TT INDEX 2017-18

updated 14/09/17

TT No.29: Brian Buck – Saturday 9th September 2017; AFC Solihull v Enville Athletic; Midland League Division 3 (played at Tudor Grange Leisure Centre, Solihull); Result: 1-2; Attendance: 32. 

By now I was in possession of a courtesy car as my own car was at Columbo’s, as I like to call it. They seem to spot things wrong with it that no one else can. So, my view that all that was needed was some gear box oil translated into over a thousand pounds of work in their eyes! So, I decided to take my replacement car for a bit of a spin today, on the basis of, why bugger up your own car when you can bugger up someone else’s instead? 

Anyway, I arrive at the ground just under two hours from home. Then it was time for food in the leisure centre, but no alcohol today. When I returned the £2 programmes were available. A free cup of tea or coffee comes with it, but this didn’t make the programme taste any better. They make this offer to try and encourage people to pay to get in! I then took my place in the stand which had plenty of wooden seats, needed when we had a bit of rain later on. The pitch was in the middle of a running track, but the view wasn’t that bad. On the other side of it there was an advert which read ‘Sign manufacturers for over 65 years’. Fine for me, but what if someone under 65 years old wants one? 

This was a match between two sides who had yet to win a league match prior to today. The game was almost over by the 12th minute, by which time Enville were leading 2-0. Things were going quite well until shortly before the break when the visiting keeper came out of his area and flattened the home forward, to stop him from scoring. He only got a yellow card for this, but the squabbles went on for some time. Then the ref ran over to the home bench and spoke to the manager. The reason for this was revealed by him during the break as he joined us for ‘tea’ rather than give his losing side a stiff team talk. He told us that he was too angry to do this. He then revealed that the female lino had complained that she had received ‘gender based’ abuse from one of the home players, but apparently couldn’t be sure which one it was. The manager then told the ref that the camera around his neck was switched on and was recording everything he had said to him! Fortunately, things calmed down after the break. The football got better and Solihull managed to pull a goal back on 54 minutes from the spot.

contributed on 14/09/17

TT No.28: Keith Aslan Saturday 9th September 2017; Darlington v Leamington; Conference South; Kick-Off: 15.02; Result: 0-0; Admission: £14 (£10 for old people); Programme: £2.50p (very good); Official Attendance: 1277 (including at least 7 neutral)

I'm not a fan of the Conference. Overrated, overpriced with a most ludicrous ground grading system which they use to get rid of teams they don't want. Cambridge City and Kings Lynn are just two of the clubs thrown out for minor infractions because 'rules are rules' unless of course you get crowds of six thousand then the league just ignore the rule about having a four-sided ground - Oxford United for instance. Darlington were stitched up last season, when with two months left of the season they were told they wouldn't be allowed to compete in the play offs, leaving it much too late to make the necessary ground 'improvements'. Their point that they should have been informed of ground requirements at the beginning of the season would seem to me to be quite reasonable, but reason has never featured very prominently in this league. The club is busy making the adjustments to allow them to enter the play offs this season, but taken on today’s performance it is an academic exercise. Oh yes and whoever decided that Bishops Stortford is in the north of England clearly wasn't paying attention in Geography lessons. This league is a shambles.

In spite of hearing much negativity regarding Blackwell Meadows I liked the place. A 28-minute walk from the station, it has six rows of covered terracing behind one a goal, a grass bank behind the other and along the far side a local stand for local people, a no-go area for visitors who are thrown out because there isn't enough room. And here lies the problem, the ground isn't really big enough. It was o.k. for today’s smallest crowd of the season but I wouldn't like to be there next week for the 2,500 they are expecting for the cup game with South Shields. It has a comfortable bar with food and the pre. match entertainment was watching Liverpool get tonked on a big screen.

Leamington were formed in 2000 two years after their predecessors A.P. folded. This is their first season in the Conference having been promoted through the play offs. Their most famous old boy is Harry Redknapp. I doubt many people could name their ground. It is of course the "Phillips 66 Community Stadium". Darlington's recent turbulent history is well documented and it's good to see them back in town although the ultimate aim of a return to the football league is unlikely to be accomplished at this ground.

The Non-League Paper gave this match one star which was being a tad generous. Leamington came for a point and Darlington weren't good enough to prevent them getting it. The visiting keeper started wasting time in the eighth minute with the rest of his colleagues soon joining in. The referee spent most of the match telling them to hurry up and pointing at his watch seemingly undeterred by the fact they weren't taking any notice of him. Try booking somebody mate that usually works! Leamington sucked the life out of this game in the second half, not that there was much life in it to start with. Remember when three points for a win was first introduced in we were told it would create lots of goals and exciting football as teams wouldn't settle for a draw and go all out for the win. What a load of rubbish.

The game started late presumably in homage to Darlington's sponsors, our old mates Virgin Trains. There is a similarity between football and the privatised railway in that being up to 8 minutes late is actually on time. Branson's private island was devastated by the hurricane and he was actually on it when 'Irma' hit. Sadly, he was unscathed so we will still have to put up with the publicity seeking little runt a while longer. The programme was an excellent read and well worth the money. And, while on the subject of football programmes, I am indebted to last week’s Deal Town proggy for coming up with the most appropriate anagram in history. 'The new stadium' is an anagram of 'West Ham United'.

Another wonderful day out in the north east only partly spoilt by having to watch a turgid football match in the middle of it.

contributed on 10/09/17

TT No.27: Steve HardySaturday 9th September 2017; Rhosllanerchrugog v Penyffordd Lions; Welsh Cup 2nd Qualifying Round; Result: 2-3; Admission: Free; Programme: by donation. Attendance: 8 h/c

I always seek out new clubs in the qualifying rounds of the Welsh FA cup, and as more often than not, there will be a new programme on offer. So it was today with a visit to brand new club Rhosllanerchrugog, who are based at the local Rugby club on a pitch miles away from the changing rooms and clubhouse. Driving across Wales through rain of biblical proportions, I did wonder if the game would still be on, but my fears were allayed upon arrival by the sight of the goalposts being carried through the car park, past two rugby pitches, and on to the football pitch at the far end of the site. No spectator facilities at the pitch, with just a rope down one side to keep the spectator hordes at bay. In any case, the rope wasn’t really needed today as the crowd peaked at just 8, with four of those being groundhoppers.

On the pitch, the visitors were another newly formed club, Penyffordd Lions. They were also formed during the summer of 2017, in their case from the ashes of the old Penyffordd club who had folded at the end of last season. The first half was dominated by Pen, who had several chances to score, but missed them all, giving us a 0-0 halftime score. A very short half time break saw us restart after just 5 minutes, and with the prospect of extra time in the rain and gloom, that was a very good decision in my opinion.

