Sunday, 3 February 2013

Three days, three games, three idiots

Hi i am back! Well in truth i have never been away. As anybody who lives in the United Kingdom will know the weather here was been pretty awful over the past few weeks. Snow, rain, hail; we have had the lot. On top of all this i had spent the first three weeks of the year on nights. These two factors have resulted in me not attending any football or ice hockey games since the Dunkirk game. I could have gone to Sincil Bank last weekend but due to a messed up body clock i got up too late to get my sorry arse over to Lincoln. In the end i didn't miss anything as the Imps went down 1-2 to the footballing powerhouse that is Forest Green Rovers, backed by there army of 35 fans. Mr Barlow snr did view the game though and by the sounds of it i didn't miss anything. With the weather picking up over Sunday and Monday it meant that at least the non league scene was able to explode back into life. Cue mass cheers from people like me and my entourage who have nothing better to do than take in lower level non league football games. So after a drought of football there was only one thing to do. Overdose on the stuff. First up a trip up to Yorkshire to Hemsworth Miners Welfare. A new ground for me and my 170th over all.

Hemsworth Miners Welfare 0-0 Albion Sports.

We had planned to watch Retford United's game at Nostell Miners Welfare, but alas that fell victim to the weather. A water logged pitch being the reason for the postponement. Never fear though, due to the power of twitter we easily found a game that had got the go ahead. And what made it better was it was a new ground for all three of us. A bit of a result i would say. Baz picked me up at just gone 6.15pm, we picked up Felice fresh from a slap up meal in Lincoln and we were on our merry way.

Today's match was in the NCEL division one, which is step 6 of the pyramid. The hosts Hemsworth sat in 13th place while the visitors Albion sports sat in 2nd position, 5 points behind the leaders but with three games in hand. It had been raining on and off all day and coupled with the wind it i didn't hold out much hope for a free flowing quick passing type of game. The entrance fee for this footballing master class was £4 with a top class programme on sale for £1. Inside was a good range of articles with lots of stats and facts although the page below was one of the highlights of the issue.

As it was raining quite hard now we headed straight over to the bar area in search of a hot drink and some light refreshments before the kebab later. I bagged myself a chip butty with Baz going for the day's special; that being a hot pork roll. Del boy resisted the temptation of the hot food but did manage to get through 2 large Mars bars. As you can imagine with the weather most people had, wisely enough, decided to take refuge in the bar before the game kicked off. The clubhouse was smart enough, even the signed Hull City shirt didn't spoil it. There was an impressive collection of pennants above the door. With clubs ranging from Lincoln City to Inter Milan.  What was pleasing to see was that the Inter pennant was above the Juventus one. Just the way things should be.

As for the ground its basic but homely. There is a small area of shelter along the side which the clubhouse is on and this is where most of the spectors congregated. There is uncovered hard standing behind both goals (not where you want to be on a night like this) with a small seated area on the opposite side of the clubhouse. Felice and Baz are getting on a bit these days so we viewed the game from the seated area in the stand.

It didn't take long to realise that the conditions weren't going to let either side get the ball down and play. The pitch was very heavy and it must have been a close run thing when it passed its inspection earlier in the day. Even with the conditions you could tell that Albion were the better side and to their credit they did try to get the ball down and play even in the face of some heavy challenges from the home side. Given all this, it wasn't too surprising that the game ended goalless. Although Hemsworth's keeper came to their aid in the last minute when he pulled off a point blank save to earn his side a point. It was a night for rolling up your sleeves and digging in for a result, in the end I don't think either side would have turned their noses up at a point. Albion looked a good side though and in this showing i wouldn't be to surprised if their name is engraved on the championship trophy come May.

On the way back we stopped off at the Buffalo kebab house, which was quite a find as it was the best kebab i have had in 2013. Top notch stuff. I can certainly see us stopping here again if we are in this neck of the woods in future. Ok it may not have been the best game we will see in 2013 but it was a nice way to start the year. If only our the 4th member of our group wasn't under the thumb so much.

Appleby Frodingham 0-2 Clipstone Welfare.

The following night we were on our merry way to Scunthorpe to watch yet more NCEL division one action. Just two of us here tonight as Felice had a prior appointment. No Lee as his girlfriend's uncle's next door neighbour's cousin twice removed postman's cat was unwell and needed a cat sitter . As Appleby Frodingham play their games in the Scunthorpe area of Lincolnshire, it's not surprising that we hadn't got round to paying them a visit until now.

Of course midweek football matches and kebabs go hand in hand and as we had arrived in good time, we headed into the town centre to discover donner delights. And what a delight we discovered, as we came upon the Turkish delight kebab house where a large lamb donner and a can of pop came in at £6. No seating in the shop so we got our scram wrapped up and ate it in the car before we entered the stadium. It was another quality effort which comes highly recommended.

