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Beside the seaside, beside the sea!

There’s a famous seaside place called Blackpool,

That’s noted for fresh air and fun,

And Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom

Went there with young Albert their son.


A grand little lad was young Albert

All dressed in his best; quite a swell

With a stick with an ‘orse’s ‘ead ‘andle

The finest that Woolworths could sell.


They didn’t think much to the ocean

The waves, they was fiddlin’ and small

There was no wrecks and nobody drownded

Fact, nothing to laugh at at all.

From ‘The Lion and Albert’ by Marriott Edgar (1880-1951). The rest of the poem is at the foot of this blog




Friday 27th September 2013 Sky-Bet Championship k.o.:- 7.45pm

Huddersfield Town                                                                        1
James Vaughan 62 (missed penalty – 83)
Blackpool                                                                                          1
Ricardo Fuller 27
Angel Martinez s/o 83
referee:- Mr S. Mathieson                                                  attendance:- 12,337



When I was a student in Liverpool, nearly fifty years ago, there was a friend in our group called Jim Livesey, who had had a lung removed as a young lad and yet still smoked like a chimney. We used to play Bridge for a penny a point and even took part in all night sessions of ‘Brag’. He came from Blackpool and his mother ran a Bed and Breakfast and his greatest sporting passion was Blackpool FC. We went to see Blackpool several times, because I had a car – well, perhaps not a car, more of a battered jalopy. We drove down to Norwich to see a famous 1-0 away victory (30th November 1968 – FL Division II Norwich City 0 Blackpool 1(Rowe), attendance:- 15,179) and slept overnight in the car. I often wonder what happened to him, especially when I find Blackpool the opposition in one of those rarely attended matches in The Football League!


Notice the legs of the floodlight pylon in the top right hand corner!

This particular Friday evening, I had left in plenty of time to get there early, but due to impossible traffic conditions on the M1, I arrived with a scant fifteen minutes to spare and found a dodgy parking space which worried me all the way through the match, briefly considered joining the away supporters, but eventually got an ‘old man gonna die soon’ ticket for the lower tier along the side which saved me £10 and a programme for an extortionate £3!


Huddersfield Town 1 Blackpool 1

The stadium was a work of art! Giant, concrete, three legged triffids, comprised the floodlight pylons, one in each corner. The four stands were composed of semi-circular melon skins turned upside down. The whole was reached by what I perceived to be a kind of causeway which cut the ground off from the rest of Huddersfield, and the whole was lit with a fairy tale glow. It was wonderful to see by night!


The match was less of a spectacle. Two pretty ordinary teams slugged it out for an hour and a half without either side gaining the advantage! Blackpool were clearly the superior side and when they took the lead, midway through the first half, I suppose I believed that they would take the points. Huddersfield improved slightly after half time. They gained the equaliser on the hour, were awarded a penalty with less than ten minutes to go and gained the added bonus of a Blackpool player being dismissed. Sadly for them, James Vaughan smacked the penalty against (and over) the crossbar. The game ended tamely at 1-1.


Full Time

Not content with impeding my progress to the match, I found that the M1 had been littered with bollards when I eventually got back to it. It meant that TWO lanes were closed for quite a stretch. It was long gone midnight when I got home!

Saturday 28th September 2013 FA Cup with Budweiser k.o.:- 3.00pm
2nd Qualifying Round

Canvey Island                                                                                  2
Ashley Dumas 19
Spencer Bellotti 82
St Neots Town                                                                                 2
Lewis Hilliard 7
Edward Adjie 74
referee:- Mr Paul Yates                                                       attendance:- 256


This was a second visit to Canvey Island, the first in March 2008 was to see the ‘other’ team on the island, Concord Rangers. Once again, I seemed to get a slightly eerie feeling as we descended the causeway road that links the island to the mainland (although in reality, it is not an island!). There is a definite feeling of dropping below sea level and this is compounded by the frequent reminders of just how far below sea level the island is. At the ground, the sea wall behind the far end of the ground towers above the stadium. Indeed, heavy shipping in The Thames Estuary looks like it is floating in the clouds! There is a relative quaintness to the island. Many of the houses have an almost pre-fabricated appearance, and the street names are strangely ‘Dutch’ in derivation – a nod in the direction of the engineers who originally clawed this part of Essex back from the North Sea. This was counterpoised by the beautiful ‘bus depot quite close to the ground with its fine 1930s Art Deco styling. There was also a huge pub (The Admiral Jellicoe) quite close to the stadium which could probably hold half the population of the island.




