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The Big Freeze

A biting cold gnawing at the bones
Freezing the marrow at the source
I dare to be so bold to wear a T-shirt
              Body fluttering like a sparrow in the devil’s hour
                There is nothing like brisk air to shake my mind from despair
                                      and rile my body
I will seek and find an excuse to leave my lair.
Timothy Brown “Freezing the marrow at the source”


Tuesday 22nd January 2013 npower League One k.o.:- 7.45pm

Notts County                             1                               Oldham Athletic              0
Enoch Showunmi 35
referee:- Mark Brown                                                 attendance:- 3,409

Notts County FC

Notts County FC


Non-League football was virtually wiped out this week. The snow that had started last weekend continued right through the week and on Monday evening, instead of going to see a football match, we went to the cinema to see a Danish film entitled “The Hunt”. Don’t be put off by it being Danish! It was very good with a story line about a teacher, who is an integral part of a small town community. When a child discloses acts of a sexual nature, after hearing her older brother and his friends talking. the teacher is suspended and the small town erupts into self righteous anger. Well worth seeing!

Meadow Lane, Nottingham

Meadow Lane, Nottingham

On Tuesday evening, with matches falling like ninepins to the weather, I eventually chose Notts County and then found that if I went by train, there were no return trains after nine-thirty! Unbelievable! So I drove the forty odd miles or so and paid a fiver for parking in a local pub and fifteen pounds for an old man’s ticket, high up on the half-way line and three pounds for this weird new programme format which is square, with a thick spine and doesn’t fit easily into any pocket! The guy in the club shop was enthusing over it, saying that this was the way forward for programmes. I was under-impressed! The only other time I had seen such a format was earlier in the season at Middlesborough.

Meadow LaneTuesday 22nd January 2013

Meadow Lane
Tuesday 22nd January 2013

It wasn’t an electrifying match. Notts County were early season promotion contenders, but have fallen away badly. Oldham are battling at the other end of the table to avoid the drop. The only goal came in the first half from the exquisitely named Enoch Showunmi, a tall rangy forward who tapped in after the defence missed a cross. County were good value for their win, but Oldham battled away for the entire match but didn’t have the fire power to threaten the home goal.

The oldest Football League Club in the Football League! There are other football clubs who can claim to be older outside The Football League!

The oldest Football League Club in the Football League! There are other football clubs who can claim to be older outside The Football League!

Wednesday 23rd January 2013 FA Youth Cup 4th Round k.o.:- 7.00pm

Leicester City                             4                Peterborough United                  1
Joe Dodoo 15, Michael Cain 30, 58                              Charlie Coulson 40
Jamie Anton 72
referee:- Michael D’Aguilar                                            attendance:- 810

Tonight, I really was beginning to think that there would be no possibility of football until I remembered the “Additional Fixtures” feature in The Football Traveller. There they were, four FA Youth Cup fixtures, and whilst two of them were also postponed, the one at Leicester was still on! It was a relatively early kick-off at 7.00pm and tickets (priced £3) had to be bought from the ticket office before entry to the Fosse Club – Walkers Hall hospitality area was the reward for purchase!

Oh Yes! It snowed pretty well all the way through the match - maybe an inch and a half to two inches fell.

Oh Yes! It snowed pretty well all the way through the match – maybe an inch and a half to two inches fell.



Leicester City and Peterborough United were meeting in this round after impressive results in the previous round, where Leicester had knocked out last season’s finalists, Blackburn Rovers and Peterborough had demolished Aston Villa by 4-0. There was good away support for The Posh, but it was the The Foxes who prevailed. They were stronger and more creative, and although Posh pulled a goal back, rather fortuitously just before half-time, Leicester eased away in the second half with decisive strikes to seal a convincing victory.

The King Power Stadium, Leicester.

The King Power Stadium,

I estimated that there were around 800 spectators there and the following morning, I rang the ground to ask if they had an official attendance figure. Back came a polite response that if I left my telephone number someone would get back to me. Very surprisingly, someone did get back to me! ” Around 800″ was the attendance, I was told. Apart from anything else, football is a different game to different people. Some like to watch individual players and their careers, others follow one club religiously, still yet others will only visit a ground once for a match, but for me it is a numbers game and I would have appreciated an exact figure, but it was not to be.

Full Time

Full Time

It was an early start on Saturday morning, I was up at 5.00am and on the road to Rugby by six. Laurence collected me from Rugby Station, where I had decanted my motor and with Lee and Peter already on board, we set out for the long, long journey up to Scotland. There was plenty of snow around and not a bit of it on the M6. However, Laurence dealt with the elements and the traffic with his customary skill and I sat in the back knocking off the sudoku in The Independent “I”. Just south of Carlisle at Tebay Services we stopped for a meal against the backdrop of the snow-covered Cumbrian mountains and the ducks nestling on the ice encrusted pond.

There was no guarantee that the match at Arbroath would go ahead. Just up the road at Brechin City, the game had already been called off, but Laurence and Lee had contingency plans, which in the event weren’t needed and we rolled into Arbroath at 1.30pm to a very blustery wind and the ground, just as I remembered it, on the very edge of the sea. We took the customary photographs showing the ground and the adjacent sea and posted not a few on “Facebook”!

