Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Game 54 - Leamington v Halesowen Town Saturday 20th March 2010 Zamaretto Premier League

The plans for this game were laid several weeks ago. With Leicester's game against Coventry being moved because of some egg chasing, an opportunity for another visit to a new NCEL ground became possible. However, an email from Helen arrived asking me if I fancied checking out City's Carl Pentney at Leamington, where he is currently on loan, changed my destination. Only slight possible dampener on this was his loan was due to run out in the week running up to this game but I happily read that this was now extended to the end of the season. But what neither of us had spotted and was not reported on City's OS was that several thugs, purporting to be Hednesford players, had spent their time in the game against Leamington knocking the living proverbial, of you know what out of Carl, resulting with him in hospital with no recollection of the game. All of this unfolded after we had arrived at The New Windmill Ground.

The ground is basically in the middle of nowhere with fields and chickens surrounding it, and no path as far as we could see on the busy road running outside of it. Inside, we meet up with Paul, a fellow City fan who has also come here today. The entrance brings you into the corner of the ground with the Clubhouse and The Harbury Lane End Stand in front of you. We decide to go round the ground clockwise along the side which contains the Clubshop, various food outlets, two seating stands and the programme shop at the end of the side stand.

There is terracing behind the goal opposite the end we first came in with four steps of terracing which run the whole length of this end. This end is known as The North Bank.

We carry on to the other side where there is another seated stand that looks like a lot of others in the non-league these days.

Helen decamps in this stand as this is where we will watch the game from and sets up to take her own pictures. I head back to the stand at the end where we came in and a transformation has taken place in here. When we arrived it was a nice covered standing area but has now transformed with a colourful array of flags at the back.

I head back to where Helen is sat to find her talking with a guy with a video camera. He is here to film the game for Soccer X TV, where you can watch the highlights of this game (amongst others) if you want to. Don't worry you don't see me, so its safe to watch! He tells me that "Helen knows her football". Of course she does, she had an excellent teacher!

The game got under way with Halesowen having the best of the chances early on but wayward finishing saw no goals. Linda's lad, Mark Bellingham, had the best chance for Leamington but was unable to get the ball past the keeper. We also had some terrible play acting from one of the participants who went down like he had been shot with no one near him and despite receiving treatment for his "injury" did not leave the pitch. Mind you, this may have been a problem seeing as I'm talking about the ref!

As you can see, the players were most concerned about his welfare.
On 33 minutes Halesowen took the lead. A free kick on the right was put over and a header back across the goal was met by ex-Foxes loanee Stefan Moore who put the ball into the net.

This was the only goal of the first half.
The first goal of the second half was not long in coming and Bellingham equalised for The Brakes on 49 minutes when he hooked the ball over his shoulder and the ball dropped out of the keepers reach into the bottom corner of the net. Bellingham then had a goal disallowed before scoring again on 60 minutes. He picked the ball up 30 odd yards out and made for goal, then hit his shot outside the box which beat the keeper. The game looked like it was going Leamington's way at this point but this was changed on 70 minutes with the controversial incident which changed the game. A ball was played forward by Leamington and as Corbett and Halesowen's Hood went for the ball they clashed and there was no doubt Hood was caught by Corbett but it did look a 50-50 ball but to most people's surprise the referee pulled out a red for Corbett. This put Leamington on the back foot and their goal was now leading a charmed life as Halesowen poured forward in search of the equaliser. The game entered the additional time given by the referee and just as it looked as though Leamington might hold out, a deflected shot by McDermott flew past Breeden in the Leamington goal. Halesowen now went looking for a winner but resolute defending kept them out until the final whistle.
We thoroughly enjoyed our day out at Leamington, having some great banter with the home supporters around us during the game. It's a nice ground too, with good facilities and I'm sure you'll get a good welcome if you visit for yourselves. You can also visit the Chesterton Windmill nearby too, but make sure you either choose a drier day than we had or a spare of shoes!

Thanks to Helen again for the action shots.
More pictures of The New Windmill Ground here.

