Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Darlo's Magic Turnstyle!

Official attendance at the Darlaston v Long Eaton game?

36!!

There were more than that in the ground when I arrived at 14:40, and I counted at least another 40 coming through the entrance (most paying) after that!

My headcount was just over 100, not saying that there's ant dodgy accounting though, oh no siree!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Say Hello, Waverley Goodbye - Darlaston Town 0 Long Eaton United 3 - FA Vase 2nd Round - Waverley Road - 15/11/08

I was coming off a night shift so I had to go local and what better than a Vase game at a ground I have a strange fondness for, it must be the slope that does it.



Darlaston had made an excellent start to the season but have been stuttering of late and were definite underdogs against a Long Eaton team that lie fourth in the Northern Counties Eastern League Premier Division (one step above the step six West Midlands League). I was also confident of a few goals seeing that Long Eaton's last five results in all competitions were: 1-8; 1-0; 5-1; 4-2; 6-5! Darlo of course had home advantage and the slope and the very heavy looking pitch could have been a leveller I suppose.



Pre-match refreshments were once again taken in The Olde White Rose in Bilston and from there it's just ten minutes on the 79 bus and a five minute stroll to the ground and a pint in Fingle's Bar in the clubhouse.

I was slightly disappointed that they had run out of programmes, the bloke on the gate said that they could only manage to print 30, but I'm not an avid paper-chaser so I shrugged it off, what a trooper I am!


Cameron set about finding out what food they had and settled on a hot dog for just a quid and then he went in search of somewhere to kick his football and settled on annoying a group of three men behind the goal who probably stood there every week, they tutted a bit but Cameron isn't bothered about a bit of tutting when there's football to be played.




The three grumpy men - probably still tutting even now! >>>



Intermittent drizzle greeted the players as they came out and from the start it was obvious which team were from the higher division. Long Eaton attacked from the start and it was only wayward shooting and last-ditch defending that prevented them scoring for the first twenty minutes. When they finally did score it was a cracker. They were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area and took advantage by curling a corker into the corner giving the Darlo keeper no chance.


Tempers then started to flare a bit and the referee struggled to keep control of the game, as he blew for half-time there was a fully fledged punch up in the changing rooms with players, coaches and several spectators all piling in, looked like fun and at one point some of us wondered if the game would be abandoned. Eventually calm was restored and all 22 players returned for the second half and the only victim appeared to be the ref who had come back on with a pronounced limp!

The ref eventually decided he couldn't limp on and he gave the whistle to one of his assistants and he himself went to hobble along the line.

Darlo had the advantage of the slope in the second half but still rarely tested the LEFC keeper and the inevitable happened when they were awarded another free-kick in almost the same place as the one they scored from, and the result was exactly the same, 2-0 - game over.

Long Eaton had time to add a third from close range after good work out on the right wing and their run of putting out West Midlands clubs continues (previous rounds had seen them account for Warstones Wanderers and Bewdley Town).

The bloke in the picture above by the way has apparently taken his bear suit around 784 different football grounds, he does it for charidee apparently so I bunged him a couple of quid, the charity may well be his personal pension fund but what the heck eh?

One final pint in the clubhouse to get the results (Tamworth continue to scarily top Conf North after a 3-1 win at Farsley Celtic and Villa beat The Arse at Highbury, a good day all round!) and it was home for curry and wine.

Admission: £4 Adults. £2 Kids

Programme: Dunno, they had run out.

Att: TBC but headcount was just around the 100 mark.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Kes!


Thanks to Jaundiced Hack on Tony Kempster's forum I now know that the bird of prey hovering over the fields at Earlswood was a kestrel. Apparently the kestrel is the only British bird of prey that is able to hover.

So there you go, life is an education!


Duke Duke Duke Duke of Earl(swood) - I Am SO sorry about that - Earlswood Town 1 Newhall 1 - Midland Combination Division One - 01/11/08

The promise of a lift to a new ground and two new teams was enough to convince me that a trip to the Warwickshire countryside was in order, Earlswood have been on my radar for a while because of their proximity to The Lakes railway station but this was my first visit and despite the cold (it was definitely more like January football weather than November, global warming my arse) it was well worth the day out.
Earlswood is not a town despite the teams rather optimistic suffix, it's more of a street with some posh houses, the ground itself is just a field in the middle of some farmland but you can tell that somebody somewhere cares about this club. They have a rather posh new clubhouse and changing rooms building, all done out in pine and with decking and benches and everything, I had a mootch around the inside to see if it had been built using FA grants or something, certainly the meagre crowd for this match, if typical, won;t have paid for it. I couldn't see any evidence but on the way out of the ground we did spot a very expensive Bentley in the car park, so I think the owner of that may have put his hand in his pocket!


We could have got away without paying. As we left the car someone asked us if we were "Newhall", foolishly I said no and so he made us pay! He was shocked when I said I had travelled all the way from West Bromwich to watch this game, you have a feeling that the "newcomers" will be talked about for weeks, they must get the odd groundhopper (most groundhoppers are odd, no offence) down this way but unlike in the Black Country people don't tend to travel around the Mid Comb grounds to watch games so visitors are rare I suppose.

Pre-match refreshments consisted of tea and a roast beef roll, all at very reasonable prices while Cameron set off in search of electric fences and footballs to steal.


We then decided that it didn't count if you watched the match through the clubhouse windows (although some did) and ventured into the Arctic wastelands to watch the match.
Earlswood were (and still are) top of the division, Newhall were (but no longer are) bottom, should have been a formality then eh? Of course not, Earlswood played all the good football, Woodhall's "rule of three" (at this level if a team can do three good things in a row without f*cking it up they are a good side) certainly showed that they can play, but they couldn't finish. This despite the Newhall keeper being one of the most eccentric I've seen for a while, there were times when he seemed genuinely scared of the ball.
Poor finishing and desperate defending kept it to 0-0 at half-time and the chance to defrost with more tea.

Somewhere in the above picture is a bird of prey who had been hovering over the field next door. It was definitely there when I took the photo but I'm damned if I can see it now!

Anyhow, Earlswood finally took the lead about ten minutes into the second half, a neat finish from the edge of the six yard box, that really should have been it as The Earls (I'm getting familiar now) had plenty more chances to finish the game off. They did have the ball in the back of the net once more, the Newhall keeper once again did something bizarre on the edge of his area and the resultant lobbed attempt at goal was bundled over the line but from an offside position. And then, inevitably I suppose, Newhall scrambled in an equaliser with minutes to go, and boy did they celebrate.

Earlswood reamin top but have played more games than second placed Castle Vale JKS, not that they could get promoted with this ground, it's lovely but it doesn't have floodlights, and in this leafy part of the world I doubt the NIMBYs would allow them anyway. Shame, because as I said, someone really cares for this club, the clubhouse building proves that.

Attendance: 14 (headcount) although three more did turn up just after half time thinking that it kicked off at 3pm rather than 2!
Programme: Yes, 50p I think.
Food: Cheap rolls, very tasty.
Public transport: Train from Snow Hill or Moor Street to The Lakes.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Roll Out the Predictable Headline. - Tamworth 0 Barrow 4 - Lamb Ground - FA Cup (Sponsored by a rip-off energy company, reduce my bills you bounders)

I love the FA Cup, well I love it when we win. Today we didn't, we were stuffed, or so the scoreline suggests anyway. But the reality is a little different, for large chunks of this match Tamworth more than matched Barrow but we failed to take our chances, and if you do that against even a half-decent Conference (sorry Blue Square!) National side they will punish you.

