Monday 4 March 2024

Something for the weekend...

And all the world is football shaped.
This weekend I have mostly been traversing the English settlement that encompasses the clubs who ply their trade in the North West Counties Football League.
Life begins at the hop, boys and girls,
I arrived at Birmingham International train station in plenty of time to liaise with the reprobates bus, organised by the perpetually roaming football travellers body that go by the name of Groundhop UK.
"Let the bus take care of the fuss" you might say. 
Well it makes perfect sense to me... and if Chris, Laurence and Co. wish to adopt that as their sobriquet byline slogan, then I cordially invite them to feel free to filch anything that they may wish to liberate from this: misanthropic, self-indulgent bullshit blog, with added football content, any time that they may wish to do so.
After a couple more pick-up stops en-route (which sadly, for myself and a few others I spoke to across the weekend, didn't include East Midlands Parkway), our jalopy parked up a few hundred yards from FC St Helens' ground, due to the logistics of the local one-way system and a few 'challenging' bends that were never designed to accommodate any kind of vehicle much bigger than an average-sized family car. 
But an army of FCSH meet and greeters were on hand to make sure that everyone reached their intended destination in plenty of time for kick-off. 
To their immense credit the club extended a most agreeable standard of friendly and welcoming hospitality all night.
Fri Mar 1:
NWCL Div 1 N - 7.45pm
Windleshaw Sports Ground
FC St. Helens (1) 1
Josh Hall
Daisy Hill (0) 0
Attendance: 504
We wouldn't be reaching and booking in to our hotel (in Blackpool) until around 11pm, so I sought out sustenance ASAP when we arrived at Windleshaw Sports Ground and was very impressed with the pie, peas and gravy that only set me back a mere two pounds and fifty pence.
In line with all the other host clubs throughout the Groundhop event, programmes and printed team sheets were readily available and an assortment of badges and merchandise on sale.
I may have purchased a few desirable trinkets over the course of the weekend, but will keep counsel pertaining to the actual amount that total outlay weighed in at, bearing in mind that the people with whom I share domestic financial arrangements with might read this resume of the NWCFL Hop 2024.
To cut a long story short: FC St Helens were formed as an offshoot from St Helens Town as recently as 2014 and are currently soaring high o  an upwardly mobile trajectory, sitting proudly at the top of the NWCFL Division 1 North; while the original town club have suffered a polar-opposite rapid descent, slip-sliding downwards into the more obscure territories of the Cheshire League. 
Windleshaw Sports Ground has the bare minimum amount of seating and covered standing for the level at which the club are playing, which caters adequately for their average crowd figure of approximately 159 hardy souls; but should they win promotion (as is anticipated and pretty much expected) at the end of this season, they will need to invest in more covered facilities. 
Thankfully the ground is fairly open with plenty of scope for expansion on all four sides. 
The first of this weekend's scheduled Groundhop games got underway just after 7.45pm with first placed FC St Helens (62 points) welcoming fourteenth placed Daisy Hill (28 points).
Although the form book suggested that the visitors would be on a hiding to nothing they gave a very good account of themselves and they handful of noisy supporters who had made the trip across from Westhoughton, will have been pleased with the effort their side put in, particularly in the second-half, where the Daisies could've pinched a point, had it not been for the hosts goalkeeper Joe Mason dealing with a one against one situation against Ryan Talbot.
Newns penalty save - apologies for picture quality. 
But, the damage had already been done in the first-half, when despite spurning several decent chances and finding the Daisies custodian Morgan Newns in fine form, as he saved a spot-kick from Josh Hall and performed an acrobatic save to deny Joe Barker, the league leaders took the lead, four minutes after the penalty save, when Barker challenged Newns in the air and managed to direct a looping header towards the goal, that fell kindly for Hall to tap  into the net from close range. 
Twas his twenty-third goal of the season.
FC St Helens had to dig in to preserve their lead after the break as the game turned into a proper toe to toe slog on a 'heavy going' surface, that would've served the oval ball code that used to be played here better... credit is due to both sides for their efforts to provide a highly competitive game for the record crowd who had turned out.
As regards the attendance figure... I heard three different totals touted, but a new NWCFL attendance record of 504 was the one that was officially announced and appears on the league website, so that is the one that I have tweeted while heading for our digs on the coach, which makes it legally binding and 100% authentic. And the subject is now closed so there!