I wasn’t particularly impressed with ‘The Prospects Stadium’. There was an uncovered high-stepped terrace along the whole length behind the nearside goal and covered seating for perhaps 500 along two thirds of one side of the pitch. The other side had a couple of boxed-in terraced areas and behind the far goal, there was some serendipitous terracing. It certainly didn’t have the feel of a former Conference Premier stadium (which it was until six or seven years ago). The sea wall which loomed menacingly behind the far goal did as much to inspire confidence as the sea defences of New Orleans!


Seating in a low roof stand down one side of the ground.


The two terraced standing areas opposite.

It was a good match. Two well- and evenly-matched teams fought out a rugged contest in which a draw was the eventual, and fair, result. Town drew first blood with a rasping shot from their best man, Lewis Hilliard. Mike Jones had a penalty saved in the nineteenth minute, but full back Ashley Dumas prodded the loose ball home for the equaliser. Town drew first blood in the second half with Edward Adjie’s seventy-fourth minute strike, but Spencer Bellotti squared the match up with less than ten minutes remaining and the teams will repair to The Hunts Post Community Stadium (what a mouthful), in St Neots on Tuesday evening for the replay!


Chris and Laurence enjoying the cup-tie

I had come down with Chris in his comfortable limousine, which had recently received pretty extensive (and expensive) surgery. Laurence was already there when we arrived. He was dining sumptuously at another hostelry on the island. During the match, they haunted the steep terracing behind the near goal, whilst I sat in the stand. It was pretty chilly and I wished I’d brought something warmer to wear!


The far goal with the sea wall rising behind it.

Tuesday 1st October 2013 Flying Press Hellenic Floodlit Cup

2nd Round

Thame United                                                                          3

Ben Connelly 26, Ollie Lynch 33,

Lynton Goss 48

Clanfield                                                                                     1

Jack Ellis 51

referee:- A. Dewar                                                      attendance:- 47


  This was an opportunity to see my grandson, Sonny, who lives in Chipping Norton and of whom I have not seen enough recently! Graeme and I met at Northampton Services and popped into Chipping Norton for a quick visit and then ploughed down the M40 to Thame. It was dark when we got there but not dark enough to hide a very pleasant and spacious town centre where we enjoyed a bag of chips!


The ground  was a surprise! It was only three years old and had been designed and built, with the help of pretty hefty grants from football and other sporting charities, by the same company that built The Milton Keynes Stadium. Thame have occupied their new, £3.1 million, home since December 2010. The official opening match against Oxford United drew a crowd of 1,382 to the stadium. There are eight pitches, a floodlit 3G training pitch and an 8,000 square foot club house, It still looks crisp and new and all the staff were very helpful with team news and official attendance!


It was a pretty good match, too. Clanfield are one division below Thame in The Hellenic League, but for the first half hour, it was they who piled the pressure on and they were unlucky not to score. Two goals, in a five minute spell, just on the half hour mark, by the home side, put them in control, but Clanfield continued to threaten. Just after half time, a third United score was almost instantly followed by a Clanfield response and that completed the scoring. Both teams contributed to an entertaining encounter!


I think I had taken so many pictures of my grandson in Chipping Norton, that when I got to The ASM Stadium, I found that I had completely run down the battery in my camera! Consequently, all the above photographs are from The Thame United FC website!