As so often happens, the homesters suddenly sprang to life, and took the lead on 49 minutes. Pen continued to be the better side though, and deservedly equalised on the hour mark. By this time the hoppers present were praying for anyone to score to avoid extra time, and we were delighted when Pen scored a second on 79 minutes. Relief all round until Rhos found the energy from somewhere to equalise two minutes later and we were back to square one. Pen continued to press though and after an almighty scramble in the Rhos penalty area, they managed to bundle what proved to be the winner with two minutes left. Phew!

contributed on 10/09/17

TT No.26: Brian Buck - Saturday 26th August 2017; Hilton Harriers v Pinxton; Abacus Lighting Central Midlands League Black Dragon South; Result: 0-3; Attendance: 55 approx. 

Today was the first in a short series of very warm days, both day and night, so there was no need for more than basic clothing. To get here I caught a number of trains to Derby. Then after just over a ten-minute walk, to the bus station, longer if you stop off at the three pubs on the way, I caught the half hourly V1 bus to Hilton and got off almost by the entrance to the ground. With just under an hour and a half to go before kick-off programmes were already available for sale. No food here, but I had brought my own and was allowed to eat it on the premises. They also have a hidden bar here and after some discussion I found something to suit my taste. I’d been to another ground in this village/town, that of the Hilton Harriers who played in the ‘Derby’ Summer League for a while, but this ground is nowhere near that venue. 

Today this was a match between the top of the table visitors and the second placed hosts. I couldn't quite understand why they used the railed off pitch, painted in the club colours of orange and black, furthest from the clubhouse, even though it was flatter looking than the other one. Surely, they will have to switch if they become successful and erect floodlights. However, on today’s performance this will not be in the immediate future, as they were well outplayed by the visitors. Pinxton’s squad contained famous names such as Jack Hawkins and Jack Warner. The former scored the first goal and the latter named was suspended today. They were winning 3-0 by the break. In the second half Harriers made a token effort to get back into the match, but that was all it was. Afterwards a fellow Groundhopper kindly gave me a lift back to the station which meant that I got home earlier than expected. The only fly in the ointment today was having a disagreement with a Manchester United fan who erroneously thought that Spurs should allow more than 3,000 visiting fans into Wembley, to make for a better atmosphere! I think that there would be an even better atmosphere if none of their fans were let in! 

contributed on 04/09/17

TT No.25: Brian Buck - Saturday 19th August 2017; Worthing Town v Sidlesham; Macron Store Southern Combination League Division 2; Result: 1-5; Attendance: 43.

I travelled here by train, accompanying by some un-forecasted rain but fortunately it stopped by the time we alighted at the station. From there we had a 15-minute walk to the ground where we met a very nice lady in reception who told us that she was whatever fancy title she had given herself. When it came down to if the bar and food would be available we were told that it would be once her catering manager arrived! However, by now we had noticed her pretty delicate fingers holding copies of the holy grail for this club, the match day programme and soon she was lighter by two. We then had a longer chat which revealed that after a falling out the club have dropped the ‘Leisure’ of their name last season. They then played their matches at the far end of Palatine Park. But this season, under their revised name they are playing on the pitch between the clubhouse and the adjacent Hungry Horse pub and rather than wait for the catering manager to arrive I decamped there for an hour or so. I returned shortly before kick-off, just before the players appeared. I was a bit worried that the ref might be the same guy who sits in front of and reads the scores off the teleprinter as they come in. But unless he is an Olympic athlete, then I saw the actual bloke doing his stuff on TV a few moments after this match had finished. As for the game, it was really as one sided as the score suggests. The hosts tried hard but were plainly nowhere near as good as the visitors, who were 2-0 up at the break. This became 0-3 after 61 minutes, but I was pleased for Worthing when they pulled a goal back on 90 minutes, as they had taken their punishment with minimal fuss, but in stoppage time Sidlesham scored twice more to win by about the right margin.

contributed on 04/09/17

TT No.24: Brian Buck - Saturday 12th August 2017; Abbey Hey v Runcorn Linnets; Hallmark Security North West Counties League Premier Division; Result: 0-4; Attendance: 165. 

This was rather a long day out on the trains, but nonetheless I enjoyed it. I was able to get a direct train from Peterborough to Manchester Piccadilly, which included some stunning views between Sheffield and Stockport. Then I caught a local train to the nearest stop to the ground, Ryder Brow, some 8 minutes-walk away. By coincidence I had followed a chap I had briefly spoken to at Manchester Piccadilly station almost all the way to the ground. So, I was pleased to be able to redirect him just as he was about to take a wrong turn right at the end. Turned out that he was a huge Wigan Athletic fan and we spent some quality time together during various parts of the day. Surprisingly there was someone on the gate some 90 minutes before kick-off. £4 & £1 programme OAP admission for me. Then it was off to the bar, where I manage to bag a couple of meat and potato pies. But what was I going to wash it down with? There didn’t seem to be many bottles of Magners available and I needed at least four to cover my day’s needs. The barman did a quick stock take and told me that he had ten! Anyway, it appears that the locals don’t drink cider much, so I was safe! Then it was time to leave the busy atmosphere of the bar, filled up mainly by good natured visiting fans, and get out and watch the game. 

In fact, most of the crowd seemed to be supplied by the visitors, always a good sign if their team is fancied to do well. They did so here today as the hosts didn’t really turn up on the day and were 3-0 down by the 38th minute. After the break with the match effectively decided it was much more low-key and Runcorn added one further goal, on 86 minutes. After the match, I returned to the bar, primarily to await my train, but whilst supping my last pint I noticed a well-dressed man in Runcorn colours chuck an envelope and their players sitting near me. Rumour had it that it was thrown towards the manager and that it had about £100 in it! Overall a good and probably a memorable day out! Getting home took longer than expected as my train was delayed. I met a nice lady at Manchester Piccadilly and she decided to reroute via Leeds and Doncaster, while I stuck with my train. So, it turned out to be a romantic reunion (from my point of view) when we were reunited at Peterborough! This lasted until we reached Huntingdon where she got off. Alas not with me!

contributed on 04/09/17

TT No.23: Brian Buck - Saturday 29th July 2017; Punjab United v Sporting Khalsa; Friendly Match; Result: 3-4; Attendance: 50 approx. 

Today I decided to let the train take the strain and with engineering works going on around Dartford I lashed out a few extra pennies and got to Gravesend just 22 minutes after leaving London St Pancras International, as it is called these days. From there I caught a bus to the ground, which I had to wait some time for it to arrive. However, I was chatted up by some pink haired granny while I waited! The bus stopped almost outside the ground and I headed straight for the entrance where I picked up a free programme, on account of my senior citizen status. By now I had been joined by another groundhopping friend, a Leyton Orient fan. Next stop was the bar, but not the main one, as there were two private functions going on here today, namely a wedding reception and a 40th birthday party celebration. We were ushered into a small bar in between the two functions where we were joined by some home officials, who were very pleasant people to talk to and they were full optimism for the coming season, having been promoted into Step 6 football after winning the Kent County League last season. 

