Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Holbrook St. Michaels 1 v Sutton Town AFC 3 - CMFL South

Wednesday 22nd May 2013
Central Midlands League (South)
Holbrook St. Michaels (0) 1
Chris Saunders 90+3
Sutton Town AFC (1) 3
Gary Atkins 10, Andy White 54, Dale Gilliatt 84
Attendance 147 a record crowd for Holbrook St. Michaels
Sutton Town AFC are confirmed as CMFL South Champions.
Thanks, thanks and thrice thanks, to the Lord Provost of Scotter, who picked me up en route to Holbrook from his fiefdom this evening, because the medication I've been enjoying and necking in copious amounts today, had rendered me unfit and unsafe to drive. Ok, nothing new there several of my crash test dummy-esque regular automobile passengers might think. But seriously, without the kind offer of a lift from Mr Picken, I would not have been able to get to Holbrook Park tonight, to reach a personal milestone.
I've finally visited all 33 current CMFL North and South grounds. Of course, there will be new teams coming into the league next year, who I'll no doubt get around to visiting eventually, if not necessarily immediately, or especially urgently. But as of now, for one night only, I am no longer a keen football supporter, but a fully fledged, time served, Central Midlands Football League completist groundhopper. Or even a completest ground hopper, as this crappy American spellchecker that Google blog uses would say.
And rather fittingly for the occasion, my chauffeur even provided a most agreeable soundtrack to accompany our journey.
Oh yes! Crazy Horse! No, not Emlyn 'is is Princess Anne?' Hughes of the f-ing Osmonds, but Neil Young, you bloody philistines.
Upon arrival at the ground, tucked into the corner of a country estate, among the herd of inquisitive cows who were watching on as the Millets Mafia arrived en masse, we were joined by the charming, amusing and knowledgeable, Mr Sheff Geoff ... lock up your daughters Holbrook, the Macho Massive are out in force tonight lay-dees!
Though programmes were a quid a go, admission tonight was free.
However, raffle tickets, hot drinks from the tea bar and cans of beer, on sale from a table behind the managers dug outs, had no fixed price, but were all available for a voluntary donation of your choice. Obviously this was a chance for the freeloader fraternity to fill their boots, but I don't think anybody took advantage of the situation and everyone seemed to reciprocate the clubs generosity at the gate, by paying over the odds for their purchases.
Hmm ... a damn smart marketing idea by the club, if you ask me.
The star of the show, was without a doubt, the Saints club official who went around selling the raffle tickets and did a couple of circuits of the pitch to count and double count the 'official' attendance.
He had time for a friendly chat with just about everybody present as he happily and obviously very proudly answered a multitude of questions about his football club.
"Oh please take a picture of our tiny stand and mock it on the internet later" he joked, "There's no such thing as bad publicity".
Tell you what though, there was nothing bad to say anyway and I won't be alone tonight, in putting compliment strewn blurb about a first time visit to this smashing little ground, on the t'internet.
Though hopefully most people won't resort to using quite as many patronising cliches as that last sentence contains.
The world's smallest stand?
Or the world's largest fooball fans?
So where was I again?
Oh yes, (legally) drugged up, blissed out, Neil Young, the first time I've seen the sun since 2007 (or thereabouts) and ... Oh yes, a title deciding football match and a new ground to add to my lengthy ground visit tick spreadsheet*
So this would be Utopia then.
Holbrook were an attacking force to be reckoned with at Clifton a few days ago, whilst as for Sutton Town AFC; well, one could be forgiven, for assuming they're a bit on the physical side, not adverse to a bit of argy bargy and rough n' tumble, or basically, in a nutshell, a mardy bunch of moaning fecks, going by the evidence of the previous three times I've watched them this month.
But tonight, well, what a transformation.
The Saints played what can only be described as polite football, almost as though their strict parents were watching on and they knew that they would have their ball confiscated and get sent to bed early, if they played rough, or made too much noise in their nice neighbourhood of an evening.
Whilst the Snipes, suddenly turned into an efficient and not half bad football team, who had simultaneously forgotten how to shout profanities at the match officials and remembered how to adopt a neat passing style of play at the same time.
Either this brilliant game, known as association football, always throws up a plethora of twists, turns and sub plots, that never fail to amaze me, time after time, or these bloody happy trip pills are the bestest medication ever.
I suspect a combination of both composite elements were at work this evening.
Anyway, a bit of background to tonight's game:
It transpired, after Monday nights game at Bilsthorpe, which Sutton lost to set up tonight's nail biting finish to the season ... the victors, Clifton All Whites, have been accused of playing somebody, or some bodies, who they shouldn't have done.
And as a consequence, if Holbrook St. Michaels won tonight, Pinxton might not win the league after all, because the Snipes v Clifton game might have to be replayed.
I must say at this point, that those allegations against Clifton are only hearsay and may well be unfounded and talk of a possible replay, might have merely been far fetched speculation too.
By my understanding of the rules (which is only tenuous, at best), that replay scenario, would never have actually gone ahead, regardless of tonight's result..
If it is proven that Clifton had used an ineligible player, or players, then they will be docked the three points they won at Bilsthorpe on Monday, but, I don't think those points will be awarded to Sutton and, especially with a league title at stake, the league would then have had to arbitrate between Pinxton and Sutton, which could open a whole can of worms. And such a situation, would've put the CMFL committee in a most unenviable position.
It's not a decision that I would want to have to make, that's for sure, because either way, somebody was going to be unhappy with the outcome.
They must be very relieved that the CMFL South title outcome was decided tonight, at this quaint pasture on a sunny evening in Derbyshire.
A very serious looking contingent from Pinxton were in attendance tonight, ready to discuss the situation with any CMFL official within earshot ... in a calm and constructive manner no doubt.
Well, in their position, wouldn't you want to ask a few questions?
But, in the event, Sutton won comfortably and deciding the league title by political means, or a best of three game of paper, scissors, stone, was thankfully avoided.
Gary Atkins put the visitors ahead, from the epicentre of a goalmouth scramble in the tenth minute and though Holbrook saw a lot of the ball in and around the Snipes goalmouth, it was all pretty much up in hair and easily dealt with.
But half time came and there was still only one goal in it, so both the game and the two horse race for the title, were both still very much alive.
In the 54th minute, Andy White, Sutton's experienced striker, made it 0-2 and Dean Short's side now had one hand on the championship trophy.
A Nathan Hollingworth free kick was headed home by Craig Mitchell, but the effort was disallowed.
You couldn't see Sutton chucking the game away now, but ... I saw Holbrook score two goals in as many minutes at the weekend and as the game approached the final five minutes, the Snipes could really have done with another goal, just to make sure.
Almost as though it had been scripted, Dale Gilliatt arrived unmarked inside the Holbrook six yard box and latched onto a hopeful punt across the face of the goal, helping it into the net from virtually under the cross bar and the title was heading to the Fieldings now and no mistake.
Several minutes into stoppage time, the Saints did score a consolation goal when Chris Saunders scored off the rebound after Gav Saxby had blocked his initial shot.
And that was that.
Congratulations to Sutton Town AFC on winning the CMFL title.
FT - Holbrook St. Michaels 1 v Sutton Town AFC
And so ends another season for THE66POW.
Of course, behind the scenes at the two clubs I'm going to be on board with next season (one predominantly more than the other), closed season for spectators, is busy, busy time for us worker ants, so lets get cracking without further ado, while these tablets are still kicking in.
God bless 2012-13 and all that sailed in her, I've really enjoyed my season.
*Footnote, I don't really have a 'lengthy ground visit tick spreadsheet', what kind of a sad, anorak, football obsessive do you think I am!?