Pontardawe Town v Briton Ferry Llansawel

Welsh League

Division 2

Saturday 11th March 2017

Kick Off 14.30 Actual 14.32

Pontardawe Town 0 Briton Ferry Llansawel 2,  attendance 76

37′ 0-1

41′ 0-2

@ Parc Ynysderw

Ffordd Ynysderw



£3 Admission, including programme, 20 pages.

So, a 45 minute drive from Kidwelly saw me arrive at a match two levels higher than the alternative fixture being offered on the Welsh Hop, and some five levels higher than the game just watched.

Pontardawe only moved into their new ground in 2015 and it is still undergoing improvements. Just the far goal end is lacking hard standing now and according to the match programme, the changing rooms at the adjacent Leisure Centre have been renovated, up to Welsh League standard, so should be in use by next season, replacing the temporary ones, I assume.

I had visited their former home back on Wednesday 17th February 1999, for a Welsh Cup 4th Round Replay, 0-3 v Inter Cable Tel, in the days when clubs without floodlights still had to host the replays midweek, so this had kicked off at 14.00. How times have changed.

As for today, it was 4th bottom v 2nd in the table. BFL had a penalty saved, but opened the scoring a minute later and added the second before the break, which killed off the game.

A relatively trouble free run back along the M4 and M25 saw me arrive back by 19.45. It would be the last trip in the hire car, as we have now collected both our new cars. I suppose it was worth having a hire car for 4 weeks, as it has gone back with 5,250 more miles on the clock than it had when it was picked up !

Kidwelly Town v Drefach

Carmarthenshire League

Division 2

Saturday 11th March 2017

Kick Off 10.45 On Time !

Kidwelly Town 3 Drefach 1,  attendance 135

9′ 0-1

36′ 1-1

38′ 2-1

89′ 3-1

@ Parc Stephens

Station Road

SA17 4SJ

No Admission

£3 Programme, didn’t bother at that price.

This was the first game on this seasons Carmarthenshire Hop. Having done a number of teams from this league for West Wales Senior Cup matches in the past, I knew that this would be nothing more than a pitch in a field, although as there is only the one pitch here, it is probably one of the better grounds in the league, which says it all really !

With there being a Premier Division, this was actually the third level in the league, but probably not a great difference in playing standard to most of the two higher divisions.

The early kick off meant plenty of scope for an afternoon fixture, as I had already been to the third scheduled game of the day, a 16.00 kick off at Premier Division team Seaside. Despite not having visited the 13.30 game, again in the Premier Division, which was to be at Evans & Williams Sports, I had been told by others who had already been that it was an awful 4 pitch job and totally soulless, so I opted to tick off the most westerly club I still required in the Welsh League instead, so had plenty of time to head back east for a 14.30 kick off.

Swallownest v Handsworth Parramore Reserves

Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League

Premier Division

Wednesday 8th March 2017

Kick Off 19.45 Actual 19.44

Swallownest 1 Handsworth Parramore Reserves 0,  attendance 66

76′ 1-0

@ Swallownest Miners Welfare

Rotherham Road


S26 4UR

No admission or programme.

Swallownest, who have dropped the ‘Miners Welfare’ from their name, are top of the league and have ambitions for promotion into the Northern Counties East League next season. Having hit the woodwork twice, and having failed with another couple of efforts that looked easier to score than miss, it was left to a 20 yard shot into the top corner, that was worthy of winning any game, which finally broke down the visitors stubborn defence. The title now looks to be a formality, being 10 points clear, with just 5 games left to play.

Oxford City Nomads Development v Faringdon Town

Hellenic League

Division 2 West

Tuesday 7th March 2017

Kick Off 19.15 Actual 19.16

Oxford City Nomads Development 8 Faringdon Town 1,  attendance 12

10′ 1-0

22′ 2-0

26′ 3-0

52′ 4-0

54′ 5-0

56′ 5-1

82′ 6-1

86′ 7-1

88′ 8-1

@ Oxford City F.C. 3G Pitch

Marsh Lane



No admission or programme.

According to F.A. Fulltime website this was a 19.45 kick off. I only found out about the earlier kick off when confirming the game was definitely being played on the 3G pitch, with a phone call to the number listed as Secretary of Faringdon Town on the Hellenic League website. It turned out he was actually the Chairman, but at least he informed me of the earlier start.

It was a good opportunity to visit the ground under lights, as well as a rare chance to see a game versus first team opposition, due to the number of reserve teams that the Hellenic League has playing in it.

There is no spectator access allowed within the cage, apart from watching inside the entrance gate, but that is in the nearest corner to the clubhouse, so viewing is awful, but just about better than watching through mesh fencing. It really is time the F.A./Leagues refuse to allow clubs to play on 3G pitches where spectators are not allowed to watch the games at pitch side.

