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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Lordswood FC

Lordswood 0 Bracknell Town 1

Dugouts at Lordswood FC

Bracknell Lord it

Lordswood 0 Bracknell Town 1

Rail delays, ah rail delays. The bane of my life. But for once, they worked in my favour. I forget what lame excuse it was this time, but I actually caught the train before the one I was aiming for as it was 25 minutes late. Needless to say, we were packed in like sardines and people were unable to actually get on the train. Never mind, they’re putting the fares up in January and that will fix everything.
My connection was from St Pancras and I looked longingly to the adjacent platform, where folk were excitedly boarding the Eurostar for a trip to Paris. I would happily go anywhere right no so long as it was warm!
Chatham was a lot bigger than I had realised and the traffic through the town centre, seemed to be at a standstill. On route to the bus station, I had to walk along some weird raised boarding that took me round some construction work and then I very reluctantly had to walk past a Wetherspoon’s without going in.
Not to long a wait for the bus and I boarded for the 30 minute journey to Lordswood. All was going well, lots of people getting off but the traffic was moving and I was in good time. Then out of nowhere, as the bus pulled away from a stop, the driver managed to smack the wing mirror into the bus stop, there was a horrible, wrenching noise and the whole wing mirror and arm crashed to the ground with an almighty thud, a good job nobody was standing there!
Need;ess to say, the bus couldn’t carry on and we all had to wait for the next bus which arrived after about 10 minutes. This of course ended up being packed solid although it had thinned out by the time we reached Lordswood.
I had to walk along a raised stretch of pavement for about 10 minutes to reach my destination. This was a proper sports complex with a facility for cricket, rugby, pertank and many other sports. A bit in the middle of nowhere but an excellent facility none the less.
The ground was fairly basic with one small stand and a clubhouse a few minutes walk from  the pitch that served decent food. I however, stayed in the ground and ordered a burger from the tea hutch. Not at all bad andwas served up straight from a hot grill.
The game was not at all bad, Bracknell were always the better team and probably deserved to win by more than one goal. The only goal came on 10 minutes from one of Bracknell’s excellent two tricky wingers.
Not the easiest place to reach and adventures along the way, good to get this ticked off.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Westfield FC

Westfield 1 Canterbury City 0

Small stand at Westfield FC

The Herbert Wells - Woking

Go West

Westfield 1 Canterbury City 0

 Take a walk around Westfield FC with me here

I've now visited 569 grounds. Not a patch on some peoples totals, but I'm more than happy with my effort. But I'd never been to Woking!
I try to visit as many different leagues as I can each season and that means I still have clubs to see at Conference level. And for some reason, I've never done Woking FC.
So coming to Westfield, was a bit of a novelty for me as it's situated only a stone throw from Woking FC's ground.
Needless to say, my intended train to London was cancelled, but you can't teach an old dog new tricks and I'd checked the online departure board so was able to leave a shade early and catch the train before. Plenty of trains from Waterloo, although the one I caught seemed to crawl all the way.
It had been a fairly grotty morning and was still raining when I arrived in Woking. But I was eyeing up a Wetherspoon's and took the short divert to The Herbert Wells.
I'm not a curry lover, but for some reason I was drawn the the chef's special Chicken Balti. What a choice! Absolutely delicious and came with jasmine rice, 2 popadoms and a Naan bread, all washed down with a pint of Jouster.
Still raining when I left the pub and with time to kill, I diverted to Ladbrokes to idle away 30 mins. I bet each way on a horse at Wincanton which in a 2m4F race, was in the first three for the entire race until about the last 20 yards when it fell back to 4th.
The rain had finally subsided and it was surprisingly warm for November. I guss it's about a 20 minute walk from the station to the ground although I feel I probably didn't take the most direct route. My way did take me past Woking FC, so I can now at least say that I've seen it from a distance.
I actually somehow missed the entrance to Woking Park and ended up wandering along endless side streets.
When I did find Woking Park, it is quite an impressive facility. I saw a roller park, a boxing club and a scout centre.
The ground itself is a little odd, the bar is up a flight of stairs and there's a balcony where folk stand to watch the game. There's a section of seating under this and also a small isolated little stand behind the far goal. Friendly people though who seemed to take a real pride in keeping their club ticking over.
The scout centre was next to where I was standing and as the game started, a hoard of young children arrived for a birthday party. I was then treated to the thump, thump of disco music and children's entertainers desperately trying to get these kids to yell at the top of their voice. This kind of distracted me a little from the game for a while as it's difficulty to become engaged with the battle of a cup tie with agadoo assaulting your ear drums.
With a minutes silence being observed for Remembrance day, I was less than impressed to see the referee not even bringing the players on to the pitch until 15:03. We eventually kicked off 7 minutes late. Why????!!!????
The game itself was okay and Westfield deserved their win, the only goal coming in the 23rd minute.
as so often happens, the game was spoilt by the continual arguing, dissent and bickering of the players and benches. Something has to be done and quickly, if grown men want to spend the afternoon arguing, join a debating society!
Anyway, I enjoyed Woking and hope to be back before too long to tick off the town's senior club.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Brocton FC