So, this season they will play in the Southern Counties East League. Just before the start I attempted to buy some food from the outdoor burger bar. But despite there being no one in the queue I was told that I would have to order it from the bar we had just come out of! When I asked I couldn’t buy it direct from the burger bar I was told “Security reasons!” I decided not to partake. As for the game, it was keenly contested with the visitors, from the West Midlands, proving to be the stronger side by the end. I watched the game from the seated stand and so kept dry from the rain. Khalsa scored after 5 minutes but by the 32nd minute Punjab were winning 3-1. It could have been 4-1 by the break, but as the potential scorer bore down on goal the half time whistle was blown. After the break Punjab wilted quickly, so allowing Khalsa to score the three goals they needed to win the match.

contributed on 04/09/17

TT No.22: Keith Aslan – Saturday 2nd September 2017; INFINITY v Stockbridge; Hampshire Premier League; Kick-Off: 14.59; Result: 1-2; Admission: Free; Programme: £1; Attendance: 29 (13 home, 6 away & 10 neutral)

For those who think this one is too far to travel, good news, they don't actually play in Infinity but the at the weird and wonderful village of Knowle which is 4 miles north of Fareham Station and has a door to door bus service. I've never been to a place quite like it. Constructed on the site of an old lunatic asylum it is a microscopic Milton Keynes (and I mean that in a good way). The entire place has been built this century with the new houses blending in with the remains of the hospital which have been transformed into luxury apartments, and anybody paying the prices they are being sold for would have been candidates for residency in its previous incarnation! A new one-and-a- half mile long country road is the only access to the place, although the bus sneaks out round the back through some bollards which magically disappear into the ground on its approach (How can they tell the difference between a bus and a car?). The place is unique and would be an ideal location for a remake of 'The Prisoner' with Knowle being harder to escape from on a Sunday than 'The Village' ever was.

Myself and another hopper indulged in some serious pre-match blackberry picking, but in truth they weren't much kop (nowhere near as good as Thanet blackberries), and on arrival in the village there was a large sign saying the next day’s fete was cancelled due to the dodgy weather forecast. No climatic problems today with the spectators basking in The Last Of The Summer Shine. The ground is pleasantly situated with a large car park, railed down one side and a building containing the dressing rooms and grub station which, as with the rest of the village, was all new. Like Immingham they put on their twitter feed that there was going to be refreshments and a programme, but unlike Immingham they were telling the truth. (Incidentally we are still trying to squeeze the promised programme out of our northern friends. You haven't heard the last of this saga and more pertinently, neither have they). Infinity couldn't be more different, the grub was cheap, the £1.50p cheese burgers were magnificent, and for the professional hopper the team line ups were written on a whiteboard. A good turnout of hoppers, unfortunately one of the malevolent ones disgraced us with his presence. Continually whingeing, refusing to give the club a penny, he gives ground hoppers a bad name. But the other nine of us made a contribution to club funds, buying raffles, food and programmes so they must have made a few quid out of us.

The outcome of the match was a bit of a surprise given Infinity's previous record of played 5 won 5 but in an entertaining game mid table Stockbridge scored a goal in each half with Infinity's 89th minute strike too little too late. A glorious day out in the Hampshire countryside with the bus back, tastefully timed at 8 minutes past 5, actually having people on it, not always a given on country routes.

Finally, the question everybody wants the answer to - why are they called Infinity? I can now give you the definitive answer, nobody at the club knows. Like the Marie Celeste and the popularity of Ant & Dec it will forever remain one of life's enduring mysteries.

contributed on 03/09/17

TT No.21: Keith Aslan - Saturday 20th May 2017; Ford Motors v Pilkington @ STYAL. Cheshire League Presidents Cup Final; Kick-Off: 14.00; Result: 3-0 to Pilkington; Admission & Programme: £4. (£2 for me because I'm old); Attendance: 110 (45 Pilkington, 30 Ford & 35 neutral)

My final hop of the season took me to the wonderful village of Styal deep in the heart of the Cheshire Footballers Belt. All your food and drink requirements are catered for in this tiny enclave which oozes money from every pore. Ironic then that most people will have heard of the place only because it houses one of the country’s largest women's prisons. Like the rest of Styal the football ground can be summed up as neat and tidy. Fully railed with a small stand and when I arrived the clubhouse was full of unhappy cricketers staring wistfully out on the adjacent cricket pitch which was slowly subsiding in the heavy downpour. Serves them right for arranging fixtures during the Manchester Rainy Season - January to December.

Good news: The ground is 6 minutes-walk from Styal station. Bad news: There are only three trains a day that stop there. Good news: One of them fits perfectly with a 2 o' clock kick off. Bad news: To catch it the referee needs to start the game punctually and there can't be extra time. Good news: He did and there wasn't. The four people, waiting for the train had all been to the football and I puzzled with the rows of bicycle racks on the platform. Who is going to bother cycling to a station with virtually no trains? To get to the match I went to the nearest railhead with a proper service, Handforth, which is a 35- minute walk and where I got an unexpected new Greggs tick. The best way to get to the ground is by plane with Manchester Airport only one and a half miles away.

Ford can feel very aggrieved by the margin of defeat with only two late goals banishing the spectre of extra time. The closeness of the game was illustrated by the Pilkington goalie picking up the Man of the Match award. Rob Cork was the man in question and I was very taken with the opening line of his pen picture ‘Cork by name, cork by nature, a natural stopper’.

With few alternatives, so late in the season plenty of hoppers made for this one and I spent the game in the pleasant company of professional northerner known to everyone as 'Lollipop Man' so called due to a previous employment and not a Kojak-esque sweet tooth. He was coming down to the Metropolis the next day for the non-league finals and because he didn't trust Virgin Trains to get him there on time (can't think why) he was travelling overnight by coach. Rather him than me. So, it's all over for another season with only a vacuous summer stretching ahead. Could be worse, at least I've got the election to look forward to!

v2 contributed on 13/08/17

TT No.20: Steve HardySaturday 2nd September 2017; Steeton v Wakefield City; West Riding County Amateur League cup; Result: 5-2; Admission: Free:  Programme: £1; Attendance: 31 H/C

What a super little set up this is! The village of Steeton is some 3 miles north of Keighley in West Yorkshire, and the football team play at a facility they share with the local cricket club in Summerhill Avenue. I received an extremely warm welcome when I arrived and the facilities are first class for the level they play at. Fully railed off pitch with the dressing room and tea hut block being behind the goal nearest to the entrance. Car parking is tight, so I parked my car at the cricket club which is just a bit further down Summerhill Avenue.

Getting there was an absolute nightmare with traffic problems seemingly in all directions. The match was a 1.45 start, but by that time the visitors had just 6 players who had made it through the chaos on the roads. A few more turned up in dribs and drabs, and we eventually started at 2.00pm. The match was very high scoring again, with the visitors scoring against the run of play after 13 minutes, and goals following at fairly regular intervals after that until, by halftime, Steeton led 3-2. After the break Wakefield didn’t seem to be able to recreate the high intensity of the first half, with Steeton scoring a couple more on the hour mark before easing to a 5-2 victory.

