The Lido Ground (Worksop Van Hire Stadium), Clipstone. 13/12/16

Northern Counties East League, Premier Division

When we were looking for midweek fixtures only one stood out for me this week, the big ‘Mansfield’ derby – Clipstone vs AFC Mansfield. The two clubs are only separated by a couple of miles and a single point in the Premier Division, it would be interesting to watch a local derby.

I was now into my second week back at work and coping quite well, a return trip to the occupational health nurse came and went on Monday as we enter the last teaching week before Christmas. It had been handy returning with two weeks to go as I have just about got my head around timetables and staffing as well as meeting some of the new starters for the first time.

There was also a very welcome addition to our non league HipHopping team as Shane had returned from Germany on the Saturday and was looking forward to a burst of NCEL action over the next couple of weeks before he returns to duty in early January. Shane’s last game before the Mansfield derby was at Borussia Dortmund as he became part of the Yellow Wall, I can’t see there being much difference between the Westfalenstadion and Clipstone’s Lido Ground. In fact, I think German football has a lot in common with the English Non League game – affordable tickets, beer, standing and fan ownership. German football treats the fans as they should be, the lifeblood of the club.

As Shane correctly pointed out, Clipstone is Nottinghamshire and I hop around Yorkshire. We have strayed out of God’s own county quite a few times so perhaps I should consider changing the strap line. 45 minutes or so down the A1 was spent welcoming Shane and dissecting the Frickley victory the previous Saturday. We drove through Kings Clipstone, the heart of Sherwood Forest and reclaimed Robin Hood as as Yorkshireman,  In fact, Rob lived only a few miles from me in Doncaster. Kings Clipstone has the ruins of King John’s Palace, although we couldn’t locate it in the dark. As we drove through Clipstone itself Ken was pleasantly surprised, it was really nice with rows of decent houses and shops. The floodlights of the ground were in the distance as we passed the Garibaldi sports complex. Parking was sparse as it was late on and there was a good number of cars already there, we pulled into the vacant space reserved for the ‘coach’.

This is a relatively new derby game so I was looking forward to seeing if there was going to be any bite between the two sides. Clipstone have been around since the late 20’s and went by the name Clipstone Welfare from 1955, they dropped the ‘Welfare’ in 2013 in their second season in the NCEL. Three seasons in Division One ended with a league win in 14/15 and promotion to the Premier Division where they finished in 13th last time out. Meanwhile AFC Mansfield are in their infancy, I asked Shane why a phoenix club started and a quick google says that they were formed by three Mansfield Town directors following a series of disputes. They started life in the Central Midlands League in 2012 and have quickly made their way up the pyramid, finishing runners up in NCEL Division One last season.

There was rain in the air as the three of us made our way to the turnstile, a giant board attached to the wall with a huge cobra emblazoned on it. I have no idea why they are called the Cobras and would love it if someone could enlighten me. After the game we bore witness to the magnificent head stocks that remain from the old colliery. The three of us absolutely loved these but a little internet research has led me to think that the locals want them pulled down, the head stocks dominate Clipstone’s badge and I wonder if the nickname ‘the Headstocks’ would be more appropriate. Anyway, more of the industrial architecture later.

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£5 entry and £1.50 for a programme and a teamsheet. A quick run through the teams and there was plenty of Football League experience in the AFC Mansfield team including Jon D’Laryea who had lined up for Manchester City against Arsenal. As we were making our way in, the players were making their way out of the tunnel. A club house stands behind the goal as we make our way into the ground, down the left touchline is a small covered stand complete with Non League standard corrugated back wall. The covered terrace runs about half way and is then met by a seated area. Sat on their own are about eight blue and yellow eats formerly of Mansfield Town, then around 100 white seats. Behind the far goal is the obligatory tree-lined perimeter. The right touchline houses the dugouts and a fence for fantatics to stand against. Behind that is the main road that runs through Clipstone, I’m sure a few blissfully unaware drivers have had a shock when a size five comes crashing down on the car roof.

The captains take to the centre circle, at the time I didn’t realise that they were brothers captaining the opposing sides as Richard and Danny Patterson shook hands and decided to turn the teams around.

AFC Mansfield had the first effort on goal on 5 minutes, former Man City youngster D’Laryea curling in a free kick that was well held by Jamie Bailey in the Clipstone net. Clipstone went straight to the other end and Luke Randle hit a free kick in that was spilled by Jason White, Nathan Forbes fired the rebound over.

Oliver Fearon showed skill and endeavour as he forced his way into the Clipstone area, the ball falling to D’Laryea whose effort was cleared. Shortly after on 14 minutes Fearon went close after a great cross by Ryan Williams, Williams has plenty of professional experience having played for Mansfield Town, Chesterfield and Hull to name just three teams he has lined up for.

