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The Magic of The FA Cup (with Budweiser!)

Abou Ben Adhem

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room
Making it rich like a lily in bloom,

An angel writing in a book of gold;-

Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
“What writes thou?” – The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord
Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still and said,I pray thee then,

Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night,
It came with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.

Leigh Hunt (1784-1859)




Friday 16th August 2013 FA Cup with Budweiser k.o:- 7.45pm
Extra Preliminary Round

Yaxley                                          0                    Peterborough Northern Star             3
.                 .                 .                 .             .             .Billy Smith 61, 71,
.                   .                .                 .             .             .Nick Davey 68
referee:- Christopher Steele                                     attendance:- 292


Yaxley chose well to bring this FA Cup match forward to a balmy Friday evening, rather than a rainswept Saturday. I have never, in eight attempts, seen Yaxley win at home and this evening under the biggest crowd I’d ever seen at Leading Drove, against local and fierce rivals, Peterborough Northern Star, it all went wrong for them again!


Peterborough Northern Star are relative newcomers to The United Counties League. Formerly Eye United, their present name recognises their historical roots in the brick-making industry. The club was originally formed from the workers at two brickyards, The Northam in Eye and The Star in Peterborough.



one of two new covered standing areas at the ground

The away team dominated this match and could have had it all wrapped up before half-time. They were stronger and more determined than their rivals, who, in their turn, had little idea of how to break their opponents down. Many in the large crowd were drifting away well before the end!


I met Martin (“Spud” to his mates) from Ashford in Kent who had made the trip up on a day off from keeping Britain’s railways moving smoothly.

Saturday 17th August 2013 FA Cup with Budweiser k.o:-3.00pm

Extra Preliminary Round

Gorleston                                 2                        Deeping Rangers                            1
Zac Clarke 79                                                           Simon Ashton 16
Christy Finch 90+4
referee:- Mark Potkins                                           attendance:- 102


Graeme and I met at Thrapston Services on The A14 and drove together the 130 miles to Gorleston, just south of Great Yarmouth, for this, my second FA Cup encounter of the weekend.


The Gorleston ground at Emerald Park in Woodfarm Lane looked pretty impressive for a team in the lower reaches of The Thurlow-Nunn Eastern Counties League. It was fully enclosed with concrete terracing all round and roofed on three sides. There was a strong sense of “green” about the place, as though someone had commandeered a job lot of dark green paint and plastered the stadium with it! This is another stadium under threat. The owner was Jimmy Jones, a former director of Norwich City, but he died about eighteen months ago and his son, who runs amusement arcades in the town, apparently wants to sell the ground to finance a large casino. There is talk that if ever the moment arrives, the club will move across the road into a playing field complex.


Their opponents were Deeping Rangers from The United Counties League and for eighty minutes they were so imposing that it really was a surprise that they were only one goal to the good! They played so well that the home side hardly mustered a shot on target. They lost their way in the last ten minutes or so, especially after conceding an unlikely equaliser. Then, deep into stoppage time, Christy Finch smacked home an unstoppable shot from the edge of the area and even the possibility of a replay was dashed from Rangers grasp and they went home empty-handed, when they should have been marching into the next round!


We met with Paul from Dagenham who had come up for this match by train and at the end, we gave him a lift back to Great Yarmouth Railway Station.

Monday 19th August 2013  Midland Regional Alliance   k.o.:- 6.30pm

Premier Division

Allestree                   4                           Wirksworth Town                        3

Gaz Annable 29                                        Toby Howard 20, 36, 80

Ben Gibson 33

Steven Bills 53

Tom Gibson 65

referee:- Howard Thomas                  attendance:- 32


This was a match I very nearly didn’t get to see at all! I’d been surfing the net to see if there were any cheap rail fares around and noticed that The Allestree football ground was directly adjacent to Duffield Railway Station and at £13.05 return, the journey was considerably cheaper than going by car! When I reached the station, I found that the footbridge only led away from the side of the station where the ground was! I stood staring at a long line of six-foot-high, steel-pointed and topped railing, which reached into the distance in both directions and was preceded by a lush undergrowth of nettles, rosebay willow herb and thick brambles. I could see the football pitch, nets billowing in the gentle evening breeze, just over the railings, but I couldn’t get to it!


You can see in the distance, the cricket pavilion with a pitch on either side of it!

There was nothing for it. I decided to cross the track under the steely eye of the station cameras and to try to cut a pathway through the undergrowth to the fence. Scratched, cut, hot and bothered, I eventually made it to the fence, only to find that there were no footholds and that six-foot-high nettles stung my hands, as I tried to grasp the top of the fence. On the other side I spotted a club official and shouted for help, but all he could tell me was to go back to the station and make my way through the town and use the underpass about a mile along the track and then access the ground via the road.


The fateful green door which locked me in the changing rooms!

Had I done that I would have missed the first half hour of the match! John, Dave and Brian, three football hoppers from The West Midlands came gallantly to my aid. They had chosen this match – like me – quite by happen-chance, and, indeed, had only met each other a few minutes earlier. They sprang into action and brought a couple of empty beer barrels over for me to stand on – not very elegantly – and then to step onto the top of the railing and – with heart in mouth and not at all confident of success – I made the leap across to the lush and unforgiving undergrowth on the other side! There was much laughter – and relief from me – as we retrieved the beer barrels and walked across to the match.

