United Counties and Peterborough 2016


Each team would somehow pick itself

No boys were left upon the shelf

No substitution sulks or shame

If you showed up you got a game.

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Not 2-3-5 or 4-2-4

But 2-8-12 or even more

Six centre forwards, five right wings

Was just the normal run of things.

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by Allan Ahlberg (1937 – )

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Friday 29th July 2016

Chromasport & trophies United Counties League

Division 1 (k.o.:- 7.45pm)

Long Buckby     4

Manni Salumu 40,

Ed Kostiuk 60, 70,

Dale Linton 73,

Whittlesey Athletic   1

Joe Butterworth 77,

Referee:- Bruce Stevens       Attendance:- 201

Admission £6.00        Programme:- £1

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A bright Friday evening and a long coach trip from Peterborough to Long Buckby, one of five football grounds visible from the train as it travels from Northampton to Birmingham (the others being:- Northampton Spencer, Rugby Town, Coventry City and Birmingham City). Usually, at Long Buckby, refreshments are at a premium. In fact, there is usually only tea/coffee available inside the ground, but this evening, there was a very varied menu and even bottles of real ale inside the ground.

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Whittlesey Athletic are newcomers to the league and rumour has it that their floodlights have yet to be erected (end of September, someone said!). They started off brightly, but fell behind just before half-time. A further three goals came in the second half before they managed a consolation response, but they were well beaten at the end!

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The houses in the photograph above, weren’t built when I last visited Long Buckby in 2012.

 

Saturday 30th July 2016

Chromasport & Trophies Peterborough & District League

Premier Division  (k.o.:- 10.30am)

Crowland Town     2

Conna Hunt 2,

Robbie Ellis 29,

AFC Stanground    7

Trey West 52, 61,

Jay Mahony 59,

Josh Staggs 84, 87,

Dwayne Rankin 85,

Travis Brown 88,

Referee:- Andy Murray          Attendance:- 240

Admission £4.00         Programme:- £1.00

The Abbey dominates the landscape – and the ground – and in the middle of town there is a three-legged bridge but nothing to cross! Henry VIII destroyed the abbey which must have been an imposing sight when the mists drifted apart to reveal its stature!

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This is real Hereward-The-Wake country and Stanground certainly made a smash and grab raid today! 0-2 down at half-time, they stormed back to win this Premier Division match handsomely, scoring seven second half unanswered goals.

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Saturday 30th July 2016

Chromasport & trophies Peterborough & District League

Division III (k.o.:- 1.30pm)

Eye United      3

Nathan Law 28,

Jacob Joyce 80, 90,

FC Peterborough   0

Referee:- Martin Reed                   Attendance:- 196

Admission:- £4.00                Programme:- £1.00

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Saturday 30th July 2016

Chromasport & Trophies Peterborough & District League

Premier Division  (4.30pm)

Thorney    3

Luke Gallagher 69,

Yanek Ladziak 77,

Sam Raynor 85,

Leverington Sports   4

Joe Reed 19,

Mariuz Kudaba 53, 62, 87,

Referee:- James Truman            Attendance:- 203

Admission:- £4.00             Programme:- £1.00

 

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I’d visited Thorney before, but the scheduled match was played elsewhere! Today, the pitch looked as if it had been mown, but that somebody forgot to collect the grass cuttings!

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Thorney were three goals down after an hour and then,  with great tenacity pulled themselves level with but five minutes remaining. Sdaly it was the visitors who made better use of the remaining five minutes and scored an 87th minute winner. A draw would have been a fairer result!

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Saturday 30th July 2016

Chromasport & Trophies United Counties League

Division 1 (K.o.:- 7.45pm)

Rushden & Higham United   2

Aaaron Cormack 21,

Jed Ainge 23

Oakham United   7

Michael Nelson 6, 61, 90,

Ollie Brown (go) 14,

Brockbank 22, 43,

Ben Lord (go) 53

Referee:- Gary Capps             Attendance:- 214

Admission:- £6.00           Programme:- £2.00

Amazingly, we had a second 2-7 result of the day and this one was equally emphatic.

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It was a pity that he old stand was still, apparently, unsafe. I remember sitting in that stand when Corby Town were the visitors for a Southern League fixture in October 1986.

 

 

Sunday 31st July 2016

Chromasport & Trophies United Counties League

Division 1  (k.o.:- 10.30am)

Bugbrooke St Michaels           2

Nathan Stewart 53,

Rebus Richard-Noel 86

Bourne Town        1

Zac Munton  39,

Referee:- Chris Sheppard         Attendance:- 241

Admission:- £4.00           Programme:- £1.00

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Sunday 31st July 2016

Chromasport & Trophies Peterborough & District League

Premier Division (k.o.:- 2.00pm)

Sawtry   0

Stilton United    2

Kwail West 77,

Simon Denning 81,

Referee:- Paul Gale        Attendance:- 534

Admission:- £4.00       Programme:- £1.00

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Inventive Sawtry had arranged a carnival for their fixture. They even had a 40s style cafe with cake and tea. There were a dozen stalls around the far perimeter, raffles and bouncy castles to entertain the youngsters. It was a pity that their players were not able to perform to expectations!

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Margaret and Cliff enjoying an ice cream and the carnival atmosphere at Sawtry. The home town club certainly made the most of their opportunity and were rewarded handsomely for their endeavours. Sadly, on the field of play, a lacklustre performance saw them lose disappointingly to local rivals, Stilton United.

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Sunday 31st July 2016

Chromasport & Trophies Peterborough & District League

Division 1  (k.o.:- 5.30pm)

Wittering Harriers     5

Scott Bryant 1,

Ash Middleton 26,

Ross Lockwood 36,

Sam Cayley 61,

Grant Tippett 90+2

Long Sutton United     2

William Oliver  3,

Matty Cawthorn 64,

Referee:- Andy Bates (Stamford)      Attendance:- 250

Admission £4.00

 

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No doubt a Harrier Squadron was once stationed here!

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Securing the goal-nets prior to kick-off.

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The home side were far to good for their Fenland rivals!

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It was a good “hop” and the amazing part about it was the number of goals we saw. Was it a record? Somebody will know! Many thanks to Chris and Groundhop UK for choreographing such a glorious goal-fest.

 

Until next time?

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April 2016

Picture this, you’re gazing down

Upon that smoky factory town.

Weaves of streets spread out, converge

And from the houses boys emerge.

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Specks of Boys, a broad selection

Heading off in one direction

Pulled by some magnetic itch

Up to the park, onto the pitch.

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Boys in boots and boys in wellies

Skinny boys and boys with bellies

Tiny boys with untied laces

Brainy boys with violin cases.

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The match was played to certain rules

By boys from certain streets and schools

Who since their babyhood had known

Which patch of earth to call their own.

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Saturday 2nd April 2016
Evo-Stik Southern League
Division 1 South & West

Taunton Town 3

Lewis Powell 11,

Craig Veal 46,77,

Bishop Cleeve 0
Referee:_ Andrew Turner (Exeter)               Attendance:- 373
Admission:- £8.00                                           Programme:- £2.00
Taunton is probably better known as the home of Somerset County Cricket Club. We didn’t see any sign of it today as John Main guided us into the ground after negotiating a long and sometimes difficult journey from Leicester in his comfortable chariot. The peacocks are flying high this year, however, and challenging strongly for a place at the Southern League’s top table. Their neat little ground was well appointed and bathed in sunshine and it was a pity that the game itself was unremarkable as the hosts dismantled a rather inept Bishops Cleeve side for a fairly comfortable 3-0 victory. A very enjoyable visit, nonetheless
This season – Matches:- 202 New grounds:- 107

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Monday 4th April 2016
North West Counties League
Premier Division

Congleton Town  3

Richard Bailey 63,

Michael Koral 77, 90,

Alsager Town 0
Referee:- Thomas Parsons                   Attendance:- 203
Admission:- OMGDS: £3.00 (£6)      Programme:- £1.00
For the second time this season Jack Warner and I found ourselves at Ball Haye Green of The Staffs County League on a beautiful evening – pitch in perfect condition, but match off and no reason given. We just about had time to scoot the ten miles or so down to Congleton and The Bears neat stadium at Booth Lane for a little local banter with neighbours, Alsager Town. The stadium is hidden in a housing estate fairly close to the centre of town. It is well maintained with cover on all four sides and a seated stand for around 200 spectators. This evening, all the first half pressure came from their lowly visitors, playing down the slope, but there was no score at half-time. Three goals in the second half deservedly won the match for The Bears and maybe, next time we are at Ball Haye Green, they will actually play the match! Enjoyed Congleton, though!

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Tuesday 5th April 2016
Northants Combination Premier Division

Blisworth 8

Steven Healey 8,

Dale Lewis 28, 29,

Joshua Dawson 46, 53, 56, 57,

Joseph Hanley 77,

Milton 0

Referee:- Trevor Martin Attendance:- 43
Admission:- F.O.C. Programme:- NONE
They’ve moved the pitch at Blisworth and built a club house. It looks a different place from the leafy glade I visited thirty years ago. There was bottled “Lancaster Bomber” in the bar and it was good to meet up with Graeme Askham again. Blisworth are top of the league, beaten only once this season, whilst Milton from down the road are firmly ensconced in mid-table. This was a fine victory for the hosts, but they were helped by circumstance which forced the visitors to play their goalkeeper in outfield and put an injured player in goal! It was 3-0 at the break, but four goals from striker Joshua Davison in ten minutes immediately after the break, killed the game off with a final strike coming three minutes from time!

 

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Wednesday 6th April 2016
Uhlsport Hellenic League
Division 1 East

Bicester Town 2

Jordan Weaver 16,

Daniel Bone 54,

Chalfont Wasps 0
Referee:- Thomas Blanch                    Attendance:- 50 (h/c)
Admission:- £6.00                               Programme:- included
Bicester are back in The Hellenic League after a four year absence, but they are playing their home games at Ardley United. They are fighting to regain possession of their former ground in the town which is the subject of a tug of war between the club and The Bicester Village project (Shops for designer labels). The town council appear sympathetic, but there is no sign of movement yet! Meanwhile, they top Division 1 East and look on course for promotion to the Premier Division. A goal in each half led to a regulation victory against lowly Wasps.

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Thursday 7th April 2016
Northants Combination
Duston Garages Premier Division

Kettering Nomads 3

Shaun Morris 48,

Sam Johnson 51, 53,

Earls Barton United 0
Referee:- Trevor Martin                                Attendance:- 14
Having avoided the blandishments of Kettering Town (they beat Dunstable 3-1 this evening), I drove a little further down the road to Isham, where I have both played and umpired cricket and where Kettering Nomads play their home fixtures. It was an evening of sunshine and showers and in the first half, the match was decidedly tedious, without a single shot on goal! The thin crowd were rewarded for their patience with three goals in the first ten minutes of the second half, all to the hosts who culled the points and the victory, but should have scored several more!

 

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Friday 8th April 2016
Thurlow-Nunn Eastern Counties League
Division 1

Haverhill Borough 0

Halstead Town 1

Daniel Cripps 17,
Referee:- George Byrne                          Attendance:- 121
Admission:- OMGDS £3.00 (£5)         Programme:- £1.00
Haverhill Borough are the junior partners at The New Croft, sharing the ground with Haverhill Rovers, but they soon hope to be moving out – maybe as soon as the beginning of next season – into a brand spanking new stadium with a 3G pitch adjacent to the present arena. This evening, they were pretty woeful and lost for the second time this week, at home by 0-1. Halstead still have designs on promotion, but it may be beyond them, this season. Good to meet up with Daniel Turner from Braintree, an enthusiastic young ‘hopper’!

 

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Saturday 9th April 2016
Molten Spartan South Midlands League
Division 2

Pitstone & Ivinghoe 2

George Armstrong 26,

Harry Elliott 74,

Grendon Rangers 2

Matt Ginger 40 (pen), 77,
Referee:- Mike Chisholm                                           Attendance:- 34
Graeme and I let the train take the strain from Rugby down to Tring. We hadn’t realised that Pitstone & Ivinghoe are moving at the end of the season to a new ground almost opposite across the road, so, no doubt, we will have to return next season! There was little on offer in the way of stadium furniture, but there was shelter under the wall of the Memorial Hall from the elements, and thankful we were for that! The hosts should have run away with this, but they twice let a lead slip and despite enjoying most of the possession, were denied by a spirited and determined Rangers, who probably just about deserved their point!

 

Monday 11th April 2016
Pete’s Patisserie Sheffield County Senior League
Division 1

Silkstone United 0

Wombwell Main 6 (six)

Ryan Hallsworth 11, 45+2,

Daniel Frost 14,

Marc Schofield 36, 78,

Luke Whitfield 39,
Referee:- Paul Jackson                              Attendance:- 22
This combined football and cricket arena has the cricket clubhouse and playing area on the upper level and behind it and around ten metres lower, is the football pitch. The match was scheduled to commence at 6.00pm, but the referee allowed some degree of lassitude and the game commenced about ten minutes late. The home side goalkeeper did not cover himself in glory, allowing two goals in the first fifteen minutes – one at long range went straight through his legs! The visitors had total control, and as so often happens, they took their foot off the pedal in the second half having established a 5-0 interval lead! Very pleasant and helpful members of both teams made sure that we had the teams and changes. Good to get to another game with Graeme Askham!

 

Tuesday 13th April 2016
Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division

Stratford Town 0

Poole Town 1

Luke Burbidge 19,
Referee:- Mark Howes                                   Attendance:- 232
Admission:- OMGDS £6.00 (£10.00)        Programme:- £2
On a fairly balmy evening (with black thunder clouds in the distance), this was another solid victory consolidating Poole Town’s claims to The Southern League Championship and with it, promotion to Conference South. Stratford have had a dreadful season and the comparatively large crowd turned up more in hope than anticipation. The slick visitors made the hosts look ponderous and pedestrian, but only one goal was scored and that as early as the nineteenth minute.

 

Saturday 23rd April 2016
Ryman Isthmian League
Division 1 South

Dorking Wanderers 1

Kev Terry,  86,

South Park 5

James McElligott 42,

Dean Moody 50, 80,

Dean Lovegrove 61,

Dylon Merchant 90+1
Referee:- Graham Pearce                                    Attendance:- 130
Admission:- FREE (£8/£5)                               Programme:- £2

This season:- Matches:- 220 New Grounds:- 120
Nothing at all like what I expected! I thought it would be a ground hidden amidst the slums of South London, but what we saw was an idyllic location in the lee of Box Hill (where Young Jolyon retired to live with Irene in John Galsworthy’s novel – ‘The Forsyte Saga’). Local planning restrictions meant that the club (who were only formed in 1999) had constructed a stadium built almost entirely of wood. It is a little gem, but they will be staying there for but one season more, before joining neighbours Dorking at a purpose built 3G community arena. Wanderers are already in the play-offs and this afternoon probably put out a largely weakened formation to preserve their warriors for the play-off semi-final this week. South Park took advantage and thoroughly enjoyed – and deserved – a handsome victory. We didn’t know when we arrived that the hosts were offering free admission for their last home league game of the season! On a cool afternoon, Dorking’s cricketers were opening their season next door! With John Main and Chris Berezai

 

Wednesday 27th April 2016
Evo-Stik Southern League
Premier Division Play-off Semi-final

Hitchin Town 2

Brett Donnelly 56,

Robbie Burns 59,

Hungerford Town 3

Scott Rees 64,

James Clark 75,

Stefan Brown 84,
Referee:- G. Viccars                                      Attendance:- 1,305

Admission:- OMGDS £6.00 (£10.00)        Programme:- £2.00
My last visit to Hitchin for this season and it ended on a disappointing note. The old stadium was bursting at the seams and the parkland opposite Top Field had been opened up as a car park at £2 per car! The first half was pretty drab, but the contest certainly opened up after the break, with the Canaries grabbing a two goal lead by the hour mark. Back came Hungerford, with two goals in ten minutes to level the score. They added a third and winning goal six minutes from time and their celebrations at the end of the match were extensive and shared with the large coterie of away support!

