INDEX: (091) - 31/10 - Mike Latham: Newi Cefn Druids v TNS (WPL), Barnet v Rushden & D (FC2) & WBA v Newcastle (The Premiership); (090) - 30/10 - Andy S: Four Crosses v Waterloo (Md Wales Lge); (089) - 27/10 - Barry N: Tooting & M v Lymington & NM (Rym 1); (088) - 27/10 - Mike Latham: Garforth Town v Sheffield (NCELP); (087) - 25/10 - Stephen Harris: Littlehampton Town (SCL); Histon (NatConfSth) in FAC4Q and FCV Denderleew (Belgium Div 3A); (086) - 24/10 - Dave Reed: Cambridge U P v Wimb'ton OB (CCC); (085) - 24/10 - Mick Burt: Monk FC v Malpas (Mid-Cheshire Lge 2); (084) - 24/10 - Barry N: Crawley Green S&S v Pitstone (SSMLT); (083) - 23/10 - Mike Latham: Bromsgrove R v Morecambe (FAC4Q); (082) - 23/10 - Paul Roth: Hanworth Villa v Hartley W (CCL1); (081) - 22/10 - Mike Latham: Caernarfon v Rhyl (Welsh Prem Lge); (080) - 22/10 - Christine Morgan: Swiss Travels (four games); (079) - 21/10 - Mike Latham: Bacup Borough v Silsden (NWCL1); (078) - 20/10 - Barry Neighbour: Airbus UK (Welsh Pre Lge); Bamber Bridge (NPL1 in FAT) and Manchester City (Premiership); (077) - 19/10 - Andy Molden: Attenborough v RR Leisure (NSC); (076) - 19/10 - Mike Latham: Worksop T v Northwich V (NConfN); (075) - 19/10 - Ron Jones: A recent Spanish Sojourn incl. 3 games; (074) - 19/10 - Ron Jones: Bedfont Spts (MCL) & Tongham (CCL1); (073) - 18/10 - Mike Latham: Worcester City v Nuneaton B (NCN); (072) - 17/10 - Mike Latham: Newi Cefn D v Llanelli (Welsh Prem); (071) - 16/10 - Paul Roth: Debenham LC v March Town (ECL1); (070) - 16/10 - Mike Latham: Wigan Ath v Newcastle (Premiership); (069) - 15/10 - Mike Latham: Airbus UK v TNS (Welsh Prem Lge); (068) - 14/10 - Mike Latham: Bacup Bor v Atherton LR (NWCL1); (067) - 12/10 - Barry Neighbour: Burnham (Southern Lge 1W); (066) - 12/10 - Mike Latham: Cammell Laird v Hucknall T (FAC3qr); (065) - 11/10 - Barry N: Verwood & Shaft'bury (both Wessex Lge); (064) - 11/10 - Mike Latham: Nelson v Blackpool Mechs (NWCL); (063) - 10/10 - Stephen Harris: Hucknall Tn v Cammell L (FAC); (062) - 09/10 - Mike Latham: Arnold Town v Mickleover Sports & Shirebrook Town v Long Eaton Utd (both NCELP); (061) - 06/10 - Barry N: Bracknell Town (SLW); Maccabi London Lions (FA Sunday Cup) & Holmer Green (SSMids); (060) - 02/10 - Andy Molden: Corfe Mullen Utd (Dorset Co Lge) ); (059) - 02/10 - Mike Latham: Pontefract v Darlington RA (FAV2Q).

31/10/05 TT No.91: Mike Latham - Newi Cefn Druids (Welsh Premier League); Barnet (FC2) and WBA (The Premiership)


Fri 28 Oct 2005, Welsh Premier League, Newi Cefn Druids 0-6 TNS (att- 439)


TNS are well worth watching if you get the chance.  On another mild autumnal evening they demolished the home side with an awesome display of finishing and might have won by more.  Marc Lloyd-Williams continued his prolific spell with a hat-trick and Michael Wilde, who is an exemplary target man, added two more.


What particularly impressed was the positive manner of the TNS bench- instead of moaning endlessly at referee’s decisions as many do the manager and his assistant constantly encouraged their players to play constructive football and praised their efforts throughout the evening.


Llanelli, the other full-time side in the WPL, were at Rhyl the day after and their players were in the stand to watch the game.  A good-sized crowd created a great atmosphere at the ground and the floodlights were excellent.  Sadly, though, programmes sold out before kick-off but the £4 admission price was great value for a display of total football by TNS.  Match rating: 4*


Sat 29 Oct 2005, League 2, Barnet 2-1 Rushden & Diamonds (att- 2,564)


Barnet’s Underhill Stadium is well worth a visit and though the Bees are back in the league it still retains a ‘non league type’ atmosphere for its friendliness and charm.


Though the pitch was levelled considerably when Barnet first entered the league the slope (that runs north to south) is still an amazing sight for the uninitiated.  Situated at the bottom of Barnet Hill, close to the tube station (High Barnet) the ground is in a pleasant residential location and an excellent pub, the Old Red Lion with McMullens cask ales is conveniently located nearby.


