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Bloody Tractors

Late again what do we do?
Traffic held up
another long queue
glance at your watch
nerves uptight
engine getting hot
flashing a red light.

Cars moving slowly
legs stiff and sore
radio blaring loudly
vibes hit the floor
Clutch up clutch down
brakes always used
shouting and screaming
people being abused.




Tuesday 11th March 2014 West Midlands (Regional) League k.o.:- 7.45pm

Premier Division

Ellesmere Rangers                                                          6
Matt Jones 3,
Matt Ryan 7,
Marco Adaggio 28, 58, 82,
Sean Griffiths 90+1
Wolverhampton Casuals                                               6
Bekir Halil 12,
Alex Hall 33 (og),
Matt Bailey 35,
Chris Henry 37,
Barry Evans 65,
Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell 74,
Referee:- M. Groves                                                          Attendance:- 43



Bloody tractors! Well, it wasn’t just the tractors, it was the nightmare journey from Hell! We already knew that the M6 was closed at Spaghetti junction after a lorry accident, so we headed off up the A5 to the M6 toll. Even that road was very heavy with traffic and when we came off , it was nose to tail at walking pace all the way to the A41. Thereafter, it was the plague of tractors that assailed us. It seemed that at every turn, a new tractor would turn up and we would have to wait in line for a chance to overtake! Finally, nearly three hours after setting out, we reached our goal, the small market town of Ellesmere in deepest darkest Shropshire.


No sooner had we entered the club house, a scant twenty minutes before kick-off, than we espied an official with team sheets and fell upon him like a pack of hungry wolves on a defenceless prey! To be fair, he was very accommodating and even copied out the away team sheet for us. We were able to enjoy a large hot cup of tea and a cheese sandwich before setting out for the icy wastes of the main stand!


Compared to the dreary irritation of the drive up, the game was a thoroughly entertaining and a pleasure to watch. If the previous three hours toil in awful traffic felt like three years, the ninety minutes of the match felt like ninety seconds as time flashed by and the goals flashed in!

The home side started like a train with two goals in the first seven minutes. Skipper, Bekir Halil pulled one back for the visitors with an explosive shot powering in from the right wing, but Marco Adaggio, with the first of his hat-trick, restored the two goal advantage before the half-hour mark!

Casuals were not fifth in the league for nothing, and whilst they may have been casual in defence, they were lethal in attack. They scored three goals in a four minute spell between the 33rd and 37th minutes and went into the interval with a 4-3 lead.

In the second half, after a quiet opening, Ellesmere drew level just before the hour. Back came Casuals with a two goal burst which put them 6-4 up with fifteen to play. Ellesmere have not enjoyed the most successful of seasons upon their return to The West Midlands (Regional) League after a spell in The Midland Football Alliance, however, they were nothing, if not resilient. With less than ten minutes to go, they halved the deficit and then, a thunderous drive in the second minute of added time saw them gain what was probably a deserved point.


It was breathtaking and it left us breathless. It was all over, or so it felt, in the twinkling of an eye and we were back on the road after a truly exhilarating experience, but the lateness of the hour did not preclude further traffic problems! First of all, the M54 was closed. Then, we found that the M6 had been closed, and then, to cap it all, the A5 joined the list of roads not in use for the night! I have to admit that I am not one of the world’s more patient drivers. It was probably a good thing that Graeme was there to keep a calming rein on my rising blood pressure. We were late getting back to Leicestershire and it was just before midnight that I found myself back in Northamptonshire!

Wednesday 12th March 2014  Chromasport & Trophies United Counties League  k.o.:- 7.45pm

Division 1

Burton Park Wanderers                                                    0

Carvell Jarvis s/o 76

Northampton Spencer                                                      0

Referee:- George Younger                                      Attendance:- 47


Kettering Town share this ground with hosts, Burton Park Wanderers. They have done some (minimal) upgrading on a very piecemeal basis, which has done nothing to improve the image of the ground. There were no programmes – which I thought was a touch daring, as Jeremy from the league executive was there! Team lists were easily available, however, and Mike, whom I had seen the previous week at Desborough was here for this match, too.


The last time I had been here was over twenty years ago (Saturday 6th April 1991: Hereward Sports United Counties League Premier Division – Burton Park Wanderers 2 Cogenhoe United 2 on a wet and windy day, when admission, including a programme was £1). The only other time I had been to Burton Park, was on 9th May 1989, when my son James was playing there in the final of The Northants Schools U-13 Cup. He scored the equalising goal against Wollaston, but his team, Lodge Park, lost to a goal in the final minute of extra time. James was devastated, but a year later at Corby Town’s Rockingham Δ, his brother, Mike, although under age, came on as a second half sub and ensured victory for Lodge Park School by the narrowest of margins agains Long Buckby.