 

Thursday 28th April 2016
Northants Combination Division 1

Gretton 5

Lee Greig 19, 67,

Joey Rees 48, 76,

Matty O’Neill 50,

Corby Shamrock 3

Arron McGinty 4,

Carl Richards 53,

William Wells
Referee:- Gary Gurney                                    Attendance:- 18
Admission:- F.O.C.                                          Programme:- NONE
There is a covered standing area at Kirby Road and tonight it was particularly welcome as the rain came down in sheets in the second half. The match started about ten minutes late because the visitors had players still arriving, but they managed a full team and snatched an early lead in the third minute. This is only my third visit to the ground, even though I have only to open my front door and cross the street to get there! My house features on one of the photos below! Gretton laboured to achieve half-time parity, but in the second half as the rain teemed down, they wrested the contest away from the visitors. Two goals each for Joey Rees and Lee Craig and a goal from Matty O’Neill, sealed a handsome and deserved victory.

 

Not included :-

Friday 1st April 2016 Holt United 3 Sheringham 1 Anglian Comb Div 1. Att.:- 122

Tuesday 5th April 2016 Blisworth 8 Milton 0 Northants Comb Premier Att.:- 43

Thursday 7th April 2016 Kettering Nomads 3 Earls Barton United 0 Northants Comb Premier Att.:- 14

Friday 15th April 2016 Garden Village 2 Ton Pentre 1 Welsh League Premier Div Att.:- 108

Saturday 16th April 2016 Abergwili 4 Llansteffan 1 Carmarthen League Div.1 Att.:- 140

Saturday 16th April 2016 Llandeilo 5 Llangennech 0 Carmarthen League Div. 2 Att.:- 107

Saturday 16th April 2016 Johnstown 1 Drefach 3 Carmarthen League Div. 2 Att.:- 137

Sunday 17th April 2016 Llandovery 4 Porth Tywyn 0 Carmarthen League Div. 2 Att.:- 111

Sunday 17th April 2016 Carmarthen Stars 7 Ponthenri 1 Carmarthen League Div.! Att.:- 214

Wednesday 20th April 2016 North Leigh 1 Bishops Cleeve 3 Southern League Div1 Sth & West Att.:- 47

Thursday 21st April 2016 Rothwell Corinthians 2 Holbeach United 1 UCL Premier Att.:- 57

Friday 22nd April 2016 Alvis 2 Nuneaton Griff & Coton 1 Telegraph Junior Cup FINAL Att.:- 72

Monday 25th April 2016 Desborough Town 1 Kettering Town 3 Northants Senior Youth Leg. (East) Att.:- 32

Tuesday 26th April 2016 Christ the King 1 Folly Lane 7 Coventry Alliance Prem. Div. Att.:- 31

 

 

 

 

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South West Peninsula ‘Hop’ 2016

Around the fringes of the match

Spectators to this hectic patch

Younger sisters, older brothers

Tied-up dogs and irate mothers

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A mother came to claim her twins

(Required to play those violins)

A little sister, Annabelle

Bribed with a lolly not to tell

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Dogs named Rover, Rex or Roy

Each watching one particular boy.

A puppy mad keen to chase the ball

The older dogs had seen it all.

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The match was played till after dark

(Till gates were closed on Albert Park)

By shadowy boys whose shapes dissolved

Into the earth as it revolved

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Ghostly boys who flitted by

Like bats across the evening sky,

A final fling, a final call

Pursuing the invisible ball.

From “The Match (c 1950)” by Allan Ahlberg (1937 – )

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Thursday 24th March 2016

Carlsberg South West Peninsula League Premier Division k.o.:- 7.45pm

AFC St Austell   4

Josh Grant 4, 59,

Liam Eddy 32,

Martin Watts 90+2, 

St Blazey   0

Referee:- Stuart Kane             Attendance:- 451

Admission:- £5.00                 Programme:- £1.00

It was a long train journey from Kettering to London St Pancras and then the cross city tube link to Paddington for the 12.06 GWR Penzance express which trundled into St Austell at around ten past four. So, it was a relief to find that my accommodation, The White Hart Hotel, was barely a couple of hundred yards down the hill from the station! I had been allocated a first floor room of gigantic proportions with a separate study and a bathroom you could comfortably train for the Olympic 100 metres in!

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St Austell were the current champions of The Carlsberg South West Peninsula League, but this season, although lying in second place, they look unlikely to retain their crown. At present (before tonight’s match) they are equal on points with leaders, Bodmin Town, but they had played two games more, have an inferior goal difference and, crucially, Bodmin are unbeaten this season!

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The rain came down in waves as we walked up the road and past the railway station to Poltair Park, home of the champions, which is set back behind a park and a play area off the main road. It was not so much ‘stair-rods’ as a fine mist of water that drenched you to the very marrow! The club-house at the ground was packed with ‘hoppers’, but the only place with cover during the match was the single stand situated adjacent to the club-house, and it was packed, but the view was challenging because of the over-proliferation of stantions and rails.

St Blazey, the cannon fodder this evening, occupy the nether regions of the premier division and were no match for the reigning champions. Four goals was about the measure and the difference in skill and ability between the two teams, but, the following day, Bodmin Town also won 4-0 – away from home!

The attendance was impressive, but it was not the highest of the season for the hosts, who posted a crowd of 606 last October for the visit of Bodmin Town. That was the highest crowd in the league this season and tonight’s attendance was the second highest!

Friday 25th March 2016  k.o.:- 11.00am

Carlsberg South West Peninsula League Division 1 West

Illogan RBL   3

Gavin Boon 43,

Joe Carlyon 64,

Steven Abbott-Smith  67,

Penryn Athletic   1

Dario Disano 57,

Referee:- George Pattison                Attendance:- 369

Admission:-  £3.00                          Programme:- £1.00

Friday was predicted to be the finest day of the weekend. Hurricane Katie seemed to be arriving late from the Carribean, but squally rain was forecast for Saturday. The weather – which was sunny and warm – helped, but Illogan’s Oxland Parc was a picture of rustic beauty with the monument clearly visible on the hill behind it – a memento, I was told, of past tin mining exploits.

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The monument on the hill in the distance behind the ground

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Illogan was founded off the back of The Royal British Legion shortly after the Great War and still keep ‘RBL’ in their name. There is a fine club house behind the goal at the entrance to the ground and quite a pleasant, small stand with seating for perhaps one hundred spectators down one side. On the far side of the ground and adjacent to the dug-outs (and a rather large puddle in the pathway) is a smaller more eccentric, quirkier stand with seating for about a dozen at most.

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This was a match which pitted visitors, Penryn Athletic, third in the table and unbeaten in sixteen matches, against the hosts who lie five places off the foot of the division and with only one win in their last six league matches. The result defied the odds. After a shaky start when it seemed that the visitors might take control of the match, Illogan struck just before half-time and in the second half scored a further two goals to a single reply to  take the victory and the points on merit!

The crowd was 369 which was just over a hundred short of their TOTAL gate for the entire season and boosted their average match day attendance from 49 to 78.

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Friday 25th March 2016 k.o.:- 3.00pm

Carlsberg South  West Peninsula League Division 1 West

Wendron United   1

Chris Mulroy 90+5

Porthleven   1

Matt Best 24,

Referee:- Kevin Knowles               Attendance:- 427

Admission:- £3.00                        Programme:- £1.00

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Wendron United was a sight for sore eyes. It was a cricket club and football club on adjacent pitches, both sharing a club house. The football club had been making some substantial improvements, including a long stand along the length of one side of the ground. It was, as yet, incomplete – and may indeed have troubled the Health and Safety Inspectorate – but it was impressive.

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Equally impressive was the sports area and upstairs board room behind the goal. Perhaps less necessary was the blare of almost non-stop music, interspersed with announcements from the double strength loudspeakers!

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What started as a bright, sunny and generally warm afternoon, turned quite cold by the end of the match as a stiff breeze blew down the length of the stand. Inside the club house, it was only after negotiating the burger bar and curry/beef stew sector that winding your way into the next room you found a gorgeous cake stall. It was a pity I had fallen for the chicken curry and baked potato, but I did find room for a couple of slices of excellent gateau!

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The two teams were not enjoying the most successful of seasons and Wendron were perched just above the mid point in the division, whilst visitors, Porthleven were but four places off the foot of the table. It was they who started the more brightly, taking the lead midway through the first half and holding it until the fifth minute of added time at the end of the game, when the hosts, somewhat fortuitously drew level and the spoils were shared.

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Friday 25th March 2016 k.o.:- 7.00pm

Carlsberg South West Peninsula League Premier Division

Helston Athletic  1

Jason Roberts 70,

Falmouth Town  0

Referee:- Martyn Gospel                Attendance:- 514

Admission:- £3.00                        Programme:- F.O.C.

 

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This was a Premier Division match and the hosts, newly promoted had spent a substantial amount to upgrade their stadium so that they could not only compete in the senior division, but also enter The FA Vase. It was an impressive stadium, even if the newly acquired stand was of the Meccano variety! The club had even invited the Helston Town band to play before the match and at half time. Despite the cold and blustery conditions, they gave a very creditable performance, which I thoroughly enjoyed!

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The club house was pretty substantial, but it was swamped by the influx of hoppers. The bar was heaving and there were long queues at the food outlets. It was a cold evening with a sharp blustery wind (which didn’t help conditions for the contest). Programmes for the match were provided free by the club, despite the blandishments of the league committee. It was apparently a club policy, but hoppers were invited to contribute programme money (if they so wished) into a collection jar on the bar!

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Tonight’s match was something of a local  ‘Derby’, with Helston separated from the coastal town of Falmouth by perhaps fifteen miles. Both teams occupied positions just above the mid-point in the table with Falmouth a point better off, but having played a game more.

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Helston Town Band performing prior to kick-off.

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The match was not ‘El Classico’! From the start, defences dominated and it look a nailed on 0-0 draw. It took a goal twenty minutes from time from the home side’s Jason Roberts to secure the win and the points, but perhaps a draw might have been a fairer outcome. The highest attendance of the ‘hop’ had been treated to, arguably, the least entertaining encounter of the weekend. Nonetheless we had been impressed with the endeavours of the home club to ensure an enjoyable visit and so it turned out!

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Saturday 26th March 2016  k.o.:- 10.30am

Carlsberg South West Peninsula League Division 1 West

Sticker     6

Sam Kenny  9, 24, 33,

Liam Dingle  16,

Mike Body  37, 73,

Wadebridge Town   1

Tom Marks 71,

Referee:- Simon Long             Attendance:- 372

Admission:- £3.00                 Programme:- £1.00

The weather turned with a vengeance, today. We had been expecting it but, perhaps not the intensity of it! At Sticker, the rain was an unremitting damp drizzle, which, combined with the cold and the win served to dampen spirits and called for a rousing match to boost flagging spirits. That is just what we got!

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Yes, there really is a place in Cornwall called ‘Sticker’! 

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There was no seating at Sticker, but cover was provided down one side and also under the eaves of the club-house. Sticker is a tiny village not far from St Austell. The welcome was friendly, but the weather was vile!

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Les Bull (Le Boeuf) from Pinner, North London, in the club-house before the match at Sticker

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This remarkable match commenced with a goal after only nine minutes followed by four more first half goals to the hosts, Sticker, who sit handsomely in fourth place in the table, without actually having the potential to attempt either the championship or promotion. Their visitors, Wadebridge Town, meanwhile, maintain a lowly third from bottom place without really being threatened by relegation. To be fair, the wind was blowing in the home side’s favour in the first half, but even so, they were good value for a 5-0 lead! After half-time, the visitors – abetted by the wind – stiffened their sinews and fought with greater tenacity, even pulling a goal back after 71 minutes. Sticker responded with a sixth goal just two minutes later and then rolled out the substitutes and the game was effectively over.

The ‘gate’ of 372 was more than five times Sticker’s average attendance of  65  this season!

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Saturday 26th March 2016 k.o.:- 1.15pm

Carlsberg South West Peninsula League Division 1 West

St Dennis       6

Martin Sleeman  4,

Scott Brown  8,

Mikey Davies 46, 53,

Lee Rickard 71, 85,

Kyle Friendship s/o 35,

Millbrook         4

Shaun Evans  19, 68,

Sam Chitey  34, 45,

Referee:- Ryan Cornelius           Attendance:- 306

Admission:- £3.00                    Programme:- £1.00

If anything, the weather worsened during the comparatively short journey from Sticker to St Dennis.. By the time we got there, stair rods had replaced a heavy drizzle. Sadly for the embattled hoppers, the major food outlet was outside in the rain with no cover! There was a covered standing area down one side of the pitch but this offered scant protection as the rain was blowing in from both sides. Behind the goal and adjacent to the club house was another small covered area, but this, too, was susceptible to the gusting rain!

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The pitch was a quagmire and there were rumours abounding that the referee was considering a postponement. Fortunately, he took the pragmatic option and the match went ahead and the pitch played well considering the amount of precipitation dumped upon it!

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The pitch side covered area which offered scant protection from the elements!

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St Dennis are placed fifth in the division, but poor Millbrook are but one place off the foot of the table. Two goals from the home side in the first eight minutes had the hoppers wondering just how big might be the scoreline. Six? Eight? Ten? Not a bit of it. Another half hour went by and the visitors had not only drawn level but watched in bemused abstraction as the hosts had Kyle Friendship sent off, apparently for something he said to the referee which that official decided was not spoken in friendship. On the stroke of half-time, the visitors even took the lead and many hoppers were considering a very unlikely away victory!

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There were two goals in the first eight minutes of the second half and once again it was the hosts who scored them to regain the lead. Back came Millbrook to equalise and the game rocked back and forth in the appalling conditions. Eventually, the hosts scored two final goals to see off their gallant rivals, but I would like to add a word of praise for both sets of players who contributed magnificently to the entertainment and to referee, Ryan Cornelius, whose courageous decision to go ahead with the match was vindicated. The pitch played well and we all enjoyed the best match of the ‘hop’.

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Saturday 26th March 2016  k.o.:- 4.30pm

Carlsberg South West Peninsula League Division 1 West

Bude Town    5

Billy Hopcroft  6, 45+1,

Tommy Statton 27,

Chris Hill 54,

Luke Potter 82,

Holsworthy     1

Nathan Bonny 79,

Carlo Chandler s/o 36,

Referee:- Cameron Mann         Attendance:- 409

Admission:- £3.00                Programme:- £0.50

Onward, ever onward and suddenly it was the last match of the ‘hop’. These events are always so long in the anticipation and so exquisitely short in the execution. Bude town was some forty miles from St Dennis, way up on the north coast of Cornwall. It was still raining when we got there but it drifted away as the match progressed and was replaced by a watery sunlight!

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Broadclose Park, home of Bude Town and hidden away behind a housing estate, is a somewhat eccentric little ground with a limited club house and, equally limited cover in front of it and down one side of the pitch. There is a small covered area in the corner at the entrance to the ground, but otherwise, the pitch is surrounded on three sides by rolling downs and away behind the goal to the right was what looked like giant listening dishes set in the hillside above the sea. It immediately brought to mind Goonhilly Downs, but I have a feeling that that is nearer to Lands End.

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These two clubs are pulling up no trees this season. One point separates them at the wrong end of the table, but the hosts have played no less than five fewer games than their rivals. Neither side is in any danger of relegation and this match was all about pride. I was standing beside two supporters from Holsworthy who were somewhat mystified by the huge turnout, and, indeed, quite mystified as to what a ‘hop’ was and why they should be involved in it!

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Bude were much too strong for their opponents and even before the visitors had Carlo Chandler sent off, they had already amassed a two goal lead and added a further goal right on the half-time whistle. Another goal early in the second half had many hoppers wondering what the odds were on the three home sides today all scoring six goals! That was not to be. Holsworthy pulled one back with twenty minutes remaining, but it was Bude who had the last laugh with the final goal of the ‘hop’ after eighty-two minutes.

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The tiny stand in the corner of the ground

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Black clouds rolling over the covered area outside the clubhouse

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Watery sunshine over Broadclose Park

…………….And that was it! There was a long coach journey back to St Austell and on the following morning, frustratingly, the train was first of all five, then nine and finally thirteen minutes late. A retired railman and now full time hopper, suggested that one of the train crew had forgotten that the clocks went forward last night and had overslept! A further delay was encountered near Newbury, but then, amazingly, the train arrived ON TIME at Paddington!

