A few weeks ago I made a trip I should have done a long time ago. I finally made it to Pinxton to watch Pinxton FC play and had a chance to catch up with Mr Lee Cook, one of the finest footballing minds in the whole of the East Midlands region. As I said I should have made this journey a while back and now that I have finally made it I can say I will definitely be back.
Pinxton are currently plying their trade in the Central Midlands league southern division, (Step 7 of the pyramid) and in truth you will struggle to find a better run club. The club has narrowly been pipped at the post for promotion in recent years by sides that shall we say, aren’t run the correct way. To be blunt Pinxton seem to have been shafted but with the set up they have both on and off the field it can only be a matter of time before they gain their rightful place higher up the league structure.
The journey to Pinxton on the Nottighamshire/Derbyshire border is an interesting one from Retford. It involves two trains (Retford to Worksop then Worksop to Mansfield) and a bus from Mansfield to Pinxton. I always thought that Pinxton was in Derbyshire given that the club are affiliated to the Derbyshire FA and play in the Derbyshire cup etc but all the adverts for local business in the programme give their address as Nottinghamshire so who knows.
After a short walk from the bus stop and walking past a couple of decent looking chip shops I arrived at the welfare club house. I always like these sorts of clubhouses; they are from another era but a good one, and tend to be only found at clubs that had connections to the local mining community. True they may not be as modern as bars at newer stadiums like Retford and Arnold but what they lose out on it terms of decor they more than make up for in character.
Shortly after I sat down in walked the assistant gaffer Mr Lee Cook, who was kind enough to offer me a guided tour of the stadium once he had set up his tactic board and given his troops their instructions for today’s encounter. As we toured the facilities the two things that struck me were firstly the passion and enthusiasm that the various staff members have for the club, and secondly the ground itself which is certainly one of the better grounds you will find in the CML. It’s safe to say that this set up is a lot better than many other clubs in the EMCL or NECL. In an era of clubs springing up built on foundations of quick sand and false promises, it’s refreshing to find one that has built off the pitch as well as on it.
The ground has a small seated area to the left of the changing room end with the turnstiles on the entrance side. The food bar can be found at the far end of the ground on top of the banking. This area offers a bird’s eye view of the game and is one of the best views I have found in non league football.
Up until this game it had been a tough season for Pinxton. Whenever a side finishes high in the table they are always there to be shot at to a degree which can be hard to deal with. Pinxton were yet to win a game but as a wise man once said due to players being unavailable for holidays etc the CML really starts after the first of 4 or 5 games of the season.
That day however Pinxton were not to be denied their win and pretty much dominated the game from beginning to end. The players carried out Lee’s perfectly constructed plan to a T with the only real criticism being that they could have won by more than the 3 goals that they did. As ever with non league football there is always a character to be found who is often either the hero or villain of the piece and today it was none other than the Blidworth goalkeeper who bore an uncanny resemblance to former Turkish international goalkeeper Rustu Recber, although the appearance was where the comparison ended.
Pinxton had already had a number of chances before they took the lead when the keeper failed to hold a low shot which was slammed home by an on rushing striker. One nil soon become two nill when a slick passing move gave the home side some breathing space. After a bright start Blidworth had seemed to be more occupied with taking out their frustrations on the officials instead of trying to unpick the Pinxton master plan. The home side made the points safe on the 30 minute mark when a cross from deep on the left flew over the hapless keeper’s head into the net.
Quite often when a team has the points wrapped up so early in the game it can be hard to keep up the energy levels and high tempo play. Pinxton did play well within themselves in the second half but they were still far too good for their opponents. The main talking points of the second half were a couple of incidents that should have lead to a red card or two as the visitor’s tempers started to flare. However, I never like to criticise referees at this level as its truly a thankless task with little reward and a shitload of abuse. In the end though the respective sides both got what they deserved, 3 points for the hosts and none for the visitors.
The last word however has to go to the Blidworth goalkeeper who, as the players walked off, wanted to try to take on the entire Pinxton coaching staff even “Dropping his gloves” ice hockey style trying to get it on. Naturally the coaching staff were to sensible enough not to rise to the bait. Football is obviously a passionate game but there is a fine line between being passionate and looking a fool.
After the game I had a chance to chat about all things local football and pick the brains of Lee and Ben (first team manager) about the local footie scene and it was great to hear about the plans for Pinxton going forward. You can tell that the guys have a genuine passion for the club and this is evident from everybody connected with the club from the chairman to everybody who helps the club tick over on a matchday. I must say a huge thanks to everybody at the club for making me feel so welcome and a special shout-out to Lee for going out of his way and giving me a lift home.
Since this game Pinxton seem to have hit a bit of form; 3 league wins on the spin were obtained along with a very good 4-1 away win at Lincoln Moorlands in the FA Vase (who play at a higher level in the footballing pyramid) in the second qualifying round. The club’s reward for this is a home tie against Cradley Town which is to be played on October the 31st. If you are looking for a game to attend on that date I strongly suggest you make it this one. You won’t be disappointed.