As the players trooped off towards the changing rooms for a well earned rest, FC St Helen's Town had opened up a fourteen point lead in the table over: second placed Atherton Laburnum Rovers and third placed Route One Rovers, the latter of whom will visit Windleshaw Sports Ground next weekend.
FT: FC St Helens 1 v Daisy Hill 0
It took just less than an hour to reach our very well appointed hotel as we left St Helens behind, And though there are certainly parts of this seaside resort that look much better in the dark, our accommodation, as is the norm with these weekend extravaganzas arranged by Groundhop UK, was excellent.
There was an Anna Mae Bullock tribute act on in the function room, which I opted to give a miss, because I'm getting too old for that kind of malarkey and needed some shuteye before the next day's four-game schedule.
I'd overheard a few doom mongering snippets of conversation about the weather forecast for Saturday... Snowmageddon and pitch inspections by the score, the glass half-empty pessimists reckoned. Que sera!
But, upon waking for my slumber, I found the climate to be most agreeable as I made a leisurely stroll to a nearby shop for provisions, in my shirt sleeves.
Having polished off a hearty breakfast, I was raring to go... what could possibly go wrong? 
What indeed!?
The Savoy... with Spitfire Roundabout to the fore
Well, for one thing, we'd only covered the distance of a few hundred yards, before the coach started juddering, making grinding noises and emitting smoke from various orifices. 
A replacement was hailed, and eventually, after several vainglorious attempts to restart our charabanc, we were en-route to Longridge, where we would liaise with our replacement transport and hopefully enjoy the first game of the day. 
It was such a relief to get underway that I barely noticed that the climate had taken an almighty turn for the worse... and before long tipping down, spoiling the view of the snow capped hills on the uncomfortably close horizon, when we arrived at the splendidly named Recycling Lives Ground. 
Seafront view from my room at 7am

Longridge Town had obviously made an extra special effort get their game on (ta very much, greatly appreciated) and hopefully that reflects in the higher than usual gate receipts that they will have taken today.
Even so, deviating away from any of the hardstanding that surrounded the field of play, would probably have entailed needing to call upon the services of a local farmer to be towed out of the goo... it was a 'bit' squelchy on the boundary and then some. 
I (very thoughtfully) helped a guy in new looking white trainers to maintain his balance as he almost went arse over tit while circumnavigating the perimeter of the ground. Obviously his first hop and he'll no doubt have learned from the error of his ways in future and wear something more suitable the next time he ventures out on a weekender. 
Sat Mar 2:
NWCL Prem - 11am
The Recycling Lives Ground
Longridge Town (2) 2
Morgan Homson-Smith 20
Mitchell Marshall 45
Padiham (2) 3
Jack Price 27
Joel Brownhill 37
Tyler James 79
Attendance: 438
By the time the game got underway, the adjective that sprang to mind to describe the unpleasant grip inclement weather was perishing
A genuinely hideous chilling one to the bone spiteful kind of cold. Urgh!
There were two covered seating areas along the clubhouse side of the ground and a covered terracing behind one goal, which were filled to the brim with people seeking shelter from the ailments. 
I decided that the best way to stay warm was to keep moving, which afforded me the opportunity to take photos from a variety of angles... for my efforts I was rewarded with: a soaking wet iPhone, that went on strike as a protest against me using it in such foul weather and sweet FA as regards capturing any decent images to break up the monotony of  the text used herein on this blog. 
But in spite of the discomfort and the realisation that another three games in these Baltic conditions was going to be a proper character building test of endurance, I was becoming increasingly enthusiastic about this particular game as a spectacle, with play ebbing from one end of the pitch to the other in a most agreeable manner.
Both teams were visibly playing like they genuinely wanted to win this contest, with no quarter being given as a few proper 'man-sized' tackles, exaggerated in their ferocity by the conditions, made for a proper scrap of a game. 
This is what they want! 
Well me personally... I did anyway.
I pondered that within the next few days, I will watching some of that there tippy-tappy Premier League football, played out on perfectly manicured pitch (Bramall Lane, when Arsenal will be visiting Sheffield United on Monday) and though I will no doubt marvel at some of the silky skills on show, from at least one of those top-flight sides (and I'm anticipating seeing a few goals too), I doubt very much if I will enjoy myself half as much as I was doing right now.