This was my fourth South West Peninsula League ‘hop’, following visits in 2009, 2010 and the last time in 2011. I hope that it won’t be the last. In total, I have visited twenty-eight South West Peninsula League grounds (although some, like Clyst Rovers, are no more and others like Okehampton Argyle may soon slip away). Who can forget that gigantic struggle of a local derby in 2010 when in the midst of rain and wind and MUD, Godolphin Atlantic defeated local rivals Newquay by 5-3 or Buckland Athletic’s magnificent stadium, set on the hill, but a devil of a place to park! Godolphin Atlantic’s 527 is still the largest attendance on the ‘hops’ I went to!

Finally, I would like to say a word of thanks to Phil Hiscox, the secretary of The South West Peninsula League, who organised and arranged this ‘hop’. I think he did a magnificent job – weather notwithstanding – and the way the clubs involved, enthusiastically bought into his dream made it such an excellent experience for us hoppers!

Looking forward to the next time!!!

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March 2016

They ran and shouted, ran and shot

(At shooting they were not so hot)

Pulled a sock up, rolled a sleeve

And scored more goals than you’d believe

.

Slid and tackled, leapt and fell

Dodged and dribbled, dived as well

Headed, shouldered, elbowed, kneed

And, half-time in the bushes peed.

.

With muddy shorts and muddy faces

Bloody knees and busted laces

Ruddy cheeks and plastered hair

And voices buffeting the air

From:- “The Match (c. 1950)” by Allan Ahlberg (1937 – )

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.

.

Wednesday 2nd March 2016
Chromasport & Trophies United Counties League
Premier Division

Sleaford Town 3

Andy Wright, 33

Ryan Oliver, 39,

David Hone 87,

Wisbech Town 3

Matt Sparrow 9, 18,

Luke Wilson 90+2,
Referee:- Junior Jones-Eyre Attendance:- 112
Despite the filthy weather, around a score or more of Wisbech fans had made the forty mile journey north for this match. It is only in this kind of weather that you realise just how exposed The Elsaforde Stadium really is! On the far side there is a Meccano stand for perhaps 150 seats and a small covered area behind one goal. Otherwise all is open to the elements! I was glad that Jeremy Biggs was there to garner the team news for me! The Fenmen started like an express train and raced into a two goal lead after only eighteen minutes. They were pegged back, in a titanic struggle, by two goals from Sleaford in the final six minutes of the half. The second half continued the war of attrition, but it wasn’t until the 87th minute that the hosts dramatically stole the lead for the first time in the match. However, in the second of five added minutes, Wisbech pulled themselves level and a draw was probably the right result!

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Saturday 5th March 2016
JD Welsh Cup 5th Round

Cwmbran Celtic 1

Lloyd Kinsella 61,

Port Talbot Town 2

Luke Bowen 29, 66,
Referee:- Ryan Stewart (Cardiff)               Attendance:- 210
Admission:- £3.00                                       Programme:- £1.00
I’d seen the advert from The FAW about free transport from Newport Train Station to Cwmbran and Cardiff Met and had received a confirmed offer of a seat on the coach.

Hi Eddie,

Thanks for your interest in the JD Welsh Cup experience.

Fortunately, we still have a few spaces left on our ground hoppers bus leaving Newport at 12pm.

I will put your name forward so your place is now confirmed on the bus.

Kind Regards,

Kayne Mclaggon

Imagine my surprise when alighting at Newport Station, I found four other putative ‘hoppers’ and NO bus!

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Fortunately, Dave Collins, who produces “Welsh Football”, was there and he ensured that we found a bus service for the short trip to Cwmbran and guided us from there to Celtic Park, hard by Cwmbran Stadium (where, apparently, Cwmbran Town still play). The ground, was, to say the least, primitive, but the welcome was warm and two pints of Rev James over the road at The WMC, certainly improved my chagrin.

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Celtic were unlucky to lose this match. They had more of the chances, but seemed stage-struck in front of goal. They did score an equaliser straight from a corner, but were then undone some twenty minutes from time, by a powerful strike from Luke Bowen. I still couldn’t believe that the Welsh FA had jilted us so badly, but at least we had a very generous offer of a lift from Martin Bamforth to the second game of the day!

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Martin Bamforth, who was our saviour at Cwmbran Celtic by offering us a lift to the second match of the ‘double’ at Cardiff Met.

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The view through the trees to Cwmbran Stadium

Saturday 5th March 2016
JD Welsh Cup 5th Round

Cardiff Met University 0

gap Connah’s Quay 2

Nathan Woolfe 45+1

Callum Morris 57,
Referee:- Mark Petch                       Attendance:- 217
Admission:- £4.00                          Programme:- included
Martin ferried us down to Cardiff Metropolitan University for the second cup match of the afternoon. This was my second visit, with the first coming almost two years to the day previously, and not a lot had changed! The pitch is 3G there is a Meccano stand for about 250 spectators on the far side of the ground and a snack bar with hot drinks and chocolate bars on the near side of the ground which is overshadowed by a large sports hall covering the entire length of the pitch. The match itself was a fairly regulation victory for the Welsh Premier League side over their opponents who were a couple of divisions below them in the Welsh pyramid. The students, as usual, didn’t leave the field of play at half-time! After the match, Martin drove us to Cardiff Central Station in heavy early evening traffic – Many Thanks, Martin!!!!

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Tuesday 8t March 2016
Chromasport & Trophies United Counties League
Premier Division

Wellingborough Town 2

Justin Dowling 35,

Dan Spaughton 71,

Rothwell Corinthians 0

Referee:- Douglas Lawson          Attendance:- 60
Admission:- £5.00                      Programme:- £1.00
I think it would be fair to say that Wellingborough has benefited from sharing its ground with Rushden & Diamonds, however, a serious fire, the result of vandalism, last November has kept the clubhouse out of action. It is due to be re-opened in two weeks. The bonus is £3,000 of CCTV cameras donated by a local firm to keep watch on the newly re-furbished premises. On the field, both these teams are in the bottom five in the division with Wellingborough the more in need of points. Corinthians started the more positively, but it was the hosts who deservedly prevailed in a tight contest of few chances.

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Friday 11th March 2016

Ferrari Packaging Scottish Lowland League

Gretna  0

Dalbeattie Star  0

Referee:- Matthew McDermid       Attendance:- 366

Admission:- £5.00    Programme:- £2.00

This was the first match of the Scottish Lowland ‘Hop’ and after a long coach journey, we were glad to get our feet on terra firm, so to speak!

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It is hard to believe that Gretna once reached the dizzy heights of The Scottish Premiership. One wonders how they were allowed to achieve that stays with such a lowly stadium.  True, in terms of The Scottish Lowland League, it was pretty impressive, but good enough for the top table in Scottish football? I think not! There was an impressive seated stand behind one goal and a small wooden seated stand down one side of the ground with very little room for manoeuvre for spectators travelling up and down the touch line. to the left of this stand, behind the goal, there was a roped off, grassed area so that the ground was, in effect, three sided.

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This was a fixture which looked to be a tight contest from the start. Gretna were in sixth and Star were seventh and they were separated by three points. It was a game of few chances where defences dominated and the only incident of note was the sending off of the home right back, Dean Rea, after eighty-nine minutes for a second bookable offence.

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The smart, reasonably new stand behind the far goal.

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On the right is the old wooden stand down one side of the ground.

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The old wooden stand

Saturday 12th March 2016 k.o.:- 11.00am

Ferrari Packaging Scottish Lowland League

Whitehill Welfare  3

Callum Connolly 16,

Anthony Muir 29,

Jamie Devlin 76,

Gala Fairydean   0

Referee:- Jonathon Bell       Attendance:- 324

Admission:- £5.00           Programme:- £2.00

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Today’s matches were all in the Edinburgh region, so it was an early start and a long drive from the hotel in East Kilbride to the first match of the day in Rosewall where – according to Mike Squires – the famous Roslin Chapel is. It was not an easy ground to find and, indeed, we made one wrong turning and were saved by a club official who guided our coach to the ground! The arena was set in a slight depression with grassed banks on all four sides and a small stand with seats, perhaps, for a hundred spectators.

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The hosts, playing in West Ham claret and blue, made all the early running and were two goals to the good inside half an hour. Just after half-time, the Fairydean skipper, Jamie Gibson, was sent off after he reacted violently to a strong tackle. Despite the man advantage, it was not until fifteen minutes from time that Whitehill finally – and deservedly – put the game beyond all doubt with a third goal.

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By the end of this match, I was beginning to get a trifle sick of the endless ‘scotch pies’ on offer. A bit of variety would have been very welcome! Still, the breakfast in the hotel was hearty and there was no need to refuel at this, the opening match of the day!

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Saturday 12th March 2016 k.o.:- 2.30pm

East of Scotland League

Civil Service Strollers  2

Kyle Bogey 32, 85,

Leith Athletic   3

Steven Glynn 2,

Neil Lawson 15,

Robbie Mason 45+1 (pen),

Referee:- Paul Hanlon   Attendance:- 165

Admission:- OMGDS:- £3.00 (£5.00)   Programme:- None

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The second match of the day was scheduled to be at the eccentrically named ‘Pennypit Park’ in Prestonpans, where, in 1745, the army of Bonnie Prince Charlie routed the Hanoverian forces ranged against him. Sadly, when we arrived, we found that the match had been called off due to a waterlogged pitch!

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It took a surprisingly long time to sort out a replacement game – only some half a dozen miles away – at Civil Service Strollers quaint, but tired Christie Gillies Park for an East of Scotland League match.

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About a hundred ‘hoppers’ chose to take in this match and that considerably swelled the ‘gate’ at this match!

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There was shelter only down one side with a few seats available under the cover. Today’s visitors were Leith Athletic and they deservedly won a fine contest played on a beautiful pitch – a pitch indeed, good enough to play bowls on! Leith were 3-1 up by the interval and it wasn’t until the eighty-fifth minute that the hosts were able to reduce the arrears.

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Saturday 12th March 2016  k.o.:- 5.00pm

Ferrari Packaging Scottish Lowland League

Spartans  1

Keith Murray 90,

University of Stirling  0

Referee:- Chris McNab     Attendance:- 435

Admission:- £5.00           Programme:- £2.00

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Spartans play at Ainslie Sports Centre on a 3G pitch with a stand down one side and a double decked club house behind the near goal. For once, I didn’t feel that the welcome had any warmth. Oh, yes, I’m sure that they were glad to see us, but there seemed to be a very much a commercial aspect to the event. Added to that, the petty infractions – we weren’t allowed to stand on the balcony behind the goal and even though both hands were filled with food and drink, we were’t allowed to put anything down!

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Spartans were in third place in the table and University of Stirling one place above them in the table. This was a game that was nailed on 0-0. “It had 0-0 written all over it.” I’m not a great believer in 3G pitches and I think that they produce more than their fare share of 0-0 results. Then, imagine our surprise, in the 90th minute, the hosts scored with a shot from ranges that somehow squirmed beyond the goalkeepers grasp and Spartans had leapfrogged the students into second place!

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Saturday  12th March 2016 k.o.:- 8.00pm

Ferrari Packaging Scottish Lowland League

Edinburgh City  1

Frazer Paterson 67,

East Kilbride  1

Craig Hastings 24,

Referee:- Peter Stuart    Attendance:- 418

Admission:- £5.00        Programme:- £2.00

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There used to be a team called Ferranti Thistle and when they gained promotion – or were elected – to The Scottish League, they moved to the Athletics Stadium at Meadowbank (built, I think, for The 1986 Commonwealth Games) and changed their name to Meadowbank Thistle. Sadly, they have since vacated the stadium and taken their franchise to Livingston and the present incumbents of this fine stadium are Edinburgh City, last season’s inaugural champions of The Scottish Lowland League.

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Edinburgh City look to have a pretty good chance of retaining the title this season! Mind you, East Kilbride, down in sixth place, were no push-overs and were good value for their point.

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Sunday 13th March 2016 k.o.:- 12.00noon

Ferrari Packaging Scottish Lowland League

Edinburgh University   3

Nathan Evans 8, 89,

Jack Guthrie 14,

Selkirk   2

Ross King 19,

Garry O’Connor 86,

Referee:- Alan Hogg    Attendance:- 294

Admission:- £5.00       Programme:- £2.00

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There were some fine views out at Peffermill on the outskirts of Edinburgh and some innovative catering on offer. I enjoyed a giant Danish pastry before the match!

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The visitors had Garry O’Connor in their ranks. If you have not heard of him, I believe that he once graced the ranks of Hibernian,, Lokomotiv Moscow (where he scored the winning goal in the 2007 cup final), Birmingham City and even reached the dizzy heights of international football with Scotland (sixteen appearances). Some might say that he wasted a glittering career on fast cars and drugs, but he also had long periods fighting injuries.  He may be long in the tooth and carrying a little extra poundage, but he led the line well and scored a late goal.

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Alan Chainey was a former member of the university PE staff who coached the football squad in the early seventies and enjoyed some success. I believe he was also the author of a book on golfing walks!

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This is a view of The Royal Observatory in Edinburgh which can just be espied with a long shot from The East Peffermill ground

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This stand provided the only cover at the ground, with seating for perhaps 200 spectators.

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This fairly uneventful match sprang into life late on. The Students had garnered a 2-1 half-time lead and seemed to be cruising to victory, until a goal only four minutes from time by Garry O’Connor. A draw seemed likely, but the students had other ideas and pinched victory with a goal in the final minute!

Tuesday 15th March 2016

Uhlsport Hellenic League Division 1 East

Chinnor   0

Finchampstead  0

Referee:- Steve Rea            Attendance:- 32

Admission:- F.O.C.           Programme:- £2.00

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Chinnor had been mentioned recently (in The Traveller) as having returned to their old ground – well, it is a new ground really, with a lovely club house in the adjacent village hall. There is not much at pitch side beyond a Meccano stand which contained around fifty seats – most of them vandalised – and a standing area. However, the goal to the left, if you were sitting in the stand, was completely obscured by the large brick built dug-outs!

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It was a chilly evening with a persistent thin drizzle and the match was probably one of the poorest I’ve seen all season! My son, Jim, who had broken his big toe in the nets preparing for the new cricket season, managed about twenty minutes outside, before repairing indoors to watch Manchester City who, by his account, were nearly as bad as the two teams entertaining us at Station Road, Chinnor!

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Wednesday 16th March 206
Molten Spartan South Midlands League
Division 1

Wodson Park 3

Anthony Anstead 63, 69,

Harry Bushel 90+3

Risborough Rangers 0
Referee:- Kieran Haywood Attendance:- 15
Admission:- £4.00 Programme:- £1.00
The Wodson Park Sports & Leisure Centre is where Ware FC have their home, but they have a self-contained football stadium. Wodson Park FC used to play there, too, but now play on the athletics area behind the main entrance and offices. Upstairs, there is a lovely lounge with a bar and half-time coffee and biscuits available. Outside, however, there is a football pitch surrounded by a running track with the hammer/discus protective shell rising like a minuteman missile launch behind one goal! It is not the best footballing scenario that I’ve visited. It was a desperately cold evening as well, but it was good to meet a keen hopper from Wivenhoe who had the interesting job of visiting ATM machines to fill them up with cash! Wodson Park took their time – the first goal came after the hour mark – but they were good value for their victory!

 

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Saturday 19th March 2016
Welsh League Division 2

Pontadarwe Town 2

Kyle Cockings 8,

Josh Roberts 50, (pen),

Llanwern 4

Gareth Delve 1,

Dean Clifford 25, 41,

Aaron Carew 80
Referee:- Aled Jones Attendance:- 23
Admission:- £3.00 Programme:- NONE
Down in the Welsh Valleys, they hide away a myriad of teams like these and “hide” was the operative word today as we took an unconscionable age to find the stadium.

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The ground was Spartan, with a small covered Meccano stand down one side, but otherwise no cover. The welcome, however, was very warm and everything was done (they even found an old programme for us!) too make our stay enjoyable.

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Chris Berezai at Parc YnysDerw

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These two teams were from different ends of the table, but the hosts, who are vying for promotion, came unstuck at the hands of The Steelmen from Llanwern, who had even brought along a small, but vociferous gathering to support their efforts!

