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November 2016

In honour of my first visit to Larkhall Athletic, and in remembrance of fallen soldiers from The Great War, I re-produce this poem was which part of the official programme for their match against AFC Totton (see below).

The Lark

From Wrath-red dawn to wrath-red dawn

The guns have brayed without abate;

And now the sick sun looks upon

The bleared blood-boltered fields of hate

As if it loathed to rise again

How strange the hush! Yet sudden, hark!

From yon down-trodden gold of grain,

The leaping rapture of a lark



A fusillade of melody

That sprays us from yon trench of sky;

A new amazing enemy

We cannot silence though we try;

A battery on radiant wings,

That from yon gap of golden fleece

Hurls at us hopes of such strange things

As joy and home and love and peace.



Pure heart of song! do you not know

That we are making earth a hell?

Or is it that you try to show

Life still is joy and all is well?

Brave little wings! Ah, not in vain

You beat into that bit of blue;

Lo! we who paint in war’s red rain

Lift shining eyes, see heaven too.

by Robert Service (1874 – 1958)



Wednesday 2nd November 2016
West Midlands (Regional) League
Premier Division

Wellington Amateurs 2  Wolverhampton Casuals 3
Referee:- Jami Howe Attendance:- 57
Admission:- £4.00 Programme:- £1.00
A converted Nissan hut served as a bar and rest room and the players changed in two adapted haulage containers. On one side of the pitch there was a small seated stand for, perhaps, fifty spectators and opposite a covered terraced area towards the left hand goal. The match started late because the visitors had forgotten to bring their playing kit with them. They looked the bigger, stronger side, but The Amateurs made up in skill for their lack of weight. Casuals opened the scoring in the first half and it took The Amateurs until the 71st minute to regain parity. A minute later they were behind again, but once again equalised in the 85th minute, only to subside to a goal in the very last minute of the match!





Saturday 5th November 2016
Abacus Lighting Central Midlands League
Black Dragon North Division

Tideswell United 1 FC Bolsover 3
Referee:- Ibrahim Arsali Attendance:- 31
Admission:- £2.00 Programme:- £1.00
Both of these clubs are new to the league this season, but while FC Bolsover are comprised mainly of the championship winning team from last season at Glapwell (who folded in the summer), Tideswell, whose village is known as ‘The Cathedral of The Peaks’ have risen from The Hope Valley League. They have a neat little ground with cover and seating for around fifty spectators on the far side of the pitch, paved hardstanding around three sides of the ground and a small, but busy clubhouse where various beverages were available with free biscuits! FC Bolsover, who hope to return to the town next season (they are presently playing on a 3G surface inside a cage in Shirebrook), presently sit at the top of the league, whilst Tideswell are mid-table. The result went to form, with the visitors comfortably capturing the victory and the points.







Sunday 6th November 2016
The Emirates FA Cup 1st Round

St Albans City 3 Carlisle United 5
Referee:- Simon Hooper Attendance:- 3,473
Admission:- (seated) £17.00 Programme:- £3.00
This season – Matches:- 102 New Grounds:- 54
It was good to see Clarence Park rocking to the rafters, even if the rain seeped into every frozen pore! Dapper Keith Curle, the Carlisle manager, looked fit enough to play, but even he was stunned when The Saints took a fourth minute lead.Junior Morias scored again just after the hour mark, but this time it was to restore parity at 2-2. Three goals in the next fifteen minutes sealed the fate of tiring St Albans, but, plucky to the last, they had the final laugh with a goal in the 87th minute!









Wednesday 9th november 2016
Almary Green Anglian Combination
1st Division

Mundford 1 Attleborough Town 3
Referee:- Fusheng Qiao Attendance:- 126
Admission:- F.O.C. Programme:- NONE
It may be the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’, but this evening it was cold, wet and decidedly ‘dank’.This was a local derby between two teams who had been promoted from Division 2 only last season (Mundford taking top spot after Attleborough squandered a ten point advantage!).There were so many floodlights around that it was only by a process of elimination that we arrived at the correct football pitch, all railed off but with no hard standing and a covered terrace which could hold, maybe fifty spectators. I was very impressed with the welcome and the help from club officials, but then, the visitors and their impressive striker, Stevie Wright (who notched two of the goals), deservedly took the victory and the points. Stevie Wright has an older brother who plays for Cheltenham Town (he played in the 1-0 defeat of Bolton Wanderers last night), and an even older brother who was running the line this evening!
Apologies for the quality of the photographs!





