Slough Town v Dorchester Town

Southern League

Premier Division

Tuesday 16th January 2018

Kick Off 19.45 Actual 19.47

Slough Town 2 Dorchester Town 0,  attendance 436

8’ 1-0

45’ 2-0

@ Arbour Park

Stoke Road

SL2 5AY

£11 Admission

£2 Programme, 40 pages.

I visited their former home, Wexham Park Stadium, nearly 28 years ago, when they played at the top level of non-league football (20th October 1990, Slough Town 3 Barrow 0, attendance 928, Conference). At the end of season 2002/03 they were evicted by the stadium owners, which meant groundshares at Windsor & Eton and Beaconsfield S.Y.C.O.B. before moving into their new home, here at Arbour Park, in August 2016. The stadium at Wexham Park is less than a mile from here and is still intact, but in a state of serious disrepair.

The new stadium, although impressive, was obviously designed for hot, dry, days. With at least a foot gap at the top of the covered ends, between the back of the stand and the roof, means the wind howls through, which is the same on the seated section opposite the main stand. As for the main stand, the roof is so high, it is debatable whether it would actually stop you getting a soaking when it rains, unless you were in the middle section towards the back, perhaps.

Having arrived at around 18.20, having left home early to give myself a chance of making it around the M25, I was able to get one of the 120 free car park spaces behind the north end of the ground. The spaces didnt really fill up until around half an hour before kick off, maybe due to this being the lowest league crowd at Slough this season. In fact, the official crowd of 436 looked to be nearer to 300, if truth be told.

The match was 8th v 19th (out of 24) in the league table and went pretty much as expected. Slough could easily have won it by a larger margin, with Dorchester offering very little up front. Slough are now up to sixth in the table, twelve points off the top, but have six games in hand over all those above them, except for Hereford (2 games).

This visit completed Step 3 for me, as well as everything from Premier League down to Step 5. As for Step 6, I am left with eight more to go……Oakham United, Penn & Tylers Green (the only one not floodlit), Fisher, Alton, Hythe & Dibden, Bristol Telephones, Helston Athletic and Sticker.

F.C. Melsbroek v K. Hoger-Op Bierbeek

Belgium

Brabant Provincial 1 V.F.V.

Sunday 14th January 2018

Kick Off 15.00  On Time.

F.C. Melsbroek 0 K. Hoger-Op Bierbeek 2,  attendance 137

35’ 0-1

90’ + 1, 0-2

@ Complex De Wylder

Wylder 12

1820 Melsbroek

€8 Admission

Team Sheet, free.

This match was really low on quality, especially considering it was seventh versus third in the league table. There were two decent goals though. The opener was a superb free kick bent into the top corner (photo No.13 below), with the second being a quick break that saw the ‘keeper rounded, before the ball was coolly slotted into the empty net.

The ground here was opened last year and is pretty bland, but functional, although a great improvement on their previous home, which although I never saw a match there, I did see it when driving past it on numerous occasions when trying to avoid stationary traffic around the Brussels Ring, during my time living over there.

A very rare trip with no delays on The Tunnel, although there was a reduced service in place due to maintenance, which meant all crossings were taking ten minutes longer than the normal 35 minutes.

Sidley United v Angmering Seniors

Sussex F.A. Intermediate Cup Quarter Final

Saturday 13th January 2018

Kick Off 13.30 Actual 13.33

Sidley United 1 Angmering Seniors 5,  attendance 30

13’ 0-1

26’ 0-2

34’ 0-3

77’ 0-4

85’ 0-5

90’ 1-5

@ Hooe Recreation Ground

Mill Lane

Hooe

TN33 9HR

No Admission or Programme.

Sidley United were members of the Sussex County League up until 2013, when they lost their ground in Glovers Lane. I had visited them as part of an unusual ‘Tuesday treble’, back on 30th March 1999……

14.00 Crystal Palace 2 Charlton Athletic 1 (F.A. Premier Academy League U19)

17.45 Bexhill Town 0 Westfield 8 (Sussex County League Div.3)

19.45 Sidley United 1 Crawley Down Village 1 (Sussex County League Div.2)

They now play in the village of Hooe, on the ground previously used by Hooe Sports, former East Sussex League members.

