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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Glebe FC

Glebe 1 Deal Town 1

The stand at Glebe FC

Glebe must Deal again

Glebe 1 Deal Town 1

 I had originally planned to visit Harefield but hadn’t realised they had been relegated. For reasons I won’t bore you with, I looked at the draw again and decided to visit Glebe from the Kent Invicta league.
No more than five minutes from my house and a lady rushed over to me seemingly in a great flap, only to ask me when the grey bins were collected. I politely replied and also pointed out that the bin was actually black but to be fair, had seen better days and went on my way.
The train in to London was made more entertaining by the guy sitting opposite me playing games with an 8 year old lad he was travelling with.
“Okay, he said. I’ll say a word and you then have to say another word that starts with the last letter of my word.” The boy nodded his head.
“Sunny” Said the man
“Bummy” replied the boy.
I actually laughed out loud and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of their games.
I caught the tube to London Bridge which has suddenly been changed beyond recognition. I found myself outside, was directed up an escalator and eventually found what appears to be a new station entrance. Being in good time, I sat on a wall only to be immediately approached by a European gentleman.
“Do you know the way to Tower Bridge?” he asked.
“I’m not the best person to ask, it’s taken me 10 minutes to find platform 7” I replied.
He took a second to compute, smiled kindly at me and went off to ask someone else. I’m not sure our British sense of humour always translates.
It was a short journey to Chiselhurst station and for once I had remembered to do a street view before I left so knew exactly where I was going.
What I didn’t know was that the pavement had been dug up for at least half a mile. I had to walk on compacted mud with bits of concrete at odd angles, loose stones, assorted cones and trip hazard twigs. It’s not the worst walk to a ground I’ve ever had (Yes, Milton United, I’m talking about you), but it was less than pleasant. The A222 was horrendous, nose to tail for the entire mile and a bit I walked along and hardly seemed to be moving at all.
I eventually turned off on to Foxbury Avenue which was like a tranquil paradise after the main road, it’s a reasonably long path that takes a few minutes until I turned a corner and reached the ground. I was about 90 minutes early and was delighted to bump into another match on an alternate pitch.
It’s fair to say that the players were at the later end of their playing lives, in the 35 minutes I watched, the goalkeeper went off with a calf strain, there were various other substitutions and players were constantly grabbing runs and sprays from the touchline. When the referee blew his whistle, I was shocked to see that it was only half time. I couldn’t bare to watch the second half, it would almost have been a case of last man standing.
The clubhouse at Glebe is really nice, loads of TV screens showing the midday match and a nice bar. I never spotted any hot food but having had a cooked breakfast, I settled for a pack of Roast Ox crisps.
The ground itself is in great nick. I well prepared, flat pitch, a small stand on the near side and a very new looking fence surrounding three quarters of the ground.  You could not walk behind the far end or on the far side was my only quibble, I guess it’s because it has no hardstanding. The club are making real efforts to continually improve the ground and they should be commended, it’s a really neat little set-up.
The game itself was no classic, Deal were from a step higher and when they scored on 24 minutes, I expected them to pull away and win comfortably. But Glebe equalised out of the blue on 37 minutes and it was deadlock after this with very few chances.
Extra time came and only exploded into life in the last 5 minutes. Glebe should surely have been awarded a penalty when the Deal keeper flattened a striker but neither a penalty or a booking for simulation was given, it had to be one or the other! Then Deal hit the underside of the bar and claimed that the ball had bounced over the line, didn’t look like it to me!
A draw was a fair result.
It really is worth a visit to Glebe, a club on the up with some really nice, hard-working people driving the club forward.
I wish them well!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Hartley Wintney FC

