were out of luck on that score.

Hucknall train station is a bit of a barren place in which to sober up and apart from a nearby Tesco there really isn't much around it. I could have had a swift half in the Station hotel across the road but i had decided that i had maybe drunk enough for one weekend. There were plenty of folk getting the tram for a night out in Nottingham but  i was a tad knackered by this point. I did manage to make a friend though in the shape of a white, orange, and black cat that came over to say hello and was quite a fussy little thing. He/she was quite cute so here's a couple of pictures for the all to go "Awwwww" at. I certainly didn't think i would end the day playing with some random pussy in Hucknall before i got the 8.16 pm train home.
Cat picture one
Cat picture two
Nottinghamshire has some wonderful things to see and experience but travelling back late on the Robin Hood train line on a Saturday night isn't one of them. Typically the trains are full of people who are pissed, football fans coming back from games who are pissed, and people heading for a night out in the wonderful towns of Mansfield and Worksop. All in all its not one of life's most uplifting experiences. On this occasion i had the pleasure of a Mansfield fan with about 4 teeth telling me everything Lincoln fans already know about David Holdsworth and his management style. I have been told by a Retford based stags fan that there is a big difference between Mansfield fans based in Mansfield itself and the sensible ones that travel into the town to watch the games then get out as soon as they can after the final whistle. These seemed to back this theory up although i am sure there are some decent stags fans in Mansfield itself.
After arriving at Worksop (who lost 1-0 at Retford today) I managed to bag a lift home to Retford from my good lady, and finished the night off like all good nights should be finished off; With a large lamb donner kebab and portion of chips from the Retford Charcoal grill, and as ever it was spot on. All in all a great start to my Lincoln watching in 2012/13. Many thanks to all the company we met throughout the day.


  1. Quite an adventure -- for us it was car @ 2:30pm -- match -- car @ 4:50pm - home 4:55pm!! Boring or what!!

  2. No fun with random pussy mate? lol It was a great day. Good to see you and Kev again.