North Wales Crusaders v South Wales Ironmen

Rugby Football League

National League 1

Sunday 25th June 2017

Kick Off 14.30 Actual 14.33

North Wales Crusaders 36 South Wales Ironmen 12,  attendance 462

@ Queensway Stadium



LL13 8UH

£10 Admission

£2.50 Programme, 30 pages.

This was pretty dire and what you would expect from 4th bottom v 2nd bottom. Ironmen were surprisingly ahead 0-6, pegged back to 6-6, but went in at halftime 6-12 up. In the second half they were absolutely rubbish and never looked remotely like adding any further points.

Queensway Stadium is about as bad a venue you could possibly visit as a spectator. Perhaps that is a factor in why they get such poor crowds, as despite what they claim, the attendance was little more than 300. Both sections of seats are at least 50 yards from the pitch and viewing is also across three jumping pits as well as the running track. There is a small section of open seating on the far side, but they are no longer usable !

I had previously been here for football, on January 28th 2006, when I saw Queens Park 1 Ruthin Town 0 in the Cymru Alliance.

A.F.C. Aldermaston v Woodley United

Pre-Season Friendly

Saturday 24th June 2017

Kick Off 12.00 Actual 12.11

A.F.C. Aldermaston 0 Woodley United 5,  attendance 22

@ Everest Community Academy, 3G Pitch

Oxford Way

Sherborne St. John


RG24 9UP

No admission or programme.

This was played at a neutral venue, which is quite common for many early pre-season games these days. Sadly, another trait that is becoming all too regular, is the habit of playing the game as three thirty minute periods, rather than the proper two forty five minute halves.

As for the game, it was very good. Both teams are from the Hellenic League, the visitors one division higher than the hosts. Goals on 3, 21, 30, 59 and 71 minutes saw the higher level side win comfortably.

Oldham v Dewsbury Rams

Rugby Football League

National Championship

Wednesday 21st June 2017

Kick Off 20.00. On Time !

Oldham 16 Dewsbury Rams 20,   attendance 575

@ Stalybridge Celtic F.C.

Bower Fold

Mottram Road


SK15 2RT

£15 Admission

£2.50 Programme* From original game that was postponed on 5th March, with a new wrap around cover. Didn’t bother buying something three and a half months out of date !

Bower Fold has been home to Stalybridge Celtic F.C. since 1909 and hosted games in the Football League for two seasons when Celtic were members of the newly formed Third Division North in 1921. I had previously been here to watch football (Stalybridge Celtic 1 Tranmere Rovers 0, Pre Season Friendly) on 11th August 1990, but the ground has undergone a complete transformation since then, including replacing the old wooden main stand. Current capacity is 6,500, of which 1,200 is seated. There was a ‘one off’ Rugby League Challenge Cup tie played here in the 90’s, but it didn’t host rugby league regularly until Oldham moved here in 2016. This now takes the number of venues I have seen Oldham play home matches at to eight, following Watersheddings, Hyde United FC, Oldham Athletic FC, Ashton United FC, Blackpool FC, Whitebank Stadium and Manchester Regional Athletics Arena.

This was 9th v 11th and a vital must win game for both teams. Oldham led 6-0, were pegged back to 6-6, then went in front again to go in at halftime 12-6 up. Dewsbury levelled at 12-12, before two penalties had Oldham back in front at 16-12. In stoppage time, which was mainly due to an Oldham player injury, Dewsbury converted a try under the posts to nick it, before adding a penalty on the final hooter to seal the win.

York City Knights v Whitehaven

Rugby Football League

National League 1

Sunday 18th June 2017

Kick Off 15.00 Actual 15.02

York City Knights 16 Whitehaven 18,  attendance 1,084

@ York City F.C.

Bootham Crescent


YO30 7AQ

£15 Admission

£2 Programme, 16 pages.

Bootham Crescent is due to become housing, with a move to the brand new Community Stadium rumoured to take place some time next year, although I am not too sure just how far the new stadium has been developed, if at all, so it may survive a little longer. It has been home to York City F.C. since 1932 and the York City Knights since 2016, after they lost their own ground, Huntington Stadium, a couple of years earlier.

Capacity here is 8,256, which is some way short of the record attendance for the ground, when 28,123 witnessed York City versus Huddersfield Town, in an F.A. Cup match in 1938.

