Saturday, 9 July 2016

Clipstone 2 v Mansfield Town XI 2 - PSF

Saturday 9th July 2016
Pre-Season Friendly
at the Worksop Van Hire Stadium,
Lido Ground, Clipstone
Clipstone FC (1) 2
Martin Brissett 6
Reece Littlejohn 82
Mansfield Town (1) 2
Mitchell Rose 34
Adi Yussuf 52
Admission £5. Attendance 364
Programme/teamsheet 50p/free (thanks James)
In days of old, when knights were bold, way back in the mists of time, in 1979, I spent my first ever day working for the National Coal Board, at Clipstone Colliery, via the obligatory 'cough and drop' visit to the nurse with ice cold hands, in the medical centre on the opposite side of the road to the pit, where a Chinese Takeaway, formerly a 'chippy' now stands. 
Life went full circle this week and I was back in the village salvaging scrap metal from the railway, that used to run from the pit, as one of the local lines was that used to serve coal trains heading towards the power stations was removed. 
My employers figured out that we better get there first, before somebody else weighed it all in.
To be honest, I'm surprised that some of the dubious characters who frequent the local roads in the vicinity, late at night, in Transit vans with a couple of handy looking brutes sat alongside them in the passenger seat, haven't nicked the twin towers yet, a listed monument (along with the head stocks), that still stands as a reminder cum monument, of 'how we used to live'.
Clipstone Colliery, which closed in 2003, is by far the deepest coal mine that I ever went down, with a depth of over 1,000 feet in places. 
So now you know; take notes, there will be a multiple choice answers quiz at the end.
Sadly, a wicked witch called Margaret Thatcher had been elected as Prime Minister the day before I left school and as the Tories managed to tear communities apart, polarising and splitting the proletariat straight down the middle, in an extreme act of divide and conquer (sound familiar to anything that's possibly happened recently?) that was never really repaired, the coal industry was soon under the axe and things would never be the same again. Even now, 37 years later, some deep set grudges that emanated from that era still fester, as a working class once divided and never reunited, still turn on each other instead of their real enemy.
Those who don't learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them and... Oh! They already are doing! 
Some people reckon that things can and will only get better; but I reckon that Theresa May has the capacity to make 'Maggie' look like a benevolent and  kindly school dinner lady by comparison. 
We're doomed Captain Mainwaring, doomed I tell you!
But moving quickly on from the history lesson and political studies lecture, it's play time. 
And I give you: Clipstone FC v a Mansfield Town XI made up of a mixture of first team players and development squad lads, that preluded the Stags were taking part in a second fixture at Carlton Town this afternoon, with a similarly juxtaposed squad.
The overnight rain that had carried on throughout the morning, saw several games postponed today, but the pitch at the Worksop Van Hire Stadium, that the Stags have been training on this week, drains well and was in excellent condition, even though a vindictive person had gone to the trouble of contacting Mansfield Town FC earlier in the week, to make false allegations about the playing surface being unfit for purpose. I don't understand the mentality of the kind of bitter minded saboteurs who get off on trying to cause problems for local non league football clubs in this way. They either need professional help, or a damn good kicking. 
After sampling some delicious food and imbibing in a few refreshing beverages from the Cobras fully licensed bar, we found an optimum viewing spot, pitch side... and settled down to enjoy our first football match of the day.
For the record: our second game today was originally meant to be Real United v AFC Mansfield, but the home side had to pull out of that one over a paperwork issue. However they then consented to letting the Bulls play a hastily arranged game against Matlock Town (whose scheduled friendly at Shirebrook Town today, had been postponed earlier in the week) on their ground instead, but had to call that replacement fixture off this morning, because of  a waterlogged pitch. 
By heck! I do not miss being on the end of the phone 24/7/365 performing the role of a matchday secretary on days like this.
I salute all of the ladies and gentlemen, who give their all to committing to such a thankless position at any given club, you have my utmost admiration... and sympathy. 
By the same token, I say, in an ever so polite but firm manner, to the clubs who've approached me recently, in regards to ever taking up such a role again, err... it's definitely not for me ta very much, I live near to Rampton Mental Hospital, but not actually in it!
Had it not been for some stout and resolute defending by Rob Paling as he turned Pat Hoban's thumping shot from twelve yards around the post and a quite remarkable sequence of play in which Steve Hernandez, the Cobras goalkeeper, made three point blank saves from Adi Yussuf in quick succession, as he latched onto the ball as Hoban's shot rebounded off the woodwork, the game might have effectively been over as a contest inside the first three minutes. However such is the contrary nature of football, Clipstone went ahead from their first attack, when Martin Brissett ceased on a lapse of concentration in the Stags defence by 'Trialist' and floated a well executed lob over Scott Shearer in the sixth minute.
