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From The Sublime to The Sunday League Division 3

Lord Finchley

Lord Finchley tried to mend the Electric Light
Himself. It struck him dead: And serve him right!
It is the business of the wealthy man
To give employment to the artisan.

Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)




Saturday 5th October 2013 William Hill Scottish FA Cup k.o.:- 3.00pm
2nd Round

Gala Fairydean Rovers                                                                               0
Clyde                                                                                                           3
Kevin Watt 60
Michael Daly 77
Stuart McColm 90
referee:- Mike Taylor                                                                            attendance:- 705


It is one of those places that evokes mystic dreams of Scottish football. The very name suggests elves and gnomes at the bottom of some Scottish glen. They have never actually been in the Scottish League, but since the dawn of time, they have been knocking Scottish League clubs out of the Scottish FA cup! In 1969, they won 1-0 away at Stenhousemuir. In 1981 it was Cowdenbeath after a replay and in 2001 it was the turn of Stirling Albion who were beaten 1-0 at Netherdale.



These days, Gala Fairydean Rovers play at Netherdale at The 3G Stadium. The surface is akin to that at Sutton Coldfield Town, but the stadium is much more handsome and impressive, with a listed concrete stand which probably holds upwards of 1,000 spectators and gently inclined grassed banking on the opposite side of the pitch. The town has a history of two football clubs – Gala Fairydean and Gala Rovers. At the end of last season, they amalgamated for a second time and the combined team is known as Gala Fairydean Rovers.


The stadium is a good twenty minute walk from the town centre as we found to our cost when we decided to leave the car in the car park and to go and find something to eat! An enterprising mobile stall holder would have made a killing today! Inside the ground, a very kind steward went off to find me a team sheet. The stand was crowded and anticipation hung in the air like dreams of a first kiss with a new girlfriend!


Clyde – ‘The Bully Wee’ – have suffered of late, not just losing their ground, but also the burning down of their club house some ten years ago. They are hoping to relocate nearer to their roots in the coming season. They have fared even less well on the field. In the 70s they were regulars in the top tier of Scottish football, but today, they inhabit its lower reaches. Today was their day, however, for after a turgid first half, Fairydean eventually succumbed to the gulf in class and shipped three goals in the final half hour and yet another Scottish League club scalp evaded capture!


It had been a long trip up north and it seemed even longer on the way back, but I did manage forty winks in the back of Chris’ comfortable limousine as he ate up the miles to Nottingham!

Sunday 6th October Leicester Sunday League k.o.:- 10.30am
3rd Division

The Alliance                                                                                                 3

George Creasey (3 – 1 pen)

Palmerston Athletic                                                                                     5

Jack Foley (2), Josh Sole,

Samuel Gill, Andrew Culver
referee:- Dumisani Papaya                                                                   attendance:- 8

I decanted Charlotte at Leicester Station and saw her safely onto the 10.10 York train. She was going to visit daughter, daughter-in-law and grand daughter in Derby for a bit of a girls day out and I would collect her off the 18.16 train this evening. That left me with a free day and I made the most of it. I travelled to The Meadow Park Sports Ground in Leicester Road in Countesthorpe, because I knew that there was an afternoon match of some interest. I was pleased to see two teams warming up on the adjacent pitch to this afternoon’s match. Having fortified myself with a coffee from the club house I went over to watch the morning match!

These two teams play in The middle region of The Leicester Sunday League and I am not going to pretend that the match oozed class or skill. However, there was wholehearted endeavour and a game that ebbed and flowed and could have gone either way. The home side had lost their opening three matches – two of them at home, whilst the away side were snapping at the heels of league leaders, Athletic Oadby Reserves!

There was no doubt that Palmerston were the better side, but the home team stuck to their task and it was only in the final fifteen minutes that Palmerston stamped their authority on the maych and eased away into an unassailable lead.

Division 3

POS P  W D  L  F A  +-  PTS
1 Athletic Oadby Reserves 4  4 0  0  29 3  26  12
2 Palmerston Athletic 4  3 0  1  24 7  17  9
3 DYP United 4  3 0  1  11 12  -1  9
4 Beaumont Town Reserves 5  2 1  2  10 14  -4  7
5 Buddha 4  1 1  2  12 13   -1  4
6 Syston Rangers Reserves 2  1 0  1  14 3  11  3
7 Western Park Rangers 2  1 0  1  6 7  -1  3
8 The Alliance 4  0 0  4  8 17   -9  0
9 Piper United Reserves 3  0 0  3  1 39  -38  0

There was a very interesting performance from the referee. he had some pretty fiery temperaments to deal with and more than once I felt a player had gone too far and overstepped the mark, but no action was taken. He did make one or two decisions which were either brave or foolhardy. He awarded a penalty to the home side for an infringement seen by nobody but himself and totally ignored the blandishments of the away team and didn’t give a penalty seen by everybody but himself!. Justice prevailed in the end and the better team won. The Alliance, however, are not as bad as their precarious league position indicates. I expect that they will climb out of trouble!

Sunday 6th October 2013 Women’s FA Cup k.o.:- 2.00pm
2nd Round Qualifying


Oadby & Wigston Dynamo Ladies                                                                    4
Eve Lomasney 5
Sophie Tew 15
Sarah Vaughan 74
Amy Offler 82
Long Eaton United Ladies                                                                                   5
Hayley Armstrong 19, 80
Jodie Hancock 31
Shannon Ryan 85
Chelsey Wright (og) 88
referee:- Min Gupta                                                                                  attendance:- 29


Oadby & Wigston Dynamo Ladies share their pitch with Magna 73 FC of the Leicester District League

And so, to la piece de la resistance, the icing on the cake (la creme de la creme?), or so I thought. The afternoon match on the main pitch at The Meadow Park Sports Ground, pitted the home team against a team from a higher level in this 2nd Qualifying Round of The Womens FA Cup. Hannah Randon, from the home team, had produced a programme for the fixture which was bright, cheery and informative, AND it was free!


