Saturday 17th October 2009
Blue Square Conference North
Ilkeston Town 1 Northwich Victoria 1
Tea hut purchase: Tea 80p
Weather: Light cloud on a calm afternoon
Parking: Roadside, opposite the £1 club car park
Beer junky Geordies on the M1 South! I called in at a service station on my trip down to Ilkeston, it was approximately half an hours drive from Nottingham. The M1 had been pretty quite but the services had just received 8 coaches of ale-hungry Newcastle United supporters some 4 and a half hours ahead of their tea time match at Forest. It was a 'bier-kellar' experience. Cowering old ladies and crimplene men from Debenhams left half eaten ciabatta's as the black and white stripy nylon and cheap cans of Fosters turned the complex into a fizzless slop-fest from hell. I made an excuse and left. Soon I was in Ilkeston.... and lost, well almost. Why I bother to take along 'How to Get To The Ground' directions off football sites I do not know. For the sixth time this season some wag had missed off a turning and given the wrong exit from a key roundabout, oh what a laugh! I went back to my wild west tracking skills and found the New Manor Ground hiding behind a hump backed bridge, a burned out wagon train and a dodgy canal. I was still in plenty of time to watch locals ordering plastic pots of ploppy peas from the tea hut, wow! This was either a sign that hard times really had hit home, with the poor locals unable to afford a pie or chips with their peas, or more likely, it was some weird South Derbyshire custom to improve regular bowel movements. I witnessed 3 kids and 2 old blokes buy this treat in the ten minutes I stood near the tea hut, they had even put plastic spoons out for them, as soon as they grabbed their pea pot, they'd grab a spoon and scuttle off down the side of the hut to shovel down the gloopy green mush. I like mushy peas but not in bulk and not on their own? This match certainly lived up to its billing as one of the Conference Norths games of the day. It had everything, rampant no-holds-barred attacking from the visitors, gutsy determination from the young home side, a sending off, penalties, top class goalkeeping and a deranged referee slowly going insane as he gradually lost the plot. Northwich should have won by at least a couple of goals but all credit to 10 man Ilkeston for fighting like hell to keep in the game. I would not bet against Northwich being right up there come the end of the season and that is despite their ten point deduction for going into administration. They played some top football even before the sending off. Nice to see a decent Northwich following at the game, some probably enjoying a nice stand seat next to the halfway line for £5 cheaper than at their home ground (shame on Northwich for £14 seats in the Conference North). All credit to Ilkeston, I liked the ground, it was tidy, offered good viewing, had some character and everybody seemed pretty friendly. They offer up a good quality programme as well. I reckon most people enjoyed the match today, apart from those suffering the emerging effects of those potted peas. I headed back north hearing reports on the radio that Forest were beating Newcastle United, shame all that ale had been for nothing, at least they'd get a decent headache out of it on the long slog home (amidst all the toilet stops).