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Matches not included:-

Tuesday 1st March 2016

Evo-Stik Southern League Division 1 South & West

Banbury United 2 Bridgwater Town 1    Attendance:- 302

Friday 4th March 2016

Chromasport & Trophies United Counties League Division 1

Peterborough Sports 2 Oakham United 0    Attendance:- 111

Monday 7th March 2016

Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division

Hitchin Town 4 Cambridge City 2        Attendance:- 374

Monday 14th March 2016

Northants Senior Youth League (East)

Desborough Town 0  Rothwell Corinthians  1      Attendance:- 44

Saturday 19th March 2016

Barclays Premier League

Swansea City   1  Aston Villa  0    Attendance:- 20,454

Monday 21st March 2016

Northants Senior Youth League (East)

Rothwell Corinthians  5 Kettering Town  1     Attendance:- 64

Tuesday 22nd March 2016

Chromasport & Trophies United Counties League Premier Division

Desborough Town  0  AFC Kempston Rovers  2    Attendance:- 64

This Season:-

Matches:- 189            New Grounds:-   99

Total

Matches:- 3,395       New Grounds:- 1,197

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February 2016

Each team would somehow pick itself

No boys were left upon the shelf

No substitutions, sulks or shame

If you showed up, you got a game.

.

Not 2-3-5 or 4-2-4

But 2-8-12 or even more

Six centre-forwards, five right wings

Was just the normal run of things

.

Lined up then in such formations

Careless of life’s complications

Deaf to birdsong blind to flowers

Prepared to chase the ball for hours,

.

A swarm of boys who heart and soul

Must make a beeline for the goal.

A kind of ordered anarchy

(There was, of course, no referee).

from “The Match (c.1950)” by Allan Ahlberg (1937 – )

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.

.

Tuesday 2nd February 2016
Midland League Division 1 – k.o.:- 7.45pm

Coventry United 10 (ten)

Richard Blythe 5, 49, 77

Matthew Brown 32, 90+3

Joshua O’Grady 40, 86,

Kai Williams 65, 88,

Brian Nduna 90+1

Coventry Copsewood 0
Referee:- Richie Watkins                                       Attendance:- 120
Admission:- OMGDS £3 (£5)                               Programme:- £1.50
Coventry United play at Coventry Sphinx’s ground – at least for the time being, until they can find a suitable ground of their own – Copswood is a very local ‘derby’ and there was good support for both teams, but less vocal for the visitors as the damage mounted! United are a wealthy club, it seems, and have endured only one league defeat this season – winning all the rest. Copsewood inhabit the nether regions of the division and after a feisty opening, they lost left back Stuart Adamson to two yellow cards by the 25th minute. The rampant hosts were ‘only’ 6-0 ahead with four minutes remaining, but managed a further four goals to complete a memorable rout!

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Wednesday 3rd February 2016 k.o.:- 7.45pm
Evo-Stik Southern League
Red Insure Cup Quarter-Final

Cambridge City 1

Buster Harradine 55,

Hitchin Town 0
Referee:- Anthony Pope (Braintree)                      Attendance:- 133
Admission:- OMGDS £5 (£10)                               Programme:- £2
There have been many complaints this season about postponements at Westwood Road, but tonight, the pitch was in reasonable condition, even if the ground had a tired and weary look about it (except for the tiny new Meccano stand and the wooden framed covered area on the far side of the ground). The car park was well marshalled, but the match had to contend with the local sports centre and the cadet force playing at soldiers. The match itself was a dour affair with the hosts gradually wresting control from the visitors as the match wore on, and this despite the Canaries having the best player (Alasan Ann ) on the pitch by a country mile! The only goal came in the 57th minute and it gave The Lillywhites a barely deserved victory! Fifty-seven years ago, almost to the day, City had gone out of this cup at the third round stage by 0-1 at home to Kings Lynn in front of a huge crowd of 4,444. How times have changed!

 

 

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Saturday 6th February 2016
Vanarama National

Welling United 1

Sahr Kabba 88,

Altrincham 1

Michael Rankine 56,
Referee:- Adam Bromley                                 Attendance:- 551
Admission:- OMGDS £9 + £1 for stand seat (£15 + £1)
Programme:- £3                                              Hot Chocolate:- £1 Bar of chocolate:- £0.80
Only Dover and Barrow (from opposite ends of the country) to complete Vanarama National, but, somehow, I feel that Welling won’t be staying there long! Altrincham were the far superior team, more direct, more composed and carrying a greater threat, but all their good work was undone in the eighty-ninth minute when they allowed Sahr Kabba to rifle in an unlikely equaliser. It looks like the ‘Wings” share the ground (on Welling main street) with Erith & Belvedere, but who are tenants and who are landlords isn’t very clear. It was a lovely neat and tidy ground with a fairly modern stand on the far side. I came down bu train and couldn’t resist the loco steaming on Victoria station!

 

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Saturday 13th February 2016
Ryman Isthmian League Division I North

Wroxham 1

Seamus Kelleher 50,

Thamesmead Town 0
Referee:- Darren Stobart                                Attendance:- 112
Admission:- OMGDS £5 (£7)                        Programme:- £1
It was a cold day in East Anglia, but the welcome was warm in Wroxham! The ground is tucked away across the railway down a narrow cul-de-sac, but it has an antiquated, but well tended feel about it with an extensive club house and a pitch with cover on two sides – a terrace behind one goal and a seated stand for perhaps one hundred spectators down one side. The club own the club house, but not the playing are, which they rent for around £1,000 a year from a trust. The game hinged on the twenty-fifth minute dismissal of the visitors right-back. Even so, the hosts had great difficulty in despatching their visitors until a powerful header in the 50th minute decided the match! Very much enjoyed our visit and to our surprise, in a journey of some 140 miles, only six miles were NOT on dual carriageway!

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Friday 19th February 2016
Netherlands Erstedivisie

Den Bosch 3

Furhgill Zeldenrust 45+2, 78,

Vykintas Slivika 34,

Eindhoven 1

Gervane Kastaneer 34.

Referee:- Rob Dieperink                         Attendance:- 2,588
Admission:- OMGDS €15 (€22)          Programme:- F.O.C.
Hertogenbosch is quite a major junction on NS (Netherlands Rail service), but the big attraction in town was The Hieronimus Bosch Art Exhibition. Graeme and I wandered across town to see it, but there were no tickets left, so we repaired to a local hostelry to revive our flagging spirits (and there, covering the whole of one wall, was a facsimile of one of Hieronimus Bosch’s most famous paintings, “The Garden of Delight”)! It was a ten minute bus ride from the station to the ground and a fairly standard Erstedivisie ground it was, too, – seating on four sides and a pen for the (fifty or so) travelling fans. On a cold evening, the visitors who, were in third place, but a long way off runaway leaders Sparta Rotterdam, scored first, early on. The hosts, however, equalised in the 34th minute and, right on the stroke of half-time, took the lead through the exasperating Furhgill Zeldenrust, who was frequently wayward, yet hit two of his teams goals! Den Bosch are going through a rotten patch with no wins in nine but a late second half strike sealed the points for them and ended their barren spell. After the match, there were no buses for an hour, but, as ever in Holland, there was a small railway station ten minutes down the road!!

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Saturday 20th February 2016
Netherlands Topklasse

Kozakken Boys 0

Barendrecht 2

Bas Mourits 51,

Richie Basoski 90+2,
Referee:- M.J. Kloet                               Attendance:- c1,000
Admission:- OMGDS €6 (€9)              Programme:- F.O.C.
Kozakken Boys’ well endowed Sportpark de Zwaaier is in Werkendam and the nearest railway station is at Gorinchem, some ten kilometres away. It fits the template for many grounds in Topklasse, with huge racks of advertising stacked up behind each goal and an impressive seated stand down one side. In this case, there was additional cover on the side opposite the main stand. Jack and Graeme and I tentatively sampled the local vegetarian option at the club refreshment stall and were grateful for the seated cover in the persistent drizzle. Kozakken Boys lie third in the table with their opponents six places from the bottom, but the visitors were given a huge boost from the referee, who turned down TWO stone-wall penalties and, in addition – sent off the home manager for protesting over vehemently! With the trains running to their usual efficiency, we had plenty of time to return for the evening match!

There was a good gathering of English hoppers in The Topklasse today, for, besides Graeme and Jack and myself at Kozakken Boys, John Higgins and Chris Freer had gone to ONS Sneek and two of my sons – James and Michael – went to Drachster Boys (in Hoofdklasse) with Gary Miller, Darren Bibby, Jonny Crane and Mark Sumner.

I’ve wanted to visit Kozakken Boys ever since we saw them play at DETO Twenterand on Saturday 9th March 2013. On that day, Kozakken Boys ran in six unanswered goals against their opponents and the player who scored ALL SIX goals was:- Arif Irilmazbilek. He wasn’t playing today, but I would have liked to have seen him play again! I wonder what happened to him?

 

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Saturday 20th February 2016
Netherlands Eredivisie

PSV Eindhoven 2

Davy Propper 3,

Gaston Perreiro 44,

Heracles Almelo 0
Referee:- D. Makkelie                Attendance:- 33.400
Admission:- €27.00                   Programme:- F.O.C.
After the excitement of Kozakken Boys, The Phillips Stadion was but ten minutes down the road from the hotel. Admittedly, it was raining and quite windy, too and inside the stadium, you could see the rain being blown into the stands under the roof. We were glad of the very effective electric heaters installed under the stand roof. Leaders, PSV, were hosting third in the table Heracles Almelo, but any pretence that the two teams were evenly matched was despatched in the 3rd minute when PSV opened the scoring. They scored a second just before the interval and should have had several more! The second half was a considerable let down as each team strove to keep what they had got and that was exactly how if ended up!

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Sunday 21st February 2016
Netherlands Eredivisie

De Graafschaps 2

Vincent Vermeij  40, 47,

Vitesse Arnhem 2

Marvelous Nakamba 16,

Lewis Baker 84,

Referee:- Serdar Gozabuyyuk                            Attendance:- 12,218
Admission:- €20.00                                           Programme:- €1.00
It was a rail journey of many changes from Eindhoven to Hertogenbosch to Nijmegen change again at Arnhem and finally, Doetinchem, where the bus took the strain from the rail station to the ground, which was pretty well hidden deep inside a residential neighbourhood. Once again there was a persistent drizzle and the front seats of the stands were all wet through. Our tickets, behind the goal allowed us to sit almost anywhere we liked! De Graafschap are not enjoying the most successful of seasons. They sit one place off the bottom, whilst Vitesse lie sixth. It was the visitors who opened the scoring and, initially it looked as if the hosts might struggle. Either side of half-time, two goals from Vincent Vermeij (whom John called “El Palomino” – big and rangy and sometimes a little clumsy), gave the home side the advantage, but six minutes from time an unlikely lob from out on the right curled over the goalkeeper – and into the net – for a slightly undeserved equaliser.

 

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Tuesday 23rd February 2016
Midland League Division 1

Pershore Town 3

Dan Ludlow 12, 16,

Dane Aldington 70,

Pelsall Villa 0
Referee:- Corin Readetts                   Attendance:- 30
Admission:- OMGDS £4                   Programme £1.50
About a mile from the ground, the tyre deflation warning light came on, but when I arrived – under the floodlights – I could see no deflation! Graeme said that the cakes were lovely at Pershore, but when I enquired, the cake lady was off ill, so I could only manage a sausage bap! The ground was fairly basic, with a stand on one side and a large car park behind the left hand goal. The paying attendance was 30, but there must have been more than fifty there in total. Neither team is setting the division alight this season, but the hosts had the better of this encounter, with two goals from man-of-the match Dan Ludlow in the first quarter of an hour and a final strike, twenty minutes from time, to wrap matters up on a very cold evening! I drove the ninety miles home VERY gingerly, but without mishap!

 

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Saturday 27th February 2016
Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership

Motherwell 3

Loius Moult 37, 52,

Marvin Johnson 69,

Partick Thistle 1

Callum Booth 75,
Referee:- Stephen Finnie                       Attendance:- 4,302 (away – 979)
Admission:- OMGDS £16 (£23)           Programme:- £3
The Victoria House off Sauchiehall Street was once more our abode for yet another sally on Scotland’s finest. This time, Motherwell were the victims and we were impressed with their fine stadium, with seats on all four sides and a towering stand for away fans behind the far goal. We were sat amongst the liberally oiled hospitality clientele, in the main stand and were surprised to find out that hospitality could be had for as little as £30. These two clubs are mired in the nether regions of The Premiership and both sides find scoring difficult! It was something of a surprise, then, to find four goals scored in an very entertaining encounter. Motherwell took the points with their bolder more determined approach, but Thistle contributed significantly to an engaging contest!

 

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Sunday 18th February 2016

The West of Scotland Cricket Club in the Partick District of Glasgow, is where the first ever international football match took place on 30th November 1872. Having a bit of time on our hands, John Higgins, Jack Warner and I popped down to check it out. The cricket club itself is fairly unprepossessing, but that could be because it is out of season. It was difficult to see where the pitch might have been and the only acknowledgement of the match was a plaque set high into the wall of the pavilion. Beyond the outfield, there was evidence of some terracing and the whole was surrounded by tall, stone Victorian terraced housing. You could imagine the crowd (only some 2,000) pressing through the gates – there was at least one left standing – on the day of the match. You could feel the atmosphere redolent with History!

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Sunday 28th February 2016
The Scottish Inter-League Trophy Final

Ayrshire AFA 3

Craig Connell 61 (pen), 64 (pen),

Mick O’Connor 77,

Aberdeenshire AFA 2

Graeme McDougal 56,

Gianpierro Franchi 82,
Referee:- David Sommers                   Attendance:- 126
Admission:- F.O.C.                               Programme:- F.O.C.
Apparently, Lesser Hampden – in the shadow of Greater Hampden – doesn’t have a safety certificate and The Scottish FA was therefore not allowed to charge for entrance. I gather that Queens Park reserves, U21 and Ladies teams use the ground, but the first team still use the main stadium, playing their matches to a few hundred hardy souls in that cavernous expanse! The surface in the small arena, is 3G and the plethora of besuited officials obviously hadn’t met a hopper before. “Team sheet? What d’ye want that for? Who d’ye think ye are?”. At the same time as waving a printed team sheet, one of them declaimed that “we haven’t got a printer!’. The weather was fine, the game woke up to become a lively second half affair and, at the end, the losing goalkeeper, in a fit of petulance, kicked a full bin of rubbish across the terracing in disgust! Ayrshire were just about worthy winners in a very tight contest!

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Other matches attended in February 2016:-

Monday 1st February 2016 Northants Senior Youth League:-

Corby Town 3 Desborough Town 2 Attendance:- 31

Tuesday 9th February 2016 Midland League Premier Division:-

Loughborough University 5 AFC Wulfrunians 1 Attendance:- 65

Wednesday 10th February 2016 Southern League Premier Division:-

Cambridge City 1 Histon 2 Attendance:- 229

Thursday 11th February 2016 Northants Senior Youth League:-

Wellingborough Town 4 Rushden & Higham United 0 Attendance:- 57

Sunday 14th February 2016 Northants Womens & Girls Football League:-

Corby Town 6 Woodford United 0 Attendance:- 22

Tuesday 16th February 2016 Sky-Bet League Two:-

Oxford United 0 Northampton Town 1 Attendance:- 9,559

Wednesday 24th February 2016 Chromasport & Trophies United Counties League Premier Division:-

Harrowby United 1 Leicester Nirvana 6

Monday 29th February 2016 Northants Senior Youth League:-

Desborough Town  3  Kettering FC  0

 

This Season:-

Matches:-  169              New Grounds:-  89

Total:-

Matches:- 3,375           New Grounds:- 1,207

 

 

 

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January 2016

Picture this, you’re gazing down

Upon that smoky factory town.

Weaves of streets spread out, converge

And from the houses boys emerge.

.

Boys in boots and boys in wellies

Skinny boys and boys with bellies

Tiny boys with untied laces

Brainy boys with violin cases

.

The match was played to certain rules

By boys from certain streets and schools

Who since their babyhood had known

Which patch of earth to call their own.

.

The pitch meanwhile, you’d have to say

Was nothing, just a place to play.

No nets, no posts, no lines, alas

The only thing it had was grass.

from:- “The Match c 1950” by Allan Ahlberg (1937 – )

.

