Saturday, 16 July 2011

Bassetlaw Double Header - Harworth CI 2 v Harworth CI U19's 1 & Retford United 1 v Ollerton Town 1

The county of Nottinghamshire.
The red bit at the top is called Bassetlaw.
It borders Derbyshire, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire

Original plan for today was Harworth Colliery U19's in the morning and Hall Road Rangers in the afternoon.
Alas, a tropical monsoon hit Harworth at lunchtime and I got so drenched, even my socks and deluxe silk, sequined posing pouch got wringing wet through.
So I headed home for a warm shower and to change into some dry clothes instead of heading for Dunswell (just the other side of Hull) to watch HRRFC v Frickley Athletic.
Retford United were due to play Ollerton Town in an away fixture at the Kirton Brickworks ground, but it transpired yesterday, that the venue was double booked, so the game was switched to Cannon Park, Retford.
A bit of a bind for the sad individual who had a tantrum like a child denied sweeties because he wanted to tick the Brickworks ground off ... but for me, fresh from a piping hot shower and wearing my new comfort fit black velvet Kaftan ... it was ideal.
Cannon Park, a few hundred yards from my house, has cover on three sides if the rain came back ... and my underwear wasn't going to get wet again, I wasn't wearing any this afternoon.
Saturday 16th July 2011, at Bircotes Sports and Social Club
Friendly 11.30pm kick off
Harworth Colliery Institute 2 (Gaz Sides, Kev Shelley)
Harworth Colliery Institute U19's 1 (Ryan Foster)
Admission free, no programme or team sheet,
Attendance 30ish all soaked to the skin
When the referee failed to show, a local celebrity, who does just about everything else at HCIFC, stepped in to take is place.
The centre circle must've been worn out by the time the game was over because I didn't see the replacement official venture out of it above a dozen times.
The game was played on the Sunday side pitch, just outside the first team ground.
Of course, there is no spectator cover or dug outs for the management on that pitch, so if ever the lovely weather we've been having recently was going to change, it was always going to be at precisely the same time this game was scheduled to start.
On the stroke of 11.30am, down it came!
I watched the first ten minutes or so from inside my car, to avoid getting a soaking and saw Ryan Foster put the U19's in front through the blur of my windscreen wipers.
When the weather improved slightly, I ventured round to where Glenn & Hasan, the U19's coaches were stood, to watch the remainder of the game.
But Mother Nature was playing tricks on me, luring me into a false sense of security with some cracks of light shining through the grey skies ... and shortly after I'd reached just about the furthest point in the whole complex away from my car, a rainstorm that would've made Noah shit himself broke out.
No point in seeking refuge from the deluge now, I was already drowned anyway and I figured that if these guys were going to tough it out until the end, then I really ought to.
It was during the fourth, or possibly fifth major downpour, that I remembered what I had been missing the most about not being involved in Under 19's football since last November.
Absolutely nothing!
The lack of cover, the most basic of facilities, guaranteed crap weather *every* week, the well meaning parents shouting out baffling instructions that conflict with what the coaches are saying, paddling ankle deep in mud that you daren't stand still in for fear of taking root, the non-stop phone calls at silly o'clock ... it's character building apparently :-/
Today Harworth U19's kicked off with just two players in the starting line up who had played for them last season.
Naming names would be wrong with it being the signing on and trials season and all that, but though the team came good towards the end of last season, it would be fair to say, they look a much stronger side this season.
The 'big lad' in defence who came off at half time while Has and Glenn tried other options, was marshalling the back line well and it was noticeable that the first team, didn't really get to grips with the conditions or make any serious in roads into their youngsters, until he'd left the field, apart from an offside strike from Kev Shelley.
HT. First team 0 v U19s 1
Will Shaw the U19's captain had to go off early in the second half, which was a blow for them and will have helped the first team no end too.
The seniors got back into the game and forged ahead through goals from Kev Shelley and Gaz Sides, the former having been prolific for the first team all last season too.
The U19s took a few hard knocks, the conditions being to blame rather than any malicious intent from the senior side. But they just got back up, dusted themselves down and got back into the fray.
They had a lot of bad luck early on last season, but they're not going to be the whipping boys of the North Midlands U19 League Division 2 next time around.
Don't take my word for it though, get along and see for yourselves once the season starts.
Towards the end of last season Harworth's first team keeper was injured and because Glenn McPherson is too old and unfit these days (and a lightweight Celtic fan too), young Zack Levers had to step up from the U19's to fill the void.
He obviously did well in the eyes of the right people, because Sheffield Wednesday have signed him up on a two year deal and are sending their Academy side over to Scrooby Road in the near future to play a friendly as a consequence of the move.
In my opinion the best player for Harworth U19's last year was Matty Bradley, but he's now reached the age where the other Under 19's managers who were watching him last term, won't be able to play him now ... and he's been playing regularly for the first team at Harworth for a while now anyway.
Harworth's first team manager Lee Scott will have been pleased to see how well his side were knocking the ball around towards the end of this game, which had been played in strength sapping conditions.
A decent work out in the end, between two sides who weren't at full strength today because of numerous absentees due to injuries and holidays.
After the game I got in my submersible craft and drove back the few miles down the road to Retford via several flooded country lanes.
Saturday 16th July 2011 at Cannon Park, Retford
Friendly 3pm kick off
Retford United (1) 1 (Brad Wells 1)
Ollerton Town (1) 1 (Steve Kirkham 30)
Admission free but donations welcome (so I did)
Programme free, issued by Ollerton with Brickworks Ground on cover
Attendance 118
*Note, Terry 'the pest' Lacey didn't get a programme, he is obviously quite upset about this, if you see him in the street, point at him and mock him, without mercy.
And next time he turns up at a game wearing a St. Mirren shirt, I won't give him my spare copy again either.
Brad Wells put the Badgers ahead virtually from the kick off and it looked as though Brett Marshall's side were on course for their second win in 3 days, but Ollerton had other ideas.
After getting caught cold right from the first whistle they started to get back into the game and weren't prepared to let their NCEL opponents boss the game.
The showers returned, but not as heavy as before.
It's quite therapeutic hearing the rain strumming out a rhythm on the stand roof, whilst watching other people get wet.
On 30 minutes, Keieron Whalin put a left wing corner into the Retford box and Steve Kirkham was on hand to knock home the equaliser unchallenged.
1-1 was how the score remained until half time.
Ollerton re-emerged first, those around me reckoned the home side were slightly delayed, because they were probably getting a bollocking for the invisible marking by the defence when the visitors equalised.
After the teams changed ends, the game became something of a stalemate, not due to any lack of endeavour or anything, but because both sides were cancelling each other out all over the pitch.
Dean Rick got in some great positions in the box for Retford, but squandered a couple of made to measure chances right at the end of the 90 minutes.
However, the fact that he's getting in and around the box and finding the space to create chances during these practice games, shows that he's building up an understanding with those around him.
He looks to be forging a decent partnership with Brad Wells, but from my untrained eye, it seems that the Badgers are just lacking that little bit of creativity in midfield still. But they're a completely new side this season and that side of things will come as they get familiarised with their team mates.
To my way of thinking, Ollerton provided a stiffer test today than an out of sorts Hucknall Town did on Thursday night.
Askern Villa visit Cannon Park on Wednesday night as the rebuilding programme continues.
Talking of programmes, this one is very rare Terry ...
Get there earlier next time!

The Teversal Tournament reached it's climax today, Parkgate beat Staveley MW 4-1 in the final to take the inaugural trophy home to Yorkshire with them.
Parkgate is approx. 13 miles away from the Bassetlaw border.