THE THIRD ANNUAL NOTTS SENIOR LEAGUE GROUNDHOP
The weekend began on Friday afternoon with us arriving at Kingsway Park, the home of Ashland Rovers FC who were to host table toppers of Division Newark Flowserve FC. Flowserve went in to the match knowing that they only needed a point for promotion but wanted the three points to remain in pole position. We were soon joined by the Ashland Committee and the ice cream van and catering van and then the crowd began to stream in.
ASHLAND ROVERS 3 NEWARK FLOWSERVE 3
Ashland took a early lead and could have been 3-0 up at one stage in a game that saw both sides go close but on half time, Flowserve equalised. In the second half, Flowserve upped their game and showed why they were at the top gliding in to a 3-1 lead with only 10 minutes to go, but Ashland had other ideas and fought back to earn a draw in a 3-3 draw. The game though a League match was also a match for a cup named the Norway Cup which was sponsored by Paul Nicholson, whose mum Joan sadly passed away recently, Joan had attended several of my Groundhops and it was really fitting that the NSL and Paul wished to mark her memory with this celebration of her life Trophy. After match Paul presented both clubs with the trophy to share, the following photo was taken by good friend Laurence Reade.
The Saturday morning, Hazel dropped me and Shawn at Mansfield Woodhouse train station at 6am, whilst she carried n through to Bingham Town FC, me and Shawn were joined at the train station by Buxton Hopper Ian Oldfield and we caught the train in to Nottingham. A good hearty breakfast was had by all at Granby Café on Station Street with several other hoppers joining us there as the early sun rose. It was then round to Queens Road to meet the coach and everyone was there on time, except one new chap who had to do the mile sprint from one part of Nottingham down the hill to us, but we still departed before time..well we nearly did, as the coach wasn't going over 20 mph and then stopped, a phone call to the coach company by our driver Rueban seemed to sort the problem out, much to my relief and also the delightment of the hoppers aboard..problem sorted..it was until we reached Butt Field, as the coach pulled up outside the ground and the doors wouldn't open, so out the emergency exit we went, whilst the coach mechanic was on his way.
Bingham Town FC were all there and ready according to Hazel at 7am and as a bit worried at 8.20am as no hoppers had arrived, but hazel gave them the calming words of don't worry. Infact they soon came as the first few fell off the train on to the ground at around 8.45am and were soon tucking in to the boxed breakfasts and supping the real ale on sale. Shirts and programmes soon were being snapped up and when we arrived it was quite busy, but unknown to me, there was a Wetherspoons just over the railway bridge and the hoppers followed like a flock to sample their own beers before getting back for the match.
BINGHAM TOWN FC 0 RUDDINGTON VILLAGE FC 0
Hoppers don't like 0-0's but hardly anyone moaned about this one, as there were plenty of chances in this open game, where both sides pressed forward to score, but just couldn't. Bingham Town FC coped well with the big crowd and everyone went away feeling good.
Back on the coach as we headed to Victoria Park, the home of Netherfield Albion FC who were to host Nottinghamshire FC, having seen both teams I thought this may just be a bit one-sided to the home club and said on the coach, this game will not be a 0-0, this will have plenty of goals, so no need to worry! The coach parked outside the ground and I will be very honest, I wasn't too sure how this ground as going to be able to cope with the parking, but they were first class, the programme they produced was their first ever and this was a good issue, Sadly I don't think they was expecting so many people and the chap only did 50 pies, which were gone before the coach arrived, but people were still queing for mushy peas.
NETHERFIELD ALBION FC 1 NOTTINGHAMSHIRE FC 0
Both sides seems to have got stage shock infront of a big crowd, but it was Albion who had the better of the chances, but the Nottinghamshire keeper was like Rocky at every corner, punching the ball away and he made several good chances to keep his team in the game. The visitors also had a couple of good chances. As the game began to head to our 2nd 0-0, the hoppers began to stir and thought Id set up all the games in the day to be goalless, but just before the end of the game came a goal to Netherfield which got the biggest cheer of the weekend. Hoppers headed away from the ground relieved they'd seen a goal.
On to the coach for the five minute drive to The Poplars, the home of leafy village Burton Joyce FC who were to host Attenborough FC, well with these two teams next to each other in the league table, I really did have a feeling this one could well ended up 0-0. As we turned the corner to head on to Station Road, we hit another problem, a damn builder had parked his van and the coach couldn't get to the ground, but then a man with his backside showing out his loose trousers appeared and moved it..panic over!
BURTON JOYCE FC 3 ATTENBOROUGH FC 3
On arrival, the bar was packed with folks and thought I'd get a drink later, so headed outside and off to the BBQ stall as Id been promised a polish tradition dish by Burton Joyce Manager/Chairman Stef, with the food selling out very early at Netherfield, the queue here never stopped, as they had Hot Dogs, Burgers on sale, then Pasta Salad which went very quick and was a bargain at £1.50, the hoppers loved it. Stef soon kept his pledge with the polish dish which Ive no idea what was called but it was a belter and he gave me a bottle of polish lager to wash it down with, he then bought out another dish of this lovely food and told me to share it amongst the hoppers and they remarked how they should have put this on the menu as well as it was lovely. The game kicked off and te thoughts of a 0-0 soon vanished as Burton Joyce was awarded a penalty but the Attenborough keeper was equal to the kick and kept it out, but in the next move, Burton were in front. Attenborough soon hit back and before long were 3-1 up, this had a feeling of the night befores game at Ashland Rovers FC, as Burton Joyce came back to make it 3-3, just before the end of the match, the Burton Joyce keeper came out the box and took the leg of the Attenborough attacker and was dismissed. Must thank Burton Joyce as they surprised me by donating all the raffle proceeds to my charity, at the end of this blog report I will thank everyone and let you all know how much was raised and a up to date total.
It was then on the way to Walesby, to see a real local derby, between 2 clubs based only a mile apart and with several players having played for both teams, this game could well have been a classic. On arrival, Ive never seen so many volunteers in my life at a hop match and how well the club was organised. The coach was soon parked and off the hoppers disappeared in to the distance.
SANDHURST FC 4 KIRTON BRICKWORKS FC 2
With Kirton already relegated at the end of the season and Sandhurst needing the points to catch Beeston AFC to remain in the Senior Division, I thought this game may just be one way, but Kirton hadn't read the script and took a early lead, I then got a hot dog as the Jacket potatoes were flying out. I was stood with Mrs Birch, the mother of Kirton's Secretary, when Sandhurst fought back and equalised, must to a big cheer from Mrs Birch, I asked why she had cheered a Sandhurst goal and she thought Kirton was in orange..opps! we laughed about it. Sandhurst then went on to win 4-2 so their hopes stay in tact for their next few games.
I would like to thank all the clubs for their teams, both on and off the pitch who made this years Groundhop such a success, every clubs conduct was a credit to themselves and also to the Notts Senior League, I would also like to thank every person for attending any of the matches, without you, there would be no groundhop, the hoppers who buy the Advanced Tickets as this also helps the away clubs, as it is always difficult to go to a club and ask them to kick off away on a Friday Night or Saturday Morning. Every home club and Kirton Brickworks that has made a donation to my blogs Charity and also to Ruddington Village who gave me the groundhop shirt I was wearing over the weekend. Aldo to Terry's Badges who donated the Special NSL groundhop badges, plus all those who bought items from Hazel on the Charity Stall.
I have counted up this afternoon all the money raised over the weekend and I had to re count it three times as I thought it cant be right but it is..we raised a AMAZING £770..a BIG THANKYOU to all.
The running total is the highest we have ever reached and stands at £1,307