The east terrace of the ground is covered and part allocated to away fans.  The main stand on the west side straddles the halfway line with a family stand and uncovered terrace either side.  There is a temporary seated uncovered stand at the south end, backing onto Barnet CC grounds with a large club house in the south-west corner and the north end has a small uncovered terrace.


Winning in the league for the first time since August, Barnet sent their fans home happy and though the game was lacking in quality it never lacked for incident.  The visitors, making their first league visit to Underhill and backed by around 500 fans who were very good humoured, lost their goalkeeper who was carried off on a stretcher with a leg injury and later taken to hospital and later had their striker sent off for an off-the-ball incident.


The game looked destined for a stalemate until the visitors’ substitute goal-keeper failed to notice the loitering Barnet striker as he dribbled the ball to edge of his area, Lee robbing him of the ball to notch a fluke goal just before half-time.  This prompted cries of “He’s behind you!” every time the hapless goal-keeper touched the ball thereafter.  Though the visitors equalised during a brief purple patch a headed goal from a deep cross gave Barnet victory.


Admission prices ranged from £11 to £18 for adults and a good 56-page programme was sold for £2.50.  With a wide range of shops, pubs and eating establishments on Barnet High Street about ten minutes’ walk away and close to the M25 Barnet is a recommended place for the traveller to enjoy the experience of League Two football.


There is also an excellent local taxi service that was called into service to convey the writer the 13 miles to Loftus Road for the Tri-Nations rugby league international between Great Britain and New Zealand starting at 6-15.  Thanks to the expertise of the driver the potentially hazardous journey was negotiated with aplomb in double-quick time.  Match rating: 3*


Sun 30 Oct 2005, Premier League, West Bromwich Albion 0-3 Newcastle United (att- 26,216)


‘Always have a Plan B’ was a tip told to me long ago and that dictum certainly came in useful on a Sunday when the M6 southbound resembled a car-park.


The planned trip to Burton Albion (k-o 2pm) was abandoned and fortunately the 4pm kick-off at the Hawthorns was more attainable.


Easily reached off J1 of the M5 there is plenty of car-parking close to the ground off the A41 Birmingham Road that runs past the ground, albeit at a £5 charge.  But then this is the Premier League.


A £35 ticket for the impressively redeveloped east stand was easily attained from the ticket office and this gave a superb view of what was an interesting game.  The 100-page programme, though a costly £3 was a quite outstanding effort.


Michael Owen’s opportunist goal, 24 seconds after the re-start, set up Newcastle for a dominant second half display, Owen later adding another before Alan Shearer, on as substitute, went within three goals of Jackie Milburn’s club record goals tally.  West Brom rued a number of missed half chances though as the game went on the more Newcastle grew in stature with their precise passing game.


A pleasant, if costly, environment to watch Premier League football the Hawthorns is recommended for a trouble-free and enjoyable taste of the big time.  But for value for money I’d prefer to watch TNS any time.  Match rating: 3*



30/10/05 TT No.90: Andy Sneddon - Four Crosses (Spar Mid Wales League)


A quick resume of yesterday - well worth sticking the programme in the prog section as many Welsh afficianodos are running out of "issuers" to visit.


October 29th 2005, Spar Mid Wales League, Four Crosses 1 Waterloo Rovers 6, Att: 70, Programme with Admission £2, 20pp, regular issue.


There haven't been too many new clubs coming into the Mid Wales League in recent years so when it transpired that newomers Four Crosses were now issuing it was full steam ahead a the first available opportunity to sample a new venue. We arrived nice and early to find the progs had just arrived (done by player coach Steve Jones), so with copies safely tucked into furry hooded anorak it was time.... tick off a new venue in the GBG. If you are in the area allow an extra hour or so and visit the Royal Hill at Edgerley, around 6 miles to the East of Four Crosses. All I'd say is this: if there's 4 or more of you, don't all go in the bar at once, you won't fit. The setting is tranquil (on the banks of the Severn), the welcome friendly and the beer sublime (Salopian Brewery). Go and find out for yourself.


Back to the footie....we got back to ground just on KO time to find the progs being sold with some gusto by one of the good ladies of Four Crosses. No-one gets away with jibbing in here, you WILL buy a programme. The ground, by Mid Wales standards, is quite impressive, although nowhere near as rural as many of the venues. It is set amongst a new housing estate although there are good views of the nearby hills to be had from the dugout side of the ground. (I'd better explain that this is the Four Crosses on the A483 between Oswestry and Welshpool (there's another one West of Welshpool).). You enter at the end of the ground, and turn into a large carpark, the pitch running lengthways away from you. It is neatly railed off, with dugouts on one side and a small cover for 20-30 people overlooking the halfway line on the other. There are plans to extend this. The dressing rooms are in a very impressive modern building set 10 yards back behind this. There are kitchen facilities in the changing rooms but there didn't appear to be any signs of any refreshments on sale. The overall appearence of the ground is very neat and tidy.


The game itself was a strange affair. Four Crosses, promoted as Mongomeryshire League Champions last season, looked comfortable, but Waterloo (bottom of the table with just one point from 10 games) always looked dangerous on the break. The vistors took an early lead, levelled soon after with a peach of a strike curled into the top corner from 25 yards, only for Waterloo to go back into the lead early in the 2nd half. It then just seemed a matter of time before Four Crosses equalised, however, they got caught on the break 4 times in the last 10 minutes and Waterloo went away with a very unlikely (but deserved) 1st win of the season, the two young, nippy forwards bagging a hat trick apiece. 6-1 was ludicrously harsh on the home side, but you had to say Waterloo deserved the win. How they are bottom of the table though is beyond me.


