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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.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Newport Pagnell Town FC


Newport Pagnell Town 3 London Colney 1


Far side stand


London's calling!

Newport Pagnell Town 3 London Colney 1

The more ticks that I get, the harder it becomes to find a suitable tie to visit. Fortunately this fitted the bill and a  not too difficult journey is always a bonus.
The Mrs was singing with her Rock Choir at St Pancras station, this gave me the opportunity to be chief coat holder for half an hour and to watch the 20 minute set. I have to say that they were really good, certainly drew a crowd and it seemed to be well received all round.
I kind of new where I was going with this ground. I'd actually been past it a few years ago when I think I was traveling to Olney, made a mental note that it was easy to reach by bus from Milton Keynes station and parked it in the 'to be done' section of my brain.
I walked to Euston Station from St Pancras and the journey to Milton Keynes went without incident.
I only had 10 minutes until my bus was due and not knowing what I'd find food wise, I decided to buy a Coronation chicken sandwich from a supermarket next to the station. Big mistake, it was truly, truly horrible and will never be purchased again.
I had buckets of time and decided to stay on the bus to have a nose around the town of Newport Pagnell. I quite liked it really, a reasonable size and yet not too busy, I guess everyone shops in MK. I dropped into a Corals, placed a small each way bet on a 7/1 shot at Sandown and came out of the shop 15 minutes later, 40p better off. I bumped into a chippy and decided to buy a portion of chips to take away the taste of the sandwich, an excellent decision, they were fab!
The ground is only a 5-10 minute walk from the town and I found my way again with absolutely no trouble.
A small clubhouse was showing the Premiership game and I watched the last 25 minutes before venturing into the ground.
In the ground, there are two small stands, one on each side and a small tea bar.
I really liked the feel of this place, it came across as a family club and very good humoured. A lady went around the clubhouse individually selling programmes, there was banter galore amongst the locals and all very good humoured, at the end of the game, another lady went round the ground asking everyone individually who they thought their man of the match was, not sure I've ever had that before.
A kids penalty shoot-out on the pitch at half time is always an enjoyable edition and certainly passed that dead time quickly.
As for the game, Newport Pagnell scored early, but when London Colney equalised on 27 mins, you felt they would go forward and win comfortably. But they completely lost their way in the second half and Newport Pagnell were excellent in taking the game to them and won it with goals in the 73rd and 90th minutes.
A club that I had been 'waiting to do' and did not disappoint.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Wadham Lodge FC


Wadham Lodge 0 Ely City 3


Stand at Wadham Lodge


Near end and tea bar


Wadham dis-lodged

Wadham Lodge 0 Ely City 3

 Had a mate’s 50th birthday party in the evening, sci-fi themed and I was going dressed as a clanger. Had to stay fairly local then and I decided that Wadham Lodge nicely fitted the bill.
Needless to say, there were signal problems and the trains were running late. Beyond packed on the trip to London, people were actually unable to get on at the next two steps. Simply shocking service with absolutely no thought of the health and safety of customer’s.
Fortunately the Victoria line was fine and it was then a 5 minute overground train to Wood Street station.
I love discovering new parts of London and was delighted to be greeted by a selection of eating establishments. I chose one of those no thrills cafes that does a huge selection of meals at very reasonable prices. I selected spaghetti Bolognese with chips. In my ignorance, I expected chips to be covered by the bolognese sauce. But no, I got a complete portion of Spag. Bol. with chips to the side. Won’t win any awards for fine dining, but very nice on a miserable day.
An enjoyable walk through the High Street taking in the shops and generally having a nose around, the ground is about a 20 minute walk from the station but very easy to find.
Quite a useful complex with a handful of 5-a-side courts that I’m sure bring some revenue in. It really had been a miserable day, heavy rain in the morning and although it had eased off, it was still like somebody had left a tap dripping and there was a constant fine drizzle.
There is a good amount of cover at the ground with a seated stand on the near side and most of the far end and near end covered. The clubhouse is up a flight of stairs and looks out over the pitch. I have to say, the pitch was immaculate despite the rotten weather, the club had tweeted earlier in the day that the game was definitely on and to be fair, there was never a doubt.
Not a bad game, end to end from the start and lots of endeavour and effort. Ely won this by blitzing Wadham Lodge in a 10 minute spell just after the half hour.
A header from a corner, an angled shot and an unfortunate own goal did the damage. Wadham Lodge never quit to their credit and had the better of the second period. But it was not to be their day and luck wasn’t on their side.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Calne Town FC


Calne Town 0 Torpoint Athletic 2


The near side


Tree lined far end


Calne off 'point

Calne 0 Torpoint 2

It's always a long trek to this league and I don't visit as much as I should. But I decided to throw caution to the wind on a nice day and off I set.
My first train was actually a minute early, that happens about once a year if you're lucky. Thankfully, normal service was resumed with chaos at Kings Cross station due to various lines being closed on the Tube due to engineering works.
A distraught European lady rushed up to me looking for how she could now reach St Paul's. I walked her over to a tube map and plotted out a route. The look of concern in her face as she went on her way put me a little on edge, why are there never any staff about to help people like this?
Having reached Paddington, I made my way to the platform as it was indicated on the board and took my designated seat. I was one of the first on board, the next thing I know, frantic cleaning staff were rushing up and down the carriage yelling "You shouldn't have been let on, the train isn't clean."
In their World, this was probably their equivalent to a stock market crash, I did resist the temptation to point out that I'd never seen a clean train in 40 years and actually felt a little sorry for them.
The journey to Chippenham went without incident and I then had a pleasant 10 minute wait for the bus to Calne in warm sunshine. The bus journey only took about 25 minutes, it probably would have been 15 but the bus driver seemed to know every single passenger and insisted on having a little chat with every one of them.
I then proceeded to get horribly lost in Calne, I normally have a good sense of direction but I just couldn't get my bearings. I walked about five minutes down one road before realising that it was definitely the wrong way.  I ended up staring at a map I found on five different occasions until I finally worked out the way to go.
It was actually a very simple ten minute walk along a straight road.
I quite liked the ground which had a small stand on the far side and was railed off. I soon met a fellow ground hopper and had an enjoyable five minute chat about places that we had both recently visited.
There was a strange bobble on the far touchline that on a couple of occasions, kept the ball in when it looked certain to go out of play.
The game itself was not bad although Torpoint were always the better side and looked most likely to score, Calne just seemed to be a bit flat throughout.
Torpoint scored on 29 mins when a forward stole in front of his defender to toe in a cross from the left.
The second came on 62 mins as a Calne substitute had a horrendous 15 minutes. First he put through his own net from the edge of the six yard area, then he was booked for dissent and finally, got a second yellow after starting a scuffle and was sent off. The own goal would be excused by his team mates, the two yellow cards were just plain foolish.
An enjoyable trip and always nice to get a Western league team ticked off. 

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.