Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Home Of Good Football

Belper Town  5  Basford United 5  (4-5 penalties)

Northern Premier League Cup – First Round

I was a bit bored in the Summer so I decided to count up how many times I’ve seen Belper Town take the field at Christchurch Meadow.

It came to just over 600 visits, so that’s over 600 times I’ve either walked, driven, crawled, been pushed, carried or fallen down the pot-holed driveway that leads to the entrance to the home of good football.

327 Of The Games Were Watched From This Vantage Point
The home of good football, that was how former Finance Director Rex Barker used to answer the phone, “Belper Town, Home of Good Football.”

Through family, I’ve got a history when it comes to the Nailers. My Dad became Treasurer in 1979, and since then has held a variety of roles, most notably as Club Secretary. Inevitably I tagged along from an early age and also filled a number of roles myself, Programme Seller, Junior Supporters Club Organiser, Committee Member, Club Shop Manager, Programme Editor, Press Officer and finally the heady heights of Director.

It was when I became a Director that I realised, arguably selfishly, that I didn’t want to be actively involved with the running of a football club, it was no fun, meetings could be argumentative, personalities often clashed, agendas were both overt and covert, and boardrooms on a cold Monday night were, well, cold!

Ordinarily, This Is Where I Would Stand To Eat A Pie
It wasn’t for me, I resigned. I didn’t feel like I was making any form of useful contribution. I had no money to put it, I had no time to devote, and I didn’t know how to mend a fence or mow a pitch.

I chose to choose freedom, I didn’t want to go to Goole Town away on a Tuesday with the kit bag in my boot and the team sheet book under my arm, I wanted to have a pint in a stress free environment, somewhere completely different.

Ultimately, you can get too close, to a point where it ceases to be enjoyable. You know too much, and it came to a head for me on a couple of occasions. After a particularly unfortunate defeat to Shepshed Dynamo I went for a pint after the game only to be rounded on by a group of supporters demanding answers to questions and change at the top. I can also remember getting in from a rather disappointing Derbyshire Senior Cup tie at Gresley Rovers only to find an expletive message left on my landline about the performance!

Don’t get me wrong, I still went to games, not a huge amount, but I went, in fact one season not that long ago I purchased a season ticket and didn’t miss a home game. I still considered it to be ‘home’ and the Nailers were ‘my ‘club.

Standing On The Balls End
Things changed again in the Summer, while I was counting my visits, my Dad reeled in his involvement with the club, and as we approach the end of October he’s only been to one game. I’ve not been all season, in fact I’ve not been since last February. But, a rare Monday night League Cup game at the Meadow, and a very last minute decision to go, meant it was time to make a re-appearance at the home of good football.

It was a very empty Meadow, less than a hundred spectators were present, and that was a shame because what we witnessed was one of the most spectacular games of football I’ve ever seen!
Both Belper and high flying Basford United chose to field fringe and Academy players, but that in itself made the game more interesting.

Basford took the lead through Harry Wakefield in the 5th minute, and then Aidan Austin added a second in the 13th minute. At this stage of proceedings Basford were rampant and could easily have doubled their lead with better finishing, it looked like being a very long night for the Nailers.

Basford Corner
But the dynamic of the game changed completely in the 20th minute when one of a number of somewhat strange decisions from the eccentric referee saw him choose to send of Austen Symons from Basford after a 50/50 challenge that saw a Belper player come off worse. Was it a foul? Possibly, was it more than that? Not a chance, so much so the Belper Manager turned to supporters behind the dugout and said it was never a red card.

Basford were suddenly on the back foot so it came as no surprise when Kyle Clarke reduced the arrears on the 24th minute, and then Leandro Browne equalised just seven minutes before the break.

Joe Harrison put Basford back into the lead just after half time, but within two minutes Haydn Goddard had made it 3-3 from the penalty spot, courtesy of another odd decision.

Samuel Birks put Belper into the lead with a cracking finish, but the experienced Rob Duffy was then on hand to make it 4-4! Josh Barr-Rostron made it 5-4 but within seconds Basford won a penalty and Duffy was on hand to make it 5-5, and we still had fourteen minutes to go, plus time added on!

Defences were on top for the remainder of the game, so the tie went straight to penalties. Belper missed their second spot kick, Basford didn’t miss any and it was former Nailer Kieran Wells who scored the winning goal to make it 5-4.

Strangely enough, because the game had been so entertaining, you didn’t feel that disappointed that the Nailers ultimately lost it, you were just pleased you’d been in attendance and seen it happen, and to the best of my knowledge, it’s the first time I’ve ever known a game at Christchurch Meadow finish 5-5, certainly on the 600 plus occasions I’ve been!

Ordinarily I would always go and have a pint after the game, with my Dad usually, but I chose not to on this occasion, he wasn't at the game anyway. It would always historically be a good chance to find out what was going on at the club, but I’m so far detached these days it hardly seems relevant.

Perhaps best to keep it that way, not knowing is sometimes the best way, going forward it can just simply be, the home of good football, every once in a while at least.....

Season Ticket Holder - This Was The View - Every Game

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