Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Darlo's Magic Turnstyle!

Official attendance at the Darlaston v Long Eaton game?


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


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.