To find the ground, coming from the North on the A483, turn left in the village of Four Crosses at the sign marked Llandrinio 2. Shortly on your left you will see a sign for the Sports Field. Follow this road as it swings gently right, past the small business park and into a new housing development. Keep going straight on (including over a mini r/bout) and the ground entrance is at the end of this road as you reach the edge of the housing.


Game rating 3*


(Whilst there I also noticed a Wem Town programme from this season, they now play in the Shropshire County League, sharing their ground with Shawbury United).


27/10/05 TT No.89: Barry Neighbour - Tooting & Mitcham Utd (Ryman League 1)


Tuesday 25th October 2005, Tooting & Mitcham United 3 Lymington & New Milton 2, Rymans League Division 1, Match Rating 3 Programme 12 Pages of text inside 20 pages of adverts £1.50

Lymington made the long midweek trip to Tooting and were rewarded with a well taken goal halfway through the first half as the Tooting defence stood and watched. The home side hit back on the stroke of half-time and then took control after the break taking the lead only to see Lymington battle back and equalize late on. But Tooting had a sting in the tail scoring the winning goal deep into injury time to make it a long trip home for the Dorset men.


This was my first visit to Tooting's new ground and as expected they have a fine grandstand but the odd thing is the two covered stands behind both goals that look like giant bus shelters and are wide open to the elements. (See Ishmian League Images).


27/10/05 TT No.88: Mike Latham - Garforth Town (NCELP)


Tues 25 Oct 2005, NCEL Premier Garforth Town 2-0 Sheffield (att- 110)


Garforth Town have earned plenty of media attention in recent months after the energy, enterprise and ambition of their owner and manager Simon Clifford propelled them into the spotlight.


Clifford has pioneered the Brazilian style coaching schools, known as futebol de salao, and has recently joined up with Clive Woodward at Southampton.  If you get chance take a look at the press cuttings on the Garforth Town website- fascinating stuff.


Garforth's ground, opened as Wheatley Park in 1998 after they moved from Brierlands Lane, is now re-named the Marston's Stadium and is easily reached from J47 of the M1 north-east of Leeds.  There is only limited parking at the ground, though, and some spectators had to park in the new housing estate next door.  The former mining community team, originally known as Garforth Miners, were founder members of the NCEL in 1981 and last season, when they had the Brazilian legend Socrates briefly in their ranks, earned promotion to the Premier Division.


On a horrible night of strong winds and continual heavy rain the pitch was absolutely flawless, soaking up the deluge and providing an excellent flat surface.  Garforth's ground is dominated by a distinctive steeply inclined seated stand with terrace in front that provides a fine view of the action, straddling as it does the halfway line.  The rest of the ground is flat standing.  With several pitches around the site Garforth have an excellent set-up that is clearly well used and highly prized by the local community.


The social club is located outside the turnstiles and a tea bar inside the ground served  hot and cold drinks, soup with a roll and tasty hot dogs and onions.  Admission was £4 with a newsy 28-page programme full of good reading and with pen pictures of both sides a bargain £1.  Garforth scored two well-worked goals in the second half to decide an interesting, hard fought yet skilful contest and a visit to the Marston's Stadium, even on the foulest of evenings weather-wise, was most enjoyable.


25/10/05 TT No.87: Stephen Harris - Littlehampton Town (Sussex County League); Histon (NCS - in FA Cup 4Q) and FCV Denderleew (Belgium Div 3A)


Friday 21 October 2005; Littlehampton Town 0-0 Wick; Sussex County League; att 144, programme issued, admission £4

Until last Thursday afternoon I had been due to fly to Germany on Friday morning to join a friend for a four-game weekend based in Saarbrucken. But during the course of the day it became apparent that work pressures would scupper the whole trip. I was determined to have a footballing weekend though and see if I could nevertheless see games at three new grounds, albeit closer to home.


First on the agenda was Littlehampton Town for their Friday night derby game against Wick. Rotten weather put paid to any thoughts of a bumper crowd, but the 200-plus (headcount) present was above average for the club. The Sportsfield ground is primarily a cricket venue and the spectator facilities for football reflect this. Hard standing is only available along one side and one end and covered accommodation only on one side. The remainder is open grassland and a temporary rail. The most is made of the covered side though, with a characterful old stand dominating the central area. This has five rows of uncomfortable, yellow, wooden bench seats and a strikingly yellow-painted back wall with the club name in bold black lettering. Either side of the stand are identical, modern-looking, two-step covered terraces. With the wind howling and intermittent rain falling, everybody used this side. Behind one goal is a traditional-looking cricket pavilion and an impressive two-storey clubhouse and dressing room block.