This was not a match for the purists to savour! Northampton Spencer voluntarily chose relegation to Division 1 a couple of seasons ago, when their benefactor became fed up with players turning up for matches, taking the money and dashing away as smartly as they could afterwards. He believes that the club should have a social context as well as a sporting one and he has found greater satisfaction with players who want to be part of the club. This evening, it felt as if they would have laid down their lives for the club rather than concede a goal! However, with Burton being of the same tenacious character, a bruising encounter eneded goal-less, much to my chagrin after last night’s executing encounter!


 One of the ‘temporary’ stands dropped in by Kettering Town

They might have done better to improve the floodlighting!


Thursday 13th March 2014  Calor Southern League  k.o.:- 7.45pm

Division 1 Central

Daventry Town                                                                       0

Kettering Town                                                                      3

Josh Moreman 26,

Henry Eze 38,

Elliot Sandy 60,

Referee:- Mr Shaun Barry                                          Attendance:- 468


Tonight’s attendance (468) more than doubled the highest attendance from my  previous six visits and, if truth be told was more than the aggregate of their total attendance! Both of these teams were making good progress in The Calor Southern League Division 1 Central, although Daventry were already in a play off spot and with games in hand, whilst Kettering could get there if they won their games in hand!


It was a pretty misty night and even though I got there an hour early, the car parking was horrendous. I didn’t fancy paying £2 to get trapped in a big field, so I parked at roadside a couple of hundred yards from the ground. I reckon that the vast majority of the support for the match came from Kettering Town. They might be going through hard times, but they have a huge fan base and they sense the phoenix rising from the ashes!


I managed to get hold of a team sheet and filled in my jotter whilst talking to a couple of Leamington fans, who laughed off the rumour that the council were going to sell off their stadium in order to provide a site for travellers!


After a bright start, the home side proved very brittle. Perhaps they just had an off night, or maybe The Poppies have more strength in depth. both teams sported former Corby Town players (Tom Berwick for the home side and Josh Moreman for The Poppies) and both were substituted before the end. After this match, and despite a six point difference between them, I would still put my money on Kettering Town for the play-offs ahead of Daventry Town!


 The fog shrouds the club house with its balcony crammed with supporters.


Saturday 15th March 2014 Thurlow-Nunn Eastern Counties League k.o.:- 12.15pm

Premier Division

Norwich United                                                                               3

Ben Jones 21,

Gavin Lemmon 44,

Scott Woodgate 81,

Thetford United                                                                            0

Referee:- D. Stobbart                                                    Attendance:- 214


It was Eastern League ‘hop’ Day, but many hoppers were not happy with The Eastern League muscling in on the ‘hop’ action without a shred of consultation and with a naivety of organisation.


Graeme and I got to the ground before 11.15am for a midday kick-off to find that programmes had been sold out for over half an hour! It wasn’t much of a consolation to pay over the money for one and the promise that it would be sent out by post in the near future!


It was a pleasant day, but not overly warm and the Planter’s ground was an adequate stadium with new buildings at the entrance which housed changing rooms and an upstairs bar. The upstairs bar included a viewing area down the length of the pitch. Team sheets were available (one for each team) and these were hurriedly copied down before kick-off. So hurriedly, in fact, that I managed to copy the two teams in the wrong column and spent the first half recording goals against the wrong players until someone gleefully pointed out the error of my ways! I’m not the brightest star in the constellation!!!!


Besides there being a dearth of programmes, the game itself, kicked off fifteen minutes late because, we were told, the away team had forgotten to bring their football shirts! By half time, two goals down and with only one dubious shot on goal all half, you could be excused for wondering whether the errant football shirts had been a deliberate ploy! It wasn’t the best of games, but The Planters wrapped up the regulation victory with a third goal ten minutes from the end.


Saturday 15th March 2014 Anglian Combination   k.o.:- 2.30pm

Premier Division

Norwich CEYMS                                                                      3

Matt Adcock 32,

Brady Ledain 42,

Dale Rayner 63,

Caister                                                                                       1

Ashley King 67,

Referee:- Richard Pace                                            Attendance:- 26


We headed off to Swardesby immediately after the match, aware that we had only twenty minutes to kick-off due to the late start in the previous match. Then, when we got there, we drove all unbeknowingly right past the ground, following the vagaries of sat-nav which dumped us in the middle of a long lane going nowhere! Back we came and , sure enough, from the reverse angle, the Hilltops Sports Ground had a CEYMS sign at the entrance! All’s well that ends well. We got there before kick-off and met up with Jack, who, himself, had only just got there after similar sat-nav problems.