Ach! It was still a decent day out, beers in The Albert, The Sir Robert Peel, The Market Vaults and The White Lion were all pretty decent, the Guinness in the absurdly named Vertigo (converted from The Boot to some sort of rock pub, not really my thing but you have to tick them off!) wasn't. Got a lift to the ground (cheers Julie) to save the walk and could see that it was a good crowd for once.

As for the game, well as I said above, Tamworth played okay, we're a passing side this season and so are Barrow so it was good to watch. If we had taken just one of the chances we had in the first half hour I reckon we'd have won this, but we didn't, and then the very impressive (and very large) McNulty lashed in from eight yards for Barrow. Still it was only 1-0 at half-time, a good team talk to fire the lads up and it's game on right? Not when you concede the second after fifty seconds it's not! Game plan out the window and effectively game over.

Barrow got a third after Bevan hauled down their striker, he was sent off (rightly) and as our only other keeper is cup-tied centre-half Craig McAughtrie took over between the sticks. To be fair Macca pulled off a couple of good saves, in fact one where he went down low to his left to push out a stinging drive was worthy of any keeper. He was beaten once more by a good run and shot as Tamworth tried to push forward to get something from the game. At the final whistle The Shed, who had spent most of the second half abusing Barrow manager, applauded rather than jeered and this is a sign that one defeat does not ruin what has so far been an excellent start to the season.
Consolation was gained in the news that Southport has lost to Redditch and Tamworth were back on top of the league, not often that happens after a 4-0 drubbing!

One moan, why was the draw for the 1st round held on Sunday, it is one of the traditions for non-league teams who make it to the 1st round proper to gather in the clubhouse afterwards to see who they've got. ITV's decision deprived the travelling Barrow fans (who were excellent by the way) of this, I have written to complain of course!

Attendance - 1012 (looked a lot more, I think that dodgy FA Cup turnstyle was being used again!)
Programme - probably!

It's Catch Up Time

Right, my completely rubbish reason for no updates this month is that I have ordered a new camera, which hasn't arrived yet! What I was going to do was go back to the grounds I had been to this month, take a few photos and then do the write up, but while I argue with Argos or whoever they are blaming for the non-arrival of my camera here us a quick precis of the four games I attended in October plus a proper write up of the last one.


Tamworth 2 Hyde United 0 - The Lamb Ground - Blue Square North

Easy stroll for a very scarily in-form Tamworth side. Really not much more to say, I even saw one of the goals (but missed the second one as it was once again scored at beer o'clock, how inconvenient!


Oldbury Athletic 3 Brocton 2 - Oldbury Leisure Centre - JW Hunt Cup

If anyone has ever been to this God-forsaken ground in the nether regions of The Black Country will already know what an uninviting place it can be on a cold and wet Autumn nigt, no cover, generally no chance of a cup of tea and not a decent pub within walking distance. Luckily tonight it was reasonably mild and I had a hip flask!
The ground is an ex-athletics ground but trhe track is long overgrown. I remember it being in a much better state when Tamworth came here to play the long gone Sandwell Borough, it must still pass ground inspections but for how much longer I don't know. Still the floodlights are working.
Decent game, Oldbury are rumoured to be chucking money at an attempt to gain promotion to the Midland Alliance, apparently some players are earning £200 per week which is a hell of a lot for a Step six club. They weren't that much better than Brocton though and only just shaded a five goal thriller (cliche fans!).
Attendance: 25

Pilkington XXX 1 Lye Town 3 - Triplex Ground - Birmingham Midweek Floodlit Cup

One of the competitions that gives some indication of which league, the Mid Comb or the West Mids, is the stronger. Not much to choose between them on this showing, Lye Town's finishing was the decider but Pilkington could have won it had they took some of several chances.
I do like The Triplex, it's a proper old Birmingham Works ground with an old red-brick factory looming over one end of the ptch and the ubiquitous bowling green and cricket pitch on one side.
Attendance: 42(H/C)


Bilston Town (2007) 1 Bilbrook 0 - Queen Street - West Midlands League Division One

A Bilston team back at Queen Street can only be a good thing. Endless break-ins and vandalism have forced at least two previous Bilston teams to fold and this latest reincarnation had to spend last season (and the beginning of this) at Bantock Park in Wolverhampton while the ground was made safe enough to play in. But I was very pleasantly surprised on walking to the ground from The Olde White Rose (inevitably) to see that it had had a lick of paint and nice new orange plastic lettering on the outside.
Inside it was just as good, everything fixed up, and very comfortable cushioned seating in the stand, how very civilised!.
The game was rubbish mind, and it looked very much like I was going to see my first 0-0 for two years until Bilston won and converted a penalty to win the game.
Cynics will say that Bilston are wasting their time because of the location of the ground but The Lunt is not as bad as it used to be, there's even plans to build a hotel next to the ground although whether this credit crunch thing will put paid to that idea remains to be seen.
Attendance: 32

Saturday, 27 September 2008

This Sporting Strife - Dudley Sports 0 Darlaston Town 1 - West Midlands League Premier Division - Hillcrest Avenue - 23/09/08



I'm working far too many weekends at the moment which is having an adverse effect on my ability to watch any football never mind Tamuff, but there's always the odd midweek game around the Black Country to sate my appetite.

Dudley Sports Hillcrest Avenue ground is one I have driven past many times on my way to other games but this was my first ever visit to watch a game. It's an old Birmingham Works ground, I could tell you the name of the firm that used to play on it but I have left the programme with this information at home (I'm writing this at work when I should be doing something more productive and work related! Luckily I don't think my boss has any interest in non-league football, in fact as a Chelsea fan he doesn't really have any interest in any type of football.). I know the firm in question had something to do with pies.



Typical of an old works ground it has an extensive clubhouse. These clubhouses always seem to sell at least one type of beer that is just never found in any

Must get a better camera

other pub in the area, in this case it was Mansfield Bitter!

Also typical of these grounds is the attached bowling green and a large expanse of grass next to the railed off pitch that used to be a cricket pitch, Pilkington's Triplex Sports Ground is another typical example.

Have I said the word typical too many times above? Probably, but that's bloody typical.


As mentioned, the pitch is fully railed off with some corrugated iron shelters on the changing room and snack bar side of the pitch and a small stand with a couple of benches opposite, that's about it as far as ground furniture goes besides the dug-outs. The Dudley manager didn't actually use his dug-out, preferring to stand on the edge of his technical area all match jumping up and down in apoplectic, red-faced rage, but I've seen him in action before so I wasn't phased.

Darlaston are currently top of the West Midlands League despite having been thrashed 4-1 by Shawbury in their last game, Dudley Sports are languishing near the bottom so it looked on paper like a one-sided match. Indeed Darlo did look the better side at the start, passing it around nicely and winning a penalty early on which they converted to take the lead. I was half expecting them to run away with it after that but it didn't happen, Dudley came back into the game and then it all descended into a very poor mass of mistakes.

