Saturday, 20 October 2007

Tiger Feat - Stourbridge 1 Gloucester City 1 - Carlsberg FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round - 20/10/07

If I was a loyal fan I would have been watching Tamworth take on Gainsborough, but I'm a part-timer and anyway I had a previous appointment near Merry Hill and so I found myself at half-past-two wandering the roads of the Black Country in search of a game. The first ground I passed was Dudley Sports but a quick detour and a word with the clubhouse barman told me that they were away at Shawbury so it was a toss-up between Lye and Stourbridge. I prefer to go to Lye when I can have a few beers as The Windsor Castle brew-pub is just up the road so Stourbridge it was, and a FA Trophy game against The Tigers of Gloucester City.

The War Memorial Ground is three-sided as it shares with the local cricket club, the football club don't get on with the cricket club! Stourbridge are forced to play all their pre-season friendlies and even some early season League games away from home because the cricket pitch is in use. They were also marooned for a few seasons in The Midland Alliance because they could not have hard standing down the cricket side of the pitch, this ground grading rule has been waived since the restructuring of the non-league pyramid and Stourbridge are currently in the BGB Southern League Midland & West Division.
In 1974 Stour reached the Welsh Cup Final, they are not, of course, Welsh, but in those days all you needed to do to enter the Welsh Cup was to remove some vowels and add a couple of l's, so it was as Llanstrbrdg that they lost the final to Cardiff City.

Gloucester are a division above in the BGB Premier but are struggling somewhat, which is not entirely surprising given the horrible summer they endured, the floods in the city completely overwhelmed their Meadow Park ground, there were pictures on the internet showing just top of the goalposts above water, depressing stuff. The damage was so bad that Gloucester will not move back, ever. they are hoping to build a new ground (a bit higher above sea-level I presume!) and are currently groundsharing at Forest Green Rovers.
I don't suppose having to trek to Stroud for home matches is helping their attendances but they bought a healthy following to Stourbridge, at least sixty, maybe more, they weren't particularly vocal, maybe they are just too friendly down that way? (Never used to be as I recall from Tamworth going there a couple of times back in the 90's!)

Oi, get behind the barrier woman!

The game kicked off in glorious Autumn sunshine and Gloucester immediately took the game to Stourbridge. In terms of actual league positions there isn't a lot between these sides but Gloucester looked every bit the higher division side in the first half. The trouble was, they couldn't get anything on target. Every shot flew wide, every header went high, every cross just missed the onrushing striker, the Stour keeper was simply not tested.
0-0 at half-time, but certainly not a boring 0-0.
50p for a Bovril at half-time as well, bargain!

I expected more of the same in the second half, but I was wrong, Stourbridge came out transformed. They were also managing to look more dangerous in the box than Gloucester did in the first half but they were tending to over elaborate rather than just getting shots off. I was very impressed by Stour's young midfielder Sam Rock, great name too! His pace and trickery were causing the Gloucester defence all sorts of problems, and it was he who created Stour's goal. Picking up the ball on the edge of the area he created himself a yard of space and hit a shot that was somehow kept out by a combination of goalkeeper and defender, but Mark Bellingham was on hand to stab home the rebound, just when I was thinking I was going to see my first goalless game of the season.

Gloucester finally found some urgency but beside one decent attempt from outside the area still couldn't get the ball on target, seemingly the only way they were going to score was from a penalty, and the referee duly obliged. A shot was blocked by the Stour number 4, and it did indeed hit his hand, but it was hardly deliberate as it was hit straight at him, harsh I thought. To compound his misery the ref also sent him off! Gloucester substitute Sykes rolled home the spot kick and so these two must try again on Wednesday down at Forest Green.

Decent game this, maybe a bit too much hit and hope at times but I've seen a lot worse. I can see both teams climbing their respective tables. As for The War Memorial Ground, I like the place, it will never win any awards for being picturesque but it's a proper ground. There are a high percentage of nutters (in the nicest possible way) amongst their support as well, and that is what gives non-league football it's charm!

Price: £6 Adults £2 Children
Programme: 36 pages £1.30, plenty of reading.
Attendance: 176
Tamworth Watch: 2-2 at home to Gainsborough
Crowd comment of the day: As a small gaggle of Stour fans sang "Red and white Army" one GCFC fan said "Army? More like a British Squadron after an American bombing raid!"
Temper Tantrum of the day: Gloucester's manager turning an alarming shade of purple because a throw-in went the other way! Calm down son!

Friday, 19 October 2007

BREAKING NEWS - New FIFA Directive - No More Penalty Shoot-outs.

