This is Beeston

Discussion in 'Non League News,Bloggs and Titbits' started by Sticky, Apr 26, 2020.

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  1. Sticky

    Sticky Guest

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    It's Saturday, April 25th, 2015. I'm driving the 'Rolls Royce' up through the hills of Lancashire towards the old mill town of Burnley, and more importantly Turf Moor, a ground steeped in footballing history. My partner in crime, Trumpy Bolton, is riding shotgun and swigging on a litre bottle of liquid that can only be described as a 'Molotov Cocktail' - a mixture of cider and WKD; it looks like screen wash.
    Trumpy's beloved Leicester City are performing the 'Great Escape' after being anchored in the nether regions of the Premier League table for most of the season. Today is another six-pointer against the Clarets, who sit in 20th position. The Foxes have only been allocated 2469 tickets. Don't ask me how, but our man Bolton has managed to secure a couple of them off Stan Flashman, which are like gold dust and selling for extortionate prices on the black market.

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    Lunch is spent holed-up at Jimmy Anderson's Burnley Cricket Club, along with 800 visiting supporters, who have the tills ringing and singing. I rub my eyes in disbelief when two umpires appear from the pavilion, placing bails onto the stumps at both ends of the wicket. It's the first day of the Lancashire League season. 800 beer-fuelled lads and lasses cheer a bowler in, off a longer run-up than Dennis Lillee. The nervous batsman, shuffling in his crease, is a jibbering wreck. He chips a ball straight to mid-off, where a catch is snaffled up by the fielder. A disconsolate batsman trudges off to back to the pavilion, with the Leicester faithful, in unison, belting out 'cheerio, cheerio cheerio.'
    The game (Burnley v Leicester) is on a knife-edge, with no quarter given, when on the hour Burnley are awarded a penalty after a reckless and needless tackle by Paul Konchesky. The experienced Matt Taylor steps up to take the spot-kick, despite not having done so for over five years. To the crowd's astonishment, Taylor loses his footing, before scuffing his penalty, which smacks the outside of the post, going out for a goal kick.

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    Trumpy and I are dancing and hugging one another as seconds later, Marc Albrighton, one of the greatest Bosman signings in Premier League history, is in space down the right-hand side. Unsung hero Albrighton eats up the ground and delivers a cross to die for. An exhausted Jamie Vardy, who has sprinted 80 yards down the pitch, bundles the ball into the back of the net, off his knee.
    I'm reminded of this five years to the day, not just on a Facebook memory, with Trumpy and Sticky wearing 'Foxes are Fearless' T-Shirts, but also a recent Kindle book download, of a diary of the season after, when they astounded the footballing world, claiming the Premier League title at odds of 5000/1. The book is called Fearless: The Amazing Underdog Story of Leicester City, The Greatest Miracle in Sports History, brilliantly captured and researched by acclaimed Scottish journalist Jonathan Northcroft. It's a riveting read and a steal at £1.99 on Kindle.

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    We've been in lockdown for over 30 days. I try to remain chipper and positive. With deaths approaching 20,000, many have been less fortunate. Families are having to cope with loss and bereavement; unable to attend funerals in some cases. I feel sad and so sorry for folk in this awful period of time.
    I get into the routine of daily exercise after work. Getting on the bike or heading out for a walk is good for the heart, soul and mind. It's no coincidence, with little pollution in the skies or emissions from traffic, that the weather has been wall to wall sunshine.

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    It's Thursday evening and I'm cycling down Burton Road. I cross over at the lights on the A612 Southwell Road, close to Carlton Town's ground, and onto Stoke Lane. The last time I was here the car broke down after an eight-goal thriller between Real United and the world-famous Clifton All Whites. A dog walker got us out of the mire that evening, towing us back to Colwick where we lived at the time.
    It's baking hot as I swing by the tranquil village of Stoke Bardolph (population 170) where I spent many a season, back in the 1980s, pitting my wits against Burton Joyce and Stoke Bardolph CC whilst 'turning my arm over' for Keyworth Cricket Club. They had a hot-headed all-rounder called Anthony Cockayne. He was a hard-hitting batsman and a 'quicky' with a temper to match. The Millers of Keyworth were the kings of banter and sledging, often having Cockayne 'on strings' and off with a strop.

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    I cycle past the old ground, have and a shufty about the village, admiring the defibrillator in the old red telephone box. Further up the road is Gedling FC's ground and the Ferry Boat Inn, a scruffy Hungry Horse pub, that's dying on its backside. I notice a footpath on the corner, adjacent to Burton Joyce Football Club. It's one for the notebook for Ms. Moon and me to explore on Sunday morning, as the weather forecast is set fair once more.
    I find a distraught Ms. Moon in tears on Friday evening. I hug and console her, unaware of what has caused this meltdown. I fetch a box of tissues and gently wipe away the tears before she noisily blows her nose. It turns out she's been reading one of those rubbish TV chat magazines who are saying (pray to God) that ITV are running out of episodes of Emmerdale Farm and Coronation Street due to CV19. I start fist-pumping and do a Michael Flatley River Dance on the lounge floor - the good lady is unimpressed.

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    I'm up and at 'em on Saturday morning. I cycle down to Trent Bridge, again, as the sun begins to peep out from the light, white fluffy clouds. I shout 'You Reds' to Plumtree Cricket Club supremo, Mark Oldham, as he enjoys the fag end of an early morning stroll along the banks of the Trent - no mist rolling in, mind yer.
    I join the Nottingham ring road, close to Clifton Bridge, which has planned, staged closures for the next nine months, that everyone in Notts was up in arms about; complaining and bleating about it on social media. But it's now fallen under the radar. I turn off onto a track that takes me past Dunkirk FC and the Michelin two-star, Restaurant Sat Bains - he's from D***y, so I had to suck it up on my one and only visit. Thankfully lamb wasn't on the menu.

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    I pedal on a path, adjacent to Grove Farm, with its empty football pitches. The River Trent is to my left, it looks so inviting and the water still on a day like today. Sadly it's not the case, as only half a mile or so up the river is laid a tribute to 12-year-old 'gentle giant' Owen Jenkins, who sacrificed his own life to save another at Beeston Weir. I always unsaddle here and pay my respects to this young, brave, selfless child, who lost his life trying to save a friend, who got into difficulty in the water, back in July 2017.
    I ride through Beeston Marina. Normally I'd slope off for a pint in the beer garden at one of my favourite haunts, the Victoria Hotel. Beeston has a couple of other decent boozers too: the Crown Inn and The Star Inn. There are one or two famous folk from the town too: Van Der Valk actor Barry Foster, fashion designer Paul Smith (cracking taproom in one of his old shops on Byard Lane in Nottingham), Motown and Northern Soul singer Edwin Starr, sadly passed away in the bath, at his home in Beeston, in 2003, aged 61 years old. Porridge and Rising Damp actor Richard Beckinsale who tragically died at the young age of 31 years old, in 1977, lived in the town.

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    I continue my bike ride up to Attenborough Nature Reserve, completing a circular route before the return journey home. I stop outside the back of the Trent End at The City Ground for a much-needed thirst-quenching drink. I see a chocolate-coloured spaniel enter the water to chase some ducks. The owner is frantic with worry as 'Gemma' (the dog, not the owner) doggy paddles halfway across the river. It's relief to see her swim back to shore after 15 minutes of play-time.
    Man of the Match: 12-year-old Owen Jenkins. A legend never to be forgotten.
     
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