Both keepers were tested early on, while Longridge looked odds on to take the lead when Morgan Homson-Smith let fly with a crashing shot from twenty yards out which shook the frame of the goal as it rattled against an upright. 
But minutes later Homson-Smith finished off some impressive build up play from the hosts, when he twisted and turned on the edge of the Padiham area, making himself the time and space to dink the ball into the corner of the net. A quality strike to warm up the assembled hordes.
The game continued at a breakneck pace and before long the visitors were on level terms, when Tyler James made a galloping run forward before squaring a pass to Jack Price, who buried his shot emphatically.
Padiham broke forward on the counter as the referee waved away a penalty appeal from Longridge as Homson-Smith went to ground under a strong challenge, a strong run by Joel Brownhill saw him progress rapidly towards Town's goal, before he unleashed an unstoppable shot to give the visitors the lead. 
Right on cue, on the stroke of half-time at precisely the same moment as the added-time board was held aloft displaying a number 2,  the ball was only half-cleared by the Storks defence towards Longridge's number 2 Mitch Marshall, who drilled the ball across the face of visitors goal and into the far-side top corner for his side's goal number 2.  
Wow! Pick that one out. 
All the two's, half-time 2-2.
Play-off chasing Padiham looked like the team most likely to take the three points on offer as the second half rolled on, though they still had to keep a tight reign on the Ridge forward line who had a several near misses of their own.
With this leg-wearying trial entering the final ten minutes, James scored the winning goal for the visitors with a strike that his efforts throughout this contest warranted. Though Will Kitchen defiantly spread himself defiantly across the path of the incoming Padiham number 10, he poked his effort clinically beneath the dive of the despairing keeper. Game over!
FT: Longridge Town 2 v Padiham 3
Longridge to Garstang is only approximately eleven to twelve miles, so there was barely time to thaw out before we were on it again, at yet another rain-sodden enclosure where the club volunteers had worked like an army of eager beavers to get the game on against all the odds. 
Big kudos and respect to everyone involved.
And btw, are we hardcore or wot!? Enduring such foul weather to watch a few games of football.
It's a rhetorical question, I already know exactly what we are.
NWCL Div 1 N - 2pm
The Riverside, Hudson Park
Garstang (2) 3
Joel Darley 25
Theodore Ball 31
Harris Bailey 50
Ashton Town (0) 2
Chris Lomax 67
Conor Ready 70 pen
Attendance: 388
During the first-half, word filtered through that our next game: Squires Gate v Ramsbottom United, had fallen foul of the weather and was postponed as the match referee had declared that the waterlogged pitch was unplayable. 
Although everybody was disappointed, some of the OTT reactions that I heard in response to this news, bordered on psycho-babble, courtesy of some seriously disturbed minds. 
Conspiracy theorists walk among us and they take things like football matches being cancelled very, very personally. 
In case anybody still hadn't noticed yet, it was pissing down,  bona-fide stair-rodding rain, which was always going to test the water-table of an area of the country that will have reached saturation level over the previous week (months?).
"Thanks for coming!", said the Garstang chairman, greeting us as we arrived at the ground. 
No! Thank you! For making the journey worthwhile by getting the game on. Nuff said!?
And what a game it turned out to be as we were all treated to another five goal thriller.
Ashton Town started (and finished) this afternoon's game in the play-off places in the NWCFL Division 1 North, while Garstang's recent results had seen them slip into the bottom three.
But football is a deceptive mistress, hence form guides and league tables cannot be trusted to assist in predicting the outcome of any single game, anywhere, ever, once the match officials and twenty two combatants have entered the field of play. There is a good reason why the richest person in any given branch of Ladbrokes (other bookmakers are available) is the proprietor with their name above the door. As Garstang tore into a 3-0 lead after fifty minutes, there was a real coupon-buster in the offing at the Riverside today. 
Well, until Ashton Town eventually got to grips with the conditions anyway.
A pair of small stands on the corners at the far end of the ground from the clubhouse bar, one for standing, the other containing bench seating... and a canopy overhang outside the length of Garstang's bar (Which thankfully had windows facing the pitch too), provided cover for spectators present, although a few people did spend the afternoon inside watching the scores from elsewhere coming in on the big screen. Each to their own, innit, but why? 
Especially those who have travelled a considerable distance and paid up front to watch Garstang v Ashton Town. By heck, there's nowt so queer as football folk.