In a bizarre statement this morning the increasingly hatstand FIFA President Sepp Blatter has stated that from January next year penalty shoot-outs will no longer be used to decide the outcome of International matches. Instead, if scores are level after extra time the match will be decided with a game of "Best Man Dead".

"Everyone remembers this game from when they were a child," Blatter said at a baffled press conference earlier today, "I was Best Man Dead in my street five years in a row, it's a great game of skill and strategy and will provide fantastic entertainment for the crowd, especially if the game has been a dull 0-0 draw. We at FIFA are constantly being told that diving, rolling around and feigning of injury by players is ruining the game, well now we have thought of the ideal way to bring these skills INTO the game in an entertaining and innovative way, I have spoken to Cristiano Ronaldo and Dida already and they are delighted."

The rules of Best Man Dead are simple, each team must nominate a 'machine-gunner' and five players to 'die'. The five players from each side must run from the halfway line towards the 'trench' where the 'machine-gunners' are. The 'machine-gunners' must then 'open fire' by pretending they have a machine gun in their hands and shouting "Dagga dagga dagga dagga dagga", bonus points are awarded for the best machine gun noise.
On hearing the gun the onrushing players must 'die' in the best way they can, this could be a simple clutching of the throat accompanied by a shout of "Ach, I am done for, you go on ahead" or maybe a theatrical leap and a blood-curdling "Aaaaieeeee!!!!!!!!!!!"
The winners will be the team that has died the best according to the judges who will be FIFA accredited referees who will have all done the Best Man Dead judging courses currrently being run by Jeff Winter.

This diagram shows an artist's impression of how Best Man Dead could work.
The winner here is obviously the player second from the left as he has gone the extra mile by chopping his left leg off below the knee.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Far Too Much Time On Their Hands!

I was first alerted to this on an Aston Villa forum Heroes and Villains, basically someone posted a picture of Sam Allardyce (bung taker and Newcastle United manager) on a Sunderland forum and asked people to use their photoshopping skills to alter it somewhat, the end result is this superb Youtube compilation, enjoy:

Saturday, 13 October 2007

I Don't Wanna Go To Kings Lynn - Tamworth 2 Kings Lynn 1 - FA Cup (Sponsored by Someone or Other) 3rd Qualifying Round - 13/10/07

Ah! The magic of the FA Cup, cup fever and all that, load of old rubbish isn't it?
Nah, I love it, although (and here's where I go into **RANT MODE ON** ) it was awfully nice of those lovely people at FA Headquarters to schedule a vital England international match on the same weekend and at the same bloomin' time as a round of what is supposed to be their own premier knock-out competition. Now I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in the England National side, I hate most of the players who play for it and just can't be bothered with the Ingerlund mentality of many of their fans, but for those teams who could not get their games rescheduled to Friday or Sunday or early kick-offs gates would almost certainly be hit. Why couldn't this round of the cup be a week later, or better still, why couldn't the England game have kicked off at 5:30 meaning no organisation problems for the smaller clubs the FA keep saying are so important to them and also a chance to maybe show the England match in the clubhouse afterwards to encourage irresponsible beer drinking and money in the coffers? **RANT MODE OFF**

Anyhow, back to the real football. Tamworth and Kings Lynn have a bit of previous rivalry, we were adversaries in the Dr Martens League, I always remember my own visits to their Walks Stadium as being rather unpleasant. It's fair to say that back then they had a contingent of rather horrible people amongst their support, racism reared it's ugly head too. But let's not dwell on that, they claim to have cleaned up their act, other fans concur and the noisy bunch of 150 or so they bought to The Lamb were fine. They were a little bit obsessed with Tamworth mind, the last chant I would have thought of when you go 1-0 up in a cup tie would be "If you still hate Tamworth clap your hands." but each to their own! They also had one of the most...errr...rotund fans I have seen for a while and he provided a bit of fun for The Shed, but I was disappointed not to hear a chant of "I Predict a Diet".
In Gary Mills Tamworth also have a manager that many Kings Lynn fans still blame for nearly bankrupting them a few years back, unlucky Agent Mills, they are still here!