As for the game, it was hard to tell if Nomads were really good, or Faringdon were just rubbish, although Nomads did certainly play some nice stuff at times. Perhaps they were more used to playing on this type of surface, although Faringdon looked awful at the back and probably wouldn’t have been any better on grass.

Melksham Town v Bristol Manor Farm

Western League

Premier Division

Monday 6th March 2017

Kick Off 19.30 Actual 19.34

Melksham Town 2 Bristol Manor Farm 1,  attendance 485

20′ 1-0

63′ 2-0

89′ 2-1

@ Oakfield Stadium

Eastern Way


SN12 7GU

£6 Admission

£1 Programme, 28 pages.

So, tonight saw the first midweek fixture played at the new home of Melksham Town, the match being 4th v 1st in the league table. It also meant the club was invaded by Groundhoppers, with close on 50 making the trip to Wiltshire. A very impressive set up that has a number of other pitches, including a second floodlit pitch, used by their reserves, which is to the right of the driveway leading to the main ground. The clubhouse is shared with Melksham Rugby Club, whose pitch runs parallel to the main ground, separated by the two storey building. Good selection of food on offer and very nice home made cakes available at the tea bar.

No problems pitch wise, despite the rain over the weekend, apart from one corner of the pitch where the drainage has collapsed. Melksham were missing a number of players tonight, but it didn’t really show. They were already 2-0 up when BMF had a player red carded on 71 minutes and despite the 10  men pulling one back, it was never going to affect the final outcome.

This once again completes the Western League grounds and brings the required number left to visit at Step 5 down to three, namely Fisher, Leicester Nirvana and Royal Wootton Bassett Town.

Oxford v Hemel Stags

Rugby Football League

League 1

Sunday 5th March 2017

Kick Off 14.00 Actual 14.02

Oxford 40 Hemel Stags 12,  attendance 100

@ Tilsley Park

Dunmore Road


OX14 1PU

?? Admission

Programme, only available as a download. Printed off as 26 pages, A4 size.

My first rugby league game of the season and where better to start than a battle between two hotbeds of the game…..Oxford and Hemel Hempstead !

I had already noted from the Oxford RL website that there would be no programme today, although it was available as a download, which defeats the object really. Arriving at the ground I was charged £3 to park my car. I then went round to the far side of the stadium to take a few photos, before taking my place in the stand. No evidence of any admission being charged and no one came round to collect any money, which seems odd at this level. Perhaps with such a poor crowd, they didn’t bother ? I don’t think there was even one away supporter here, which again was odd, as this is one of their nearest games. Is there really any point in these teams trying to take rugby league from the traditional northern heartland.

Despite plenty of rain, there was going to be no problem concerning the pitch, as it is 3G. It doesn’t look right when all the kits are still in pristine condition, rather than muddied up as the tackles go in.

Hemel both opened and closed the scoring today, but were woeful in between, as Oxford ran in 40 unanswered points. It was 24-6 at halftime and it took 19 minutes of the second half before they added to it.

South Wonston Swifts v Sway

Hampshire Premier League

Division 1

Saturday 4th March 2017

Kick Off 15.00, On Time !

South Wonston Swifts 0 Sway 0,  attendance 16

@ South Wonston Recreation Ground

West Hill Road South

SO21 3HP

No admission or programme.

On paper this looked like a decent game, 4th v 1st, the two sides having drawn 3-3 at Sway earlier in the season. The visitors were also on a good run, winning their last 9 games. Oddly, before that run started, they had drawn their two previous matches, both away, 0-0. I think Sway only managed one shot on target in the entire match. Swifts hit the bar and forced an excellent save from the ‘keeper in stoppage time at the end of the first half, but that was about it.

This was actually my second choice match today, Colden Common v Bush Hill, in the top division of this league, falling victim to the weather very early on. A phone call to the newly installed Swifts secretary, shortly before midday, confirmed that the game was going ahead and the pitch was not a problem. In fact, he had been down and marked it out himself at 8 o’clock this morning.

Luckily, the rain held off until five minutes from time, when a brief shower had the ‘crowd’ running for shelter under the overhang on the changing room building, although it wasn’t much use as the wind was blowing straight into it.

Manchester City U23 v Everton U23

Premier League 2 (Division 1)

Friday 3rd March 2017

Kick Off 19.00 Actual 18.59

Manchester City U23 3 Everton U23 0,  attendance 650

66′ 1-0 T. Ambrose

71′ 2-0 Brahim Diaz

77′ 3-0 J. Sancho

@ Academy Stadium

Etihad Campus North Gate

400, Ashton New Road

M11 4QT

£3 Admission, On-line Ticket

Team Sheet, free.

With no cash sales, or tickets available at the stadium, you have to register and buy tickets for these games on-line. As I was unable to gain access to a printer, I had to collect my ticket from a portakabin outside the entrance.