Another veteran of West Midlands match hopping, Dave Woodhall, reckons by the "three things rule" saying that a half-decent team should be able to do three things right in a row, say: control - pass - decent cross or pass - good run - decent shot, if they can't manage that you know your watching a poor game, this was by any reckoning a poor game!

But solace was at hand! As half-time approached we noticed that not only did the snack-bar do chips, they did curly fries! Curly fries at a football match - fantastic!


Fortified by curly fries (did I say they were great?) and a cup of tea we settled down for the second half but it didn't get much better. Dudley were marginally the better side but couldn't force an equaliser, in fact the most entertaining thing was probably the Dudley No.5 whose consistent berating of the officials with his mantra; "'Ow Con yow see that from there?" was mildly amusing seeing as he never crossed the half-way line and was therefore usually much further away from the action than the ref was.

Attendance - £3

Programme - £1

Attendance - 34 (headcount)

Curly Fries - £1 (they were lovely by the way)

Public transport - 311 bus from Wednesbury to Stourbridge passes by the ground.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Ooh! Can you feel the excitement? Live Blogging is Back!

Yup, I'm stuck at work so it's time to live blog today's football.

14:43 - As well as proper football we've also got World Cup 2010 Qualifiers. England will struggle to a narrow win against the might of Andorra later but Scotland are already playing - and losing 1-0 in Macedonia. There was also a 5-4 win for Peterborough against Bristol Rovers.

14:46 - I couldn't get the non-league vidiprinter to work last time I tried it but I'll have another go today. Sky Sports and Radio Five will be my other main sources.

14:50 - WCQ HT score check - Seychelles 0-1 Burundi

14:51 - I see that Lewis Hamilton has secured pole position in the Belgium round of Follow-the-leader.

14:57 - Difficult game for Tamuff today, home to Harrogate who will be right up there at the end of the season, could be another draw I reckon.

15:03 - Well, either bugger all's happening or everything is broken!

15:04 - Oh, here we go. Forest Gump 0-1 Webbedfeet.
Concord Rangers 1-0 Waltham Forest

15:06 - Concord have gome supersonic. Om bloody hell, I'm sorry that was terrible. Anyway they are 2-0 up now.

15:07 - Make that three! No, make that FOUR!! And some bloke called Howard has all four of them. Either the NL Vidiprinter (or the correspondent) is taking the piss or there's something quite remarkable going on down in Canvey! Blimey.

15:10 - Okay, now it's getting beyond a joke. Either Concord (and Howard) have scored 8 (at last glance) in ten minutes or the bloke sending the scores has got a button stuck on his phone!
Alderhot are beating Darlington though.

15:13 - Wahey!! Tamuff 1-0 Harrogate. No scorer as yet.

15:16 - Right, I can obviouly not believe a single thing on the NL Vidiprinter! Currently it has the following scores flashing through:
Forest Green 4-7 Ebbsfleet
Concord 13 -0 Waltham
Corby11-0 Merthyr (we can but wish)

And still they clock up.
The Tamworth score is correct though, Gareth Sheldon the scorer.

15:21 - Ashford Town are 27-0 up away at Corinthins apparently, hmmm.
Notts County 1-1 Bournemouth
Mansfield are beating Eastbourne and Satanage, who had an awful start to the season considering they were amongst the favourites, are 2-0 up against The Marmite Miners.

15:25 - Ah, it's sorted itself out I think.
Solihull Poors 1-0 Droylesden

15:27 - Or has it, no updates at all now. Feck it!

15:30 - Dirty Leeds 1-0 Crewe. Aldershot 2-0 up against Darlo. Decent start to the season for Aldershot.

15:33 - Cambridge 1-o Wrexham, I still fancy Brian Little's men to go back up, but that's probably just because Brian Little was a boyhood hero of mine.
Weymuff 1-1 Histon.

15:35 - "Due to a technical error there is no Vidiprinter today, we apologies for the inconvenience."
Thought so.

15:38 - Burundi beat Seychelles 2-1. Don't suppose anyone knows if that's a surprise or not?

15:41 - Trouble is I don't know what's happening in the other Conf North games, I'll do a HT and FT round-up. Not that anyone actually cares!
Lewes o-1 Barrow.

15:44 - Found a few scores on the Conf North forum, Southport 0-1 Alfreton is the biggest shock. Burscough are beating Mick Hucknall and Telford are 1 up against Gainsborough.

15:56 - The game at Solihull has been abandoned, I can see why, I'm working in Solihull and it's been absolutely bucketing it down for two hours now.
Scotland lost to Macedonia *snigger*!

16:04 - Wales 0-0 Azerbaijan. Good score in scrabble but Wales should be winning this one surely?

16:08 - Mick Hucknall 0-2 Burs'cough'; Farcely 2-1 Stalybridge

16:17 - Ay up, it's now Tamuff 2-0 Harrogate. Well, I think we go third if it stays like this.
And Gainsboroigh have equalised at Telford too.

16:21 - Satanage now 4-0 up against The Munchers, shame. No respite for Luton who are 2-0 down at Macclesfield.

16:22 - It's all gone goal crazy at The Lamb, 3-1 now. Still don't know the scorers.

16:24 - Wales have a penalty against Azerbywhatsit...and it's....a.....wait for it.....saved!! *snigger again*

16:31 - Wukkington 0-1 Deadditch.

16:41 - The lucky Welsh buggers have scrambled a late goal, Sam Vokes the scorer.

16:46 - Stalybridge 3-2 up at Farsley in the battle of the Celtics.

16:51 - And that's it, a 3-1 win, that'll do, great win.
Have fun.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

The Internet Really Is For Porn!

My attempt to drive up the hit counter for this site by putting some gratuitous naughty words into the Walsall V Villa report has drew dividends. A quick perusal of my Google Dashboard has thrown up the following keywords from which people have stumbled upon my site from Google. There really are some sick people out there!

milfs walsall

milf of stourbridge

milf forres

There does appear to be a lot of milfhunters in internet land, no milfs on my site though, unlucky!

how hairy am i supposed to be down there

Errr....dunno really. Down where?

free hairy asian

free home hairy

asian hairy home

asian nurses free

Not only do they want it hairy but they want it for free, and it must be asian apparently. Well.

asia very old and hairy

Noooooooooooooo!!!!!

hairy boxes

Presumably for taking your cat to the vet in comfort? (Seven people have entered "hairy boxes" and found my site, maybe I should start a business selling them?)

And finally, one or two that I have no idea about:

crap and tamworth fc

How very dare they!

par or chain gang football

Nope, no idea.

and finally,

i am looking for a settee in coalville

That's nice for you, I've got one but I'm not in Coalville, sorry.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

FAB Virgil - University of Exeter 1 Bovey Tracey 3 - South West Peninsula League Division One East - University Playing Fields, Topsham - 23/08/08

Now this was a nice day.
Every year that I come down to Devon I always set aside a day for myself so I can visit some pubs in the Good Beer Guide and sup some excellent ales. This year I even managed to fit some football into the itinerary, and as an added bonus this football was in th real-ale Mecca of Topsham, a delightful little town near Exeter with nearly as many real ale pubs as residents.