Tamworth have been playing okay of late, the team seems to be starting to gel, so it was a bit of a surprise to see them play so absolutely dreadful from kick-off. Second to every ball, outfought in midfield, sloppy at the back, it was awful. One of the best things an away team can do is to frustrate and ultimately quieten down a vociferous home crowd, well Tamworth did Kings Lynn's job for them today. After fifteen minutes the Lamb faithful were down to little more than swearing and imploring the players to liven it up.
It was no surprise at all when Kings Lynn took the lead, the dangerous Joe Taylor was given the freedom of the lamb pitch to run forward and pick his spot, he curled a lovely shot low past the despairing grasp of Jose Veiga and the swearing got louder and louder!
I was sensing one of those days, and I probably wasn't alone. We really didn't look like scoring. The referee wasn't endearing himself to the home fans either, now I am not one of those who thinks every ref hates us, usually at this level they are equally rubbish for both sides, but even I was struggling to see how the same challenge could be a free kick when committed by a Tamworth player but no foul when it was the other way round. I can only think the glare from KL's yellow shirts was scrambling his brains.
And then came what is known locally as "The Hanny Factor" after an infamous Tamworth fan who missed many a goal by leaving early for his half-time pie and pint. Just seconds after I had told Mills that this was 45 minutes of my life I wouldn't be getting back Tamworth suffered a rare outbreak of football culminating in a lovely turn and shot by Tony Robinson. 1-1! Totally undeserved as well, smashing! Robinson was by far the worst player on the pitch in the first half, he had the touch of an elephant playing with a beach ball, but this was an instinctive strike from a natural striker, and it also meant game-on.

To be honest, the second-half didn't start much better than the first, it just seemed better because the crowd were at last getting into it and Tamworth had at least started to cut out the mistakes.

In fact it was looking rather like a replay in deepest darkest Norfolk was on the cards, something not many of the home fans were particularly looking forward to I can tell you!
But wait, have faith, a long punt from the back was flicked on to Matty Williams, he laid the ball off to Dave Bampton whose well struck shot beat the keeper and suddenly all was well with the World once more.
Well nearly because **RANT MODE ON** I flippin' well hate that bloody moronic "Easy Easy" chant! We had just sneaked the lead against the run of play against a lower division team who had largely outplayed us and our fans chant "Easy Easy"???!!! No it bloody wasn't! If I were ever granted three wishes by a genie the first one would be to erase all knowledge and all trace memories of Soccer (Soccer, it's Football not Soccer you mindless dimwits at Sky) AM and that horrible Chelski supporting twunt Tim Lovejoy, he and they have so much to answer for. **RANT MODE OFF**

That's better!

We never looked in danger after that, Kings Lynn pushed on as we knew they would but their shooting became increasingly erratic and Tamworth held on, even having time for a patch of "Ole" keep-ball. So another £5000 banked and another good cup run goes on. It could have been oh so different had Kings Lynn took their first-half chances but that's the FA Cup for you, and I wouldn't miss it for the World.

Attendance - 621
Beer - Hobgoblin in the clubhouse again but only one pint as I was driving.
Slugs - None but Dilbs saw a spider.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Classic Own Goals of our time Number Two - Workington Vs Lancaster City - Thanks to DazaB (again).

If it wasn't for video capable mobile phones this poor Lancaster player would have been spared eternal ridicule and internet infamy, shame!

Just listen to the sympathy oozing from the fans!

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Classic Own Goals of Our Time - Number 1 - Daniel Fletcher (Hucknall) Vs Southport

Fletcher gave away the free-kick, escaped a booking but could not escape the Divine Intervention!

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Bewdley have The XXX Factor - Pilkington XXX 0 Bewdley Town 3 - FA Carlsberg Vase 1st Round - 06/10/07

One major advantage that my minority hobby of Teamhopping has over those gloryhunters who Groundhop is that I can go to the same ground twice in a row if I feel like it, and as I had seen neither of these two protagonists in this FA Vase tie before I made an immediate revisit to The Triplex Sports Ground, and this time I even remembered my camera! Actually my mind had been made up by the Pilkington Webmaster / Programme Editor Ian McDonald who had spotted this blog on one of my not-so-subtle plugs on the Tony Kempster's Forum. He somehow deduced who I was as I turned up at about twenty minutes to kick-off and was very apologetic that he had sold out of programmes, this was no real hassle for me as I'm not an avid collector but he arranged to send me one anyway, and then talked the brother of the programme printer into giving me his copy! Good work all round and very appreciated, thanks Ian, although he was probably ensuring I gave this trip a good write up!
Either way, have a link to your website, it's very good. Both the programme and the website do a great job of explaining the evolution of Triplex Safety Glass FC to Pilkington XXX via Triplex FC, Richmond Swifts, Kings Norton Town and Burman Hi-Ton.

