Friday, 31 December 2010

Cockfosters vs Harpenden Town (14/12/10)

Match 101

Ground #: 68

Ground: Chalk Lane

Competition: Spartan South Midland League 1st Division (Level 10)

Kick Off: 7:45pm

Cost: £3 (student)

Programme: £1

Attendance: 41

Cockfosters 0 

Harpenden Town 0

_____________________________________________________________

Well this was a bonus! Having to stay overnight in London for a massive (but successful!) day in London the next day saw me have a spare evening in the capital. Cheekily looking at nearby, but affordable games to spend my evening at. While there were other options (Brentford, Redbridge, etc) I decided to head North from Central London to the Borough of Enfield and Cockfosters league match against Harpenden Town.

IMG_0279

Cockfosters is a suburb of North London lying partly in Enfield and partly in Barnet. The name of the area can be traced back to 1524 as it is thought to be the name of a family or the name of a house. One suggestion that it was residence to the cock forester (or chief forester). Also in Cockfosters is Trent Park which is a country park and home to a Middlesex University campus. Finally, Cockfosters is served by the Piccadilly Line on the London Underground where Cockfosters is the Northern terminus of the line in Zone 5.

IMG_0282

Upon arrival at Chalk Lane which is just a couple of minutes away from the Underground stop, it is a fairly basic ground with all the spectator facilities on one side of the pitch. With a small covered standing area next to the back of the clubhouse and a covered seating area with some benches and some random chairs under the cover too. This being my first ground in the SSML, I can’t really compare it to anything apart other Level 10 grounds I’ve been to (SWP Premier and Western D1) and it feels more like a Western League 1st Division ground, probably because this is the 2nd tier of the Spartan South Midlands League. The rest of the ground is uncovered hard and grass standing.

IMG_0285

Cockfosters themselves will probably never have a large support due to their location and the fact they are near so many FL/Premiership clubs such as Barnet, Arsenal and Spurs to name a few. The attendance of 41 was one of their best so far this season and its understandable that although they were promoted to the SSML Premier in 2006/07 after finishing Runners-Up in D1, they were promptly relegated in 2008/09 after finishing 3rd from bottom with just 33 points from 40 games. After last seasons comfortable finish of 11th (out of 21), they seem to have struggled more this time out and went into this game in 17th (out of 21) and only 7 points clear of bottom side Amersham Town. Relegation to SSML Division 2 would see Cockfosters come up against such football heavyweights of MK Wanderers and Brache Sparta. To try and avoid this drop, Cockfosters had brought in a new boss who was officially announced for this game in Mark Adams to try and haul the Cocks up the table. Standing in their way for this game was Harpenden Town from Hertfordshire who themselves had previous in the SSML Premier Division but were down in 10th coming into this game and a massive 19 points behind top side Kings Langley. Situated inbetween Luton and St Albans, I was surprised to see a few Harpenden fans had made the 17 mile journey between the two places, but credit to them on a cold Tuesday evening.

IMG_0292

As for the game it was sadly a bit of a stinker. Made worse by the fact the temperature was at least in the minuses so when the final whistle went my body was pretty much frozen. The game did start well with both sides attacking and after some early Harpenden pressure, Cockfosters hit the bar after 4 minutes with Harp goalie Matt Lord well beaten. Lord made up for this 8 minutes later with a heavenly (sorry) wonder save as he reacted well to a deflected cross that was fired in towards him. Harps maybe should have been 1 up at half time when they missed a 1 on 1 chance later on in the half but as soon as that HT whistle went everybody in the ground knew this would finish 0-0. For the 2nd half, I actually didn’t write anything at all therefore all I can say is nothing happened of note! Shame really as the good start just fizzled out.

IMG_0288

Twas a still enjoyable night out in London as me and 40 other nutters braved the cold to see this. I think most SW sides I’ve seen at this level would easily cruise past both of these teams but you can’t really judge them all on one performance. Cockfosters are a decent club and a friendly one at that too, so I will hopefully one day pay them a re-visit. I might see a goal next time!

Photos from Cockfosters vs Harpenden Town

_____________________________________________________________

Match Ratings:

- Match: 3/10 (fizzled out)

- Value for money: 7.5/10 (£3 is very good for a student)

- Ground: 5.5/10 (basic, but they need no-more)

- Atmosphere: 4/10 (quiet)

- Food: 7/10 (didn’t have any, but a wide range at good prices available)

- Programme: 7/10 (decent effort)

- Referee: John Costelloe – 7/10 (had nothing to do)

Image 

Monday, 27 December 2010

BOCA Seniors vs Exmouth Town (11/12/10)

Match 100

Ground #: 67

Ground: Tarka Tennis Centre

Competition: Devon FA Premier Cup 3rd Round

Kick Off: 2:00pm

Cost: Free

Programme: None

Attendance: 45 (h/c)

BOCA Seniors 7

Deakin 16’, 36’, Sharp 17’, 69’, Davey 41’, 64’, Shannon (pen) 76’ 

Exmouth Town 1

Shephard (pen) 30’ 

_____________________________________________________________

The 11th December for me is an extremely personal day but this is not the outlet to discuss why. That being said, I really wanted out the house for a day out and with the weather in Devon being a recent 7 degrees (tropical!) it was easy to get a game in after the recent struggles. As I was being called into London during the week, it would have to be a cheap game and as I wasn’t fussed about programmes, the rearranged Devon Premier Cup tie at Barnstaple for BOCA Seniors looked the most appealing.

