Sunday, 11 November 2012

Grantham Town 1 v Bottesford Town 2 - Steve Asher Memorial Charity Cup - Abandoned 68 minutes

Bottesford are currently second in the Lincs Intermediate League Premier Division, while Grantham occupy bottom spot.
This morning, the match referee for this Steve Asher Memorial Charity Cup game, Darren Hunt, had also taken charge of the game between Sleaford Town Boys and Park Tigers at Elsaforde Park (a 2-1 home win), which would probably have been my first port of call today, if this was just any given Sunday.
But Remembrance Day isn't just like any given Sunday and personally I think all morning games that fall on this significant date, should be switched to later in the day or rescheduled altogether.
Football really isn't a matter of life or death and some things are infinitely more important.
WE SHALL REMEMBER THEM ... ALWAYS
I'm not entirely sure whether the person inputting information onto the LIFL mitoo site, had posted the WARNING notice about Darren Hunt, for the benefit of the match referee or to give the clubs a heads up that he was on his way. 
But I don't wish to come across as being facetious, so I'll shut my big gob on that particular subject.
We arrived at the South Kesteven Stadium about 35 minutes before the scheduled kick off time, hoping to sample a couple of pre match beers in the Strikers Bar, but it was shut.
So we entered the Stadium and decided to pick our spot, up in the grandstand, where I could pour us a nice mug of the home-made tomato soup I'd made earlier this morning apiece, to warm us against the chill wind that was whipping across the athletics ground.
Hmm, but there were two small snags to this plan:
1) There was a flask full of piping hot soup, sitting unopened on a kitchen worktop in East Retford, that I'd forgotten to pick up.
2) Bottesford's assistant manager appeared and asked us if we knew how to get to the pitch round the back of the stadium, because it had been decided that this game was being played out there instead.
The ground hopper gene in me, sat on one shoulder, chirping away happily about how Grantham's training pitch, actually constituted a new ground (of sorts) for me, given that I've previously seen Grantham play at South Kesteven Sports Stadium and on their old ground at London Road already, offered me a little (very little in fact) by way of consolation.
But my guardian angel, sat on the other side, moaned like hell, "Brilliant, another muddy field, with no facilities on a windswept afternoon, when you know you should have gone to the England v France Rugby League international in Salford instead"
I know which one of my demons was right, but at times like this, you just have to take the error of your ways on the chin, tough it out and look for the positives.
Which are, namely, err, there's some really nice soup waiting for me when I get home and < long pause for reflection > ah yes, those average speed cameras on the M62 en route to Salford, go on for miles and miles and they are soul destroying, but here, I'm only 25 minutes from home straight up the A1.
And Bottesford Town Under 18's are usually a dead good team to watch.
Bring it on!
Sunday 11th November 2012
at a field behind an athletics stadium, next to an industrial estate, just off the A1, on the southernmost edge of Grantham. A town that is responsible for both Nicholas Parsons and Margaret Thatcher, which, as a consequence (of both) should hang it's head in eternal shame.
The Steve Asher Memorial Charity Cup (a competition for teams who belong to the Lincolnshire Intermediate League).
GRANTHAM TOWN (0) 1
Number Nine 50
BOTTESFORD TOWN (2) 2
Kyle Jones 8, 42
Admission ex gratis. Attendance 38
GAME ABANDONED 68 MINUTES.
Result and details probably null and void.
The captain's met, the referee tossed the coin ... and prior to kick off, which the pedant in me noticed was nearly ten minutes late, there was an immaculately held minutes silence observed, in respect of Remembrance Sunday.
 