There was a very much smaller crowd there than I had anticipated. I had only ever watched ladies football at the level of Arsenal Ladies in Europe, and I realised that I was expecting too much. Those supporters who were there were mainly relatives of the players and about a third of them had travelled from Long Eaton! The referee and his two assistants were all men. Oadby have regrouped after a disastrous campaign last season and have started their season brightly. Long Eaton, however, as the higher ranked team, were expected to win.


As in this morning’s match, skill was at a premium, but there was no lack of enthusiasm and determination from either side. Eve Lomasney, the home side’s strong and forceful winger, smashed in an unstoppable shot after five minutes and Sophie Tew, the manager’s daughter, deftly lifted the ball over the keeper to send the home side into raptures and a two goal lead after only fifteen minutes. By the half hour mark, Long Eaton Ladies had drawn level and deservedly so. It stayed that way until a frantic last quarter which brought five more goals, the last of which, an own goal by Chelsey Wright, who had defended so well, edged the tie in the away team’s favour. They march through to the next round. The home team, however, can hold their heads high after a gutsy performance which so very nearly pulled off a shock victory. It was entertaining stuff!

Tuesday 8th October 2013 Johnstones Paint Trophy     k.o.:- 7.45pm

Southern Section 2nd Round

Wycombe Wanderers                                                                2

Billy Knott 8,

Matt Bloomfield 26

Bristol City                                                                                  1

Brendan Moloney 56

referee:- D. Whitestone                           attendance:- 1,279 (349 away supporters)


Graeme and I met up at Blisworth, just off the A43 and he took over the driving down to High Wycombe, which was one of the ‘league’ grounds we hadn’t visited. I did visit Loakes Park in December 1988, when Chorley got an unlikely 1-1 draw in The GM Vauxhall Conference (as it was then). We got there devilishly early, nearly two hours before kick-off. The gates from Loakes Park are still there, guarding the entrance to a steep car park, which is free, apparently, if you get there early enough! The ground was at the end of a cul-de-sac in an industrial estate. One long road led up to it and I imagine that on league match days, it would take quite some time to disentangle the traffic!



As it was a Johnstones Paint Trophy match, prices were slashed. The cost of a programme dropped from £3 to just £1 and entry for a ‘gonna die soon’ old man was £10, whilst young Graeme was forced to pay full whack – £12. The tall stand on the far side of the ground had only its hospitality suites open and we had seats in the main stand on the near side of the ground. The seats were definitely suited to the more svelte supporter, and the chap next to me, moved to a vacant, adjacent seat to give us both more room! I spent some time unearthing team sheets before the match, only to find that when I got back to the bar, they were being handed around to all and sundry!



The match was a good one and ‘The Chairboys’ were facing opposition from one division higher. Whether Bristol City had brought their most potent force, we never did find out. However, Wycombe on the back of consecutive league defeats, were determined to get back to winning ways and scampered around like hungry terriers right from the start! They were rewarded with an eighth minute goal, which settled their nerves, and a second, mid-way through the first half and by half-time, Graeme was convinced that the final score would be 4-0! The Robins introduced a couple of second half substitutions immediately after the break and this had the effect of turning the match into a contest! They pulled a goal back on 56 minutes and were a much livelier outfit than the lacklustre side of the first half. They couldn’t gain the equaliser to please their large travelling band of support, try as they might, and Wycombe just about deserved to advance to the next round.

Wednesday 9th October 2013 Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup  k.o.:- 7.45pm

2nd Round

Penistone Church                                                                       0

Sheffield                                                                                     4

Joel Purkiss 3

Reece Littlejohn 45+1

Richard Stirrup 71

Mark Fereday 73

referee:- Paul Tomes (Sheffield)                                    attendance:-


As you drop into Penistone on the north side of Sheffield from the M1, you can see the small town of Penistone nestling in the valley with the twelve or so arch viaduct which carries the (still extant) railway towards the front of your view. The Memorial Ground is situated half-way up the opposite bank of the dale and is a fairly basic stadium with minimum seating but is well maintained and is ideal for this level of football.

I arrived early and gauged the weather and the temperature and girded my loins with scarf, hat and gloves. It was going to be a cold evening with a biting wind!


The match, for some unfathomable reason commenced fifteen minutes late and the away team pounced immediately and were a goal to the good inside three minutes! To be fair, they were considerably higher up the pyramid than their opponents, finishing last season in mid-table in The Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 South. The home side plied their trade last season in The Sheffield and Hallamshire League, finishing in third place in the highest division and gained promotion to The Central Midlands League. There was some controversy, I believe, over their possible promotion to The Northern Counties East League. That never came about, but they are already applying for a position in that league for next season.


Penistone were never really in this game. I understood from the healthy contingent of away support that Sheffield had brought a very strong side, and they had little difficyulty in disposing of their lower league opponents. The home team had plenty of determination, ambition and courage, and might have scored on more than one occasion, but this was not their night, although they contributed mightily to the entertainment value. That included a ferocious shot which missed the goal, but demolished my carefully placed cup of hot chocolate!


It had been a cold night and a long journey (more than 100 miles each way) but I was glad I came. Everyone at the club couldn’t have been more helpful. I had team names and other information as soon as it was to hand and I enjoyed a warming chip butty and a (second) cup of hot chocolate to ward off the worst of the cold!

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