Sunday, 13 May 2012

Gainsborough Trinity 0 v Nuneaton Town 1 - BSBN Play Off Final

Sunday 13th May 2012, at the Northolme
Blue Square Bet North, Play Off Final
Gainsborough Triniy (0) 0
Nuneaton Town (1) 1
Andy Brown 16
Admission £10 (all ticket), Programme £3.00
Attendance 3,946
Gainsborough Trinity:
Jason White, Dominic Roma, Kevin Sandwith, Luke Waterfall, Andrew Boyce, Shane Clarke, Jonathan D'Laryea, Ryan Williams (Leon Mettam), Ryan Kendall, Darryn Stamp (Paul Connor), Jamie Yates (Michael Leary)
Unused Subs - Lewis McMahon, Adam Watts
Nuneaton Town:
Neil Collett, Neil Cartwright, Simon Forsdick, Mark Noon, Gareth Dean, Guy Hadland, Adam Walker, Gary Mills, Danny Glover, Andy Brown, Lee Moore (James Armson)
Unused Subs - Eddie Nisevic, Danny Mitchley, Graham Ward, Mark Albrighton
Thursday morning and a cunning plan was hatched, in Gainsborough town centre, that meant yours truly ended up working just a few minutes away from where tickets for today's game were going on sale at 9am.
By way of a massive coincidence, I found myself joining the back of a queue of around 27 people, outside the Star Club, at just before 8.30am and before long my mission was accomplished and my 'hot ticket' for today's 'must see' game, had been secured.
Trinity manager Steve Housham and some of the players were there to greet people as they arrived, which was a nice touch, their arms must've been tired from all of that handshaking by the time they had finished, because when I came out of the Star Club, the queue had swelled and now reached all the way back to the Market Place.
I feel compelled to report that, to make up for my temporary absence from work, I laboured like a Trojan for the remainder of my shift, made the time up by not stopping for lunch and didn't even sit in the van listening to 'Popmaster' on BBC Radio 2, as per a long established tradition.
Amazingly, all of Trinity's 2,500 ticket allocation was completely sold out by mid afternoon.
Hence, my conscience is completely clear, about not waiting until after my shift had finished, before heading into town.
In the run up to the game, Nuneaton Town, had sold the bulk of their tickets too.
By 3pm today, a crowd of 3,946 had entered the Northolme, Trinity's one and only home, since they formed as Trinity Recreationalists in 1873.
It's a smashing old ground that will be sorely missed when the club build their new stadium and relocate.
With all the hype an excitement leading up to today's Play Off Final, there has been much talk of Gainsborough's long standing, never been promoted/never been relegated in their entire history record.
Some people, rightly so, have pointed out that the 'Holy Blues' are a former Football League club and have questioned the validity of that long standing claim to fame.
So let me clear that up: In days of old, when knights were bold and play offs weren't invented ... there was no such thing as automatic promotion to, or relegation from, the Football League in days of yore, but a process was set in stone (though the rules were never all that clear to many people other than those who were privy to Football League committee procedures), whereby clubs could be voted out of the League or elected in.
And even then, the turnover of clubs in and out of the League, was nothing like the annual event it is nowadays, in fact, any kind of change from the status quo, was a rather rare occurrence.
Trinity won the Midland League at the end of the 1890-91 season, but weren't promoted into the Football League until 1896. And when the Northolme club dropped out of the League again in 1912, they weren't relegated, they were voted out, in place of 'another Lincolnshire team', who come from the other side of Saxilby.
By a quake of fate, when automatic promotion and relegation (with a proviso vis. ground grading criteria), to and from the Football League, was introduced in 1987, that 'another Lincolnshire team' were the first club to face the drop. In fact, although they got back into the Football League, they were relegated again at the end of the 2010-11 season after losing 9 and drawing 1 of their last ten games. After a fairly uninspiring first year back in Non League football, when they flirted with back to back relegations for a while, the Imps finally clawed their way up to a 17th place finish. And of course, will be playing against the winners of today's Play Off Final.
Nuneaton Town, are the reformed, phoenix-esque successor of Nuneaton Borough, who went into liquidation in June 2008.
It was a really bad time for the club, who had to take an enforced drop down two leagues, to the Southern League Division 1 (Midlands) and adopt the name change. Although it wasn't the first time the Nuneaton Town name had been used, in fact, Nuneaton Borough were formed in 1937, two days after the original Nuneaton Town (previously Nuneaton St. Nicholas, formed 1889) went out of business.
Hoorah! For Wikipedia and the internet, I say ;-)
Today's victory gave the reborn Warwickshire club their third promotion in four seasons.
And all three of those successes have been via the Play Offs.
They were also beaten 3-2 on aggregate in last season's BSBN Play Off semi finals, by AFC Telford United, who went on to gain promotion by beating Guiseley in the final.
Guiseley probably aren't quite as fond of the Play Off format as Nuneaton Town, because after finishing second in the table this season, they were beaten in the semi's by 'Boro', as Nuneaton's fans still call them.
If you want any more background and preamble about today's game than that lot ... Fill the rest in yourselves!
Andy Brown heads home the only goal of the game

