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A Senior Nottingham Event

Dream Football

Dream football is the harder game

The grass is devilishly long

And growing

Fish appear in the trainer’s bucket

Your mother has set up a small shop

On the halfway line

You are obliged to play in your underpants

by Allan Ahlberg (1938 – )




Friday 24th April 2015

Precision Nottinghamshire Senior League

Division 1

Ashland Rovers                                             3

Stuart Grozier 8,

Jonathan Rowbotham 83, 88, 

Newark Flowserve                                       3

Jamie Charlton 45,

Luke Boddy 50, 71, 

Referee:- Stephen Bingham      Attendance:- 297

Admission £3      Programme:- £1


I made my way in heavy traffic to the small town of Kirkby-in-Ashfield and arrived stressed, irate and fatigued, but EARLY – early enough to park my maligned motor in the club’s official car park from whence it was but a hop, skip and jump into Kingsway Park, home of Ashland Rovers!


I didn’t stay. I had plenty of time and walked back to the main street where a Wetherspoons pub resided in the former glory of The Regent Cinema. The place was packed, and not a few of the customers were hoppers intent on imbibing before the contest down the road! I ordered a meal and found that the table number I had given was already occupied when I got back, by a hopper from Bexleyheath. We shared the table and batted a few hopping notions around mixed in with reminiscenses and anecdotes and before we knew it, we were off to the game!


Kingsway Park (Yes!, there should be an ‘r’ in the title) is maintained by the county council, but is not fully enclosed and is thus subject to casual vandalism and for being used outside of hours by any Tom, Dick or Harry who wants to mess around with a football! The pitch was hard and bereft of grass for a great swathe down the middle almost from goalmouth to goalmouth. I gather from talking to officials of the club that they will be looking for fresh accommodation from next season, but would consider staying, if the county council would enclose the ground securely and allow them to maintain it properly. At the present, they cannot even leave the dugouts on the side of the pitch. After each match they have to be stowed away to avoid them being disturbed.


There was a minute’s silence before the match commenced to remember a groundsman who had collapsed and died whilst working on this very pitch.

The visitors stood at the top of the league with an outside chance of the title, but hotly pursued by second place Underwood Villa, who are three points adrift but who have three games in hand. The home side were lying in mid-table, but it was they who got off to a flying start with a goal in only three minutes followed by heavy pressure for the next twenty minutes. They couldn’t add to their tally as Flowserve gradually eased themselves more effectively into the game and began to gain the upper hand. It was no surprise, then, that the equaliser came on the stroke of half-time.

In the second half, the visitors were the better side for most of the time, easing to a 3-1 advantage with less than ten minutes to go. It looked like a comfortable victory and we were all convinced that an away win was the only outcome. However, a scrambled goal on 83 minutes and a determined opportunistic strike some five minutes later amazingly drew the home side level and earned them an unlikely draw!

After the match, I drove carefully and sedately (after my usual fashion, of course), with a precious load of five hoppers including Mike Squires and Dave Rush and took them all back to The Jurys Inn in Nottingham before repairing to my more humble lodgings at The Commodore Hotel!



Saturday 25th April 2015

Precision Nottinghamshire Senior League

Senior Division

Bingham Town                                         0

Ruddington Village                                  0

Referee:- Mark Bancroft              Attendance:- 387

Admission:- £3            Programme:- £1


There was a rugby team staying at The Commodore Hotel and they had obviously made themselves pretty unpopular the previous evening, by doing the silly unmentionable trifles that only aficionados of the oval ball game could commit. As I knocked off my sixth Weetabix, they were  abraded severely by the captain and warned as to their future conduct! I didn’t dally to find out whether their conduct improved, but sped off to Bingham ably assisted by sat-nav.


Butts Field is situated alongside Bingham Railway Station where two carriage DMUs collect and decant around four times an hour.It is on the Nottingham to Grantham line as opposed to Netherfield and Burton Joyce, whom we were to see later in the day, which both have stations on the Nottingham to Lincoln line.  There was a very pleasant welcome after I had negotiated the tortuous track that led to the ground entrance. Breakfast was being served and there was even a Real Ale bar open at the ungodly hour of 9.30am!


Martin was there with his zoom lens and, just behind him, you can see the young lady from The Notts Advertiser (a free weekly paper), who was covering the event for her publication.


Perhaps Bingham Town had chosen to play in their away kit for this special occasion, or perhaps that ghastly snot green colour really was their chosen outfit. Whatever, they were enjoying a reasonably successful season, lying in fifth place on 53 points , whilst their opponents, Ruddington Village, were four places and eighteen points below them. There was a huge crowd – a record for the Senior Division, I understand, but not for the league as a whole. Jack and I imbibed an American Pale Ale at half-time and I liked the idea of all the team sheets for all the games being in the same A5 format and readily available at each game at 20p a copy.


As for the game, we were disappointed as we ever are when no goals are scored. It wasn’t for the lack of effort – nor for the lack of skill – this was a match of full blooded endeavour and not a few chances – all of which, unfortunately, were spurned. It was my first 0-0 in thirty-eight matches!