IMG_0268

BOCA Seniors are the “top dogs” in the North Devon League. Based in Barnstaple they have had their main success more recently since changing their name in homage to the major footballing side in Argentina. Established in 1987 as The Wrey Arms FC (named after a local Barnstaple pub) and then the Golden Lion Tap in 1993, they became BOCA in 1997 and quickly began shooting up the North Devon Leagues. Winning the Senior League in both 1999 and 2003, their North Devon dominance began in the 2005/06 where they won the Premier Division and then won it another 3 seasons in a row. Last season (09/10) it slipped from their grasp and went to Shamwickshire Rovers for their first title since 2003. BOCA have also won several local cup competitions recently such as the Westward Ho! Cup, Torridge Cup and Brayford Cup all within the last 5 years. Their finest hour though was in April 2009 when they defeated Bovey Tracey 1-0 at Tiverton to win the Devon Premier Cup. With such good recent pedigree in the competition, they were keen to win it again getting to this 3rd Round stage.

IMG_0273

I was pleasantly surprised by the venue as most (bar Torrington) clubs in the North Devon League have a really basic set-up. This is a basic set-up but you do feel like you are at a proper ground (and not just a field). Arriving at the Tarka Tennis Centre, you walk through where you can buy food and drinks and walk through the centre to find the two football pitches at the back. BOCA’s main pitch on the right was roped off down one side, steep grass banking down the other where you could get a very good view. There were also dugouts available on this side, but only the Exmouth Town management seemed to use them. The Southwest Peninsula League side really didn’t look up for this and were quite appalled when a dog had a turd on the pitch (which was picked up!). They had dispatched of Dolton (6-1) and Appledore (2-2, and won on penalties) to get to the 3rd Round and were in 9th (out of 16) in the Southwest Peninsula League Division 1 East. This looked to be a tight game.

IMG_0276

As for the game, this was a shambles. As you can see from the picture above the pitch was an absolute state and possibly should have never of taken place. In fact this was the pitch at HT – it got so much worse later on! Exmouth Town had also been hit by several withdrawals and so kicked off with only 10 men. BOCA had 11 and the full 5 subs. Therefore it looked to be a question of could Exmouth hold out till their 11th man got there and/or the pitch became even more unplayable. BOCA knew this and battered Exmouth early on with a shot cleared off the line and a one on one chance saved as the visitors tried to hold on. On 16 minutes though that holdout ended and then Exmouth promptly collapsed in spectacular fashion. Matt Deakin got the 1st goal as he met a free kick at the back post and his header went over the goalie and gave BOCA the lead. This was doubled instantly as a through ball took out the Exmouth back line and Scott Sharp was on hand to clip the ball past the onrushing Exmouth goalie for 2-0. While most teams would have just collapsed there and then (although they did later) Exmouth actually came back into the game and began to work some passing moves together when one of their strikers were brought down in the area by kicking the BOCA’s player foot. The ref must have felt sorry for them and gave the penalty which Ben Shephard dispatched with ease. BOCA then went and made it 3-1 on 36 minutes with one of the many farcical decisions of the day. While Deakin’s goal was first given for offside, after the referee had a word with the lino (who was an Exmouth coach) he then gave the goal. Hmm. Add to this, the absolute torrent of abuse the three Exmouth Town officials received from BOCA players was just a disgrace and un-needed. BOCA made it 4-1 five minutes later following a goalmouth scramble from a cross whipped in from the left. The last piece of action of the half was Exmouth’s 11th player finally turned up on 43 minutes, and slotted straight into defence!

IMG_0275

The 2nd half was less action packed. Mainly because both sets of players were trying to kick the shit out of each other as tempers flared and it just got nasty. Exmouth were arguably lucky to survive conceding another as a cross seemed to be diverted over the line as the Exmouth goal plucked the ball out of the air, however the referee didn’t see it. That redemption didn’t last long though as on 64 minutes it was 5-1 as James Davey broke away again down the right and lofted the ball over the Adrian Pullin in the Exmouth goal. Five minutes later came #6 as the Exmouth defence went missing at a BOCA free kick and Sharp got ahead of Pullin to head over the stranded keeper. The scoring ended on 76 minutes when a BOCA run was crudely ended in the box and Richard Shannon fired the penalty home. BOCA gave Exmouth a raping and were through to meet Budleigh Salterton in the Quarter-Finals.

IMG_0277

Both sides were really quite awful in their off the ball activities for this game which was a shame as both sides actually played good stuff at times. I saw kicks, neck grabs and punches thrown as the game boiled over and the referee was oblivious to it all, or he couldn’t be bothered doing anything about it. Special mention to BOCA’s Richie Joslin who was an absolute nobhead in this game. Defending himself with “its how I play mate.” Playing like a cunt is no excuse. I will hopefully see BOCA’s QF at Budleigh in late January which will probably be a fairer indication of how good they actually are. Another question does remain, just how bad are Exmouth Town?