Hartley Wintney 3 Bradford Town 1

The stand at Hartley Wintney

Hartley WINtney

Hartley Wintney 3 Bradford Town 1

I’ve had literally three months with either heavy rain, fierce 40mph winds or games postponed due to waterlogged pitches. Finally, a lovely sunny day with no wind and although cold, a perfect day for football.
Apart from the train stopping for 5 minutes just beyond Clapham Junction, with the only information being the driver saying “We don’t normally stop here”, I had an incident free journey and got off the train at Fleet with close to a spring in my step.
That was soon knocked out of me as I discovered that the Internet had been incorrect and the bus that I needed to take to get from Fleet to Hartley Wintney didn’t run on a Saturday. I guess I could have walked from Winchfield station but the bus from Fleet seemed to be the easier route. But I was damned if I was going to be stopped on a lovely day and I decided to cut my losses and take a taxi. I was in good time so I watched a few taxis pull into the station, wrote down their numbers and then gave them a call. The first company had no availability but my next call got a positive result from Hart cabs. I have to say I was hugely impressed with them. Both there and pack I only had to wait about five minutes and I even got a football enthusiast driver on the return journey who was fascinated with the whole groundhopping concept.
Hartley Wintney is a nice little village with plenty of green areas and a variety of shops, it seems particularly big on barbers. Three red and white barber signs on a High street only about 100 yards long. No apparent chippy was the only downer for me.
Whilst mooching about, I needed to use the public convenience. Whilst doing my thing, a workman came in, unzipped and did his thing, all the time continuing a conversation on a mobile phone. Is it just me, but who would do that?? I attempted to piss really loudly to make my point, I discovered that this isn’t really possible!
The ground is a simple five minute walk from the village. A small stand on the far side and a large clubhouse with the lunchtime game being projected for all to see.
I had my lunch here. Cheeseburger and chips served by a very nice lady. Halfway through serving me, she announced that the price was wrong on the blackboard and should be 50p higher than shown. She still charged me the original price which made me feel like I was getting a bit of a bargain. She toasted a burger bun, put half of it in front of me and then about 30 seconds later, came and through it in the bin. Not sure why as it looked perfectly okay to me. Anyway the burger and chips was actually very nice.
I sat outside for 30 minutes, in the sun it was really pleasant and enjoyed watching the ballboys kicking a ball around. I love the way that they accept a newcomer immediately and within minutes, this new lad was rushing around as if he’d known these boys all his life.
Bowie tunes were being proudly played from the P.A system, absolutely right in the week that the great man died.
Both the Bradford fans and the Hartley Wintney officials I spoke to were really friendly with a good sense of humour. Everything that attracts me to non-league football was on show at this game.
A really enjoyable game, Bradford scored on about 10 minutes and Hartley Wintney equalised just over 5 minutes later. Really even after this, the game could have gone either way until Hartley Winteney scored twice in the last 15 minutes with a suspiciously offside looking goal and an injury time bonus.
A most enjoyable day, a lovely club who now have Hereford in the next round. I will be looking on with interest.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Moneyfields FC

Moneyfields 0 Brimscombe & Thrupp 0

The covered standing area

Let the train take the strain

Blown Money

Moneyfields 0 Brimscome & Thrupp 0   aet

 I picked this tie mainly due to the fact that I don’t know Portsmouth very well. I’ve passed through and visited the tourist attractions, but I’ve never been to football there. A lengthy journey but fortunately we had been spared the hellish conditions endured by folk in the north of the country.
London was always going to be busy a couple of weeks before Christmas, I did particularly like the dozen or so people fully dressed in Santa suits with tattoo’s plastered all over their bodies. I never actually discovered why they were hanging around Waterloo station but needless to say, nobody gave them a second glance.
The rest of the train journey went without incident, I did pass a non-league grounds about 5 minutes before arriving in Portsmouth and made a mental note to look up where it was only to later discover that it was the ground I was going to.
For once, I fell out of the station and immediately saw the street that I was looking for. I never once came close to getting lost.
The obligatory market was situated all away along the middle of the pedestrian walkway near all the major shops. This made it an absolute nightmare to walk anywhere, you took about two steps and had to step aside for a pram, group of people, walking frame or dog coming the other way. Even when I finally got off this walk-way, there were still plenty of different shops littered all over the place and I saw very few boarded up shop fronts - Good to see.
I was confident I would stumble across a chip shop and indeed I did. I just ordered a portion of chips and asked for them to be left open. Clearly in Portsmouth, asking for them to be left open involves putting them in a polystyrene tray and then wrapping them in three large pieces of paper. I spent the next few minutes walking along the street trying to keep them unwrapped, every now and then actually finding a chip and managing to navigate it to my mouth. I eventually came across a bus stop with a bench and bin, managed to unwrap all the paper and actually found a lunch that I could get at.
The street leading to the ground reminded me a bit of Coronation Street. A long straight road with similar looking houses but nothing else of any interest to see.
The ground is actually next to a footbridge that may have saved me a few minutes if I’d used it but it looked a bit secluded and dodgy so I decided to give it a miss.
A bunch of kids were playing football on an outside 5 a-side court on my arrival supervised by a couple of adults. Both teams were shooting into the same goal and I wasn’t quite sure how this worked, turned out to be the only goals I saw all afternoon.
There is a stand by one of the nearside corner flags and also a covered standing area on the near side. The pitch is also right next to the railway line as previously mentioned and trains went past at regular intervals and occasionally stopped for a while at signals giving the passengers a free view of the game.
A large number of away fans were in attendance and certainly made the most noise. Quite a nice atmosphere all in all, the tea hut did great business and was staffed by three cheerful and really hard working ladies.
For the fourth Saturday in a row, I was subjected to winds of over 40mph. It’s now got beyond tedious. Playing a match of any quality is near on impossible as the ball constantly flies out of play at warp factor nine. The first half was actually fairly interesting with Brimscombe and Thrupp having a few great chances which they somehow didn’t take. As the came went on, the chances became fewer and fewer and virtually nothing happened in extra time despite a large amount of endeavour from both sides.
My first 0-0 of the season, not a terrible game but to quote a cliche, the only winner was the weather.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Worthing United FC

