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).