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Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

Ode to Autumn by John Keats
 Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.


Monday 19th November 2012 Essex Senior League  k.o.:- 7.45pm

League Cup Quarter Final 2nd Leg

Barkingside                                1                                Barking                                1

Paul Kavanagh 49                                                          John Mogage 58

referee:-                                                                            attendance:- 84

Yes, there it is, just over the other side of the platform, but you can’t get to it! You have to walk a good half mile out of your way to arrive at the turnstile to get in!

Barkingside is a dull, dreary ground and difficult to get to. It was a dull, dreary evening too, but at least it was mild and I took the train down to St Pancras and the Circle and Central Lines to Barkingside. On the journey there and back, I got through a hundred pages of “The Water’s Lovely” by Ruth Rendell and a couple of Sudokus and a crossword. When you get there, the ground is just the other side of the platform, but there is no way through and the route takes you away from the ground and then back across the road bridge and then a long way beyond the ground, before you can access the car park and walk back. As the man on the gate said, “We could increase attendances no end if they would just allow us to put a gate on to the platform!”.

The last time I was here, in 2009, BarkingsideFC owned the ground

Steel yourself, Claire, Jeanette’s Kitchen, inside the ground purveys quite the best egg bap I have ever tasted! The egg was runny and hot and melted away into the roll when you bit into it!

This time, it is Redbridge FC who own the ground and Barkingside FC are the tenants!

I had a wander around the stadium in the first half. It bore the marks of long eons of disuse. the concrete flooring covered in lichen and banks of rotting leaves and other detritus lurked to trap the unwary in the gloom away from the floodlights!

Barkingside 1 Barking 1 in The Essex Senior League Cup Quarter Final. Aggregate score 4-2.

The match itself was quite entertaining. Barking were crossing swords with their rivals for a second time, having lost the opening match of the quarter finals a month ago on their own ground by 1-3. Since then, they have had a change of manager and embarked on a run of four straight victories without conceding a goal! No wonder Matt Frew, the Barkingside manager, was warning his side not to concede the first goal!

It was, however, a tight match in which Barkingside did take the lead shortly after half time, but were soon pegged back by a lively Barking side who never gave up. Amongst their alumni, Barking can boast Bobby Moore who once managed to get a game in their third team, and John Still, manager of Dagenham & Redbridge (amongst others), who used to play for them

I spent the second half chatting with Kim from Toronto in Canada. Her boyfriend Jay was playing at number 4 for Barking. She is a teacher and is teaching PE and sport in Tower Hamlets, mainly because there is a surfeit of teachers and a lack of teaching posts in Toronto. She is a keen water polo exponent, but  enjoys all sports and hopes to get involved with beach volleyball. She is training for qualified teaching status in this country and hopes to stay and teach here permanently. I hope she does! We need teachers with her drive and sporting ability.

I was lucky at the end and managed to get back to St Pancras for the 22.25 train which sped me back in an hour instead of the dreary 23.15 which meanders sedately and takes nearly two hours for the same journey! God knows why. I had to run, mind you and flopped into my seat gasping and coughing, barely seconds ahead of the whistle-blast which signalled the start of the journey.

Tuesday 20th November 2012 Baker Joiner Midland Football Alliance k.o.:- 7.45pm

Loughborough University              6                        Heath Hayes                  0

Daniel Nti 5, 45, 85

Charlie Turnbull 18

Albert Owusu-Ansah 22

Sam Cook 63

referee:- Mr D. Kuzmanovic                                       attendance:-  66

The approach to Holywell Park, home of Loughborough University. First …………… get past the security gates!

The rain abated just before this match at the beautifully appointed Holywell Stadium at Loughborough University. It really is a magnificent arena and with a few m1nor alterations could meet Football League standards! To get to it you have to pass through the security barriers of the University, but unlike last time, when I was issued with a parking pass, this time I was just waved through.

They had pies on tonight, Claire, and a choice of steak, minced beef, and chicken and mushroom as well as sausage rolls and a selection of chocolate and hot and cold drinks. I had a chicken and mushroom pie and a half of blackcurrant and soda and was pleasantly surprised to find that it set me back only £1.45. I’ve been to grounds where the pies alone can cost four or five pounds!

It was a hoppers  paradise.The surroundings are reminiscent of Premier League hospitality. Lots of other games had been called off because of the weather and there were football followers from as far away as Reading and Cricklewood. Out of a total crowd in the sixties, possibly as many as forty were hoppers!

The high flying students were irrepressible. This was the third time I had seen them this season and their striker, Daniel Nti, has now scored six goals in those three games. They brushed aside Heath Hayes, who are having a torrid season, with precise passing and incisive strikes and were deservedly 4-0 up at half-time. Three early second-half substitutions weakened the initiative, but two more goals were added to the total for a crushing victory.