Worthing United 0 Sutton Common Rovers 1

Stunning views over the downs

Worth. the trip

Worthing United 0 Suton Common Rovers 1

October 31st 2015

When the draw was published, I chose my home team (Welwyn Garden City) away at Cricklewood Wanderers. I then discovered that they played at Wembley FC, a ground that I have visited on many occasions, so those plans were scrapped and I instead chose to visit Sussex for the first time this season.
Now don’t fall off your chair, my first train of the day was actually two minutes early. Never, ever, has this happened before!
All a bit bizarre around London, being Halloween, people were wandering around with fake bloody faces, in masks and with pretend knives through their heads, nobody even batted an eyelid.
The trip to Worthing was easy enough, I had never appreciated just how big a town this is. The entire 30 minute walk to the ground was along a selection of busy A roads with cars constantly flying by. Not a town I loved to be honest.
I soon found a chippy but something told me not to use that one and keep going, always a dangerous move when you don’t know what’s ahead of you. But luck was with me and opposite a Toby Carvery just 5 minutes walk from the ground was The Real Fishandchips Company. I was served by a delightful young lady, the portion of chips was generous and really tasty. Well worth a visit.
I was very well aware of the awful tragedy just a few weeks earlier when Worthing players Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt lost their lives tragically in the Shoreham air crash. I was very moved by the collection of signed football shirts on the fencing outside the ground, all contributed as a tribute to these young men. It certainly made me stop and think and consider myself lucky for what I have....R.I.P gentlemen.
A motorcycle school was being briefed as I arrived at the ground entrance and were shortly to be let loose on the surrounding roads, you could see the fear in their eyes!
After not particularly liking the town, the view from the ground itself is simply stunning. Miles of rolling downs, horses happily munching grass in nearby fields and lots of ariel activity to catch the eye.
Steep steps lead up to the pitch from the clubhouse and changing room and there is a medium sized stand which I’m sure is more than sufficient for the normal attendance that Worthing get. High banks also surround one side and the far end, a feature I always love and gives you some great camera shots.
The game wasn’t the greatest but was always interesting. Sutton Common always looked the slightly livelier of the two teams and won it with a 49th minute goal.
Absolutely glorious late October day with wall to wall sunshine and surprising warmth. A lovely ground to visit.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Coton Green FC

