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The End of The Year

Dad on the Line


I’m playing in this big game
New kit, great pitch
Proper goals with proper nets
All of a sudden
With rattle and scarf
And a flask of tea … there’s Dad
Come on, my son! says Dad
Square ball! says Dad
We are the champions! says Dad
Que sera, sera.



 I’m playing now in a bigger game
Brand new ball, managers in dugouts
Proper linesmen and a proper ref.
All of a sudden
With our dog on a lead
And a meat pie … there’s Dad.
Come on you reds! says Dad
Up The Rovers! says Dad
We’re going to Wem-b-ly! says Dad
Que sera, sera.



And now the biggest game of all
Changing rooms with sunken baths
Proper turnstiles and a proper stand
All of a sudden
With his mates from work
And a giant photograph of me …  there’s Dad.
Offside! says Dad
Foul! says Dad
That’s my lad out there! says Dad
Que sera, sera.


by Allan Ahlberg (1938 – )


Wednesday 25th November 2015 k.o.:- 7.45pm

Southern League Division 1 South & West

North Leigh 1

Morgan Williams 17

Evesham United 2

Clayton Green 10

Adam Mann 58

Referee:- Dave Wootton (Cheltenham) Attendance:- 99
Admission:- OMGDS £4.50 (£9)          Programme:- £1             Match:-116

Always a pleasure to visit Eynsham Park, friendly officials, free team sheets and, usually, a lively game of football! This evening, high flying North Leigh were given a footballing lesson by their lowly opponents, who were generally the better side throughout. They scored in the first ten minutes and were unlucky to concede a fortuitous equaliser from a shot which took a substantial deflection on its way into the net. The scores were level at half time, but Evesham and their influential midfielder, Carl Browne, continued to run the show in the second half, claimed a second goal just before the hour mark and took the points and a richly deserved, if unlikely, victory!

Thursday 26th November 2015 k.0.:- 7.45pm
Molten Spartan South Midlands League Division I

Hatfield Town 5

Tom Masrdue 23,

Emmanuel Chitongo 51,

Jimmy Cook, 62, 74,

George Florence, 87,

Brimsdown 1

Fernando Ramos 81,

Referee:- Stuart Beekman                              Attendance:- 28 (h/c)
Admission:- £5                                                Programme:- included

This game brought the hoppers out and maybe 30% of the attendance comprised of non-league enthusiasts! Hatfield were their usual disorganised selves, in their great ramshackle stadium with both a running track AND a cycle track round the outside of the pitch, but very friendly and helpful with it! Alan from Leicester and Andy from Lavenham joined me and we saw a spirited encounter in which the visitors, who had much the better record, were given a right royal thrashing by lowly Hatfield. Perhaps Brimsdown were unable to muster a full complement of first team players for this fixture on a Thursday evening, but whatever, the hosts made the most of their opportunities and gained a convincing victory. The referee started both halves of the game late and the contest finished at twelve minutes to ten!

Friday 27th November 2015
Ebac Northern League Division 2  k.o.:- 7.30pm

Thornaby 2

Nathan Steel 44,

Gary Mitchell 58

Billingham Town 1

Craig Hutchinson 49,

Referee:- Dave Carr                    Attendance:- 90
Admission:- £5                           Programme:- £1

In the hinterland of the North-East, evening games start at 7.30pm, there is no “Premier” Division and no “Championship”, just straightforward Division 1 and 2. Add to that the substantially reduced incidences of dissent AND the complete lack of over-reacting to physical contact and the game becomes much more of a spectacle and much more enjoyable! Teesdale Park may look a little tired and careworn, despite the attention lavished on it over recent years, but the welcome was positive and warm and Jack and I who met up with Paul and Adrian, certainly enjoyed our first visit to Thornaby!