Appleby Frodingham's Brumby Hall ground is part of a sports complex that includes a leisure centre, squash club, cricket pitch, and five a side pitches. In the centre of all this sits the large two tiered clubhouse that houses the changing rooms on the lower level, and the bar area on the upper. This also forms some of the covered area inside the ground. The entrance where the gate is taken is tucked away in a corner. Tonight's entrance fee was the divisional norm of £4 with the programme costing a further£1 It's not the best programme you will ever come across, but it tells you all you need to know and is smart enough. The club only averages about 40 or so fans each week and i always feel sorry for programme editors in this position as they have to produce a programme in accordance with league rules but they also know that very few people will read the labours of their work.

Again we have another basic but functional ground here. Apart from the clubhouse stand the only other covering in the ground is to the left of the clubhouse and is in the form of a small seated area known as the Dick Drury stand. Apart from that it's hard standing all the way round, apart from the far end which is sealed off. It was a good job that we did eat before we entered the ground as the food hut was only serving hot drinks and chocolate bars. Although on the plus side the hot drinks (soup in our case) were served in proper mugs. As we knocked back our soup, the great and the good of North Lincolnshire's hoppers were rocking up proudly displaying their colours. The football institutions of Bottesford Town, Winterton Rangers, and Brigg Town were all represented, with the Brigg Town fan winning the award for finest hopper attire. It was bitterly cold night and although the clubhouse stand did resemble a holiday chalet, it did offer some protection form the wind. The only downside was a bloke who plonked himself near to us and then proceeded to hum to himself throughout the entire match. Only at a lower level non league game could you find such an array of characters.

On the pitch it's not been a great season for "Frod", before the match they sat second bottom with only hapless Selby Town below them. 33 goals have been scored but unfortunately for them they have shipped 83 at the other end. Visitors Clipstone sat in 11th place and must be reasonably happy with their efforts so far, as this is their first season at this level for some time after their promotion from the CML last season. Former Retford United hero Brett Marshall has recently taken over as chairman of the Nottinghamshire side, as they look to take the next step in the pyramid.

The action on the pitch was nothing special to write home about. Clipstone as you would expect, played the better football but neither side really looked like scoring. Thankfully we were saved from a second successive 0-0 when Rob Evens produced a great finish after good work from Dom Jones 5 minutes before halftime. At the break we decided to have a look round and check out the clubhouse. This was a real step back in time; along the stairway there were plenty of images of the local steel making plants and the clubhouse seemed a throw back to that era. There was a book where guests sign in and a huge trophy cabinet full of pub game trophies. Many of the punters were in smart attire and the place was spotless. I would say that there were more folk in here for the darts match than there were outside for the football, and i can't blame them one bit if i am honest. In a way the place reminded me of my early days of drinking in Jenkins club. Great times.

The second half didn't really get any better. Clippo wasted a few chances and Frod although they worked hard never really looked like getting back into the game. The real talking point came about ten minutes from the end and was something i have never seen in all my years watching football. After Frod had made all three of their changes one of their number (I think it was the number eight but i can't be sure) decided that he had had enough and stormed off the field much to the amazement of everybody else in the ground. As he passed the management team he unleashed a torrent of abuse saying that he was fed up, and that nobody was passing to him, and he hadn't signed for the club to put up with this shite. He phrased it a little differently to that, but i think you get the jist of it. Something tells me he wont be wearing the club's colours again.

Clippo sealed the points in the dying stages of the game, when Jimmy Adcock scrambled the ball over from close range. It was a solid away performance but the football wont be the talking point after the game. The talking point for us was where abouts you can get ice cream from between Scunthorpe and Retford as Barry's good lady has a sore throat and needed something to cool her down. Always the gentleman Baz took a quick pit stop at Tescos in Gainsborough which shuts at midnight. Crisis over and ground 171 in the can.

Retford United U19 2-2 Staveley MW

Thursday night is under 19 night for much of the league. I have heard good reports about Retford's side and you always know that Staveley will have a good under 19 side. The sides played out a cracking 3-3 draw before Christmas and although this match didn't really reach those heights it was still a decent game, and at only £2 entrance fee, and £1 for a programme that would put alot of first team ones to shame it was a cheap evening. As well as the game i was impressed with the turnout which must have been in the region of 70 plus and included all the usual suspects of the Retford hopping scene. I am not going to go into huge details of the game but you can read a good match report of the game on Mr Rob Waites excellent 66pow football blog.

So there you go. 72 hours, three games of football, 6 goals, two new grounds, and two donner kebabs. Not a bad way to spend a week is it? Next up the poor man's Lincolnshire derby. Gainsborough Trinity v Boston United.

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