Friday, 31 July 2009

Pre-season Catch Up Time

I'll do the Tamworth v Birmingham City XI later, I actually have some pictures of that one. Meanwhile, I have done a few other pre-season strollabouts but they were mainly either an excuse to drink beer or, in the case of Coventry Sphinx, tick off a ground that I doubt I'll bother going back to.

Anyhow, in no particular order except that in which they were played:

Wellington Amateurs 0-5 AFC Telford

Apparently now a regular pre-season fixture and a fine way for The Ams to inch their financial way to being able to install the floodlights they need at their School Grove ground in order to gain promotion to the West Midlands Premier. They won division One last season and on this showing, although outplayed, they stand a chance again, they play nice football and on the Dave Woodhall Rule of Three* criteria they are a decent side

*The Rule of Three - If a team can do three good things in a row (pass, shoot, control the ball etc.) then they will do okay in a step 5 or below league. Look, don't blame me, it's Woodhall's rule.

Good crowd (400+), crap burger, not many facilities. Basically it's a fully-railed field at the end of a housing estate with a small stand which they have recently installed a few seats into, perfectly okay for this level but without too much scope for expansion, should it ever be needed, due to it's rather cramped location.

Anyway, I was really only in Oakengates to sample some ale at the two real ale emporia that face each other across Market Street.

The Crown Inn:

And The Station Hotel:

On my unscientific analysis The station wins this battle of the pubs for not only selling a wonderful selection of Pictish Brewery ales but also for selling Spanish onions at two for 50p.

Tipton Town 2-3 Stourbridge

Attendance: 70 or so on a head count, a rather disgraceful £5 to get in as well.
Tipton is the nearest 'proper' ground to my house, but I don't visit too often because, well, it's an athletics stadium, with all the gripes that you will always get with athletics stadia.
Plus Tipton don't seem to want to even try to add any character to the place, there's no decent pubs anywhere close either.

I was going to go off on one about the state of the bogs here, but it was explained to me that they had been vandalised the day before and there had been no time to get them sorted out.

Much more fun was had pointing and laughing at the assortment of nutters, oddballs and wierdos that follow Stour, The Beast looked like he had just finished decorating his house and another 'character' was wearing pink pumps, shorts and rather natty tights. It was pointed out to me that he is gay, not that I was really in any doubt!

Decent game, kept my seasonal goal average up above four.

Coventry Sphinx 4-1 Aston Villa XI

Actually more like Aston Villa Under-XI's, frighteningly youthful!

Typical works ground, three sided bordering on a cricket pitch, with the ubiquitous bowling green next door, every works ground has both of these, see also Pilkington XXX and Dudley Sports.
One small stand, half bench seated, half just a concrete floor, imaginitavely graffiteed though. Wouldn't have sat in it due to the amount of kids playing behind it and regularly thumping the corrugated iron back with resounding thumps loud enough to loosen teeth.
Nice Social Club, as these places tend to have. again see Triplex and Dudley Sports!

Admission £3, Prog £1.50, now ticked, won't go out of my way to return.

Proper season with proper games now just around the corner.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Songs In My Head On Waking - Part 1 - The Weather Prophets

Do you ever wake up and one particular song is going through your head?
It happens to me all the time, sometimes they are songs I've listened to the day before, sometimes they are currently popular songs that I've probably heard while my wife has Radio 2 or Heart FM on.
But sometimes they are songs I have no idea when I last heard, and on the odd occassion, such as this morning, it will be a song that I haven't heard for yonks and have forgotten just how brilliant it was, and it makes me wonder why I haven't dug it out of the collection for all these years.