_____________________________________________________________

Match Ratings:

- Match: 5/10 (one sided brawl fest)

- Value for money: 10/10 (free!)

- Ground: 4.5/10 (ok set up here, wonder how much say they have on improvements?)

- Atmosphere: 5/10 (BOCA got right behind their team)

- Food: 4/10 (stuff available from Tennis Centre)

- Programme: N/A – they don’t issue

- Referee: Nigel Cockwill – 4/10 (either was blind or couldn’t be bothered to act on the violence around him)

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

Well its that time of year again! So many games to choose from such a short space of time – here is where I intend to go over the Festive and New Year period. Including a wee trip up North to the NE!

Football christmas

27th Dec – Cullumpton Rangers vs Witheridge (Speeds Meadow) [Southwest Peninsula Premier]

3rd Jan – Royal Marines AFC vs Witheridge (Endurance Park) [Throgmorton Cup 3rd Round]

8th Jan – Gateshead vs Kidderminster Harriers (Gateshead International Stadium) [Blue Square Premier]

12th Jan – Newcastle Benfield vs West Allotment Celtic (Sam Smith’s Park) [Northumberland FA Senior Cup Quarter-Final]

That is the plan anyway! People residing in this country may have noticed the recent snowfall to hit the country recently which has put severe doubt on all of those games as even Devon has been battered by Jack Frost. The picture below is taken from outside my window!

IMG_0301

Finally, I’ve had a few e-mails asking if I am still carrying on my blog because my previous two games (at BOCA Seniors and Cockfosters) have not come online yet. Well, I am waiting on the BOCA webmaster finally getting back to me about the goal-scorers and then I’ll wop up the report and the Cockfosters one too!

boca 26011831

MERRY CHRISTMAS! :) (Unless you’re a Hibee)

Friday, 10 December 2010

University of Exeter vs Bickleigh (04/12/10)

Match 99

Ground #: 66

Ground: Topsham Road

Competition: Devon FA Premier Cup 3rd Round

Kick Off: 2:00pm

Cost: £2

Programme: With Admission

Attendance: 38 (h/c)

University of Exeter 0 

Bickleigh 1

Beddow 35’

_____________________________________________________________

My plan looked perfect, while 95% of the country was thrown into mayhem by the adverse weather (snow) my 1st choice game seemed completely unaware of this. Even as I went to bed on the Friday evening my 1st choice game at Alphington (vs Axminster Town) looked to be going ahead. No pitch inspection had even been planned! Wake up Saturday morning and still no news so I start my prep for getting there, then around 10:30 - “GAME OFF”. Bugger. A scamper around finds that University of Exeter’s match (only 3 miles away from Alphington) has survived so I take the train to their ground in Topsham for a big County Cup match!

IMG_0253

The University of Exeter was given its University status by Royal Charter in 1955 with its main Streatham Campus on the edge of the City Centre. It came 184th in the Times Higher Education Supplement Top World Universities in 2010. Its Vice-Chancellor Professor Steve Smith is current Head of Universities UK – who have recently just got their wish to increase tuition fees to a ludicrous £9000 per year. A not very popular man. Their football team have had some success recently playing in the Premier of the BUCS competition, however they were relegated last season and currently prop up the Southwest Conference Division 1A having only picked up 2 points from their first 4 games. They also play their trade in Saturday football, in the Southwest Peninsula Division 1 East, where they are currently 14th (out of 16) but a safe 11 points clear of no hopers Axminster Town.

IMG_0254

They play on the edge of Exeter at the University Sports Grounds in the village of Topsham which is slowly being sucked into the City of Exeter. The grounds holds a few football pitches, including the main pitch for the 1st team and another roped off pitch for the University 2nd team who play in the Devon & Exeter League. It is a fairly basic venue, with a modern changing room block for the various teams and a refreshment room with vending machines (one which nearly broke my hand) and a little room selling teas and coffees. The main pitch (see above picture) is railed off part the way round with a covered stand on the dugout side and grass bank hills on the other. Because of a tosser of a NIMBY, the team can’t do much to the ground as someone with a house about 80 metres away who objected to a proper stand because it might encourage delinquents and they have no chance on getting floodlights at their Topsham Road ground. Unless this tosser moves out, or dies.

IMG_0255

This was the Devon Premier Cup 3rd Round and featured two teams in the Southwest Peninsula Division 1 East League. The students welcomed village side Bickleigh for this 3rd Round tie who were having another good season, only their 2nd ever at Level 11. Currently 6th, the team from Happy Meadow (I will get there one day I promise!) were looking to get to the Q-F’s and with holders Appledore already out, this was anyone’s trophy. The students had dispatched of Okehampton Argyle (6-2) and Buckland Athletic Reserves (2-0) both at home to reach here. Bickleigh had overcame Alphington (3-1) and South Devon League side Upton Athletic (2-2, win on penalties) – this looked to be a difficult game to call.