The University playing fields are about half a mile outside the town but the walk from the railway station can, if you aren't careful, take you past seven (or was it eight) very, very good pubs, this walk is not the most direct, taking in The Bridge (a wonderful pub) means walking half a mile in the wrong direction, but oh boy is it worth it! There's also The Globe, The Lighter, some others and lots and lots of beer, most of it from local breweries and all of it delicious.

Oh, yes, there was also a game of football wasn't there? Much to my surprise (and via the Exeter Inn and The Lord Nelson) I actually did make it just before kick-off. I paid two quid to get in (including a basic programme) took a couple of pictures, lay down on the grass bank at the far end and promptly fell asleep.
From the little I saw of the game the students were always second best to the least known of the Tracey brothers from Thunderbirds.

The ground is fairly basic, it's a railed off bit of grass in a large sports field with just an elongated bus shelter for, err, shelter! The best view is from the top of my bed, sorry, the grass bank.

The view from my bed! >

At half-time I was rudely awakened by a few drops of rain, so having sated my team-hopping instincts by at least seeing a couple of minutes of football (I have no standards) I sloped off back to the pub to catch the rest of the football scores before wandering (probably slightly tipsily) back to the caravan.


This is what it's all about!


Attendance - 30 (headcount)

Admission - £2


I briefly attended just one more game on my holidays after this, Otterton 2 Clyst Valley 1 in the Devon & Exeter League Premier, but no report as it really was just a brief pop-in after I had spent most of the day finding someone to fix my car.

Donkey Derby - Exmouth Town 0 Buckfastleigh Rangers 1 - King George V Ground - Carlsberg South West Peninsula Division One East - 16/08/08


Once again my original plan had been slightly different, I was going to catch a bus up to Lympstone to watch Royal Marines play their first game in this league but a slight delay in getting to not so sunny Devon and my wife's insistence on beer after the game meant I stayed in Exmouth and walked round to watch the local side take on Buckfastleigh Rangers, who, to my great disappointment, are NOT a gang of bevvied up ex-patriot Glaswegian jakies swigging tonic wine.


I will now just add that whilst this game was an absolutely awful display of ineptitude with just the one scrappy and very late goal, the match up the road that I was going to go to and could have made had it not been for my wife finished Royal Marines 4-7 Bovey Tracey. Words cannot justify how I felt when I read that score in the morning.
I haven't seen more than ten goals in a game for years and I missed this one just because my missus wanted beer and a bloody burger in Wetherspoons, I despair I really do.


I did see some donkeys though, and not just the twenty-two on the pitch!

Here's a tip for you all, as my son found out to his cost, you should never wee on an electric fence. I bet the donkeys know that.

There were some excuses for the rubbish I witnessed, apparently Exmouth Town's manager, who had led them to a very decent third (I think) last season had upped and left for Cullompton, and as is the way of these things, all the best players had followed so it was a very young Exmouth team that took the field. Buckfastswillingglaswegianjakies only had the excuse that they were crap last season as well, they finished a distant bottom and were only saved by the lack of teams to replace them from below.


Ach well, at least it wasn't 0-0, still not seen one of them for ages, and the Buckfasttonic wine goal was a cracker and they certainly seemed to enjoy it.
Oh, and the burger in Wetherspoons was very nice and they had a couple of very decent Teignworthy and Cotleigh ales on, so it wasn't a bad day after all really.

Except that I missed a 4-7 of course.


Exmouth's most loyal fan risks a ban by disobeying the signs.


Attendance - 34
Admission - Can't remember, not much and with a free programme thrown in.

Going Loco Down In, Err, Nairn - Nairn County 1 Inverurie Loco Works 4 - Highland League - Station Park - 02/08/08

Am I a lucky sod or what? My wife has relatives in The Highlands and decided that she would spend three weeks visiting them, and she took my Son with them, leaving me at home, alone with my vast porn collection and loads of beer!
I did have a long weekend up there though and I used it to add another couple of Highland League teams to my collection. My original plan was to watch Inverness City's debut in the Juniors but I found out that they weren't going to play in their new Northern Meeting Grounds home for a while and would still be playing in North Kessock, a basic venue that I've been to before and is a bit of a bugger to get to by public transport. (I had travelled north by train). There was a military tattoo on at the Northern Meeting Grounds though, but I decided to give this a wide berth as it would no doubt have involved military bands, and as this is Scotland, said military bands would have bagpipes, which are horrible, hateful things. I'm not convinced bagpipes were invented as a musical instrument, a torture instrument yes, but music? No way.

So anyway, I picked the much easier option of a short train trip along the Moray Firth coast to Nairn and Station Park, which, as it's name suggests, is right next to Nairn station. In fact the first picture above is taken from the platform.

Station Park is a typical Highland League ground, one smart seated stand, one more bit of cover opposite and grass banking at one end (I have no idea what's at the other end because I didn't go down that end, probably a rusty roller and some tarpaulin or something.). I love grass banking, especially on a fine summer day as this was. It's a pity it's been eradicated at the higher echelons of English non-league football, didn't Lewes have a problen with some grass banking at their Dripping Pan ground which meant they couldn't get promotion one year?

Another thing I have never failed to get, and which have nearly always been lovely, at Highland League grounds is a Scotch pie and a Bovril, Nairn did not disappoint, the pies were excellent, and only £1,20. I had two.


The match wasn't bad either, Inverurie are amongst the favourites this season, there does seem to have been a shift in power towards the eastern and Aberdeen based clubs in recent years, the match programme (Yes, a programme!) even mentioned that Nairn would really just like to be the top "North" club at the end of the season. Yes I know all the clubs are "North" up here but you know what I mean!

Nairn in fact took an early lead, but they were pegged back fairly soon afterwards and Inverurie were much the better side throughout and thoroughly deserved the win



Attendance - 181
Admission - £5
Programme - £1
Black Isle beer in Hootenanny's in Inverness - Rather decent thanks!

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Normal Service Resumed Shortly

I'm currently on holiday in Devon having just returned from Inverness, I only have a very flaky internet connection (it's taken me half an hour to do this much).

Reports and pictures from Nairn County v Inverurie Loco Works and Exmouth Town v Buckfastleigh Rangers coming as soon as I get home, plus any other game I manage to get to!

Cheers.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

To Boldmerely Go - Boldmere St. Michaels 1 Walsall 2 - Pre-season Friendly - The Trevor Brown Memorial Ground - 30/07/08


I exchanged the missing Tesco Bag For Life for a similar one from Morrisons for this sojourn to the leafy suburbs of Sutton Coldfield, I'm not sure if this makes me any less sad, maybe a slightly posher version of sad? I reckon I added to my sadness quotient by dropping a copy of a history of Britain's railways into the bag before setting off though. Well I needed something to read on the tram and the train, what could be better? I made up for it with a superb pint of Bathams on the way into Birmingham though, The Lord Clifden is rapidly becoming my favourite pub, it's sun-trap of a beer garden is an oasis in this industrial part of Brum near The Jewellery Quarter. It's even got some Banksy Artwork, how cool is that?