Sidley are eighth in the East Sussex League, Premier Division. The visitors are top of the West Sussex League, Premier Division, having won all nine of their league fixtures this season, so this one went pretty much to form. At 0-2, Sidley had a great chance to pull a goal back, but having failed to convert the chance at the far post, the ball was cleared and the visitors broke away to make it 0-3 and it was game over. The hosts did have the majority of possession in the second half, but only because Angmering had taken their foot off the gas.

Altis v United London

London F.A. Junior Cup 4th Round

Tuesday 9th January 2018

Kick Off 20.15 Actual 20.17

Altis 1 United London 1 (2-4 pens),  attendance 91

11’ 0-1

61’ 1-1

@ London Marathon Community Track

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

London

E20 2ST

£3 Admission, including Programme, 12 pages.

This match was brought forward from Saturday, in an effort to make it a ‘Ground Hoppers match’, also being the first midweek game staged at the stadium. It certainly worked, as around 70 of those present were ‘Hoppers’. The stadium is next door to the London Stadium, now home to West Ham United, and was built to act as a warm up track when London staged the 2012 Olympic Games.

I opted to travel by car, rather than risk the long winded, and far more expensive journey by train. The only downside to this is that the nearest parking was close on 20 minutes walk away, in the Westfield Shopping Centre (£6.70 for up to 3 hours), but with the game finishing just after 22.00, I was still home before 23.25.

Altis play in the Amateur Football Combination, Senior Division 2 North (third level), whilst the visitors are from the Essex Alliance League, Premier Division. The match was pretty even, but the visitors had a great chance to win it at the death, when the Altis ‘keeper was red carded for a foul outside the box a minute into stoppage time. The resultant free kick was blazed over the crossbar, then with almost the last kick of the match, a point blank effort was also put over the bar when anything on target would surely have beaten the stand in ‘keeper. So, straight to penalties. Altis missed their first two kicks, and that was it for them, as the visitors wrapped it up by scoring their first four.

Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners

Australia

A-League

Saturday 6th January 2018

Kick Off 18.00 Actual 18.07

Melbourne Victory 1 Central Coast Mariners 1,  attendance 8,370

49’ 1-0 B. Berisha

71’ 1-1 B. Powell

@ GMHBA Stadium

370 Moorabool Street

South Geelong

VIC 3220

AUD $20 Admission + AUD $2.45 fees, Will Call

No Programme.

Up until Thursday, this match was scheduled to kick off at 17.35, but with temperatures at kick off time forecast to be 42 degrees, the kick off was rescheduled to 18.00, as it was due to drop by around 10 degrees by 19.00.

As it turned out, the forecast was bang on. It was 42 degrees as we boarded the train at Southern Cross Station, in the west of Melbourne, for the 50 mile trip south west down the coast to Geelong. There were minor delays, plus a slower than normal journey because of the heat, but sure enough, on arrival at South Geelong Station (11 stops, journey time around 1hr 20 mins, AUD $18.40 return) just after 17.15, it was now a much more bareable 32 degrees.

GMHBA Stadium (the new sponsor name since January 1st) was opened in 1941, when it was known as Kardinia Park. It is the home ground of Geelong Cats Australian Rules Football Club, having an all seated capacity of 34,000. There are plans to redevelop the current uncovered end of the stadium, which will take capacity to 40,000.

Victory have a current deal to play one match per season here (other home matches are at AAMI Park or Etihad Stadium, both in Melbourne) with this being the fourth game of the five. The first match attracted over 21,000, with the other two getting 14,000, so tonight’s game was by far the lowest attendance so far, probably due to a combination of them having a poor season, by their standards, the hot weather, and the fact that travelling 50 miles for a ‘home’ game is far from ideal.

Victory have been on a good run recently, having won their last 3 matches, whilst Mariners haven’t won any of their previous four. The hosts probably did just about enough to win this, but failed to take a number of good chances. This result leaves them in fifth place in the league table, with the visitors in eighth.

