Consett v South Shields

Durham Challenge Cup

Semi Final

Tuesday 28th February 2017

Kick Off 19.30 Actual 19.32

Consett 1 South Shields 3,  attendance 785

9′ 0-1

30′ 0-2

48′ 0-3

55′ 1-3

@ Belle View Stadium

Delves Lane

DH8 7BF

£6 Admission

£1.50 Programme, 44 pages.

A trip to the North East would probably not be the best idea in February, but unless there was snow, the 3G pitch at the relatively new home of Consett AFC, which they moved into in November 2013, would mean the game would more or less be guaranteed to take place.

Compared to their old ground, ( visited 22.1.2000, 0-1 v Alfreton Town, attendance 276, F.A. Vase 4th Round) with the magnificent crumbling, run down, atmospheric charm, (from a Groundhoppers point of view) this is an awful place to watch football, especially with a crowd of this size inside. Earlier in the afternoon, the club had tweeted that they had negotiated extra car parking space with the business next door to the ground and, what we thought was ridiculous at the time, that the turnstiles would be open at 5pm to help alleviate some of the queues nearer to kick off time !

I would say at least 500 of the crowd were with the visitors. Very impressive for any non-league club, let alone one at Step 5. The league match between these two, currently 7th v 2nd in Northern League Division 1, drew the highest home attendance for Consett this season, of 671 and they were obviously expecting another good turn out as they had tweeted about it earlier in the day. What a pity they let themselves down with totally inadequate catering facilities. We joined the queue at the tea bar four minutes before halftime. As the second half kicked off, we abandoned the line, as they had only served about a dozen people in this time ! As everyone knows, profit margins are high in food/drink sales, so for the club to willingly give away money in failing to get people served, shows that this must be a club with no financial worries. Surely a crowd of this size required at least one added mobile caterer ?

As for the game, Consett started well and the visitors actually opened the scoring against the run of play. From here on, it was a stroll for South Shields. A red card for Consett, in injury time, simply rounded off a disappointing result for them.

This was South Shields  22nd consecutive win, in what could be a fantastic season for them. They are second in the league ( 8pts behind North Shields, but with 2 games in hand) and favourites to win the F.A. Vase, having reached the semi final. This win sees them face Billingham Synthonia in the Durham Challenge Cup Final, to be played at Hartlepool United, in May.

So, with Northern League Division 1 now complete, it leaves just Stockton Town to visit for the full set in this league. Step 5 is also a bit nearer completion, with just four clubs grounds not visited yet…..Fisher, Leicester Nirvana, Melksham Town and Royal Wootton Bassett Town. These clubs have moved into new grounds during my time living abroad, two of them during the last couple of months.

Brighton & Hove Albion U23 v West Ham United U23

Premier League 2

League Cup Group Match

Monday 27th February 2017

Kick Off 13.00 Actual 13.01

Brighton & Hove Albion U23 3 West Ham United U23 0,  attendance 150

18′ 1-0 Bjordal

42′ 2-0 Tilley (pen)

53′ 3-0 Connolly

@ American Express Elite Football Performance Centre

60, Marsh Barn Lane

Lancing

BN15 9FP

£5 Admission, Print at Home Ticket

Team Sheet, free.

Getting tickets for this was really easy. They were available on-line through the club website, with this being the only possible way to gain admission as there is no facility to pay at the ground. Unlike so many other places, there was no booking fee to pay !

On arrival at the ground, you give in your printed ticket at the barriered security gate, then proceed into the car park where there is a steward directing you to where they want you to park. From here, there is then another fenced off area, so admission is via the reception area, where you are then taken by another steward and held in a room until about 5 minutes before kick off, when everyone is escorted en masse to whichever pitch the game is being played on.

Today, the game was on the main pitch in the complex. Four rows of blue seats are the full length of one side, with dug outs and a television gantry opposite. The roof on the stand is a waste of time. Even sat on the back row the rain was impossible to avoid due to the wind.

I don’t know why clubs such as Brighton bother admitting anyone in to watch games here as they certainly don’t make you feel welcome. Stewards stand along various points of the stand just trying to catch anyone who dares to try and take a photograph. One person was ‘caught’ and stood over whilst being forced to delete the photos he had taken. They bang on about it being ‘the law’ as the players are ‘under age’ (is 23 really under age ?) and can’t be photographed, yet an hour after the match the club website has a selection of action shots from the match !

I would have thought any problem with paedophiles within the game is from within the clubs themselves, not from the spactators watching from the stands.

As for the game, far too easy for Brighton. Both sides had already qualified for the knockout stages of the cup, so this was basically to see who topped the group. West Ham would have done so had they won today.