Unfortunately the game was a very poor one, with neither side looking particularly interested. It was no surprise when the game ended goalless, my first 0-0 at any level this season. The match programme was also a little disappointing and barely literate in places. FGIF Match Rating 2*

Saturday 22 October 2005; Histon 3-1 Hayes; FA Cup; att 588, programme issued, admission £8

I was very pleased to finally see a game at Histon, something of a bogey ground for me – two previous attempts having fallen victim to waterlogged pitches. It’s actually a very easy ground to get to, being just 20 minutes by bus from Cambridge station. I’m glad I made the effort to come here today and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Histon are a club who try very hard to make spectators feel welcome and to provide an enjoyable experience for all the family. I spoke to quite a few locals and all of them were former followers of Cambridge United who said they simply felt happier following this well-run and welcoming club.


The ground is focussed on the main stand, which is smallish but offers a great view, being built at first-floor level above the dressing rooms. So far as I could tell, it was completely full for this game. The other three sides feature covered standing areas of the increasingly common, metal construction and there is plenty of room for expansion if the club continues its upward momentum.


It was Hayes who took the early initiative today, loudly backed by a 100-strong, raucous following from west London. Two blatant handballs in the penalty area were ignored by the referee before, third time lucky, the whistle blew and Hayes duly scored their penalty to go in 1-0 up at half time. The second half was a different story with Histon looking much stronger. Hayes held on to the 80th minute however before their captain received a red card and Leon Gutzmore scored from the resulting free-kick. Cue a Hayes collapse and two more quick goals leaving Histon with a win which had looked rather unlikely just 10 minutes before.


A decent match programme was issued for £1.50; FGIF Match Rating 3*

Sunday 23 October 2005; FCV Denderleew 4-4 Racing Capellan; Belgium Division III A; att c.1,700, no programme issued, admission Euro 8

The same work commitments which prevented me from travelling to Germany this weekend required my presence in Brussels on Sunday evening and, with Sunday fixtures rather more plentiful in the Brussels area than in the London area, the sensible thing seemed to be to travel out early if I was to complete my triple-bill.


The sleepy Flemish town of Denderleew lies just 20 minutes by train from Brussels Midi and the town’s sports complex is 10 further minutes walk south of the railway station. Here you will find, apart from the main stadium, four outer pitches in immaculate condition, all of which are railed and several of which are floodlit. Beyond these are two more which comprise the small and rather tatty ground of lower level club Standard Denderleew.


The main stadium itself is quite impressive, reflecting the club’s recent time in the Belgian second division. One side has a modern, seated stand with a large bar beneath and extensive executive facilities, including a busy restaurant, to the rear. Opposite is an older stand which looks to me like it once contained seats but is now a steep covered terrace complete with glass screen ends. This is flanked by smaller areas of open terracing and there is a very busy bar to the rear. Each end has small terrace blocks, one of which is covered and reserved for away fans but unused today. A stall behind one goal sells snails for anyone hungry enough, as well as the usual burgers and sausages.


The crowd was substantially bigger than I was expecting – perhaps reflecting the fact that this game featured third versus second in the league. Most spectators used the two sides with a predominately shirt and tie element in the stand and a more boisterous contingent using the covered terrace. The latter group included a band of drums, cymbals and trumpet who provided a very much more musical accompaniment than the usual “boom, boom, boom” type drumming ubiquitous over most of Europe. This made for a great atmosphere at what turned out to be a great game.


The home side dominated the first half and fully deserved their 2-0 half time lead, playing some quality passing football. Capellan came out a more determined looking team in the second half and goals started coming from everywhere. Capellan eventually took the lead 3-4, to the loud satisfaction of their 60 or so travelling supporters, before Denderleew equalised with the very last kick of the game. Excellent entertainment.


Disappointingly, there was no match programme issued for this game. However, a sniff around the “Business Club Seats” at half time produced two different printed teamsheets, which was some consolation. FGIF Match Rating 4*


24/10/05 TT No.86: Dave Reed - Cambridge University Press (Kershaw Cambs League Premier Div)


Along with friend Ken Kenealy, I attended the Cliff Bullen Cambridge Challenge Cup game on Saturday between Cambridge University Press of the Cambridgeshire League and Wimblington Old Boys of the Peterborough League.

After a decent lunchtime touring some of the Cambridge pubs we returned to the ground which is located withing the University Press complex.  The roped off pitch is pleasantly situated and runs lengthways away from the modern pavillion which has changing rooms underneath a bar which which was selling alcoholic drinks, with teas and coffees from a machine.  No other refreshments appeared to be available.  A decent sixteen page programme inside a glossy cover was available, apparently free as they were left in an envelope on the bar.  It would seem as though this is the first year of issuing as today's was marked as Volume 1 Edition 4.

The home side comfortably won an unremarkable game 3-1 but it was enjoyable enough on a pleasant afternoon spent in the company of five other well known Travellers.

The club is certainly worth a visit but make sure that you go on a dry day.


24/10/05 TT No.85: Mick Burt - Monk FC (Mid-Cheshire League)


I rarely have the urge to relay a blow by blow account of my Saturday adventures as soon as Monday morning, but I feel it may benefit my fellow travellers to hear tell of my abortive attempt to visit Curzon Ashton on Saturday 22 October for their North West Counties League game against Bacup Borough.