Boldmere's ground is named after an ex-chairman, it was once just plain old Church Road, the road on which it sits and the church that the St. Michaels name comes from, I'm a bit perturbed about the lack of an apostrophe of course. Shame they never managed a sponsorship deal with M&S as well. I'm waffling now.

True to form this season I assumed that the game would kick-off at 7:45, and so timed my arrival to perfection knowing that there is a distinct lack of watering holes on that stretch of The Chester Road, and so it came to pass that the game actually kicked off at 7:30 and I missed the first few minutes!

So yet again I am finding myself sidling up to someone to ask what the score is, only to be met with a surly "F*ck knows, I've been on me mobile." Suitably chastened I slunk off to the far end of the pitch and just assumed it was 0-0, which if the rest of the first half was to go by was a reasonable assumption anyway.

There was a very intriguing game of bowls going on next door (see right for an action shot), the bloke in the blue seemed to be winning.

Boldmere's ground can definitely be described as "tidy", they play in the Midland Alliance, a league where I've probably been to 90% of the grounds, this one is just so much nicer than most of them, it puts many a Southern League ground to shame. It does have a pronounced slope from the stand side to the carpark side but it's not alone in that. The one stand isn't particularly remarkable but it is functionable.
I've seen people decry the lack of character at grounds because the stands are "identikit", well yes they might be but if you are a small club but with ambitions then a stand you can easily move or extend is surely practicle, and Boldmere's is just that, I know from my last visit that it has already been extended and could easily have more bits added without looking daft.



After an unremarkable first half (0-0 I still assume) I retire to the rather decent clubhouse for an unremarkable but cheapish pint of Worthingtons. I reckon Boldmere do quite well out of their Social Club, this was a Wednesday night and it was pretty full with most not being amongst those watching the match.

Suitably refreshed and with a very nice cheeseburger (£1.80) keeping the hunger pains at bay I settled down to wonder if I was in for my first 0-0 for two years.


Luckily, no, within a few minutes of the restart (which I predictably missed by the way), Boldmere's impressive Wellor outmuscled the Walsall left-back and finished superbly into the bottom corner, a rare moment of quality.

This finally woke Walsall up and they almost immediately equalised, Deeney (I think) poaching one after the keeper had spilled a cross-shot. Walsall then won it with another goall which I completely missed due to being distracted by a rather fine pair of breasts, sorry, did I say breasts? I meant squirrels or, err, something.

They were nice though.

This game was part of Boldmere's 125th anniversary celelbrations, there you go, a team that is older than most teams in the Premiership and I bet there's hardly a Chelsea fan who will have ever heard of them! They have bought out a book to celebrate this milestone and of course I had to buy it! I'm a sucker for this sort of stuff.


Hot or Not? - Boldmere WAG's

Attendance - Approx 160
Programme - Yes
Beer - Mediocre at the ground but the Bathams was lovely in The Lord Clifden
Public Transport - Train to Chester Road, 66, 111 and 118 buses do run past Church Road but I walked (just under a mile)


Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Bentley Rythm Ace - Bentley Youth 4 West Midlands Fire 1 - Pre-season friendly - Bentley Road South - 23/07/08


I think I've finally arrived! For a few years now I've been wandering around various football grounds but I've never really considered myself as a bona fide Groundhopper. But this afternoon, after I had cut the grass and fed the cats, I was about to go and catch my bus when I remembered that I needed my waterproof (you never know!), my camera and a copy of The Guardian in case of boredom. How to carry all this...hmmm... and then my eyes lit up on a Tesco Bag for Life in the corner. So that's definitely it, I now carry a Tesco Bag for Life, my name is Dave Cooper and I am a groundhopper!

With the wife and kid up in Scotland this week i had a day to myself, after the guilt trip grass cutting I decide that a trip out to Bilston would be a fine way to treat myself. (Oh yes, I know how to live!) First up a pint of Holdens Special in The Trumpet, a fine little pub which does nightly jazz if that's your thing. They had bingo on this dinner time, I didn't win.
Over the road is the Greyhound and Punchbowl, this has had decent beer on in on other visits but not today, finally onto The Olde White Rose which has been my favourite pub ever in the past but it has gone downhill a bit, the beer was good though and it was nice to sit outside and read the paper on such a warm afternoon.

I turned up a couple of minutes before the scheduled kick-off time of 7pm only to find the game in full swing.

This is quite normal in pre-season, referees will often kick off as soon as both teams are happy to do so. I am aware of groundhoppers who would immediately walk out at this point and not count the game as a "tick". They are probably the same type of hopper who don't count 0-0 draws or who have to touch each corner flag or something, don't get me wrong, I am not disparaging this fine hobby but for me a game is a game whether I have watched 90 minutes or not.

Bentley scored as soon as I got to the roped off pitch, which was in excellent condition. At half-time I found out that the groundsman here has won Staffordshire Groundsman of the year in two out of the last three seasons. I wandered up to a bloke who had a notebook, "He'll know if that was the first goal." I thought, and indeed he did, and indeed it was, and indeed said bloke turned out to be fellow hopper and poster on Tony Kempsters fine non-league forum, Yorkie Exile. His ground (and indeed team) total puts me to shame but we all have to start somewhere and he was a delight to chat to.


Bentley continued to play some nice football throughout the game, they currently play in the West Midland League Division Two, on this showing, and comparing them with what I saw last season, they have a chance of promotion. I have no idea what league the West Midlands Fire Service play in, they used to be a Midland Combination team who played at The Glades in Solihull but I can find no trace of them on the web just now. By just after half-time it was 3-0 to Bentley but this really wasn't a fair reflection of an evenly matched game, the firemen had hit the woodwork (well, strictly speaking, the metalwork) three times. They did eventually grab a well deserved consolation and it all ended 4-1, keeps my seasons average up nicely anyway!

I've just realised, I've missed a glorious opportunity to utilise some great puns, not to mention the chance to use phrases based around firemen's poles and hoses! Good job I'm not that puerile eh!

Attendance - 15 (headcount - a proper headcount this time!)
Admission - Free
Programme - Nope
Public Transport - No. 333 bus from Darlaston.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Hairy Asian Nurses - Walsall 2 Aston Villa 3 - Pre-season friendly - The Bescot - 22/07/08

I'm a bit disappointed with the number of hits on this blog, I mean I know it's a big load of rubbish but my ego insists on more readers, therefore I am going for both the trainspotters and the pr0n surfers in this post.

MILF Loving Lesbians

So it was off to The Bescot for tonights friendly between two giants of West Midlands football, or more accurately two reserve teams, but hey, I got in on a freebie (with a thrown-in press pass) so who's complaining. And it was a lovely balmy evening.
There was an extra little edge to proceedings with the news that custard-bottomed, wantaway Gareth Barry was starting for Villa, it is fair to say that following his ill-advised interview with that bastion of truth The News of the World where he categorically stated that he wanted to go to Liverpool that Barry is not flavour of the month among the Villa faithful, his refusal to hand in a transfer request so he can trouser a loyalty fee hasn't exactly helped. He applauded the fans as he ran on and was roundly booed, but as the game wore on the boos got less and when he was subbed on the hour there was applause mixed in with the vitriol. Perhaps some fans realise that he is still a very good player and will be missed when he inevitably moves on, and he has given ten years service to the cause.



Virgin Cross Country

Spot the old picture!!

