Sunday, 30 April 2017

A dream come true

Sunday 30 April 2017, Achilles 2 Crane Sports 1 - Suffolk Senior Cup Final, Portman Road

My favourite local cup final - every Senior Cup final I watch it is so obvious that for the players it is a dream come true to play at Portman Road.  There is much argument about the location of cup finals with some seasons seeing 4 being played at Portman Rd. This year the Senior Cup is the only one with 8  more being played at Colchester United! Not a fan of all finals being played at Ipswich Town but would keep the Senior Cup Final there for ever and probably the Junior Cup and the Womens Final.

It is not only the players who love there day out- family, fans enjoy the experience and today it was great to bump into the Achilles Chair, Dave Morgan - who had waited so long to see Achilles win the cup - guess a few beers will be sunk at the Pauls club tonight.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Season can't finish quick enough

Saturday 29 April 2017, Ipswich Town 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1 - Championship, Portman Road

Last home game of the season and one that will be easily forgotten.

Monday, 24 April 2017

A win but we finish with 10 men

Wednesday 19 April 2017, Ipswich Town Academy 3 Crystal Palace Academy 0  - Professional Development League, Two South,  Playford Road Training Ground

A cracking home game to finish the season, but an easy win slightly spoiled by a needless sending off.

Easy, easy!

Monday 24 April 2017, Ipswich Town Under 23s 6 Coventry City Under 23s 0 - Professional Development League, Division 2, Portman Road

Last game of the season and finish with an easy win - plenty to cheer.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Relegated - but a cracking ground.

Saturday 22 April 2017, Chatham Town 0 Lewes 0 - Ryman League, Division One South, Sports Ground, Maidstone Road

Chatham are down but they were the better team today as Lewes seemed to have already left for their holiday! But for all their domination they never looked like scoring- maybe the reason they were relegated?

This ground  will be a loss to the Ryman League, 2 cracking side stands - very different in style, a bar, club shop, obviously a club that cares about it's history - hope it is just one season away from the Ryman.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Sir Bobby Robson Day - and a win

Monday 17 April 2017, Ipswich Town 3 Newcastle United 1 - Championship, Portman Road

We won, we played well, there was big crowd and money was raised for the Sir Bobby Robson foundation - all in all a great day.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Close to home

Saturday 15 April 2017, Achilles 3 Capel Plough 2 - Suffolk & Ipswich League, Senior Division - Paul's Sports and Social Club

After last weekend in Belgarde and a long drive on Friday for 2 games today I decided to stay local. Achilles are on the other side of Ipswich to me but their enthusiastic chairman lives in my street so I had promised to visit.

Paul's Sports club used to be a lot bigger but part of the site was sold for housing but sports facilities were kept and along with the football the site includes a bowls and tennis club. Add to that a large car park and a good clubhouse it is an excellent place to watch your Saturday afternoon football. Another advantage of just leaving one pitch on the site is that the ground has an enclosed feel to it. The social club is just a few feet from the goal line and the large trees on one side of the ground plus large buses behind the goal keeps the wind off the pitch and also gives some shade on a sunny day.

Achilles are currently second in the Suffolk & Ipswich League but may run out of games to try and catch the leaders but they do have 2 cup finals to look forward to, whilst their opponents Capel are fighting to stay in the league. I had watched Capel win a Senior Cup quarter final a few weeks ago but they then had gone on to lose to Achilles in the semi so they were not only seeking points to stay up but also to gain some revenge for their cup defeat,

Achilles have some quality players and they quickly took control of the game and their supremacy was rewarded with two goals but they could not add to the total and just before the break, Capel scored a great goal from a free kick and went in just one behind at half time.

The second half followed the same pattern of Achilles domination, they hit the bar, the post but had to wait to late on to add a third goal - that should have been it but Capel never gave up and on one of their limited visits to the Achilles half the home team keeper had a nightmare when dealing with a back pass and handed Capel a tap in for a second goal but Capel never looked like pushing on for an equaliser.

I was impressed with Achilles even if they made hard work of what should have been an easy win, the Capel number 9 also had a great game. Both sides attempted to play a passing game and it was a good game to watch. Very little for the ref to do and very little arguing or whinging from either team - may have been helped by the absence of the Capel player who was sent off in the cup quarter final from the match.

A crowd of 80 plus also indicated that Achilles have a good following and the bar was doing good business, but Capel may get smaller crowds but they are champions when it comes to cake and food at their clubhouse.

We are not going for a Burton!

Friday 14 April 2017, Burton Albion 1 Ipswich Town 2 - Championship, Pirelli Stadium

Mick like Luke Varney when he played for us and after his own goal put us on our way to an away win and almost certain safety I guess 'Reg' will still be on his Xmas card list

New modern build ground, not sure how they will make it all seater if they stay in the Championship.

Big Jon

Friday 14 April 2017, Solihull Moors 1 York City 2 - National League, Automated Technology Stadium

York City are on their way to Wembley but at the same time are struggling to stay in the top non-league division. Maybe a surprise to many when their team has experienced Pro's in their side like Scott Loach and 'Big' Jon Parkin.