Had the fates been slightly kinder to the home side, they might have already been three goals to the good when they finally took the lead in the twenty-fifth minute, when Harris Bailey drilled the ball into the Ashton goalmouth from the right and Joel Darley provided the finishing touch. 
I heard Bailey being awarded with the goal and that information also spread around social media, but was amended and corrected accordingly later in the day.
Six minutes later, Theo Ball added a second, after latching onto a measured through ball, delivered by Dan Birch.
A few moments later a friend asked me: "Rob, can you just confirm for me which team it is who are wearing red?" Why, that Garstang my good man... and aren't they playing well?
The double-whammy spurred the Town into action, but when they went forward looking to reduce the arrears, they found the hosts keeper, Ollie Green, was in a determined mood.
As the referee pursed his whistle to his lips to blow for half-time, Bailey almost put Garstang three ahead, when he rounded James McGlenaghan, but couldn't quite keep the ball on target, having already seemingly done the hard part.
Five minutes after the restart, Bailey finally scored the goal he'd been striving for, on an afternoon that he had returned from injury, when he launched an absolute peach of a shot beyond the reach of McGlenaghan. 
It's great to see in this day and age, when players of a certain ilk seem to want to walk the ball into the goal; that in the NWCFL, the ancient art of leathering the ball and shooting on sight is still very much alive and well.
After announcing to anyone within earshot that this game was now a foregone conclusion, I retired to the clubhouse where I could watch the remainder of the game through a slightly steamy window while clutching a hot drink.
Over yonder, at the far end of the pitch, Ashton were starting to make a fist of things... and as the ball pinged around the edge of the Ridge area, Chris Lomax threaded the ball through a throng of players to offer the visitors a lifeline. A little over two minutes later, the referee awarded Town a penalty, indicating that it was given because of a push.
Green got a hand to the resulting spot-kick, but couldn't keep Conor Ready's well struck shot out and all of a sudden, it was game on again. 
Bloomin' heck I better get back outside ASAP!
With Ashton now in the ascendancy, Garstang were up against it, desperately defending their now slender lead and their task became even more difficult when Kyle Lewis was red carded for what appeared to be a case of upending the visitors last attacker when he was through on goal.
In the last minute of the scheduled ninety, with Green still playing out of his skin, Birch made a last-ditch goal-line clearance to preserve Garstang's lead by the skin of it's chattering with cold teeth. Stoppage time went on for ages (but it wasn't like we were in any rush to go anywhere else for a while), but the hosts held on and claimed the victory that they had forged in the opening fifty minutes, even though Ashton Town had gone mightily close to pulling off the biggest ever comeback in the whole history of humankind since that there Lazarus of Bethany.
FT: Garstang 3 v Ashton Town 2
There's a famous seaside town called Blackpool, that's noted for fresh air and fun... and copious amounts of precipitation.
We already knew Squires Gate's game had been called off, but were hopeful that the game just up t'road would still be on. 
But despite going to great lengths to get their pitch playable, while we were already in the ground, the Mechanics were also thwarted by the bloody weather. 
Shit happens, nobody's to blame and though I was obviously very disappointed, this is one of the occupational hazards of following a winter sport.  
NWCL Prem - 5pm
Brian Addison Stadium
Squires Gate P
Ramsbottom United P
Waterlogged pitch
NWCL Div 1 N - 7.30pm
Mechanics Ground, Jepson Way
AFC Blackpool P
Runcorn Town P
Waterlogged pitch
In the event, I treated myself to a fish supper from an excellent chippy just up the hill from our hotel and a family sized bag of Revels, more to share (apparently) and had a wild night in on my own, stuffing my face, laying on my bed watching Romesh Ranganathan presenting the Weakest Link. 
Living the dream, eh!? Try not to be too jealous.
On reflection, all told, I've seen three decent games so far this weekend, all played at grounds that I've never visited before (I've previously visited Squires Gate, AFC Blackpool and Blackpool Wren Rovers who play next door to the Brian Addison Stadium), and thus far the only complaint I have, is about the amount of effing Maltesers that find their way into this bag of Revels. Not that I dislike these biscuit filled confectionery items, you understanding. But Maltesers and Revels are not the same thing and they should be kept apart at all times. A few more of those tangerine (they don't call it orange in Blackpool) centres wouldn't have gone amiss. 
Just saying.