Marlon Harewood had the first clear chance for Villa, in fact he had the first two decent chances, but he comically cocked them both up, firstly, when clear through and one-on-one with the excellent Clayton Ince he somehow tangled his feet around the ball, then a few minutes later he burst free again and proceeded to shoot across goal and give away a throw-in. Hardly the stuff of legends! He did attempt an acrobatic overhead kick son after and the ball fell nicely for young centre-half Nathan Baker just two yards out but he blasted over the bar. It was that sort of first half for Villa really.
This was compounded when a poor mix-up between Parrish in the Villa goal and two of his defenders allowed Nicholl to roll the ball into an empty net to give Walsall a 1-0 half-time lead.

Bukakke Cream-pie


Villa began to try to exert themselves in the second-half and got their reward after Delfouneso was fouled on the edge of the area and Shaun Maloney curled an exquisite free-kick over the wall and past the grasp of Ince for the equaliser.

However this just seemed to annoy Walsall and they proceeded to have their best spell of the game, some lovely passing ripping apart the rather makeshift Villa defence culminating in a lovely volleyed goal by 50 year old Patrick Suffo from a volleyed pull back by Carl Deeney. Walsall could have added to their tally during this period and it was rather uncomfortable watching for Martin O'Neill who was sat in the posh seats in front of the Directors Boxes, unless he adds to his squad quickly then this lot are his back-up, and for long periods they did not look good.

Horny Housewife Deltic Diesels

Villa finally woke up in the last fifteen minutes, helped a lot, in my opinion, by the diminutive but extremely skillful Barry Bannan, he hardly misplaced a pass and was the catalyst that allowed Villa to move forward down both flanks. The second equaliser came from a long shot by Delfouneso that was fumbled by the Walsall replacement keeper, Maloney was on hand to pick up the pieces.
A couple of minutes later and Villa had their winner, good movement down the left and a nice cross allowed Wayne Routledge to half-volley home into the roof of the net.
The Villa fans behind the goal were by this time amusing themselves by chanting for O'Neill to sign Clayton Ince who had endeared himself to them by not only having a great game but also bearing the brunt of the usual insults aimed at keepers extremely well.

311 bus back to Wednesbury, 79 bus back home and I'm sipping wine and watching Apocalypse Now, not a bad day in all!

Attendance: 5,013 (Headcount)
Programme: Didn't bother but it was £2
Admission: Free!! (Cheers Dave)


Sunday, 20 July 2008

Everything Is Average Nowadays - Tamworth 2 FC Halifax Town 0 - Pre-season Friendly - The Lamb - 19/07/08

I rarely do Tamworth pre-season friendlies, there's no real point to them, they are just glorified training sessions really and they expect us to pay (sometimes full price) for the priviledge, but as this was going to be the first ever game for the newly formed FC Halifax Town who are hoping to rise from the ashes of the poorly run and now extinct Halifax Town, it just appealed somehow.

Right, a quick rant to get things off my chest. Firstly, what a disappointingly tedious and inevitable name is FC Halifax, what is it with new clubs and the need to stick FC or AFC in front of the name? They could have named it anything but depressingly have opted for just sticking FC in front, bah!
Secondly, and I am not having a go at the Halifax fans here, why have this brand new club been allowed to enter so high up the pyramid, Unibond One? So now we have a club with a big ground and a ready-made fanbase who will, in all probability, be back up in the Blue Square league in a couple of years. It does seem a bit unfair on all those clubs who have to start back at step seven or eight or ambitious clubs who are trying to climb the pyramid but have been leap-frogged by Halifax. It seems to be accepted that new clubs formed from bankrupt old ones just drop two or three divisions when, as new clubs, they should start from scratch surely?
That said, the fans I met were a great bunch, I hope it all goes well for them and all that.

I never hold much hopes for excitement pre-season friendlies, and I wasn't to be disappointed by this one, the whole day was just so average! The pint I had in The Albert was okay, nothing great (Marston's something or other, it was so bland I've forgotten it's name!), the Church End beer in The White Lion was the most average drop from this normally fine brewery that I've ever had, and even the normally excellent Hobgoblin in the same establishment was in a particularly poor state (end of barrel?).

The clubhouse had Greene King IPA as the guest beer, it was as average as Greene King IPA always is, England were being incredibly average in the cricket on the telly, it was all so bloody average!



I've even decided to post a couple of very average pictures as you can see, neither of them was actually taken at the game (I've stolen them off Flickr, they were taken by a Morecambe fan a couple of seasons ago!) as in my soporific state of ennui I forgot to get my camera out of the bag.

There was a brief flicker of interest as the teams ran out, but this was due to my delight at seeing that the fourth official was a twelve year old ginger! His paper round was being finished off by Tamworth substitute Dean Lea who is definitely no older than thirteen surely.


The game was okay, Tamworth were the better team as they should be and it's refreshing to see that we looked to play the ball on the ground most of the time. Rumour has it that Gary Mills has been told to play this way as the club has been inundated with lawsuits from Black Country ambulance chasing solicitors "Injuries Am We" suing for the spate of cricked necks we suffered last season.
Actually, given that the average size of the Tamworth squad, even with Craig McAughtrie, is well under 5'10", playing hoof it football would be pointless. To play good, passing football you need a good playmaker and Tamworth look to have found one in ex-Coventry yoof Lee Hildreth. This is the first time I have seen him and he looks too good for this level, let's hope no one notices for this season at least.
Tamworth took an early lead as Nick Wright latched onto a through ball, rounded the keeper and then did everything he could not to score before finally rolling the ball just over the line despite a desperate attempted clearance. Not too much else happened in the first half although one wayward Tamworth shot did send someones chips flying. Well, it'll help with his dieting.

Second-half? Much of the same, a few shots, some decent passing and then, pretty much out of the blue, a scorching low drive from about 25 yards out by Hildreth that gave the Halifax keeper no chance. Yeah, it was okay really.
Tamworth are having a decent pre-season, three wins out of three so far including a 1-0 win in Londonderry against Institute. Apparently a good time was had by all the fans who made that trip but what goes on tour stays on tour!

Halifax will take heart at a decent first game, they will probably win Unibond One, they bought about 100 fans with them which is more than most Conference North teams manage.

One more average pint on the way home and that was it, it's nice to catch up after the barren month of June but I doubt I'll bother with any of the other friendlies, I'll be back when we take on Stalybridge in the league in August.

Oh, one more thing, obviously the panto work for squeaky-voiced d-lister Joe Pasquale has dried up because he is now the tannoy announcer at Tamworth Station.

Attendance - 618

Programme - 8 pages 50p

Beer - average, all of it.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

'S' Express - Archdales '73 5 Bolehall Swifts 3 - Pre Season Friendly - Claines Lane - 05/07/08

This is definitely the earliest I have ever started a season.
And my camera has finally given up the ghost after five years of abuse so I can't even add any meaningful pictures.

While I'm in the mood to complain, I want to know why Archdales '73 are being deprived of their 'S' on the Midland Combination website. Look, go to 'club information > ground info > division one and there it is, "Archdale", no 'S'! I am disgusted, how can the official (only?) Midland Combination website deprive a club of it's 'S'?