IMG_0262

As for the game, it became clear that the University side weren’t that great, probably due to the lack of experience playing in the Pyramid compared to Bickleigh. The Buzzards were well on top and had a goal chalked off for offside and hit the bar from a corner within the first 12 minutes as the home side could not get going. Ironically, as the Uni side got back into the game, Bickleigh went and took the lead. Tom Beddow received a pass on the edge of the area and he curled the ball around Thomas Vinten in the Uni goal. Bickleigh, for all their dominance were lucky to be ahead at the break as on 44 minutes a harmless cross was dropped by Buzzards goalie Danny Lewis and a home striker tapped in. Luckily the whistle had already gone for an offside. The second half was really a non-event with few chances of note. It was the opposite as the UOE pressed early on and Lewis was forced into a top save from a freekick but Bickleigh grew stronger as the half went on and should have added to their total at least once more in the final few minutes. They didn’t, but it didn’t matter.

IMG_0257

Bickleigh go marching on and have a home tie in the Quarter-Final against Totnes & Dartington or Plymouth Parkway Reserves on 22nd January (weather permitting). As I was lucky to get a game in (probably less than a 100 games played in mainland UK on this day!), I shouldn’t complain. Also nice to see a programme turn up eventually and it was free, so again that was fine. Nice to get another close ground “ticked off” – albeit a basic one and it was nice to chat to Phil Hiscox again from the SWP League. Decent day out.

_____________________________________________________________

Match Ratings:

- Match: 4/10 (never sparked into life)

- Value for money: 8.5/10 (can’t argue much for £2)

- Ground: 2/10 (disappointing really, not all their fault though)

- Atmosphere: 4.5/10 (Bickleigh, thank God, brought a decent number)

- Food: 2/10 (only stuff from vending machines if you don’t like hot drinks)

- Programme: 6/10 (it was free – decent enough)

- Referee: Roger Mills – 5/10 (ok)

Image (2) 

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Road to Wembley 2010/11 (2nd Round)

For Swindon Supermarine this was probably the journey they wanted. An away game at a Football League club, but a winnable one against surprisingly poorly supported Essex side Colchester United. The picture below shows one of the first pictures on Google Images when I typed in “people of Essex” for this blog post. I think it sums up the area well.

chav-mums (Welcome to Colchester!)

Colchester went into this cup game in and around the play-off places in League 1 having dropped out of the Championship two seasons ago. That league is so tight though (except Brighton), they are only 3 points of 2nd place Charlton and its not even the New Year yet so everything is still to play for. Yet despite this, crowds at the Colchester Community Stadium are only averaging around the 3-4000 mark which is slightly below the 10,084 capacity. Maybe a good cup-run would do the trick?

Colchester-1-0-Swindon-Supermarine (Marine’s Cup dream over as Mooney grabs the only goal)

As you can see from the picture above, Colchester’s David Mooney scored the only goal of the game on 21 minutes to knock-out Marine in what has been described as a drab match. Supermarine nearly grabbed a stunning equalizer in the 2nd half but Jamie Gosling’s shot hit the post. Marine have done themselves proud though and they history-breaking cup run has added some much needed dosh to the coffers. As for Colchester, they were probably disappointed by their 3rd Round draw – a trip West to Wales and a date with the Swans…..

sweansea

ROAD TO WEMBLEY 2010/2011:

EXTRA PRELIMINARY ROUND: Elmore 1-5 Hamworthy Utd (Horsdon Park, Att: 247)

PRELIMINARY ROUND: Hamworthy Utd 2-2 Sherborne Town (County Ground, Att: 122)

PRELIMINARY ROUND Replay: Sherborne Town 3–0 Hamworthy Utd (Raleigh Grove, Att: 154)

1ST QUALIFYING ROUND: Wimborne Town 1-3 Sherborne Town (The Cuthbury, Att: 226)

2ND QUALIFYING ROUND: Sherborne Town 1-2 Hungerford Town (Raleigh Grove, Att: 138)

3RD QUALIFYING ROUND: Swindon Supermarine 4-0 Hungerford Town (Webb’s Wood Stadium, Att: 365)

4TH QUALIFYING ROUND: Swindon Supermarine 0-0 Bath City (Webb’s Wood Stadium, Att: 551)

4TH QUALIFYING ROUND Replay: Bath City 3-4 Swindon Supermarine (Twerton Park, Att: 665)

1ST ROUND: Swindon Supermarine 2-1 Eastwood Town (Webb’s Wood Stadium, Att: 1,159)

2ND ROUND: Colchester United 1-0 Swindon Supermarine (Colchester Community Stadium, Att: 3,047)

Monday, 6 December 2010

The 100th Post!

100th blog

To celebrate the momentous achievement of my 100th post, I’ve decided to highlight some of the best moments during the first 99 posts so far.

