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Sweet Afton

Flow gently, sweet Afton! amang thy green braes,
Flow gently, I’ll sing thee a song in thy praise;
My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.

Thou stockdove whose echo resounds thro’ the glen,
Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den,
Thou green-crested lapwing thy screaming forbear,
I charge you, disturb not my slumbering Fair.

How lofty, sweet Afton, thy neighbouring hills,
Far mark’d with the courses of clear, winding rills;
There daily I wander as noon rises high,
My flocks and my Mary’s sweet cot in my eye.

How pleasant thy banks and green valleys below,
Where, wild in the woodlands, the primroses blow;
There oft, as mild Ev’ning weeps over the lea,
The sweet-scented birk shades my Mary and me.

Thy crystal stream, Afton, how lovely it glides,
And winds by the cot where my Mary resides;
How wanton thy waters her snowy feet lave,
As, gathering sweet flowerets, she stems thy clear wave.

Flow gently, sweet Afton, amang thy green braes,
Flow gently, sweet river, the theme of my lays;
My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.

Robert Burns (1759 -1796)



Mon 20th May 2013 Windsor Foodservice Central Misdlands League k.o.:- 7.45pm
Black Dragon North Division

Yorkshire Main                             3                              Thorne Colliery                   4
James Bythaway 53                                                            Darren Fell 23, 60
Lee Hinchcliffe 70                                                              Scott Rhodes 35, 78
Ashley Hunter 90
referee:- T. Knight (Retford)                                            attendance:- 40



“How many teams have you seen which begin with the letter ‘Y’?” was the question asked as I made my second visit to Yorkshire Main Miners Welfare in Eldington Lane in Doncaster. It was the same opposition as on my first visit just six years ago on one of Chris Berezai’s Central Midlands League “hops”.  This time, however, I was shocked to see the deterioration in the stadium. Floodlights had been added since my last visit, but the lovely fence which had surrounded the pitch had lost its steel chains and the concrete posts were pointing out of the ground like rotted teeth! There was no change at all to the club house which was straight out of a 1950s coffee shop. The whole area, including the cricket pitch and the social club (which was closed) had a genteel air of poverty and depression hanging over it. Very sad.


The fence at the back of the ground had a beer can on every point! We initially thought that it was plain litter, but were told that it stops the ball which might land on the pointed spikes from being punctured. Apparently several balls were lost this way until this ingenious solution was put in place!


This was Yorkshire Main’s last fixture in The Central Midlands League, a league which they had graced since 1998. Rising costs (especially for officials) and an increase in vandalism had brought the club almost to its knees. Next season, the young squad will ply its trade in one of the local Doncaster leagues.


The match followed a predictable pattern with comfortably placed Thorne taking a two goal league and although there were regularly pegged back, they were always clearly in control. Main had a very rotund and not very mobile number eight, who, nonetheless, could certainly ping the ball around with a fair degree of accuracy. They finished their season, however with twenty-seven defeats out of their thirty-two games and not a single league draw, a goal difference of -116 and four double figure defeats (0-16, 0-14, 0-12, and 3-11).


The answer to the question was – ‘six’ and they were:- Yeovil Town, York City, Yaxley, Yorkshire Main, Yate Town and Yorkshire Amateur.


Tuesday 21st May 2013 Athium Midland Combination k.o.:- 7.00pm
Division 1

Alvis SC                                       2                           Phoenix United                     1
Luke O’Kane 15                                                         Joe Lavill 35
Luke McKiernan 45
referee:- R. Pettipher                                               attendance:- 36


This was a real treat! Alvis SC are named after the famous sports car company (swallowed up by Rover, which became British Leyland in the 1960s, but now, again, operating under its own name and still producing performance cars, amongst other projects). The name “Alvis” was originally thought to have come from a combination of ‘aluminium’ and ‘vis’, the latin term for strength. The motor company were famous for their go-ahead engineering prowess. In fact, the chief engineer chose the name because it was easy to say in any language, but had no ulterior meaning. They were initially based in Coventry in Holyhead Road, but since their reformation, they have moved to Telford. The sports club is a lavish centre for football, cricket, tennis, bowls and other sports and the club house is a comfortable size with both snooker and pool tables. (I had to share the pool spoils with my middle son, Michael, at two games each, because he wouldn’t risk a decider!).


It was a pleasant, but cool evening and we were joined by Alan from Leicester  – we seem to be making a habit of bumping into each other! Alvis were champions, Phoenix United were mid-table and so there was nothing to play for, except that you wouldn’t have known that from the tenor and tempo of the game. Phoenix were up for it and the Alvis manager had a voice that rasped like a fog horn! The score was 2-1 to the home team at half time, and that was how it stayed!