.

.
Friday 1st January 2016
Midland League Premier Division k.o.:- 3.00pm

Heanor Town 2

Jay Co0per 50,

Jamie Clarke 76 (pen)

Shepshed Dynamo 3

Jordan Simpson 23 (og)

Liam Read 64,

Matt Langham 68,

Referee:- Justice Jacobs Attendance:- 403
Admission:- £5 Programme:- £1
There was a hefty festive gathering for this highly entertaining fixture where the third placed hosts were playing fifth placed Dynamo. The visitors had the edge throughout and held a 1-0 half-time advantage. Five minutes into the second half, the hosts drew level, but the visitors drew away again with a couple of excellent strikes shortly after the hour mark. With fifteen minutes to go, The Lions pulled a goal back from the penalty spot – but then came the drama. As the scorer ran towards the net to retrieve the ball, he vaulted the keeper, who, at that moment raised his head from the ground where he had been lying prone. The strikers boot brushed his rising head and down he went for almost ten minutes like a felled ox. Eventually, some five minutes later, the referee, who may have been Justice by name but certainly wasn’t by nature, dismissed the striker for violent play. It put a sour taste into proceedings!

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Saturday 2nd January 2016
Molten Spartan South Midlands League Division 2 k.o.:- 2.00pm

Totternhoe 1

Joe Smith 67,

Anthony Wright missed penalty 76

Tring Corinthians 3

Ben Alcock 15,

Lee Harvey 39 (og)

Stuart Howe 90+2
Referee:- Derek Coe                                                            Attendance:- 36
Admission:- F.O.C.                                                              Programme:- NONE
On a day of heavy and unremitting precipitation, football matches were falling to the weather with metronome monotony! Graeme and I had our first choices (and second and third) wiped off the board and were not even sure that Totternhoe (a couple of miles north of Dunstable) would be on when we got there! It was, despite the foul weather AND, there was plenty of cover, with seats, behind the near goal! The welcome was warm. Although there were no programmes for today’s match, we were each given a programme unearthed from earlier in the season. We had access to both club’s team sheets and a hot cup of tea! Not surprisingly, the pitch was heavy and parts of it grew substantially more sticky as the match progressed.The visitors were undeterred by the hosts early pressure and took the lead on fifteen minutes, a lead they doubled, five minutes before the interval. The second half saw the hosts in a much more determined mood, and, just after the hour they pulled a goal back. They could have drawn level after seventy-six minutes, but striker, Anthony Wright, blazed a very fortuitous penalty over the bar! Tring settled the match with a third goal deep into added time.

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Tuesday 5th January 2016
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Premier Division – k.o.:- 7.45pm

Barwell 2

Ant Carney 79

Luke Barlowe 82,

Rushall Olympic 3

Josh McKenzie 46, 90,

Alex Reid 48
Referee:- Neil Pratt                                                       Attendance:- 136
Admission:- OMGDS £6 (£7)                                    Programme:- £2
I hadn’t been to Barwell since they beat Norton & Stockton Ancients in the 6th Round of the FA Vase in 2010 and now they had progressed to the premier division of The Northern Premier League. It was a cold drizzly night, but the pitch was firm and after a mediocre first half when no goals were scored, the second half turned into a thriller! Olympic stole a two goal lead and looked to be coasting to victory, but back came Barwell with two goals of their own and that is how it seemed destined to remain until a goal in the very last minute sealed the victory for the visitors!

 

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Saturday 9th January 2011
Vanarama Nationwide NORTH

Chorley 3

Josh Hine 20, 35,

Adam Roscoe 44,

Corby Town 0
Referee:- P. Brown                                                     Attendance:- 1,011
Admission:- OMGDS £7 (£10)                                Programme:- £2.50
Butter-potato pie:- £2.00
This is, I think, the very first time that the town of my birth has entertained the town where I have resided for the last thirty-two years and I entrained with my eldest son on a pretty miserable day compounded by engineering works in Manchester which forced us to go via Preston! Victory Park is still a masterpiece of a ground (well, I would say that) and the new roofs on the stands along one side and behind the goal are a welcome improvement.Corby Town, struggling in the lower reaches of the division were no match for a rampant Magpies in the first half and conceded three goals. In the second half, The Steelmen upped their workload and it became a very even match, but it was Chorley who took the points in a very deserved victory.

 

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Saturday 16th January 2016
Huws Gray Cymru Alliance k.o.:- 2.30pm

Holyhead Hotspur 3

Phil Williams 58,

Alex Jones. 63,

Cory Jones 90.

Rhyader Town 0
Referee:- D. Fogerty                                                          Attendance:- 75
Admission:- £4                                                                  Programme:- £1
If ever you do go to Holyhead Hotspur – and it is well worth the visit – make sure you take in ‘The Angel’ Chinese Fish ‘n’ Chip shop not five minutes from the ground. It looks like Hotspur have moved their ground. There is a derelict stand and covered terracing adjacent to the present ground which, for all its fine covered stand and covered terrace, is only really a ground for viewing from one side and, maybe, limited viewing behind each goal. That said, the welcome was warm and we snaffled half of the eight programmes produced for the match! Considering that Hotspurs hadn’t played since we had seen them lose 4-2 at Gresford back before Christmas, they were certainly in form and up for this match! It took three second half goals to see off a second rate Rhyader, but the goals and the victory were worth the wait!

 

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Saturday 16th January 2016
Welsh Premier League k.o.:- 5.15pm

Bangor City 2

Damian Allen 30,

Anthony Miley 45

Haverfordwest County 1

Luke Borelli 36,
Referee:- Bryn Markham-Jones                                                    Attendance:- 418
Admission:- £8                                                                                 Programme:- £2
The new ground at Bangor is tight and shoehorned into the hillside. It makes you pine, longingly, for the old stadium at Farrar Road. This was the last round of matches before the Welsh Premier League splits into two sections, but neither of these two teams was going to make the top six! In fact Haverfordwest are flirting with relegation! All the goals were scored in the first half in cold drizzly conditions, two strikes by Bangor sandwiched a brief reply by County. The second half was largely incident free and the hosts squeaked through to victory. Surprisingly, they had run out of club badges!

 

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Monday 18th January 2016
Hertfordshire Senior Cup Quarter Final

Hitchin Town 1

Lucas Kierkpatrick 56,

Cheshunt 0
Referee:- Joel Mannix                                                                   Attendance:- 101
Admission:- OMGDS £6 (£10)                                                   Programme:- £1
If it’s Monday, it must be Hitchin! I love to visit this ancient monument of a ground with its wooden terracing and it is only sixty odd miles away. Tonight, the attendance was down because the fare was meagre. Both teams changed their line-ups for this cup-tie. Both teams, however are flying high in their respective, and parallel divisions, Cheshunt sixth in Ryman Premier and Hitchin Town 4th in The Southern League Premier. It was a dour struggle as both teams closed each other down with relentless efficiency. The only goal came ten minutes after half time and perhaps by a whisker, The Canaries deserved their victory!

 

 

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Tuesday 19th January 2016 k.o.:- 7.45pm
East Midlands Counties League Cup 2nd Round

Stapenhill 0

South Normanton Athletic 4

Tony Leighton 7,

Mark Stryzewski 28,

Lee Fell, 48,

Tom Lewis 73,
Referee:- Phil Carey (Swadlincote)                                                   Attendance:- 25
Admission:- OMGDS £2.50 (£4)                                                      Programme:- NONE
Gone was the iconic gantry, behind the near goal, that I remembered from my previous visit in 2008 (only the groundworks remain), but there was an addition, a complete bowling green lifted from a local pub and replanted behind the far goal! There were no programmes, but a friendly official dug out a past programme for Graeme and myself before the match. Reasonably priced sausage rolls (50p) and tea and coffee (£1) at half time to warm the cockles and a pretty enjoyable game! The hosts could – and should – have scored in the first minute, but, thereafter, it was one way traffic and the visitors ought to have increased their tally substantially.

 

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Saturday 23rd January 2016 – k.o.:- 2.00pm
Molten Spartan South Midlands League Division 2.

Aston Clinton 5

Jack Page 6, 28, 90,

Alex Smith 11,

Lamar Mason-Williams 90+3

Grendon Rangers 1

Nathan Perna 86,
Referee:- Neil Howard                                                        Attendance:- 20
Admission:- F.O.C.                                                             Programme:- NONE
Aston Clinton, for the Geographically challenged, is near Aylesbury, but fortunately I had my sat-nav! Graeme and I enjoyed a pretentious, overpriced lunch in “The Bell” across the road and then repaired to Aston Park, which housed at least three full sized football pitches and two small floodlit areas. The club house had its own cafe. Outside, at pitch side, there was NO cover at all. Graeme had brought his seat and we had to cross another, very muddy pitch to get to the touchline! Overhead, gliders from a nearby base wheeled away all afternoon! These two clubs are well down the Division 2 pecking order, each on eleven points, but the hosts had five games in hand. Two goals in the first ten minutes and another before half-time decided the result in the hosts favour. Grendon emerged more determined in the second half and managed a reply, but it was only a consolation as Aston Clinton scored two further goals and sealed a hat-trick for full back Jack Page.

 

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Tuesday 26th January 2016
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 South

Gresley 2

Jack Langston 32,

Gary Ricketts 44,

Tividale 1

Chris Sterling 49
Referee:- Andrew Dallison                                                         Attendance:- 139
Admission:- OMGDS £5                                                            Programme:- £1.50
I hadn’t realised that a new ground was in the offing to replace The Moat Ground in 2018. The new ground will be some three-quarters of a mile away on existing parkland. Posted on the clubhouse wall was a 1930s York City programme for a Midland League match against Gresley Rovers (see pic, John!). The ground had not changed since my last visit in 1998, when Boston United were the visitors and a crowd of 583 filled The Moat! Today’s teams were pretty poor fare. Tividale are ten points adrift at the foot of the division and Gresley not many places above them! It was the hosts, playing up the slight gradient, who engineered a deserved two goal advantage at the interval, but Tividale came right badk into it in the second half and with a little more luck, could have snatched a draw. The rain fell in waves, but the welcome was friendly, team sheets at 10p and the attendance announced at the end!

 

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Saturday 30th January 2016

Sky-Bet League One k.o.:- 3.00pm

Millwall     1

Lee Gregory 64 (pen)

Lee Gregory – penalty saved 87,

Crewe Alexandra   1

Brad Inman 59 (pen)

Referee:-Christopher Kavanagh                                                  Attendance:- 9,044

Admission:- Hospitality                                                               Programme:- Free (£3)

 

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The majority of the party took the 09.56 from Kettering to St Pancras and then down to London Bridge by tube for the 12.38 to South Bermondsey. There, we all converged on The Barry Kitchener Stand after a brief visit to the club shop, and where our hospitality lounge was located. I have been very impressed with Millwall Football Club and especially with Mark and Davina who organised and choreographed a truly superb occasion – especially for my eldest son, who had no idea beforehand!

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Before the match started – and, indeed, before the meal, we were treated to a tour and a talk about the stadium and visited the home dressing room. Amazingly, gone was the communal bath and in its place were six individual baths and a shower room with seven units. From there, we returned for lunch. We were admirably catered for, and I was especially taken with the offer of beef burger and chips for one young member of our party who didn’t fancy the menu options! At the end, a member of the kitchen staff expertly wrapped several slices of Jim’s birthday cake for me to take home!. The tables (we had two) were festooned with 40th birthday tape and balloons and James really had a splendid birthday celebration! I think he was pretty pleased, too!

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Jim, the birthday boy, wearing the Peruvian hat that Jonny had got him for his birthday! I’m not sure it survived the event!

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The lunchtime menu

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Rory Clark and Paul Beatty from Corby

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Birthday boy, James from Banbury (on the right) and Daz Bibby from Colne

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Mike and Gary Miller from Corby

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John Lord from Cottingham and Conor Holmes from Corby

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‘Jack’ Warner from Lowestoft and Chris Berezai from Long Eaton

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John Main from Blaby

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Phil Evans from Croxley Green……….white wine poisoning?

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The match itself, was not of the best! Struggling Crewe Alexandra, second from the bottom and seven points adrift of safety, gave a good account of themselves against a rampant Millwall side who have charged up the table of late and into the play-off positions. After a turgid first half, a couple of dubious penalties around the hour mark, gave each side a goal, but Millwall could have won it in the 87th minute, if Lee Gregory had not fluffed his second penalty opportunity

A draw was a fair result, but the talking point after the match was about which of the penalties – if, indeed, any – should have been awarded! Interestingly, from the home side’s point of view, the winner of The Man-of-the-Match award was their goalkeeper!

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Gary Miller (left) and Mike with Jimmy Carter (former Millwall and Liverpool) in the centre.

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The skyline above The Dockers Stand

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Graeme from Countesthorpe wearily ascends the steps to his seat!

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The equalising penalty from Lee Gregory

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Jim’s Birthday Cake

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James presents the Man-of-the-Match award to Jordan Archer, the Millwall goalkeeper.

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James receives a signed football from Jordan Archer in return!

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Back row (from left):- Jonny Crane, Gary Miller, Jordan Archer, Daz Bibby, Rory Clark, Mike McGeown

Front Row (From left):- Paul Beattie, James McGeown, Liam McGeown

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Jim (right) and Ed, after the match!

I would like to say how very grateful I am to Millwall Football Club, not just for the hospitality for the Crewe Alexandra match, but, more importantly, for the effort, determination and attention to detail that they paid to our party. I have lost count of the number of football hospitality packages I have attended – including Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool – but I doubt that they would have matched the splendid kaleidoscope of activity available to our party. It was a marvellous occasion that passed in a blur, but will live long in the memory!

Matches not included:-

Wednesday 20th January 2016 – FA Cup 3rd Round Replay:- Leicester City 0 Tottenham Hotspur 2 Attendance:- 30,006

Thursday 21st January 2016 –      Northants Senior Youth League:- Rushden & Higham United 2 Woodford United 1 Attendance:- 27

Monday 27th January 2016 –      FA Youth Cup 4th Round:- Coventry City 2 Charlton Athletic 1 Attendance:- 202

 

This Season:-

Matches:-  150                    New Grounds:- 80

Total:-

Matches:- 3,356                 New Grounds:- 1,198

 

 

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The End of The Year

Dad on the Line

.

I’m playing in this big game
New kit, great pitch
Proper goals with proper nets
All of a sudden
With rattle and scarf
And a flask of tea … there’s Dad
Come on, my son! says Dad
Square ball! says Dad
We are the champions! says Dad
Que sera, sera.

.

.

 I’m playing now in a bigger game
Brand new ball, managers in dugouts
Proper linesmen and a proper ref.
All of a sudden
With our dog on a lead
And a meat pie … there’s Dad.
Come on you reds! says Dad
Up The Rovers! says Dad
We’re going to Wem-b-ly! says Dad
Que sera, sera.

.

.

And now the biggest game of all
Changing rooms with sunken baths
Proper turnstiles and a proper stand
All of a sudden
With his mates from work
And a giant photograph of me …  there’s Dad.
Offside! says Dad
Foul! says Dad
That’s my lad out there! says Dad
Que sera, sera.

 

by Allan Ahlberg (1938 – )

 

Wednesday 25th November 2015 k.o.:- 7.45pm

Southern League Division 1 South & West

North Leigh 1

Morgan Williams 17

Evesham United 2

Clayton Green 10

Adam Mann 58

Referee:- Dave Wootton (Cheltenham) Attendance:- 99
Admission:- OMGDS £4.50 (£9)          Programme:- £1             Match:-116

Always a pleasure to visit Eynsham Park, friendly officials, free team sheets and, usually, a lively game of football! This evening, high flying North Leigh were given a footballing lesson by their lowly opponents, who were generally the better side throughout. They scored in the first ten minutes and were unlucky to concede a fortuitous equaliser from a shot which took a substantial deflection on its way into the net. The scores were level at half time, but Evesham and their influential midfielder, Carl Browne, continued to run the show in the second half, claimed a second goal just before the hour mark and took the points and a richly deserved, if unlikely, victory!

