Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix



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


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 The little content that it did contain was hopelessly out of date.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


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


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



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


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


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


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.

Brisbane Heat v Melbourne Stars


T20 Big Bash League Cricket

Wednesday 20th December 2017

First Ball 18.40

Brisbane Heat won by 15 runs,  attendance 27,455

Brisbane Heat 206-7 Batted First

Jimmy Pierson c: Hastings b: Beer 1

Brendon McCullum  c: Maxwell b: Stoinis 40

Sam Heazlett c: Hastings b: Beer 14

Joe Burns c: Dunk b: Stoinis 50

Alex Ross c: Pietersen b: Boland 51

Ben Cutting : run out 35

Mark Steketee c: Gulbis b: Stoinis 0

Shadab Khan : not out 0

Josh Lalor : not out 6

Melbourne Stars 191-6

Ben Dunk  c:Swebson b: Lalor 0

Luke Wright b: Khan 19

Kevin Pietersen c: McCullum b: Doggett 10

Glenn Maxwell c: Doggett b: Khan 8

Marcus Stoinis : run out 99

James Faulkner : not out 47

Evan Gulbis c: Doggett b: Steketee 0

John Hastings : not out 0

@ The Gabba

Vulture Street



QLD 4102

AUD $42 Admission + AUD $5.50 Fees.

No Programme.

This game hadn’t been on the agenda. It was only when watching the sports news on television that I saw that the season had opened with the Sydney derby the night before. Reading the newspaper at breakfast, I noticed that Brisbane were due to open their season tonight, when they were entertaining Melbourne, including former England batsman Kevin Pietersen. Apparently, Pietersen was public enemy number one in Brisbane, following derogatory comments about the city on social media. The report also stated that there were 5,000 tickets remaining, so we called by the ground and picked up a couple. We could have waited, as there were plenty of empty seats in the end and it would have also saved on the booking fee, although the match ticket allowed free travel on public transport to and from the match. As there is no rail link nearby, this meant travelling by bus, which was fine going, but total chaos afterwards, mainly due to poor organisation.

The Gabba derives it’s name from the suburb of Woolloongabba, in which it is located. It is the ground that is used for the opening match of The Ashes test series versus England and has been home to Queensland Cricket since 1896. It also hosts the Brisbane Lions Australian Rules Football team. Capacity for cricket is 42,000 and it must be one of the few, if not only, stadiums of the world that has a swimming pool as part of the viewing area.

As I am not a great fan of cricket, this version of the game is ideal, although it seemed odd that as well as there being no programme, they didn’t even bother putting the Melbourne team on the screens. It is far better to see the entire match in three and a half hours, than to go through the tedious bore of five days ‘action’ and still have no winner !

As for Mr Pietersen……….he was roundly booed every time he was shown on the big screens and as he trudged off, having been caught out for a pathetic 10 runs, the stadium announcer said “never mind Mr Pietersen, get back to twitter” !!!

Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory



Sunday 17th December 2017

Kick Off 18.00 Actual 18.09

Brisbane Roar 1 Melbourne Victory 2,  attendance 10,225

12’ 0-1 R. Williams

19’ 0-2 K. Barbarouses

56’ 1-2 M. Maccarone

@ Suncorp Stadium

40 Castlemaine Street



QLD 4064

AUD $30 Admission

AUD $2 Programme, 28 pages.

These days, it is a case of double checking all intended ground visits, as stadiums constantly change their name to suit the sponsor at the time and any reference to the original name is lost. Having been to Australia twice before, in 2001 (visited Wollongong Wolves, Marconi Stallions and Parramatta Power) when the top level was known as the National Soccer League, then again in 2006, when the A-League was now in operation ( visited Melbourne Victory, Adelaide United, Sydney, Newcastle United Jets and Perth Glory) it was quite a while since being ‘down under’, but at least I was safe with this one, as it was a first ever visit to the city of Brisbane.