Brissett was close to getting onto the end of a right wing cross a few minutes later, but Louis Danquah intervened and calmly headed the ball back to Scott Shearer, as the Stags youngster, who signed first team forms this week (along with Tyler Blake) put in another assured performance at left back, while getting forward down the flank in support of the Stags attackers.
Another youngster, Corbin Shires, who made his Stags first team debut at 17 years of age in the League Cup game at Sheffield Wednesday last August, but suffered badly with both injuries and a serious illness for most of the remainder of the season, is repaying the faith shown in him by both the development and first team coaches at Field Mill and he's stood out in both pre-season games he's played in so far, after making his comeback in John Dempster's U18 side at the end of April. Corbin's had to work really hard to get his career back on track and he has been busting a gut in training by all accounts, so credit where it's due.
Billy Fox is assembling a decent looking side at Clipstone, the new faces at the Lido impressed today as they slotted in well with the players who are still at the club from last season. 
I have a copy of both the programme sheet that was issued on the gate and the official team sheet, but although you will no doubt be able to peruse the line ups elsewhere, I will respect the Cobras managers polite request not to post the details, in spite of the 364 hardy souls who turned out in such foul weather, possibly having been privy to them, because all managers want to maintain a degree of candor about there pre-season preparations. 
Discretion is the better part of valour.
Littlejohn in the heart of Robin Hood country
I'll probably add the teams to this long winded overview at a later date when everything is done and dusted.
But, getting back to the action and away from the protocol: Adam Chapman had a goal bound strike charged down on the edge of the home side's penalty area, but the Stags were on level terms after thirty four minutes, when Mitch Rose shot home from outside the box and netted with a textbook finish that bounced awkwardly on the sodden pitch in front of Hernandez and before going in under his elongated torso.
The visitors finished the first half strongly, with Hoban having a goal ruled out for offside and Yussuf placing a firm strike just wide of the upright after Hernandez had parried CJ Hamilton's initial effort..
HT: Cobras 1 v Stags 1
It was no surprise when Yussuf found the net from close range to put the Stags ahead in the fifty second minute, because he'd been chomping at the bit all game (pretty much the same as last week at Rainworth) and is evidently going to hit the ground running this season.
The remainder of the second half, saw a staggered succession of young Mansfield players enter the fray, some of who will be making their curtain call with the Under 18 side this season and as Adam Chapman left the field of play the responsibility of captaining the side was presented to Tyler Blake, who partnered the newly installed first team coach Karl Hawley up front. 
On today's showing the Stags would do well to consider giving Hawley a player registration too, to cover for any striking emergency that might arise during future games, seeing as he will be in situ at every game anyway.
The youngsters put on a neat display of passing football and retained the ball very well, but Clipstone were still in the hunt for a result.
Josh Nodder threaded a great pass through to Reece Littlejohn, who knocked in an equalising goal from a narrow angle near the right hand post, that squeezed it's way in via a slight deflection, with eight minutes remaining on the clock.
The rain that had been torrential in the hour leading up to kick off, which put a lot of lightweight and Lilly livered fair weather supporters off of heading outdoors this lunchtime and had impacted on the attendance figure, had cleared away by the end of the game, which is typical of the kind of luck some local clubs are experiencing already this pre-season.
But the extra effort that Clipstone FC had gone to, to ensure today's friendly match passed with a hitch, was greatly appreciated by the 364 people who were unperturbed by the elements.
Although these games aren't about results, the final outcome was a pretty fair one. Mansfield had enjoyed a better ratio of chances, but the Cobras had worked hard and had never looked like they were going to be turned over by their EFL Division 2 neighbours.
All in all, a worthwhile exercise for all concerned.
FT: Clipstone 2 v Mansfield Town 2 
The Stags pre-season entourage left Clipstone and headed for a 4pm kick off against Carlton Town, but, I had to be back in East Retford for 5.15pm for a 'curry night' date with my granddaughter (yes, I know it will surprise you all that I am really that old, given my youthful appearance and frequently immature behaviour) and woe betide me if I'd missed that. So we headed to Worksop Town v Lincoln City for our second game instead.
The Stags face Bolton Wanderers at home next Saturday, while Clipstone travel to Ollerton Town on Tuesday, before entertaining Hallam FC at the Worksop Van Hire Stadium next Saturday.
All the young dudes