Wed 22nd May 2013 Windsor Foodservice Central Midlands League k.o.:- 6.30pm
Black Dragon South Division

Holbrook St Michaels                   1                    Sutton Town                               3
Chris Saunders 90+3                                                 Andy Atkins 9
Andy White 53
Dale Gilliatt 83
referee:- James Oldham                                            attendance:- 147


I had seen Sutton Town a few times in the last fortnight as they attempted to overcome a backlog of fixtures and to become champions of their league. Tonight was the last of those fixtures and so close was the position between themselves and top team, Pinxton, that a draw would have been of no use to Sutton. They had to win. The neat and tidy rural surroundings of Holbrook St Michaels Mackney Road ground were set to best effect, bathed in evening sunlight and surrounded by the grounds of a country house with cattle in the adjoining field.


I might have been forgiven for thinking that this was a small eccentric stand…..but no, it was the team dug-outs!


Whereas this, on the other hand, was eccentric spectator seating

They didn’t last long in this contest, however, as Sutton took an early lead and never looked like surrendering it! With just under ten minutes to go, they had a three goal lead and the Pinxton fans who had come hoping for a helping hand from the home side, were drifting away disappointed. The Saints did score a consolation goal deep into added time, but it was Sutton Town who were champions with promotion to The Northern Counties East League.


Thursday 23rd May 2013 EUFA Womens Champions League  k.o.:- 7.30pm


Olympique Lyonnaise                       0                VfL Wolfsburg                               1

                                                                                       .  Martina Muller (pen) 73

referee: Teodora Albon (Roumania)                attendance:- 19,278


I went down to London by train and took a long journey by tube across to Fulham Broadway. Stamford Bridge hadn’t changed much since the days of Ken Bates, except that it was daubed in UEFA purple. It still screamed “Gimme yer money” and I was determined to spend nothing inside the stadium ……… except that the programme was £5.00!


Olympique Lyonnaise should have won this contest. They had not been beaten in open play for one hundred and nineteen matches (which suggests they lost a penalty shoot out or two along the way). They had silkily skilful players like Louise Necib and Sonia Bompastor, but they fell to the panzer brigades of Wolfsburg. They may not have had the skills, but they were bigger and heavier than their opponents!


It was all settled by a penalty late on. In the first half, a similar incident in the VfL penalty area had been waved away by the Romanian referee.In the second half she penalised Wendy Renard for what seemed to be an innocuous ball to hand incident and Martina Muller joyously smashed the spot kick home!

I didn’t stay for the presentation!

Sat 25th May 2013 New Coin Automatics West of Scotland Cup  k.o.:- 2.00pm


Glenathlon Athletic                     3                      Arthurlie                                       2

Ryan Miller 7,                                                        James Marks 44

Ross Robertson 14,                                              Stephen McKeown 55,

Angus Cochrane  80,

referee:- Colin Stevens                                       attendance :- 281


A round trip of 650 miles in a day was well rewarded by the beautifully appointed and neatly kept Loch Park ground in New Cumnock in Ayrshire, home to Glenafton Athletic. The fine weather helped to set it off at its best, but the solid terracing and impressive stand – and a large crowd – all bolstered the impression of solid stature in Scottish non-league football.


Chris and I had enjoyed a hectic journey up to Scotland, constantly impeded by slow traffic and a continual flotilla of motorised homes and cars pulling caravans! We reached the ground with a scant forty-five minutes to spare and they had programmes, a bar and an excellent tea hut which provided us with some much needed sustenance!


The game was an enthralling tussle after the home side had taken an early two goal lead and then found themselves a man short when Jack Steele was shown a straight red for an alleged two footed tackle on the away goalkeeper. That was just after Arthurlie had pulled one goal back and in the second half, they equalised after 55 minutes, but they couldn’t sustain their drive and were undone by a late Angus Cochrane strike which saw the home side through to the final!


The afternoon passed too quickly. On the way back, we stopped in Sanquhar and bumped into Andy, from Newcastle, who was ground-hopping at the local Kello Rovers (they lost 0-6 and didn’t issue a programme!). The M1 was closed at junction 28, but we took the A38 and I was able to decant Chris not long after nine o’clock and less than an hour later, I was home myself!



The brooding presence of the Presbyterian church looms above the main stand!

So now you know why you got that sickly sweet lyric from Rabbie Burns! The River Afton really did flow through New Cumnoch, though whether, Burns’ sweetheart ever went there is another matter indeed!


Your truly at the winning post?


Si finis bonus est, totum bonum erit

Football Hopper 2012/2013


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