I've created a petition, it just needs government approval, if I don't get it I know they are out to get me....and Archdales. Approval.

Anyway, onto the ground. Easy enough to find as it's just off the A38 between Droitwich and Worcester, if I had realised this sooner I wouldn't have driven because I could have got a train to Worcester, drank some rather lovely real ale at The Green Dragon and then caught a bus. Oh well, you live and learn, and there's always trips to Worcester City, Worcester City Academy and Perrywoods to go.

The clubhouse at Claines Lane perches well above the pitch and has a grass bank in front for the kids high on fizzy pop to throw themselves down, you get a lovely view of the Malvern Hills from up there as well. The settees in the clubhouse were particularly comfortable, getting one down the grass bank and across the field to my car would, however, have been problematic.

The pitch is fenced off with hard standing aroud some of it, there is a very basic bit of cover on one side flanked by the dug-outs, you pass a rather nice rusty roller on the way to it which was chained to the fence by a very high-tech looking padlock, roller thefts must be rife round Worcester way.

The game? Well it was a pre-season friendly. I've learned not to expect a huge amount from pre-season friendlies so this was a pleasant surprise. Bolehall took to the field in red shirts rather than their usual yellow and green, and they all looked very young. The reason for this became apparent after 30 minutes of the game when this whole team of trialists were substituted for the "proper" Bolehall team. The fact that it was 1-1 when this occurred and Archdales ended up winning 5-3 I'm sure has no bearing on the forthcoming season!

I think the scoring went:
1-0 to Archdales - low shot badly messed up by the Bolehall keeper.
1-1 - Can't remember!
2-1 Archdales - Excellent through ball, well finished.
3-1 - another through ball, nice lob over the onrushing keeper.
3-2 - free-kick from the edge of the box.
3-3 - another set-piece, free-kick from the left, decent header.
4-3 Archdales - Dunno, was playing football with Cameron
5-3 - ? was sheltering under a tre from the intermittent rain!

Archdales website
Bolehall website

I just know this season as a Tamworth fan will be another rollercoaster of emotions (almost certainly with more downs than ups) so I will enjoy these little interludes before the heartache begins.

Admission - None
Programme - None
Clubhouse settees - Rather cosy
Number of 'S's in Archdales '73 - ONE, get it right Mid Comb.
Attendance - Ooh, about 14 not including dog walkers and those connected to either club (headcount obviously!)


Thursday, 19 June 2008

Jus' Experimentin'

I would love to expand this blog a bit by adding bit's about the other things I do, mainly listening to obscure Indie bands and reading.

So, I am about to find out if you can add MP3's to Blogger. Well actually I know you can because there are loads of MP3 blogs out there, so what I need to know is can I add MP3's to Blogger!

Camera Obscura - Lloyd I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken

A bit of twee, whimsical loveliness from one of John Peel's favourite bands.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Wanted. People at The FA who can spell.




With thanks to Legion on Heroes and Villains.

Right, we're definitely back!

New laptop.
New season coming up!

Pre-season friendlies begin very shortly so I will blog in earnest from then.

Meanwhile I have embedded a Coops1989 Last FM Radio into the blog for your listening enjoyment! (if it works!).
Have fun.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Sorry.

Computer problems have put this blog on hold, they have now been solved and I will be updating very shortly with an update of what has happened since the Warstones game.

Thanks for listening!!

Thursday, 28 February 2008

WAR(stones), What Are They Good For (well a 3-1 win actually!) - Wednesbury Town 1 Warstones Wanderers 3 - West Midlands League Division 1 - 23/02/08

There has been a club called Wednesbury Town FC since way back in the 1880's, I have no idea if the club I watched on Saturday have anything to do with the original club other than the name though. This Wednesbury Town don't even have their own ground and play their home games at Darlaston Town's Waverley Road.
Now, as we all know, lot's of non-league grounds have slopes, Tamworth has one, Yeovil have a rather famous one which gets mentioned whenever FA Cup Giantkilling is discussed, but the slope at Waverley Road beats them all. My pictures don't do it justice, it really is amazing. Wednesbury came out for the second half sporting climbing boots and crampons, no really!
As with a lot of West Midlands League grounds, Waverley Road could do with some loving care and attention, but there's no money and very few spectators. You can see that it would be capable of hosting higher division football but would struggle to pass a ground grading inspection for step five these days.


The entrance is between a couple of houses in a typical Black Country terraced street, somehow the rather nice blue painted wrought iron gates have survived being carted off by ne'er do wells! There is a largeish stand opposite the entrance with bench seats in it that's it for cover, further seating is provided for by a few benches outside the clubhouse which sits on top of the hill to the right. The bottom end is just broken fencing and weeds, my son did manage to find a nice new football in the undergrowth, if anyone knows who B.W.F.C. are, my son has your ball!
Decent pint of Banks's Mild in the clubhouse for just £1.95 and the cheese salad rolls were nice too.


I don't mind admitting that I have no idea who Warstones Wanderers are or where they came from or when they were formed! I have a feeling they are probably another fo these clubs which were either Sunday League or maybe Birmingham AFA and have decided to take the plunge into the pyramid. I do know that they are one of the few clubs in this division to issue a programme regularly so if you are a "paper-chaser" then they might be worth checking out. They have a website.
*EDIT* See, should have checked the website before, the history section tells me that they formed in 2001, started a Saturday team in the Wolverhampton and District Combination in 2005 and joined the WMRL the season after, it pays to do yer research!
The game itself wasn't up to much, Wednesbury took an early lead but were pegged back before half-time. Warstones then took advantage of the playing down the mountain and scored twice before I had even finished my half-time pint! I saw both goals through the clubhouse window though and the second one was a belter, volleyed into the top corner from the edge of the box.
I spent much of the second-half attempting to get updates from the Tamworth V Aldershot FA Trophy match (2-1 to Aldershot in the end, Wembley dreams dashed for another season!) but I don't think I missed a lot.



A quick mention for the Warstones number 10, he was head and shoulders above anyone else on the pitch, would have been worth the admission fee alone, had there been an admission fee that is!

Admission: Free

Programme: No

Attendance: 16 (Headcount and not including obvious club officials and anyone wandering in after more than 20 minutes, I have standards!)

Saints Edge Out The Staggies - Ross County 0 St. Johnstone 1 - Scottish Cup Round 5 - 12/02/08

I was supposed to have visited Victoria Park back in December when I foolishly thought that I could fit it in along with a couple of Highland League games between Christmas and New Year, the weather put paid to that plan! No problems this time for this rearranged Scottish Cup fifth round tie.
Ross County have had their problems, they are yet another club who have had their share of financial woes (see the Save Our Staggies website for details), they were also relegated to the Scottish second division last season but are currently top of that division and the crowds are certainly holding up. They regularly get over 2,000 attending home games which, considering the size of the town of Dingwall, is pretty impressive and is certainly a lot more that anyone else in the second division and probably more than any team outside of the SPL!