Spot the Steve Foster impersonator

I have always loved the FA Vase, it provided probably THE highlight of my Tamworth supporting career when we won it in 1989 and attracted a then record crowd of over 27,000 to Wembley. Tamworth have since gone on to reach greater heights in the non-league World but that day was special. Looking around the crowd it seemed that Bewdley had subscribed to this as well, they had bought plenty of support, I'm not sure what sort of crowds they get for league games, I'll certainly try to make the trip this season though.

Both these sides are at the same level in the Pyramid (step 6) albeit in different leagues (Pilkington are in the Midland Combination Premier and Bewdley are in the West midland League Premier) and both have similar records so far, so a tight game was expected. It didn't start out that way though. Possibly inspired by the support from their home town Bewdley started off much the better of the two teams, in Lewis Pountney they have one of the more prolific of local strikers and alongside James Hart they made a very pacy attack. Pilkington had a striker of their own that I recognised, I'll leave the name out for now as I'm setting it as a little quiz for my regular Tamworth FC readers!

<-- Go on- who's this ex-Tammie then?

I spoke to his Dad as well, but as he is better known as Beelzebub amongst us Villa fans I didn't shake his hand!

It came as no surprise that Bewdley took the lead after 20 minutes, Pountney latching onto a long ball, rounding the keeper and slotting home, and seven minutes later they beat the offside trap again Hart made it two. It looked like game over at this point and Pilkington's heads could well have dropped but they rallied themselves and started to create some chances. If they had taken one of a couple of clear headed chances they may have gone into the break in much better spirits but it remained 2-0.

I had to rely on a phone-call to find out that Tamworth were drawing 0-0 at Stalybridge but it was impossible to avoid the fact that England had somehow overcome Australia in the egg-chasing, bloody good result though, I have very little interest in any sport where large sweaty men spent a lot of time hugging but apparently England had absolutely no chance and yet won, marvellous. Villa were 1-0 up against the kit-stealers too.

Pilkington were much the better side at the start of the second-half and created several chances, including a couple of one-on-ones that they should have put away, but as these chances were missed so Bewdley realised that this was going to be their day. Pilkington were lucky to still have eleven men on the pitch halfway through the half, Andrew Johnson (no not that one) talked his way into the referee's book and then had an amazing five minutes of sulking petulance where he barged opposition defenders, gobbed off and generally acted like a prima-donna, somehow he stayed on but maybe if he had concentrated more on scoring then Pilkington could have grabbed the goal that just might have sparked their comeback.

Alas for them it wasn't to be and they seemed to tire through their efforts, Bewdley sensed this and they started to take advantage of the gaps created as Pilkington pushed forward in their desperation. They put the tie beyond doubt five minutes before full-time with a goal that I didn't see because I was watching a match between some kids on the grass at the side of the pitch!

Trainspotters - if you look carefully, here's one for you.

There aren't that many non-league grounds left in Birmingham any more, certainly compared with The Black Country, and I have enjoyed my two trips down to Kings Norton. Ian, you have your good write-up! Nice programme by the way, cheers.

Attendance - 67 (I counted 68, pretty impressive eh!)
Price - £3 (Cameron free, as seems to be the norm around here)
Programme - 32 pages, plenty of HT reading, £1
Tamuff Watch - 0-0, another clean sheet.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Careless Wispa - Cadbury Athletic 1 Brocton 1 - Midland Combination Premier Division 02/10/07

Just before I left the house I told myself that the last thing I should do is forget my camera, and sure enough, the last thing I did as I left the house was to forget my camera! I really am a complete amateur at this blogging lark!
This is why this report is accompanied by a picture lifted from their website (I have asked permission and will remove it if asked Internet Police) which is a photo of a ground they don't even play at! It's a shame that the actual Cadbury Sports Ground isn't good enough for this level because it's a cracker, although being in the totally dry Quaker village of Bourneville you can't get a pint. Cadbury Athletic meanwhile are groundsharing at the Triplex Sports Ground in Kings Norton, itself a fairly dry place if your poison of choice is real ale, but I digress (as usual).

I tell you what, if you want pictures you could do a lot worse than to take a look at one of the finest non-league websites in existence, Pyramid Passion specifically the section on Pilkington XXX. they are much better photos than the rubbish I'd have taken with my box brownie anyway.

Cameron got a rare treat(?) tonight and was allowed to accompany me on a school night, he was dissapointed to have missed the (Turkish?) Delights of Greenhill so was loath to miss this one. We arrived just before kick-off in a very light drizzle which was just enough to give your kids a treat, no sorry, to make the grass a bit slippy and the ball skid through. The Triplex Sports Ground has quite a sizeable slope down into one corner, but the grass was immaculate. It's a tidy little ground which appears to have been cut into a grass bank, there's one small stand one the far touchline (the railway side) with the dugouts next to it, it's surrounded by factories, was it perhaps an old Birmingham Works League ground? Dunno, I'm no expert!

