Wow! I finally get to visit my home town club! In all honesty I have been here before, but as an anorak for whom a match day programme is a must have, it is a return visit out of necessity. With gates of around 60 or so, they don’t print many progs, and so I make sure I am first in the queue this time!
With my scheduled trip to Arnold Town postponed, and a week in Scotland looming large, I decide to play my Joker and travel the mile or so to Grange Park, home of the Big Jim Stand and not much else. For hoppers looking for pointers as to a decent pint in the locality, there’s just two pubs I could recommend, and one of them is a Wetherspoons. Several pub companies have looked at moving in but have justifiably decided that the Long Eaton mentality isn’t geared up to real ale – it’d be like trying to get Frenchmen interested in buying bowler hats.
The bar at Grange Park is no salvation. I came to a function here once when, wonder of wonders, some bottles of Marstons Owd Rodger were gracing the fridge. A look today confirms that someone has drunk them all. Foodwise it’s burgers, soup or nowt. I do like the programme though, which is extremely light on adverts and heavy on info. There’s also some pretty forthright editorial in there highly critical of officials and current L.E. players – compulsive reading.
Todays game is against last seasons table-toppers Winterton Rangers. For whatever reason the North Lincolnshire side didn’t apply for promotion to the Unibond, and although not exactly setting the pace this time around are still handily placed. The home team, fresh from a bruising encounter with Bridlington which saw them lose three men to reds, start well and are in front after six minutes and hold it to the break.
For the second half I shift position and am reminded that I live in a village as I am joined by the local idiot whose grasp of the game is as breathtaking as his singing. This mainly consists of a rendition of “We are the Long Eaton boys” delivered in a George Formby accent. No-one else joins him, and I edge slowly away.
By now the wags on the terrace have cottoned on to the fact that several of the visiting team are strikingly tall, painfully thin, and sporting hair cuts which would make Art Garfunkel purr. To top it all the collective barnet colour is ginger. There’s much speculation that – much like the episode of Father Ted where a crop of bearded babies are the result of a promiscuous milkman – somebody of a distinctive appearance must have been ‘doing the rounds’ in the Scunthorpe area back in the early Eighties. The sight of a banjo on the team bus also looks worrying.
A flurry of substitutes and the miss of the match from Winterton sees the game drift out to its inevitable conclusion and the 78-strong crowd (myself included) drift back to the clubhouse to get the full-time scores. As I look out the window I see my erstwhile companion, Asda bag clutched firmly in hand, making his way across a nearby field singing a song about lamposts …
Pylon count: 6, and not a Mobile Phone mast in sight!
Parakeet Count: Strangely none, although half the seagull population of Eastern England seem to be using the ground as a marker as they head west for some dietary reason.