Suncorp Stadium was opened in 1914, when it was known as Lang Park Stadium, up until 1994, when it changed to the current name. From 2009 to 2012, it reverted to Lang Park, before once again taking on the current name. The stadium was renovated between 2001 and 2003 and now has an all seated capacity of 52,500, a figure that is unlikely to be tested for a Roar home game. The much more famous team playing here though, is Brisbane Broncos, of the National Rugby League, who do get the big crowds, as do the Rugby League ‘State of Origin’ matches between Queensland and New South Wales. Rugby Union is also played here, hosting Queensland Reds Super Rugby as well as the National team, having also hosted numerous World Cup matches in both codes. It was also host to the Manny Pacquiao versus Jeff Horn fight for the W.B.O. welterweight Championship, which drew 51,052 fans.

Tonight, it was a case of turn up at the gate and buy a ticket. It also meant avoiding any add on fees as well. When crowds are never going to test capacity, it is always worth a gamble of buying the cheapest available ticket, then moving to an area of the stadium that is sparsely populated. This is much easier when you can walk freely around the concourse, plus it helps when the stewards are not even checking tickets as you enter each section of seats. They seemed more bothered worrying  about the 100 or so very noisy away fans congregated in one corner of the ground.

Tonight’s match programme was a double issue (along with next Thursdays home game versus Perth Glory) with each match being covered in their own half, printed opposite way up to each other, but the game tonight isn’t even mentioned on the cover. The match ticket was also a ‘double header’, as it gained you admittance to the women’s match that preceded the men’s match. Like us, the majority didn’t bother with the first game.

A quick look at the league table showed it was 6th versus 7th (out of 10) and a look at the line ups offered no ‘names’ of note, (checking later, it turns out that Maccarone, who scored for Brisbane, is the player who had four seasons at Middlesbrough in the mid 2,000’s) although I had heard of both Managers, who were former Australian Internationals, John Aloisi ( ex Coventry City and Portsmouth) for Brisbane and Kevin Muscat ( ex Millwall, Rangers, Wolves, Crystal Palace) for the visitors.

Before the match, it showed on the big screens that the Video Assistance  Referee (V.A.R.) would be in use tonight, which was certainly a first for me at a live match. Victory were superb in the first half and could easily have gone into the break leading by five or six goals. Roar never even managed a shot until the last minute of the half. Even when they pulled a goal back, they never looked likely to level the match. Melbourne added a third goal, or at least thought they did, with a cracking finish in the last minute, but the V.A.R. chalked it off following a hand ball during the build up. The decision was made very quickly, and was certainly correct, which was clear for all to see on the replay, although the ‘scorer’ still managed to get himself a yellow card when continuing to argue about it. It was a little while before the scoreboard changed back from 1-3 to 1-2, though.

This result now sees Brisbane drop to second bottom in the league table, with Melbourne now up to sixth, some 15 points behind leaders Sydney after eleven rounds of matches.

K.S.K. Ronse v K.V.K. Westhoek


National League

Division 2 Amateurs V.F.V. A

Sunday 10th December 2017

Kick Off 15.00 Actual 15.03

K.S.K. Ronse 1 K.V.K. Westhoek 1,  attendance 143

44’ 1-0

57’ 1-1

@ Orphale Cruckestadion 

Oude Leuzesesteenweg 183A

9600 Ronse

€10 Admission

Team Sheet, free.

After the trip to Belgium last Sunday, where the overnight snow meant it was touch and go as to whether our chosen matches went ahead or not, I had decided to call it a day for trips over here until the new year. However, I was then offered this trip, where I wouldn’t have to drive, so thought, why not ?

I was the only one of us who had visited J.V. De Pinte, in Oost Vlaanderen Provincial 1, which was where the driver was heading as first choice match. No problem, as I could be dropped at a Provincial 3 match at V.C. Zevergem Sportief, which was just a couple of miles away. On arriving into Calais, to white fields and icy roads, it meant that today might not go completely to plan.

There had already been a couple of provinces that had called off this weekends fixtures en masse, then whilst en route to Gent, we lost firstly, West, then crucially, Oost Vlaanderen fixtures as well. By the time we had lunch, every non league match in the country was now off. This now meant if we were to see a match today, it would have to be in the Belgian League.Unfortunately, this meant there would be no new ground visit for the driver, or one of the passengers, but there was a chance for the other two of us, although, for me, it was K.S.K. Ronse, or bust. The Belgian F.A. were still showing this match as ‘not being off’, so as it was hardly off route back to The Tunnel, it was decided we would head off here and take our chances…………..