Brocton 4 Wednesfield 1

Two sets of dugouts

The Picture House - Stafford

Brocton storm through

Brocton 4 Wednesfield 1

I had planned to visit Westbury. Then the FA decided their previous tie should be replayed after an erroneous decision was made by the referee and they lost. So I ended up at Brocton which is located a couple of miles from Stafford.

I've taken up pilates on a Saturday morning and do an hours class at 07:30. It's an excellent work out but it does take it out of you. Therefore, when I dropped off on my train up to Stafford, i was as close as I've been in a long time to missing my stop. I woke as the train was slowing and frantically gathered my bits and pieces together and rushed up the carriage to the exit much to the bemusement of the ear-phoned teenager sitting next to me.

Storm Brian had hit the mainland. It had had all week, but decided to rock up at about 13:00 on a Saturday afternoon. The forecast was shocking with 45 mph winds and heavy rain predicted. Yes, it was windy, but apart from a couple of showers that lasted for only a minute or so, I totally got away with a dry afternoon.

I had checked in advance and had decided to lunch at the Wetherspoon's in Stafford that I was pretty much going to walk past anyway. What I found was an absolute delight. An old cinema that has been converted into a pub. Real theatre as you walk in to the appropriately named 'The Picture House' and see the bar way below you. You walk down steep stairs to reach the bar, exactly the sort of stairs you walk down in many a cinema. So unique!
There was a beer festival on and I selected a pint of St Erik's Midnight Sun which was incredibly pale and had the taste of grapefruit. I really liked it. I ordered a jacket potato and beans which oddly also came with salad and a pot of dressing. Lettuce and cucumber should never be on the same plate as a baked bean! Nice though and actually spreading some dressing on the potato was aa bit of a revelation.

It is about a 25 minute walk from the station to the ground pretty much along one road which flanks a large retail park.

The ground was very easy to find and I was offered a very warm welcome by a couple of officials on the gate. Everybody I spoke to in Stafford was really friendly, I would go back there in a heartbeat.

The ground itself is neat and is surrounded by a white rail. There are side by side, a covered seated area and a covered standing area that look very tandem. What I understand to be a new clubhouse is on the far side with a small bar and some tables and chairs. Two sets of dugouts in a row with half facing Brocton's pitch and the other pair facing the other way and adjoining pitch.

Oddly, the game kicked off 5 minutes early, made a pleasant change to the usual 5 minutes late.

The teams exchanged early goals and it was tight after this until Brocton scored three in the last 10 minutes. The goal that put them ahead came after the keeper threw it out to a full back only to find it intercepted and then curled home.

All in all, despite Storm Brian, I found a friendly club in a great town. Take a walk round the ground with me here

Friday, October 06, 2017

Midhurst & Easebourne FC

Midhurst & Easebourne 0 United Services Portsmouth 2

Dilapidated cricket pavilion at Midhurst & Easebourne FC

Clubhouse at Midhurst & Easebourne

USP Ease. through

Midhurst & Easebourne 0 United Services Portsmouth 2

I'm always away for the first round of Vase matches so good to be back on the road again.

Needless to say, Waterloo has track works going on, it was okay going out, but coming back had 30 minutes added to the journey as we had to take the Staines Loop. Who even knew there was such a thing?