Two weeks ago, when these two sides played a league fixture, inside the actual stadium; Bottesford won 4-2 and Kyle Jones scored all four of their goals.
Last week he got a hat trick in a home game against Cleethorpes Town, today he struck twice in the first half before he had to come off ,having picked up a knock getting his second goal.
At the time of writing, it is unknown whether Kyle's brace of goals, or even the result itself will stand, given the unsatisfactory way this game came to a premature end, when it was abandoned by the referee Darren Hunt.
Bottesford's Intermediate League side, like to play a pass and go, quick moving game, which, it must be said, is a discipline they excel at when they put their minds to it.
And some of their passages of play they dominated today, made for some eye-catching entertainment, that (almost) made me forget, that I was 35 miles away from home, paddling around on a sticky field, on a chilly November afternnon.
On eight minutes, the Poachers diminutive number 9, Dale (I can't remember his surname, but it's no doubt out there somewhere on the internet, if you want to look it up, because he's breaking through into the first team at the moment), laid a neat pass, through the narrowest of gaps, into the path of Kyle Jones, who opened the scoring from six yards out.
Then Dale Whatsisname almost doubled the visitors lead, but with their keeper well beaten, a Grantham defender stopped the ball on the line and managed to get it away.
Bottesford looked very impressive and had a couple of chances to increase their lead, before Kyle Jones nipped in to nick a second goal, off the keepers toe, just before the break, after Dale 'Thingy' had played him in again.
Unfortunately, as the Grantham keeper had tried to clear the ball, he followed through and caught Jones on the ankle.
There was no deliberate intent and it was a complete accident.
Kyle Jones was gutted to have been taken off when he was sitting on a hat trick
HT - Gingerbreads 0 v Poachers 2
Grantham got a goal back 5 minutes into the second half, under completely mystifying circumstances.
Two Grantham attackers and a Bottesford defender, all collided in the six yard box and went to ground, no offence was committed, it was merely a case of three young players dashing around and coming into contact with each other.
But, as the visitors cleared their lines and looked to counter attack, the referee blew up because one of the Grantham lads hadn't got up yet.
A reasonable enough call, given that he might have been hurt.
But when it was clearly been established that the player was okay, Mr Hunt decided to restart the game with a drop ball, at the opposite side of the area to where the collision had occurred, in line with the six yard box.
As Bottesford had been in possession when the referee had blown up, because one of the home sides players was down ... well, far be it from me to call it, but I would've thought Grantham would be asked to kick it either, out of play for a goal kick, or to a Bottesford player, but they weren't.
From the drop ball, the ball was launched across the face of the goal and amidst a frantic scramble, Grantham's number 9 planted the ball just inside the post to pull a goal back.
Bottesford's manager called out to his players "The ref called it as he saw it, accept it. You should've cleared your line!"
Which, from where I had viewed the incident, seemed like a very generous way of responding to the goal. And demonstrated a great attitude to his young charges.
A few minutes later at the other end, a Grantham player went down following a 50/50 challenge and one of their coaches went on to treat him, ranting and raving at the referee to such an extent while he was doing so, that he got himself red carded
Having been sent off, he then retired behind the mesh fence at the sports centre end of the ground, to watch the remainder of the game from all of six feet away from the pitch.
During this unpleasant exchange, Grantham's manger had also encroached onto the pitch, to angrily express his views.
Quite why Darren Hunt was now being perceived as a villain in the Grantham management team's eyes, is anyone's guess. If anything, only a few moments earlier, he had virtually given them a helping hand in the build up to their goal.
As a neutral onlooker, I for one, was completely baffled by this turn of events.
Will (?), Grantham's captain, got clean through on goal, just after the hour mark, but he missed an absolute sitter.
A few minutes later, play switched to the other end again and the game was pulled up for a free kick to Bottesford ... and whoo-ah!
Things got completely out of hand.
The referee came in for a barrage of abuse from the home side's players and then *crunch time*, he dismissed a Grantham player (who had already been booked) for calling him 'a retard'.
But, in the heat of the moment, with tempers flaring all around him, Mr Hunt had penalised and dismissed the wrong player.
The Grantham manager was on the pitch again now, as were several parents and in the middle of all the chaos, another Grantham player appeared to have been red carded too.
Possibly order could have been restored, but I doubt it, once so many people had gone onto the pitch.
The referee picked up the ball and announced that the game was being abandoned on 68 minutes and that was that.
One grown up (I'm loathe to use the word adult) who invaded the pitch, said to me, that he was only trying to calm things down and it was all the referee's fault.
Hmm, I don't think Darren Hunt exactly covered himself in glory during the second half, but there were several other people on that pitch, who were culpable for his decision to abandon the game and, unlike the referee, they had no place being there.
If the result doesn't stand, then Bottesford Town will have made a 110 mile round trip for nothing and they haven't done anything wrong.
Either way, if the game is replayed, I won't be there.
I'm not for one moment suggesting that I'm of the opinion that the referee called everything right, but when all is said and done, if he did get things wrong, his were genuine mistakes and he hadn't gone out meaning to disadvantage either team.
I don't think I really need to go on about what I find unappealing about a return trip to Grantham Town any time soon. But, suffice to say, I'll still go to Birch Park to watch Bottesford's youngsters play, as and when.

Next up: England v France, live Rugby League international, on BBC2 any minute now.