Wednesday 2nd October 2013      FA Cup with Budweiser    k.o.:- 7.45pm

2nd Round Qualifying REPLAY

Corby Town                                                                    5

Tom James 38,

Tom Berwick (pen) 55,

Brad-Lee Gascoigne 62

Nabil Sharriff 76,83

Mickleover Sports                                                          2

Karl Demidh 10

Nico Degirolamo 80

referee:- Mr Nigel Smith (Bourne)                    attendance:- 228


The new stadium at Corby, the third in their short existence, having been founded in 1948, lacks atmosphere.  This is especially so when the crowd is relatively small, as it was this evening. Indeed, the away support made much more noise, especially after their team had taken a tenth minute lead! I watched in stony silence for most of the first half as the home team were comfortably held at bay, by a team who came next to bottom of The Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 South last season.  They equalised on 38 minutes, but still looked vulnerable.


In the second half, it was a different story as The Steelmen gradually wore down their opponents. After the penalty on 55 minutes, which put Corby in front for the first time in the match, there was a mini-avalanche of three goals in twenty minutes, with a second goal from The Sports to make the final scoreline a tad more respectable. Never mind the scoreline, however, The Steelmen never looked in control of this match and will need to play a lot better if they are to make further progress in this seasons competition!


They used to charge £2.00 for a programme, but now it is only fifty pence. It used to be standing room only in the bar, but now they have installed a set of round tables and chairs. There is talk of an improved bar and refreshment facility like they used to have in the upstairs bar. I bought a programme. No, I mean an extra programme, as well as the match day programme! I saw this programme for a match on Saturday 13th December 1975 in The FA Cup 2nd Round. I realised that I had been at that game thirty eight years ago. The programme cost ten pence THEN. Tonight I had to pay fifty pence for it and that probably represents a cheaper price than would have been paid on the day! The match was between Coventry Sporting (who no longer exist) and Peterborough United and it was played at Highfield Road, Coventry. Peterborough United won 4-0 in front of 8,556 spectators on a still, cold, dull, December afternoon. It was only the 462nd game I had ever been to!

The Lion and Albert by Marriott Edgar (cont.)

So, seeking further amusement,

They paid and went into the zoo,

Where they’d Lions and Tigers and Camels,

And old ale and sandwiches too.


There were one great big Lion called Wallace;

His nose were all covered with scars –

He lay in a somnulent posture,

With the side of his face on the bars.


Now Albert had heard about Lions,

How they was ferocious and wild –

To see Wallace lying so peaceful,

Well, it didn’t seem right to the child.


So straightway the brave little feller,

Not showing a morsel of fear,

Took ‘is stick with its ‘orses ‘ead ‘andle

And pushed it in Wallace’s ear.


You could see that the Lion didn’t like it,

For giving a kind of a roll,

He pulled Albert inside the cage with ‘im,

And swallowed the little lad ‘ole.


Then Pa, who had seen the occurrence,

And didn’t know what to do next,

Said ‘Mother! Yon Lion’s ‘et Albert’,

And Mother said’Well I am vexed’.


Then Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom –

Quite rightly, when all’s said and done –

Complained to the Animal Keeper,

That the Lion had eaten their son.


The keeper was quite nice about it;

He said ‘What a nasty mishap’.

Are you sure that it’s your boy he’s eaten?’

Pa said ‘Am I sure? There’s his cap!’


The manager had to be sent for.

He came and said ‘What’s to do?’

Pa said ‘Yon Lion’s ‘et Albert,

And ‘im in his Sunday clothes, too.’


Then mother said, ‘Right’s right young feller;

I think it’s a shame and a sin,

For a lion to go and eat Albert,

After we’ve paid to come in.’


The manager wanted no trouble,

He took out his purse right away,

Saying ‘How much to settle the matter?’

And Pa said ‘What do you usually pay?’


But Mother had turned a bit awkward

When she thought where her Albert had gone.

She said ‘No! someone’s got to be summonsed’ –

So that was decided upon.


Then off they went to the P’lice Station,

In front of The Magistrate chap;

They told ‘im what happened to Albert,

And proved it by showing his cap.


The magistrate gave his opinion

That no-one was really to blamee

And he said that he hoped the Ramsbottoms

Would have further sons to their name.


At that Mother got proper blazing,

‘And thank you, sir, kindly,’ said she,

What waste all our lives raising children

To feed ruddy Lions? Not me!’


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