Friday 11th November 2016
Abacus Lighting Central Midlands League
Black Dragon South

Southwell City 0 Linby Colliery 4
Referee:- Wayne Brown Attendance:- 42
Admission:- £1 Programme:- £2.00
It is a lovely setting at Southwell, even in the dark. In the shadow of the cathedral and adjoined by a meandering stream with a pleasant and welcoming club house and officials who are only too pleased to help, but you wonder how they qualified for step seven status. The pitch is just that, not even a fence around it (I seem to recall a rope on previous visits), and there is very little hard standing beyond the apron of the clubhouse. Neither of these teams have set the league alight this season, but it was the visitors from eleven miles down the road who were demonstrably the better side and deserved their emphatic victory!




Saturday 12th November 2016
The Buildbase FA Vase 2nd Round

Wolverhampton Casuals   1   Nuneaton Griff   2
Referee:- Jason Roberts Attendance:- 66
Admission:- £5.00 Programme:- £1.00
TWO Sausage ‘baps’ and a cup of tea:- £3.00
This was a first visit and a pleasant afternoon in watery sunshine, a referee particularly small in stature and a couple of very committed Midlands rivals! The Brinsford Stadium is just off the M54, has one small stand with seating for perhaps fifty souls and a motley collection of huts housing changing rooms, bar, tea hut, and boardroom. Griff play in the Midland League Division 1, whilst their rivals grace The WMRL Premier division. It was a close fought contest, but Griff deservedly edged it.






Sunday 13th November 2016
Sky-Bet EFL League One

Peterborough United 1 Bolton Wanderers 0
Referee:- J. Simpson                  Attendance:- 4,780
Admission:- OMGDS £25.00 (£35.00)     Programme:- £3.00
I went with my middle son and grandson for a rare visit to London Road (now sadly dubbed “The ABAX Stadium”) and sadly, endured a pretty poor fare. The Posh deserved the victory if only for the stunning strike by full-back Michael Smith in the 27th minute, but The Trotters should have pulled things round in the second half after an aimless opening session! Good to see umpiring colleague, Danny Crowson, there!



Dad Mike, and son, Freddie at London Road. A spot of hospitality at this match meant a substantial ‘brunch’ was available prior to the early kick-off.



This was young Freddie’s thirty-seventh football match at nine different grounds!

Tuesday 15th November 2016
Integro Northern Premier League Cup 1st Round

Ossett Town 0 Scarborough Athletic 1
Referee:- M. Ashforth            Official Attendance:- 100
Admission:- OMGDS £3.50 (£7.00) Programme:- £2.00
Somehow, John Main and I missed out on the major rush hour traffic (but not the roadworks) and we arrived in Ossett in more than good time for the match! Splendid little ground with cover on three of the four sides and ample seating … but all behind one goal! Both these teams are in contention for promotion this season, but it was the stronger away team who snatched the victory with a goal midway through the first half from substitute Jake Ellam who expertly headed the ball over his own goalkeeper and into the net!






Wednesday 16th November 2016
Emirates FA Cup 1st Round Replay

Brackley Town 4 Gillingham 3 aet.
Referee:- Robert Jones                   Attendance:- 1,654
Admission:- OMGDS £8.00 (£14.00)
Programme:- £2.00
A famous victory for the highest placed non-league team in Northamptonshire. They squandered a two goal lead and re-established it in extra time and when Gillingham reduced the arrears yet again, they held out for deserved victory.I hadn’t been to this particular St James’ Park for eight years and in that time substantial changes had considerably improved the stadium. It was a pity that in a game of such swashbuckling piracy, that there wasn’t more atmosphere – even the home players pleaded for more support! Only 93 supporters from Kent …. but they had their own police protection!









Friday 18th November 2016
Suffolk FA Senior Cup 3rd Round

Framlingham Town 0 Woodbridge Town 2
Referee:- Bradley Mingay          Official Attendance:- 158
Admission:- £4.00                      Programme:- £1.00
A long drive into deepest darkest Suffolk and a surprisingly pleasant reception at a club that is enjoying its first season in The Thurlow-Nunn Eastern Counties League. They were promoted from the Ipswich & Suffolk League where they finished fifth in the top division last season. The ground is a work in progress. There is a good stand with seats for around sixty or seventy spectators and new turnstiles and hard standing have been installed. There remains the fencing around the ground and behind the stand. However, I applaud the ambition of this small club who boasted an impressive attendance this evening! In three meetings this season, this was the first victory for Woodbridge, who, earlier in the season suffered a home defeat in the league to this evening’s hosts. Good to see Daniel BT Turner there, celebrating his one hundredth ground!!!!