Coton Green 1 Nuneaton Griff 8

The dugouts at Coton Green

The Eddie Eccles stand

Coton ripped apart

Coton Green 1 Nuneaton Griff 8

3rd October 2015

 Due to other commitments and the close season, it has been 7 months since I was last at a Vase match, great to be back.
When the draw was made at the beginning of July, I went through the fixtures and decided upon Barrow Town v Quorn. I have walked past Barrow’s ground on my way to Rothley Imperials and made a mental note that I must return. So that was that and I forgot about it for the best part of three months.
Then last Sunday, I bought a Non-league paper, glanced through the fixtures again and spotted Coton Green. It’s rare these days to see a team that I haven’t heard of, intrigued, I looked up where they are. Now I hate Tamworth, I was chased down the street there about 30 years ago whilst following Wealdstone and haven’t been back since. For reasons that I can’t really explain, I changed my mind and decided upon Coton Green as my venue.
At Euston station, the place was packed with rugby fans slowly making their way towards Twickenham, when my train platform was announced, it was like a rolling maul as people all herded towards the platform, quite amusing to see the look of fear in three people’s eyes as their slow walk up a ramp was suddenly interrupted by a couple of hundred people all walking towards them at the same time. On reaching the train, the doors hadn’t been ulocked and when they finally were, it was like a scrum as people charged on attempting to secure a favourable seat.
The journey to Tamworth went without incident, Tamworth station itself is most unusual. I saw two platforms as I left my train and yet my connection left from platform four. I eventually found it up some stairs where the platform is directly above where I had just been at a 45 degree angle.
Two young girls were standing on the platform just along from me, dressed to the nines. One of them started playing music on her phone and started performing slightly odd movements on the platform.
To her friend she said “Chelsea, we need to find a party, I have to get these moves out”
I’m not sure that 2000 volts would have got those particular moves out!
Wilnecote was only a three minute journey from Tamworth. Having initially set off the wrong way down the road (I must remember to check out Google maps - Streetview before my journey), I put myself right and almost immediately found a chippy.
Eating pie and chips whi;st walking is not easy but there was nowhere to sit for 5 minutes. I did receive some insult from a group of youths driving by that I didn’t quite make out, good to know that Tamworth hasn’t changed too much.
I had arrived in good time, so spent half an hour in the Corals in Fazeley. Big shout out to the guy in the shop, he came and asked if I was okay and needed any assistance, he later came and offered me a cup of tea, what a nice bloke and a credit to Corals. I got a place in the 13:50 at Redcar and left the shop 10p down. A fair price for 30 minutes entertainment.
The ground is just 5 minutes from there. Walking down the approach road, there was no traffic at all that slightly unnerved me, but I soon heard that unmistakable noise of players warming up.
The first thing to hit me was that there are no floodlights. Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted that Coton Green got to play in the Vase,  but aren’t clubs in FA competitons supposed to have floodlights? Please tweet me @YT40 if you have any information on this.
A basic ground which is railed off and a tiny amount of cover in a sort of shed on the far side. A reasonable clubhouse with a very friendly lady behind the bar, there seemed to be enough pasta with cheese to feed the whole of the crowd.
There was a lovely feel to the place, kids were happily playing football with endless energy and were also the mascots for the game.
This was Coton Green’s first FA Vase game ever, it was nice to be present to witness this little bit of the club’s history.
Sadly, the game was no classic and Coton Green were simply outclassed. They did keep a clean sheet for the first quarter of the match and were only two down at half time.
Unfortunately, in the last quarter, they let in four with a catalogue of defensive howlers although they did manage to get a consolation themselves.
I hope the result doesn’t put Coton Green off entering again, I was lucky with a dry day and it is a nice spot to visit.


Sunday, March 01, 2015

Erith & Belvedere FC

Erith & Belvedere 0 North Shields 2

Proper terracing

Pie and mash shop in Welling

Shields put Erith to the sword

Erith & Belvedere 0 North Shields 2

Always nice to have a reachable ground in the Vase quarter finals that you haven't visited before.

Note to fellow ground hoppers, not the greatest idea to try out new mattresses at John Lewis with 'er indoors before leaving for the game. Not exactly an onerous task but I couldn't stop yawning for about the next 2 hours.

A relatively stress free journey, interesting to take the route from Victoria to Welling although there seemed to be construction works going on everywhere you looked. There seemed to be complete carnage with buses, taxis and cars outside Lewisham station.

When printing my Google map, I noticed that there was a Pie n mash shop just off the Welling road. What a little beauty this is, no thrills, certainly not fine dining, but a mince beef pie, mash and parsley liquer served to you in seconds. Jellied eels are also on the menu, you just don't find many cafes like this any more. Absolutely loved it.

Now I had loads of time to spare so decided to visit the bookies, lots to chose from in the High street and I ended up in a Corals. Having failed miserably on a few dog races, I decided to take a punt in the 13:45 from Newbury. At least, I would have if some old fella hadn't stood directly in front of the Racing post form for at least 10 minutes. Instead I diverted to a free area of wall where the Kelso fixtures were listed. After checking out form for the 13:55, I ended up taking an each way punt on a 66/1 outsider. It would have been well out of the places until one of the leading horses suddenly went lame and in the end I nabbed third place and left the shop well in profit and no longer noticing the strong winds and constant drizzle.