Now my wife Gloria needs no second asking when it comes to a weekend break, so with Curzon at home on the Saturday, we booked a nice hotel in the Cheshire Plains for our stay over.  I was a bit perturbed when I called the Curzon secretary on Friday evening to check things out (as you do) only to be told that the game could be in jeopardy as a large "wet patch" was giving cause for concern.  I was told to call back after 11am on Saturday morning which would obviously give us time (well Gloria actually as she is the driver) to get somewhere else should the need arise.

We headed off to Ashton-under-Lyne on Saturday morning as planned as Gloria fancied a stroll round the 150 stall open market.  Fair enough, on arrival I called the secretary who told me that the game was on providing there was no more heavy rain and that the match referee would arrive early at 1pm to give the final nod of approval, having first seen the pitch at 10.00am.  Deciding to head for the ground around 12.45pm I was a bit concerned on arrival that the nets weren't up and sure enough, the groundsman told me that the ref (who I assume had arrived earlier than the scheduled 1pm) wasn't happy with the state of the pitch and postponed the game.  There had NOT been any rain for the duration of our stay in Ashton thus adding to the mystery.

Clutching copious sheets of paper giving directions to Manchester League and Mid Cheshire League grounds together with all the relevant telephone numbers, I ushered Gloria (by now delighted with the new handbag I had bought her) back into the car and directed her to head back west along the M60 which we duly did, running into two incredibly heavy showers with a possible sighting of a mini-tornado thrown in as well.  Both Wythenshawe Amateurs and Styal confirmed that their games were on but I couldn't get confirmation of a programme being issued.  Next throw of the dice was Mid Cheshire League Second Division newcomers Monk F.C. who were entertaining Malpas in a clash of two of the division's strugglers.  Monk are based at Woolston just east of Warrington and no more than a five minute drive from Junction 21 on the M6.  Thank heavens for mobile phones with club secretary Dominic McAlinden confirming mobile to mobile that the game was definitely on and that programmes would be available from 1pm.  With kick-off at 3pm that presented no problems and we drove into the car park at 1.35pm - piece of gateau! The Malpas team arrived soon after as did the referee and we were on our way.

What was a real bonus was the fact that the set up is really very good for this level with plenty of car parking, an excellent clubhouse and most importantly a good pitch in an attractive tree-fringed setting that is railed-off along the sides with a dugout positioned by the halfway line on both sides of the pitch.  There is no covered accommodation for spectators though.  Admission was £2 including a very well produced 12 page full colour programme - quite remarkable.  Both teams were out warming up by 2..15 pm, and during the lead up to the game I found out that Monk's game at Curzon Ashton (Reserves) the previous Saturday had also been postponed and they ended up playing on the adjacent astroturf, unaware (not surprisingly) that they had the right to refuse!  

The game itself saw Malpas take the lead midway through the first half but Monk levelled five minutes before the break before taking the lead twenty minutes into the second half.  Malpas squared things up in the 77th minute and a 2-2 draw was just about the right result to an open, well contested and generally sporting encounter so the 16 spectators present could go home satisfied with what they had seen.  Gloria asked me tentatively whether this had been a disaster to which I replied "Oh no dear, au contraire, a disaster is a Saturday without a match!".  After nearly 25 years of wedded bliss I think she really knew that was the case!

As we tucked into our evening meal after a few celebratory drinks, Gloria and Monk F.C. (in that order) had certainly saved me from drowning my sorrows on a fairly large scale!


24/10/05 TT No.84: Barry Neighbour - Crawley Green Sports & Social (SSML2)


What a difference a week makes! Last Sunday I saw my biggest crowd of the season 43647 at Manchester City in the Premiership whilst on Saturday (22/10) I was amongst just 12 spectators to see Crawley Green Sports & Social 2 Pitstone & Ivanhoe 1 AET Spartan South Midlands League Challenge Trophy 2nd Round. Rating 2* 32 Page programme £1. 


The Home side had the better of a poor first half wasting the few chances that were created. Crawley took the lead midway through the 2nd half in a disappointing encounter; Pitstone then pushed forward and scored 8 minutes from time to take the game into extra time. The game seemed destined for a penalty shoot-out but in the very last minute Crawley broke and the visiting keeper hauled down the home forward as he tried to go around him (earning himself a booking for his trouble). As with the rest of the game the spot-kick was poor shooting straight against the keepers legs but luckily for the home side the ball came straight back to the kicker to fire into the empty net. Surprisingly there was very little celebration as Crawley looked embarrassed to have scored the goal although the bench made up for it 30 seconds later as the final whistle blew.


Crawley Green play at the Crawley Green Recreation ground to the south of Luton; apart from brick dug outs there is little else there, with the pitch roped off for the match. The big surprise is the clubhouse which was very impressive with football memorabilia displayed around the walls. They have a large number of junior teams and the club has over 2000 members, pity a few of them could not get out to support the senior team on Saturday.


23/10/05 TT No.83: Mike Latham - Bromsgrove Rovers (Southern League 1W)


Sat 22 Oct 2005, FA Cup 4QR, Bromsgrove Rovers 0-2 Morecambe (att- 919)


With Bromsgrove Rovers having won eight of their last nine games and Morecambe dodgy on their travels despite their excellent home form this cup-tie looked one to savour despite the discrepancy in divisions since Rovers' fall from Conference grace.