Travelling Fan gets noticed:

After I went to see Yeovil Town take on Belgian amateur side RRFC MontengĂ©e in the South-West Challenge Cup in 2009, the last thing I expected to find was that my match report ended up on a Fan Website, but enter Yeovil Town’s Ciderspace where I received a mention! (Snap below)

TTF on Ciderspace

Travelling Fan in print! :

Even better than that was after purchasing the great football book, ‘Village Voice’ from Ian Cusack. My trip to Percy Main earlier this year was given a full mention and write up! All the proceeds from the book are going towards fixing the roof at Percy Main’s Purvis Park, and it only costs £10 – so e-mail iancusack@blueyonder.co.uk for details and how to pay! Its a cracking read (from what I’ve read so far. And FYI, I’m on pg 154 *wink*)

IMG_0266

Best Game:

Lancaster City 3-5 Salford City (Unibond League Division 1 North – 07/03/09)

My first ‘proper’ non-league game and what an absolute belter it was. Salford City with only 1 win all season go to play-off chasing Lancaster, so a foregone conclusion? No – an utter bloodbath played on a bog. Brilliant.

Best Ground:

Tiverton Town - Ladysmead

P1516_05-04-10

Honourable mentions to Bamber Bridge and Morecambe (Christie Park) but Tiverton’s Ladysmead was an absolute cracking surprise. Four great stands and a lush pitch. Friendly people and a good clubhouse too. Top stuff.

So there’s just a small insight into what the Travelling Fan has been seeing since I started back in February 2009. Here’s to another 100 posts!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Buckland Athletic vs St Blazey (27/11/10)

Match 98

Ground #: 65

Ground: Homers Heath

Competition: Southwest Peninsula Premier League (Level 10) 

Kick Off: 3:00pm

Cost: £4

Programme: £1

Attendance: 83

Buckland Athletic 3

Lynch 58’,67’, Sabo (O.G) 73’ 

St Blazey 2

Trott 17’, Reski 28’ 

_____________________________________________________________

Regulars to my blog may have noticed for a while on the “Upcoming games” section that Nov 27th was a “Plymouth Double!” And that was indeed the plan right up until I woke up that morning and even the South-west had succumbed to Mr Frost and Mrs Snow. There were no confirmations about Plymouth Arygle Youth and Vospers Oak Villa being on or off yet I didn’t fancy a 60+ mile trip to be wasted. Therefore Camelford’s game looked the best bet until that was also called off. That left me with just South Devon to aim for and so I took the long drive down to Newton Abbot for Buckland Athletic vs St Blazey.

IMG_0231

Newton Abbot is a market town in South Devon and probably best known for its racecourse situated slightly outside of the town. Its growth can be put down to during the Victorian ages as the South Devon Railway built its works here and this is why Newton Abbot is a major station in the South-west. As well as the racecourse other landmarks include St Leonard’s Tower, GWR Museum and Ye Olde Cider Bar – apparently one of only two remaining cider houses in the UK. Sadly though I was driving and so no cider for me! The drive was quite a nightmare, partly down to me being a dick and driving towards Camelford for the first 20 minutes of the journey before realising where I was meant to be going and headed South. Just outside Newton Abbot, a big mention to the tosser in the tractor that cut me up on a roundabout and then proceeded to cause a 2 mile tailback as he was limited to 15mph.

IMG_0235 

I arrived at Homers Heath bang on 2:30 and proceeded to get a Budweiser and Cheeseburger for a decent price before going out and taking a few snaps. Homers Heath is dominated by the large stand which combines both a standing area and seating area which both offer great views. The rest of the ground is surprisingly uncovered hard standing, however the car park runs down one side of the pitch so if you were there early enough, you could just sit in your car and watch the game. A special note to the clubhouse too, a lottery funded building and it was fantastic. Fully decked out in Christmas decor (slightly early?) and with ample space, Buckland’s clubhouse will probably be a shoe-in for “Clubhouse of the Season award”. Its the least a successful team deserve as Buckland won a historical double last season by winning the SWP League Premier Division and the SWP League Cup (Throgmorton Cup). This season has been a little more problematic as Steve Massey was sacked as coach as a “differing of opinion” and early exits in the FA Cup and Vase means its back to the League. They went into this game top of the league with a point and game advantage over 2nd place Plymouth Parkway.

IMG_0240

The visitors from Cornwall for this game were lower down the table as St Blazey were a surprisingly low 12th (out of 20) but a comfortable 14 points ahead of bottom side Wadebridge Town. Their ground had sadly taken a recent battering from Mother Nature however as the half of the pitch at Blaise Park was underwater for a substantial time, could be a while before St Blazey have another home game, especially now the snow has come to have some fun. St Blazey are one of the best away travellers in the league and this game at the reigning champions was no exception as a decent number had made the journey decked out with flags too. As the game kicked off they held their own too as Buckland were lacking a final product to really trouble the Blazey back four and goalie. You wondered what damage Blazey could do if they went on the attack and we got an outstanding answer on 17 minutes as X placed a wonderful, curling shot up and over the goalie into the top corner from well outside the area as Blazey took the lead. Buckland should have hit back instantly however when a player burst through one on one with the goalie but as he slid his shot past Tom Blackler, he also put it past the post. Much to the delight of the Blazey fans. After this, the away team were more than happy to let Buckland have the ball as their final ball was again woeful and they could hit them on the break. This is exactly what happened on 28 minutes when a counter attack saw the ball fed to Y on the edge of the area and he cracked a low shot which Buckland’s goalie should have dealt with, but he didn’t and Blazey led 0-2! Again Buckland could have pulled a goal back straight from the kickoff but Antony Lynch fired his shot wide. At half-time you felt that if Buckland got one back, they’d go on to win.

