After languishing in the bottom half of the Conference North table for the first third of the season, Eastwood Town (whose nickname is Clint) finally got their act together and started stringing results together. With two weeks left in the season, their remarkable run of twelve wins in fourteen games, losing only one of their last twenty games has propelled them into the play offs for the Nonleague Holy Grail, a Conference National place.
Unfortunately, this remarkable turnaround was not foreseen by Jasper Morton, who is in charge of ground improvements at Eastwood Town's Coronation Park ground.
"Well," he said, leaning on a garden fork, "We got told at the start of the season we needed another two hundred seats. There was more in the rules, about being able to see the pitch and stuff, but I didn't really read that bit. I figured I could use the stand at Ilkeston. After all, they weren't using it, and it has a good view of their pitch."
Ilkeston Town, Eastwood's footballing neighbour, went bust earlier in the season, and have a stand with three hundred and fifty seats in it just begging to be used. Morton had a word with the builders who will be knocking down Ilkeston's ground in a couple of months, and asked if he could have the stand. A quick sale was knocked up, and Morton travelled the short distance down the A6096 and set about painting over the red on the stand to make it black and white to match Eastwood's colours and adding some Eastwood Town signs.
Until Eastwood looked likely to get into the play-offs with a rich vein of form that would probably carry them into the top league in Nonleague. The ground graders returned to ensure that Eastwood would be suitable for promotion.
"We dropped in unannounced," said Jim Stickler, the FA's ground grader for Nottinghamshire. "I got the tour off Morton, and everything seemed in order for them to keep their 'B' grading, which means that they can play in the Conference North. When I counted the seats, I only got to two hundred and fifty. I pointed out that they needed another two hundred and fifty."
"I told him we had another three hundred seats in a different stand," Morton said, continuing the story in a slightly embarrassed way.
"He told me they did have enough seats, so I asked to see them," said Stickler. "That's when he took me to Ilkeston in his van."
It was at this point that Morton discovered that the seats had to be able to see the Eastwood pitch. Carlos Pokerman, chairman and sugar daddy of Eastwood Town was incensed.
"I'm appealing," he said. "But enough of my personal appearance. I'm not going to stand for this. Excuse pun. We've lodged a complaint that the rules aren't clear about which pitch you should be able to see. We've even offered to put a big screen TV on the Ilkeston pitch and show the game live, but the Conference have said no. The buggers. They've got it in for little clubs like us. Even though I'm on the Conference Board, which means I must have it in for us too. I'm so annoyed."
It is likely either Solihull Moors or Guiseley, both smaller clubs than Eastwood, will take their place in the play offs.
Jasper Morton is applying to have his name changed by deed poll to remove the 'T'.