There are several pitches at The CEYMS Sports ground. On the nearest one, there was a reserve match about to start, but we trailed across the field to the far side beyond the cricket pavilion and collected teams from a couple of hoppers who had already jotted them down! CEYMS have a long and distinguished history. They were founded in 1888 and during the late 1930s, they even rose to the dizzy heights of The Eastern League, a league which had only been inaugurated in 1935. They had two seasons there, coming third from bottom in 1937/38 and next to bottom in 1938/39. After the end of the 1939-45 war, CEYMS elected to return to local football and in spite of being invited back in the fifties, that is where they have remained ever since!


This was only my second ever Anglian Combination match. The only previous match was on Wednesday 13th November 2013: Cromer Town 0 Dersingham 5 attendance:- 154. That was very different from today’s offering. Cromer charged an entry fee and had a programme. In addition, they had plenty of cover against the elements.


It was a good match! CEYMS were definitely the superior side and it was no surprise to hear that Caister were in relegation trouble. The home side had run in three goals before the visitors responded with a consolation goal twenty three minutes from time.


The sun shone and it was reasonably warm. It was good to meet up with Jack again. Perhaps we’ll be able to get to a few more games in his neck of the woods. It must be difficult to be a hopper if you live on the coast! Looking back to last week, I wondered how I would have managed being a hopper based in Ceredigion!!!!

Sunday 16th March 2014             Sky-Bet League 2               k.o.:- 3.00pm

Newport County                                                                         1

Lee Minshull 52

Exeter City                                                                                  1

Harry Worley 50 (og)

Referee:- Carl Boyeson                                             Attendance:- 3,159

464x344-badge536-1232090 This was the last of all the league grounds I had to visit. In fact, I have visited twelve grounds this season and all because they have new stadia. I had been to the previous ground in each case (Huddersfield Town, Chesterfield, Reading, Yeovil Town, Colchester United, Shrewsbury Town, Rotherham United, Wycombe Wanderers, Scunthorpe United and Cardiff City), but in the case of Newport County, I had never been to Somerton Park or Spytty Park (or, indeed, Moreton-in-Marsh).


The Bisley Stand (picture, courtesy of Newport County FC)


My son, James,  and I travelled down to Newport by train from Cheltenham. The train was an ancient two coach DMU which reminded me of “a dirty british coaster with a salt caked smoke stack, butting up the Channel in the mad March days”. It whimpered into Newport after an hour and a half’s journey which is usually covered in an hour. By now, the sun was out and it was really quite warm as we walked down across the bridge over The River Usk, but no sign of the suspension bridge!

Newport County are playing at Rodney Parade the home of Newport Rugby Club and also of the Newport Gwent Dragons. The last time I was here, I saw the Dragons in action (Thursday 17th November 2011: Amlin European Challenge Cup – Newport Gwent Dragons 23 Perpignan 13 attendance:- 5,160) and I sat in almost the very same seat in the very same stand! The locals, who seemed very knowledgeable, were telling us that, in the next ten years or so, if The Exiles can maintain their progress, then it will be they who own Rodney Parade and not Newport Rugby Club to whom both The Exiles and The Gwent Dragons pay rent.


We had pre-booked tickets, which was unfortunate, because the stand we had booked them in, The Bisley Stand, was facing directly into the sun! We didn’t go there straight away, however, because across a full sized pitch area adjacent to the ground, is the club house where we were able to acquire gargantuan helpings of curried chicken and chips and where Peter and Donald were already installed. Peter is on his annual pilgrimage to the homeland to tuck in as many matches as he can in the time he has allocated to him, so a match on a Sunday was a real bonus! Meanwhile, on the television, Manchester United were tamely surrendering to a rampant Liverpool in a match of three penalties all taken by the Liverpool captain, Stephen Gerrard. Two of them he scored, but the third rebounded from the foot of the post and was booted away to safety.


You can see from the above photograph that the pitch was in no great condition. The long strips are of sand, covering drainage trenches. The first half was dire, but the match improved in the second half. Peter had it spot on when he commented afterwards that it was the battle of the big men who were just content to hoof the ball away upfield  and skill was very much at a premium! The first goal of the game came from a defender who headed expertly into his own net just after half time to give Exeter City the lead. Barely two minutes late a goal mouth melee provided the equaliser for the home side and thereafter, it was merely a war of attrition, with little likelihood of either side gaining the advantage.

And so another week comes to an end with the extremes of play (juxtaposing 6-6 and 0-0) and, to be honest, some pretty poor photographs. It was good to meet up with Jack and Peter and Donald and even Dave, who was on Newport Station after the match, having made the trip over from Reading. His was the London bound train that we left at Bristol Parkway only to hear that there were delays at Swindon due to a fatality on the line. I hope he got home without too much of a wait!

Matches this season:- 167   New grounds:-  114

Matches this year:-  49    New grounds:- 28 





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