Wednesday 17th October 2012 ko 19.45
Northern Premier League Division One South
CARLTON TOWN 1 (Naylor 84)
HUCKNALL TOWN 0
Another of those grounds where I turn up, and another hopper says, “This is a re-visit for you isn’t it?” It wasn’t and I don’t quite know why I hear the comment so often. In this case my location just east of Nottingham was probably the reason, as I’d picked up fellow organiser Chris Berezai on the way there.
Carlton is probably best known as being the birthplace of “Porridge” actor Richard Beckinsale, but the Bill Stokeld Stadium actually lies in Gedling next door. The entire area was the heartland of the Nottinghamshire coalfield, notable for the miners not striking during the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike. Not many signs of coal mining exist here these days, just the garish glow of out-of-town shopping centres and fast food restaurants.
It’s these “Developments” that created the ground as we know it. The ground was moved in the first few years of the new millennium, a little way along Stoke Lane so as to accommodate a new relief road. The club is indebted to the efforts of chairman Bill Stokeld, whose work got the ground fit for first the Central Midlands League then the Northern Counties East, and today the Northern Premier League. Perhaps that’s why the ground lacks a real focal point, all the seats are behind one goal, in the form of prefabricated stands. It doesn’t help that the ground is next door to the local sewage works, although it didn’t stop me sampling the catering!
There were the obvious reasons to be there, the company, and a new tick but there was the opportunity to catch up with Sam Hodkin, an up-and-coming groundhopper. He’s studying at Nottingham Trent University and helps out stewarding at Carlton on a voluntary basis, although they do feed him at half time! I wish I’d done something similar when I was a student, it would have been more fun than picking books, and checking London bus tickets for a survey!
The company rather made up for the game. At a location marginal at best for getting home at a sensible hour for an early start the next day it didn’t help that there was no sign of the referee! The club blamed the local FA for not informing him of his appointment, but the situation was improved when the senior linesman took the whistle, but that left a vacancy on the line. Former Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday and Oxford United forward Nigel Jemson was asked, but ever the shrinking violet, he declined. Eventually a local, qualified referee volunteered and around 10 minutes late, the game kicked off.
As I said earlier, the company made up for the game as this was two struggling sides fighting for scraps at the bottom of the table. For the vast majority of the game Chris’ run of 120 games without a 0-0 looked in real danger. He does however, have a failsafe, and that’s phone call to his mate Richard. So, in the 84th minute out came the Blackberry, and as he went, ” Hello Richard,” Joe Naylor smashed in an unstoppable drive from just outside the box! Whatever it takes to get a goal I suppose……