Sunday, 14 March 2010

Two Go Mad In Messingham

Today marked the very special occasion of me achieving one of my lifetime ambitions (well, I've toyed with the idea for a couple of seasons now anyway).
Namely, to watch the legendary Scotter United play at their world famous Northmoor Park home, in the West Lindsey region of Lincolnshire.
The sun came out to greet us as we entered Stad de la Northmoor.
It was a very moving and pivotal moment in my life.

The village of Scotter, stands halfway along the A159 road, which runs between Gainsborough and Scunthorpe and also cuts through Messingham and Bottesford.
On Wednesday night, while I was up in Tow Law freezing my 'pips' off, I received confirmation that a Sunday Lincolnshire Intermediate League double was on the cards this weekend, because Bottesford Town v Lincoln United was kicking off in the morning and Scotter United v Appleby Frodingham was being played in the afternoon.
Which is ideal for this humble scribe, because Scotter is on the way back home for me from Bottesford.
That news gave me an inner glow and warmed me up no end against the biting County Durham cold.
Birch Park, the home of Bottesford Town is dead easy to find.
Go left at the lights as you enter the town (AKA the only lights), right into the housing estate, follow Quebec Road into Ontario Road and then, just when you think you've gone too far and there can't possibly be a football ground in that locality, there it is on the left.
Two other clues to help you, if you're hapless enough to come unstuck while following these very simple directions are:
1) The floodlights tower above the adjacent houses and can be seen from miles away, even in broad daylight.
And 2) Follow the road signs that read SPORTS GROUND, which are in plentiful supply all the way from the A159 to the car park at your intended destination.
On arrival at the ground, slightly earlier than intended, we bumped into the match referee who was saying he was keen to get started on time today, because of the 'two game, double header.'
I assumed at this point, that he must be going to Scotter afterwards too and couldn't fathom why every single minute was of the essence to him, because there was a big time window to fill before the second game and my sidekick and I had just been planning which Public House between the two grounds we'd be having a leisurely paced lunch in before heading to Northmoor Park.
Then the mystery was solved, when the manager of Scotter United joined us (what a big fat name dropper I am today), hiya Colin! And told us about what was about to happen at Birch Park ...
Due to a fixtures backlog and owing to the fact that the LIL is run along the same lines as the SPL, there were two Bottesford Town v Lincoln United games that needed cramming into both teams congested outstanding fixture lists ASAP, so they were going to play both games, right here, right now, back to back.
I worked out the maths and concluded, there would still be 20 minutes to get to Scotter, a mere ten minutes drive away (ish) if we stayed around for both games at Bottesford.
We'd have to sacrifice our pub lunch, but what with it being Mothering Sunday, everywhere would probably be busy anyway.
Even for Intermediate League games, the Birch Park catering van is always open for business as usual and if those Lincolnshire sausages tasted half as good as that aroma wafting towards us suggested they would, stuffing our faces wouldn't be a problem.
They did, it wasn't!
A wheelie bin for disabled people to stand on.
Bottesford Town think of everything!

Sunday 14th March 2010.
Lincolnshire Intermediate League - North League
Admission to all 3 games was free.
Programmes ... don't be daft.

Game 1
Birch Park
Bottesford Town (1) 1
Lincoln United (0) 2
Bottesford had to start with a player short, because their 11th man was still en route to the ground when it kicked off. He eventually arrived about 10 minutes into the game.
The first goal came from a back post header from a right wing corner that Lincoln failed to deal with.
It was now up to the hosts to show that they could hold onto a lead and thwart any comeback.
In the second half however, the visitors scored twice, once when a big hoof of the ball upfield/defence splitting precision long pass* fell between their central defenders for a Lincoln forward to run on to and make no mistake from close range and the other from a completely unmarked header.
At one stage there was a brawl on the pitch, the main instigator appeared to be Lincoln's rather attitudal Sam Orrott, which was a shame because he was by far the most talented player on the pitch by quite some way.
The referee called the captains together and told them to control their players and the game calmed down.
This is the same referee, just 22 years old, who was officiating a game recently and woke up in hospital, having been the victim of a viscous head butt that laid him out cold on the pitch, the assault was made by an Under 18's player who is currently subject to a police investigation.
Anyway, on with the show, after a break for twenty minutes or so during which time Mr Picken Esq. shot off back to Scotter to prepare his team for their match this afternoon:
Game 2
Birch Park
Bottesford United (1) 1
Lincoln United (2) 2
Stop me if you've heard this one before, but Bottesford took an early lead, a soft goal for Lincoln to concede, from a corner.
But then the visitors fought back to win 2-1.
This time though all of the goals were scored in the first 25 minutes.
Lincoln's equaliser was from a spot kick that was put away by Sam Orrott, who was behaving himself much better now ... probably too knackered to waste his energy puffing his chest out and growling any more after two games in quick succession.
How to take a penalty. Are you watching BPA!?

One player however, who obviously had too much energy to burn off, was Lincoln's number 14, who was sent off while still laying on the floor feeling sore from an heavy challenge he had put in.

Game 3
Northmoor Park
Scotter United (2) 4
Appleby Frodingham (1) 3
We arrived at Northmoor Park with a whole nine minutes to spare before kick off and were met by Mrs Picken (sorry to be so formal I'm crap at remembering names) who kindly told us that hot drinks and chocolate biscuits would be available at half time.
After approximately 9 minutes, Scotter powered into the lead courtesy of an headed goal that dropped into the net beyond the visiting keeper's reach.
5 minutes later it was 2-0 as the keeper air kicked a back pass and left Scotter's number 10 the simplest of close range chances to knock in with his magic bright yellow boots.
Defensive coaching manual. If their number 5 gets between you and the ball,
grab him firmly by the arm to stop him getting his header on target.

Offensive coaching manual. If their goalie is a short arse, stand that lanky
Peter Crouch lookalike in front of him to obscure his view.

Appleby Frodingham pulled a goal back after a bit of a defensive mix up by the left post.
Which set the game up nicely for the second half.
The strong coffee and Kit Kat went down a treat (ta very much Mrs P) and it was on with the game after a 1o minute break, there is no requirement for one of those long 15 minute rest periods the Premier League players need in this league.
Scotter's 'massive' goalkeeper mishandled the ball which fell right to the feet of an Appleby Frodingham player who rolled it across the face of the goal to create a simple tap in for the equaliser.
But United were in front again on 61 minutes (or thereabouts) when number 10 in his fancy boots scored again, after the keeper had saved his original effort.
With about 10 minutes remaining, the visitors equalised yet again.
A well hit shot struck the post with the Scotter keeper well beaten, but there were plenty of players following up in case of a rebound and the ball was smashed home.
The Appleby Frodingham players all piled on top of each other in celebration. Err, why? The game wasn't over yet and the goal was an equaliser, not a winner.
In the last few minutes, Scotter stabbed home a fourth goal from inside the area following a right wing corner.
But the visitors still wouldn't concede defeat and in the very last minute a well struck attempt was saved magnificently by the Scotter keeper, a save that made up for any earlier mishaps and secured all three points for United.
By now a stiff breeze had got up, blowing across the fields adjacent to Fortress Northmoor, so we decided to skip the ice cream stop in Blyton and head home instead.
Three games, thirteen goals, some PROPER grass roots football and home by 4.30PM.
Now, that's my kinda life :-)