The Salutation, which was handily
located next to my hotel

It was East one headed this weekend for another hop, so soon after the last one. The Central Midlands Bonanza has been a fixture in the calendar for the last nine seasons but this was the last year, as the league has now been completed by the ever-presents (however as I was a relative latecomer, I still need to visit about 8 clubs) and in 2013 attention turns to the Notts Senior League.

Proceedings began on the Friday with the solitary fixture of Bilborough Pelican v Belper United before a bumper haul of four games on the Saturday, of which I was in attendance for three (having previously visited Glapwell in 2008).

With a bonus of no driving this weekend, an early arrival on the Friday meant there was time to catch up with friends and fellow hoppers and go and check out some of the many GBG pubs in Nottingham.

As luck would have it The Salutation was right next door to our hotel (honestly I didn't know) and it's selection of 7 handpulls kept us entertained.  No trip to Nottingham is complete without a pint in the Olde Trip to Jerusalem, which is famously built into the castle rock face.

Finally, as we needed to catch our bus to the game from near the train station, the last port of call was the VAT and Fiddle, which is the brewery tap for the Castle Rock brewery. There were at least 8 Castle Rock ales on plus a couple of guests. It was so good in here that we decided to sack the bus off and hail a taxi to the game!

Reputed to be the oldest pub in England,
the Olde Trip To Jerusalem is built into
the Castle Rock face.

The Castle Rock brewery tap, the VAT and Fiddle


7.45pm, Friday 16th March 2012
Central Midlands League South
Bilborough Pelican 3-1 Belper United
Attendance: 144

The feast of football began under the floodlights at Lenton Lane , which is the home to three clubs, Bilborough Pelican being the one visited tonight (Dunkirk and Greenwood Meadows the others).

The actual name of the ground is The Brian Wakefield Memorial Ground and it is shared with the Notts Unity Cricket club.

Bilborough Pelican have only been in existence in their current form since May 2005 when Bilborough FC and Pelican FC joined forces to create a new club. For a more comprehensive history click here.

The game was decent enough. After Belper took the lead through Kyle Wadsworth, this after having a goal ruled out, Pelican hit back to run out 3-1 winners. Goals from Joe Ashurst, Danny Blanchard and Dave Udoh gave the homesters the points.

The curry and chips on sale in the clubhouse went down very well, and not just for soakage purposes!


10.10am, Saturday 17th March 2012
Central Midlands League South
Clifton FC 3-0 Real United
Attendance: 267

Saturday began at the Norman Archer Memorial Ground, the home of the "All Whites" of Clifton and their clash with Real United.

Admittedly I was a wee bit blurry eyed to begin with but Clifton's superb clubhouse were knocking out an all day breakfast, which helped sort out ones constitution!

Clifton have had some (now) famous names come through their ranks, Jermaine Jenas and Darren Huckerby, whose shirts adorn the walls of the clubhouse, being two of them. Opponents Real United have an interesting history, being formed in 1998 to help reduce drug and substance abuse in their local area.

The game wasn't the greatest, the first half being particularly bad, but the homesters always had the better of their visitors. They scored three second half goals without reply, Chris Atkins (52) Craig Anderson (61) which was the pick of the bunch, and Ben Richardson (90) netting for the all-whites.


1.00pm, Saturday 17th March 2012
Central Midlands League South
Basford United 4-1 Notts Police FC
Attendance: 268

After a very brief interlude at the Horse and Groom, the second game of the was at Greenwich Avenue, the home of Basford United. The ground is a tidy little set up and floodlights have been installed this season.

These Bonanza's are terrifficly organised but I think that Basford may have been slighly caught out by the size of today's crowd as programmes were sold out well before kick off (though a re-print was being sorted out and sent on to those who didn't get one) and the pies had gone before half time. I never even got myself a badge either. C'est la vie as they say in Rome!

Basford's opponents for this match were the Notts Police, and this will probably be the only time I see them play as they are folding at the end of the season due to funding cuts.

The game was entertaining, if ultimately one sided. After the Notts Police took a shock 9th minute lead through Alves, the homesters ran out comfortable winners and should've scored more than the four they did. Goals from Martin Holt (38) Aaron Hooton (52 & 79) and Courtney Hastings (90) made it a comfortable afternoon for Basford, which is more than can be said for me listening to the Blues versus the Mackams on Radio 5!

4.30pm, Saturday 17th March 2012
Central Midlands League North
Dronfield Town 4-1 Thoresby Colliery Welfare
Attendance: 276

For my final game of the day I joined the convoy heading north to Dronfield. The sat-nav took us through Chesterfield and along the road to the legendary Derby Tup, it would've been awfully rude not to call in for a swift half!

Dronfield's Stonelow Ground is adjacent to the local cricket pitch, but on a lower level. Re-formed in 1998, the club have ambitions to climb the pyramid and there were bucket collections to help raise funds for floodlights.

Dronfield is apparently famous for it's Dripping and there were Dripping Butties available to satisfy hungry hoppers. Despite being peckish, even I had to draw the line somewhere!

This game was easily the best of the day as both teams served a up fine game. John Doran (15)  and Andy Gange (48) gave Dronfield a 2-0 lead. The visitors were never out of the contest and House (60) halved the deficit. However further goals from Gange (67) and Doran (90) secured the win for Dronfield to keep them well in the hunt for the title.





The Derby Tup

Somewhere over the rainbow was the road home for me, as my bonanza ended at Dronfield. 201 hoppers made their way to Glapwell for the conclusion of the event, which resulted in a 2-0 win for visitors Parkhouse. Another weekend of top hopping and I must give thanks to all the clubs concerned and to the organiser, Rob Hornby. See you in Notts in 2013!

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