The inconvenience of using public transport was in evidence after the match. The game finished at 19.58, but the first train back to Melbourne was not until 20.46, which meant a fair bit of hanging around, especially as the walk from the stadium is little more than five minutes. Why the kick off time was not scheduled better for this, which would have been an even longer wait if the game had kicked off at the original time of 17.35, says it all about what clubs think of their fans, although there were only about 250 -300 waiting  on the platform. Inevitably, the train then left five minutes late, which is probably good by U.K. standards !

Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne City

Australia

A-League

Monday 1st January 2018

Kick Off 19.50 Actual 19.56

Western Sydney Wanderers 2 Melbourne City 1,  attendance 11,628

25’ 0-1 R. McCormack

30’ 1-1 Oriol Riera

32’ 2-1 M. Bridge

@ ANZ Stadium

Edwin Flack Avenue

Sydney Olympic Park

Sydney

NSW 2127

AUD $37 Admission

Programme, free, 32 pages.

Western Sydney Wanderers were only formed in 2011 and entered the  A-League in 2012/13 season, winning the Premiership, as well as contesting the Grand Final. They again reached the Grand Final in 2014, as well as being crowned Asian Champions in their debut Champions League season, becoming the first Australian club to win the tournament.

They play their home matches at two stadiums, dependant on the expected crowd. There is the smaller Sydney Showground Stadium, some 300-400 yards away, or here at the much bigger ANZ Stadium, which hosted the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, when it was known as Stadium Australia. From 2002 to 2007 it was sponsored by Telstra, becoming ANZ Stadium on 1st January 2008. When opened, the capacity was 115,000, but the stadium was re-modelled and capacity was reduced to 83,500, making it the second largest sports stadium in Australia, after the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

At start of play, this was second bottom versus fourth, in the league table, but the win lifts Wanderers above Central Coast Mariners and Brisbane Roar. If they win their game in hand, at home to bottom of the table Wellington Phoenix, they can go level on points with fifth placed Adelaide United.

Melbourne took the lead with a far post tap in from Ross McCormack, but Sydney turned it round with two goals in three minutes on the half hour. Melbourne had the chance to level it up before the break, but McCormack saw his penalty saved by home ‘keeper Janjetovic. After a great first half, the second half was pretty much a non event.

The match was a double header, with the women’s match between the two clubs taking place beforehand, but we didn’t bother with that. It was also another ‘kids go free’ match, but in such a large stadium, it is easy to get away from all the screaming and watch the game in peace !

The same route from Sydney Central Station, out to Lidcombe, then taking the shuttle train to Sydney Olympic Park, was the same as for the basketball at Qudos Bank Arena on Saturday night. It was AUD $3.01 outbound, but free to get back into the city, as the match ticket entitles you to free travel to/from the match ( buying a ticket at the stadium on the night saves a AUD $5.85 booking fee, so it is cheaper than buying in advance, even without free travel one way).

Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix

Australia

A-League

Sunday 31st December 2017

Kick Off 19.00 Actual 19.05

Central Coast Mariners 0 Wellington Phoenix 0,  attendance 9,110.

@ Central Coast Stadium

14 Dane Drive

Gosford

NSW 2250

AUD $32 Admission

Programme, free, 16 pages.

Central Coast Mariners play in the town of Gosford, which is nearly fifty miles north of Sydney, taking around an hour and a half by train from Sydney Central Station. On Sundays, transport in the Sydney area is capped at AUD $2.60 for unlimited journeys using an Opal Card. As the region covered stretches as far as Gosford, this is superb value. The only real downer was that the club were promoting ‘kids go free’ for tonight’s game, which is never good news for anyone who has any interest in actually watching the match. The hordes of kids running amok certainly have no interest whatsoever, but the crowd was up by about a thousand on the normal turnout, so the club will claim it was a success.