I had visited Bootham Crescent previously, for York City 1 Torquay United 1, in a Division 4 match, on 4th November 1989 (attendance 2,496) and had been to the Knights former home, Huntington Stadium, on 17th November 1991, where I saw Ryedale-York 6 Sheffield Eagles 13, in a Regal Trophy 1st Round match.

Today was 4th v 3rd, and was in the balance right to the final minute. York went up 4-0, but Whitehaven edged in front to lead 4-6 at the break. Two converted tries looked to have sealed it for the visitors as they went 4-18 up, but York converted two of their own tries, the first as good as you would see at any level, to pull it back to 16-18. In stoppage time, York missed three penalties, all from inside the Whitehaven half, and all within the width of the posts, which could have seen them get a deserved draw.

East Leeds v Leigh East

Rugby League

National Conference League

RFL Conference Challenge Trophy

Saturday 17th June 2017

Kick Off 14.30 Actual 14.33

East Leeds 18 Leigh East 14,  attendance 86

@ Easy Road



£2 Admission

Team Sheet, free.

These two are both in the NCL Division 2, with the league positions being 1st v 9th. This was a much improved performance by the visitors, as the league match here had finished 36-6.

Leeds went ahead 6-0, but Leigh levelled it up at 6-6 at halftime. Two converted tries put Leeds back ahead at 18-6, but Leigh came back with two tries of their own, but crucially, neither were converted.

Doncaster v Barrow Raiders

Rugby Football League

League 1

Sunday 11th June 2017

Kick Off 15.00 Actual 15.01

Doncaster 24 Barrow Raiders 24,  attendance 563

@ Keepmoat Athletics Stadium

Stadium Way




£15 Admission

£2 Programme, 36 pages.

Team Sheet, free.

This was 4th v 2nd, although both dropped a place following this draw. Barrow went 0-10 ahead, reduced to 6-10, but they were further ahead, 6-16 at the break. When they stretched their lead to 12-24, it looked all over, but Doncaster went over for two tries, missing one conversion, to pull it back to 22-24 with a minute left, or so we thought.  Fifteen minutes into stoppage time Doncaster kicked a penalty to level it up.

With Keepmoat Stadium undergoing pitch work, it meant this game, plus the next home one, are being played on the Athletics Stadium next door, and another game being played at Featherstone Rovers.

This is the fourth home venue I have now seen Doncaster play on, following Tattersfield (10.1.93), Belle Vue (14.5.00) and Keepmoat Stadium (11.2.07). Oddly, I have seen Doncaster play seven times now, with three of the games finishing as draws. Apart from today, I saw them draw two away games, both 10-10, versus Trafford Borough (2.12.90) and Keighley Cougars (13.10.91).

South Wales Ironmen v Toronto Wolfpack

Rugby Football League

League 1

Saturday 10th June 2017

Kick Off 17.00 Actual 17.02

South Wales Ironmen 0 Toronto Wolfpack 66,  attendance 325 

@ Merthyr R.U.F.C.

The Wern Sports Park

Cae’r Wern


Merthyr Tydfil

CF48 1AD

£10 Admission

Programme, free, available on-line only, 22 Pages.

This was always going to be a huge away win. It was just a case of by how many. Strong defence saw the Ironmen (re-branded from last season as South Wales Scorpions) hold out for 17 minutes and the score at halftime was only 0-24. Toronto are strolling towards the title, having won every game so far and four teams have been beaten by bigger margins than today, including a 70-2 thrashing of second in the table Barrow Raiders !

With the squad assembled by the Canadians, for this level, it is hard to see them failing to go through the season without a 100% winning record. Most of the squad have played at Championship level or above, with seven of the team signing from Leigh Centurions, the best known being Fuifui Moimoi, who has represented both Tonga and New Zealand, as well as playing 14 seasons in the Australian NRL for Parramatta Eels.

All week, the Ironmen website was stressing how well tickets were selling and how booking on-line would avoid queues on the day…….a pathetic crowd in reality,( have not seen their official attendance for today, although as their result page has not been updated for a month, it may never appear) even allowing for the fact that it rained non-stop from around 2 o’clock on onwards.

The Wern Sports Park was opened in 1958 and has a capacity of 4,500.

Rhondda Outlaws v Torfaen Tigers

Rugby League

Welsh Premier League

Saturday 10th June 2017

Kick Off 13.00 Actual 13.04

Rhondda Outlaws 34 Torfaen Tigers 42,  attendance 61

@ Pontypridd R.U.F.C.