Leamington 2-2 Halesowen Town
Att: 734
Admission: £8
Programme: £1.50
Badge: £3

Monday, 22 March 2010

Game 53 - Winterton Rangers v Dinnington Town Tuesday 16th March 2010 NCEL Presidents Cup Semi-Final

I've been to West Street once before. Mind you, it was December 1981 when Winterton lost 2-1 to Skegness in the FA Vase, and of course I was very young. Now while I don't remember too much about the actual game, I do remember that it was raining. Strange how some things stick in your memory.

You enter the ground and all the buildings containing the dressing rooms, Clubhouse, kitchen and toilets are to your left. I spend a couple of minutes chatting to the raffle ticket seller who has me down as a Dinnington supporter until I explain I'm just visiting. He then asks if I post on the Kempster forum and when I answer in the affirmative he tells me there is another lad from Grimsby here who I guess is Borogaz. He looks for him, but he cannot see him so I miss out again on meeting Borogaz.

I make my way anti-clockwise around the ground and there is a wide two level terrace all the way down to the smart covered stand that is situated in the centre of this side. This has three levels of standing and covers the whole of the terracing at this point.

I carry on the end of this side and the area behind the goal is the same as the side but only one level of standing but with the same smart fencing. Behind both of these sides of the ground there are training pitches and the one behind the side stand is in use tonight for both teams to warm up on.

I carry on to the side of the ground where both the main stand and dugouts are situated. The smart fencing that has featured so far has now disappeared and has been replaced by various different styles of fencing that belongs to the houses that are situated on this side of the ground.

I'm now heading back to where I came in and the impressive building ahead spreads along the whole end. You can get a beer in the bar but there is also a kitchen selling hot food and drinks and you can sit inside to enjoy your purchases. Having finished taking my photos I head back to the seated stand to wait for kick off. One point of interest are the dugouts. They are actually sunk into the ground which results in very little obstruction for the fans sat in the seats behind.

Winterton made the running at the start of the game and could have taken the lead after 5 minutes when the ball zipped across the face of the goal twice in the same move but evaded the Rangers forwards on both occasions. It was a lively start and Dinnington started to make chances themselves and were unlucky not to score when they had a shot that hit the underside of the bar and in the ensuing melee Rangers managed to clear the ball. On 36 minutes Dinnington did take the lead when Rosser ran on to a great through ball and cleverly beat the Rangers defender before shooting past the keeper. There was no further score before half time and Dinnington went into the break with a slender lead.
I made my way to the kitchen and grabbed a coffee and a badge and sat down to read the programme. Texts from Helen, who was at Selhurst Park, informed me that City was 0-0, but Palace had had Davis sent off for an elbow in the box but somehow, no penalty was given.
I wandered back to my seat for the second half reflecting that the ground had come a long way since I was last here and that it was a very tidy ground.

Winterton changed their tactics for the second half and were rewarded on 55 minutes when Liam Wilkin levelled the score. Rangers had the upper hand and Dinnington were finding it hard to make any real threats on the Rangers goal but on 71 minutes a good move was abruptly stopped when a Rangers defender hacked down Morris in the box and a cool penalty from Pete Smith put Dinnington ahead for the second time. The game was end to end now and both sides had more chances to score.Just as it looked like Dinnington were going to hold out, a brilliant cross was met by an equally fine header from Wilkin to send the game into extra time.
Within a minute of the restart Winterton were awarded a penalty for a clumsy challenge in the box and Wilkin stepped up to complete his hat trick and score the decisive goal. There was only going to be one winner from here on and the game finished with no further score. Things did get a bit heated towards the end with the Dinnington manager taking exception to ball being knocked away after Winterton had conceded a free kick. A bit of frustration kicking in to be honest.
An enjoyable game in the end and with City getting the three points at Palace too, a very enjoyable night.

More pictures of West Street here.