Central Coast Stadium was opened in February 2000 and has a capacity of 20,059. Northern Eagles, Sydney Roosters, Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks and Wests Tigers have all played home matches here in the National Rugby League. The ground is three sided, the southern end being open, which gives views through the palm trees to Brisbane Water. Entering Gosford by train from Sydney, you pass the ground coming in to Gosford Station and it is a 7 or 8 minute walk back to the north east corner of the stadium where the ticket office is situated.

The match itself was really poor. Perhaps this should have been expected as it was third bottom, versus bottom, in the league table. Mariners were one of the original teams that played in the first season of the A-League, back in 2004, actually winning the league once, from their four Grand Final appearances, but are way off challenging for honours this season. Phoenix are absolutely rubbish, which is the norm for the token New Zealand club that compete in the A-League. I don’t see what benefit it is to the league, or club, for them to be the whipping boys each season. Surely it would be better to have another Aussie team instead.

Finally, a quick mention about the match programme. It is a good job it is free as it is little more than an advert pamphlet. The little content that it did contain was hopelessly out of date. The results and league table were only up as far as 7th December, in which time they have played three more games, including a home match on 16th December !

Sydney Kings v Melbourne United

Australia

National Basketball League

Saturday 30th December 2017

Tip Off 17.30

Sydney Kings 79 Melbourne United 103,  attendance 6,014

Kings Starters :

T. Blanchfield 10 pts, 7 reb, 1 ast, 2 blk

B. Newley 4 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast, 1 blk

J. Randle 26 pts, 2 reb, 5 ast

P. Ellis 13 pts, 8 reb, 4 ast

A. Singh 0 pts, 1 reb

Bench :

T. Garlepp 2 pts, J. Cadee 8 pts, D. Pineau 8 pts, I. Humphries 0 pts, A. Thoseby 2 pts, S. Daly 0 pts, J. Tyler 6 pts

United Starters :

C. Goulding 18 pts, 2 reb, 5 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk

T. Wesley 12 pts, 8 reb, 4 ast, 1 blk

C. Ware 26 pts, 3 reb, 5 ast

J. Boone 18 pts, 7 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk

C. Felix 7 pts, 7 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl

Bench :

D. Barlow 8 pts, K. Adnam 2 pts, T. Smith-Milner 3 pts, C. Moller 9 pts, P. Hooley 0 pts

@ Qudos Bank Arena

Olympic Boulevard

Sydney Olympic Park

Sydney

NSW 2127

AUD $52 Admission + AUD $6.70 Fees, Will Call.

No Programme.

Qudos Bank Arena, which was known as Sydney Super Dome when it was completed in 1999, is a multi purpose arena that was built for use in the 2000 Summer Olympics. Capacity here is 21,032, of which around 18,200 is seated. For Kings home games, only the bottom tier and a small section of the third tier is used for spectators.

The arena is easily reached by public transport from the city centre. Trains from Sydney Central Station to Lidcombe on line T1, with a change to line T7 for one stop to Olympic Park, take around 35 minutes at a cost of just AUD $6.02 return using an Opal Card, which is the equivalent to the Oyster Card in London.

As for the match, it was far too easy for Melbourne after halftime. Sydney actually led 46-44 at the break, having been up by 5 points at one stage. However, Melbourne blitzed them with a 15-0 run in the opening stages of the third period and never looked back, holding a 26 point lead at one point towards the end.

Melbourne City v Melbourne Victory

Australia

A-League

Saturday 23rd December 2017

Kick Off 19.50 Actual 19.57

Melbourne City 0 Melbourne Victory 1,  attendance 20,727

90’ + 6 M. Milligan (pen)

@ AAMI Park

Olympic Boulevard

Melbourne

VIC 3000

AUD $35 Admission + AUD $5.85 fees, Will Call.

Programme, free, 16 pages.

Melbourne City were formed in 2009 as Melbourne Heart, playing their first season in the A-League in the 2010/11 season. They were rebranded in 2014 following a takeover by City Football Group, who also own Manchester City.

AAMI Park was opened in 2010, and had been known as Melbourne Rectangular Stadium whilst under construction, but an 8 year deal was signed with insurance firm AAMI in March 2010, which meant it took on the sponsors name. The stadium has a capacity of 30,050 and as well as City, it also hosts the majority of Melbourne Victory matches (bigger games are at the 56,000 capacity Etihad Stadium, which I visited on 3rd November 2006, 3-3 versus Central Coast Mariners, attendance 28,118) and Melbourne Storm of the National Rugby League.