After my now weekly, early morning, Saturday work-out, I was beyond hungry when reaching London. I couldn't wait to reach my destination nd bought a Beef, bacon and Guinness pasty which was lovely, a tub of mini pork pies which turned out to be too much and a large prezel that I ended up eating during the game. An interesting mix probably never to be repeated.

The journey to Haselmere station was without incident and I then had a 20 minute wait fro my bus. About 10 minutes in, a couple turned up and were all over each other, they were quite frankly old enough to know better- GET A ROOM!!

The bus turned up bang on time and we were soon passing a packed out food market. If I'd known, I would have got there earlier and had a nose round. You can't beat a good food market. 

The bus apparently passes the ground I was told, indeed it does and in fact stops directly opposite it. I somehow missed this stop and ended up staying on the bus until it terminated in Midhurst. Not the end of the World as it was only a 5-10 minute walk back and it was a glorious afternoon. There were some interesting looking ruins that a steady flow of people were walking to and I then passed the entrance to Cowdrey Park Polo Field. I've never seen a game of polo in my life and although I'd heard of Cowdrey Park, I had no idea where it was. I was actually glad I missed my stop as it was a more than interesting stroll back.

I found the ground which  had a small entrance with a gentleman sitting by his little hut. I was given a programme that had completely the wrong date of 21/5/17 on it and he asked me if I was a concession. I clearly wasn't looking my best!

This was a nice spot to visit on a sunny day. There is a small stand with benches within to sit on, the pitch undulates greatly and it is surrounded by a white rail. The clubhouse is about 100 metres from the pitch but is a reasonable size. There is also a dilapidated old cricket pavillion that I found quite fascinating, I would love to hear its story.

The game itself was not bad. This was Midhurst's debut in the FA Vase and they gave a good account of themselves. Portsmouth were always slightly on top though and they won the game with a flicked header on 28 minutes and a breakaway goal on 55 minutes.

Very pleasant spot and well worth a visit on a nice day.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Southall FC

Southall 2 Cleethorpes Town 5

Covered end at Southall FC

Electronic scoreboard at Southall FC

Easy Cleesy

Southall 2 Cleethorpes Town 5


Southall groundshare at Hanwell Town FC. I had planned to visit Hanwell on two previous occasiona and both times it was rained off. Absolutely no danger of this on the loveliest of February days with it almost feeling spring like as clouds parted and the sun came out. So easy to reach, train to London and then about half an hour on the tube to Perivale.
Needless to say, the one group of noisy guys on the entire train sat opposite me and just didn't stop all chattering at the same time until finally alighting two steps before mine.
My map told me to turn right down a road that I never did find and I found myself confronted with the horrendously busy A40. Fortunately, there is a massive footbridge, so I was easily able to cross over the road. I was presented with a small parade of shops, but none of them presented anything that looked like edible food.
I popped down a little side road to avoid the motorway like A40 and then had a short, tranquil walk to the ground that took under five minutes to reach.
In good time and with a surprisingly small crowd on my arrival, I went in the clubhouse and found a very nice lady offering burgers and chips. I waited a few minutes for the chips to cook and then sat at a table to eat. The burger was very nice, the chips not too bad although a couple more minutes in the fryer would have helped.
I then watched one of the most enjoyable 45 minutes of football on the TV I've seen in a long time as Lincoln turned over Burnley in the FA Cup. Oddly, the club were showing the game on Fox sports, meaning there was an American analyst at half time. There was also a two minute delay from actual proceedings and a guy watching the game on his phone announced that Lincoln had scored and won two minutes before we all saw it happen.
A reasonable ground with a small stand, cover at the near end and bizarrely, an electronic scoreboard.
The crowd never did really turn up and at about 350, was really disappointing for this stage of the competition.
Cleethorpes were four up at just after half time and close to embarrassing Southall. Southall then out of nowhere, started to play, scored twice and if they'd only played like that from the start, would have made a good game of it.
Still, on a glorius afternoon for football, you pretty much forgive the teams anything.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Bromsgrove Sporting FC

Bromsgrove Sporting 2 Bristol Manor Farm 1

Covered terracing at Bromsgrove

In case you're not sure where you are.