I had left home six and a half hours before kick off, but even with Friday traffic hadn’t expected it to take 5 hours 52 minutes to drive the 225 miles. On arrival, I was directed to the ‘Blue Parking’, which is on the far side of the Etihad Stadium from the Academy Stadium, and although free to park, it is around 15 minutes walk, crossing the main road via a footbridge, which leads you to the northwest corner of the stadium, where your ticket can be collected. The only entrance on matchday is on the corner of the North and East (main) Stand, the latter being the only stand open tonight.

As it was pouring with rain, I was already soaked by the time I got here, so didn’t bother attempting to take any photos of the exterior. At least inside, unlike at Brighton & Hove Albion on Monday, there was no hostility towards spectators and there were no problems whatsoever with taking photographs.

This is a really impressive stadium, having opened in 2015, with a capacity of 7,000. Not sure what chance they have of filling it, as although tonight’s official attendance was 650, it was probably only half of that. Perhaps the Manchester City women’s team, who also play their matches here, get more watching ? I had previously seen a Manchester City Reserve fixture played on the Regional Athletics Arena, which is the opposite side of the main stadium to the new ground. Oddly, it was also Everton who were the visitors, in a 2-2 draw on 26th October 2004. The crowd that night was 863.

Despite it raining for the entire match, the pitch was in immaculate condition. The game itself was 2nd v 1st, the gap now down to 3 points, but never looked like producing a goal, then when the deadlock was broken it looked like City would score with every attack.

The walk back to the car was again in rain, although much lighter than the rest of the evening. The drive home was also much better, taking a shade over 4 hours, including two stops.

Darlington v Altrincham

National League North

Wednesday 1st March 2017

Kick Off 19.45 Actual 19.48

Darlington 3 Altrincham 1,  attendance 1,423

3′ 1-0

29′ 2-0

33′ 2-1

80′ 3-1 (pen)

@ Blackwell Meadows

Grange Road



£12 Admission

£2.50 Programme (from original postponed fixture on 11th February) 56 pages, plus 4 page insert.

Having arrived in plenty of time from Leeds, it was easy to get a prime parking spot in the nearest road to the stadium, although it is still a good 10 minutes walk away. The main objective here, apart from avoiding the £3 car park charge, is the fact that all cars are held back until all pedestrians have cleared from the driveway leading to the ground from the main road, so even by walking back to the car, you can still be away onto the A1 before the cars are released from the car park.

Darlington still think they are a Football League club, judging by the prices charged for everything, although of course the club disappeared in 2012, and were reformed, joining the Northern League the following season, under the name Darlington 1883. No mention anywhere of the 1883 part of the name in the programme or on their badge, so I assume they have now dropped this from their title ?

I had seen the original club play in the Football League at two different home grounds, Feethams (22.4.1989 v Scarborough, 2-1, Division 4, attendance 2,850) and then Reynolds Arena (30.9.2003 v Southend United, 0-0, Division 3, attendance 4,369) which was when their problems really began in a stadium that had nearly 20,000 seats more than they were ever going to need.

The current ground, shared with Darlington Rugby Union Club, is not a good venue for viewing the game. It is totally inadequate for large crowds, tonight’s being their lowest since moving here on Boxing Day 2016, when they sold out the ground to its 3,000 capacity. Even only half full the view was awful, so it must have been impossible for most people to have seen anything at all with more than double tonights attendance rammed in.

A very poor standard of football on show for the second level of the English non-league game, perhaps not helped by Altrincham being bottom of the table, where it is a matter of when, not if, they are relegated. Darlington didn’t really need to be very good to beat them.

This just leaves one more to do at Step 2 and one that I am really not looking forward to at all…..F.C. United of Manchester. I can’t wait………

University Leeds v University York

British Universities & Colleges Sport

Northern 2B

Wednesday 1st March 2017

Kick Off 14.15 Actual 14.17

University Leeds 2 University York 4,  attendance 6

4′ 0-1

11′ 1-1

12′ 2-1

25′ 2-2

26′ 2-3

48′ 2-4

@ Weetwood Sports Park, 3G Pitch

Weetwood Hall


LS16 5AU

No admission or programme.

This was my second visit here, having previously been on 9th February 2005, when the game was played on the grass pitch that runs at right angles to the 3G pitch, beyond the far goal when entering from the car park end of the complex.

As a new pitch has recently been laid, spectators are not allowed inside the cage, but you can watch from the entrance gate, or from the grass bank adjacent to the rugby pitch at one end.

A surprise result as it was 3rd v 5th, out of six teams, in the group. Leeds had won the reverse fixture 1-0. At least three of the goals today were high quality finishes.

Having stayed over following last nights game in Consett, it was a nice easy drive south to the northern outskirts of Leeds. Thankfully the heavy rain shower had dispersed about half an hour before kick off and it remained dry for the rest of the day.  From here, it was a 1 hour 20 minute drive back up the A1 to Darlington for our evening entertainment.