Thursday, 29 September 2016

And the lights went out!

Wednesday 28 September 2016, AFC Croydon Athletic 2 Beckenham Town 0 - Southern Counties East League, Mayfield Stadium (Keith Tuckey Stadium)

A trip to South London, and a strange drive down a number of narrow lanes- then you reach a great little ground. Friendly welcome from a club sitting on top of the table.

An early goal made me think it would be a great night of football, but the visitors failed to buckle and it ended up a scrappy game - then the problem!  The floodlights failed after 68 minutes, but after a break of 20 minutes the club officials , sorted out the problem.

A second goal gave Croydon the win, their 8th league win on the trot as they stay on top of the table.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

A real right back?

Tuesday 27 September 2016, Ipswich Town 0 Brighton and Hove Albion 0 - Championship, Portman Road

Novelty of playing at right back at right back?

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Home to Guillem

Saturday 24 September 2016, Biggleswade United 3 Woodbridge Town 0 - FA Vase, 2nd Qualifying Round, Second Meadow

An easy win for the home team in this Vase match - but there is something going on at Second Meadow - neat little ground, big kids academy and small if slightly dilapidated club house - but it is this clubhouse you get a clue that this is not just your usual non-league club.

On the wall are over 72 framed pictures, large colour pictures and in each one the person is holding up a Biggleswade United shirt - but these are not just 72 strangers, these are football royalty, from Messi to Maradona, Zola to Cappello. How come there are on the wall at this small club house? the answer is in who is Director of Football here - a certain Guillam Balague of Sky TV/Spanish football fame - he has used his contcats well to get the pictures. But on the pitch he has also got the club a Spanish manager and this week they had journalists from a French newspaper at the club looking at their Spanish style football academy - as I said at the start, not your usual non-league club.

The game that divided the town

Friday 23 September 2016, Haverhill Borough 1 Haverhill Rovers 0 - FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round - New Croft (3G)

Not sure if the town was divided, but made a good slogan for the programme cover and rather than divided it seemed to bring the town out together as 654 (plus loads of freebies) turned up at the new G3 ground next to the existing home of Rovers.

A bit feisty on the pitch as the Borough captain saw red, this was the first ever local derby between the teams and to make it even more spicier, most of the Rovers team and their manager were at Borough last year!

The new ground, is better than I thought for a G3 stadia, small seated stand, small terrace and hard standing on one side - you can only view the pitch from two sides, and even with the changing rooms shared they have built their own small club house/tea bar and to top the night off the FA even had the Vase along to witness this memorable night in West Suffolk.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

How long left, Ref?

Tuesday 20 September 2016, Potters Bar Town 3 Canvey Island 2 - FA Cup 2nd qualifying round, replay - Parkfield

I enjoy my trips to non league grounds, the chatter in the stands, the odd stands and strange clubhouses - the run day stadiums, quirky venues and sometime you also see some good football. But last night had a bit off all that and a fantastic, close cup tie to boot.

A ground close to the M25, a side of the ground overlooked by flats, a small clubhouse, plenty of groundhoppers, the usual wag in the crowd with their funny comments and a home team well on top who then decided to play for time and nearly ended up going to extra time!

The ref could have booked a number of Potters Bar players for time wasting but did not - where he was right though was that he added on all the minutes wasted and almost on the whistle the Potters Bar keeper (who wasted the most time) had to make a finger tip save to stop the game going on past 10pm. The two teams certainly served up the best game I had seen this season so far.

Monday, 19 September 2016

We all hate Leeds

Monday 19 September 2016, Ipswich Town Under 23 4 Leeds United U23 0 - Professional Development League 2, Portman Road

Even when we beat them!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Not like 1981

Saturday 17 September 2016, Ipswich Town Aston Villa - Championship, Portman Road

80/81 season, played each other 3 times and we won all three, full house at Villa Park - they pip us for the league and we end up also losing in a FA Cup semi but did pick up some silverware with the UEFA Cup in Amsterdam.

The following season we finish again close to the top of the table whilst Villa win the European Cup (Champions League, for younger readers) - how times have changed? We now meet in a Championship game with Villa not having a great start to their return to a lower division.

Today they had most of the ball and ex England international on the bench, a player tipped as a future England star pulling the strings in midfield and missed a sitter - but it is  Ipswich who should have won, we had 5 great chances in the 8 minutes of injury time and Freddie Sears had 3 of those chances - after today i would not be betting on Villa making a quick return to the top division.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Men of Kent or Kentish men?

Wednesday 14 September 2016, Rochester United 2 Chessington and Hook United 1 - FA Vase Qualifying, Round 1 replay, Rochester United Sports Ground

Many explanations are given to explain if you are a 'Man of Kent' or a 'Kentish Man' - but the most common is on which side of the River Medway are you born. That may be an issue for Rochester fans - as the Medway town is to the south of the river, whilst the club is actually based to the north in Strood.

Then again the club have only been called Rochester Utd since 2012, before that they were called Bly Spartans, a club that had started as Sunday football club in the Medway area. Wonder of the club name was a play on the name of a more famous North east non-league football team?

Rochester may be a young club, but they are not hanging around, moving up the Kent leagues and improving their facilities as they move upwards- a good clubhouse, a large stand but pitch still poor and not many supporters- have they reached as far as they can go?

For the Vase, the answer is no as a well deserved win puts them into the next round, a good game with the star (for once) being the ref who controlled what could have become a feisty game.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Best of it

Monday 5 September 2016, Ipswich Town Under 23 2 Millwall Under 23 1 - U23 Professional Development League, Division 2 - Ipswich Town Training Ground

Talking of Best- new Ipswich player, Leon Best scored again (2 games, 2 goals) but more concerning for the manager and supporters is after he scored he limped off and needed a lift on the back of the golf buggy to get back to the changing rooms

Sunday, 4 September 2016

The nuts have it!

Saturday 3 September 2016, Kempston Rovers 3 Harefield United 2 - FA Cup, 1st Round Qualifying , Hillgrounds Leisure

Two divisions between the teams, home side recently promoted and started life in a higher division still winning whilst their opponents recently suffered relegation this game looked quite easy for the home team 'the walnuts' and after half an hour of play they found themselves two up and it looked like it would be a long day for the visitors from Middlesex.

But a combination of the home team taking it easy and the 'Hares' raising their game we got a brilliant second half and the visitors almost grabbed (a deserved) replay with a late free kick.

The ground is neat and provides all the facilities you require - seats, terracing, cover, a bar and even free refills of coffee and tea!

Bedfordshire FA also involved with the set up so two training pitches plus room for further stands to be built - trouble is who will watch them? Only 138 there today- friendly, welcoming and passionate but with so many other teams in the area have Kempston reached as high as they can in the football pyramid?