Farm handled

Bromsgrove Sporting 2 Bristol Manor Farm 1

With the weather set surprisingly fair for January, I decided there was no risk in a fairly lengthy trip to Bromsgrove.
The train from London to Birmingham was really busy. There was the usual chaos of people sitting in other people’s reserved seats and then pleading ignorance and in one case, claiming they had reserved the same sets online but did not have the confirmation Email any more - Yeah right!
After everyone settled down, it became apparent that once again, I was sitting just across the aisle from the noisiest group in my carriage. Why does this always happen? I was completely unable to read due to the incessant, loud chatter. A group of four students, three guys and one girl. The girl was particularly irritating with a loud, whiney voice. If she said that one of the group had brought along a photocopy of their passport for i.d purposes once, she said it a dozen times. Needless to say, they stayed on the train for the whole journey.
The transfer to Bromsgrove was very simple and just two stops.
Bromsgrove station is in a sleepy little area with just a few taxis milling around, I got my bearings and set off on what turned out to be a 25 minute walk.
You soon hit traffic and the majority of the walk is alongside a reasonably busy road.
I stumbled across Bromsgrove town centre which had a fair array of shops and so I set me eye roving for lunch options.
The usual High Street suspects were available, but my eye was drawn to one of the outdoor market tents. On sale were pork pies, 50p for a small or £1 for a large. I bought a large and it turned out to be quite the most magnificent pork pie I’ve eaten in a very long time. Perfect pastry and a great meaty filling with only a little jelly. It was fantastic and quite frankly, made my afternoon.
Bromsgrove’s ground is quite an old fashioned looking place but had bags of character. A large stand, a whole end with covered terracing and also some cover on the near side. The largest amount of food outlets I’ve seen at this level for quite a while and lots of nooks and crannies.
The place was packed! Almost 1500 people were crammed in and it seemed like more. A great atmosphere.
This turned into a bit of a cup shock with Bromsgrove turning over Bristol Manor Farm who play in a step higher.
The first half was decidedly average with only a goal right on half time from Bromsgrove saving it from being a complete non-event.
The second half was excellent. Bromsgrove doubled their lead and were holding on comfortably until Bristol scored 7 minutes from time after a goalkeeper error. The rest of the game was nail-biting stuff with the ‘kitchen sink’ being thrown at Bromsgrove. They held on despite a disallowed goal for offside to reach the Vase quarter finals.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Chichester City FC

Chichester City 1 Buckland Athletic 3

Clubhouse and dugouts at Chichester

Athletic Buck their ideas up

Chichester City 1 Buckland Athletic 3

I wasn't at all sure this was a wise idea. Undertaking a route which involves travelling on Southern Trains is never going to be an easy, comfortable experience. Their trains were running which is a minor miracle in itself, needless to say, planned engineering works made the journey more tricky than it needed to be.
I had to change at Barnham and there was an interesting moment when trains were on adjoining platforms, both going to Bognor and neither of two station staff knew which train was leaving first. Cue a member of public to unleash large amounts of sarcasm towards one of these staff members including thanking him for all his help over the last few months. Hard to have any sympathy for him when the public are continually held to ransom and are unable to earn a living for their families. Enough said!
I was in Chichester in good time, quite a large town centre or is it City centre? I decided to kill some time in a bookmakers and placed a bet on the 13:30 Wincanton, at least that's what I was told. I never actually saw the race due to an absurd amount of fog. The horses appeared on screen only three times and I heard my horse mentioned once. Not the greatest viewing experience I've ever had.
I bought a chicken and bacon pastie from The West Country Pastie Company, the server did warn me that it had just come out of the oven but dear God ,was it hot! I ended up with what felt like third degree burns on both my fingers and in my mouth. A nice pastie but way, way too hot.
This didn't turn out to be a ground that I loved, it is situated at the edge of a large City car park which gave it a bit of a soulless feel. There is a clubhouse with a little bar and this is situated on a building above the changing rooms. There is a small stand on the far side and a couple of covered standing areas, one on each side.
The game itself was played in front of a reasonable sized crowd and was pretty good. Buckland were always on top and had a 2-0 half time lead including a 25 yard outside of the foot rocket that was as good a finish as you will see at any level. Chichester good one back through their impressive centre forward and despite giving it a good go, couldn't get back on terms and the final goal wrapped the game up with 12 minutes to go.
Enjoyable contest in an interesting town.