A word of praise also for the programme.  Absolutely stunning effort in full colour, on glossy paper, with 40 pages for just £1. OK there are loads of adverts on every page, but the rest of the content is top notch. The journey home was a lot easier than I had feared, as most of the traffic problems had dissipated, resulting in yet another top day out in Yorkshire.

contributed on 03/09/17

TT No.19: Steve HardyWednesday 30th August 2017; Spittal Rovers v Whitley Bay Sporting; Northern Alliance Division Two; Result: 3-3; Admission: Free; Programme: No; Attendance: 18 H/C

The plan today was to visit the most northerly English pyramid club I hadn’t been to already, with trip to the Newfields Park home of Berwick based Spittal Rovers. A had had a few doubts about this one actually taking place, I must say, as I couldn’t see how visitors Whitley Bay Sporting Club could possible get all the way up to Berwick for a 6.15KO. It was no surprise, therefore, to arrive at the ground to find the place deserted. A quick call to Secretary Sharon soon alleviated my worries though as she said the game was still on, but that they don’t play at Newfields Park anymore and that the league web site was incorrect. Turns out they have relocated 12 miles south of Berwick to the home of Lowick United, so with time running out to make kick off, it was a speedy trip back down the A1 to Lowick for me. 

Remote is probably the best description of Lowick. It is a delightful village in the middle of nowhere, with the football ground right on the edge of the village. What an excellent set up though. Two portacabins for home and away dressing rooms, a separate dressing room for the ref, and what looked like a kitchen area where people were coming out with cups of tea in their hands. The pitch itself was immaculate and railed off along one side. Lowick United have been playing in the North Northumberland league recently, but don’t seem to have an active adult male team at all this year. I was totally wrong about the visitors making it in time too. They had a full squad plus substitutes warming up when I finally arrived, and we kicked off spot on 6.15pm.

The match itself was superb. WBSC took the lead early on, before the homesters equalised on 30 minutes. Back came WBSC to take the lead just before the break and they led 2-1 at half time. After the break, the visitors had a defender rather harshly sent off on 55 minutes, and Spittal took full advantage by equalising almost immediately, although the goal looked very offside from where I was standing. WBSC continued to look very impressive on the counter attack though with their young number 11 the best player on the pitch, and one of his crosses looked like it had been turned in for a 3-2 lead, only for it to be hooked off the line and hoofed straight down the other end of the pitch for Spittal to take the lead themselves. I really hoped the visitors would get something out of the game though, and sure enough, that young winger crossed again in the dying minutes and a deserved equaliser went in. 

A wonderful evening’s entertainment and credit to both clubs to getting on with it.

contributed on 03/09/17

TT No.18: Steve Hardy – Saturday 26th August 2017; Shilbottle Colliery Welfare v North Sunderland; North Northumberland League; Result: 1-2; Admission: Free; Programme: No; Attendance: 29 H/C

I have a morbid interest in endangered leagues in the UK, and following the demise of my own local league, the Wolverhampton Combination, I now try to see a game in as many leagues that are teetering on the edge, as possible.

One such league is the North Northumberland league which is still with us, but now down to just one division of ten clubs. Today I ventured to the village of Shilbottle, which is close to Alnwick, and the Shilbottle Community Centre which is the home of former Northern Alliance club, Shilbottle Colliery Welfare. Not a bad set up at all for the level, with a fully railed off pitch and dressing rooms located in the impressive Community Centre. Not really any spectator facilities as such, but I was able to gorge myself on blackberries from the numerous bushes that surround the pitch!

Today’s visitors were the league’s team to beat, North Sunderland. The lovely and knowledgeable Shilbottle Secretary soon spotted I wasn’t a local and gave me a full history of both his own club, and the visitors, who now have their own ground being built for them in Seahouses I was told.

The game itself was very good. North Sunderland were the better team throughout, but missed a good few chances before a slip by the home goalie gave them the lead when he allowed a shot to go through his legs. To their credit, Shilbottle managed to equalise in the second half, but North Sunderland scored almost from the restart to squash any thoughts of a home win for good.

Amazingly for rural Northumberland, the ground can be reached by a bus from Alnwick, which stops just outside the ground. Not sure if you can get back to Alnwick after a midweek game though

contributed on 03/09/17

TT No.17: Brian Buck - Wednesday 26th July 2017; St Clears Reserves v FC Carmarthen; Clay Shaw Butler Charity Shield; Result: 2-7; Attendance: 35 approx.

For my last game of my tour/holiday I ventured outside of Pembrokeshire and headed into Carmarthenshire. Although this game was on my agenda before I left home, my friend from Llangwm had offered me a better option and closer to base for tonight. But I rejected this because of out all of my pre-tour/holiday planning, FC Carmarthen were the most supportive and helpful. They are a newly formed and well-organised club who have been elected into the Carmarthenshire League. They will eventually be playing their home games at the Showground, once they get their pitch there sorted. Tonight, there was a miniscule chance of the game not going ahead, as I was told that shortly before kick-off that St Clears only had seven players. Eventually they mustered 12, whilst Carmarthen had at least 17 players. There was also a problem getting the goals onto the pitch as no one knew the code to undo the lock! Looking at all the players available, I struggled to believe that none of them were capable of dealing with this! Anyway, the code was found. (2501 if it happens again lads!). It soon became clear that this was going to be a resounding away win as the hosts were playing in a way which gave geriatrics a bad name! Carmarthen, an excellent side, were soon on top and led 4-0 by the break. They should have scored goals more really. Meanwhile the hosts best player was their young centre forward, who knew where the goal was, despite not putting it in the correct position before the start of play! After the break although St Clears pulled a goal back they were tiring quickly and by the 80th minute they were down to ten men through fatigue. Earlier a visiting player went down far too easily for the liking of one St Clears fan who told him, “Get up, the wind’s stronger than that!” Carmarthen scored three more times in this period, but the goal of the night came St Clears way when a 50-yard effort went in off the crossbar. Overall this was a great night out with some lovely people.

contributed on 23/08/17

TT No.16: Brian Buck - Tuesday 25th July 2017; Monkton Swifts v Pembroke Boro; Weaver Callan Memorial Trophy Semi Final; Result: 8-2; Attendance: 45 approx.

