Saturday, 27 February 2016

Harworth Colliery 5 v Bilsthorpe 0 - CMFL North

Saturday 27th February 2016
at the Jones & Co. Ground, Scrooby Road, Bircotes
Central Midlands League (North)
Harworth Colliery (2) 5
Blake Freeman 13, 37, 77 pen
Kenzie Tomlinson 85
Greg Archer 87
Bilsthorpe (0) 0
Admission £3. Programme £1. Attendance 68
Click HERE for a few more photos from today
Harworth Colliery:
Tim Whitehouse, Greg Fox, Jacob Dawson, Kenzie Tomlinson, Greg Archer (C), Nathan Millington, Ross Taylor, Josh Dickinson, Tom Pick, Blake Freeman, Marley Ader
Subs - Tom Hawkridge, Jack Ellis, Billy Ball, Tom Walker, Steve Wibberley (GK)
Lee Bowler, Stuart Grozier, Jon Rowbotham, Sam Hardy, Kyle Wesley, Gareth Pope, George Simpson, Scott Wesley, Craig Gould, Dominic Hammond, James Scothern
Subs - Kyle Gould, Steven Smith, Liam Raby, Paul Leatherland
I was quite overwhelmed, by the great welcome I received from so many friendly and familiar faces at Scrooby Road this afternoon. 
Thank you all for making me feel so welcome, it really meant a lot and it was great to be back among so many down to earth real friends.
When you've done your bit for the Colliery cause, the hand of friendship will always extended upon your return. 
Once you've been a part of it, you are always going to be a part of it.
Cheers mi dears, I was well chuffed with your genuinely warm greetings, it was actually very humbling.
It's good to see that Scrooby Road is currently a work in progress, as the CMFL North champions elect, work flat out to get things in shape for the NCEL ground grading committee. 
Todays 5-0 win, sees Harworth sitting nicely at the top of the table, which is testament to all of the hard work the dedicated few at the club are putting in.
Just a short few years ago, who would ever have thought that this smashing little club could be on the verge of a rise back up into the NCEL?
What a complete transformation Harworth Colliery FC is going through, well done to each and every one of you. 
Typically, the club's chairman wasn't in residence today when I called by, because he was helping out with the reserve side at an away game in Mickleover, where they lost 5-1.
Alas, this afternoon won't be fondly remembered for the Colliery's 5-0 win against a fellow Nottinghamshire club, that upped the stakes for them in the promotion race, because the Harworth performance played second fiddle to that of the referee, who hogged centre stage... and I'm afraid that it has got to be said, that as regards today's big top entertainment, the match officials were far from being the ringmasters of the piece.
In actual fact, they were the guys wearing big red noses and revolving bow ties, but unlike any real circus clowns you might have seen, these weren't even in the slightest bit amusing.
Strong words perhaps and I would seriously advise neither of today's teams to cut and paste any of this onto your website, because you'd probably get fined for sharing such views, but I have a duty to report things exactly as I see them, without soft focusing anything... and it would take a monumental amount of historical revision to claim that today's officiating was anywhere near the expected standard.
We are all only human and make several split second errors of judgement on a daily basis, but sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say that you've got things horribly wrong.
People will respect you a whole lot more if you do that, rather than coming out with a string of excuses to cover your tracks.
Furthermore, though Harworth won because they were the better team and nothing should take that away from them, because it is a fact; it would also be fair to say that Bilsthorpe were somewhat hampered by a referee who didn't seem to like them very much.
I have watched (and had cordial dealings with) Mr Jackson in action numerous times and I would go as far as to say, that based on previous experiences, he is one of the better match officials at this level, but he had a bad day at the office today.
In fact he had an absolute stinker.
Of course, I could be accused of bias, given the Mansfield connections of today's visitors and their manager Dean Mitchell in particular, but anyone who knows me will confirm that I definitely wouldn't ever be impartial at any game that included a Harworth Colliery side... this is the place where I rediscovered my football mojo, after a less than pleasant experience elsewhere.
I have many lifelong friends around the club, the guy I cadged the team line ups off of is a relative of mine. So yes, I was biased alright, towards the home club, which surely highlights just how bad Bilsthorpe must've had it today, if even I am sympathetic towards their plight and feel that they have suffered one or two injustices along the way.
I certainly don't feel great about pointing the finger and stating categorically that a usually perfectly competent individual had an awful game today. But though I may appear to be harshly staging some sort of witch hunt, I am merely relating what I witnessed with my own disbelieving eyes earlier today.
