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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!






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.










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!








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.














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!






























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!











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!












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.








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.











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!















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)



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!


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!


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


The lunchtime menu


Rory Clark and Paul Beatty from Corby


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


Mike and Gary Miller from Corby


John Lord from Cottingham and Conor Holmes from Corby


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


John Main from Blaby


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


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!




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




The skyline above The Dockers Stand


Graeme from Countesthorpe wearily ascends the steps to his seat!


The equalising penalty from Lee Gregory


Jim’s Birthday Cake


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


James receives a signed football from Jordan Archer in return!


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


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


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



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