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 The fans in the stand are silent

You could hear the fall of a pin

For the fabulous game just ended

And the tale that’s about to begin

Alan Ahlberg




13th May 2013 Athium Midland Combination k.o.:- 7.00pm
Division 1

Knowle                             1                               Archdale ’73                              2
Nic Oakley 38                                                                Jamie Insall 36 (pen)
.                          .                      .                     .                .Matt Hunt 45
referee:- R. Osborne                                                     attendance:- 26


It was a pleasant journey to the affluent Birmingham suburb of Knowle and I arrived with such time to spare that I could adjourn to the local hostelry for a fine pint of Brew XI before the match!


Sadly, the ground looked worn out and run down. It had great potential, with large swathes of unused land, mainly used for car parking. The club house had a bar and an excellent selection of cooked food. They even had a menu on each of the tables! There were no programmes, but I found it fairly easy to get lists of the teams, despite the home manager desperately tearing his hair out because he didn’t know which of his players might eventually turn up!


I met Alan from Fleckney, who had been at Cammell Laird last Friday and together we saw the match – from behind the goal in the first half, but then from a seat in the stand. Both teams were pretty well placed in the division, but in no danger of achieving promotion. Archdale ’73 were the better placed and probably just about deserved their win. The game’s lasting memory will be Joe Marcroft, from the home side, with his back to his marker, outrageously flicking the ball to one side and dancing round the other side of his opponent to collect and sweep upfield towards goal.


Tuesday 14th May 2013   Windsor Foodservice Central Midlands League  k.o.:- 6.30pm

Black Dragon South Division

Linby Colliery Welfare                   2                             Sutton Town                         5

Ashley Winfield 53                                                                            Gary Atkins 4

Baz Payne 88                                                                   James  Whitehead 33, 63, 78

.                                    .                                                  .       Nathan Holdsworth 43

Aaron Ryan s/o 43

referee:-  Craig Langton                                                               attendance:- 89


The promised rain arrived with a vengeance in the late afternoon and, after a taxing journey in rush hour traffic and avoiding an M1 closure, I only just got to the match at kick-off time! Needless to say, despite fifty programmes being printed, there were no programmes left! Chris, who was also there, had thoughtfully phoned ahead to make sure one was purchased for him! Was it only last night that I met Alan from Fleckney at Knowle? Well, he was here this evening, too!


Umbrellas aplenty in very wet conditions!

There were umbrellas a plenty as there was precious little cover at this quaint old ground, which nestled in the shadow of the parish church. Linby have plans to develop the ground and they hope that these will be in place by 2016. The plans involve re-siting the pitch nearer to the ground entrance, installing floodlights and building new changing and social facilities.


This evening, they entertained title pretenders, Sutton Town, who only needed a further seven points from their remaining four games to take the championship. The home side got off to a bad start, when an expert lob over their goalkeeper opened the scoring in the fourth minute. Linby had two attempts, each of which struck an upright, and then they fell further behind after half an hour. Just before half-time, they had Aaron Ryan booked for swearing and when he compounded his felony by allegedly calling the referee a c**t, he was dismissed and Linby fought the remainder of the match with ten men!

The precipitation continued and although Linby managed a goal at either end of the second half, they were a well beaten side at the end. I will be back to see the major improvements in 2016!

Wednesday 15th May 2013 Athium Midland Combination k.o.:- 7.00pm

Division 1

Hampton                      1                   Archdale ’73                         0

Sam Stokes 64

referee:- Sam Penhall                         attendance:- 31


Hampton-in-Arden has such a Shakespearian ring to it that one expected to find leafy glades and bejewelled courtiers at every step. That is not the case, however, Hampton play in Lugtrout Lane at The Field Lane Sports Ground and there was nothing remotely Shakesperian about their facilities.Notwithstanding, there was a large sports arena at which Hampton had only a small section, but what they had, they had very much made their own and had attracted a fair measure of support.




There were a couple of these small covered standing areas at the ground.

I was seeing Archdale ’73 for the second time this week, after their victory at Knowle on Monday evening. They are a team who hail from Worcester and are having problems with their landlord, which means that it might be a good idea to get down there next season before they have to find somewhere else to play! Hampton were much better opposition than Knowle on Monday and deservedly won the match with a goal midway through the second half. This was, however, much to the chagrin of my two companions, who were incensed at the violence of the language from the home dugout, which offended their idea of respect in football. “It happens here all the time,” they said, and I could believe them!



On Thursday evening, I drove all the way over to Darlaston in The West Midlands, only to find that the City Ground in Waverley Road was all shut and barred and that the match against Dudley Town had been transferred to the Saturday! 

Friday 16th May 2013  Windsor Foodservice Central Midlands League k.o.:- 7.00pm

Black Dragon South Division

Nottingham United                     0                  Sutton Town                2

                                                                                        Craig Mitchell 16

                                                                                      Craig Charlesworth 80

Dennis Hickey s/o 82

referee:- Mr. C. Hunter                                   attendance:- 91


Nottingham United play at The Bilsthorpe Playing Fields which are in the village of Bilsthorpe which is midway between Mansfield and Newark in north Nottinghamshire. Rob Hornby was there to greet the myriad hoppers who crawled out of the woodwork to see the latest episode in Sutton Town’s efforts to take the Black Dragon South championship. Programmes were late, but arrived in good time for the match. The rain arrived in good time too and with virtually no cover at the ground, umbrellas, as on Tuesday, were de rigeur.

This game had nothing of the drama of Tuesday evening’s encounter in Linby, nor were the settings and surroundings anything like as picturesque and charming as the ground at Linby. However, Sutton Town won at a canter, leading 1-0 at half-time, when their coach could be heard halfway across the county laying into them for a lack of effort and determination. The message seems to have got across, for the lead was doubled in the second half, United had a man sent off and Sutton moved inexorably closer to the title.


That was my two hundred and first match this season and my eighty-fourth new ground. Time is running out on this season and la grande denouement is gradually unravelling. Cricket is upon us and I find myself becoming more and more involved with scoring and umpiring matches, so that football becomes increasingly ephemeral and fleeting, but surely, there is at least one more grand hurrah?

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