Gayfield Park, Arbroath

Gayfield Park, Arbroath

Before the match, Lee and I nipped into town to The Corn Exchange for a pint of real ale ……….. and very good it was, too!


Saturday 26th January 2013  Irn Bru Scottish League  k.o.:- 3.00pm

Second Division

Arbroath                  3                  Forfar Athletic                       1

Lee Sibanda 8                              Iain Campbell (pen) 73

Graham Bayne 17, 56                Willie Robertson s/o 79

referee: David Somers                 attendance:- 843



There were nearly twice as many spectators there today, compared with my last sojourn in August 2008 and the visitors were Forfar Athletic from just down the road, but not the authentic “Derby” opponents, that honour is reserved for Montrose, who are further away, but who raise the hackles and the passion more keenly! Arbroath are known as The Red Lichties. Apparently this is a reference to the lighthouse hard by the football ground. The light it shone was red, due to the fuel they used. Sailors would know they were off Arbroath by the red light from the lighthouse! Laurence had bought a club badge which turned out to be a collectors item. They had spelled “Lichties” wrongly, ‘e’ before ‘i’, I think.

The lighthouse that gave the football team its nickname - "The Red Lichties"

The lighthouse that gave the football team its nickname – “The Red Lichties”

Arbroath won at a canter. They were two up inside the first twenty minutes and never looked back. Forfar were poor opposition, but they did at least make a fight of it in the second half, that was until the sending off of Willie Robertson for a dangerous tackle some ten minutes from time. The crowd leaked jovially away, all except Peter, who, when he couldn’t find the car, was convinced that Laurence had deliberately moved it!


When eventually we were all back on board, the drive up to Aberdeen took a little over an hour and by 6.30pm, we were ensconced in The Granite City and The Travelodge, which Lee had secured at an extremely reasonable rate.

In the evening with a heavy drizzle falling, we repaired to a Chinese restaurant for a meal and a bottle of red (in my case) and beers and cider for the others! It was a passable repast, but nothing to write home about. we meandered on to a bar expertly detected by Lee’s Good Beer Guide ‘app’ on his mobile and enjoyed a few more tipples before rolling back to the hotel for 11.30pm and FA Cup football on the telly………… but I didn’t see much of it as the red wine saw me off!

Chinese mealfrom left:- Lee, Laurence, Eddie and Peter

Chinese meal
from left:- Lee, Laurence, Eddie and Peter

Comparatively early on Sunday morning found us all in the Wetherspoons for breakfasts of gargantuan proportions.Peter, who had spent the previous evening battling football conundrums, had become addicted and was wired into football lists via mobile google! We got to the ground good and early and I was surprised to find that it was close by a huge graveyard. My son, Michael quipped on “Facebook” when I posted the picture, that people were dying to get into Pittodrie! Another son, James, posted from Brentford where he had gone to see an FA Cup tie against Chelsea with his mate Jonny. The minnows done good, drawing 2-2 with The European Champions!

Sunday 27th Jan 2013 Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League  k.o:- 12.30pm

Aberdeen                          0                  Hibernian                     0

referee:- Craig Thomson                     attendance:- 7,184



What can I say about the game, except to say that it was a ghastly, abysmal excuse for a game of football. Laurence opined that Pittodrie was built on an area of Aberdeen where the police in former times spread the manure from their horses. There was that comparison in the quality of football which seemed to suggest that the match was played at an appropriate location! Aberdeen even contrived to have a penalty taken by Niall McGinn in the tenth minute, easily saved by the Hibernian custodian.


The view from our seat in The Main Stand.

The view from our seat in The Main Stand.

The Main Stand after the match was over.

The Main Stand after the match was over.

At least the ground itself was impressive. We had seats in the main stand, which had been constructed well over one hundred years ago and Laurence was particularly impressed with the quality of the latticed steelwork in the ceiling. The new stand behind the seaside goal end dominated the entire stadium and opposite the main stand, the away fans were congregated in one third of the seated area, but, such was the construction of the stand, almost the entire accommodation could be given up to away fans when, for instance, one of “The Old Firm” were in town.

Considering that it was one of the smallest home attendances of the season, we had surprising difficulty in getting away from the city after the match. We drove through the forbidding, dour, granite faced buildings and past a line of ocean going tugs and eventually found our way out on to the A90 which took us down to Dundee and Perth, but it was sometimes slow progress in drizzly showery conditions. We stopped at Tebay Services once again, south of Carlisle. This is a service station plus! There is a farm shop and quite a wide selection of food options, which made me wonder, rather too late, why I had chosen a cheese and onion panini to go with my mug of tea!

We rolled back into Rugby just on 10.30pm. It had been a long drive for Laurence, who must have been a tad tired. For me, it had been a brilliant weekend, despite the awful match at Aberdeen. The three guys had been excellent company, too and the weather nowhere near as bad as might have been expected. It was sad parting, but I hopped into my freezing car and was home by 11.15pm. Enjoyed a couple of substantial noggins of Dalwhinnie with Sky Sports News and hopped off to bed! Very satisfying!


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