Standing next to me at the start of the second half was Mick Roberts who was chatting about Bingham Town’s Notts Spartan League Cup Final victory in 1968. It was almost forty-seven years to the day since that victory and he even let me have a copy of a newspaper report on the event (single click on the picture for a larger version). In the picture (above), he is holding the cup in the middle of the front row! That got me thinking. I wondered where I was on this date in 1968 and on looking it up, I found that I was at Victory Park, Chorley for the semi-final (first leg) of The Lancashire FA Floodlit Cup where Chorley drew 0-0 with Morecambe. TWO 0-0 draws forty-seven years apart!

Saturday 25th April 2015

Precision Nottinghamshire Senior League

Division 1

Netherfield Albion                                 1

Chris Riley 84, 

Nottinghamshire                                   0

Referee:- Andrew Banner          Attendance:- 292

Admission £3              Programme:- £1


To get to Netherfield, we had to pass through Burton Joyce which would be the venue of the fourth match of the hop. Sat-nav decanted me on the opposite side of the road to the ground in a cul-de-sac from whence the main road crossing was a hazardous feat risking life and limb and the long line of hoppers’ cars all turning right into Victoria Park. Facilities were at a premium and, after the pint of real ale at Bingham, I was in serious need of them! I found them round the back of the club house, a big steel door hanging open to reveal a single loo and no light. There was all the light I needed, however for the door wouldn’t close and my every movement was open to the world!


This was not the best advertisement for The Precision Nottinghamshire League football! Netherfield, the hosts lie in fifth place in The Division 1 table whilst their visitors, Nottinghamshire, are currently in tenth position. The programme had the following prophetic quote: “……..the last five seasons incredibly producing 40 goals between the two teams. This one, of course, has 0-0 written all over it.” As the match wore on and the quality of play deteriorated and no goals were forthcoming, the likelihood of a consecutive 0-0 draw (something I had never previously encountered), loomed ever larger fuelled by that prophetic quote! Finally, a mere six minutes from time, the deadlock was broken and the hosts scored. Several hundred hoppers left the field, relieved to have avoided a second blank scoreline!


Martin and Jack, the experts with the long lens, are pictured here at Victoria Park, suitably accoutred and armed to the teeth with photographic gadgetry.


The weather had been quite fine all morning, but menacing black clouds rolled across during the second half of this match and a sharp heavy downpour found me rushing to the shelter of Jack’s umbrella! I should have brought my own!


Saturday 25th April 2015

Precision Nottinghamshire Senior League

Senior Division

Burton Joyce                                       3

Sam Buckle 5, 

Troy Smith 68, 80, 

Attenborough                                     3

Joe Nice 9, 

Alex Elliker 29, 59, 

Referee:- Lewis Saunders-Johnson    Attendance:- 279

Admission £3            Programme:- £1


The fourth match of the tour took place at The Poplars Sports ground in Station Road in Burton Joyce. Rain was in the air as I arrived and this time I did take a brolly! The club house was a couple of hundred yards from the pitch, but the precipitation relented by the time the match started and I was glad to snaffle the final club badge for Graeme just before the game commenced.


Burton Joyce and today’s opponents, Attenborough, are locked in sixth and seventh place in the Senior Division table with the hosts just two points shy of the visitors. The home club had put on a good show for their guests in the cramped club house, where an imaginative array of snacks could be sampled and there was, in addition, a barbecue outside, closer to the pitch. If the rain had fallen fitfully and late on at Netherfeld, it arrived with a vengeance just before half-time at The Poplars. It was accompanied by a strong breeze which turned umbrellas inside out as it drove across the field of play. By this stage, the home side, who had taken an early lead, suddenly found themselves a goal behind. The lead was increased, early in the second half as Attenborough took a stranglehold on the game. Ten minutes late, however, the hosts, somewhat fortuitously, pulled a goal back and then, with ten minutes to go, it was all square and that is how it remained.


 The Poplars, after which, no doubt, the sports ground is named

I wasn’t able to get to the last match. The daughter of a very valued friend and former colleague, who sadly passed away last October after a courageous fight against Motor Neurone disease, was married today at Brigstock Parish Church. I promised that I would see her and her husband at the evening celebration.

Apart from missing the last match, I enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining day. It was good to meet up again with fellow hoppers and even those who communicate through the pages of Facebook! Rob had organised a brilliant event, albeit on a tight schedule and the weather, for the most part relented. I thought the idea of the A5 team sheets co-ordinated and produced from the same person for each match was a brilliant idea. Maybe other ‘hops’ might take it up! I enjoyed, too, the friendly welcome at each ground and realised how much each individual club put into ensuring the best presentation – within their means – for the game that they were promoting!

A great big THANK YOU to Rob Hornby and ……..

I’m already looking forward to next year’s ‘hop’!!!!!

This Year –     Matches:- 210            New Grounds:-   127

TOTAL –        Matches:- 3,181          New Grounds:- 1,081


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