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.

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