Sardis Road


CF37 1HA

£3 Admission

No Programme.

This was week 4 of the new Welsh Premier League, which for the inaugural season will be played between six clubs, with Rhondda being the most recently formed. I was already heading for South Wales today, so was pleased to see this game had been brought forward to a 1pm kick off to enable the players and supporters of both clubs to take in the South Wales Ironmen v Toronto Wolfpack game in the National League 1 at 5pm, up the road in Merthyr Tydfil.

Outlaws fell behind 0-10, before going up 18-10, then conceding a converted try to give a halftime score of 18-16. Tigers then took the lead, before conceding again for a 24-22 score line, but then ran in twenty unanswered points to go 24-42 up, before a late Outlaw rally saw the deficit reduced to 34-42.

Sardis Road, known locally as ‘The House of Pain’ is a superb ground and so full of character. Opened in 1974, although it looks older, it is home to Pontypridd RUFC and was also home to the now defunct Celtic Warriors  RUFC from 2003-2004, having a capacity of 7,861. The 1991 Rugby World Cup match between Argentina and Western Samoa was held here as was the 2009 Rugby League European Cup Semi Final between Wales and Ireland.

London Broncos v Halifax

Rugby Football League


Sunday 4th June 2017

Kick Off 15.00. On Time !

London Broncos 34 Halifax 6,  attendance 857

@ Trailfinders Sports Club

Vallis Way

West Ealing


W13 0DD

£20 Admission

£3 Programme, 36 pages.

This was 3rd v 5th, although in reality, the gulf between the two teams was huge. Halifax were very poor and London had the game sewn up by halftime when they went in 22-0 up. Despite converting the opening try of the second half to pull it back to 22-6, the hopes of a comeback were quashed when Dixon converted his own try just before the hour mark to put London up 28-6. This was the seventh straight win for the Broncos.

Over the years London, under various names ,have played home matches at numerous venues, but one thing seems to remain constant…..poor crowd numbers, with the crowd today only about half of the official figure given. Perhaps the cost is too much, especially when they then rip people off with a £5 charge for car parking inside the ground, although there are no restrictions in the surrounding streets, which is where most people were choosing to park. The matchday programme is also overpriced and doesn’t even have a league table in it !

I have missed a fair few of the ‘one off’ venues used for their home matches since I first saw them play at home back in October 1992, but have still seen them host games on seven grounds previously………….Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, Barnet Copthall Stadium, Griffin Park (Brentford F.C.), Stoop Memorial Ground (Harlequins RUFC), The Valley (Charlton Athletic F.C.), Welford Road (Leicester Tigers RUFC) and 369 Molesey Road (Esher RUFC).

A.S. Outreau Football v A.S. Hellemmes


Ligue Nord Pas-de-Calais

Coupe de la Ligue Seniors Semi-Final

Saturday 3rd June 2017

Kick Off 19.00 Actual 19.07

A.S. Outreau Football 3 A.S. Hellemmes 3 (4-5 pens),  attendance 230

22′ 0-1

34′ 1-1 (pen)

40′ 1-2

70′ 2-2

90′ 2-3

90′ + 3, 3-3

@ Stade Municipal

Terrein D’Honneur

Rue du President Kennedy

62330 Outreau

€5 Admission

No Programme.

*Match Poster.

With the regular season over in England, it was nice to still get a game in that was only 100 miles from home. It also made a nice change to head south when exiting the tunnel, rather than east, with Outreau only half an hour drive down the coast, just to the south of Boulogne-sur-Mer.

The top division of the Ligue Nord Pas-de-Calais is the fifth level of football in France, with the Coupe de a Ligue (League Cup) being contested by clubs from all four levels of the league. Today’s game was third level (champions of their division) versus fourth level (finished 4th in their division) of the league.

The match started at a very slow pace, but soon kicked into life. With the scores level at 2-2, Hellemmes had a man red carded on 81 minutes, but looked to have won it when they went in front in the last minute, but three minutes into stoppage time, Outreau levelled it up with a superb shot off the underside of the bar. Thankfully, no extra time and straight to penalties. Hellemmes went first and were up 5-4 after the first nine kicks. The final attempt for Outreau was scuffed high and wide, sending the visitors into the final, where they will face F.C. Bondues.

Easy drive back to the tunnel and quickly through security, which enabled us to board a train slightly earlier than we were booked on. Even allowing for the time difference, despite the game only finishing at 21.10, I was back in the house for 22.45 !