On 22 Jimmy Ghaichem, another ex professional with Peterbrough brought the ball down exquisitely, he then knocked it by Jordan Joynson who brought him down. From the resulting free kick George Milner headed just over his own bar with his keeper beaten.

Both teams were cancelling each other out and while there was plenty of effort there wasn’t a great deal of quality. The minutes were flying though and the fanatics sat to our right in the stand were keeping us entertained. On 24 the ball came down our touchline and AFC Mansfield keeper White came sprinting out of his area to absolutely smash the ball high over the stand from about 2 yards from the touchline, the elder statesmen joking that the club only has two ball and one of them has gone into orbit.

Just past the half hour mark Gary Bradshaw had a good chance for the Bulls but hit his effort wide from about 25 yards out.  AFC Mansfield were starting to dominate and a rare attack by Clipstone led to the ball falling to Reece Treasure who couldn’t quite get his feet right and the dange was averted.

AFC Mansfield took a deserved lead on 40 minutes as right back Matt Plummer scored a cracking over head kick, expertly catching the ball when it appeared to be a lost cause. A minute later and it was two, Bradshaw claiming he was being held back by a Clipstone defender. It was a soft penalty and a tad harsh on the home side. To our surprise it was Jason White who made the long walk from his own goal to take the penalty, I have never seen that before and doubt I will again! White unleashed his inner Jose Chilavert and smashed the ball into the back of the net, it would be embarrassing for a keeper to get all that way and miss, even more embarrassing to have your kick saved and have to leg it back down the pitch. He didn’t though and it was 0-2. Half time.

I had used a Twitter tool for the first time for the game and initiated a Twitter poll to decide who we should shout for, AFC Mansfield just edging the vote!

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-21-08-55We made our way to the Cobra Cafe and got the brews in, Shane fancied getting in the festive spirit and purchased a can of lager. On the wall was a signed shirt commemorating Clipstone’s first ever FA Cup game, on the opposite wall were a couple of photos of the club’s successful teams.

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The second half started and it was the Cobras who came out brightly, Nathan Forbes going on a decent run but puttin his shot wide after 4 minutes. It didn’t take long for Clipstone to pull one back though, George Milner getting to the ball then lifting a sublime effot over White and into the back of the net.

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Shane was starting to develop a bit of a dislike to Clipstone number 11 Forbes who had shown flashes of brilliance but also looked lazy stood out on the left. Shane’s annoyance went up a notch when Forbes took a free kick early but missed the target completely. In fairness to Forbes it was quick and clever thinking but he needed to hit the target.

On 65 AFC Mansfield went on a rare foray into the Clipstone half, Ryan Williams losing his man and whipping a great ball into the box, Fearon got his head to it but it was well saved by Bailey. Clipstone were in control of the game but that attack showed how dangerous Ghaichem and Williams could be down the flanks for AFC Mansfield.

The home side got their equaliser on 73 as a free kick eventually found Richard Patterson who headed past White. It was more than deserved for the Cobras, now we would see the mettle of both sides.

Clipstone almost went into the lead on 75 with a carbon copy free kick, this time the headed was deflected over for the corner. A minute later and substitute Adam Somes hit a great effort from 18 yards just over.

Both sides were going for the win, Ghaichem tricking the defence with his skill and getting the ball into the danger zone. Shane was still moaning about Forbes and was joined by the regulars to our left, commenting on the fact that Forbes’ shirt was in pristine condition while the other 21 players were caked in mud.

The linesman took a bit of stick from the regulars who were asking how long was left, I thought I’d chip in and ask if a player could be offside in his own half, unfortunately the question is still unanswered and I don’t know how to explain the rule to Mrs HipHopping.

Plummer had another opportunity for AFC Mansfield, this time his effort went high over the bar. Forbes then put the ball in the back of the net in an almost poetic moment only to be called offside.

AFC Mansfield then had a shout for a penalty on 87 minute, it was probably more clear cut than the one given but this time the ref waved it away. Deep into stoppage time it was Clipstone who were shouting for a penno as Somes went down under a heavy challenge, again the ref waved it away in a decision that must have smarted for the home side who believed that the ref had bottled it.

2-2 was the final score and on the balance of play was probably fair, it really was the proverbial game of two halves and as we made our way out a ‘Clippo’ lad boasted that AFC Mansfield still haven’t beaten them. Milner went straight over to his family who showered him with kisses and a few more of the players chatted to family or friends.

I was due to return to that neck of the woods in the morning as I had an impending CT scan at Bassetlaw Hospital. I was impressed with the hospital and Shane decided to take me to see the headstocks in daylight. I love to see mining heritage and think it is great that they have been listed, the area looks decrepit and is all fenced off but I think that things like this need to be kept and admired.

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