Saturday 19th November 2016
Ryman Isthmian League Division 1 South

Herne Bay 1 Walton Casuals 1
Referee:- John Pike                             Attendance:- 192
Admission:- OMGDS£5.00 (£9.00) programme:- £2.00
It might have been 2,675 miles to The North Pole, but to Chris and John and me it felt a mighty lot closer! The Altira Park Stadium is a neat, yet quaint arena with cover on all four sides and a club house and shop down the near side. Team sheets were posted and the tea shop did brisk business. Neither of these two teams are pulling up trees in Division 1 South of The Isthmian League, but the hosts were on a five game winning streak. The game had nil-nil written all over it until goals were exchanged over a four minute period midway through the second half. Thereafter – as before – you could not have drawn the proverbial cigarette paper between the two sides!











Chris Berezai and John Main

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
Evo-Stik Southern League
Division 1 South & West

Larkhall Athletic 0 AFC Totton 0
Referee:- Rob Cockle                          Attendance:- 95
Admission:- OMGDS £5.00 (£8.00)     Programme:- £1.50
‘Plain Ham’ is the unusual name for Larkhall’s stadium and a dark November evening hardly did it justice. It lies high on a hill like a table mountain and there is a steep drop to pitch side from one side. There is cover on three sides of the pitch although behind the far goal, the stand is so tiny, it rivals the one at Esh Winning as the smallest in the country! Tonight’s visitors were smarting from a first defeat under new management. They presently lie third from bottom of the table whilst The Larks are happily ensconced at the half-way mark. This was a dour encounter. The visiting team had clearly been set up not to lose and there was precious little that The Larks could do about it. Very enjoyable visit with John Main and a very friendly reception!








Saturday 26th November 2016
Nottinghamshire Senior League Premier Division

Bilborough Town   3    Aston United   2
Referee:- Derek Spray Attendance:- 14
Admission:- £2.00 Programme:- £0.50
The Harvey Hadden Athletic Stadium is the present home to recently formed Bilborough Town. In the past, Graeme said that he’d watched Rugby League matches at the ground and certainly there was plenty of evidence of Nottingham Athletics Club activity. Entrance to this vast arena was via a narrow passage with a turnstile at midpoint. Good to see Brian Buck there amongst the healthy gathering of hoppers who made up almost half of the attendance. It was not the most fluent of matches. The grass was too long and the match was strewn with errors, but top of the table Bilborough eventually triumphed, although Aston United were somewhat unlucky not to come away with a draw.







Tuesday 29th November 2016
Evo-Stik Southern League
Division 1 South & West

Mangotsfield United P   Hereford P
Referee:- Scott Jackson Programme:- £2.00
John Main and I had enjoyed a good morning at Aston Villa’s Bodymoor Heath Training Ground for an U-18 fixture against Arsenal and reached Mangotsfield in very good time, paid £2 for the car park (!!!) and another £2 for a programme and fortified by a pie and a drink we waited in the clubhouse outside the ground. Dozens of Hereford fans arrived and started to drink the club house dry and then Will Cheshire showed us a tweet on the Hereford Twitter account: “Match OFF”. No announcement from the club, but apparently, the referee had deemed one goalmouth to be frozen and unplayable. We rang Shortwood United but that match was also off and a major accident on The M5 meant that we couldn’t get to Portishead Town, which, perversely, was ON!15230763_1312161372159341_5485861561976911473_n

Tuesday 29th November 2016

Barclays U-18 Professional Development League

Aston Villa   1   Arsenal   1

Admission:- F.O.C.          Attendance:- 89

There were no programmes, entrance was free of charge, plenty of car parking and a pretty good crowd. Aston Villa looked a well drilled side – especially in defence. They scored a first half goal and then hung on until the first minute of added time at the end of the match when increasing Arsenal pressure led to the equaliser.


Pictures of Bodymoor Heath (above), courtesy of John Main




After a round trip (including the match at Bodymoor Heath) of a little over 450 miles in one day, we still have to re-visit Cossham Street, Mangotsfield!

Other Matches in November 2016

Tuesday 1st November

Chromasport & Trophies United Counties League Premier Division

Kirby Muxloe   4   Oadby Town   0          Attendance:- 80

Thursday 3rd November 2016

Northants Senior Youth League Cup 1st Round

Rushden & Higham United 3  Wellingborough Whitworth 1 Attendance:- 55

Monday 7th November 2016

Northants Senior Youth League East Division

Rothwell Corinthians  1  Kettering FC  1              Attendance:- 56

Tuesday 8th November 2016

Midland League Premier Division

Loughborough University 1 Coventry United 3  

Attendance:- 95

Friday 18th November 2016

Barclays U-23 Premier League 2

Leicester City 5  Derby County  0                       Attendance:- 126

Tuesday 22nd November 2016

European Champions League Group G

Leicester City  2  FC Brugge  1                         Attendance:- 31,443

Monday 28th November 2016

Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division

Hitchin Town  3  Hayes & Yeading  0            Attendance:- 285




This season – Matches:- 118          New Grounds:-  63

TOTAL –         Matches:- 3,561      Grounds:- 1,291

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