Faced with an hour and a half’s drive to revisit Penypont to get my fix tonight, I was very grateful to receive a couple of texts from one of the good people of Llangwm telling me about this game at Monkton Swifts tonight. Just a pity that the first of these arrived at 7.15am while I was still asleep! I thought that it was my alarm clock! Anyway, this was much better for me as the ground was only four miles from where I was staying. I’d seen the outside of the ground on the previous Sunday when I was Church Hopping! But I hadn’t realised just how nice it was until tonight. The ground is railed off on two sides. The players enter the pitch from the middle of the stand, has seating for perhaps 80 spectators. Later I found out that this club once played in the Welsh League. However, there was a massive slope on the pitch. It also need a cut and favoured players with one leg longer than the other! Meanwhile the hosts reserve team manager was sitting in front of me and he reeled off a list of dates and opposition for forthcoming friendly matches. Rattling them off rather quickly and almost in the same breath he told his listener that there would be no game on one particular Saturday because he was getting married and then continued reeling off fixtures. Not particularly funny in print, but it was at the time. The match was as one sided as the score-line suggests and the hosts were 5-0 up at the break. There was friction in the crowd though. When one Swifts player put in a dodgy tackle an elderly but very vocal visiting female fan shouted out that this game was only a friendly and it wasn’t needed. But as soon as a Boro player put in a dodgy tackle her comments were repeated back to her by the Swift fans. The banter became more intense and coarse. Eventually she complained to a home official who threatened to kick the Swift fans out of the club. However, this would have created a problem, as they included the reserve team manager and some of his players. And was it not her who uttered the first ‘F’ word? In the second half things became more even. Monkton only score three more goals and Pembroke got a couple at the end themselves.

contributed on 23/08/17

TT No.15: Brian Buck - Monday 24th July 2017; West Dragons v Llangwm; Friendly Match; Result: 5-2; Attendance: 50 approx.

From watching football on one of the better grounds in the county on the previous Saturday, it was time to visit the worst one I saw tonight. It’s in Haverfordwest and it was just as well that I took some time to find it earlier in the afternoon leading up to the game. The entrance is a narrow driveway between two houses and there is no dropped kerb to make this any easier either. But once inside the ground the whole place opened up and there was plenty of parking. Facilities were spartan too. In terms of football furniture all they had was a couple of rusty portakibins. However, the pitch was very well prepared and also, as this ground is on the top of a hill, the views were spectacular. Furthermore, on this showing West Dragons looked as good, if not better, than Goodwick and come the end of the season it will be interesting to see which side does the best. Dragons were a goal up after 41 seconds and the scorer would also get the last goal on 73 minutes. The other three goals came in the first half and were scored by someone who should be playing at a much higher level, rather than just on the top of a hill! With both sides making a number of substitutions after the break the game became more even and Llangwm deserved their two goals.

contributed on 23/08/17

TT No.14: Brian Buck - Saturday 22nd July 2017. Goodwick United v Llanelli Town; Friendly Match; Result: 1-3; Attendance: 300 approx.

After having lunch with my wife, I left her to ponder the delights of St Davids Cathedral and headed the 16 or so miles north to Goodwick, which is near Fishguard. Parking was free and easy. There was no admission charge here and no programme issued either. But with the game attracting the attention of the locals, they could have made quite a bit today had they wanted to. Anyway, I did give them a bit of cash, via the bar, which not only has a balcony which overlooks the football pitch, but it also overlooks the rugby pitch behind it as well. The ground is railed off and has a small stand, with shallow seating, which I patronised until the partners of the home players blocked my view with their little ones, oblivious to the fact that a football match was taking place. It seemed like one of the criteria for playing for this club is that you must not only have a female partner, but also have the ability to get her pregnant as quickly as possible! As for the game, it was a decent one. Goodwick have been just about the best side in the Pembrokeshire League for a few years now and Llanelli, trying to return to their glory days, will be playing in Welsh League Division 1 this season. It was they who took the lead on 27 minutes. Then on 43 minutes, Welsh legend of the lower leagues, Lee Trundle and perhaps the reason why the attendance was so high, drew his marker into fouling him inside the box, but his resultant spot kick was saved. But he did get on the scoresheet on 53 minutes and Lanelli scored again on 8 minutes later. Goodwick did score on 75 minutes and their manager told me that his name was Dalling. At the time, I thought he said Darling, which probably explains the funny look I got when I confirmed it with him!

contributed on 23/08/17

TT No.13: Brian Buck - Friday 21st July 2017; Letterston v Hundleton; Friendly Match; Result: 3-4; Attendance: 15 approx. 

This ground is just off the Haverfordwest to Fishguard road and I arrived at the same time as a short rain storm did, but fortunately the changing rooms here have a sufficiently large overhang, so no one got wet, apart from those you either needed or wanted to! But it soon stopped and most of the game was played out in bright sunshine. This also a rather scenic ground and the pitch sloped sharply. At one point, I thought that there might be programmes for the game, but the box they might have been in was actually used to remove some shit from the playing area. Meanwhile as I watched the game a couple of girls were kicking a ball about in front of me. Bearing in mind that they were probably under the age of 15, I wondered quite what kind of person one of their mothers must be, to let her daughter go running around, with ‘Nope not tonight’ emblazoned on her top! Meanwhile in the distance it seemed that our attendance might get swelled as I spotted a gang of women piling out of a pub. But it seemed that they were on some kind of pub crawl and they all jumped on a waiting coach which soon drove off. As for the match, reffed for the most part by the home manager and fairly at that, Letterston went a goal up on 3 minutes with Hundleton equalising six minutes later. But kicking down the slope Letterston were winning 2-1 at the break following a successful spot kick on 20 minutes. I think words might have been said to the Hundleton players during the break as they equalised 74 seconds into the restart and then took the lead on 55 minutes. A further goal seven minutes later made it 2-4 before Letterston scored the final goal of an enjoyable even four minutes from time.

contributed on 23/08/17

TT No.12: Brian Buck - Thursday 20th July 2017. Haverfordwest County U19 v Fishguard Sports (Played on Haverfordwest County Training Pitch); Friendly Match; Result: 3-3; Attendance: 35 approx.

Today marked the first game in my football tour of West Wales, which my wife prefers to call it ‘Our Holiday!” However, all did not go well. We arrived at our Bed & Breakfast in good time. I also left our base with sufficient time to get to the ground and my sat nav told me that I would get there half an hour early for this advertised 6.30pm kick off. But somehow, I ended up in Milford Haven rather than in Haverfordwest, without so much of a ‘recalculating’ from my normally trusty sat nav. Once I had eliminated the possibility that Haverford West had moved to Milford Haven, I headed off to the correct town, with no knowledge as to where the ground was, especially as my sat nav was playing up. Eventually I found an ambulance station where I was given directions. But I still couldn’t find the place. Then I rang up the home secretary who confirmed that the postcode was actually right, a fact confirmed when I tried to enter it again in my sat nav and it now worked. Turned out that I had actually driven past the entrance to the ground without knowing it! The game was played out on the training pitch, next to the main ground, which I expected. I had missed the start and also a goal for the hosts. Then the half time whistle went at about 7.08 pm and I realized, that they must have kicked off early as I had only witnessed just over 15 minutes of football! But at least I saw Fishguard equalise in this period. The second half was thankfully quite exciting as County retook the lead on 48 minutes. But then Fishguard equalised and went into the lead with goals on 51 and 60 minutes. But now it had started to rain and I had to return to the car to get a coat and brolly, but I was back in time to see County’s equaliser on 71 minutes with a shot which was at least two feet over the line, even though it never reached the back of the net!