An extremely good humoured crowd of 919 gathered on a mild autumnal afternoon in anticipation- about three times Rovers' average home attendance.


Bromsgrove is a very pleasant suburb of Birmingham and home to Rovers since 1910.  Located just off the Birmingham Road close to the town centre and ideally situated close to the Hop Pole, a noted CAMRA pub, it is an easy drive from J4 of the M5 motorway.


Initial impressions of a new ground are often the lasting ones and these were very good.  Admission was £7 at the turnstiles manned by pleasant club officials and a fine 40-page programme was only £1.50. The club's social club was open to all and, despite being crowded was full of happy and excited supporters of both clubs.  The refreshment bar sold good quality goods at reasonable prices and the club shop had an excellent array of merchandise and programmes and a distinctive Bromsgrove mug in green and red stripes proved irresistible.


The neat well-maintained ground is dominated by the main stand on the west side with its distinctive 'Bromsgrove Rovers' legend on the roof support.  With a terrace in front it provides a very good vantage point for Rovers' most dedicated fans.


The south terrace is open standing but again gives good viewing angles.  The north terrace is roofed and was where the two sets of most vociferous supporters gathered without any hint of trouble.  The east side is dominated by the social club and tea bar though there is a small covered standing area.


Conference club Morecambe scored early after a long free-kick was converted by striker O'Connor and clinched their passage into the first round draw with a second goal on the hour-mark that effectively decided the issue.  Their travelling fans were noisy and good humoured with the trademark chant of: 'No Surrender to the Low Fat Spread.'


The game was refereed by a female, Ms AE Raynor of Loughborough, who was quite outstanding, taking control with a quiet authority and deservedly booking a Morecambe player for an outrageous dive.  Despite the prize at stake- a coveted place in the FA Cup first round draw- the game was played in a terrific spirit and this was due in large part to the approach of the officials.


Bromsgrove are currently in mid-table in the Southern League West Division but despite their demise from challenging at the top of the Conference over a decade ago are a friendly and clearly still ambitious club and a visit there is heartily recommended.  Match rating: 3*


23/10/05 TT No.82: Paul Roth - Hanworth Villa (CCL1)


Hanworth Villa  vs. Hartley Wintney;  Combined Counties Lge Div. 1; Saturday 22nd October 2005; Res: 1-3; Programme 20 pages £1 including entry.

A trip up to London to watch the Villa was the order of the day for this week's football fix! Hanworth Villa that is, who are fresh into the Combined Counties League this season play at "The Ranch", Rectory Meadow at the end of Park Road. The ground is quite typical of clubs in this division with just a railed off perimeter fence surrounding the playing area but the leafy setting and warm sunshine made for a pleasant afternoon. Unlike some other clubs I could mention the "villains" have an excellent clubhouse in which all manner of refreshments are available including proper meals served and cooked by a gregarious lady who looked as though she could do with missing a few meals herself.

The game was always entertaining and it was the visitors from Hampshire who quickly raced into a 3-0 lead before the Villa pulled one back on the stroke of half time. The second period saw Hanworth huff and puff but for all their possession they could not unlock a well organised defence and deservedly the visitors went home with all three points.

During the interval I read the full colour programme - £1 including entry. A good 20 page effort this, sporting a red and black striped cover (the team's colours), but with too many jokes for my liking taking up lots of pages.

I travelled by train and walked to the ground from Feltham station - 25 mins I guess - but buses do pass nearby and there is a stop at the top of Park Road. If coming by car "The Ranch" has ample parking.

This fun day out completed the Combined Counties League for me and I would commend Hanworth Villa to all travellers as this is definitely one of the better clubs in this division.

17768 steps.

22/10/05 TT No.81: Mike Latham - Caernarfon Town (Welsh Premier League)


Fri 21 Oct 2005, Welsh Premier League, Caernarfon Town 0-2 Rhyl (att- 487)


Football was first played at the Oval, now home to Caernarfon Town, in 1888 and on entering the ground, set high above the historic Welsh coastal town, the traveller gets the feeling that here is a substantial and important ground.


Caernarfon's nickname is the Canaries and virtually everything inside the ground is painted yellow and green, including an imposing back wall behind the far goal that bears the legend 'Caernarfon'.


The ground is impressive and has excellent facilities- a large carpark and plush social club by the entrance where a warm welcome is given to travellers.  There is one main turnstile block- which led to a substantial queue building by kick-off with the 300 or so Rhyl fans mostly arriving late.  But all was good humour and the £6 admission gave entry to the ground including the small cantilevered seated stand that straddles the half-way line on the far side.


Behind the near-side goal is a small covered standing area and to the left, behind the corner flag, is an excellent club shop with a particularly good range of clothing and other souvenirs and a good collection of (mostly) Welsh programmes.  The shop also opened at half-time.  There is a small tea bar on the side next to the main stand that dispensed hot and cold drinks, hot dogs and pies at cheerful prices.  There is a long cover behind the far goal.


The terrace down the other side is dominated by a huge television gantry built on the half-way line which can obscure views of fans who like to stand as near to the centre as possible.  But the view from this terrace was probably the best on the ground.  The pitch was in good condition though had a pronounced slope from side to side and top corner (nearest the club shop) to the far corner.