Sun Mar 3:
NWCL Div 1 N - 11.45am
Jim Fowler Memorial Ground
Euxton Villa (2) 3
Dan Singleton 24, 60
Josh Briggs 35
Darwen (0) 0
Attendance: 618
Woo hoo! Both of our Sunday games went ahead and we were treated to two emphatic home wins and weather more suited to enjoying wholesome outdoor pursuits.
It amused some of my more regular football entourage with whom I travel around the country watching Championship games, that when I finally reached the milestone of attending my one-hundredth game of the season (it's been a long time coming this term) it would be ticked off at a club called Villa. 
Parking was at a premium as a new NWCFL attendance record of 618 spectators headed to the Jim Fowler Memorial Ground (a whole 114 more than the previous record held by FS St. Helens since Friday night.
I was nattering about the transport arrangements for the last day of our weekend vacation with one of my besties from the local (to me) scene and when I told him that I had parked at Nottingham station, to make the journey home from Birmingham International slightly less laborious, he suggested that I should jump in his car on the way back and he could drop me off near the where I was parked up, as it would only mean a slight detour for him. In the event, this unexpected and welcome route diversion meant that I actually got home two hours and thirty minutes earlier than originally scheduled, such were the vagaries of this evenings' amended railway timetables and skew-with services. 
It transpired that my chauffer for the remainder of the day had also been considering the Groundhop UK coach tour option, until it became apparent that East Midland Parkway wasn't going to be a pick up point. 
What's this!? Me lobbying Chris and Laurence again, via this extremely humble and very occasional blog!? 
Little old me!? The very thought ;-)
But it's food for thought. Isn't it, my goodly chums? Isn't it!?
Of course, far be it from me to be suggesting any alterations to a proven, tried and tested schedule, which is superbly organised to the nth degree, by the unrivalled experts in this field.
Please do not adjust your sets... a combination of dazzling sunshine and two brightly coloured teams slugging it out on a sticky wicket, made for a as the lurid orange shirted Euxton Villa, entertained the shocking pink attired Darwen FC, made for a dazzling spectacle.
The visitors had their moments and contributed greatly to a thoroughly entertaining encounter... but, in the main, it was to be Euxton's day of triumph, both on and off the field of play.
After a flurry of goalmouth activity during the opening exchanges, Dan Singleton opened the scoring for Euxton in the twenty-fourth minute and ten minutes later the hosts tightened their grip on the game, when the ball sat up nicely on a muddy patch on the edge of the visitors area, for Josh Briggs to plant a second goal past Henry Turner, following a commanding push forward on the right by Rajwinder Uppal.
During the second-half we had moved around to the clubhouse end of the ground, reasoning that any further goals would be scored in the goal that Euxton were attacking. In the end, they only added one more, in spite of my prediction of greater things... read on.
Everybody around us was in good spirits and having a great time. Some guys of a slightly younger persuasion to our wrinkly old gang, seemed to be really enjoying themselves, getting involved with the mood of the occasion and (I thought) taking a fair few photos. Being the infantile kind of tw@t that I am, I thought some jovial photo-bombing was in order. It wasn't until quite a while later that I realised one of them was actually recording a Vlog and I had inadvertently been recorded and filmed for posterity.
This is the YouTube video link: and my ugly mug appears at around the 7 minute and 50 seconds mark.
Effin' hell! Do you really let me go out in public looking like that!?
Top lads they were, hope that those of you involved with the vlog are enjoying your football travels 
Back on field of play; on the hour mark, Singleton beat Turner again, when a race for the ball turned into a one against one shoot-out, rolling the ball past the advancing Darwen keeper, who possibly had a good case to be enquiring if anyone else was even vaguely interested in helping him guard his net at that point.
A really enjoyable game all told, at the home of yet another instantly very likeable club (the fourth of five such brilliant hosts I encountered this weekend).
FT: Euxton Villa 3 v Darwen 0
Charnock Richard here we come. Apparently the Vlog posse were 'in da house' again too: 
A friend asked if I'd ever considered vlogging instead of blogging. 
Alas, it wouldn't be a very good idea, my terminal fookin' Tourette's outbursts would probably get the internet closed down.
NWCL Prem - 2.30pm
Mossie Park
Charnock Richard (3) 7
Luke Power 6
Nelson Digbeu 33 OG
Nathan Nickeas 45, 56, 64
Fenton Davies 73 pen
Kevin Spinelli 88
Skelmersdale United ( 0) 1
Jacob Rodrigues 89
Attendance: 534
Basically, Skelmersdale United had their back doors smashed in this afternoon, to coin a phrase with fairly sinister sounding connotations. 