As if that wasn’t enough, I was in one of the spare changing rooms, copying the teams into my notebook from lists supplied by the referee, when I heard the teams going out and shortly afterwards the officials followed them and finally, having returned the team lists to the officials room, I made my way to the exit also. When I got there, the big steel door to the outside world was locked!!!!

Fortunately, someone heard my strident pounding on the door, which sounded like the eschatological cymbals to me, but apparently were only just audible outside, and I was let out, just as the match commenced!

After all that adventure, I might have expected the actual match to peter out into a dull 0-0 draw, but not a bit of it! It was a good match and very evenly balanced. Allestree had lost their opening encounter of the season at home the previous Saturday, and today, they were determined to make amends. Meanwhile, Wirksworth, perhaps more famous for its lingerie factory, were equally determined to inflict further misery on the home side. The visitors opened the scoring, but by half-time, the match was nicely balanced at 2-2. Allestree stretched away in the second half and led 4-2 before, Wirksworth pulled a goal back with ten minutes left and that was how the match ended.


The station with NO ACCESS to Allestree FC


Rattling good entertainment, but no programmes! John, from Gornal, took me back in his car to the station and I enjoyed a pint in the local hostelry prior to an uneventful journey home!

Tuesday 20th August 2013 FA Cup with Budweiser k.o.:- 7.30pm

Extra Preliminary Round Replay

Hartley Wintney                                       5                  Kidlington                   2

Shane Hollamby 44,55,89                                              Tommy Castle 5

Jack Coventry 78                                                                Lewis Coyle 13

Chris Williamson 90+5

referee:- Paul Andrews                                                     attendance:- 120


A first view of Hartley Wintney’s compact arena 

I was really lucky to get a very cheap rail ticket to Winchfield from Kettering (£15.85). I couldn’t have done the journey more cheaply by car! It did however, entail a 15.27 train up to London St Pancras, followed by the tube down to Waterloo and the 17 23 Basingstoke train which decanted me at Winchfield at 18.18. My journey didn’t end there. I had calculated that there still remained a two mile journey on foot to The Memorial ground, but then I found ‘a way through the woods’. It was about a mile of completely straight track through the woods which came out directly adjacent to Hartley Wintney football ground!


The ground is fairly basic but – a nice touch – there were floral hanging baskets along the pitch side of the clubhouse! the game started at 7.30pm to accommodate the local householders who don’t like the floodlights. What would they do, I wondered, if there were extra time and penalties? Kidlington were up for it and, speaking to a couple of the players dads, before the start, they really felt that the team were coming out of their poor early season form and had a real chance in this tie.


They started the game like an express train and were two goals up inside a quarter of an hour. Their pint-sized strikers caused mayhem in the home defence and they really ought to have rammed home the initiative with a couple more goals! On the stroke of half-time, however, disaster struck as the home side, who had been beginning to stage a recovery, pulled a goal back, through the first of a hat-trick by Shane Hollamby. That was the turning point of the whole match.


In the second half, the home team piled on the pressure and were rewarded by a further four goals, which put the tie well beyond the Oxfordshire side who deservedly lost, but perhaps didn’t deserver the scoreline. The final goal from  Chris Williamson came in the fourth minute of added time, after he had come on as a 90th minute substitute!


So there was no extra time and I was able to catch the 22.05 from Winchfield after a hair-raising walk back through the woods in the dark – occasionally punctuated by knee high lights and after the hour’s journey and the tube from Waterloo, I had a forty-five minute wait for the 00.15 from St Pancras and that train wheezed its way asthmatically up to Kettering for 01.45 and it was after 2.00am when I got home!


Wednesday 21st August Chromasports & Trophies Peterborough & District League k.o.:- 6.30pm

Premier Division

Uppingham Town                                3                     Riverside                              0

Will Thomas 62                                                                  Wilkins Makate s/o 59

David Laughton 64 (pen)

Andrew Sayers 84

referee:- Alan Mutton                                                           attendance:- 51


Living less than four miles from Uppingham, I suppose that I ought to have been here before. Well, I have actually. I went there on Sunday 22nd April 1990 to watch my son (then aged twelve) score three goals for Kingswood in a 5-0 away victory in The Stamford and Rutland League. The following Sunday, he went one better, scoring four times in The Stamford & Rutland Cup Final when Kingswood trounced Bourne HR by 9-2. He also received the league top scorer award for his 59 goals that season!


This evening it was an early season league match and after an opening day home victory by 2-0 over troubled Oakham United, this second match initially proved more challenging. Indeed, by half-time it had earned the ominous soubriquet “it’s got 0-0 written all over it!”.


Uppingham play in the centre of town at the eccentrically named “Todd’s Piece”. There was a good crowd for this level of football and one gentleman, who told me he lived just over the road, had brought his own summer chair. “Been working in a factory all day, it’s a lovely evening and it’s great to get out,” he said. The home team did him proud. They opened the scoring in the 64th minute and barely a minute later, the unfortunate Wilkins Makate was sent off for handling the ball off the goal line. The resultant penalty was scored and a final goal was added in the final ten minutes for a comprehensive victory. Martin Turiccki, the home number ten was the stand-out player.DSCN1892

Matches this season:- 22 New grounds:- 19

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