Believe me I have proof read this post and moderated it's tone and content somewhat, out of respect to all parties.
Tim Whitehouse saves acrobatically from Tomo Pick (out of shot)
Right so where were we?
Oh yes... with a slightly delayed kick off, high flying Harworth Colliery were entertaining 12th placed Bilsthorpe. It was a perfect afternoon for playing football and the pitch looked in remarkably fine fettle for the end of February.
What could possibly go wrong?
Ross Taylor started the ball rolling for the home side, with a knock down the right flank to Josh Dickinson, who swung the ball across the face of Bilsthorpe's goal, where neither Tom Pick or Kenzie Tomlinson could get quite enough of a touch on it to cause Tim Whitehouse any trouble and the visitors cleared the ball forward to Dominic Hammond, took a touch too many and was halted by Nathan Millington.
Dickinson used his pace to break free on the right again and delivered a measured pass into the path of Pick, who's blistering close range effort was turned over the bar acrobatically by Whitehouse.
Kyle Wesley blocked Pick's run to goal and headed the ball back to his keeper, from a probing long pass from MIllington, but the same tactic and combination of players created the Colliery's opening goal on 13 minutes, when Pick held off the attentions of two defenders and rolled the ball sideways to Blake Freeman who steered the ball into the goal from close range, while Bilsthorpe appealed for a foul on Whitehouse who was trying to smother the ball by the left hand post.
I scribbled down "Referee and older linesman acting very strangely today, as if they would rather be somewhere else... anywhere else in fact!", in my Wilko's value range jotter, in response to a curious incident that occurred shortly after the opening goal... hopefully a one off, eh!?
Kenzie Tomlinson agonizes over his miscued shot 
Greg Archer played a free kick to Tomlinson, who tried to catch Whitehouse out with a reflex shot from 18 yards, that ended up going out of play for a throw in 30 yards from the corner flag on the far touchline. Whoops!
James Scothern combined with George Simpson as Bilsthorpe put the home side on the back foot, but Greg Fox intervened and cleared the ball at the expense of a corner.
The flag kick came to nothing and Harworth cleared their lines with Fox sprinting forwards forty yards (just pause and reflect on that 100% true statement for a moment) and fed the ball forward to Taylor, who was struggling for pace haven taken a knock earlier in the game, and the baby-faced assassin was unable to get much purchase on the ball and he under hit his cross.
Taylor left the field of play, limping out of the game shortly afterwards.
Simpson, Hammond and Craig Gould passed the ball neatly across the edge of the Harworth penalty area, but none of them could get a clear shot on goal and Archer blocked the latter's effort on goal.
It is a widely held opinion that Archer should be playing at a higher level than the Central Midlands League... it is a view that I happen to share too.
Simpson tried his luck from twenty yards for the visitors, but he had got his angles all wrong and... err, least said soonest mended, but mind my feckin' car next time you try something like that pal!
The Colliery were two goals to the good on 37 minutes, when once again Freeman was the beneficiary of Pick's hard work, and he knocked the ball in from four yards after his strike partner had put it on a plate for him.
On the stroke of half time, Millington hit a free kick on target, but his powerful drive was aimed straight at Whitehouse.
HT: Harworth Colliery 2 v Bilsthorpe 0
It would be churlish of me to suggest that at least two of the match officials ingested hallucinogenic drugs during the interval, washed down with a steaming mug of mushroom tea, made from those special bullet headed fungi that thrive so well on the Scrooby Road hockey pitch during the incubation season... so I won't!
But that would certainly explain an awful lot about the way the second half shaped up from hereon in.
Hammond raced into the Colliery area through the left channel and was just about to unleash an angled shot, when Tomlinson shoved him in the back. The Bilsthorpe striker hit the deck, but Harworth cleared their lines as the referee waved play on. 
If Mr Jackson thought there hadn't been a push, then he should've yellow carded Hammond for 'assimilation', but he was happy to just let the game go on.
The visitors were incensed and they piled forward in numbers in a bid to put right the perceived injustice that they had every right to feel aggrieved about. But Scothern cracked a shot narrowly wide of the upright and Archer got in a blocking tackle when Jon Rowbotham released Simpson on the overlap a few minutes later. 
