Saturday 3rd January 2009

Brigg Town 0 Glapwell 1
Unibond League Division 1 South
At: The Hawthorns
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £6; Programme: £1-50 (40 pages)
Attendance: 137
Weather: cold, dry
Duration: first-half: 46:55; second-half: 50:23

The Christmas and New Year period can be a test for any family relationship especially when my fifth game in eight days fell on a Saturday. With sub-zero temperatures causing a headache with plans for the afternoon’s entertainment, I was given the impression there should be things with a far higher priority to worry about than deciding in which direction to set off.

Stafford Rangers’ home game with Workington fell victim to an early-morning pitch inspection at frozen Marston Road and just about every other game down the M6 corridor looked like suffering the same fate.

Updates (or rather a lack of postponements) on both the Unibond League and Kool Sports NCE League websites suggested that heading across to Derby then up the M1 was the best option and so it proved. It got the ‘green light’ for Brigg after filling up with fuel in Derby!

The ground wasn’t difficult to find with the aid of some simple directions. Leave the M180 at junction 4 and follow A18 all the way to the Monument Roundabout on the eastern side of Brigg. Turn left (but still on the A18) into Wrawby Road and the ground drive was signposted on the left just past the bus shelter.

It was a positively tropical +2.5°C when I pulled into the car park under a predominately clear pale blue sky with the weak sun shining – a far cry from the freeze I’d left behind a couple or so hours before.

Brigg Town, founded in 1864, are probably the fifth oldest club in England but have found life difficult in the very recent past. They went into this game with Glapwell on the bottom of their division with just six points (one win at Sheffield FC and three draws) from 20 games.

In contrast, Glapwell FC (sixth position with 31 points from 17 games) were still enjoying their first season in the Unibond League and looking for a win over Brigg to move into a play-off position. The added attraction of the visitors for me was their 44-year-old striker Neil Grayson, a real legend in the game who ended a spell with Stafford Rangers at the end of last season.

The Hawthorns was a mixture of old and new. The new being a modern stand (S & E Engineering sponsored stand) on the opposite side to the entrance which housed around 300 individual red seats in three rows as well as covered standing. On the near touchline was a small stand with two rows of seats, two areas of covered standing and all the club buildings.

I picked up a programme (£1-50p) from a club official outside the ground but they were also available inside as well. Through the entrance was a neatly laid out table offering programmes, raffle tickets and golden goal tickets. I opted for the latter but didn’t immediately look at the time I’d bought.

Prior to the action getting underway, it checked out the tea bar and opted for a seat in the new stand – back row seat 76. I presume Grayson, the Glapwell skipper, won the toss as the teams changed ends and Brigg kicked-off defending into the low sun setting to the west.

Glapwell got on top during the first half with Brigg keeper Leigh Herrick producing a fine save to keep out Ian Brown’s 19th-minute in a none-on-one. Brown soon combined with Grayson and sent a left-foot first-time volley flashing past the home goal.

Just before the half hour, Grayson saw a 20-yard shot blocked and a follow-up effort by Pat McGuire’s was saved by the diving Herrick. “Give up a goal,” was one groan from a Glapwell fan sat near me.

I think it was the same fan who feared the worse a few minutes later. “We are going 1-0 down,” he said as Paul Ashton got free inside the area, only to fire straight at Laurence Matthewson in the visitors’ goal.

The goal, which the fan craved, came in the 38th minute when Brown courtesy of a defensive error. Time to open my envelope – alas, it revealed a golden goal time of 27 minutes, which sadly for me had already passed.

The visitors almost doubled their lead a minute before the break. Adam Kimberley (“Best man on’t field, Kimbo”) got forward down the left and chipped the ball forward for Brown to head against the left-hand post.

It was back to the tea bar during half-time where I must admit causing a bit of confusion. I fancied mushy peas and mint sauce but couldn’t have the pie that went with them. “Can I have a tray of peas,” I enquired, which wasn’t a problem until sorting out a price. We settled at 50p, the difference between pie on its own and pie & peas.

Brigg made a bright start to the second half and won four corners in quick succession. However, Glapwell missed another opportunity to score a second just after the hour mark when Brown’s shot was cleared off the line. Herrick also produced a decent save to keep out another good effort from Matt Roney.

As the half continued, I wondered if Brigg would punish Glapwell for not gaining more than a solitary one-goal cushion – they were certainly trying. The home skipper urged on his side: “Don’t stop the workrate, there is something here for us”.

I walked round to the other side, near the dugout, just before full-time. “Minimum of five,” said the referee, referring to the amount of stoppage time. I thought – could Brigg grab an equaliser? Steve Davis crossed deep from the right where defender Robert Darkin headed out at the far post, but the corner came to nothing so Glapwell went home with the points.

Brigg Town (black and white stripes / black / red): 1. Leigh Herrick, 2. Tommy Spall (capt), 3. Lee Cochrane, 4. JohnBorland, 5. Scott Helliwell, 6. Michael Jacklin, 7. Steven Hutchinson, 8. Alan Lamb, 9. Steve Davis, 10. Leigh Buff, 11. Paul Ashton. Subs: 12. Rick Day (for Buff, ht), 14. Sam West (not used), 15. Luke Mascall (not used), 16. Simon Roach (for Hutchinson, 81), 17. Carl Wilson (not used).

Glapwell (yellow/yellow/yellow): 1. Laurence Matthewson, 2. Robert Darkin, 3. Dean Gordon, 4. Matt Varley, 5. Steve Kennedy, 6. Pat McGuire, 7. Matt Roney, 8. Mark Wilson, 9. Neil Grayson (capt), 10. Ian Brown, 11. Adam Kimberley. Subs: 12. Kirk Jackson (for Kimberley, 87), 14. Jake Williams (for Brown, 90+5), 15. Simon Wright, (for Roney, 81), 16. Michael Fox (not used), 17. Craig Robinson (not used).

Referee: AP Ward.
Assistants: P Andrews and D Parkinson.

0-1 Ian Brown (38)

Nearing home, the temperature started to plummet to –5.5°C – a record for the car thermometer soon broken when it dropped a further degree on a trip to Somerfield later in the evening!