Winterton Rangers 3-2 Dinnington Town
Att: 62
Admission: £5
Programme: £1
Badge: £3

Monday, 15 March 2010

Game 51 - Grimsby Borough v Pontefract Collieries Thursday 11th March 2010 NCEL League Cup Fourth Round

After Borough's win in the previous my daughter expressed the wish to go to the next round. Now as she lives in Leicester at the moment I could not see this working out but by a quirk of fate she is back home on the very night of the game, so we find ourselves heading for The Hawthorns again for the game against Pontefract. It does not take long to get there and we find a space to park the car and it does not look like the game is the hottest destination for the night.

The game is, to be honest, pretty poor and chances in the first half are few and the most interesting part is when the Borough right back gives us the evils for not returning the ball to him when it comes into the stand for a throw in. The thing was matey it was all the way down the stand, nowhere near us and the bloke down there was already getting it! So 0-0 at half time.

After 50 minutes my daughter tweets "This has penalties written all over it". How right she is, but they come a lot earlier than we were anticipating. On 55 minutes the ball is played into the Borough box and the following shot hits a defender on the arm and the referee points to the spot. I think it is a bit harsh as it was more ball to arm rather than arm to ball. Pontefract are not complaining though and top scorer Carl Fothergill scores an excellent penalty to give them the lead.

5 minutes later another penalty is awarded, this time to Borough, and a little bit more clear cut this time. Once again it is a well taken penalty, this one from Lewis Buckthorpe. So it is all level again and neither side seems able to get hold of the game and there are very few chances created. Something is starting to bug by the end of the second half though .Every two minutes you hear a player shouting "Time!", why I do not know, as not one player has bothered to take on board this advice all night. The game stumbles to full time and so its extra time. Joy unconfined.

To be honest we might as well have cut the extra time out and gone straight to the penalty shoot out. Neither side makes much effort to win the game and it seems they are just waiting for the penalties. Which is what we get. This is the best part of the game. We have 13 excellent penalties, two fantastic saves from the Borough keeper and one crossbar rattling penalty. The upshot of which means that Borough win 7-6 on penalties. The Borough faithful and playing staff are ecstatic, the semi-final is next. And guess what, she says she wants to come back for that one too!

I nearly forgot, but thank you to Helen for letting me use her photos of the game.

Grimsby Borough 1-1 Pontefract Collieries
Att: 16
Admission: £4
Programme: £1

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Game 50 - Louth Town v Nettleham Saturday 6th March 2010 Buckingham Insurance Supreme League (7.00pm KO)

As the game at Westella &Willerby finishes I have three hours to get to Park Avenue, home of Louth Town. This is not a new ground for me as I've been lots of times before when it was home for Louth United, but it is always nice to go back there as it is a nice ground. A fairly leisurely drive sees me arrive at the ground at 5.20pm, plenty of time before kick off. I ring Mrs Reynard to hear how the game at Hillsborough went and nothing I hear makes me regret not going, especially as I've had a great day so far.

As it is still light I make my way into the ground to take my pictures. The first thing I notice is how cold it has become. You enter the ground on the side where all the facilities are. I make my way round the ground clockwise and head behind the goal to my left. There is a narrow strip of hard standing behind this goal.

I make my way to the far side and the hard standing runs the whole length of this side and there is also a TV gantry half way down this side.

I carry onto the end behind the other goal where the hard standing continues. As I make my way down here I see there is another training pitch behind the side.

I'm now nearly back to where I came in, only the impressive main stand between me and there. This has two separate standing areas, the dugouts, dressing rooms and above this is the clubhouse.

I go upstairs into the impressive clubhouse and get a coffee to warm up. The time passes quickly as I strike up conversation with a Hull fan who has attended the hop with his wife. I go back downstairs for the game and there is a minutes silence for Keith Alexander, nice to see the big guy being acknowledged in this way.

This game is easily the best of the day. Louth's neat passing style is impressive and it is easy to see why they are doing so well in the league. To be fair though, Nettleham, despite their lowly position also try to play and it makes for a good game. Nettleham cannot cope with the pace of the Louth attack and at the end of the game Louth run out 3-1 winners.
I'm lucky that I arrive home at just after 9pm, others on the hop will be home much later than that. I've thoroughly enjoyed the day, my first ground hop and hopefully not my last. A big thank you to all those that made the day possible, your efforts were most appreciated.
One final note. Easington won the hospitality award for the day, a thoroughly deserved award.

