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FA Vase Weekend

Brian, brilliant header.
Now let’s see if you can do it again
At their end

Yes, and another thingI

know your dad’s an expert

I can hear him

We can all hear him

But take no notice – right?

If I’d wanted to play you through the middle

I would not have picked you

At left back.

From “Team Talk” by Allan Ahlberg



Friday 6th September 2013 FA Carlsberg Vase k.o.:-7.45pm

1st Round Qualifying

Yaxley                                                                         1
Rob Hughes 50 (pen)
Peterborough Northern Star                               2
Nick Davey 43
Billy Smith 45+2
referee:- Wayne Bright                            attendance:- 244


Yaxley FC – “The Cuckoos”

The last time I was here was on a balmy Friday evening, three weeks ago, in The FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round. The same two teams were playing this evening, but this time, the tournament was The FA Vase. It was noticeably cooler on this occasion, but a similarly large attendance had gathered for the local Friday evening rivalry!


The evening drew in much more quickly and Yaxley Parish Church loomed large on the horizon like a giant Martian spaceship from Wells’ “The War of The Worlds”. Yaxley have progressed significantly since they moved to Leading Drove just shy of twenty years ago. They have made extensive improvements to the site, and the large well appointed club house is a splendid addition to their facilities. I met up with ‘Splodge’ a fellow hopper from Portsmouth who was up for the weekend and taking in a Saturday match, also in The FA Vase, out at Debenham Leisure Centre.

In the first half, the match followed a similar pattern to the first encounter. The Star were well on top in the first half, but left it late before turning their dominance into goals, scoring in the 43rd and two minutes into added time at the end of the half. The second half, however, was a completely different kettle of fish!


Something was obviously communicated to the home players during their half-time cuppa. In the second half, they came out off the starting blocks like hungry hyenas. In the fiftieth minute they  pulled a goal back with a well deserved penalty and yet, as the half wore on and chance after chance was created, one had the feeling that this wasn’t going to be their night, and so it proved to be! It must have been galling to go out of two national cup competitions to local rivals, especially after the verve they displayed in the second half of this tie. They deserved at least a replay!


Saturday 7th September 2013  FA Carlsberg Vase  k.o.:- 3.00pm

1st Round Qualifying

Chichester City                                                 3

Josh Case 24, Fraser Smith 36, 65

Cray Valley (PM)                                             5   aet

Lewis Wood 6, 63 Michael McKenna 54

Tunde Aderonna 98, Jamie Wood 99

referee:- Graham Matthews                      attendance:- 72

Chichester City

The last time Phil and I met up was in Waltham Abbey at the pub with no ale! This time we were both going to Arundel for a cricket tournament and we stopped off in lovely Chichester on Groundhop Day for an FA Vase contest. We went into ‘The Bulls Head” opposite the market, which ‘Splodge” had recommended the previous evening and lo and behold, a real ale paradise, with a vast selection of breweries and beers. Sadly, however, I was to miss out again. In September, every year, I take one hundred days without alcohol. Something I have done for years, but it couldn’t have come at a worse moment! Phil, naturally took no pity on me and drank a fine pint of ale on my behalf! We also tasted the local delicacy which was from a choice of different textured sausages in a bread bap. We both had lamb sausages with lavender, which were really quite tasty.

Chichester City

You can see The Chichester Festival Theatre between the club house and the floodlight stantion

Chichester City play at Oaklands Way which is a large tennis centre adjacent to the internationally renowned Chichester Festival  Theatre.The theatre was undergoing extensive renovation, and, in the meantime, a large white, ball shaped tent had been erected so that productions could continue. Both of these edifices were within easy view from inside the ground. The ground itself was extensively developed in 2010 with a grant from The FA. Hard standing has been put in on all four sides of the ground, a 2.5 meter perimeter fence erected, the car park has been re-surfaced and turnstiles installed. Finally, a two storey club house has been built.

The Nags Head Stand

“The Lilywhites” have not enjoyed the best of starts to the season and are currently last but one in the top division of The Sussex County League with two draws and two defeats from their four games. They also lost heavily (1-8) at home to Chessington & Hook in the earliest round of The FA Cup! On the other hand, Cray Valley sit midway in the newly formed Southern Counties East League (formerly The Kent League). They have drawn one and lost one at home, but on their travels, they have won two and drawn one! “The Millers” were formed in 1919 as an offshoot of The Nash Paper Mill in Eltham and they continued to be supported by the family business until 1980. They led a nomadic existence for a while, but retained the paper mill association and finally returned to Eltham to play at Badgers Hill.