contributed on 23/08/17

TT No.11: Keith Aslan – Saturday 19th August 2017; IMMINGHAM TOWN v Sleaford Sports Amateurs; Lincolnshire League; Kick-Off: 15.02; Result: 3-0; Admission: Free; Programme: ha! ha! Attendance: 76 (67 home, 3 away & 6 neutral)

The Immingham Town facebook page was really promoting this one, first game on their new ground (or more accurately their new partly roped off pitch), with a programme and refreshments as part of the celebrations. This was just a tad inaccurate as there wasn't a programme or refreshments. This resulted in some unhappy hoppers, particularly the one who had phoned up a couple of days earlier to confirm the paper. An attempt was made to call the person from the ground (the culprit was apparently in Newcastle) but he wisely wasn't answering his phone. The club official we dealt with at the game was very apologetic and helpful. We gave him our names and addresses and he promised to send us a retrospective copy. He seemed pretty genuine but I shall wait and see if anything drops through my letterbox in the coming weeks. Their facebook page stated the reason for lack of paper was due to 'problems'. Problem was the person putting the stuff on there didn't know what he was talking about. It also gave the attendance as 130, presumably when I did my headcount 54 people had gone off looking for the programme seller.

Immingham ain't the easiest place to visit. Quickest and simplest route is to get the excellent 'Trans Pennine Express' to Haborough then walk the two and a half miles into town. But with groundhoppers and exercise having a very distant relationship, Stallingborough, the next station along the line, offers a 20- minute bus service but only local trains stop there. I chose the walking option as my knee doctor keeps insisting it's good for me! Haborough is a very small village that only has a pub and a gun shop. Handy place to live if you want to shoot somebody but not so good if you run out of milk. If you don't mind getting to the ground early there is a regular bus into Immingham from here, regular as in one a day at 8 o'clock in the morning. Immingham itself is an unexpectedly pleasant place, it got a gold award last year for the Britain in Bloom competition and looks to be aiming for a repeat this year. It has loads of seats all over the place, all freshly painted black with none of them vandalised. Only one famous person has ever come from Immingham but as it's the Soham murderer Ian Huntley I don 't expect the local tourist board push it very strongly.

If you enjoy the aesthetics of a football ground then Immingham Town probably isn't for you, soulless just about sums it up. But it does have impressive brand new changing rooms still with the lingering aroma of fresh paint. Mein host gave the hoppers a tour of the facilities but with everybody else from the north of England I had to explain what the showers were for. The team won the Supplementary Cup last season and for some unknown reason it was set up on a table in the middle of the changing rooms. Inspirational maybe? If so it worked with a fairly straightforward win for the home team.

Not for the first time a big thank you to Stockport's finest for a lift out of town after the game. Now alas flying solo after his four- legged friend went to Doggy Heaven. I do miss him in the car jumping up on my knees and licking my face. It just isn't the same when Len does it.

contributed on 20/08/17 

TT No.10: Steve Hardy – Saturday 19th August 2017; Leicester Three Lions v Kibworth Town; Leicester & District League Premier Division; Result: 2-1; Admission: Free; Programme: No; Attendance: 2 h/c

The opening round of games in the Leicester & District League threw up a fair few interesting games, with my return to the village of Desford being the one I decided on. As I arrived at the Kirkby Road ground and spotted the ‘Sport in Desford’ sign on the clubhouse wall, I had a horrible feeling that I had been here before. My only other visit to Desford had been to see Desford FC in 2009, and they too had a huge ‘Sport in Desford’ sign on their clubhouse wall. Luckily a look on the interweb allayed my fears and showed that Sport in Desford are responsible for several sports facilities in Desford including this Kirkby Road ground, and I hadn’t been here before after all.

The ground is fairly basic, with two full sized grass pitches, a good sized changing room block, and a kiddie’s play area next to the limited car park. With the Lions Reserves also at home today, the car park was chokka, but there is ample street parking available just outside the ground. On the pitch the Lions dominated the first half but only led 1-0at the break. The visitors looked completely out of sorts and were arguing amongst themselves long before half time. They were slightly better in the second half but a goal each meant a deserved 2-1 win for the Lions. On the second pitch their reserves won 9-0 after leading 5-0 at the break. The league’s Fulltime site initially gave the result as 9-0 to CFA FC, but it was definitely a home win!

My limited experience of this league is entirely positive, and I can thoroughly recommend seeing a match in it.

contributed on 20/08/17

TT No.9: Brian Buck - Saturday 1st July 2017. Briston v Schoolhouse; Nick Raven Shield Final; Result: 2-2 (Briston won 4-3 on penalties) (6.30pm kick off) Attendance: 100 approx.

After the previous match at the Haverhill Borough 3G pitch had finished we made an unhurried hour and three quarters trip to Briston, which is roughly 10 miles east of Fakenham. Here I was soon seized upon by the avid local photographer who according to his blog is Wealdstone’s official photographer and five minutes later I was busy having my picture taken and very nice it looked too when I saw it. There was just time to nip off to the local chip shop and to wash it down with something from the bar before the game started. This competition was held in memory of popular and well-known local man Nick Raven, who did a lot of corporate work for Norwich City before he died following a brain tumour.

There are a number of miniature shields on the main shield and so it seems that this competition, involving 8 sides this year, will become an annual event. The game was a physical one: “something Schoolhouse didn’t like,” the Briston people told me. Although they are a successful Norfolk Sunday side they apparently don’t like being tackled. Briston, under the leadership of their young excitable manager, “like to get a few challenges in.” Things went well for the most part.

Briston took a 34th minute lead, doubling it on 69 minutes with a tremendous 30- yarder. But within a minute Schoolhouse pulled a goal back. Then the problems started. On 78 minutes, the Schoolhouse keeper fouled a Briston player near the corner flag and the ‘middle of the pitch’ ref sent him off. Schoolhouse didn’t like this and started to walk off the pitch. Eventually they were persuaded to return and after the ref agreed to overturn his red card the game continued. Then on 90(+5) minutes Schoolhouse equalised. Eventually this half lasted 62 minutes. Then it was on to spot kicks where Briston prevailed. The order they were taken seemed to vary though and, later on, I found out that this was the new ABBA system they are trialing in some areas this season. So, this was The Name of the Game!

contributed on 13/08/17

TT No.8: Steve Hardy – Saturday 12th August 2017; Marshalls v West Kirby; West Cheshire League Division One; Kick-Off: 2.00pm; Result: 1-0; Admission; Free; Paper: No; Crowd of 10

Match two today was reached by a number 82 bus from Liverpool South Parkway station with a journey time of just 10 minutes. Marshalls were playing their first home match in the top division of the West Cheshire league, following promotion last season. The action took place at the John Moores University IM Marsh campus. This is the Sports campus for all the John Moores students, and has an outdoor grass rugby pitch, fully railed off football pitch and a 3G in a cage hockey pitch. Indoors there are also a couple of gymnasiums and a sports hall for badminton etc. All very impressive, and I am guessing that the university play BUCS matches here as well.

