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Bloody Weather

A Paradox

I wish the weather-cock would crow
To let his fellow chickens know
That weather’s fair for maids and men,
Fowl weather is for cock and hen.



Monday 13th January 2014 Calor Southern League k.o.:- 7.45pm
Premier Division

St Albans City                                                4
Jamal Lowe 48,
Kerrea Gilbert 55,
John Frendo 62,
Steve Mowthorpe (og) 68,
AFC Totton                                                    2
Luke Roberts 50, 88,
referee:- Oli Dolton                                  attendance:- 266


For my fourth visit of the season to Clarence Park, I chose to go by train, changing at Luton for the First Capital Connect Service and I found the journey relaxing and certainly as cheap as going by car! It was raining as I departed the station, but it was a mere ten minute walk to the ground where I arrived just as the away team coach drew into the stadium car park!


It was a pretty filthy night and AFC Totton, the visitors had made the long journey from Hampshire with little hope of success. They were stranded in the bottom three with a big six point gap from safety! St Albans, on the other hand were vying for a play-off spot at the other end of the table.


The first half was a finely balanced affair with neither side able to gain the upper hand. AFC Totton gave a good account of themselves and stories of recent away victories seemed to suggest that a corner may have been turned in their wretched season. Twenty minutes at the start of the second half saw St Albans score four times to dispel that myth and although Totton pulled one goal back during that period and a second two minutes from time, they were a well beaten side at the end.


My train rolled into Kettering Station at 23.18 and half an hour later I was home. Needless to say, I had taken advantage of the warm welcome awaiting me in The Saints Bar, but left enough room for a couple of tots of Famous Grouse before bed!

Tuesday 14 January 2014 FA Carlsberg Trophy k.o.:- 7.45pm
3rd Round Replay

Chorley                                                           2
Jake Cottrell 27,
Andy Teague 90+1
Tamworth                                                      2
Nick Chadwick 10,

Wayne Thomas 61,
after extra time. Tamworth won 6-5 on penalties.
referee:- A. Holmes                                      attendance:- 1,393

Chorley is in the centre of Lancashire, home of Henry Tate who gifted The Tate Gallery, funded from his sugar empire, Tate & Lyle, to the nation. It is in the heart of ‘The Little Lake District’, where late in the nineteenth century a series of reservoirs were created at Anglezarke and Rivington to quench the thirst of the growing millions in Manchester and Liverpool. Lord Leverhulme (who made his fortune from soap), built a folly and a beautiful Chinese Garden, and my grandad, playing bridge one day in the nineteen-thirties, found himself holding all thirteen hearts in his hand, his partner had thirteen diamonds and their opponents each had thirteen of spades and clubs!

Graeme and Chris were supposed to accompany me for this visit to my home town club, but Graeme had to call off at the last minute, so perhaps we will have to wait until the next time that Bradford Park Avenue visit Victory Park before he makes his first visit to the Mecca of non-league football!!! It was nearly two years since my last visit (Saturday 28th April 2012 Evo-Stik NPL Play-offs Semi-final Chorley 0 FC United of Manchester 2 attendance:- 2,754), but it was also my 165th visit to Victory Park, my most visited ground!


The weather was foul. Just as we crossed the Pennines at Holmfirth, on The Woodhead Pass, the heavens opened and the rain didn’t really clear until after midnight. The pitch looked very heavy and I could imagine what it might do to part-time players, especially with the additional half hour of extra time.

The main delicacy at Victory Park is the butter-potato pie and I treated Chris and myself to one each with mushy peas. There were plenty of the pies in evidence, which indicated the expected attendance, but by half-time, they were all gone! My brother, Michael and brother-in-law, Allister were already there, making what was, for them, a very occasional visit!


I don’t think it would take very much to bring Chorley’s ground up to league standard. There had been improvements since my last visit. The terraced area opposite the main stand had been cordoned off from the grassed banking behind it. However, it was still open to the elements and umbrellas were a necessity for the hardy souls who patronised that section of the ground!


