Matlock 0 Marine 0
At 2:30pm on the Saturday before Christmas the Matlock Town club shop is shut. "Back in 30 minutes" says the scrawled notice. The rush no doubt happens once the two teams kick-off.
Still, there's some blockbuster gifts up for grabs in the Matlock raffle: First prize: Port, Second prize "L Assorts" (I think they mean Liquorice allsorts, and I don't blame them for spelling it wrong, I had to look it up). Third prize: "vehicle cleaner." Three lucky prize winners will go home outrageously happy tonight.
A river of force runs through this Derbyshire spa town. A sobering plaque on the bank tells of horror a century ago. PC Arthur Wright "lost his life by drowning while trying to save another" in 1911.
Matlock is the most picturesque away trip I've ever been on and the welcome from the Gladiators one of the friendliest. The ground is set in the town centre which is located in a valley. We peruse the vintage and antique shops, eat our sandwiches in the elegant Hall Leys Park. Wedding bells chime in the distance.
There's no fast food chains or electronic cigarette shops here. Just quaint streets with the most individual and eccentric shops. Off Old Englishe Way "Rewirks" sells chabby chic painted furniture along with country, period, retro and contemporary items. I want to buy all of it - but don't think it will fit on the team coach on the trip home.
Even the Cantonese Wok has an eye on the past. Patrons can wait for their noodles on a long ornate bench that looks like it may have once sat in the town's train station in the 1940s.
Next door an antiques shop has an England 1966 World Cup watch in the window. I'm tempted but the call of the match beckons.
Next to the Causeway Lane ground is a NHS Well-Being centre and an Indian Restaurant. I can't think of any better tonic to health - football followed by curry.
Matlock's ground, like the town itself, mixes the old and the new perfectly. Like us, they have a three sided ground. A cricket pitch backs onto one end.
A sparkling new stand with 288 seats with adjoining social club is fantastic. But the best thing here is a mile or so up in the hills. The gothic Riber Castle has had a mixed history and currently lies empty. There are plans to put plush apartments inside. With a decent pair of binoculars new residents should be able to watch the match.
The curtains would probably have been closed on this Matlock V Marine encounter. Not pretty. A very physical afternoon, a gutsy point for the Mariners.