More pictures of Park Avenue here.

Louth Town 3-1 Nettleham
Att: 260
Admission: £3
Programme: £1
Badge: £3

Game 49 - Westella & Willerby v Paramore Sports Saturday 6th March 2010 Buckingham Insurance Supreme Division (2.15pm KO)

So I leave the splendid hospitality of Easington United behind and head to Brough where the temporary home of Westella & Willerby, The Blackburn Leisure Social Club, is situated. It takes an hour to drive here and in the middle of Hull my phone goes crazy with a dozen or so texts which have been unable to get through before as there was no signal in Easington. I arrive at the ground 45 minutes before kick off and so have time to take some photos and buy a home badge.

There are no stands and no cover here but again we are fortunate that the weather is cold but dry. The pitch is railed off and there are several more pitches over the far side. There is a large cricket pavilion type building which houses the dressing rooms and has a balcony for viewing the game. The large social club has all the facilities for the spectator and you can buy food in one section and drinks in the bar. I head to the bar and get a coffee and listen to Sky whilst waiting for the game to start. I then head outside and there is a minutes silence for Keith Alexander before kick off.

The game itself was dire and Parramore scored the only goal in a fairly niggly match. It was made worse by the texts coming from Hillsbrough where the Foxes were heading for a 2-0 defeat. I also met the guy who has the excellent Mind of an Imp blog. I think I may have scared him a little bit, some random loony coming up to you probably has that effect.

The other bizarre thing that happened during the game came courtesy of the hopper stood near me during the second half. As Parramore scored the only goal of the game he commented "That should seal it". I concurred, adding that I thought one goal was always going to be enough. "What do you mean? That makes it 2-0"he replied. What! Where had the other goal come from? This had me thinking I was already overdosed on football after only two games. At the final whistle I headed to the car where the chap I had spoken to as I parked up was just putting his gear into his boot. I had to ask didn't I, even though this might make me look like the loony the Imps fan thought I was. "What was the final score?" I asked. "1-0" he replied. Phew, my doubts about my sanity evaporated, leaving my fellow hopper chuckling when I told him why I was asking.

More pictures of The Blackburn Leisure Social Club here.

Westella & Willerby 0-1 Parramore Sports
Att: 194
Admission: £3
Programme: £1
Badge: £3

Game 48 - Easington United v Hutton Cranswick United Saturday 6th March 2010 Black Dragon Premier Division (10.30am KO)

An early start this morning for the first game of the Central Midlands League Football Bonanza 2010 which kicks off at 10.30am. This is going to be a long day which eventually sees me travel 157 miles in total for 3 games over 12 hours. So to the checklist: Ticket, check, camera, check, kit kats, check, warm clothing, check, music for the journey courtesy of DJ Greedy G, (plenty of top notch ska and reggae available here), check. The satnav is loaded with the post codes for the venues and off I go. The first venue is Low Farm Recreation & Sports Ground home of Easington United. Only 57 miles from home it takes an hour and a half to get here as you head towards Spurn Point with more speed restrictions than the M1! I've been following the fortunes of the Eastenders through the absolutely excellent blog of Richard Lusmore, 'A Game in Four Quarters'.
I find the parking at the local school and then make my way to the ground. I give a hearty greeting to the guys selling the programmes outside the entrance and it is only a minute or so later I realise why they were giving me odd looks. I did not pay them the entrance fee or show them my ticket I had in my bag! I head to Rob Hornby's programme stall and pass on the bag of programmes I promised him and he gives me my programmes for the three games today and the certificate of attendance. There are plenty of people already here and I get a few photos.

