Monday, 23 November 2009

Barrow AFC vs AFC Wimbledon (14/11/09)

Match 61

Ground #: 34

Ground: Holker Street

Competition: Blue Square Premier (Level 5)

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £10 (student ticket)

Programme: £2.50

Attendance: 1,614

Barrow AFC 2

Lorraine (O.G) 32’, Walker 48’

AFC Wimbledon 2

Godfrey 63’, Main 76’


Within every group of friends at school, college or university, you always have one, that is a little weird. One that doesn’t actually like football. We had one of these peculiar beings within our friend group at university until one day he told me that he indeed liked football and even supported a team, AFC Wimbledon. Wanting to go to watch some of the Dons Northern league games this season and not go on his own, I offered to go to the new English county of Atlantis (formally known as Cumbria – although the weather was fine when we went) to see Wimbledon take on Barrow as part of a possible Dons double this season. (Possibly off to a fancy dress party in Gateshead in April) Normally I travel to games by car and so miss a lot of the pre-match build up fans have on the train but anyone who has driven to Barrow-on-Furness will understand why I didn’t fancy driving down the ONLY road to get into the town and so me and my pal took the train. Getting on the train at Lancaster, we were both surprised by the large amount of Dons fans on the train including a group of 4 lads who had decided to make the 285 mile journey with coloured lycra covering the whole body, including their faces. Top effort, sadly I didn’t have the bottle to ask for picture of them.


The train journey was also an experience including a whole carriage rendition of Rod Stewart’s “Sailing” when going over a bridge over Morecambe Bay. We arrived into Barrow with good time and made our way (once we picked up another fan – his Dad) to Holker Street. Barrow-in-Furness is an industrial town and seaport in Cumbria which did used to be part of Lancashire until 1974. Barrow then became a major exporter of steel during the industrial revolution and then became a major shipbuilder which is still in evidence today, as town is the largest manufacturer of submarines in the UK. Since most of the shipbuilders have left, unemployment has become a major part of the town and so it is hoped a new regeneration plan can help the town as its needed. The place is quite grim, although I have been to worse places. (I’m looking at you here, Newport) The town’s main team, Barrow AFC were members of the Football League until they dropped out in 1972 and have floated around in non-league football since. In 2008 they were promoted back to the ‘top-flight’ of non-league, into the Blue Square Premier where they have struggled being a part-time club and spent their 1st season narrowly avoiding relegation. This season has seen an improvement and they went into this game in 16th place (out of 24) but a good 9 points clear of relegation. Their ground, Holker Street is set amongst the picturesque background of Cumbrian mountains and is a fairly decent ground with lots of character. The home fans have two covered stands to chose from which both run down the side of the pitch – one is a seated stand and the larger stand the other side is terracing. Away supporters get an uncovered terracing area (shown below) that is behind one goal and also has two corner sections that could also be stood in. Behind the other goal was a tiny standing area, but was taken up by the club’s office building and bar.


AFC Wimbledon are (in)famous in the non-league as they were the club born out of the relocation of the old Wimbledon FC who moved to Milton Keynes to become MK Dons. The club’s supporters were not going to let the Wimbledon name die and so set up their own club in 2002 and have risen up the leagues since then and clinched promotion into the Blue Square Premier for this season by winning Blue Square South in 08/09. A great amount of Dons fans had made the trip up to Barrow (337 of them) and were in good voice just before kick-off when the club’s management team came over to thank them for making the long trip. However as soon as the game kicked off, it was clear that the Wimbledon players did not fancy the cold (and slightly) wet conditions as Barrow over-ran them completely early on. It also didn’t help that when Wimbledon got into good positions in the Barrow half (that were few and far between), a hopeless ball or poor vision meant that Barrow easily got the ball away. It was no surprise then to see where the first goal went and summed up the Dons performance perfectly. Jon Main had the ball well inside Barrow’s half when an awful ball was played straight to a Barrow midfielder who attacked with pace through Craig Nelthorpe who’s cross was perfectly sliced in by Paul Lorraine. Shame he’s a Wimbledon player. 1-0. The rest of the half was a non-event as Barrow easily dealt with everything (and it wasn’t much) that Wimbledon had to throw at them.


At half-time I bought what I presumed was a burger (my 4th choice) and that now romped ahead into “worst food of the season” as I couldn’t even finish it. And I was starving. We also at half-time met a Sunderland/Wimbledon fan who’s daughter was a Hibs fan (work that one out) and we all agreed that Wimbledon needed to improve and do something fast in the 2nd half to get something from this game. Three minutes into the 2nd half, they had done something. Gone 0-2 down as they had chance after chance to clear a corner and in the end it fell to Barrow’s top scorer Jason Walker who easily passed the ball into the net for a simple goal. It looked now like game over but Wimbledon did still try and battle back into the match. They were also helped by Barrow deciding to take it easy and the Dons sensed this as more chances started to come their way. They did get back into it on 63 minutes when a simple cross was spilled by Barrow “goalie” (I use that loosely – he was shite) Stuart Tomlinson and Elliot Godfrey was on hand to tap in. Wimbledon fans were finding their voice well now and we almost had a pitch invasion on 76 minutes when Barrow couldn’t clear a corner and again Tomlinson instead of trying to make something resembling a save, pushed the ball to Jon Main. Only one outcome here and it was 2-2. The final 15 minutes were great entertainment as both sides believed they could win the game as Wimbledon pushed more men forward to try and gain the win while Barrow hit them back on the counter attack. It was Barrow that came closest to snatching the win when they won a late free kick and Nelthorpe’s shot hit the post and heaven knows how Jason Walker then missed as Wimbledon just managed to get it clear. Wimbledon will be delighted with this point in the circumstances.