The visitors today were West Kirby, from the Wirral, and most of the crowd of just 10 were following them. A very even first half saw both sides cancel each other out and end goalless. It would take a moment of magic to separate the two sides, and this came in the form of a mazy run and excellent finish by a Marshalls forward on the hour mark, which sent the home bench wild with joy.

I much prefer the West Cheshire league to the Liverpool League as the latter is far more violent in my limited experience. That said, today’s match had a few handbags moments as well, but they were well handled by the excellent referee.

Another very long and tiring day out eventually game good, despite the problems created by the Merseytravel bus companies!

contributed on 13/08/17

TT No.7: Keith Aslan - Saturday 12th August 2017; JARROW v Easington Colliery; Northern League Div. 2; Kick-Off: 14.59; Result: 3-2; Admission: £5; Programme: £1; Attendance: 116 (81 home, 22 away & 14neutral)

Jarrow have made it into the Northern League at last and there is a buzz about the place to complement their new- found status. The ground is a 15-minute walk from Brockley Whinns metro station, the same alighting point for Jarrow Roofing which is 25 minutes in the opposite direction. The ground is pretty basic, obviously enclosed, railed and floodlit with the obligatory Atcost structure, one of the smaller examples of the genre and, it would have been woefully inadequate to shelter the crowd had the incessant precipitation not taken a welcome tea break during the match. Pies, burgers and my personal favourite, hot dogs, were on sale an hour before kick-off but somewhere to sit and eat them out of the rain would have been welcome. There is no clubhouse here. Badges were also available for metal detectorists.

There are two large flags tied up behind the goal with one of them proudly stating that 'there is only one team in Jarrow'. When I queried the numerical accuracy of that statement with an official I was put right in no uncertain terms. Jarrow Roofing don't play in Jarrow, it is in fact the name of a local company. Now I didn't think that sort of advertising was allowed at this level, but I suppose you can forgive the F.A. for not picking up on it, they must have their hands full at the moment, with the banning of cutting pretty patterns into a football pitch. It's good to see them tackling the major issues that blight our national sport. How often have you heard the plaintive lament from football supporters "if only the pitch was cut in straight lines".

Having rained all morning up to kick off, and again in the evening, the weather gods took pity on the spectators and the sun shone during the game in which Jarrow garnered their first Northern League points at the third attempt with an exciting comeback. As half time approached the home side were 2-0 down with 43 minutes on the clock. When the referee blew up for the interval dead on 45, it was 2-2, meaning some hasty alterations to both managers half time team talks. Jarrow got a deserved winner 20 minutes from the end of an entertaining game of football.

I might have mentioned referee’s punctuality on an odd occasion before, but I make no apologies for starting the season off by saying that I can't recall ever having been at a Northern League game that's kicked off late and today was no exception. It's so basic why can't other leagues do it? So, hats off to Mike Amos (inventor of the groundhop) and his crew for running a highly professional league. I assume there's no secret to it, you just tell the referees to start on time and they do. Simple. And while on the subject of punctuality, Virgin Trains were spot on both ways today. What is happening?

contributed on 13/08/17

TT No.6: Ian Brown - Wednesday 9th August 2017; Windle Labour v Halebank; Cheshire Football League Division One; Result: 1-1; Venue: Bobbies Lane, Eccleston, St Helens. Admission/Paper/Refreshements: N/A. 

Last season Windle Labour used a pitch adjacent to the St Helens Town facility on the Ruskin Drive Complex . A well known traveller from a place on the A6 north of Preston turned up there this evening expecting to see this game only to be informed they no longer are there due to non payment for the use of the facililties.  

Windle Labour now ply their trade at Bobbies Lane in Eccleston, it is the St Helens College (Bobbies Lane Sports Campus).  

The pitch is behind the campus building, no furniture, it has the feeling of being enclosed though. There is no permanent rail, a taped barrier ran round the perimeter of the pitch. As mentioned above there we facilities for refreshments though toilets were available. 

As mentioned above the member of the "Hopperati" latched onto the Mersey Don and spent most of the game bending his ear with his latest tales of travelling woe Wink ( lucky guy), whilst the Don's Henchman & yours truly retreated a safe distance. The other member The Litherland Scribemiester found a victim, sorry someone to talk to, as the don told us later on he was a traveller from the Warrington area.  

As Halebank turned up in their red kit, as the name suggests the homesters also play in red and had to play in blue bibs.  

With regards to the game it ebbed and flowed, with it usually coming up short in the final third at both ends, of the chances that were created it was a mix of good goalkeeping and profligate finishing kept the score line blank at half time.  

The second stanza followed in the same vein, with one who does not like 0-0 's getting increasingly agitated as the half progressed. On 70 minutes relief, Halebank took the lead when an attempt at the far post floatingly deceived the keeper. Parity was restored shortly afterwards when Dean Curtis slotted home. Windle Labour had a goal chalked off much to the chagrin of the home dugout.

It was a pleasant way to spend a Wednesday evening in August.

contributed on 09/08/17 

TT No.5: Steve Hardy - Saturday 5th August 2017; Burton Park Wanderers v Blackstones; United Counties League Division One; Kick-Off: 3.00pm; Result: 0-3; Admission for a grockle: £3; Programme: £1. Attendance: just 19.

Match 2 today was just 10 miles up the A43 in Burton Latimer, and was reached by driving through a rain storm of biblical proportions where only the plague of frogs was absent.

I knew that BPW are now sharing their ground with Kettering Town, but I had no inkling of the developments that had occurred in the last year. For a start, BPW are no longer the lessees of Latimer Park, their home since 1973. Their landlord had been charging them a peppercorn rent for the past 40 years, but once Kettering Town asked for permission to play there, the landlord immediately upped the rent to a figure that BPW could no longer afford and so Kettering became the main tenant. Speaking to club officials I learned that Kettering had built a brand new clubhouse which they don’t let BPW use, and have plans to demolish the whole place to build their own state of the art ground at which there will be no place for BPW at all.

The whole matchday experience was very depressing I thought. A crowd of just 19 assembled, including several from Blackstones, and a more one-sided match would be difficult to find. The visitors led 2-0 at the break and, in all honesty, it could have been 6 or 7. They added a third in the second half before taking their foot off the gas as BPW were offering nothing up front to challenge them at all.