West End Village v Shottermill & Haslemere

Surrey County Intermediate League (Western)

Premier Division

Saturday 25th February 2017

Kick Off 14.00 Actual 14.03

West End Village 3 Shottermill & Haslemere 1,  attendance 19

48′ 1-0

70′ 1-1

77′ 2-1

86′ 3-1

@  West End Sports Pavilion

Benner Lane

West End

Woking

GU24 9JP

No admission or programme.

5th v 10th and a game that eventually went to form. Despite dominating for long periods West End only had one goal to show for it and they had their ‘keeper sent off four minutes before the visitors levelled at 1-1. It ended 10-a-side when a Shottermill defender received a second yellow card for a foul leading up to the third WestEnd goal, duly dispatched after an excellent ‘advantage’ played by the Referee, then issuing the card before the restart.

At halftime, a resident from the houses that run alongside the pitch, put out a table and served hot drinks as well as chocolate and crisps. All items were £1 with money going to a local charity. The drinks were most welcome as the game was played in a bitterly cold wind. Unfortunately, the rain that had been forecast arrived bang on time, just as the second half kicked off, but was only drizzle.

St. Mary’s University v University Portsmouth

British Universities & Colleges Sport

South Eastern 2A

Wednesday 22nd February 2017

Kick Off 14.00 Actual 14.02

St. Mary’s University 1 University Portsmouth 0,  attendance 18

16′ 1-0

@ Teddington Lock Sports Campus

Teddington

TW11 9BE

No admission or programme.

This was 1st v 2nd and had been niggly throughout. The last 5 minutes saw two melees involving all the players, plus a fair few of the substitutes. Portsmouth had a player red carded following the second one, then in the last minute, St. Mary’s had a player sent off for hacking down the ‘keeper as he tried to launch the ball upfield.

Light drizzle fell for most of the second half, but thankfully the old cricket pavilion gave adequate shelter, albeit from the corner of the pitch.

Hall Road Rangers v Eccleshill United

Northern Counties East League

Division 1

Tuesday 21st February 2017

Kick Off 19.45 Actual 19.48

Hall Road Rangers 3 Eccleshill United 1,  attendance 76

30′ 1-0

35′ 1-1

68′ 2-1

85′ 3-1

@ Harworth Park

Dawson Drive

Kingston upon Hull

HU6 7AB

£5 Admission

£1.50p Programme, 24 pages.

Unlike Bilborough Town last week, Hall Road have someone reliable doing their club Twitter account. A tweet very early on showed the pitch to be in superb condition and a conversation with the very helpful club Secretary, just after 12 o’clock,  meant I would soon be off on the 4 hour journey to Humberside.

Thankfully, the rain that fell here was very light, so no problem of the game being on, as it is certainly a pitch that has suffered from a fair amount of postponements since the club moved here from their old ground in Dunswell.

A strong wind blowing down the pitch certainly helped Hall Road in the first half, as they played with it at their backs, going ahead after almost constant pressure from the start. A quick reply saw the visitors back on level terms, which remained the case until they had a man sent off on 67 minutes, before going behind a minute later, which was basically game over.

Journey home saw numerous lane closures on the M1 and what seemed like endless sections of 50mph restrictions. Just to round the night off, the exit from the M1 onto the M25 was closed, but at least the diversion around the top end of Watford was pretty much traffic free.

Second successive night of completing both a division and league.

 

Abbey Rangers v Epsom & Ewell

Combined Counties League

Premier Division

Monday 20th February 2017

Kick Off 19.45 Actual 19.46

Abbey Rangers 0 Epsom & Ewell 1,  attendance 70

55′ 0-1

@ Addlestone Moor

Addlestone

KT15 2QH

£7 Admission, including programme, 24 pages.

This was my second visit here, the first being on January 2nd 2012, when the game was played on a pitch that runs lengthways beyond the far end from the clubhouse. What was just a pitch you walked past to reach the old ‘ground’, is now railed off, floodlit and has two bits of cover, one being a small seated stand. According to the programme, hard standing will be completed along the side of the pitch opposite the dugouts, and a new 50 seat stand will be in place during March. I hope they give more consideration to the placement of the new stand than they gave when positioning the current one.

As for the game…..certainly not the best I have seen this season. The visitors deserved the win though, as they created much more in the areas where it mattered.

Tonights visit completes both the top division and Combined Counties League overall.

Headington Amateurs v Bicester Town

Hellenic League

Division 1 East

Saturday 18th February 2017

Kick Off 15.00 Actual 15.01

Headington Amateurs 2 Bicester Town 1,  attendance 38

20′ 1-0

22′ 1-1 (pen)

32′ 2-1

@ Horspath Sports Ground

Oxford Road

Horspath

OX4 2RR

No Admission

£2 Programme, 20 pages.