The programme was excellent value with several good articles and lots of statistics for only £1.  It has a striking full colour cover with a striking aerial ground photograph of the Oval.  As Welsh is spoken extensively in these parts the programme has several articles in Welsh with English sub-titles.


An early scrambled goal by the prolific Andy Moran took the sting out of the contest as Caernarfon struggled to counteract a well organised visiting defence.  A fine tip-over save by the Rhyl 'keeper brought the home crowd to life and they thought that the equaliser had finally arrived only to be denied by a linesman's upraised flag for offside.  Rhyl immediately went to the other end to clinch the game with a header from substitute Tommy Mutton seven minutes from time.


On a mild evening the long trip to Caernarfon along the A55 from Chester via Conwy and Bangor was worthwhile with a good game, friendly welcome and an atmospheric football ground making this one to recommend.  With the 7-30pm evening kick-off there was the bonus of an earlier getaway than usual and the roads home were virtually deserted in contrast to the outward journey.  Match rating: 3*


22/10/05 TT No.80: Christine Morgan - Swiss Travels


Swiss travels - My husband wanted to go to Switzerland to look at mountains but I had other ideas:- 


28th September   FC Bex 3   Grand Lancy 1  (Liga Gruppe 1)

Admission:  10 CHF, no programme printed due to late arrangement of the game, only fixture list and team sheet. 


Bex is a small town near Lake Geneva. When I booked our accommodation for the night I didn’t realise that the rear of the hotel looked directly onto the pitch. I needn’t have left my room to watch the game. While my husband sampled the local beer in the clubhouse I watched the game. GL should have sewn this game up in the first half the number of chances they had.  Bex (pronounced Bey) played well in the second half and deserved the points.


30th September   FC Baden 3  SC YF Juventus 1  (Challenge League)

Admission: 12 CHF,  free programme


We arrived in Baden really late, got lost trying to find the Esp stadium in Dattwil and had the good fortune to ask a man at a petrol station for directions, luckily he was going to the match and we followed him, he even found us a parking space!  It was worth all our trouble because the match was good and the rain only started in the second half. At the end of the game I was amazed at all the programmes that littered the terracing, no one seems to take them home! What a waste!


1st October   FC Luzern 5  FC La Chaux-de-Fonds 1 (Challenge League) 

Admission : 18 CHF,  programme 2CHF


The rain from the day before didn’t let up all day, and I had trouble buying my programme because the young boys selling them inside the entrance had stuffed them under their coats to keep them dry! This was the most amazing ground to visit. The atmosphere was great in the Allmend stadium. We heard a Swiss crowd chanting in English  “no one likes us we don’t care!” and waving flags that proclaim in English to “support your local team”. At the end of the game the Luzern team came over to the most vocal supporters in our stand to celebrate on their knees in front of the fans.


2nd October   AC Lugano 2   AC Bellinzona 0   (Challenge League)  

Admission  30 CHF,  free programme.


The rain followed us down to Lugano on the Italian border. The Sunday afternoon game didn’t attract a very big crowd. The Cornaredo stadium has two large covered seated stands on either side of the ground. Behind each goal is uncovered terracing. A running track borders the pitch. This local derby game deserved to end a draw,  but Lugano took their chances well and came off winners. More programmes thrown away again after the match……doesn’t anyone collect them in Switzerland! 


21/10/05 TT No.79: Mike Latham - Bacup Borough (NWCL)


Thursday 20 Oct 2005, NWCLD1 Bacup Borough 2-0 Silsden (att- 80)


If at first you don't succeed, try and try again- never has that truism been more relevant than tonight's game at Bacup.


After many enjoyable visits to the ground partly ruined by the absence of a programme (see TT No.68 - 13 Oct) imagine the surprise when, on going through the turnstile, there was the sight of programmes on sale.


With a distinctive black and white cover, the programme cost £1 and largely comprised the NWCL newsletter.  The opening right-hand page, usually reserved for a welcome and list of club officials and numbers, was completely blank.  The only editorial of note was a one-and-a-half page column by the manager, which must have broken the record for most words in a sentence.  Bizarrely, the away team was listed but not the home team and there was no list of results or forthcoming games.  But at least it was a start and maybe travellers can approach a trip to Bacup (especially given their choice of Thursday as their midweek date for home games) with more confidence that they will get a programme to add to their collection.


Two second half goals, both from free-kicks, saw Bacup to victory though Silsden, promoted from NWCLD2 last season, wasted a host of chances, especially early in the proceedings.  It was a good way to spend a Thursday evening in East Lancashire though, sadly, none of the travellers present for last Thursday's programme-less 0-0 draw appeared to have made a return trip.  Game rating: 3*


20/10/05 TT No.78: Barry Neighbour - Recent October (Northern) travels...


Last weekend I had a rare `Northern` weekend. It did not start too well as I developed car problems on Thursday night resulting in a new radiator being fitted Friday morning. This meant I was two hours late picking up my travelling colleagues Alan Gulliford and Gerry McGill from Basingstoke station although they found solace in the nearby Queens Arms pub. The delay meant that it was a rush rather than a leisurely drive up to North Wales for our first port of call:


Friday 14/10/2005 Airbus UK 0 TNS 5 Welsh Premier League Attendance 240. Rating 4*

This was a pleasant setting and a very impressive TNS side which Mike Latham has already reported on in full and which I feel I cannot add to a very accurate report on the proceedings. After the game we travelled across to Stalybridge where we were staying with friends.


