Wednesday 27th January 2016 ko 19.45
Central Midlands League South Division
BULWELL 3 (Fisher 36 61 Towle 72) Wheelhouse sent off 57 (violent conduct)
COLLINGHAM 3 (Price 49 J Wapplington 51 M Wapplington 87)
Att 31 at Brian Wakefield Sports Ground, Lenton Lane, Nottingham
I used to think the acid test of the serious hopper was completion of the Lenton Lane triptych of Bilborough Pelican, Dunkirk and Greenwood Meadows, with the hotel owned by Su Pollard to drive past along the way. Dead easy if you did the Central Midlands League hop back in the day that clocked up these and two more in a day, in testing weather, but as the years have passed the challenge has become more difficult.
Firstly the three clubs moved into different leagues, then last season Bilborough Pelican folded, leaving the Brian Wakefield Ground only being used for cricket. Worse, the lease has been taken on by a youth outfit, so as from next season it’s possible that the full-sized pitch will be lost. So with plenty of friends going too, it seemed only right to visit this place once more time.
Bulwell normally play their home games at Basford United, but with that pitch waterlogged and the fixtures piling up, the decison was made to switch the tie to here, a classic Central Midlands League venue.
It was so typical of the genre much loved by non-league aficionados. The friendly, if gruff welcome, the no-frills tea bar, and the ultra-committed football. It may have been a game in the 11th tier of football in England, but the little ground at the end of a narrow lane in Nottingham positively oozes football from every pore.
And let’s face it, who couldn’t enjoy a 3-all draw? And add in the tackles flying, and the occasions where it all just became a little too much and the emotions bubbled over. There was a dismissal, one kick-out led to a retaliatory kick-back, but the referee only spotted the kick-back…
I’m not sure if I’ll ever return to Lenton Lane, perhaps if that Junior club at the other end hosted an adult game I would, and let’s face it that would attract the hoppers in a big way.
But with or without that, Lenton Lane is still one of those little-known non-league Meccas that the serious groundhoppers will always levitate towards.