Quite easily the most entertaining of the games I’d seen this season, and it was also great to travel with the Dons fans from Lancaster. Holker Street is a decent ground that could be redeveloped if needed, although I can’t ever see myself going back to Barrow now that I’ve been here. So this fancy dress away day in Gateshead on April 24th??

Photos from Barrow vs Wimbledon


Match Ratings:

- Match: 7.5/10 (great Blue Square action)

- Value for money: 4/10 (I pay £10 at Morecambe, who are a league higher…)

- Ground: 6/10 (firmly in the “old school” variety)

- Atmosphere: 7/10 (great noise from Dons fans)

- Food: 2/10 (no bacon roll, no hot dog or cheese – then an awful burger)

- Programme: 5/10 (fairly decent, not worth the £2.50 though)

- Referee: R.West – 5/10 (so so fussy)

Barrow vs Dons prog

Barrow vs Dons ticket

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Lancaster City vs Ramsbottom United (10/11/09)

Match 60

Ground #: 18 (2nd visit)

Ground: Giant Axe

Competition: Lancashire FA Co-Op Trophy 2nd Round

Kick Off: 7:45pm

Cost: £5 (student ticket)

Programme: £1.50

Attendance: 106

Lancaster City 4

Jarvis 10’, Farrell 96’,108’, Bowyer (O.G) 101’

Ramsbottom United 1

Edgington 43’, Morley m/pen 90’+1

(After Extra Time)


PREVIOUS VISITS: 07/03/09 – Lancaster City 3-5 Salford City (Unibond Div 1 North)

Bit of an obscure match for number 60 as I took time out of a busy week (probably stupidly) to go watch Lancaster again. Its always good to support your local team and tonight they were playing in the Lancashire FA Co-Operative Challenge Trophy. A cup for senior non-league clubs who are members of the Lancashire County FA. It is officially the junior cup to the Lancashire Senior Cup (which features the Football League and Premiership teams of Lancashire), the trophy is still important to the clubs who enter as they on the whole, play their 1st teams in the competition. Also for this season, the final will actually take place at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium instead of the County FA Ground which is in Leyland. Being a night match I was also looking to see how the camera on my phone would cope as my patience is beginning to wear thin with it. As you can see from the picture below, not very well.


(You can maybe just make out the fixture sign if you enlarge the picture!) This also being my first re-visit since I started writing this blog, I won’t go into much detail about Lancaster’s home, The Giant Axe as nothing has changed since I came in March. Although I did have a drink in the very nice clubhouse this time. If you do want to read more about the ground, click the “Previous Visits” link above. Lancaster’s visitors tonight were Vodkat Premier side Ramsbottom United who were having a decent season in the league below Lancaster and currently were in 5th place going into this game. Promotion however looks to have gone as Newcastle Town already look to have sown up top spot by winning 17 out of 17 games played so far. Ramsbottom were also dealt a blow in their last league game with a 5-1 defeat at high flying New Mills. Going into the game it looked like Lancaster were favourites but as a wise comment on the Dolly Blue’s Forum stated, “Do not underestimate the strength of the Vodkat” (the League, not the drink – I presume Vodkat is quite strong to drink)


The game kicked off with both sides going on the attack with was good to see as this looked to be the makings of a very good cup tie. It was Lancaster who broke the deadlock on 10 minutes when a brilliant through ball from Mark Jackson put through Mike Rushton who cut back to Paul Jarvis who scored with ease from inside the 6 yard box. The game then quietened down only for a serious injury to hold the game up for a good 10 minutes when Dominic Ward collapsed into the turf with dislocated ligament damage in his left ankle. Ramsbottom used this stoppage to regroup and should have been level when another long through ball caught out the Lancaster defence but Anthony Johnson’s shot was straight at Neil Beesley. If that was a warning to Lancaster, they didn’t take it when two minutes before half-time, the Vodkat League side were level when a low ball drilled in from the right was poked home by Matt Edgington to make it 1-1 at half-time.


The 2nd half was basically all Lancaster as fate and unluckiness contrived to deny them a victory. Shots were cleared off the line or just agonisingly went wide. (You can tell I’m writing this well after the event eh? ;) ) The major action of the half came right at the end when Neil Marshall allowed far too much space for John Robertson to run into and before he could get his shot away, he was clipped and a penalty was awarded! Marshall was also lucky to stay on the field, but I presume the referee couldn’t be bothered to send him off when the game was about to be won. Sadly though, although I was quite happy about it. Bernard Morley (who is a centre back) confidently strode up to take the kick, and his penalty flew far far away over the bar. Cue loads of laughter and the Ramsbottom players stunned. Extra time it was.