With tonight’s match being the Melbourne derby, we played safe, booking the tickets on-line, before leaving England, then collecting them at the stadium on the night. Despite the media claiming on the morning of the match that in excess of 25,000 tickets had already been sold, this was clearly not the case, unless five thousand people didn’t bother coming, despite paying for tickets.

The same Tram, No.70, which we took to the basketball at Hisense Arena last night, could be used, as it is only a couple of hundred yards further along the road for the soccer. As it was only around 25 minutes walk from the city, we took that option instead for this one.

City are managed by Warren Joyce (played for Bolton Wanderers, Preston North End, Plymouth Argyle, Burnley and Hull City) who started his managerial career as player-manager at Hull City, before moving to Royal Antwerp, then Manchester United Reserves, then a short stint at Wigan Athletic, taking charge at Melbourne in June this year. By far the best known of their players, is Ross McCormack, on loan from Aston Villa, who has been transferred for combined fees of £25 million plus, over a number of moves from Cardiff City, Leeds United and Fulham, before joining Villa. He came off the bench tonight, but his shirt number, 44, could possibly describe his waistline, as he looked well overweight.

There was a really good atmosphere for this one, with the visiting fans probably outnumbering the hosts by two to one. It looked all set to end scoreless, especially after Victory had a shot that smashed off the crossbar and bounced down just short of the goal line, but deep into stoppage time the City ‘keeper needlessly tripped a forward running away from goal, on the edge of the box, and the penalty was convincingly struck into the net at the end where the main away support were situated.

Melbourne United v Adelaide 36ers

Australia

National Basketball League

Friday 22nd December 2017

Tip Off 19.30

Melbourne United 99 Adelaide 36ers 91,  attendance 8,089

United Starters :

D. Barlow 7 pts, 2 reb

C. Goulding 22 pts, 1 reb, 1 ast

T. Wesley 14 pts, 7 reb, 4 ast, 2 blk

C. Ware 24 pts, 2 reb, 5 ast

J. Boone 4 pts, 12 reb, 1 ast, 2 blk

Bench :

D. Anderson 5 pts, K. Adnam 2 pts, T. Smith-Milner 0 pts, C. Muller 8 pts, P. Holley 11 pts, F. Van Hove 2 pts

36ers Starters :

D. Johnson 20 pts, 10 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl, 2 blk

N. Sobey 19 pts, 3 reb, 1 stl

M. Hodgson 1 pt, 1 reb, 2 ast, 1 blk

J. Childress 18 pts, 8 reb, 2 stl, 1 blk

S. Shorter 11 pts, 11 reb, 5 ast, 4 stl, 1 blk

Bench :

B. Treys 3 pts, S. Johns 0 pts, N. Larkins 0 pts, M. Deng 14 pts, R. Moore 5 pts

@ Hisense Arena

2, Olympic Boulevard

Melbourne

VIC 3004

AUD $54 Admission

Programme, Download Only.

Unlike the N.B.A. in the U.S.A., matches here are played over 4 x 10 minute periods, rather than the 4 x 12 minute format. The standard here would be similar to the top colleges in America.

Once Melbourne got in front, it all looked to be going very comfortably for them. Adelaide led by 4 points early on, but at one stage, Melbourne were up by 16 points. With 1 minute 28 seconds left on the clock, Melbourne led 91-83, but a superb comeback looked on the cards, as Adelaide reduced it to 93-91 with just 23 seconds left, before the hosts hit back to seal the win.

Hisense Arena is a multi- purpose venue that is part of the National Tennis Centre at Melbourne Park. It was opened in 2000 and hosts games in the Australian Open Tennis as well as netball and track cycling, which requires a re-configuration of the seating. Basketball matches here have a 10,500 capacity. Public transport is ideal for this venue as Tram No.70 stops right outside.

Match day visits to sporting stadia