A small portakabin was serving hot drinks and snacks, and the programme consisted of a 4 page insert inside a last season’s cover. All very sad in my opinion.

contributed on 07/08/17

TT No.4: Steve Hardy - Saturday 5th August 2017;  Kick-Off: 11.00am; Northampton Town U18 v Southend United U18; Football League Youth Alliance South East Division; Result: 2-1; Admission: Free; Programme: No; Attendance: 42

Northampton Town’s youth teams play at Moulton College in the village of Moulton. This is a far bigger facility than I first thought with umpteen football and rugby pitches spread over a vast area and no fewer than 5 different entrances to choose from. When I got there I chose the nearest entrance, through gate 3, and spotting a bus from Southend disgorging loads of young footballers, thought I must be in the right place. I was wrong. This lot turned out to be the Southend U16 team who were also playing Northampton Town today. To cut a very long story short, I eventually discovered the U18s were playing some way away through a hole in a hedge and along a narrow lane at the Chris Moody Centre, which I could have accessed through gate 4!!

The match itself was excellent. Northampton edged an even first half and went in 1-0 up. After the break it was still very tight until Southend got a deserved equaliser on 70 minutes. They were still celebrating when Northampton went straight down the other end and won the game with a far post header.

My headcount was 42 parents and groundhoppers watching the game, with a good few from Southend. There was also a small drinks dispensing area back near the main car park. 

contributed on 07/08/17

TT No.3: Ian Brown - Saturday 5th August 2017; Creetown v Heston Rovers; South of Scotland League; Result: 2-3; Admission: £4; (£2 Concessions); Refreshments available: Pies £1.50; Hot Beverages £1; Paper: No 

Creetown is a small seaport town in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, which forms part of the Galloway in the Dumfries and Galloway council area in south-west Scotland. Its population is about 750 people. It is situated near the head of Wigtown Bay, 18 miles (29 km) west of Castle Douglas. The town was originally named Ferrytown of Cree (Scottish Gaelic: Port Aiseig a' Chrìch) as it formed one end of a ferry route that took pilgrims across the River Cree estuary to the shrine of St Ninian at Whithorn. This is the reason why the local football team, formed in 1895, are known as 'The Ferrytoun'. 

Creetown was formerly served by the Portpatrick and Wigtownshire Railway. The granite quarries in the vicinity constitute the leading industry, the stone for the Liverpool docks and other public works having been obtained from them. The village dates from 1785, and became a burgh of barony in 1792. Sir Walter Scott laid part of the scene of Guy Mannering in this neighborhood. Dr Thomas Brown, the metaphysician (1778–1820), was a native of the parish in which Creetown lies.

As mentioned above Creetown Football Club was originally formed in 1895 as Barholm Rovers and played their home games at Barholm Park Creetown.  In 1905 Barholm Rovers became Creetown Rifle Volunteers Football Club before becoming Creetown Football Club in 1920. 

Castlecary Park is clearly visible from the A75 with Wigtown Bay in the background looking resplendent on this august Saturday afternoon. If approaching from the east, exit at the first Creetown junction and the entrance to the ground is immediately on the right. From the west, take the second exit for Creetown. Entrance to the ground is on the right. Castlecary Park is basically part of a farmers field, although a new log-cabin-style club building was constructed in 2013. It is the only feature of note at the ground. Refreshments were available from the side of the cabin. 

The game began with the visitors attacking the Wigtown Bay end, the home keeper making a fine stop  diverting a long range strike over the bar.  The match ebbed and flowed with the home taking the lead when Michael Sutherland tapped in from close range just before the half hour , chances came and went for both sides.  HT: 1-0 Creetown. 

The second stanza followed the same pattern of the first, end to end being profligate in front of the goal for both sides  until Alex Dick gave Creetown a 2-0  advantage. The next goal would be crucial in the context of the game it was, a ball was floated in behind the rear guard of the Creetown defence and Sam Hughes ghosted in to the head into the net.  Game On. Hesitancy in the Creetown defence saw Sam Hughes  double his tally, it was now anybodys, both teams were not settling for a draw going toe to toe both teams had chances to take the spoils, in the end a cool finish from Sam Hughes maintained the visitors 100% record: played 3 won 3. 

A decent day out helped by the friendliness of the locals. A pleasant place to watch football at this time of year.

contributed on 07/08/17

TT No.2: Steve Hardy - Saturday July 15th 2017; Nantlle Vale v Meliden; Pre-Season Friendly; 2.30pm start; Result: 5-1; Admission: £2; Programme/team sheet: No; Attendance: 61.

Nantlle Vale play in the village of Penygroes in North Wales, and are a club I have wanted to visit for some time. With several of my partners family living there it was a good time to visit the in-laws!

A slightly better set up than the previous evening at Llanrug, I thought, with a proper stand down one side of the pitch and a length of covered terracing next to it, which proved most useful when the inevitable heavy rain started.

On the pitch it was a bit of a one-sided mis-match really and I couldn’t understand why Welsh Alliance division two side Meliden would travel all the way over from Prestatyn to play division one side Nantlle Vale when there must have been more local clubs they could have played, surely? Perhaps the players were having a night out in the fleshpots of Penygroes afterwards. They certainly played like they had their minds elsewhere with comical defending contributing to at least 3 of
the Vale goals.

Once again the home players and officials were all Welsh speakers with the visitors speaking with that strange North Wales Scouse accent that is prevalent right the way down to Bangor in my experience. As with Llanrug the night before, the Vale officials couldn’t have been more friendly and I was whisked in to the committee room where about 20 years of old programmes were stuffed in to a box, and I was given a good few to take home.

More stunning scenery all round the ground, and I can’t wait for another visit to the in-laws to be suggested!

contributed on 17/07/17

TT No.1: Steve Hardy - Friday July 14th 2017; Llanrug United v Bontnewydd; Pre Season Friendly; 6.45pm start; Result: 2-2; Admission: Free; Programme/team sheet: No; Attendance 55.

This was a keenly contested local derby, with Welsh Alliance first division side Llanrug United, and Gwynedd league Bontnewydd being just 4 miles apart. Both sides had plenty of vocal support in the very healthy crowd of 55, and with the home side being two divisions higher than their neighbours, I
was expecting a comfortable home win.

The first half was bossed by Llanrug, who could only score once to lead 1-0 at the break. More of the same after half time, as Llanrug doubled their lead, but following mass substitutions by both sides Bontnewydd suddenly scored twice in three minutes to level thing up. After that it was end to end stuff, with the two teams eventually settling for a draw at the final whistle.

Llanrug’s Eithin Duon ground has an eclectic mix of spectator facilities, with two small unusable stands each the size of a large dug out behind one goal, and a tea bar along one side of the ground which has a very welcome overhang in front of it to protect us from the torrential rain. The people running the
club were really friendly, and spotting my accent wasn’t from North Wales dragged out their only committee member who
spoke English to talk to me.

The scenery around Llanrug was stunning, with mist covered hills everywhere you looked, and the match proved a perfect start to my 2017-18 campaign.

contributed on 17/07/17