There are no stands here and the only cover is an overhang on the side of one of the buildings. Fortunately the day is not wet and we do not need any shelter. The buildings consist of the dressing rooms, toilets and tea hut, with hard standing behind the goal at the end of the ground we came in. It is fully railed off with a further pitch beyond the main pitch. The Club have put up a couple of gazebos and it is the food one I head for first. A lovely bacon bun is bought and I find a bench to eat my breakfast. This gives me a chance to look round and I'm impressed with this neat ground, plenty of tlc is visible and it is a credit to the hard working team who help run the Club.

I then have a wander around and in the other gazebo there is a tombola stall and memorabilia for both the home and away teams to buy. I duly obtain my badges and then have a look at the badge stall but I do not find any that I am missing. I wander back to get a coffee and sit drinking this taking in the scenery. I then spot PonteCarlo who I do not actually know but have seen at the Pontefract game I attended last season but did not get to speak to him as he seemed very busy on the night. So I go over and introduce myself and he in turn introduces me to a trio of Scarborough Athletic fans, Neil (Seadog on the Kempster site), Bill and Stevie Wonder (who I do not think is really called this but he has some sunglasses on which makes him look like the soul star).

I end up watching the game in the company of these guys which made it a pleasant time for me and these really are nice guys. The game has been well covered in other blogs so I'll only cover it briefly. The Eastenders are into top gear straight from the off and on 9 minutes they score with a good header from Paul Morrill. After 20 minute it is 2-0 as Craig Havercroft receives a good ball from Havercroft and he scores from 25 yards but the keeper should have done better. The keeper was at error again as Jamie Cousins scored the third from close range on 35 minutes. Hutton never really showed as an attacking force and the 3-0 half time score was a fair reflection of the game. To be honest the second half was fairly flat with the best moment coming from Hutton's Mark Frampton who hit the crossbar from about 25 yards out. There was no addition to the score and on the final whistle the legion of hoppers were dashing for the exit. I made a more leisurely exit and by the time I reached the car park it was pretty empty.
Just a couple of final observations. The Eastenders should be proud of their hospitality for the day and I hope they felt it was a worthwhile exercise for them. I also noticed that Lush was questioning the reaction of the hoppers to the game. I know where he is coming from, it seems to me that to some, the game is incidental to the visit to the ground but for me the day is the ground AND the game. I do not get involved as much as when I go to see the Foxes, but I still applaud good saves, tackles, goals and have a go at the refs for baffling decisions. Don't be disheartened Rich, I think everyone had a cracking morning with you, it just seems that some express it in different ways.

More pictures of Low Farm here.

Easington United 3-0 Hutton Cranswick United
Att: 209
Admission: £3
Programme: £2
Badge: £3

Monday, 8 March 2010

Game 47 - Barton Town Old Boys v Tadcaster Albion Friday 5th March 2010 NCEL Division One

It's the first game of the CML Football Bonanza 2010 tonight, although not an official game of the weekend, the Bonanza organisers were able to set this game up after the previously arranged game at AFC Hull was cancelled due to the pitch being double booked.
As I pull into the car park it is clear that the game is well attended and I end up way down the bottom end to park. I came here in October of last year, but I still make my way around the ground taking some shots of the ground again.

At this point I start to get the feeling there is something wrong. Various Club officials all seem to heading towards the generator running the floodlights. With that, several of the lights go out. The next 10 minutes or so see various lights go off and come on. I carry on round the ground and as I reach the goal at the end I started at all the lights go out.

I stand in the dark for a couple of minutes and after a couple of aborted attempts the lights start to come back on. The announcement is made that the kick off will be delayed while we wait for an electrician to arrive. Players and officials come back out to warm up again and it is announced that the kick off has been put back to 8.10pm. I go and find a seat and wait for the game to start.

Now something quite disturbing starts to happen. People are actually sitting next to me and not only that, they are southerners! These are true hoppers, not a part timer like myself. Everyone seems to know each other and being sat amongst them makes for interesting listening for the whole game as they recall past visits, train journeys and mention grounds I've never heard of!