Eirth share with Welling United from the conference. An interesting set-up and a ground share done the proper way. Both clubs have their own entrance, both clubs have their own stand and their own catering huts. It does mean that you can't really walk around the whole ground but the set-up clearly works. A billiard table of a pitch, old fashined concrete terracing and in fact, set bang on the High street, the whole place seems like something from the 1970's with the odd modern addition.

I normally like fans from Northern clubs when they come south on their travels but these North Shields fans did grate on the nerves a bit. One guy when the subs were warming up kept the ball behind his back following a wayward shot and eventually held it out in his hands for one of the subs to come and collect. They ignored him for a considerable time but the guy (Apparently some of them had been drinking since 5m) persevered and wouldn't throw it back. When the sub eventually walked over to get the ball, the guy then there it away.  Apparently this was hilarious.

The first half was a fairly poor affair, quite even with only one shot on target the entire half. Shields pulled away in the second half getting stronger as the game progressed, scoring on 49 & 59 mins.

Not quite sure how long the journey will take if they get drawn away to St Austell. They're probably the side to avoid in the semis.

Interesting ground, I will return one day to tick off Welling FC. 

Monday, February 09, 2015

Bradford Town FC

Bradford Town 0 Highworth Town 2

The great dry stoned wall

Far end at Bradford Town FC

The High life

Bradford Town 0 Highworth Town 2

For the first time in weeks I wasn't spending Saturday morning sat in front of a computer desperately trying to find a match of interest that hasn't been postponed. Cold but dry and there was never any doubt about this going ahead.
Transport for London's little joke this Saturday was to put on a  part closure of the Circle and Hammersmith & City line making the trip to Paddington slightly more tricky than it normally is.  I still reached Paddington with a comfortable 45 minutes to spare and enjoyed a gentle stroll along the path next to the canal before catching my train to Bath Spa. 
An incident free journey until the train was swamped by rugby fans at Chippenham, then when I needed to change platforms at Bath with only about 5 minutes to spare, I had huge problems getting through the subway due to the sheer quantity of people. The fact that most rugby fans are built like brick out-houses didn't make it any easier.
But made it I did and the journey to Bradford-On-Avon is a pleasant 10 minute train trip. The town has brickwork and architecture that is very easy on the eye, similar in fact to Bath itself and the ground was an interesting 10 minute walk from the station. I thought I'd gone the wrong way as about 25 fans walked past me the other way but I presume they had just arrived by coach and were going to find a pub.
There is a clubhouse available next to a bowls green but it was packed out with folk watching the North London derby so I went back outside to explore. 
There was a little tea hut and I ordered a steak pie for a very reasonably priced 80p. Although warm on the outside, it was still cold on the inside once you bit into it and was really quite horrible.
The ground was cracking, a small stand with some ramshackle huts and sheds next to it and then a most attractive dry stoned wall running parallel to the main road. Lots of interesting buildings to see and a pitch that had been well prepared although muddy through the centre.
Highworth fans let off about half a dozen smoke bombs throughout the afternoon which made a loud bang and succeeded only in frightening small children in the ground - Classy lads!
Highworth kept up my season of early goals scoring after only 5 minutes. A free kick 25 yards out to the right of the goal was floated to the far post, a lovely decoy run left the centre forward clear and he steered a header home. Fairly even for the rest of the half with if anything, Bradford having the majority of the attacking an possession. But the killer second goal came on 43 mins, a corner from the right made its way back out to the taker, the cross hit the first man who headed it out to the 22 yard mark where a midfielder placed a very neat curling shot into the bottom right hand corner. The second half was all about discipline and the lack of it which ultimately destroyed the game as a spectacle with a series of squabbles and lengthy injuries. Firstly Highworth lost a man for 2 yellows, the second utterly blatant. Then Bradford lost any chance of getting back into the contest for a stamp as a corner was taken, completely bizarre thing to do. Then Bradford lost another man a couple of minutes from the end for a second yellow.

The complete lack of discipline makes you wonder whether clubs from this level are really equipped to take on important games like this. A clear head by Bradford and they had a glorious chance of going through.