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From The Rock to Arsenal Ladies!

Tu es Petrus at super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversus eam

Matthew chapter 16 verse 18 (Vulgate)




Thursday 14th March 2013 Ryman Isthmian League k.o.:- 7.45pm
Division 1 North

Brentwood Town              1                      Needham Market                           0

Neil Cousins 82

referee:- Keith Yeo                                            attendance:- 54

It was quite a comedown to visit Brentwood Town for the very first time after the adrenalin flow and excitement of the weekend in Holland. I think it is a little rich to call it “The Arena” as it is quite the poorest ground I have visited in a very long time! There was cover behind one goal with a two-seater leather settee and a leather armchair at the back….but hardly inviting on a cold and wet evening.The stand, down one side, had restricted viewing and was not a welcoming environment and, as for the clubhouse, when I went up to ask for some sustenance, the girl behind the bar was so busy sending texts on her mobile phone that she totally ignored me!

Well, that’s the bad part, but on the positive side, programmes were included with the entrance fee and in the clubhouse, team-sheets were freely available on each table. The lady on the gate was very helpful and was even able to confirm the official attendance. The tea bar was prepared to make something not on their menu – a cheese sandwich – and I was very grateful for that.

The game was a war of attrition. Brentwood have a long backlog of fixtures to complete and are playing three, sometimes four, games in a week. Both teams were placed in mid-table and very evenly matched. The game “had 0-0 written all over it” until a piece of individual trickery in the final ten minutes settled it in favour of the home side. A draw would have been a fairer result!

Saturday 16th March 2013 Football League Youth Alliance k.o.:- 11.00am

Wrexham                            2                        Fleetwood                                        1

referee:-                                                               attendance:- 45

This was my first visit to a Youth Alliance fixture and I was pleasantly impressed by the standard of football. Graeme said that the morning youth fixture frequently eclipsed in quality the game to be seen in the afternoon and such was the case today. I hadn’t realised that The Glydwr University had actually bought out the Racecourse Ground, home of Wrexham FC and here were Wrexham Youth Alliance team playing their fixture at The University’s Colliers Park training ground in Gresford.

It was a good match. Despite the gulf in league status, Fleetwood gave as good as they got in the first half and even took a rather surprising lead. However, Wrexham gradually wore them down and deservedly took the points.

The Football League Youth Alliance U-18 North West Section

                                                                   P     W     D     L     F     A     Pts

1. WREXHAM                                     19     13      5      1     40 – 13   44

2. Preston North End                         19     13      2      4     53 – 24   41

3. Walsall                                           18     11      5      2    45 – 19   38

4. Rochdale                                        17       9      6      2    39 – 16   33

5. Burnley                                          17      10      1      6   46 – 27   31

6. Bury                                              17      10      1      6   33 – 33   31

7. Carlisle United                                17       8      3      6    35 – 24   27

8. Macclesfield Town                           18       7      6      5    25 – 21   27

9. Oldham Athletic                             18       7      3      8    22 – 25   24

10. Port Vale                                      18      6       5      7    19 – 22   23

11. Shrewsbury Town                         17      6       0     11   21 – 27   18

12. Blackpool                                      18      5      2      11   30 – 56   17

13. FLEETWOOD TOWN                      19      4       4      11   25 – 39   16

14. Morecambe                                  18      3       3      12   26 – 56   12

15. Tranmere Rovers                         17      2       4      11   24 – 35   10

16. Accrington Stanley                      19      2       4       13  22 – 68   10

Saturday 16th March 2013 Huws Gray Cymru Alliance k.o.:- 2.30pm

Cefn Druids                       0                        Conwy Borough                             1
                                                                                Anthony Miley 82
referee:- Martyn Trigg (Dysbarth)                attendance:- 92

Those of an eagle-eyed disposition may have noticed the lack of pictures so far in this week’s report! The two below were garnered from my Facebook page after I inadvertently wiped the disc on my camera of all two hundred and seventy-six photos, including ones from the above two games! It is a great pity, because the aspect of Cefn Druid’s newish ground is truly awesome! This is only the second or third season in their new ground, after Tesco’s built on their old ground and provided The Rock as a purpose-built stadium. It even has the car park marked out for a variety of games!

It is built into the side of a mountain with sheer cliff walls along one side. There are plans, Chris said, to build terracing into the cliff face and to paint the club motif on the side of the cliff. That would be truly spectacular. As it is, my photographs, sadly, do not do it justice


The Rock, Rock Road, Rhosymedre, Wrexham: home to Cefn Druids

As for the game itself, it was a tight, tense encounter of few chances, with the home side, in particular, looking bereft of ideas. A single goal, eight minutes from time, brought the visitors a victory that they just about deserved. Cefn Druids in second spot maintained their place despite the defeat, whilst Conwy Borough who have played two games more than their opponents moved up to within three points, but remain in third place. For such a high profile match, the attendance was disappointing!


It had been a long drive cross-country for today’s matches, but Chris, recovering from a dose of the ‘flu’, preferred to travel in style in his own limousine rather than tucking himself into the back seat of a very willing and gutsy Peugeot 107! My car, sadly is awaiting a new windscreen!

Tuesday 19th March 2013 East Midlands Counties League  k.o.:- 7.45pm

Radford                1               Borrowash Victoria                   0

Adam Mahl 82

referee:- K. Guise                          attendance:- 52


This was a first visit to Radford, in the heart of Nottingham, which was hemmed in by local housing, in a reputedly challenging area of the city. They are not enjoying the most successful of seasons and are currently rock bottom of the table! In their last home match against fellow strugglers, Ellistown, they crashed to a humiliating 2-8 defeat! This evening, missing one or two regulars, they looked like sure-fire cannon fodder for third placed Borrowash Victoria.