Fitness played the part in Extra-time as Lancaster scored 3 times with ease as Ramsbottom had no real answer to the Unibond side. Firstly Farrell was found with a cross on the line and he scored from about 2 yards out, before Paul Jarvis had a cross diverted into his own net by George Bowyer and that was really game over. Lancaster did have time in the 2nd half of extra-time to wrap the game up with Adam Farrell drilling a low shot home from the outside the penalty area. Lancaster were through to the quarter-finals and closer to a game at the Reebok.

Firstly, another apology for this report being so late! (Barrow will be up by Friday) I was waiting for the Lancaster goal scorers being confirmed before I wrote this. I also dunno how many revisits I’ll do, depends if I keep going to see the same team really. And that Hearts season ticket seems an eternity away. Good game to see on a rare midweek match for myself and only for a £5. Oh so cold though.


Match Ratings:

- Match: 7/10 (good entertainment, and an extra 30 mins too)

- Value for money: 6/10 (no problems with £5)

- Ground: 7/10 (decent ground, can now compare it to other Unibond grounds too)

- Atmosphere: 7/10 (lively)

- Food: 7/10 (always good at the Giant Axe)

- Programme: 6/10 (has improved on last season)

- Referee: Michael Salisbury – 5/10 (let the game boil over too much)

Lancs vs Rammy prog

Lancs vs Rammy ticket

Friday, 6 November 2009

Road to Wembley (November 09’)


This was actually a feature I had wanted to do at the start of the season in August and update it every month and have only got round could be bothered to do it now. Basically, having seen a game in each of the three main FA Competitions this season and all of them in the very 1st round of that competition too, I just wanted to see how each victor from the games I saw got on and who they could have been playing, etc. I’ll update this once a month until May when the final of the FA Cup, Trophy and Vase take place so it should be an interesting few months ahead in the cups!

FA Cup:

Having seen Barnstaple dispatch Tavistock in the Extra Preliminary Round they then faced Wessex Premier side Poole Town who they only marginally lost 7-2 to. Poole then were favourites to beat fellow Western Premier team Willand Rovers but the Devon side managed a 1-0 win where they faced Bath City in the 2nd Qualifying Round. Bath won that 5-0 before also hammering Bishop’s Cleeve in Quali R 3 before a showdown at Twerton Park against AFC Totton. Bath raced into a 3-0 lead before two late Totton goals gave them a scare, but Bath were through to the 1st Round proper where they play Grimsby Town tomorrow. A game they actually might win as Grimsby are doing everything they possibly can to get relegated this season.


Extra Prelim Round: Barnstaple Town 3-1 Tavistock (Att: 124)
Prelim Round: Poole Town 7-2 Barnstaple Town (232)
1st Qualifying Round: Willand Rovers 1-0 Poole Town (163)
2nd Qualifying Round: Willand Rovers 0-5 Bath City (422)
3rd Qualifying Round: Bishop's Cleeve 1-4 Bath City (398)
4th Qualifying Round: Bath City 3-2 AFC Totton (740)
1st Round: Grimsby Town - Bath City ()

FA Trophy:

Having not gone to Derbyshire to watch the Belper Town vs Clitheroe replay in the Trophy Preliminary Round, I was quite surprised to find out Clitheroe won 4-1 away at Belper to go through to play Bradford Park Avenue in the 1st Qualifying Round. Another surprise at Clitheroe won here 1-0 (maybe they can only play good football on a flat pitch?) to set up a 2nd Qualifying Round tie at Salford City. A game I was meant to be at and missed was an 8 goal classic (*sigh*) with Salford coming through 5-3. As the Qualifying Rounds are regionalised, Salford would have been delighted to find out that their 3rd Qualifying Round game is away at local rivals Kings Lynn. Only 164 miles away in Norfolk. Kings Lynn are also in the Unibond Premier meaning they are seen as a “Northern” club. Hmm… (Thanks to Google Maps for the picture)

the North


Preliminary Round: Clitheroe 1-1 Belper Town (164)
Prelim Round Replay: Belper Town 1-4 Clitheroe (152)
1st Qualifying Round: Bradford Park Avenue 0-1 Clitheroe (310)
2nd Qualifying Round: Salford City 5-3 Clitheroe (143)
3rd Qualifying Round: Kings Lynn - Salford City ()

FA Vase:

The Vase doesn’t really get going until later this month so fewer games have been played in this competition even though we are now already in Round 2. Melksham’s win over Marlow United saw them take on another Hellenic Premier club in Fairford Town which Melksham cruised to win 5-2. They crashed out however in the 1st Round proper at Almondsbury Town who also are a Hellenic Premier team. They play Christchurch in Round 2.


1st Qualifying Round: Melksham Town 3-1 Marlow United (61)
2nd Qualifying Round: Melksham Town 5-2 Fairford Town (50)
1st Round: Almondsbury Town 3-1 Melksham Town (40)
2nd Round: Christchurch - Almondsbury Town ()