In fact. this game was possibly even more one-sided that the top-heavy final score suggests.
The loudest cheer of the whole weekend was reserved for Skem, when Jacob Rodrigues netted a last minute consolation goal for them. 
But in truth, perhaps the damage had already been done by half-time, before Charnock ran riot after the break,  By which time the oldest football joke in the book could  have been bought into play... y'know the one: When do Skelmersdale kick-off today? Approximately every ten minutes.
The noisy visiting supporters were determined to make a day out of it regardless of the minor inconvenience of their side haemorrhaging goals at an alarming rate... and fair play to the travelling fans for displaying the best kind of gallows humour there is, in extremes... and I applaud each and every one of them for that.
The visitors player-manager is one Pascal Chimbonda, a former French international footballer.
Granted his playing career for the France national side amounted to just the one appearance, as an 87th minute substitute, in a friendly against Denmark in 2006, but hey! That's better than anything that you'll ever be able to add to your CV, so button it!
Chimbonda also played for Tottenham in the 2008 League Cup Final, where he nearly scored, but his header came back off of the crossbar.
So don't you ever dare accuse this blog resource, of being a badly researched load of made up non-factual hearsay again. I can spend two minutes skimming through Wikipedia for some column inch space-filling info just as thoroughly as the next man.
Mr Chimbonda was called into action right from the off, when he had to deal with a teasing cross from Nathan Nickeas, who was about to prove to be a big thorn in the visitors (back)side for the remainder of the afternoon.
Another one to watch, was evidently going to be Spencer Bibby, who provided Luke Power with a pinpoint delivery to open the scoring from on six minutes.
Another Frenchman, Nelson Digbeu, looked like a tower of strength in defence for United (no, seriously!) and was very comfortable playing the ball out from the back, however his name was the next on the scoresheet, when Bibby's right wing cross found it's way through the former Widnes and Prestwich Heys centre-back's legs, taking a deflection that wrong-footed his keeper Joe Lanford.
Almost straight from the restart, Chimbonda was forced into making a goal-line clearance to thwart Brad Carsley and although 'Skem' made a spirited attempt to claw their way back into the game, in the final minute of the first half, another Bibby cross unlocked the visitors defence and Nickeas struck again.
HT: 3-0
It was all hands to the pumps now for Skelmersdale, as a combination of some last ditch defending, stubborn goalkeeping and the width of the woodwork, just about prevented the game from turning into a complete walkover (the six-goal final margin of victory only tells half the story). Inevitably... and it was always a case of when, rather than if, Nickleas added another goal in the fifty sixth minute, before claiming his hat-trick eight minutes later, following an impressive run through the heart of the 'Skem' defence from midfield by Fenton Davies.
Digbeau came very close to pulling a goal back, but Connor Eastham pulled off a great save, proving that he had been paying attention while the majority of the game was happening at the far end of the pitch.
The livewire Davies was causing no end of bother since being introduced from the bench and as he danced his way into the area, Chimbonda had no option but to clip his heels and bring the young upstart to an unceremonious halt. Davies got up and thumped the resulting penalty home.
Langford kept the score down to a respectable(ish) looking 6-0 until the final two minutes, with a string of saves, but couldn't do anything to prevent Kevin Spinelli from netting Charnock's seventh and final goal, after Jacob Ridings had outstripped the 'Skem' player-manager for pace, before cueing up the opportunity.
The weekend of fun and frolics was coming to a climatic finish with Charnock Richard claiming all three points in emphatic fashion, but not until Jacob Rodrigues stabbed home a consolation goal for the visitors.
FT: Charnock Richard 7 v Skelmersdale United 1
There was a time, not so long ago, when I felt as though on was on teetering the verge of mislaying my football mojo. My enthusiasm was on the wane and I was seriously questioning my own motives for devoting so much time to what I had concluded was, in essence, only a game. An extension of my long time hobby that I used to derive so much pleasure from, on so many different levels.
But don't underestimate the restorative qualities of a weekend away submerging yourself in one of these groundhopping events.
Only a game my arse! 
Clear a path and get out of my road. 
I'm back on it! Recharged, reinvigorated, teeth sharpened and on a mission.
The only way is up baby... preferably via. East Midlands Parkway, eh!?