Despite some quirky sheeting behind one goal (and down one side), it was a homely ground with a small, but adequate bar, a covered standing area down one side and seating behind the goal. When the snack bar eventually got fired up, there was a fine selection of soups – we had broccoli & Stilton (well, I would have done if mine hadn’t been knocked over!) – and sausage baps very generously proportioned for £1.50.


Borrowash approached the game in a frame of mind which suggested that they felt it was only a question of how many they were going to win by. Their display was distinctly lack-lustre. The home team, whilst clearly inferior, gave everything they had and they deservedly snatched a very unlikely victory with a defender’s goal in the final ten minutes!


Wednesday 20th March 2013  EUFA Womens Champions League    k.o.:- 2.00pm

Arsenal Ladies                                 3                   ASD Torres                    1

Kelly Smith 23, Jordan Nobbs 49                             Sandy Maendly 71

Kim Little 63

referee:- Bibiana Steinhaus (Germany)            attendance:- 763


This was a real tour-de-force by The Arsenal Ladies team! They started hesitantly as if almost afraid to make a mistake, but very soon realised that they had the talent and the power to sweep aside a strong but wayward Sardinian side for a comfortable victory, despite a late goal from the visitors. Jordan Nobbs worked tirelessly in midfield and captain Kelly Smith showed flashes of brilliant incisiveness until her untimely departure from the field, after a brave defensive tackle in the twenty-third minute. Steph Houghton and Ciara Grant closed down the centre of defence and late on Gemma Davison several times ghosted past defenders down the right hand side to cause mayhem in the Italian defence.


Meadow Park, Borehamwood, home to Arsenal Ladies


Kelly Smith, The Arsenal captain and scorer of the first goal is carried off injured midway through the first half

Gilly Flaherty, whose day job is teaching at The John Donne Primary School in Peckham in south east London (where she is Sports Co-ordinator), had brought along a phalanx of her pupils, many of whom had designed their own placards emblazoned with exhortations such as “Go, Miss Flaherty!”. It was certainly good to see so many young girls keenly supporting football!


One of the posters produced by children from Gilly Flaherty’s school in Peckham

What really surprised me was how one-footed most of the players were. Even Steph Houghton, who started the match at left back, never touched the ball with her left foot! Rachel Yankey, who starred on the left wing, never knowingly used her right foot. Don’t get me wrong, they all played well, but I just wondered how much better they might have been if they’d had the same ability in both feet!


It was cracking entertainment and with the final to be held at Stamford Bridge on Thursday 23rd April, Arsenal Ladies still have a great chance of being there. My sister, Mary, a lifelong Arsenal fan,  has promised that if they do reach the final, she will come down from Lancashire to support them!

The 16.33 train from Elstree & Borehamwood took me back up north for my second game of the day!

Wednesday 20th March 2013           Blue Square Bet North           k.o.:- 7.45pm

Corby Town                                 2                        Solihull Moors                      3

Josh Moreman 8                                                         Gary Birch 22

Carl Piergianni 90                                                      Ryan Beswick 36

                                                                                 Darryl Knights 70

referee:- Martin Dexter                                        attendance:- 272


Going to watch Corby Town play football is becoming something of a masochistic experience! I don’t go very often and even then, it is almost always a night game. In the last half-a-dozen matches in which I have seen them play, they have lost five and drawn one. They are staring relegation down the barrel of a gun!


Youngest son, Liam , with Shumin Lim from Singapore, at Corby Town.

Two of my sons came to the match this evening – my youngest accompanied by a young lady from Singapore who was  sporting a Corby Town shirt!


Second son, Michael, displaying a fine array of chins

It was a cold bitter night!

Saturday 23rd March 2013 Ryman Isthmian League  k.o.:- 3.00pm

Division 1 North

Soham Town Rangers                       1                   Grays Athletic                     2

Neil Andrews 18                                                       Joe Sweeney 30, Jack West 49

referee:- Sean Feerick                                              attendance:- 209


SNOW! Lots of it fell last night (Friday) and Graeme and I had tentatively arranged to go down to Colchester United v MK Dons today, but the weather put paid to that idea, as that match was called off shortly after 10.00am. Eventually, we alighted on Soham Town Rangers who were confidently asserting on their website that their match definitely would go ahead! I met up with Graeme at the services at the junction of A1 and A14 and together we drove over to Soham. This was my fourth visit. Previously I had seen them play in The Eastern League, The Southern League and The Isthmian League, but for Graeme, it was a new ground.


Today’s match and, below, today’s teams!DSCN1327

There was a very healthy attendance. In fact, the attendance was higher than the combined attendance of my three previous visits! It included a vociferous following for the away team, but we noticed few, if any, of our fellow “hoppers”.


The game started off very scrappily. Second-placed Grays were forced back by sixth-placed Rangers and it was the home side who opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a rasping shot from the edge of the area. Grays had drawn level by the break with a far-post header after half an hour and the visitors took the lead early in the second half ,when the home goalkeeper fumbled a free kick and striker Jack West bundled the ball into the net. It was a lead they maintained and it drew them level on points with leaders Maldon & Tiptree with their tenth win in a row and they still have a game in hand.


The impressive stand with a door to enter through!


So I started in The Ryman Isthmian League Division 1 North and it was there that I completed this chapter, but in between, I had been to “The Rock” and also seen a majestic display of free-flowing, attacking football from Arsenal Ladies. Next weekend is the eagerly anticipated Baris Northern Counties East(er) Hop!



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