Chichester City

The new two storey club house

The match ebbed and flowed with Cray Valley always seemingly in control, but frequently pegged back by their hosts. At full time, the two teams were locked at 3-3, but in extra time, spurred on by their inspirational and incisive captain, Jamie Wood, The Millers opened up a two goal advantage and could even afford the luxury of having a penalty saved, to run out, deservedly, 5-3 victors after a very enjoyable contest.

Tuesday 10th September 2013 Molten Spartan South Midlands League k.o.:- 7.45pm

Premier Division

Colney Heath                                            4

Kev Ashwood 32, Matt Standen 64 (pen)

Glen Draper 75, Aaron Clarke 89

Leverstock Green                                     0

referee:- Lee Jessup                            attendance:- 43


It was wet and drizzly on Tuesday evening as my son, Mike and I drove down the A1 to Colney Heath. When we got to the exit off the dual carriageway, I thought I was back at London Colney, where, if you come down the A1, you have to go back up the M1, because there is no way to cross the central reservation!

Laurence tells me that there are three ‘coal posts’ in Colney Heath, but I didn’t see them. Apparently, ‘coal posts’ were the markers for the imaginary line encircling London where imports of coal from the north were liable to  tax up until the year 1890. Colney Heath has one of the most northerly of these posts!


There wasn’t much to see at the ground. A small car park and a large fenced in field with a club house down one side with an awning of around fifty covered seats along half of the pitch. Even the roof of the awning leaked and seats had to be chosen carefully. There was, however, generally a very friendly atmosphere and team lists were freely available, Englands ghastly performance against Ukraine was portrayed on large screen and soup and a roll or corned beef and onion baguettes were to be had at the bar. Michael ploughed into the larger like a hermit back from forty days and forty nights fasting in the desert! He actually came out for the first half an hour or so, but once he had worked out how to watch the game more comfortably from inside the bar and keep an eye on the England game, too, I didn’t see him until yards of lager later at the finish! For me, it was day eight of my annual one hundred days without alcohol!


It was a pretty murky night!

The game was embarrassing for the away side. Fresh from a 6-3 drubbing in the FA Vase at Winslow last Saturday, they came into this game one place off the bottom of the league with one win and five defeats from their opening six games. Their hosts sat comfortably in sixth position and crushed them with imperious disdain. Not at any stage did they look less than comfortable. Indeed, they hardly moved out of second gear and really ought to have notched more than the four goals they did score. They even left out leading scorer, Matt Standen, who did enter the ‘fray in the second half and scored a penalty.

Despite the roadworks, we managed the seventy-two miles back to Northamptonshire in just on the hour!



Wednesday 11th September 2013 Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League k.o.:- 7.45pm

Premier Division

Brantham Athletic                                 4

Simon Mann 7, Edward Nobbs 66,

Sean Gunn 87, Alex Drennan 88

Wivenhoe Town                                      1

Ben Connell 33

referee:- Daniel Cook                           attendance:- 52

One hundred and seven miles along the A14 (and five or six of miles down the A12) is the village of Brantham, close to Manningtree in Essex. It was another filthy night and when I got there, I found that I had forgotten to go to the bank and I only had the coins I normally keep in the car for car parking fees. It proved to be just enough for an old man’s entry and a programme!


The horse in the club badge represents the Palfrey horses, which, during the middle ages, occupied the land upon which most of the village is now built. Palfreys were the most expensive and highly bred type of riding horse. The bridge that runs across the club badge symbolises the bridges that can be found at the north and south boundaries of the village!


The club has been in existence since 1887, when a plastics company in the east end of London suffered a massive explosion and re-sited its works to the then leafy glades of Essex. Most of the early teams were drawn almost exclusively from employees of the company.

Tonight’s match in the drizzle was not entirely as clear cut as the score suggests. Brantham were the better side. Indeed it was like comparing carthorses and thoroughbreds. However, in the first half, the visitors fought back gamely after going behind to an early Simon Mann strike. They went in at the interval on level terms and held out until just after the hour when Edward Nobbs restored “The Blue Imps” lead and then, two goals in the final three minutes sealed the visitors fate.


The one hundred and twelve or so miles back to Northamtonshire increased substantially when I found that the A14 had been closed at Huntingdon! There had been no warning and I was forced to take a long detour into Lincolnshire via Stamford to get home just before midnight!

It was well worth the visit, though!







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