Both these teams are mid-table in a tight looking league, one point and three places separating them so I expected a tight game and that is what we got. A cagey opening meant the game was looking for some Heroes, unfortunately nobody had a box so we carried on watching a fairly dull
game instead.

Brocton looked the more likely to open the scoring, and after testing the Flakey looking defence with a couple of early high balls they opened the scoring in exactly that fashion, the ball was launched into the Aero, the Cadbury defence went missing and allowed the Brocton forward a free header which he steered into the bottom corner. It was no more than Brocton deserved at the time but it seemed to wake Cadbury up a bit.

I don't remember too many actual goalscoring chances for either side, the game was compacted into midfield and no player seemed to possess the skill or Twix to open up the defences. (That was a really poor pun, sorry!)

With about five minutes to the half-time Time Out Cadbury got a Boost and scored their equaliser, a speculative shot from outside the area seemed to pick up pace off the greasy surface and just eluded the outstretched Fingers of the Brocton keeper before Nestleing into the bottom corner.

Half-time was spent pretending to be interested in the Champions League scores in the bar, part of a nice looking Club attached to the ground. This is where I found the rest of the alleged 41 spectators that the Midland Combination website said attended the match, I counted 22! Mind you, I never count obvious club officials and any glum looking blokes in tracksuits who are obviously the players who didn't make the team this time!

The second half was pretty woeful, what chances there were fell to Brocton and the Cadbury keeper made a couple of fine low saves to keep them in it. I can't see either of these two teams being anywhere near the promotion shake-up at the end of the season to be honest, they worked hard but there was very little Quality (Street).

I may be back here on Saturday, currently the Midland Combination website has both Cadbury Athletic AND Pilkington XXX at home in the FA Vase, that could be interesting! Most likely one has been switched to Sunday but I don't know which one, and no one I spoke to had a clue either.

Attendance - 41
Price - £3 (Cameron was free)
Programme - £1
Potential for crap chocolate puns - Endless
Quality of chocolate puns - Very, very poor indeed.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Crap Badges Of Our Time - Number One - Southam United

What were they thinking?
I suppose they are nicknamed The Saints, but come on!
Still, they can cut it up and use it if the signs on the clubhouse toilets fall off I suppose.
Look at it, yes it has a classic shield shape but that is it's only redeeming feature.
STICK MEN (AND WOMEN!). Why? Did someone give the design over to a five year old on a school project?
I suppose now someone will come back and tell me that it's a clever pastiche on the old Ian Olgilvy 'Saint' programme, well you can try, because it won't wash, this badge is pants.

Anyone got any better examples?

Finally - Back To Some Football

After a football-less week due to work I will be off to watch a match tomorroe evening, Cadbury Athletic V Brocton in the Midland Combination Premier Division most likely.
Meanwhile, a quick catch-up on what's happened since I last posted.

Tamworth won again, gaining revenge on Worcester City for the league debacle chronicled here a couple of weeks back. This time a Matty Williams strike early in the second half was enough to give The Lambs a 1-0 victory and a place in todays 3rd round qualifying draw. There's also the small matter of £3750 prize money but unfortunately most of that was taken up by increased policing costs due in no small measure to Worcester manager Andy Preece's increasingly deranged rants to the local press about how intimidating The Lamb is! No other manager seems to mind, and Preece is the only one to insist that no Tamworth fans are allowed to stand behind his dug-out! Mr. Preece, just because you are paranoid it doesn't mean we are not out to get you!

Talking of the FA Cup, there were a few shocks, ones that stood out for me were Harrogate Railway winning the battle of the Trainspotters against Leigh RMI and Matlock Town dumping perennial giantkillers (under their old Telford United guise) and BS North high-fliers AFC Telford out.
Another tie which caught my eye was AFC Wimbledon away at a team I had never heard of before, Debenham Leisure Centre. I was hoping that Debenham would win and get through to the 1st round proper if only so that during the classified results we might get James Alexander Gordon on the BBC saying:

"Mansfield Town 2 Debenham Leisure Centre 0 - other leisure centres belonging to other department stores are available."

Will update with who Tamuff have drawn in the cup later.


Oh Lordy, it's Kings Lynn at home.
There's some previous here, the previous being that Kings Lynn had the most obnoxious set of racist supporters I had the misfortune to encounter during our time in the Dr Martens League, and yes I HAVE been to Grantham and Worksop.
What fun!