Thursday 26th November 2015 k.0.:- 7.45pm
Molten Spartan South Midlands League Division I

Hatfield Town 5

Tom Masrdue 23,

Emmanuel Chitongo 51,

Jimmy Cook, 62, 74,

George Florence, 87,

Brimsdown 1

Fernando Ramos 81,

Referee:- Stuart Beekman                              Attendance:- 28 (h/c)
Admission:- £5                                                Programme:- included

This game brought the hoppers out and maybe 30% of the attendance comprised of non-league enthusiasts! Hatfield were their usual disorganised selves, in their great ramshackle stadium with both a running track AND a cycle track round the outside of the pitch, but very friendly and helpful with it! Alan from Leicester and Andy from Lavenham joined me and we saw a spirited encounter in which the visitors, who had much the better record, were given a right royal thrashing by lowly Hatfield. Perhaps Brimsdown were unable to muster a full complement of first team players for this fixture on a Thursday evening, but whatever, the hosts made the most of their opportunities and gained a convincing victory. The referee started both halves of the game late and the contest finished at twelve minutes to ten!

Friday 27th November 2015
Ebac Northern League Division 2  k.o.:- 7.30pm

Thornaby 2

Nathan Steel 44,

Gary Mitchell 58

Billingham Town 1

Craig Hutchinson 49,

Referee:- Dave Carr                    Attendance:- 90
Admission:- £5                           Programme:- £1

In the hinterland of the North-East, evening games start at 7.30pm, there is no “Premier” Division and no “Championship”, just straightforward Division 1 and 2. Add to that the substantially reduced incidences of dissent AND the complete lack of over-reacting to physical contact and the game becomes much more of a spectacle and much more enjoyable! Teesdale Park may look a little tired and careworn, despite the attention lavished on it over recent years, but the welcome was positive and warm and Jack and I who met up with Paul and Adrian, certainly enjoyed our first visit to Thornaby!

Saturday 28th November 2015
North-West Counties League Division 1 k.o.:- 3.00pm

Whitchurch Alport 1

Stephen Watkins 77,

Cheadle Town 4

Luke Hincks 9,

Liam Tongue 38, 56,

James Goram 73,

Referee:- Anthony Ball                                Attendance:- 43
Admission:-  OMGDS £3 (£5)                  Programme:- included

This is Alport’s first season in The NWCL. The name comes from a local farm, near Whitchurch, where Coley Maddox, a local footballer, who was killed in WW2, grew up. The club have spent most of their seventy years or so in the lower echelons of local soccer, mainly in The Cheshire League, but more recently in The Mercian Regional League from where they were promoted last season after coming fourth in The Premier Division. Their claim to fame is that they were the last team to carry The Welsh Amateur Cup out of Wales (1973/74). This season, they are finding life difficult in The NWCL and are one place from the foot of the table. Cheadle Town, meanwhile are flourishing in third place, a couple of points off the top. The gulf in class was obvious from the start as the visitors scored twice in each half in very heavy conditions and with rain lashing down. It was good to see Graeme at a football match again for the first time since October and here’s hoping that his recovery continues apace! As the rain continued to drape the area and the darkness fell with it, the two churches , so close together in the town, provided a wonderfully atmospheric backdrop to the match!

Tuesday 1st December 2015
Midland League Premier Division k.o.:- 7.45pm

Loughborough University 3

Alun Webb 45, 82,

Simon Revseay 90+2,

Heanor Town 1

Kieran Debrouwer 39,

Referee:- Andrew Ellis                                         Attendance:- 114
Admission:- F.O.C.                                               Programme:- F.O.C.

It was rather a surprise to find that, not only was entrance free, but so was the programme! Apparently an earlier match between the two had been abandoned and free entry promised when it was played again! The hosts do ply their trade in the Shangri-la of non-league football. This is a very impressive stadium with terracing all round and a stand for around 250 spectators giving a wonderful view. However, as Laurence said, it wasn’t quite as exciting as ploughing round some of the mud heaps that many non-league clubs have to contend with! The visitors were flying high in second place whilst the hosts were down in the nether regions of the division, but a draw was a fair result after each side had been ahead.

Saturday 5th December 2015
Ryman Isthmian League Division 1 South k.o.:- 3.00pm

Ramsgate 1

Joe Taylor 30,

Worthing 1

Lloyd Dawes 86,

Referee:- Matt Goldsmith                         Attendance:- 207
Admission:- OMGDS £5 (£9)                  Programme £2

With John at the helm, the three hundred and sixty mile round trip from Leicestershire was in the realms of magic carpets! I hadn’t quite realised how far it was across Kent to Ramsgate! We had a really friendly welcome and the ground is a mixture of neat and tidy stands and covered terraces and prefab add on club houses and directors rooms. The seats in the main stand came from the old Wembley – and they were more comfortable than your average fare! Below the main stand is a changing room facility which has never been used – too cold down there, they say! These two teams stand third and second in the league and it was always going to be a tight affair. The Rams held the advantage at the interval, but a deserved equaliser four minutes from time, meant that the points were shared – and we all, Chris, Jack and me, hopped back into John’s car for the journey home!
This season –        Matches:- 122                           New grounds:- 69

 

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Tuesday 8th December 2015
Abacus Lighting Central Midlands League
Phoenix Trophies Floodlit Cup 2nd Round k.o.:- 7.45pm

Sherwood Colliery 4

Lee Easom 26, 62,

Liam Black 29,

Julian Topliss 31,

Southwell City 0

Referee:- David Hunt                               Attendance:- 29

Admission:- £3                                        Programme:- £1
This season –            Match:- 124          New ground:- 70

This sports complex at Mansfield Woodhouse also hosts rugby and cricket and there has been some development of the football stadium, but it seems that a lot more is planned. At present only one side has hard standing and a small covered area hosts a bench to seat, perhaps, a dozen spectators. The club house is extensive and welcoming – particularly on a cold night like tonight! The hosts made heavy weather of this victory. They could and should have scored more goals against a weak opposition.

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Wednesday 9th December 2015
Chromasport & Trophies United Counties League Cup
2nd Round – k.o.:- 7.45pm

Rushden & Higham United 1

Sam Fowler 40,

Oadby Town 7 (seven)

Kevin Charley 5,

Ollie Brownhill 11, 21, 24, 28, 62, 90,

Referee:- Vincenzo Byatt                                    Attendance:- 27
Admission:- £5                                                     Programme £1
This season –                  Matches:- 125              New grounds:- 70

The old condemned stand is still … standing, but there appears to be some scaffolding around it. Is there a chance that it may yet be redeemed? It was a cold night, but a sparkling double hat-trick from Ollie Brownhill, the Oadby number 11 enlivened proceedings. He scored the first four of his goals in the opening half-hour, including two penalties as the lower division hosts were overwhelmed in this match! They never stopped competing, however, even when the visitors went down to ten men on 84 minutes, having used up their only substitute and having a man injured! Ollie Brownhill’s final goal came in the ninetieth minute to round proceedings off!

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Saturday 12th December 2015
Midland League Division III – k.o.:- 2.00pm

Alcester Town 7 (seven)

Matt Layton 35, 40, 86 (pen),

Matt Trinder 50,

Nick Dance 54,

James Robbins 65,

John Beacham 88,

AFC Solihull 2

Tom Lawry 17,

Callum Howles 32,

Referee:- Ryan McIlravey                                    Attendance:- 32
Admission:- F.O.C.                                               Programme:- £1
This season –                      Matches:- 126          New grounds:- 71

You had to feel a little sad for poor old AFC Solihull. Rock bottom of Division III, with but one point from twelve games, they actually took a two goal first half lead in this match, but then, their world fell apart. Firstly, influential skipper, Grant Dodd was sent off in the 38th minute and then, two quick strikes from the hosts, saw the sides level at the interval. The weather was wet and very squally and in the second half, the home side laid siege to Solihull’s goal and scored at regular intervals, whilst the visitors lost players to injury and having only two substitutes, were forced to play the last five minutes with nine men, when the host’s final two goals were scored. This is Alcester’s second or third home over the past decade or so and the covered area behind the goal was formerly the pitching point for a golf driving range. The welcome was wonderfully warm, programmes and team sheets were produced and, despite the weather, it was an enjoyable and entertaining afternoon’s play.

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Saturday 19th December 2015
Huws Gray Cymru Alliance – k.o.:- 1.30pm

Gresford Athletic 4

Mike Latham 7,

Owen Roberts 57, 70,

Jack Mountford 79,

Holyhead Hotspur 2

Mike Kelly 35,

Owen Kenleigh 56,

Referee:- Mike Gray                                                 Attendance:- 47
Admission:- £3                                                         Programme:- £1

Such a pretty village despite the low drifting clouds the driving rain and the mud! The football team play at the second tier of Welsh football, but their stadium would be hard pressed to make step six in The English Pyramid. Even so, the welcome was warm and the officials were friendly and very helpful. These two teams are becalmed mid-table and early in the second half, with the scores level on 1-1, a home defender was dismissed for a second bookable offence and five minutes later his team conceded a second goal. It looked bleak for the hosts, but they came roaring back into the match with an immediate equaliser and a further two goals from the ten man side wrapped up the points and the victory.

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Saturday 19th December 2015
Dafabet Welsh Premier League – k.o.:- 5.15pm

Rhyl 1

Connor Bell 3,

gap Connahs Quay 2

Wes Baynes 84,

Sean Miller 90+7,

Referee:- Tom Williams                                        Attendance:- 212
Admission:- OMGDS £5 (£8)                              Programme:- £2.50
This season –                    Matches:- 131              New Grounds:- 73
Poor old Rhyl, fighting in the relegation zone against mid-table Connahs Quay. They played an excellent first half, grabbed an early goal, could have had more. In the second half, it looked as if they had been told to hang onto what they had got. Gradually, they were pushed back. They defended meanly and it wasn’t until the 84th minute that the visitors were able to fashion an equaliser. The referee put on an incredible ten minutes of added time and in the seventh of those minutes a wicked deflection from out on the right wing somehow ended up looping into the net over a bemused goalkeeper and spectators heads looking for a corner to be awarded!

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Monday 21st December 2015
FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round – k.o.:- 7.45pm

Sutton United 2

Dan Fitchett 44,

Ross Steara 63,

Concord Rangers 0

Referee:- Ashvin Degnarain                                        Attendance:- 351
Admission:- OMGDS £5                                              Programme:- £1.50
This was my first visit to Gander Green Lane in twenty-six years. It was also Sutton United’s first season of artificial playing surface and already, AFC Wimbledon Ladies have signed up to use the stadium for home matches, as have newly formed Sutton Common Rovers (Combined Counties). This match was a “re-played” fixture ordered by the FA, I was told, after Concord fielded an ineligible player in the first match at Concord which they won 3-1. The FA ordered that Concord should lose all revenue from that fixture and from the new match at Gander Green Lane. As a contest it was a fairly mundane encounter which the hosts deservedly won with a goal in each half.

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Tuesday 22nd December 2015

Hinchingbrooke Cup Quarter-final

Stotfold P

Eynesbury Rovers P

Referee:- J Croft                                         Attendance:-
Admission £6 (refunded)                         Programme:- £1
Jack Warner, Chris Berezai, Chris Freer, Brian Buck and I were all there for this match, the first three visiting a new venue. About half an hour before the start, the rain began to fall heavily and this probably induced the referee to call off the contest around ten minutes before kick-off. The pitch looked in very good condition – it was one of those games that would never have been in doubt thirty years ago, but today’s PC brand of referee, look first for the excuse NOT to play! Baldock Town, apparently have transferred their allegiance from Hitchin Town’s Top Field, to play at Roker Park, this season!

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Boxing Day 26th December 2015
Toolstation Western League Division 1 – k.o.:- 12.00noon

Ashton & Backwell United 2

Conor Biggins 80,

Adam Crooks 90,

Portishead Town 1

Lewis Wheatcroft 55,

Referee:- Steve Irwin-Porter                            Attendance:- 65
Admission:- £5                                                    Programme:- £1                  Sausage ‘bap’:- £1.50
A warm and pleasant welcome greeted us as we arrived at The Lancerscott Stadium, but we were warned about not going behind the far goal where a large net was draped to capture the ball before it entered the gardens behind. The club has just chipped another month off its floodlight. Floodlights can now be used from 1st September through till the 30th April, but the light stanchions have to be lowered between those dates (previously 1st October). These two teams are becalmed in mid table, but in a feisty affair, the visitors took a second half lead which was cancelled out ten minutes from time and then the hosts won with a goal in added time which viciously screwed into the top corner despite the despairing efforts of the away keeper!

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Boxing Day Saturday 26th December 2015
Toolstation Western League Division 1 – k.o.:- 3.00pm

Chard Town 3

Leigh Bailey 16,

Andrew Martin 28,

Edward Butcher 34,

Wincanton 0

Referee:- Craig Finean                                    Attendance:- 110
Admission:- OMGDS£3 (£5)                        Programme:- £1
This season –                 Matches:- 134          New Grounds:- 75
I had heard of the Chard ‘slope’ and it was pretty impressive – probably a twenty metre drop from goal to goal, but to suggest that the club be demoted to step seven because of it seems drastically unfair (in a pc world gone mad!). Before we know it every non-league match will be played on plastic behind metal fencing! Chard lie in third place in the division, with Wincanton (who had brought considerable and vocal support with them), six points adrift of safety in second bottom position. The visitors played well, especially in the first half up the slope, and they had a lot of possession, but couldn’t make it tell. Chard ventured but rarely down the pitch, yet on three occasions they scythed through with rapier like precision and stole a goal each time! The second half was more even, but there were to be no more goals!

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Monday 28th December 2015
Midland League Division III – k.o.:- 2.00pm

Inkberrow 2

Tom Clews 7,

Nathan Davies 83,

Redditch Borough 0

Referee:- Jeff Widdett                                       Attendance:- 41
Admission:- F.O.C.                                            Programme:- NONE
This was a new ‘ground’ for most of the dozen or so hoppers who turned up, as Inkberrow have moved from one side of the clubhouse to the other to play their matches. In the absence of an admission charge, we were expected to contribute to the football lottery (£1) as we bought our tea and coffee. The ground was in beautiful condition, but the grass surrounds were very soft! This is not the most successful of seasons for the hosts and their visitors today are faring much better! However, a goal in each half gave Inkberrow their victory over a team suspiciously sporting the legend “RUJFC” on their shirts – Redditch United Junior Football Club? After the match, Graeme and I adjourned to the Bull Inn in the village where “The Archers”, a Radio 4 programme was conceived, with many pictures in the bar advertising that fact, and enjoyed a fine pint of HPA (Hereford Pale Ale).

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End of year statistics:-

Matches this season:- 136              New Grounds this season:- 76

Total Matches:-   3,343                   Total New Grounds:-  1,174

There are another half a dozen games that I have not included in this brief resume from November and December 2015. They include three FA Youth Cup matches at league grounds, two Northants Senior Youth League Matches and a ‘Professional Development League’ (under-21) match. I also missed a match at Long Eaton on the first Wednesday in December! No photos for the first few games, either!! Don’t know where they went!!!

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Glasgow 2015

Who Kicked Cock Robin?

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Not I said the owl

Gazing down sleepy eyed

I’m not that kind of fowl

And we’re on the same side.

.

Not I said the bee

Buzzing back to his hive

Cock Robin kicked me

Then took a dive.

.

Not I said the grub

My excuse is complete

I was only a sub

And I’ve got no feet.

Allan Ahlberg (1949 – )

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Friday November 20th 2015

Ladbrokes Scottish League Championship k.o.:- 7.45pm

St Mirren                                           1

Jack Baird 12,

Morton                                              1

Alex Samuel 90,

Referee:- John Beaton           Attendance:- 4,163

Admission:- OMGDS £10 (£20)         Programme:- £3

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This was billed as a clash of two teams who were partisan and fierce rivals, but the action – apart from a few fire-crackers – was all on the field of play!

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St Mirren Cathedral pokes its head between the corners of the stands!

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Soon to be renamed Paisley 2021 Stadium – in acknowledgement of Paisley’s pursuit of European City of Culture status!

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Saturday 21st November 2015 k.o.:- 10.00am

Glasgow Colleges League Jim Harvey Cup 1st Round

Cambuslang United                                   2

Greg Gibb 65, 69,

Anderston Athletic                                    3

Nicholas McCahill 27,

Robert Jones 34, 37,

Referee:- Keith Docherty                  Attendance:- 6

Admission:- F.O.C.                  Programme:- None

 

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Yes, there really were only six in attendance and three of those were Jack Warner, John Main and me!