I don't want to be too unkind to the town they play in but Dingwall is not particularly inspiring. It's not a place I would recommend if you were to ask me for a list of places to visit in The Highlands let's put it that way. There are several of these blandly anonymous towns along the east coast, Invergordon and Tain spring to mind as others. I love The Highlands but only normally go anywhere near Dingwall if passing through on my way to Ullapool!
Pre-match refreshments were taken mainly in Inverness, a couple of very nice pints in The Castle Tavern (a welcome addition to Inverness' real-ale scene). I did pop into The Mallard at Dingwall station for a couple of nips to keep the cold at bay and had a chat to a few of the St. Johnstone officials. They wee not particularly confident, they are doing well in the first division but knew that Ross County away is never easy.





The ground is just a short walk from the station and the floodlights were on to guide me over the railway bridge and down to the ground. Tickets seemed to be selling briskly enough and there was a decent atmosphere inside the ground, helped by what I suspect is the only bagpiper to play on a football terrace in Britain, I may be wrong about that though!

The game itself was very even, in fact Ross probably shaded it on possession and chances but they found Alan Main in good form. The winning goal was most unfortunate, the otherwise excellent Ross keeper Tony Bullock completely bollockse up an attempted clearance, slicing the ball into the path of Saints striker Liam Craig who outsprinted the defender to prod the ball into an empty net. The Staggies tried to get back into it and did hit the post towards the end but St. Johnstone held on.

More fortifying warmers were taken in The Mallard afterwards before I dragged myself back on the train to Inverness.

Attendance: 2519
Programme: Err...yes I think so!
Price: £10
Pie: Steak pies £1.10 and very nice too.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Tamworth Vs Scaffold Rangers* Trophy Replay Live Update

Should have been live blogging from about 19:45 but got tied up at work (yes it's that sort of place!)

21:00 Tamworth 2-0 up at Half time, Wright and Nurse the scorers and thoroughly deserved by all accounts.

*Scaffold Rangers is copyright Kenny R.

21:23 - England U-21's are winning by a few against The Republic of Ireland, I think it's 3-0 or something.

21:26 - Tamworth 2-1 Stafford and apparently Stafford have also had a nailed on penalty turned down. Ulp!

21:33 - In other BSN news, Barrow were beating Klattering 1-0 and Telford were 2-0 up at the doomed Leigh RMI at half time.

21:35 - The Barra - Klattering game was abandoned after 54 minutes due to a waterlogged pitch. Piddling down at Tamuff as well but we're still winning.

21:38 - England U-21's won 3-0 and are nine points clear at the top of whatever group it is they are playing in, Milner with a couple and one from Walcott.
Must be close to the end at Tamuff, come on!!

21:44 - All over, Tamuff win 2-1. As Jase on the forum says, natural order resumed, and we have a new and wonderful nickname for Scaffold Rangers! A good night all-in-all!

Cheerio.

Tamworth Show Some Pedigree at Marstons - Stafford Rangers 2 Tamworth 2 - FA Trophy 3rd Round - 02/02/08


I love away days! I haven't done many this season so I was looking forward to this one. Stafford is an easy one for me, tram to Brum, train straight to Staffford, picking Scott up on the way, no hassle. We found a couple of members of the Tamworth Train Taxi Crew (more on them later!)hanging around outside The Hogshead and arranged to meet them in The Bird In Hand after we had grabbed a pie. Nice pub The Bird In Hand, Holden's and Beowulf amongst the ales on tap and they didn't mind the few kids we had with us. There were vague plans to do a couple more pubs but in the end we settled for a fleet of taxis to The Tap & Spile near the ground which also had some decent beer on, it was a good start to the day I tells ya!

I thought we might have met a few Stafford fans in here but those that did venture in walked straight back out when they saw the by now rather numerous Tamuff fans. We don't bite you know! There was a bit of a sing song which was not appreciated by "The campest chav in Stafford" who was luckily (for him really) talked out of taking the whole pub on.

And so to the ground. I was unpleasantly surprised to see that Stafford charge £8 for concessions so it cost me a twenty spot to get myself and Cameron in to stand in the worst part of the ground. Marston road is quickly becoming a bizarre place to watch football, I've always liked the character of the main stand and that has been retained but they have done some strange things to the two ends of the ground whilst the large shed where they stick away fans is just horrible, especially the toilets, not many grounds at this level still make you piss up a brick wall these days and I didn't fancy the portaloo stood next to it!


The Stafford Chavs discuss their latest ASBO's

Last season Stafford decided to put seats into the stand opposite the clubhouse, they are a fetching shade lime green and they have erected some sort of large gazebo over the top of them, reminds one of a refugee camp in a way. On the clubhouse end they now have a rather rickety looking construction of scaffolding and planks which has surely not been inspected by any Health and Safety officer. It looks like it would fall down if you jumped on it, luckily there has been little in the way of excitement at Marston Road this season so it has managed to survive.




The game itself was as even as the scoreline suggests. In my biased view I reckon we were the better team and we certainly created a couple of early chances but there wasn't much between us to be fair. Stafford won't survive in The Conference but I expected them to have a bit more quality. I mentioned in last report against Hyde that I managed to miss both of Tamworth's goals, well the run continued. No sooner had I nipped to recycle some of the day's beer than up went the cheer. Nick Wright had scored. I don't see many Tamworth goals. I dared to go again a while later and yes, there was another cheer, this time it was the Stafford equaliser. In a way I was almost glad, if Tamworth had been the scorers I may have had to spend the rest of my supporting days stood in the toilet just so we would keep winning.


A moment of madness a shortly afterwards nearly cost us the game. Evans seemed to get caught by Jarrett and he retaliated. You just cannot raise your hands when the referee is only a yard away and although Jarrett definitely made the most of it (and being a Tamworth lad himself he got some very wrong but very funny stick from us for the rest of the half!) but Evans had to walk. That was in about the 36th minute and then on the stroke of half time Jarret, inevitably, put Stafford into the lead with a well placed shot from a floated cross.

That could have been game over, but the New Tamworth are made of sterner stuff. The heads did not drop and the ten men battled superbly. Nick Wright missed an absolute sitter from about two yards out after doing all the hard work in rounding the keeper and it was no surprise then that our new found wonder-striker Dave Bamtinho equalised with a well placed low shot. He just can't stop scoring at the moment! There were just a couple more chances for each side but no further scoring. A draw was about right and I really fancy us to complete the job tonight. I'm working but I'll live blog something if I get time.

A word on the Stafford stewarding. Pitiful. They allowed the idiots on both sides of the inadequate barrier to taunt each other throughout the game, if your going to segregate us then do it properly. In fact it would be better not to bother because none of the brave little souls would have the bottle to do anything if their weren't any barriers to stop them getting a slap or two. At one point a Stafford "fan" picked up a bin and made to throw it at the Tamworth fans, the fact that he hilariously then dropped it on his own head doesn't mean he shouldn't have been kicked out. We got locked in afterwards too - again! Why? It's not like there were hundreds of Stafford fans waiting to get us and we just wanted to get back to the pub, it was cold.

I had another pint in the Tap and then wandered back to the station, but the Tamworth Train Taxi Crew excelled themselves once again by missing the last train back to Brum and having to get a taxi back to tamworth. Workington is the next away game lads, that could be a bit expensive!

Attendance: 1025

Price: £12 adults £8 kids

Programme: £2.50

Food: I didn't bother but Cameron was impressed by the chips and curry sauce.

Beer: Slurp.