Thursday 22nd November 2012 Norfolk Senior Cup 4th Round  k.o.:- 7.45pm

Dereham Town                        1                       Norwich City                      1    

After extra time. Score at 90 minutes:- 1-1

Nicky Howell 29                                                   Jama Loza 90 

referee:- Mr S. Meale                                        attendance:- 230

After all the storms that had battered the country (and led to the postponement of any possible football last night) it was good to find a match that was being played and especially one being played on a Thursday night! There was terrible flooding in North Wales and in the South West, but nothing more than high winds in our part of the world! So I drove the seventy five miles along the A47 to the market town of Dereham.

Aldiss Park, home of Dereham Town

I like Dereham’s ground. It is less than twenty years old and even though it resembles so many other edge of town, supermarket replacement grounds It has a really friendly atmosphere, a compact bar and good refreshment facilities (no, Claire, sadly all I partook of this evening was a bag of Maltesers and a J2O).

This was an excellent match. Norwich City had sent along their U-21 academy team and the two sides were very evenly matched. Dereham efficiently denied Norwich goalscoring opportunities – they had fewer than ten shots on target all match – and those that were on target were capably handled by the home keeper. Dereham Town had few opportunities but took the first one a little fortuitously and squandered two easier ones in extra time. Norwich scored in added time at the end of the match to force extra time, but the tie ended all square. There were no penalties, so there will be a replay at a date to be decided.

Dereham Town 1 Norwich City 1 AET Norfolk Senior Cup 4th Round

It was very windy all evening, but the threatened rain didn’t arrive until extra time. However, on the way home, dodging the pools of flood water in driving rain was a hazardous occupation. I managed to hit one pretty deep pool which sent me careering across the road into the far kerbside, but fortunately no other traffic was in the vicinity and I survived unscathed! It was just striking midnight as I got home!

Saturday 24th November 2012 npower League 2   k.o.:- 3.00pm

Morecambe                            3                          AFC Wimbledon                    1

Kelvin Ellision 7, 34, 79                                        Jack Midson (pen) 67

                                                                                      Paul McCallum s/o 81

referee:- Mr. C. Pawson                                         attendance:- 1,616

There had been severe rainfall and flooding in parts of Wales and the south west. Rain was predicted for the north-west, later in the day, but not, we hoped, until after the match started. This was a great day out. It started with an offer from Morecambe FC by e-mail. The four of us decided that it was too good to miss, for whilst we had all been to Christie Park, we had never been to  The Globe Arena, Morecambe’s new ground.

The food, Claire, was very good. Just what the doctor ordered for a chilly Autumn day. For the first course, there was ham, apple and belly pork terrine. What is a terrine, you ask? Good question, it would appear that all of the ingredients are chopped up and encased in a kind of thick elastic band! This is then accompanied by salad and piccalilli (see accompanying photo).

Then we had a main course of home-made chicken and ham pie (and there was lots of ham in it), with mashed potatoes and chips and a variety of vegetables and mushy peas. Sadly, being into my 78th day of no alcohol (out of 100 days), there was only a J2O to wash it down with! We had arrived late, but I was pretty impressed with the service.

And they even spelt my name correctly!

We had a numbered car parking lot, programmes, team sheets, tea and coffee at half-time and were generally very well looked after. Martin said, when we were doing the review sheet that we shouldn’t say “excellent’, because there is always, he said, room for improvement, but I’ve been to hospitality all over the place (Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton, Bolton Wanderers, Arsenal, to name but a few!) and this was the equal of and better  than some of the aforementioned!

npower League 2 Morecambe 3 AFC Wimbledon 1

I do like to travel to a game in Chris’ leather seated Jaguar and managed to get through all the Sudokus in The Independent ‘I’ (including the fourth and bloody near impossible one!). Before we went to The Globe, we went into the site of Christie Park, now a supermarket, with very little evidence of its former role.

AFC Wimbledon played like muppets in the first half, just hoofing the ball hopefully upfield at every opportunity. They were undone by two powerful surging runs by veteran striker, Kelvin Ellison, both rewarded by a goal, the result of some clinical finishing.

In the second half, the away team did try to play some football and put some real pressure on the home defence. They were rewarded with a penalty just after the hour and a comeback looked on the cards. You could have got 40-1 against Kelvin Ellison scoring a hat trick. However, that is just what he did, his third goal ten minutes from time was helped by a defender falling over, but the finish inside the goalkeeper’s body to the far post, was yet again, clinical.

npower League 2 on 24th November 2012

Heavy rain accompanied our journey home. We had written on the review that the reason for coming to the game today was part of our quest to see all 92 league grounds. We actually had a response, when one of the ladies came to chat to us about our attempt. It was a nice touch!

Kelvin Ellison, 31 year old veteran striker for Morecambe, clutches his man-of-the-match bottle of Champagne after his hat trick against AFC Wimbledon.

A very enjoyable outing!








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