IMG_0248

Sensing this, they came out and absolutely battered Blazey in the hope of turning this game around. Even Blazey’s counter attack looked hopeless as their midfield could not win the ball off the waves of Buckland players pushing forward. On 55 minutes, Buckland fired a warning shot as a low drive from outside the area cracked the post. Sadly, just 3 minutes later Blazey clearly hadn’t taken much notice as mayhem ensued from a corner and Blazey goalie Blackler dropped the ball at Lynch’s feet and Buckland had a goal back. You sensed the game was turning now and Buckland got that equalizer on 67 minutes by countering Blazey’s counter attack. A throughball released Buckland’s left winger and his ball found Lynch in the area all alone as he had time to guide his diving header into the bottom corner and you felt there would only be one winner now. That killer goal came just 6 minutes later as another throughball down the left looked to be heading for the same outcome with only one Blazey defender in the box and Lynch behind him. When the low cross came in, Mamsey Sabo had to do something, sadly he could only direct the ball past his own goalie as Buckland completed the comeback. The scoring might not have finished there as in the last minute, Blazey felt unlucky not to be awarded a penalty but the Champions had hung on.

IMG_0246 

Firstly sorry for the delay in this post, I’ve had a busy week! This game was quite easily the best game I’d seen so far this season. Some excellent attacking football and it never boiled over despite having the air of a grudge match about it, so the players deserve credit for that. It was also an even better day for Buckland as their nearest challengers Plymouth Parkway and Ivybridge Town both lost at home, so the Bucks have a 4 point lead now. Excellent day out here, fantastic club and game and while some people were struggling to see any match at all, I go and watch a cracker!

Photos from Buckland Athletic vs St Blazey

_____________________________________________________________

Match Ratings:

- Match: 8/10 (excellent)

- Value for money: 7/10 (the SWPL Premier norm)

- Ground: 7/10 (love that multi stand, room for major expansion)

- Atmosphere: 9/10 (Blazey and Buckland fans got right into it)

- Food: 7/10 (really nice cheeseburger and a wide selection of sweets)

- Programme: 8/10 (excellent)

- Referee: Tony Cloake – 6/10 (hardly any yellows given, you ok Tony?!)

Image (2)

Monday, 22 November 2010

Weston-Super-Mare vs Dorchester Town (20/11/10)

Match 97

Ground #: 64

Ground: Woodspring Stadium

Competition: FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round

Kick Off: 3:00pm

Cost: £6.50 (student)

Programme: £2

Attendance: 184

Weston-Super-Mare 1

Moss (O.G) 78’, Gilbert s/off 50’

Dorchester Town 3

Devlin 13’, Ings 71’, Moss 85’

_____________________________________________________________

For the 20th November I had several grand plans for games I was going to attend, some were quite far away (Cheltenham) and some were quite close (Crediton). However, once I discovered that there were cheap train tickets to Weston-Super-Mare for £13.50 and that the town’s Blue Square South side were at home in the FA Trophy that day, my trip was sorted and it was another November trip to the seaside!

IMG_0202

Weston-Super-Mare is a seaside resort in North Somerset located right on the Bristol Channel. While there is evidence that the site was there in the Iron Age, Weston was a small village until the 19th Century when it became a seaside resort for the Southwest. With the decline of all seaside resorts during the 20th Century, Weston has been saved from turning into Morecambe by some grand regeneration projects such as the new Grand Pier which only opened last month (October 2010) after a fire destroyed the old one. Other highlights include the Winter Gardens but also for Motocross enthusiasts with the famous Weston-Super-Mare Enduro beach race which is held every autumn.

IMG_0203 

The local club of Weston-Super-Mare FC have actually hauled themselves up to the Blue Square South which is Level 6 of the Football Pyramid. Quite impressive for a club that rarely gets over 250 in attendance for its home games. They were lucky enough to finish 10th in their first season in the Southern Premier Division and earn a spot in the newly formed Conference South in 2004. They have actually finished in the relegation places more than once but due to other club’s problems such as Farnborough Town going bust or Cambridge City failing a ground inspection, they lived to fight another day in the Blue Square South. Weston SM actually finished 21st out of 22 last season but due to a monster number of teams hitting the shitter, they were reprieved, again. This time out they seem determined to stay up on merit as they went into this FA Trophy game in 9th place in the league, a whole 12 points clear of the final relegation place occupied currently by St Albans City.

IMG_0205

Their Woodspring Stadium ground is a fairly recent build having opened in 2004 after they moved a short distance from Woodspring Park. It boasts (see above) a mightily impressive covered terrace situated behind one of the goals. It reminded me on Morecambe’s old North Terrace at their now defunct Christie Park. Behind the other goal was a flat standing area that had (in comparison to what was opposite it) a crappy piece of cover sponsored by cider firm Bulmers. A small seated stand runs down part of one side of the pitch while the dugout side of the ground is hard, uncovered standing. For the final round of FA Trophy qualifying, Weston had to get past fellow Blue Square South side Dorchester Town who are actually Weston’s closest rivals in this league as 19 of the sides play in the South-East of the country. They were in 12th, but only 3 points behind Weston so a tight game looked likely. As their Avenue Stadium ground is around 90 miles from my house, it could be a 2011 trip to Dorchester but a hit-list will be released in late December about that!