Saturday 28th November 2015
North-West Counties League Division 1 k.o.:- 3.00pm

Whitchurch Alport 1

Stephen Watkins 77,

Cheadle Town 4

Luke Hincks 9,

Liam Tongue 38, 56,

James Goram 73,

Referee:- Anthony Ball                                Attendance:- 43
Admission:-  OMGDS £3 (£5)                  Programme:- included

This is Alport’s first season in The NWCL. The name comes from a local farm, near Whitchurch, where Coley Maddox, a local footballer, who was killed in WW2, grew up. The club have spent most of their seventy years or so in the lower echelons of local soccer, mainly in The Cheshire League, but more recently in The Mercian Regional League from where they were promoted last season after coming fourth in The Premier Division. Their claim to fame is that they were the last team to carry The Welsh Amateur Cup out of Wales (1973/74). This season, they are finding life difficult in The NWCL and are one place from the foot of the table. Cheadle Town, meanwhile are flourishing in third place, a couple of points off the top. The gulf in class was obvious from the start as the visitors scored twice in each half in very heavy conditions and with rain lashing down. It was good to see Graeme at a football match again for the first time since October and here’s hoping that his recovery continues apace! As the rain continued to drape the area and the darkness fell with it, the two churches , so close together in the town, provided a wonderfully atmospheric backdrop to the match!

Tuesday 1st December 2015
Midland League Premier Division k.o.:- 7.45pm

Loughborough University 3

Alun Webb 45, 82,

Simon Revseay 90+2,

Heanor Town 1

Kieran Debrouwer 39,

Referee:- Andrew Ellis                                         Attendance:- 114
Admission:- F.O.C.                                               Programme:- F.O.C.

It was rather a surprise to find that, not only was entrance free, but so was the programme! Apparently an earlier match between the two had been abandoned and free entry promised when it was played again! The hosts do ply their trade in the Shangri-la of non-league football. This is a very impressive stadium with terracing all round and a stand for around 250 spectators giving a wonderful view. However, as Laurence said, it wasn’t quite as exciting as ploughing round some of the mud heaps that many non-league clubs have to contend with! The visitors were flying high in second place whilst the hosts were down in the nether regions of the division, but a draw was a fair result after each side had been ahead.

Saturday 5th December 2015
Ryman Isthmian League Division 1 South k.o.:- 3.00pm

Ramsgate 1

Joe Taylor 30,

Worthing 1

Lloyd Dawes 86,

Referee:- Matt Goldsmith                         Attendance:- 207
Admission:- OMGDS £5 (£9)                  Programme £2

With John at the helm, the three hundred and sixty mile round trip from Leicestershire was in the realms of magic carpets! I hadn’t quite realised how far it was across Kent to Ramsgate! We had a really friendly welcome and the ground is a mixture of neat and tidy stands and covered terraces and prefab add on club houses and directors rooms. The seats in the main stand came from the old Wembley – and they were more comfortable than your average fare! Below the main stand is a changing room facility which has never been used – too cold down there, they say! These two teams stand third and second in the league and it was always going to be a tight affair. The Rams held the advantage at the interval, but a deserved equaliser four minutes from time, meant that the points were shared – and we all, Chris, Jack and me, hopped back into John’s car for the journey home!
This season –        Matches:- 122                           New grounds:- 69







Tuesday 8th December 2015
Abacus Lighting Central Midlands League
Phoenix Trophies Floodlit Cup 2nd Round k.o.:- 7.45pm

Sherwood Colliery 4

Lee Easom 26, 62,

Liam Black 29,

Julian Topliss 31,

Southwell City 0

Referee:- David Hunt                               Attendance:- 29

Admission:- £3                                        Programme:- £1
This season –            Match:- 124          New ground:- 70

This sports complex at Mansfield Woodhouse also hosts rugby and cricket and there has been some development of the football stadium, but it seems that a lot more is planned. At present only one side has hard standing and a small covered area hosts a bench to seat, perhaps, a dozen spectators. The club house is extensive and welcoming – particularly on a cold night like tonight! The hosts made heavy weather of this victory. They could and should have scored more goals against a weak opposition.






Wednesday 9th December 2015
Chromasport & Trophies United Counties League Cup
2nd Round – k.o.:- 7.45pm

Rushden & Higham United 1

Sam Fowler 40,

Oadby Town 7 (seven)

Kevin Charley 5,

Ollie Brownhill 11, 21, 24, 28, 62, 90,

Referee:- Vincenzo Byatt                                    Attendance:- 27
Admission:- £5                                                     Programme £1
This season –                  Matches:- 125              New grounds:- 70

The old condemned stand is still … standing, but there appears to be some scaffolding around it. Is there a chance that it may yet be redeemed? It was a cold night, but a sparkling double hat-trick from Ollie Brownhill, the Oadby number 11 enlivened proceedings. He scored the first four of his goals in the opening half-hour, including two penalties as the lower division hosts were overwhelmed in this match! They never stopped competing, however, even when the visitors went down to ten men on 84 minutes, having used up their only substitute and having a man injured! Ollie Brownhill’s final goal came in the ninetieth minute to round proceedings off!





