SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 11
Dudley Sports 3 Darlaston 1
I HAVE contracted a stomach bug and I am wondering if a night out is wise. When I arrive at Dudley Sports in the West Midlands (Regional) League to find there is a 200-yard walk/dash to the nearest toilet from pitchside, my concerns are multiplied!
I arrive at the same time as an electrician, here to sort out a problem in the tea bar. I pay my four pounds at the tiny entrance shed and trek over to assess the damage. Problem is fixed and he is on his way. I soothe my cramping gut with a cup of tea.
On a chilly night, the crowd huddle in the two covered areas, especially the inappropriately dressed females. I stand behind the dugouts. It soon gets quite cosy in here when it begins to lash it down with rain.
The players are having a laugh with the officials before kick-off. How long will that last, I wondered? The pitch is rock hard, even after the heavy downpour.
Both sides are struggling in the league and this fixture already looks like a ‘six-pointer’. Sports prove me wrong and are soon three goals ahead.
At half time, I am overwhelmed by the heavenly smell of chips but I daren’t risk any food! Another cuppa will have to suffice. So far so good…
With seventeen minutes to go, we are suddenly plunged into darkness. The home manager exclaims: “F*****g Hell, not again!!” A Darlaston player shouts, “Yaay ref, we’ve scored!” Cheeky.
The players trudge off the field and the spectators all mooch around.
Twenty minutes later, light is restored and Dudley sprint back onto the pitch. Darlaston are much slower.
A bizarre scenario then unfolds: the home manager urges his players not to waste any time even though his side are three up. It is obvious he expects the lights to fail again!
Meanwhile, the away coach slows things right down in order to give the floodlights enough time to extinguish again (“fifteen minutes to warm up again, ref?”?).
Thankfully, the game concludes and I scuttle home to the sanctuary of my trusty bathroom. And relax…