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Saturday 21st November 2015 k.o.:- 3.00pm

Ladbrokes Scottish League One

Albion Rovers                                            1

Joshua Mullin 20,

Dunfermline Athletic                              1

Andy Geggan 15,

Referee:- Alan Muir               Attendance:- 1,041

Admission:- OMGDS£7 (£14)            Programme:- £2

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We received a very warm welcome in the morning before the match and were left to our own devices in touring the ground – even the condemned far side!

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Before the match we parked outside the main entrance! Unheard of in England!DSC01291

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Some sort of attachment to the front of the old stand!

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Sunday 22nd November 2015 k.o.:- 12.30pm

Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership

Hamilton Academical                          1

Doug Imrie 70,

Aberdeen                                               1

Kenny McLean 4,

Referee:- William Collum               Attendance:- 2,434

Admission:- Complimentary (£22)         Programme:- £2.50

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We were treated right royally at The New Douglas Park. Complimentary tickets and a tour of the ground!

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3G pitch with a temporary stand on the far side to bring it up to Scottish Premiership regulations of a six thousand seated capacity!

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Of course, it is not really a football ground, but mainly a business and community facility with a football stadium attached, all administered by Hamilton Academical Holdings

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The home team wore the French Football Team’s away kit in remembrance of the previous Friday’s tragic events in Paris

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The view of New Douglas Park from the supermarket adjacent to the ground.

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The visit of Aberdeen was televised live and the attendance was meagre for such a high profile fixture!

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Very enjoyable weekend and thanks to John Main, who did all the driving – and The Victoria House Hotel which housed us for a second visit (and more to come, I hope)!

 

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Moving Beyond The Century

Michael Owen

Michael Owen, Michael Owen

Runs so fast his boots are glowing.

Kicks the ball for all his worth

Now it’s orbiting the earth.

Roger Stevens (1970 – )

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Tuesday 27th October 2015
Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division k.o.:- 7.45pm

Longlevens                                                    4

Brad Martin 2,

Ed Smyllie 17,

Ellis Sausman 65,

Shaun O’Connor 76,

Ardley United                                              1

Chris Jackson 52,

Referee:- Joshua Rudd                    Attendance:- 62
Admission:- OMGDS £3 (£5)        Programme:- included

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Longlevens have not been long in The Hellenic, having graduated from The Gloucestershire County League, but they have earned their place among the elite of the top division and this evening, one of the league’s more successful teams of recent years were given a real going over!!!

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In fact, Ardley have recently changed managers and the new man has been left with a bunch of youngsters who are willing enough, but not wily enough to succeed at this level.

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Longlevens’ ground in Gloucester is somewhat basic with a small covered area down one side with one row of perhaps twenty or thirty seats and standing room behind them. You can pay at the gate, but equally well, you can watch through the wire mesh from the car park of the local Ibis Hotel – not tonight, though, it was POURING down!

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Wednesday 28th October 2015
East Midlands Counties League

Barrow Town                                                 2

Louis Neckles 29,

Jake Limbert 61,

Holwell Sports                                             2

Graham Wells 48,

Matt Lowe 84,
Referee:- Craig Hammond                 Attendance:- 40
Admission:- £5                                     Programme:- included

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The mist drifted in off the River Soar at Riverside Park, this evening, and hung like a shroud over one half of the ground.

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On a brighter note, Julian Joachim graced the ranks of the opposition and will be kicking himself for a chance where he rounded the goalkeeper but saw his shot cleared off the line by a defender.

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These two teams are desperately in need of points and struggling at the wrong end of the table, but a draw was a fair result, although either side could have snatched victory!

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Saturday 31st October 2015

Vanarama National North

Gloucester City                                                    1

Joshua Cooke 65,

Corby Town                                                         0

Referee:- Richard Hume               Attendance:- 312

Admission:- OMGDS:- £6 (£12)            Programme:- £2

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Gloucester City are (temporarily) playing at Whaddon Road, home of Nationwide Premier, Cheltenham Town. This must be their second or third season at Cheltenham, but progress is being made on their home ground and they do hope to return, although no date has been fixed, yet!

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Corby Town are going through a particularly sticky patch at present, and, as ever, when such things happen, none of the luck was going for them! They did enough to secure a point from this game, but a Joshua Cooke strike just after the hour mark, denied them any reward from the afternoon’s contest!

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Tuesday 3rd November 2015
FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round Replay

Banbury United                                                       0

Hungerford Town                                                  3

Matt Day 36,

Mark Draycott 41,

Mike Jones 89,Referee:- Daniel Middleton (Heanor)      Attendance:- 170
Admission:- OMGDS £6 (£10) Programme:- £2

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The real mystery is how did Banbury get away with a draw at Hungerford? The locals explained it all by saying that four influential players were injured in that match! They were not even on the same galaxy as Hungerford this evening.

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Banbury’s Spencer Stadium adjoins the railway station and between the two, there is a car park which can become quite treacherous in bad weather. It had rained all day and the car park was a mass of puddles unseen in the dark and one wrong foot …………!

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The rain eased off, the goals came at effective intervals and the visitors cruised to victory. My first visit since The Puritans lost Southern League Premier Division status.

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Wednesday 4th November 2015

FA Vase 1st Round Replay

Uttoxeter Town                                                                3

Doug Price 21 (pen),

Lee Bagley 37,

Tommy Smith 79,

Loughborough University                                           2

Andrew Bridge 61, 67,

Referee:- Simon Lane             Attendance:- 230

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This was my second visit to Uttoxeter Town and there was a pretty large attendance for this Vase replay against higher league opposition.

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Three of the above formed the only cover behind the near goal.  They looked like dug-outs, but in fact they were a kind of mini-stand with room for about three people!

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The support for the home side was ebullient, noisy, raucous and, occasionally – as above – very smokey! Smoke bombs were set off after every home goal and the young Turks of Uttoxeter thoroughly enjoyed their evening out and the victory!

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The old man at The Uttoxeter snack bar, courtesy of Jack Warner!

Thursday 5th November 2015
FA Youth Cup 1st Round

Biggleswade Town                                                 6

George Riley 54 (pen)

Keinan Davis 56, 59, 85,

Lee Northfield 79,

Matthew Moore 89,

Enfield Town                                                          1

Lewis Wilson 57,
Referee:- Thomas Hancock                      Official Attendance:- 90
Admission:- £3                                            Programme- £1

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This was my first visit to Langford Road in nearly four years, but the Meccano stadium was largely the same. Lovely welcome from the officials, programmes available and team sheets were free of charge. Trouble on The A1 meant that the visitors arrived late (as did Les Bull and Frank from Pinner) and the game commenced at 8.00pm. Biggleswade are a talented side and ran rings round their opponents but tended to over-elaborate. At half time it was still 0-0 and only because of some good goalkeeping by the visitors and some woeful finishing by the hosts! In the second half the floodgates opened and The Waders ran riot. The final score was a fair reflection of the difference between the two teams. Biggleswade are at home two weeks today in The FA Youth Cup 2nd Round! I think I may just make sure I’m there!

Friday 6th November 2015
Thurlow-Nunn Eastern Counties League Premier Division

Thetford Town                                               3

Ollie Standley 34,

Bruno Tavares 40,

Ian Fancett 60,                                            

Walsham-le-Willows                                    2

Charlie Webb 18, 35,

Ryan Foster s/o 42
Referee:- Dean Appleby                      Attendance:- 183
Admission:- £6                                    Programme:- £1

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Torrential rain bucketed down all the way from Northants to Norfolk, so much so that I rang the club en-route to make sure the match was on! The precipitation had substantially subsided by the time I got there, but the pitch was pretty slippery! This was only my second visit to Munford Road, and nine years since my first! The ground is essentially three sided but the vast majority of the spectators congregate cosily in the large seated stand along the near side. This was the hosts second league victory of the season and lifts them off the foot of the table and equal on points with tonight’s visitors. ‘Twas a good game with the hosts coming from behind twice before the visitors had a man sent off and the only goal of the second half was the home winner!

 

Saturday 7th November 2015
Ryman Isthmian League Premier division

Wingate & Finchley                                             4

Rob Laney 10, 38,

Lee Barney 30, 32,

Farnborough                                                         3

Tommy Wright 8, 23,

Garry McDonald 90+2,
Referee:- Paul Johnson                               Attendance:- 138
Admission:- OMGDS £5 (£10)                  Programme:- £2

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The weather this morning and before the game was a continuation of last evening’s torrential precipitation. I got myself a nice cheap (£10 return) rail deal from Peterborough to New Southgate and walked the one and a half miles from there to the ground. Needless to say, I got wet, but I needed this ground to complete The Isthmian Premier and when I got there, all the information I needed was willingly proffered. Strange ground with a fine main stand and covered areas behind one goal and along the side opposite to the main stand, but, in many parts of the ground, the space to stand in between pitch fence and the edge of the ground was less than a metre in width! The Blues made heavy weather of this one, falling behind twice in the first half to a Farnborough side in the relegation area and some seven points from safety. By the end of the half, they had a two goal advantage and the rain stopped, their opponents had a man sent off for two bookable offences and it looked plain sailing, but they couldn’t score and in the second minute of added time, the visitors pulled the deficit back to one goal, and so it ended.

 

This season:-  Matches:-  101             New Grounds:-  59

Total:- Matches:- 3,308                      New grounds:- 1,157

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Ten Days in October 2015


You Tell Me

.

Here are the football results

League Division Fun

Manchester United won Manchester City lost

Crystal Palace 2 Buckingham Palace 1

Millwall Leeds nowhere

Wolves 8 cheese roll and had a cup of tea 2

Aldershot 3 Buffalo Bill shot 2

Evertonil Liverpools’s not very well either

Newcastle’s Heaven, Sunderland’s a very nice place 2

Ipswhich one? You tell me.

by Michael Rosen (1946 – )
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Monday 12th October 2015

North-West Counties League Premier Division

Winsford United                                        2

Kyle Riley 64,

James Rothwell 71,

Ashton Athletic                                          0

Referee:- Matthew Bristow    Attendance:- 131

Admission:- £6            Programme:- £1.50

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I got to The Barton Stadium, quaint home of Winsford United very early on Monday evening. Eo-n were the sponsors and were proud of their achievements in upgrading the floodlights and painting nearly every building in the clubs colours!

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As I was wandering round the ground taking the odd picture, I didn’t notice, lurking in the long grass, Chris, Jack and Graeme, who leapt out at me, gave me the fright of my life and started singing:- “Happy Birthday to You!”. Two more and I’ll be a septuagenarian, I thought, and I’m being treated like a two year old! Still, it was good to see them and we enjoyed the match together.

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Not that the match was that good! Two goals in the second half gave the home side the victory, but did little to relieve the ennui.

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Barton Park is quite an old fashioned ground and at one time it also hosted greyhound racing and the remains of the greyhound track are what give the pitch its oval looking shape. It also gives it that odd, eerie, lonely feeling, even when a game is in progress and, especially, at night!

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Tuesday 13th October 2015
Southern League Red Insure Cup 1st Round

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Ware                                                          2

Murat Karagul 34,

Correy Davidson 85,

Northwood                                              2

Michael Murray 72 (pen),

Andy Lomas 90,
(Northwood won 4-3 on penalties)
Referee:- Michael Heavey Attendance:- 53
Admission:- OMGDS £4 (£7) Programme:- £1.50

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It is eight years since my last (and only) visit to Wodson Park and I didn’t recognise it!

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 Ware have a neat ground with a 200 or so seater stand on one side and covered terracing opposite.DSC00996

Ten days ago, they had taken all three points in a league fixture at home to Northwood with a 2-0 scoreline.DSC00997

This evening, it all went wrong after half-time. Until then, they held a 1-0 lead, but a considerably more determined Northwood entered the ‘fray for the second session. They equalised twice – the second time in the final minute – and, there being no extra time, they went on to win the penalty shoot out, thanks in no small measure to the excellence of their goalkeeper.

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It was a good match!

Wednesday 15th October 2015
United Counties League Premier Division

Harrowby United                                          0

Holbeach United                                          3

Ollie Pinner 63,

Gary King 72,

Jordan Thomas 79,
Referee:- Christopher Reeson        Official Attendance:- 73
Admission OMGDS £4 (£5) Programme:- £1
Coffee:- £0.80 Pies:- £2

DSC00999It was a pretty filthy night at Dickens Road for my first visit in over ten years. During that time, Harrowby had sunk to the bottom of The Lincolnshire League and then become defunct. They returned as Grantham Rangers to play at Grantham’s South Kesteven Sports Centre, but it wasn’t until 2012/13 that they returned to their own stadium under their own name in The UCL.

DSC01000This season, they are languishing just a point above the relegation positions, some twelve points and twelve places below their visitors, the perennially achieving Holbeach United.DSC01001The first half was as dire as the red and black painted panels behind each goal – corrugated metal at one end and wood at the other – but the visitors perked up in the second half and took command with three goals in the final half-hour.DSC01002There was an excellent programme – a statto’s paradise – but no-one could tell me the attendance!
This season:- Matches:- 81 New grounds:- 51

Thursday 15th October 2015

Northants FA David Joyce Under-18 Cup 1st Round

Rushden & Higham United                                0

Peterborough Northern Star                             8

Bradlee Page 22, 44, 67,

Ian King 23, 35,

Sven Harte 31,

Joe Kelly 53,

Amir Corcoron 85,

Referee:- Paul Speakman     Attendance:- 55

Admission:- £2   Programme:- NoneDSC00858I came to Hayden Road this evening for a Northants Senior Youth League match against Desborough Town, so it was something of a surprise to find when I got there that it was a cup match against Northern Star! There was a large gathering of older students from the Ferrers School to cheer on their mates, but, apart from the goalkeeper, who had a superb performance, the team were comprehensively outclassed by their big city neighbours.

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The Western League “Hop”

16 – 18th October 2015

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Friday 16th October 2015 k.o.:- 7.45pm

Western League Division 1

Corsham Town                                              1

Dan Lardner 85,

Calne Town                                                     2

Stuart Windsor 11,

Aaron Hopkins 53,

Referee:-  Mike Rogers        Attendance:- 293

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Corsham Town was a re-visit, but on a cool, sharp evening, the home side, riding reasonably high in the division, were shocked by lowly Calne Town who deservedly took the victory and the points!

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This rusty old relic decorated the nether regions of the stadium and, having perhaps unwisely, been persuaded to pose in situ, I found the photo plastered all over Facebook even before half-time!DSC01013Corsham Town’s Lacock Road ground is much as I remembered it when I visited in November 2002 although the welcome was more effulsive on this evening and the refreshments certainly more appetising! Equally, the attendance was just about three times as many on that gloomy November afternoon!DSC01014Jack and Chris and I had enjoyed the journey down from Blaby in Leicestershire, with John at the wheel and at Bristol Parkway Railway Station, having parked the car, we joined the throng of like minded hoppers to await the coach to Corsham!DSC01015After the match, it was a long journey to Weston-super-Mare – made even longer by the detour back to Bristol Parkway Station – and it was past 11.00pm when we arrived at The Royal Grosvenor, the sea front hotel booked for our stay!DSC01017Simon from Cheltenham (an avid Hereford United follower) and Dave from Reading and a Reading FC season ticket holder, enjoy the match from the tiny seated stand!

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Saturday 17th October 2015 k.o.:- 11.00am

Western League Premier Division

Bitton                                                       3

Luke Bryan 14, 46,

Sacha Tong 70,              

Street                                                       3

Steve Murray 9, 20,

Dale Hunt 20,

Referee:- Simon Shaw     Attendance:- 217DSC01018The view from my hotel window at The Royal Grosvenor Hotel on the sea front at Weston-super-Mare. It took me back to a long ago, almost forgotten, ‘hop’ when we stayed in an hotel on the sea front at Aberystwyth!

DSC01019John carries the fold up table out to the coach as the first full day gets under way!