Trinity started the liveliest today and abandoned the cautious approach they used against FC Halifax Town, by going straight for the Visitors jugular.
Neil Collett in the Nuneaton goal was called upon to make the first save of the game after a couple of minutes, when Ryan Kendal turned Ryan Williams' cross goal-wards.
Darryn Stamp was next to threaten Collett's goal, but his effort went wide.
Stamp then released Williams on the right again, but Kendal couldn't get on the end of the diminutive midfield powerhouse's cross.
It was an assured, lively and enterprising open spelling for Trinity, who were making a promising start.
However all of that was undone, when Kevin Sandwith gave away a free kick, as Nuneaton attacked down the right wing on 16 minutes.
Adam Waller knocked a short free kick towards the visitors right back Neil Cartwright, who pumped a deep cross into the box. Andy Brown rose up amongst a clutch of bodies and directed the ball beyond the outstretched hand of Jason White with his head and into the net.
Cue pandemonium amongst the Nuneaton fans packed behind that goal and a quick reassuring glance at wristwatches elsewhere in the ground, to confirm that it wasn't quite time for 'panic stations' just yet, because there were still 74 minutes left and the game was (apparently) far from over.
Brown's goal, knocked Trinity out of their stride completely and a previously open game, became a bit scrappy, with neither side making much headway or creating many clear cut chances.
Andy Boyce made a yard for himself and got on the end of a Jamie Yates corner, but headed the ball narrowly wide.
There were calls for a penalty when Darryn Stamp was flattened on the edge of the area, but the referee ruled that the offence was committed just outside the box.
Kevin Sandwith, Trinity's dead ball specialist, hit the free kick against a Nuneaton defender, which took the sting out of it and Collett made the save with ease.
After the break, Trinity created a string of half chances and put the ball into the visitors box, time after time. But Nuneaton repelled their efforts, time and time again too.
So Steve Housham, the Blues manager, decided to change things around a bit and Gainsborough shaped up to make a real go of it.
Darren Roma floated the ball into the danger zone, Luke Waterfall headed the ball on to Paul Connor and a trademark Gainsborough move had 'Boro' on the back foot, as an equaliser appeared to be on the cards.
Time stood still, as the big centre forward snatched at what looked like a gilt edged chance and missed the target.
Granted, he didn't have much time to size the options and angles up, because a Nuneaton player was homing in on him (see below), but that was definitely Trinity's best chance of the afternoon.
Trinity were now committed to pushing forward, in pursuit of the elusive goal, which ordinarily would've left them vulnerable to counter attacks at the back. But every time the away team knocked the ball up the field, Andy Boyce seemed to be on hand, to head the ball back into the Nuneaton half.
Chances were now at a premium as Kevin Wilkin's side kept it tight, while Gainsborough battled vaingloriously to break them down.
Though it was mostly Gainsborough giving it a real go now, take nothing away from Nuneaton. Although they were now defending deep to preserve their lead, they had worked hard as a team when it mattered and were ahead on merit, given all the graft they had put in.
There is no hiding from the fact, that at times, this was a no frills, no thrills game, but the magnitude of the prize on offer, combined with two well matched sides not wanting to give anything away, wasn't exactly a recipe for open, attractive and entertaining football.
But what we did get instead, was a compelling and intriguing game, that you couldn't take your eyes off for a moment.
The Blue Square Premier represents the 'big time' for both these clubs, so there was hardly going to be a game game of gung ho, throwing caution to the wind cavalier football.
Besides, it was fairly evident, that there were a lot of tired legs out on the pitch, coming up to the end of an extended run in to season.
With the clock running down, Andy Boyce flicked the ball into the path of Ryan Kendal, who fired narrowly wide from 15 yards out.
Moments later Leon Mettam released Luke Waterfall at the back stick, but his effort was saved.
And that was it.
Neil Collett, steady enough keeper, perpetual time-waster
The final whistle sounded and Nuneaton Town were promoted.
Good luck to them in the BSBP next term, if they're half as resilient as they were today, they're going to be a tough nut to crack in the next league up.
But Trinity shouldn't be too disappointed.
Since Steve Housham took over the managerial reigns from Brian Little, the 'Holy Blues' have never looked back and they've had a great 2011-12 season, after a few really awful ones.
Gainsborough Trinity have got an enviable blend of both the right man in charge at the club and a great manager running the team, it all bodes well for next season and beyond.
Congratulations Nuneaton Town