Bilsthorpe's No. 10 Hammond (left). Harworth's No. 6 Millington (right)
All hell broke loose when Hammond, shielding the ball from Tomlinson out by the touchline, lashed his arm out across the Colliery youngsters face... it warranted the straight red card that Rob Jackson brandished immediately and Hammond walked off the pitch, while Millington piled in to stick up for his injured teammate and remonstrated angrily with the Bilsthorpe number 10. Freeman ushered Millington away from the fracas, but the referee walked towards him and raised his red card to the Harworth number 6, before turning to the Bilsthorpe bench and sending off their manager for aiming a few choice words his way. 
Bizarrely, Mr Jackson then marched Millington away from the gathering of coaches and players and issued him with a yellow card. Uh!? Wow! 'That will be some fine he'll get, a straight red and a yellow' I thought. 
But it became evident that Millington was going nowhere and he'd actually escaped with just a booking. The official then told the visitors bench that he hadn't shown the Harworth player a red, but had shown it to Hammond again to make sure he'd seen it. That is highly unlikely, particularly when you look at the positioning of the two players in question on the picture above and consider the fact that the match official had just turned away from Hammond, who was already off the pitch and taken a couple of strides towards Millington before raising the red card again. 
If only the match official had raised his hands and conceded that he'd dropped a bollock in the heat of the moment (and it was a very heated moment) he could have avoided a lot of trouble.
Oh well, at least I can see now he's been moved ;-)
As I stood overlooking the crazy scene that was unfolding right in front of me, stood on the elevated section inside the stand, which gave me a panoramic view of far more than I really wanted to see, I wished that this mornings game had kicked off later now, so I'd had to go to a three o'clock kick off somewhere else instead.
Dean Mitchell suffered the further ignominy of having to watch the remainder of the game from up in the stand stood with me, poor bugger.
I commented to both managers at full time, that I didn't have a bleedin' clue how I was going to write this lot up later, but I figured that I'd just call it all as I saw it and if anybody wants to take issue with my version of events, then that is their perogative... but I'm telling the truth!
Anyway, in spite of the referee's suggestion that the game would be abandoned if a few people didn't calm down a bit, play restarted, but the controversy hadn't finished yet.
Freeman and Grozier met head on in a chase for the ball in visitors goal area, they were both heading sideways across the area in opposite directions... Freeman won the ball and nudged it past the visitors captain, who grabbed the Harworth strikers arm and spun him round. A definite penalty, because it was a foul in the area, but as Freeman wasn't actually heading towards the goal, the straight red shown to Grozier did seem a bit harsh.
Freeman nets his hat trick
Freeman and Pick debated who would be taking the spot kick and the latter was magnanimous enough to allow his partner to score his hat trick. Freeman duly dispatched the ball past Bowler and Bilsthorpe's afternoon was in tatters now, but they still mustered an attack and Kyle Gould (I think, because there is no requirement for teams to write substitutes numbers on their paperwork in this league, so I am assuming he was their number 12) shot wide of the Colliery goal with his first touch, after Gareth Pope and Simpson had threaded a couple of passes together inside the final third.
Inside the last five minutes, Bilsthorpe's Gareth Pope was booked while trying to organise a defensive wall. His manger had been shouting instructions to his assistant and missed the incident, so he asked me what had happened... "Oh, the referee caught him wearing a blue shirt so he was fair game". There's many a true word spoken in jest!
Harworth rubbed salt into Bilsthorpe's very open wounds, when Pick passed the ball sideways to Dickinson who rolled it into the path of Tomlinson and the Colliery number 4 found the bottom corner of Whitehouse's net from 20 yards out.
From the restart, Harworth regained possession, pushed forward and won a corner. 
Tomlinson floated it in from out on the right and Archer met the ball at the back post and powered a header into the roof of the net. Five-nil, game over!
I was delighted that Harworth had won by a big enough margin to move back to the top of the table on goal difference, but you couldn't help but feel sorry for the visitors, who had got absolutely nothing from the match officials all afternoon.
FT: Harworth Colliery 5 v Bilsthorpe 0
Oh well, after writing that 100% impartial eye witness statement cum match report, I guess nobody who was involved will ever want to talk to me again. Such is life.
Rob Jackson is normally a very good referee, but in all honesty, I was really glad I wasn't having to mark him today and I don't envy either club secretary who had that job to do in the aftermath of such a below par performance. Mr Jackson will have better days, but I couldn't imagine he'll have any worse ones.
Good luck to all three teams involved today (Harworth, Bilsthorpe and the match officials), for the remainder of the season and if anybody feels offended by any of the above, que sera! 
'Tis merely the view of a neutral bystander, who doesn't have an axe to grind with anyone who was at Scrooby Road this afternoon.
The only way is up... baby!