This morning, in the shower, all the way to work in the car and all day here in the office I have been singing this:

The Weather Prophets were one of those groups that were often fairly inoccuous, but occassionally sublime. Almost Prayed was a lovely song, possibly only supassed by the sublime Hollow Heart:

And, just to spoil you, a tune from the earlier incarnation of The Weather Prophets, Up The Hill And Down The Slope by The Loft.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Match Me! - Heath Hayes 2-1 Stafford Rangers - Pre-season Friendly - 16th July 2009

Left the house and it was drizzling slightly.
Got to the A34 at Walsall and it was a tad more than drizzle.
Got to within a mile of Heath Hayes and it was bucketing down.
Got to the Colliery Ground and people were building arks.
Glimpsed through the trees, saw the players just kicking off, saw a few bedraggled spectators looking thoroughly miserable, turned the car round and headed for the pub.

Sometimes it's just not worth it.

Attendance - Dunno
Admission - Search me.
Bathams in The Great Western, Wolverhampton - bloody lovely, shame I was driving - 9/10

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Less is More - Tamworth 1-1 Leicester City - Pre-season friendly - 11th July 2009.

My first foray into the season was going to be Castle Vale JKS v Lea Hall last Sunday, but once again the missus scuppered it by handing me a beer, a serious team-hopper wouldn't keep falling for that trick would they? So my first game was to be Tamworth's first friendly against a Leicester team expected to send a fair few first teamers even though they were splitting their team to play another game at Loughborough (or somewhere like that anyway!). I did recognise a couple of their players, Matt Oakley being one, and chatting to some of their fans it was indeed a decent side that turned out.

Tamuff meanwhile don't have the luxury of being able to split their squad, we barely have enough players to field 11 plus 7 subs, still it's better to be a bit short squad wise than to overstretch the budget, we want to be right up there when the annual AGM Cup is played out and the "staying up by default" teams are read out.

Rain had been forecast so I packed the waterproofs and of course it was a lovely day. First pint was supped at The Tweeddale Arms, not a bad pint of Bass and then it was onto The White Lion where the Blythe Brewery Staffie was very nice indeed, so nice in fact that I had to have three. Beat Cameron at pool - no mercy son, sorry, and then off to The Lamb.
The clubhouse had some new rather 'arty' pictures on the walls, sorry to whoever did this but I prefer a clubhouse to have memorabilia, old shirts, pictures of teams from the past and stuff like that, where's the mention of our Vase win, our Trophy and FA Cup runs, our dramatic battles against Netherfield to see who could finish second bottom of the Northern Premier League? If I want pictures of our stand taken at a very odd angle I'll get our Cameron to take the photos!

The Leicester fans were very polite though, whoever heard of queueing to get to a bar? They showed admirable restraint too when half of the regulars ignored the queue and just went to the other end of the bar! Not me though, heaven forfend!

The game? Well it was a friendly, hardly a poor tackle all game, everyone was being very nice. Tamworth showed in patches that we are again looking to play the ball about on the floor, several times we strung a few passes together, not much cutting edge though, I'm not sure how successful this passing game will be against the Conference hoofers but then again I doubted this tactic at the beginning of last season too and it seemed to work out okay in the end.

In the first half Leicester looked the better team but we defended stoutly and also came closest to scoring when a Tom Shaw shot clipped the bar. Second half was similar, the class of the Leicester midfield meant they had more possession but they hardly troubled Alcock in the Tamuff goal. Then a long ball over the top fell in between two Tamworth defenders and Bruno Berner reacted quickest to roll the ball past Alcock for 0-1.

That looked like being it as Tamworth couldn't seem to get a decent shot away until three minutes from time when Nick Wright turned his man on the edge of the box and struck a sweet shot over the keepers head for the equaliser. I even saw the goal but Cameron somehow missed it as he was pretting about on the floor. Maybe it's his turn to be goal-misser extraordinaire this season?

Admission - £10 & £5
Attendance - 1035 (looked about right to me although some on the forum have questioned this thinking there were more in the ground.)
Programme - Yes, small folded sheet thingie for just 20p.
Beer - Bass in Tweeddale - 6/10
Blythe Staffie in White Lion - 8/10
Black Sheep in Clubhouse - 5/10 (always -1 for the plastic 'glass'.

We're Back!

Blog resurrection time again.
Lost interest last season, too much beer, not really enough football, no excuses though.
Tamuff v Leicester on the way.