Alfreton Town 0, Brackley Town 1 (89’)
for Lloyd Pettiford and Adam Tocock
The pitch is white where the sun’s not been seen on its hill-cresting flight. The tea queue is long and shrouded in breath, as men in fat coats grunt at each other, though the game’s going on – but I’m on the terrace, with 64 others, where a bloke in a tank-top and built like a tank turns to the dug-outs and breaks the near-silence: ‘Cheynge it up, Billeh boy – we’re fukkin’ wank!’ Then he faces the game again, squinting upfield as one of their wingers slaps a long cross out for a throw-in. ‘C’mon lads!’ he bellows, rub-rubbing his hands. So, this loss is his loss, and also his triumph. He boos at the whistle, says ‘See yer’ to others, and runs for a piss, and doesn’t drive home, cross a ground off his list, and know he was no-one. No. He lives for this.