IMG_0217

With two evenly matched teams and a tie against a possible Conference side in the 1st Round, the match was expectedly tight as it kicked-off and I was just delighted to have not paid the full £10 to watch the ball in the air for the 1st 10 minutes of the match. Dorchester were the slightly better side early on, helped by the fact that Weston could not really complete a passing move and their speedy striker Sahr Kabba was looking quite isolated upfront. Their poor passing was amplified on 13 minutes when an awful clearance from defence found Dorchester’s Danny Ings who ran at the Weston defence and slipped a great ball into Steve Devlin who lofted the ball over the diving Lloyd Irish to give the away side the lead. The rest of the half was pretty much a non-event as Dorchester didn’t really create that many chances while when Weston actually attacked, the final ball was so poor that Dorchester goalie Simon Evans was not tested. 0-1 at HT.

IMG_0223

As it was absolutely freezing I had my first bovril of the season (although the lady did ask if I want pepper in it – eh!?) and moved around from the seated stand to the large stand behind the goal for a great view. The game was plodding along nicely, until 50 minutes when an innocuous challenge caused a Dorchester player to hit the deck. Simon Gilbert was blamed for a jump which caused the away player to be floored and while the referee was going to let the game play on, once the Dorchester players surrounded the ref however he was very quick to get his yellow card out and send Gilbert off for his 2nd bookable offense. (I cannot remember his first yellow at all). This added some spice to the game as Dorchester began to push forward with a man advantage and break up rare Weston attacks with some brutal challenges. Dorchester added a 2nd on 71 minutes when Danny Ings cracked in a shot from the edge of the area that just beat Irish at his near post. The Weston goalie really should have done better, but had just made a great triple save previously to that which kept his side in the match. Then on 78 minutes came the funniest moment I have encountered this season. When Weston won a free kick on the edge of the Dorchester area, Evans was barking repeatedly “NEIL! NEIL! NEIL!” for defender Neil Martin to get into a better position defensively. The Weston fans heard this and so the 30+ fans in the stand began shouting “NEIL!” too which was made even better as when the Weston freekick came in, Ryan Moss got in front of NEIL and headed the ball over Evans and into his own net. NEIL got a huge cheer as if the ball had ended up at him, he would have cleared it away. Dorchester though got the killer 3rd when a throughball put Moss through and he fired into the top corner to send the Dorset club into the 1st Round. NEIL even came over to goad the Weston fans – shit banter.

IMG_0224

Really enjoyed this trip, as after the game I had a couple of hours spare to walk around WSM and it really does look a decent place. Also loved the new Grand Pier and would have spent more time in there if I had it (and money!) WSM are a great little club who have done extremely well to stay where they are with the crowds they get. They aren’t helped being close to the two Bristol FL clubs which must have an impact on attendances. Although Dorchester at times played good football, I really wasn’t impressed with their gobby attitude as it was all a bit Hungerford Town for me. Although, this could have just been a one off, so will give them the benefit of the doubt until I see them next. They have been given a kind draw in the 1st Round as they will play Blue Square South strugglers St Albans City at home where they should make it through. Good luck to them!

Photos from Weston-Super-Mare vs Dorchester Town

_____________________________________________________________

Match Ratings:

- Match: 7/10 (saved by the 2nd half)

- Value for money: 5/10 (I’m thankful I got away with student prices)

- Ground: 6.5/10 (decent, modern ground)

- Atmosphere: 7/10 (was reasonably good for only 184 people)

- Food: 5/10 (pricey, but served with a smile and tasted nice)

- Programme: 4/10 (not worth £2)

- Referee: Kevin Morris – 4/10 (liked the sound of his own whistle and voice)

Image (2)

Image (3)

Image (4) 

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Dawlish Town vs Bodmin Town (13/11/10)

Match 96

Ground #: 63

Ground: Sandy Lane

Competition: FA Vase 2nd Round

Kick Off: 3:00pm

Cost: £5

Programme: £1

Attendance: 81

Dawlish Town 0

Bodmin Town 2

Matthews 56’, Luxton 70’ 

_____________________________________________________________

Maybe because I’m a nutter, but I fancied a trip to the seaside. I hardly went in the summer months (if at all) when the weather was great and so I had planned this game for a fair while as Western League vs SWP League games are always intriguing and this was hopefully no exception. Despite it being monsoon weather in the week leading up to the game, on the Saturday morning it was bright and sunny and so I let the “train take the strain” and headed towards Dawlish.

IMG_0165

Dawlish is a small seaside resort in South Devon which has grown from humble beginnings as a fishing port to one of the more popular destinations on the English Riviera. Part of this growth is down to Victorian “celebrities” using Dawlish as a place to stay such as Charles Dickens and Jane Austin. In fact, Nicholas Nickleby was said to be born here in Dickens’ novel about him. Today, Dawlish is only really known for its beach and the Riviera Line which runs through (and stops at) Dawlish which is located right next to the coast. It costs National Rail millions to upkeep this part of the line as the tide batters it everyday and so sea erosion is a major problem. There is also a small resort further North up the coast called Dawlish Warren which is situated at the mouth of the Exe Estuary and is caravan heaven.