Scott would have little to do till the second half but Jon was involved in everything in the first half, when York got a free kick over 30 yards out it was Jon who strolled up to take it - too far out I thought, but with all that weight behind him Jon can hit a ball, it beat the keeper, hit the post and a York played followed up to put the visitors one up. A second soon followed and it just seemed to be how many they would score but just before the break and brilliantly taken free kick and Solihull were back in the game.

The second half was all Solihull, not sure why York stopped playing but they did, so now Jon Parkin was quiet and it was Scott Loach who had to show why he had played at a higher level.

Solihull threw everything at York but the visitors held on and jumped the hosts in the table. But if Solihull keep playing like that they should still reach safety.

The ground was packed and i loved the fantastic main stand with an executive tier perched on top of it. A good day out.

Dodgy Ref

Sunday 9 April 2017, FK Rad 0 FK Red Star Belgrade 4 - Supa Liga, Stadion Kralj Petar I

Last game of the tour and the one where we expected a full house and a chance to see the top team in Serbia.

First off all it was not a full house with plenty of room in our stand and the home terrace, but the Red Star fans were packing into a top tier cage - they sang all game but did not seem to take much notice of the match.

The home fans, vastly outnumbered by Red Sta supporters waved a few flags, sung a few songs but they seemed to know they were only at the game to make the numbers up. But like Partizan on Satuirday the (dodgy) ref seemed keen to make sure the top team won. Just in front of us the home team had a stone wall penalty turned down and after that  Red Star woke up and took control of the game.

Dodgy officials? cheating? Not sure but it certainly seemed far from a competitive even game.

The stadium was 2 sided and our stand still looked like it was only partly built and the home terrace was lacking anything but a few concrete steps.

But like the way the VIP seats were just posh chairs from the club restaurant!

'El Tankeo'

Sunday 9 April 2017, FK Selo Mladenovac 4 OFK Mladenovac 2 - Beogradska Liga Grupa 'C' - Stadion Selters

The M84 'Derby' - we journeyed outside the capital to the small town of Mladenovac, once the home to a factory that made the Yugoslav version of the Russian T72 Tank.

The home team used to be the tank factory side and you could see the deserted factory from the pitch - they had recently had a poor run of results and so started as underdogs against their town rivals.

We arrived to find an old railway carriage outside the ground, this was where you got your local coffee before the game - as usual this was given free!

We were given a verbal history of the club, invited to be in the team picture and then aft wards we shared a few glasses of the local firewater - Slivovitz - as we helped them celebrate a great home win.

We watched the game in the sun, chatted to each other and were yet again surprised how friendly the locals had been to a bunch of English groundhoppers- certainly my favourite game of the weekend.

No pens allowed but pyrotechnics are OK!

Saturday 8 April 2017, Partizan Belgrade 2 FK Radnik Surdulica 1 - Supa Liga, Stadion Partizan

After the morning game which contained plenty of good football, with the players all being very talented technically it was surprising how poor the first team game was - and the result also looked quite dodgy!

Partizan needed a win but the opponents scored first- certainly not in the planned script, Partizan got back in the game and then the Ref did not want any more upsets, so he sent a few of the Surdulica players off just to make sure Partisan got over the line- well that is what seemed to happen to most of us watching.

Now I want to go back to Belgrade for the derby match v Red Star, and even today there was trouble even with no away fans present- it seemed that the Red Star Ultras turned up to burn a few Partizan flags outside the ground then one Red Star fan was spotted in the ground- a quick chase and fight followed.

The ground itself is typical of the East European bowl, but luckily the rain kept off as not much cover. We had very little pyrotechnic use but some were smuggled into the ground- not sure how? As our group even had their pens confiscated!! How did they expect these groundhoppers to fill in their legendary notebooks?

Technically superb = Partizan U19 v FK Brodarac U19

Saturday 8 April 2017, Partizan Belgrade U19 1 FK Brodarac 4 - Omladinska Liga, SC Partizan-Teleoptik

Now together as a group of 45 intrepid groundhoppers we set off by coach for the Partizan training ground. A Government Minister and made sure that Partizan had a set up as good as many in the west. The ground, locally known as 'Zemunelo' is also home to FK Teleoptik a team at the top of the Srpska Liga Beograd Zona (Regional third division).

A crowd of almost 400 were at the game which was a local derby and it was the visitors who dominated and were by far the better team, I found out one of the possible reasons from our guide who is also a sports journalist. The Partizan team were actually Under 18 whilst their opponents Under 19. It seems at 18 the Partizan players find themselves on 'loan' at Teleoptik. So the club who share the ground seem to be a Partizan nursery club. Not sure if taht will be able to continue if Teleoptik get promotion (they were top at the time of our visit).

The quality of the football was excellent and easy on par with the academy football in  England. there is also much more public support for the U19 teams than in the UK.

Only issue was that we were quite cold as the rain always threatened - disappointing as we heard the UK was in the middle of a mini heatwave!

For a better report of this game, check the blog from Peter Miles