The game gets underway and after 60 seconds Barton score and there is a cheer from all the hoppers as the dreaded 0-0 is avoided. Ryan Morton makes a great run down the right wing beating several Tadcaster players before crossing to Jason Moody who puts the ball into the net at the far post. Things get even better for Barton on 6 minutes as Gareth Barlow heads in a perfect cross from Moody's cross from the left touchline. Although Tadcaster had a chance on 11 minutes it was all Barton and they had chance after chance. The Tadcaster goal led a charmed life and on when Law's shot hits the post and rebounds into the arms of the grateful goalkeeper.
Tadcaster manage to reach half time without conceding any more and it proved to be a good game so far for Barton's largest crowd of the season so far.
I stay in my seat for the break and one of the visiting hoppers comes back and we have an interesting conversation which goes on throughout the second half. Not that this means the second half is dull, far from it. Tadcaster score with their first attack on 46 minutes when Taylor's shot comes back off the bar but the rebound is calmly slotted home by Sunley. It was now Tadcaster's turn to be in the ascendancy and it seemed only time before the equaliser would come. And come it did on 63 minutes when Grahame Whitehead found himself in space in the box and heads home from the free kick. 2-2. The game continued to throw up chances with both teams having opportunities to take the lead but there is no further score. This was an excellent game and the cliche of a game of two halves was apt tonight.
I make my way out of the ground and I can only hope that the games tomorrow match this one.

Barton Town Old Boys 2-2 Tadcaster Albion
Att: 255
Admission: £4
Programme: £1

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Game 46 - Armthorpe Welfare v Brodsworth Welfare Tuesday 3rd March 2010 NCEL Premier League

Ok, I admit it. I chose this game because I'm a goal whore. One of the best attacks in the division up against the worst team in the league with a minus goal difference of 107. Ingredients for goals galore but Mrs Reynard said it would serve me right if it was 0-0. Harsh, but probably fair.
I've been to Armthorpe before, so I'm using the pictures I took on a lovely sunny day instead of taking more tonight. I have to admit I have a soft spot for both teams playing tonight but especially Broddy. I had a great night out there last season and I've paid particular attention to their results since. However, since I started following their results the curse of Reynard has struck and they have had a torrid time, only escaping relegation last season due to ground grading issues with other teams in the League. Tonight they sit bottom of the League with only 2 points out of a possible 54.
The 52 miles to Armthorpe are soon covered and I find myself in the ground by 7.20pm, guided by the floodlights lighting the sky from several miles away.

You come into the ground in the corner with the pitch and facilities mainly to your right. I'll go round the ground clockwise and behind the goal is hard standing with a fence behind it which tonight looks like it is having some work done to it.

As you reach the far side there is more hard standing and the dugouts are situated on this side. I really like the floodlights here, they are a bit different.

Behind the other goal is a covered standing area with three shallow steps.

This brings us back to the other side of the ground where the main stand is situated. Strangely, there are another pair of dugouts which are not in use. The covered stand are where the 'seats' are situated, more like benches as there are no backs to them. Behind this stand are the changing rooms and tea hut.

The game begins and it is Armthorpe who make all of the running from the start and they make several chances without scoring. They do score after 8 minutes from a penalty by Hardy. The Broddy goal comes under siege and the defence keep out several shots but a huge shout goes up for handball and as I look to the linesman I can see he is signalling for a penalty. After consulting with the linesman, the referee awards the penalty and sends off the guilty Brodsworth player. Brodsworth really have an uphill task now and Armthorpe set about increasing their lead with wave after wave of attacks. A combination of poor finishing and resolute defending keeps the score the same until 29 minutes when Fletcher makes it 2-0. Ten minutes later it is 3-0 when Buck scores and this is the score at half time.
I'm now expecting a rout, but to their credit Brodsworth not only defend well but go forward at every opportunity. They keep Armthorpe at bay until the 80th minute when Walker scores from a free kick. A minute later it is 5-0 when Hardy scores his second of the night with a smart finish. The game ends with no further score and Brodsworth have acquited themselves with credit considering they were up against it so early in the game.

More pictures of Church Street here.

Armthorpe Welfare 5-0 Brodsworth Welfare
Att: 63
Admission: £5
Programme: £1