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!