Saturday 12th December 2015
Midland League Division III – k.o.:- 2.00pm

Alcester Town 7 (seven)

Matt Layton 35, 40, 86 (pen),

Matt Trinder 50,

Nick Dance 54,

James Robbins 65,

John Beacham 88,

AFC Solihull 2

Tom Lawry 17,

Callum Howles 32,

Referee:- Ryan McIlravey                                    Attendance:- 32
Admission:- F.O.C.                                               Programme:- £1
This season –                      Matches:- 126          New grounds:- 71

You had to feel a little sad for poor old AFC Solihull. Rock bottom of Division III, with but one point from twelve games, they actually took a two goal first half lead in this match, but then, their world fell apart. Firstly, influential skipper, Grant Dodd was sent off in the 38th minute and then, two quick strikes from the hosts, saw the sides level at the interval. The weather was wet and very squally and in the second half, the home side laid siege to Solihull’s goal and scored at regular intervals, whilst the visitors lost players to injury and having only two substitutes, were forced to play the last five minutes with nine men, when the host’s final two goals were scored. This is Alcester’s second or third home over the past decade or so and the covered area behind the goal was formerly the pitching point for a golf driving range. The welcome was wonderfully warm, programmes and team sheets were produced and, despite the weather, it was an enjoyable and entertaining afternoon’s play.






Saturday 19th December 2015
Huws Gray Cymru Alliance – k.o.:- 1.30pm

Gresford Athletic 4

Mike Latham 7,

Owen Roberts 57, 70,

Jack Mountford 79,

Holyhead Hotspur 2

Mike Kelly 35,

Owen Kenleigh 56,

Referee:- Mike Gray                                                 Attendance:- 47
Admission:- £3                                                         Programme:- £1

Such a pretty village despite the low drifting clouds the driving rain and the mud! The football team play at the second tier of Welsh football, but their stadium would be hard pressed to make step six in The English Pyramid. Even so, the welcome was warm and the officials were friendly and very helpful. These two teams are becalmed mid-table and early in the second half, with the scores level on 1-1, a home defender was dismissed for a second bookable offence and five minutes later his team conceded a second goal. It looked bleak for the hosts, but they came roaring back into the match with an immediate equaliser and a further two goals from the ten man side wrapped up the points and the victory.






Saturday 19th December 2015
Dafabet Welsh Premier League – k.o.:- 5.15pm

Rhyl 1

Connor Bell 3,

gap Connahs Quay 2

Wes Baynes 84,

Sean Miller 90+7,

Referee:- Tom Williams                                        Attendance:- 212
Admission:- OMGDS £5 (£8)                              Programme:- £2.50
This season –                    Matches:- 131              New Grounds:- 73
Poor old Rhyl, fighting in the relegation zone against mid-table Connahs Quay. They played an excellent first half, grabbed an early goal, could have had more. In the second half, it looked as if they had been told to hang onto what they had got. Gradually, they were pushed back. They defended meanly and it wasn’t until the 84th minute that the visitors were able to fashion an equaliser. The referee put on an incredible ten minutes of added time and in the seventh of those minutes a wicked deflection from out on the right wing somehow ended up looping into the net over a bemused goalkeeper and spectators heads looking for a corner to be awarded!


DSC01420 DSC01421



Monday 21st December 2015
FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round – k.o.:- 7.45pm

Sutton United 2

Dan Fitchett 44,

Ross Steara 63,

Concord Rangers 0

Referee:- Ashvin Degnarain                                        Attendance:- 351
Admission:- OMGDS £5                                              Programme:- £1.50
This was my first visit to Gander Green Lane in twenty-six years. It was also Sutton United’s first season of artificial playing surface and already, AFC Wimbledon Ladies have signed up to use the stadium for home matches, as have newly formed Sutton Common Rovers (Combined Counties). This match was a “re-played” fixture ordered by the FA, I was told, after Concord fielded an ineligible player in the first match at Concord which they won 3-1. The FA ordered that Concord should lose all revenue from that fixture and from the new match at Gander Green Lane. As a contest it was a fairly mundane encounter which the hosts deservedly won with a goal in each half.