The game was a bit of a slog. The conditions deteriorated and great strips of turf were ploughed up as the game wore on. Tamworth more than held their own and it took a last gasp strike by captain, Andy Teague, in the 91st minute to keep Chorley in the match. Extra time produced no further goals and the penalty shoot-out took eight penalties from each side before Tamworth finally pulled clear at 6-5. Their reward was a trip to Grimsby Town in The Quarter-finals. For Chorley, there was the small matter of a match at home to league leaders, Skelmersdale United*, at the weekend. Apprehension was in the air after this stamina sapping defeat!

On Wednesday evening, I drove all the way down to Welwyn Garden City for a match. I did check on the club website before I left (and the league website), but when I got there, all was shut and barred and … dark! “Match is off!” said a voice from the Stygian gloom. I reversed my car and drove home! Bloody Weather!

Saturday 18th January 2014 Uhlsports Hellenic League  k.o.:- 3.00pm

Premier Division

Newbury FC                                                        2

Bradley Jenner 71,

Carl Jenner 86,

Cheltenham Saracens                                    1

Jack Oldham 32 (pen),

referee:- Ben Williamson                         attendance:- 56


I met my son and his wife and my grandson, Sonny, in the cafe on West Street in Chipping Norton. They were mid-breakfast and after the latter two departed for a spot of retail therapy, James and I sped on our way down to Newbury, confident that, in the event of the match being called off due to the weather, we would not have far to travel to Reading for a Sky-Bet Championship match!


Flooding in evidence at The Newbury FC car park!

Newbury is on The Kennet and Avon Canal (you can just see some long boats on the canal in the picture above). In the Middle Ages it was a prosperous market town trading substantially in cloth. The English Civil War put paid to that (and to the nearby Donnington Castle!). Nowadays it is a small town (maybe 35,000 people), just off the A34 about five miles south of the M4.

We lunched appropriately, at “The Narrow Boat”, just down the road from Newbury FC’s Faraday Road ground. There was a pool table and naturally, whilst awaiting our repast, battle was joined across the green sward. After four games, honours were even at 2-2 and there was sadly no time for a decider. We moved into the stadium which had a car-park which you had to pay for by the hour!


The single main stand (and the only ‘cover’) at Newbury FC

The ground is completely enclosed, but is reached by a corridor from the club house, bar and changing rooms. There is one stand, a quite substantial seated stand along one side. Otherwise, there is no cover, but there is hard standing all around the ground. This is the second reincarnation of the club in the last ten or fifteen years. The present club was formed in 2002 and have reached Hellenic League Premier Division status in the last three years or so.


They are not, however, enjoying the best of seasons. They lie third from bottom with four wins, six draws and seventeen defeats in the league this season. They have also played three games more than the pack they are chasing! Today, they were playing Cheltenham Saracens who are some eight points better off from seven fewer games.


James, ‘Master of all he surveys’, but with a nasty dose of nasopharingitis

The stage was set for a fairly close game, but , in my opinion, Cheltenham Saracens were the more likely team to gain victory. How wrong I was proved to be, but not in the first half which Saracens totally dominated and really ought to have had more to show for their efforts than the solitary penalty in the 32nd minute.

Saracens continued to hold the whip hand in the second half, but were stung by two goals in the last fifteen minutes which were a little against the run of play, but full marks to Newbury who kept plugging away and reaped the reward!


After the match we took in the results in the club house and the awful news that Bolton Wanderers had shipped seven goals at Reading! That had been our back-up match! How very glad we were that it didn’t rain! Then we sped back up  the A34 to Chipping Norton ….. but Mum and grandson were still in retail therapy, and I didn’t get to see them again!


Games this season – 127   new grounds – 90

Games this year – 9          new grounds – 4

* Saturday 18th January 2014   Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Chorley  4 Skelmersdale United 1 attendance:- 1,968. The week ended well, then!!!!

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