We arrived around 40 minutes before kick off and spirits were lifted when we could see people in the clubhouse and main stand, then thankfully, both teams on the pitch, warming up. Apparently, at one o’clock, there was an inch of snow covering the pitch, but, with it now raining, this had virtually gone.

This was really entertaining and had plenty of goal mouth action, aided by a very strong wind that must have been a nightmare for the goalkeepers. Ronse opened the scoring with a 25 yarder that the ‘keeper should have saved, with the equaliser being somewhat controversial, as the Linesman flagged for offside, but the Referee waved play on and the cross was converted from close range.

We had altered our return crossing by half an hour on Eurotunnel, but it wouldn’t have made a lot of difference, as once again it was a shambles when we got back there. We actually left at 19.53, which wasn’t as bad as first feared, but we later found out that delays had increased to two and a half hours for those behind us. As there is no competition, apart from the very much slower alternative of the ferry, then the service provided will continue to be run to an appalling standard. Mind you, they did have toilets on the train that were in working order, which is seldom the case these days !

Having looked at the results from yesterday, our match was one of just six that survived the weather, barring the top division match at Club Brugge. There were two later scheduled top level matches that took place, at Anderlecht and Sint-Truiden.

Lyne v Horsley

Surrey F.A. Intermediate Cup 3rd Round

Saturday 9th December 2017

Kick Off 13.30 Actual 13.32

Lyne 4 Horsley 4 (3-4 pens),  attendance 23

12’ 0-1

17’ 1-1

23’ 2-1

36’ 2-2

42’ 2-3

48’ 2-4

54’ 3-4

90’ 4-4

@ Jubilee High School

School Lane


KT15 1TE

No Admission or Programme.

With my first choice matches today, down in Sussex, both falling victim to frozen pitches, then my next 2 choices, both in Kent, having Twitter accounts that had not been updated. I decided on this match, as they had tweeted around 12 o’clock that the match was on, even though it was between two clubs that play in the same league, the Surrey County Intermediate League (Western), Premier Division and with this being 4th v 2nd in the league table, it looked like a decent match up. It certainly was, being in the balance throughout and contained some goals that were of very high quality for this level.

Lyne equalised in the last minute, to make it 4-4, but we then had five minutes of added time. We were expecting extra time, especially as the match had kicked off half an hour earlier than if it had been a league fixture, but it was straight to penalties. Lyne went first, scoring their first three kicks, to lead 3-1 in the shootout, but missed their next two. Having missed their second penalty, Horsley converted their next three to go through to the next round.

Middlesex University v Canterbury Christ Church University

British Universities & Colleges Sports

South Eastern 3B

Wednesday 6th December 2017

Kick Off 14.00 Actual 14.08

Middlesex University 0 Canterbury Christ Church University 2,  attendance 3

4’ 0-1

71’ 0-2 (pen)

@ Barnet Copthall Playing Fields

Greenlands Lane



No Admission or Programme.

This was bottom v 2nd bottom in the league table and easy to see why they occupy these positions. Canterbury were marginally better and just about deserved the win. As the game kicked off late, the Referee decided to play 2 x 40 minute halves, which helped with still getting away on schedule for the battle against the rush hour traffic going home.

Swansea University v Ynysygerwn

Welsh League

Division 3

Tuesday 5th December 2017

Kick Off 20.00 Actual 20.04

Swansea University 1 Ynysygerwn 0,  attendance 124

75’ 1-0

@ Swansea University Sports Centre Stadium

Sketty Lane



£2 Admission, including Programme, 8 pages.

When you first read the match programme, it soon becomes apparent that English Language is not one of the courses on offer at the University. The punctuation is dreadful and as for the sentence including “every time you cross onto the pitch YOUR not just representing the team”……… Obviously needs a proof reader.

Anyway, as for the match, Swansea made really hard work of this one, but finally nicked it late on, to cement their second place in the league table. They have now won nine and drawn one, of their first eleven matches. The visitors had only lost twice before tonight, but the fact that they have drawn their other five matches, means they sit one off the bottom of the league. They were quite well organised at the back, but just never looked capable of scoring.