This one became a priority ground to visit as it is rumoured to be a temporary move for Headington. The pitch here is beyond the Athletics Stadium, on the right hand side of the driveway leading into the complex. To the left is just an open expanse of pitches, where there was another game taking place in the far left hand corner of the field. The clubhouse has seen better days, although at least you could get tea and coffee in here and the bar did look as if it may have been open, but not really obvious when I was in there around 45 minutes before kick off.

Programmes were available behind the tea bar and unless you hunted one out, no one made any attempt to sell them, which is a pity, because it contained all the information you need from a programme.

Having been told it was ‘just a pitch’, I wasn’t looking forward to this one, especially as the Hellenic League is probably the worst Step 6 league in the country for making no attempt whatsoever in making clubs meet ground grading criteria, as so many awful ‘grounds’ that have hosted games in this league in the past confirm. It turned out to be ok. At least the pitch had an enclosed feel, especially if looking from the goal end backing onto the driveway.

A decent game as well, as 2nd edged out 5th in the league table. Glad I did it on a dry day, as no chance of any shelter if it had rained.

Aylsham v Scole United

Anglian Combination

Division 1

Friday 17th February 2017

Kick Off 19.45, On Time

Aylsham 4 Scole United 4,  attendance 116

2′ 1-0

22′ 1-1

27′ 2-1

43′ 2-2

48′ 2-3

81′ 2-4

88′ 3-4

90′ + 3, 4-4

@ Youngs Park

Woodgate Way

Cawston Road

Aylsham

NR11 6UJ

No admission or programme.

A trouble free drive up from Enfield saw me arrive far too early, although had I driven straight from home, then I wouldn’t have left much later anyway, such are the problems with traffic on the M25 on Friday evenings.

What did seem strange here, was the fact that the game was moved to Friday evening, from the normal Saturday, as the clubhouse was not available until after 8pm due to a martial arts class taking place, which must have cost the club a fair few quid in bar takings, as it was packed during halftime. The tea bar was open though, although the only food was chocolate bars, of which there were probably at least a dozen options. The club did do a raffle, at £1 a go, although no idea if/when it was drawn, but not interested in winning it, as both prizes mentioned were bottles of wine.

This was 1st v 3rd bottom, so when Aylsham opened the scoring after a couple of minutes it looked like it was going to form. Scole levelled just before the break and were soon ahead in the second half. When they got a deserved fourth, with nine minutes left, it looked all over. Aylsham pressed hard and made it 3-4 with two minutes left, then Scole had a man sent off three minutes into stoppage time and the resultant penalty was duly dispatched to give the homesters a point.

Tottenham Hotspur U18 v Fulham U18

U18 Premier League

Friday 17th February 2017

Kick Off 12.00 Actual 12.03

Tottenham Hotspur U18 0 Fulham U18 3,  attendance 129

45′ 0-1 J. Brown (OG)

52′ 0-2 M. O’Riley

89′ 0-3 C. Thompson

@ Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre, Pitch 1

Hotspur Way

Whitewebbs Lane

Enfield

EN2 9AP

No Admission

Team Sheet free, Fulham team printed on back.

Once I had confirmed that I could gain access to this game there were no problems. An e-mail received an automated reply that was of no use whatsoever. Leaving name and phone number received no reply at all. An hour and a half later, after six calls that went straight to answer phone, my call was finally answered. I was then put through to Reception and told entry for the game was not restricted, so off I went, making the 1 hour 15 minute drive clockwise on the M25, thereby avoiding a toll charge on the Dartford Crossing and less than 10 miles further than taking the anti-clockwise route.

Once through the security gate you are directed to the car park. Team sheets are available from the reception area. Today’s game was played on Pitch 1, spectator access limited to one side of the pitch.

This was a bit of a slow burner, Fulham well deserving the win, which could easily have been by a couple more goals.

Bilborough Town v Wollaton

Nottinghamshire Senior League

Premier Division

Wednesday 15th February 2017

Kick Off 19.45

Bilborough Town v Wollaton, MATCH POSTPONED.

@ Harvey Hadden Stadium

Wigman Road

Nottingham

NG8 4PB

The journey from Wycombe took over 3 hours, despite only being 130 miles. Still, at least I knew the game would be on, as Bilborough Town had tweeted at 10.30 that they were all set to go and that there were no problems. Another tweet at 13.00 stated no problems pitch wise and with it raining en route, I once again checked their twitter feed at 17.00 and no update since 13.00, but then again, why would there be, as they had already tweeted twice today that there was not a problem with the pitch. I arrived at 18.45 and was told by someone to do with the Athletics that the game was off. One look at the pitch and the large pool of water in one goalmouth told me why. What a pity that the club put out such misleading information on their official twitter account, then don’t update as things change, as there is no way this game could have taken place, so why put it on their twitter that everything was fine. And even when it was off, there had been no update when I left for home at 18.50. At least the journey back was less than two and a half hours.

This should have been my second match visit here, as back in the early 1990’s I saw Nottingham City Rugby League play here.