Tuesday 22nd December 2015

Hinchingbrooke Cup Quarter-final

Stotfold P

Eynesbury Rovers P

Referee:- J Croft                                         Attendance:-
Admission £6 (refunded)                         Programme:- £1
Jack Warner, Chris Berezai, Chris Freer, Brian Buck and I were all there for this match, the first three visiting a new venue. About half an hour before the start, the rain began to fall heavily and this probably induced the referee to call off the contest around ten minutes before kick-off. The pitch looked in very good condition – it was one of those games that would never have been in doubt thirty years ago, but today’s PC brand of referee, look first for the excuse NOT to play! Baldock Town, apparently have transferred their allegiance from Hitchin Town’s Top Field, to play at Roker Park, this season!


Boxing Day 26th December 2015
Toolstation Western League Division 1 – k.o.:- 12.00noon

Ashton & Backwell United 2

Conor Biggins 80,

Adam Crooks 90,

Portishead Town 1

Lewis Wheatcroft 55,

Referee:- Steve Irwin-Porter                            Attendance:- 65
Admission:- £5                                                    Programme:- £1                  Sausage ‘bap’:- £1.50
A warm and pleasant welcome greeted us as we arrived at The Lancerscott Stadium, but we were warned about not going behind the far goal where a large net was draped to capture the ball before it entered the gardens behind. The club has just chipped another month off its floodlight. Floodlights can now be used from 1st September through till the 30th April, but the light stanchions have to be lowered between those dates (previously 1st October). These two teams are becalmed in mid table, but in a feisty affair, the visitors took a second half lead which was cancelled out ten minutes from time and then the hosts won with a goal in added time which viciously screwed into the top corner despite the despairing efforts of the away keeper!





Boxing Day Saturday 26th December 2015
Toolstation Western League Division 1 – k.o.:- 3.00pm

Chard Town 3

Leigh Bailey 16,

Andrew Martin 28,

Edward Butcher 34,

Wincanton 0

Referee:- Craig Finean                                    Attendance:- 110
Admission:- OMGDS£3 (£5)                        Programme:- £1
This season –                 Matches:- 134          New Grounds:- 75
I had heard of the Chard ‘slope’ and it was pretty impressive – probably a twenty metre drop from goal to goal, but to suggest that the club be demoted to step seven because of it seems drastically unfair (in a pc world gone mad!). Before we know it every non-league match will be played on plastic behind metal fencing! Chard lie in third place in the division, with Wincanton (who had brought considerable and vocal support with them), six points adrift of safety in second bottom position. The visitors played well, especially in the first half up the slope, and they had a lot of possession, but couldn’t make it tell. Chard ventured but rarely down the pitch, yet on three occasions they scythed through with rapier like precision and stole a goal each time! The second half was more even, but there were to be no more goals!







Monday 28th December 2015
Midland League Division III – k.o.:- 2.00pm

Inkberrow 2

Tom Clews 7,

Nathan Davies 83,

Redditch Borough 0

Referee:- Jeff Widdett                                       Attendance:- 41
Admission:- F.O.C.                                            Programme:- NONE
This was a new ‘ground’ for most of the dozen or so hoppers who turned up, as Inkberrow have moved from one side of the clubhouse to the other to play their matches. In the absence of an admission charge, we were expected to contribute to the football lottery (£1) as we bought our tea and coffee. The ground was in beautiful condition, but the grass surrounds were very soft! This is not the most successful of seasons for the hosts and their visitors today are faring much better! However, a goal in each half gave Inkberrow their victory over a team suspiciously sporting the legend “RUJFC” on their shirts – Redditch United Junior Football Club? After the match, Graeme and I adjourned to the Bull Inn in the village where “The Archers”, a Radio 4 programme was conceived, with many pictures in the bar advertising that fact, and enjoyed a fine pint of HPA (Hereford Pale Ale).






End of year statistics:-

Matches this season:- 136              New Grounds this season:- 76

Total Matches:-   3,343                   Total New Grounds:-  1,174

There are another half a dozen games that I have not included in this brief resume from November and December 2015. They include three FA Youth Cup matches at league grounds, two Northants Senior Youth League Matches and a ‘Professional Development League’ (under-21) match. I also missed a match at Long Eaton on the first Wednesday in December! No photos for the first few games, either!! Don’t know where they went!!!

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