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Christmas 2012

To you a season of melodious tidings.
In darkness may life be a lovely flame.
Now the year turns back towards warmth and passion
As all our dying dreams are born again.


Boxing Day Wednesday 26th December 2012 npower League 1 k.o.:- 3.00pm

Milton Keynes Dons                          2                            Walsall                                4

Ryan Lowe 6                                                                       Febian Brandy 16

Dean Bowditch 30                                                              Will Griggs 25, 43

                                                                                                  Jamie Patterson 90

referee:- Stuart Attwell                                                        attendance:- 8,700

Gone are the days when you can take the boys and go and see three matches on Boxing Day. For a start, you’d be hard pressed to find three adequately spaced matches on Boxing Day, but, more importantly, they are all grown up, now, and even have families of their own. So, we have to settle for one reasonably close by match that we can all go and see, even the one with a baby son less than a month old!

Boxing Day football is a family affair and here are the main protagonists in The Red Dot area at Stadium MK, Stadium Way, Milton Keynes

So we chose Milton Keynes Dons, because in their Red Dot area, they know how to look after their supporters. We got there around 1.00pm, nice and early before the 3.00pm kick-off and Nottingham Forest 4 Leeds United 2 was on multi-screen in the large warm, welcoming, friendly pre-match refreshment area. Conor, my young nephew, guru of the X-Box 360 FIFA 13, came along with us and even Phil, my cricket and golf loving friend, who has himself graced the non-league scene, joined us to make up a party of six for the match!

They don’t do things by halves at The Stadium MK. We were issued with team sheets and there was courtesy tea and coffee at half-time, whilst in the stadium itself, the seats were XL in size AND padded!

Boxing day, Wednesday 26th December 2012, npower League 1, Milton Keynes Dons 2 Walsall 4, att.:- 8,700

Sadly for once, their promotion push faltered and struggling opposition suddenly galvanised into action dealt a hefty blow to their aspirations. It was a good match with some excellent passages of play and nifty individual performances. Maybe there weren’t quite the number of goals that there were in my last match (Peterborough United 5 Bolton Wanderers 4), but the six on display were well worth the journey.

The MK Dons may struggle for the play-offs, but I doubt that Walsall will be fighting relegation.

Thursday 27th december 2012 Baris Northern Counties East League   k.o.:- 7.45pm

Division 1

Cleethorpes Town                        5                         Grimsby Borough                 2

Tim Lowe 24, Marc Cooper 29                               Josh Fuller 44

Jack Debnam 50,                                                         Steve Davies 48

Jack Richardson 87

Lee McFarland 90

referee:- D. Evans                                                         attendance:- 373

On a cold evening it was a pleasant hundred or so mile drive up to Grimsby for this local derby between two sides so recently members of The Lincolnshire League. They both play at the same ground, The Bradley Community Stadium which is neither in Grimsby nor Cleethorpes, but is a Football Development Centre built for the local community with Football Lottery money. In 2010, Grimsby Borough signed a ten year lease with The North East Lincs Council to play their matches at the stadium.

It is a fairly basic amenity with a reasonable bar, but the playing area is largely a football pitch surrounded on three sides by tarmac and on the fourth there is a small stand holding maybe 100 people and behind one goal, there is shelter too.

The game was a rip-roaring affair in which the home side were much the better for the first half hour and cruised into a two goal lead. Borough pulled one back just before half-time and drew level immediately after half-time, but three more home goals, two in the last three minutes, saw them sweep past their co-tenants for a worthy victory.

Thursday 27th December 2012: Baris Northern Counties East League Division 1, Cleethorpes Town 5 Grimsby Borough 2

The lights weren’t the best quality but you can just make out the covered area behind one goal at The Bradley FDC (Football Development Centre)

Grimsby Borough in yellow and Cleethorpes Town in navy. Cleethorpes are much the better placed of the two teams, even harbouring hopes of promotion at the end of the season to the Premier Division.

There was some tasty tackling and a couple of sendings off (one from each side and both for a second yellow card offence) and in a rare moment of frustration there was also an incident of handbags for which the referee was content to issue yellow cards. Sadly, the large crowd produced very little atmosphere to match the passion on the playing field. This was a shame since the imaginative timing of the fixture must have contributed in part to the increased attendance.

Saturday 29th Dec 2012 Windsor Food Services Central Midlands League k.o.:- 3.00pm

Black Dragon North Division

DFS Welbeck Welfare                   0                   AFC Mansfield               9

                                                                                        Dean Rick (4) Mark Carter (2)

                                                                                      Phil Buxton, Gary Armstrong

                                                                                       Richard Dixon (og)

referee:- Nick Parish                                                attendance:-  61

The incessant rain culled large swathes of fixtures from today’s list, but Chris unearthed this gem of a match from step 7 in The Central Midlands League. As he so eloquently and elegantly described it:- “Goal whoring!!!!! AFC top and scoring loads, Welbeck bottom, lost last 17 and cak (sic)!” These two teams are a couple of miles apart and although Welbeck had already lost the away fixture 0-4 back in August, they had switched their home fixture to the Forest Town Memorial Ground where AFC Mansfield now play their home games because the weather had rendered their own pitch unplayable.


The Chairman’s Chariot

Kindly note, Claire, that I had lunch on the way and experienced something called “Turf and Surf”. I’d never heard of this before, but apparently it involves a steak, a chunk of chicken and prawns on a sizzling hot platter with chips, peas, mushrooms and fried onions all washed down with a fine pint of real ale! I think the hostelry was called The Blue Bell. They certainly looked after me!

AFC Mansfield were as keen as Welbeck to get the match played. They were formed as recently as 2012 by a couple of former directors of Mansfield Town FC who had fallen out with the rest of the board. They had recently purchased an all seater stand from financially struggling Eastwood Town and erected it on a raised concrete plinth to give a good view of the playing area. Today marked the opening of this new stand which could hold up to 120 spectators.

You can just about make out the new stand in black,on the right of the picture, purchased from Eastwood Town and in use for the first time today.

The match started in grey murky drizzle and we actually watched Welbeck give a good account of themselves in the first half hour or so. In fact with better finishing, they could even have taken the lead. The drizzle having died away, Chris and I wandered away behind the home goal to have a chat with The AFC Mansfield Chairman as his team chalked up a 3-0 half time lead.

Saturday 29th Dec 2012: DFS Welbeck 0 AFC Mansfield 9

In the second half, AFC Mansfield ran away with the match, but just couldn’t quite reach double figures! A nine-nil scoreline is like making love to a beautiful woman said Chris, without actually reaching a climax! Perhaps he was right! Certainly, we were both urging the tenth goal to go in, but it never came!

Chris was pretty ecstatic that his beloved Swansea City had triumphed in front of a capacity gate at Craven Cottage, whilst I was moderately pleased that Bolton Wanderers had knocked over Birmingham City at The Reebok.

No scorers or attendance for the final game at the time of going to press. I will append the deatails later.

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