IMG_0170

The town’s major football team (Dawlish United actually play a couple of minutes up the road on a basic pitch) are the most Southern team in the Western League based deep in SWP League territory. In fact they are running low on local league rivals with only Willand Rovers and Wellington (and to a certain extent Barnstaple and Ilfracombe) close by. Dawlish Town’s recent history has all been in the Western League when they joined in 1973-74 and have stayed there since. During the late 80’s they also played some glamorous friendly matches against QPR, Aberdeen and Chelsea who all visited Sandy Lane. In 2004 they were dealt a massive blow when their old wooden stand was burnt down by fire and had to be replaced by the arena-type as shown in the picture above on the left. They have had recent good seasons in the Western Premier finishing 2nd in 2007/08 and 3rd the next season. After a 10th place finish last time out, they were going into this game 12th in the league (out of 19), although they were a whole 16 points ahead of bottom club Wellington who look good to be playing Western Division 1 football next season.

IMG_0173 

In terms of Western League grounds I’d been to, Sandy Lane was a fairly basic ground with a covered standing area and the arena-type stand on one side of the pitch which is where the entrance was too. The rest of the ground was uncovered hard standing all the way round which was railed off by nice wooden posts which blended into the ground. Behind the dugouts on that side was a raised area and grass banking that probably provided some excellent views, however after the recent weather, I didn’t fancy standing on them. The visitors for this game were one of the SWP League’s brightest teams in Bodmin Town. Despite not winning the Premier Division last season (that honour went to Buckland Athletic) they are still seen as a very good team who should probably be playing higher than they should. Bodmin is fairly near to me and so will maybe get a visit soon. They had entered this competition at the 2nd Qualifying Round and already dispatched of Launceston and Sherborne to get to Round 2, whereas Dawlish were entering at this stage.

IMG_0185

The game kicked off and Bodmin showed their intent straight away as they launched a long ball down the right for one of their speedy wingers to pick up and whip a good cross in but it was cleared. The game was still open and 11 minutes in Dawlish should have scored when the away side’s offside trap was brutally sliced open but the Bodmin goalie Kevin Miller saved well. While this was a Devon vs Cornwall grudge match, the spicy tackles had been few and far between until the 27th minute. When Bodmin’s Chris Luxton flew into a shocking two footed tackle on a Dawlish player, the home player lashed out by kicking Luxton in the face it appeared. Unsurprisingly the caused a mass brawl and when the referee stepped in, he handed out only a yellow card to each of the offenders. The Bodmin Town boss went absolutely ballistic at this and was lucky not be sent off, as he clearly had overlooked the fact that Luxton was still lucky to be on the pitch following the awful challenge. Dawlish had another 1 on 1 chance at the end of the half but again were thwarted by the impressive Miller.

IMG_0191 

As the game went on into the 2nd half this looked like another 0-0 and a mid-week replay in Cornwall. On 51 minutes, the ref made a double poor decision as Luxton controlled a ball in the box with his hand before being brought down which looked a clear penalty but neither offense was given as Bodmin began to turn the screw. We finally had a goal though on 56 minutes when a Bodmin corner was not cleared and the ball fell to Sam Matthews about 3 yards out and he fired in to give the away side the lead. From this point onwards Dawlish never looked like scoring and it was no surprise when Bodmin got their 2nd when it was Dawlish’s turn to play the piss-poor offside trap and a long ball sent Luxton through and he had a moment of absolute brilliance as he lofted the ball over the advancing keeper nonchalantly to all but guarantee Bodmin’s place in the 3rd Round. While Dawlish huffed and puffted, Matthews nearly got a 3rd for Bodmin but his close range effort was fantastically saved by Fisher in the home net. At full-time it was a deserved win for Bodmin and they march on.

Dawlish  

A great day out in this sea-side town as I saw a decent match as well! Bodmin Town will travel to fellow SWP League side Plymouth Parkway in the 3rd Round which looks to be a cracking tie. Dawlish can now concentrate on the league although it looks quite certain they’ll just be floating around in mid-table now for the remainder of 2010/11. One final note, the Western League has room for more teams and clearly needs some new blood. Whoever does win the SWP Premier this season, I really hope they make the step up as this performance showed that they could easily perform against teams at this level and West Country football would improve as a result of it!

Photos from Dawlish Town vs Bodmin Town

_____________________________________________________________

Match Ratings:

- Match: 6.5/10 (good to watch)

- Value for money: 6/10 (norm)

- Ground: 6/10 (nice and set in a good place)

- Atmosphere: 6/10 (Bodmin brought a decent number)

- Food: 2/10 (crap pasty that fell apart before I even took a bite, cost £2)

- Programme: 4/10 (not worth £1)

- Referee: M.Derrien – 4.5/10 (happy to book for dissent, but not for actual fouls)

Dawlish prog

Dawlish ticket