DSC01031Bitton was our first port of call – well, if you don’t include a jaunt to Bristol Parkway Station, yet again! Just down the road from The eccentrically named “Rapid Solicitors” (there’s an oxymoron for you!) Stadium, The Avon Valley Steam Railway were holding a Special Day. Steam trains, both passenger and goods, batted up and down the line belching great clouds of smoke!DSC01028Bitton were another team who were expected to win their home fixture against a team from lower down the league, but this is early days in this season’s league and their opponents, Street, definitely had not made the journey to make up numbers! By half time they led by 3-1, including two goals inside a minute!DSC01027The trains continued to steam past on the embankment. Whatever was put into the home side’s half-time cocoa, it certainly seemed to do the trick. They had pulled a goal back within a minute of the restart and with twenty minutes to go they hauled themselves level and with more accurate marksmanship, they might have added to their tally. But that would have been unfair on Street, who were good value for the point they earned!DSC01020The ground was quite a large complex with the cricket club holding the major share, which included a substantial club house serving hot and cold drinks. Inside the football ground, the ladies were busy with bacon, sausage and egg ‘baps’. On the far side of the ground was a neat stand with seats for perhaps 200, but the best view for the football and the trains was behind the upper and nearest to the road goal and the cameras clicked merrily all through the match!DSC01021Above, before the match, a saddle tank steams into Bitton Station on The Avon Valley Railway

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Football and Steam Railways …… Two bites at the cherry!

DSC01028We were made to feel very welcome at Bitton, and, despite it being the first match after the hotel breakfast, the tea ladies were kept pretty busy throughout the match!DSC01032This is a strange one! Tantalisingly, I can’t see the front of the engine in this photograph, but it looks remarkably like a Metropolitan Railways 0-6-4T and if it really is, then it will be around about 100 years old! The Metropolitan Railway picked up a couple from an engineering works in Yorkshire around 1915/16 in the middle of The Great War, but they were never popular and none further were ordered.

Saturday 17th October k.o.:- 1.45pm

Western League Division 1

Oldland Abbotonians                                3

Tom Morgan 50,

Dave Stone 89, 90+1 (pen)

Ashton & Backwell United                      4

Conor Biggins 12, 31, 45 (pen),

Sam Skidmore 72,

Referee:- John Ignat    Attendance:-  201DSC01035This was a strange ground. The football pitch was at one side of a huge field, the vast majority of which seemed to be used for parking cars before the match! Down one side of the ground was a covered area and behind the near goal was the club house and changing rooms.

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From the left, this shifty crew comprises John, Jack and Chris

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The covered area on the far touchline.

DSC01036This was a fine game. Both of these teams were in Division ! of The Toolstation Western League, but they were effectively at opposite ends of the table. If Oldland Abbotonians won their five games in hand over leaders Corsham, they would have a comfortable lead at the top of the table, whilst Ashton & Backwell United were languishing in 17th place with only four teams below them.DSC01040

Today’s attendance of 201 must have been a real godsend for the hosts, who had averaged just 34 spectators per match in their seven previous home games! A special effort had been made with the refreshments and I particularly enjoyed the vegetable and rice dish.

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It was something of a surprise when the visitors, without too much difficulty, ended the first half with a three goal advantage, Conor Biggins scoring all three including one from the penalty spot! Ashton & Backwell were good value for their lead. They had played the more adventurous football and taken their chances well, but they must have known that the hosts would dig deep and attempt to repair the damage!

Abbotonians scored on 50 minutes and kept up the pressure. The visitors snatched a fourth goal with a breakaway and it looked to be all over. However, back came Abbotonians and two goals in the last couple of minutes saw them fall tantalisingly short of snatching an unlikely point from the contest. Ashton & Backwell deserved their victory!

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Almost the last kick of the match was the penalty scored by home number 9 Dave Stone.

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Who’s been into the boardroom to pinch all the cake!!!!

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Saturday 17th October k.o.:- 4.30pm

Western League Premier Division

Cadbury Heath                                      0

Cribbs                                                       0

Referee:-Joshua Ainscow     Attendance:- 185

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The weather began to get a little cooler as the day wore on. Springfield, the home of Cadbury Heath, could hardly be called an enclosed ground. It was a field with a railing around it and a covered area down the near side. The club house was outside the railed field and I wondered how they had managed to retain step five status while the likes of Bourne, of The United Counties League, and their nearly totally enclosed ground had been demoted to step six because ‘nearly’ was not good enough!

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After the previous match, we probably expected much more from a Premier Division clash than we were ever likely to get! However, both of these clubs were wallowing just above the drop zone and a thriller was never likely!

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It was an awful game. Dour and desperate as both teams fought to avoid defeat, the hosts carried the greater threat, but Cribbs allowed them little time or space and the match meandered into obscurity, a blip on the kaleidoscope of matches over the weekend and the season!

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Margaret had made the quote of the weekend at the previous match at Oldland when she ran out from the boardroom with a slice of cake and announced to all and sundry that West Ham were beating Crystal Palace 1-1!

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Poor old John was desperate for a goal. It was sixty-one matches since his last 0-0

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Burnley was happy! They’d taken three points off Bolton Wanderers!

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Saturday 17th October 2015 k.o.:- 7.45pm

Western League Division 1

Keynsham Town                                          2

Bertrand Abang 71,

Tony Harris 85,

Westbury United                                         2

Jordan Matthews 7

Jason Adams (og) 90+1

Referee:- Nigel Sykes    Attendance:-  224

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The last match of the day was at Keynsham Town’s AJN Stadium, a ground I had visited only once before in February 2004. This was  a new and much improved arena with a high quality plastic pitch and a renovated stand … and yet, for all that, it had a strangely cold feel to it and seemed to lack atmosphere.

The game more than made up for that, however, with little fancied Westbury taking an early lead with a speculative and slightly fortuitous header which deceived the goalkeeper. It was a lead that they were to hold for over an hour, but the introduction of Bertrand Abang by the home team at half time gave them increasing sway and it was he who equalised on 74 minutes and less than ten minutes later, Keynsham took the lead and the result seemed a foregone conclusion.

Right at the death, in the second minute of injury time, a Westbury forward chasing a lost cause crossed the ball into the six yard box – no danger, not a visiting player in sight – but it was inexplicably lashed into his own net by the home number 4, Jason Adams. Westbury had rescued a deserved point.

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Sunday 18th October k.o.:- 11.00am

Western League Division 1

Chipping Sodbury Town                           8

Justin Bishop 2,

Liam Barrett 17 (pen),

Sam Downes (og) 28,

Mike Beacham 30,

James Macxkie 39,

Sam Taylor 47,

Dave Simms 58, 60,

Bishop Sutton                                                1

Sean Keat (og) 61,

Referee:- Thomass Seymour    Attendance:-  261

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Yet another trip to Bristol Parkway Railway Station this morning before journeying out into the vast expanse of the Gloucestershire countryside! John, Jack, Chris and I opted for the car from Bristol Parkway so that we could go straight home after the last match and not have to face yet another visit to Bristol Parkway Station!

Chipping Sodbury Town are new to The Toolstation Western League, having been promoted at the end of last season from The Gloucestershire County League. They have had to do a substantial amount of improvements in a very short space of time at a site where they share the space with other football teams and the Rugby Union club. They have fenced off their own pitch and added floodlights and for today’s match there was a small marquee where hot drinks and refreshments were available.

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Martin with his ever ready camera at Chipping Sodbury!

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Today’s opponents, Bishop Sutton were champions of The Western League some three years ago, but in that short space of time, they have been relegated and fallen to the very bottom of the league with only one draw to show from twelve league games this season! How the mighty are fallen!

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Anybody you recognise there?

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The hosts were one up inside two minutes and four more followed in the first half with hoppers eagerly anticipating the breaking of goalscoring records! It was not to be. Although the home side added a further three goals in the first fifteen minutes of the second half, that was the end of their goal blitz and a Sam Keat own goal gave the visitors a consolation!

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Liam Barrett’s 19th minute penalty for the hosts

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Ian watching intently

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from the left, Graeme (partly hidden), Mike and Dave

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Sunday 18th October 2015 k.o.:- 2.30pm

Western League Premier Division

Melksham Town                                   2

Gary Higdon 16, 82,

Gillingham Town                                  1

Steven Smith 88,

Referee:-Martin Bloor     Attendance:-  357

 DSC01065Melksham is probably my favourite Western League ground, certainly it is the best equipped of all the grounds we have seen this weekend. I had made two previous visits, but had, in fact, only seen one match. The first time I came, I arrived barely twenty minutes before kick-off after an horrendous journey only to hear that the match had been called off five minutes earlier by the referee!

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The entrance from the market place car park to The Conigre in the middle of Melksham

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The Conigre, home of Melksham Town, at least for the time being, takes its name from a wildlife  sanctuary – a hive for rabbits? There were supposed to have moved to a new home on the outskirts of Melksham in the grounds of an educational establishment, but, so the story goes, wildlife in the form of newts were discovered and much of the work has been put on hold until a way can be found to preserve the newt’s habitat. It is possible that they could move to their new home from the beginning of next season.

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Melksham Town are the current champions of The Toolstation Western League and the championship trophy was on display at the ground. They are in good company. I was told that clubs like Tottenham Hotspur and Millwall had both had teams at one time that had won Western League championships!

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Artists and architectural impressions of the new stadium.

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Melksham Town’s defence of the championship has been less than robust, although it is early days in the season, yet, and they are in touch with the leading group in the division.

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The Conigre is a lovely old quirky ground and just outside these gates used to be Frog Lane – it no longer exists, I believe, but is a testament to The Conigre’s wildlife connections!

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The players get tap water to drink during the game and here is the proof as the trainer can actually be seen filling the water bottles! Is there something in the local water that breeds champions?

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The game was over in a blur of activity. Gillingham Town were no mean opponents and in the second half they really chased the equaliser only to concede a second to the hosts prolific goalscorer, Gary Higdon. Two minutes from time, they managed a consolation, but it was Melksham who took the spoils.

Despite their lovely, quirky ground, Melksham seriously need to move to a new stadium as the present home would not support football at a higher level. Parts of the ground are sealed off and there is only one entrance and no turnstiles. I will have a great many regrets when they do eventually move, but I respect the reasons for the club taking that decision!

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We headed back straight away after the game and, three and a half hours later I had reached my own home after an exhilarating weekend of Western League football. Late night returns to the hotel and early morning starts meant that every day was a long one, but each was scintillatingly worthwhile. All the clubs involved had gone to enormous efforts to make a success of the venture. We were welcomed and refreshed and cosseted at every venue.

As usual the anticipation of the hop was excruciating but the event itself flew past in a whirl of matches that all seemed to meld together. Many thanks to Chris and Laurence, who had, as usual, provided a well choreographed event and had done their best to fit in with individual requirements! The next ‘hop’ (The Lowland ‘hop’ in March) seems such a long way off but it will be upon us before we can blink and, in the meantime, I am trying to achieve more than 120 matches by Christmas ……. weather allowing ..!!!

This season – Matches:- 89     New Grounds:- 55

Total –            Matches:- 3,295   New Grounds:- 1,153

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Tuesday 20th October 2015

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division k.o.:- 7.45pm

Stamford                                               1

Shawn Richards 63,

Halesowen Town                                2

Daniel Bragoli 53,

Jean-Michel Gueyes 75,

Referee:- Matthew Smith (Hinckley)  Attendance:- 237

Admission:- OMGDS £7 (£10)  Programme:- £2

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You might expect that living only ten miles away, I might have already been to The Zeeco Stadium. Well, I have, on TWO occasions and each time the match was called off – the second time because the opposition failed to turn up!

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I was impressed with the new build. It has a real ‘football ground’ feel to it, not like some of these tin can monstrosities (like Wisbech Town, for instance) which some clubs have built.

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Sadly, Stamford AFC are in trouble at the foot of The Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division table, which is a pity, because they are a friendly club and always helpful with information such as handing out free team sheets and finding out the attendance.

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Halesowen Town are no more than a mid-table side and yet they always seemed the team more likely. Stamford lack an out and out striker, they rely heavily on a defence that is rarely watertight and after pulling themselves level, late in the game, they let it slip away with a second Yeltz goal with fifteen minutes to go.

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Wednesday 21st October 2015

Ryman Isthmian League Premier Division k.o.:- 7.45pm

Lewes                                                           1

George Brown 45,

Burgess Hill Town                                    2

Scott Kirkwood 11,

Lee Harding 75,

Referee:- Paul Yates       Attendance:- 449

Admission:- OMGDS£6 (£11)       Programme:- £2

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This was an impressive, but eccentric stadium. I had come down by train because Lewes is on a direct line from Bedford, but there are some twenty stations to negotiate and the journey took me over two and a half hours!

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The entrance is the impressive bit, the modern arched roof over the stand and the substantial concrete terracing behind the near goal. There is a large stand to the right seating maybe up to a thousand spectators. The eccentric area is to the left of the terracing behind the goal where a selection of beach huts have been erected to act, I can only presume, as hospitality suites! The stadium is a natural bowl, some say it was the excavation of the monks of Lewes Prior when they were mining for salt. Opposite the main stand is a vast grassy embankment which is unused and sealed off, but at the top, and with a splendid view from behind the floodlights, is a narrow walkway which can accommodate spectators.

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Behind the far goal is a section of terracing with barriers, but it is not accessible from the high back opposite the main stand. Once you get to the bottom of the substantial terracing behind the goal, space is cramped, because the clubhouse takes up much of the space to the right of the goal. The stewards were very helpful, team sheets were handed out in the club house and at the end of the match, two stewards got on their walkie-talkies to find me the attendance and the made sure that it was broadcast over the tannoy.

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Sadly, on the field, Lewes are in disarray. They lie in the bottom three but are some five or six points adrift even at this early stage of the season. fifteen years ago, they were starting their journey to the highest echelons of non-league football. Now it seems that they are sliding in the opposite direction.

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Burgess Hill Town are near neighbours (also on the railway line from Bedford to Brighton) and they had little trouble in disposing of a dispirited home side who did show some determination in producing an equaliser just on half-time. That was just to prolong the inevitable as the visitors regained the lead with fifteen minutes remaining and deservedly took the match and the points.

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The long trip back to Bedford began conveniently with the 21.50 from Lewes Station and ended at  00.38 at Bedford Station. Then I had an hours journey by car back to Gretton!

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Fabulous view from behind the floodlights on the embankment!

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Friday 23rd October 2015

FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round k.o.:- 7.45pm

Northwich Victoria                                            0

Chorley                                                                 0

Referee:- Thomas Bramhall           Attendance:- 534

Admission:- OMGDS £6 (£9)      Programme:- £2

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Northwich Victoria are playing for the time being at the home of their greatest (and most deadly) rivals, Witton Albion. There is no love lost between the sides, but even so, when I arrived, the only stewards I could find on duty were from Witton Albion or from Chorley!

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There were no badges available, but the refreshment hut away in the far corner of the ground was doing a roaring trade and sold out of pies  ….. so I enjoyed a pastie, instead.

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Considering that the visitors were two divisions higher than their opponents, it was the hosts who imposed the early pressure and Chorley’s defence had to withstand prolonged attack.

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Darren Stephenson of Chorley, sporting what I thought was a somewhat bizarre away kit until Tony Morehead suggested that it might have been chosen because today is Breast Cancer Awareness Day!

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In the end, a draw was a fair result

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Saturday 24th October 2015

Northants Junior Cup 2nd Round

Earls Barton United                                                1

Jack Patching 73,

Weldon United                                                        6

Bobby Drain 29,

Iain Blackie 42, 43,

Rich Moore 71,

Conor Grant  72,

Paul Docherty 89,

Referee:- Gary Capps                 Attendance:- 12

Admission:- F.O.C.                Programme:- NONE

On a cold, grey afternoon with rain in the offing, Weldon United, presently unbeaten this season and leading the premier division of The Northants Combination, came to The Grange for a second meeting in as many weeks at Earls Barton, after winning the league encounter by 3-1 in their previous visit. There was a fairly impressive trompe d’oeuil surrounding the clock in the club house (well, at least, it had me fooled), but Weldon, who started slowly, had built an unassailable 3-0 lead by the interval. Poor old Earls Barton, had recently lost their manager, and, with him, a choice selection of players.In the second half, they managed to score, but it was a consolation only, as unbeaten Weldon wrapped up a comfortable victory!

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