Saturday 15th October 2005 - Gerry headed back to North Wales to see Mold Alexandra whilst Alan and myself headed north via several pubs in Preston before going on to Bamber Bridge 2 Grantham Town 2, FA Trophy 1st Round, Attendance 162. A newsy 60 page programme £1.50. It is amazing what a few goals can do for a game as people were leaving the stadium saying what a great game this was; in all honesty it had been uneventful for most of the game with both sides snuffing each other out and apart from Grantham hitting the post there had been very few chances from either side. The visitors took the lead in the 78th minute only for Bamber Bridge to equalise after a woefully short back pass was intercepted. Of course it was not the defender's fault as he rollocked the 'keeper! Just 2 minutes later Bridge failed to clear a corner and Grantham restored their lead with a close range header. In the 87th minute Bridge equalized to make it 2-2 and 4 goals in 9 minutes to take the game to a replay (Grantham won the replay 3-0). Incidentally Bamber Bridge have done a lot of work to their ground with an impressive stand alongside one side having replaced the previous stand which burnt down. The side opposite is open. They also have a nice clubhouse/dressing room complex behind the goal. To the side of this is covered terracing. There is also covered terracing behind the far goal. 


Sunday 16th September saw the main reason for the weekend as we visited the City Of Manchester stadium to see Manchester City 2 West Ham 1. Premiership Attendance: 43647, Rating 3*, 78 page programme £2.50. The stadium certainly lived up to all the hype as it is a truly magnificent place. We parked in Ashton Under Lyne and caught a 162 Bus from the Bus station which cost £1.50 Return and stopped outside the ground. City deservedly won the game with two strikes from veteran Andy Cole whilst a last minute goal by Bobby Zamora was too little too late for The Hammers.


19/10/05 TT No.77: Andy Molden - Attenborough (Notts Senior League)


Attenborough 0 Rolls Royce Leisure 1; Saturday 15th October - Notts Senior Cup; Attendance 54 (headcount).

Very pleasant ground shared with the cricket club at far end of village. Into village, over level crossing and follow "deadend" signs. Ground in "The Strand".

Roped off pitch with brick built dug-outs. All facilites in Cricket club at far end of ground. Well stocked tea bar, inc filled rolls, etc.

Club have not issued on a regular basis for 15 or so years, though for this game they produced a A4 sheet with teams on one side and Rolls Royce history on the other. This was included in the £1.50 admission charge. The club also looked out a large box of old programmes so travellers could get an "antique" cover for their team sheet. The home club were a very friendly and helpful bunch.

The game could have gone either way, RR Leisure got the winner in the 2nd half, the homesters could have been two or three up by half-time if they had taken their chances.

RR Leisure had lost their manager the day before and a number of their side looked though they were not match fit, in fact the right back had "Engerland" shorts on as he did not fit into the club standard issue!


19/10/05 TT No.76: Mike Latham - Worksop Town (Nat Conf North) 


Tues 18 Oct 2005, Conference North, Worksop Town 1-2 Northwich Victoria (att- 506)


Northwich Victoria, relegated from the Conference last season on a technicality are clearly a class apart this season in Conference North and they set a new club record with their 13th successive win at Sandy Lane.


Worksop took the lead with a well-worked goal from a set piece but the prolific Jon Allan drove home an equaliser before the experienced Peter Handyside- one of several Vics players with a wealth of Football League experience- headed the winner.


Worksop's ground is situated off Babbage Way about half-a-mile from the town centre and has been their home since 1992.  Worksop left their Central Avenue ground in 1989 and ground-shared at Gainsborough for three years before, after many planning delays, they were able to build a new ground on the site of an old council rubbish tip.


With seated covered stands on both sides and a big club house at the entrance there are plenty of facilities though those seeking an elevated view will be disappointed.  There is a small cover at the entrance behind the goal and it here that the tea-bar and club shop are situated.


The tea-bar sold pies, peas and chips as well as hot and cold drinks and the chip butties came highly recommended from the locals.  The staff were friendly and prices reasonable.  The club shop had a vast selection of league and non-league programmes as well as other souvenirs and is clearly a labour of love for its proprietor.  Helpfully, it opened during the half-time interval.  The club also pin up the team-sheet at the entrance which is a fantastic service for supporters and seemed to be appreciated by the many fans scribbling team changes on their programmes.


The far end has a small uncovered terrace behind which is a grass bank and this gave perhaps the best vantage point on a dry and mild autumnal evening.  With the freedom to walk around all four sides of the ground and no segregation in place it made for a pleasant evening.


Northwich brought a large and cheerful contingent of fans with them and they were rewarded with another fine display from their side though the home team contributed fully to an excellent game.


Admission was £8 adults and a 40-page programme sold for £2.  With good statistics, match reports and pen pictures of the visitors all the basic information was there but there were also several other things that caught the eye.  A report of the recent supporters evening with the manager gave some blunt and honest replies to questions raised about individual players while the page contributed by the physio was incredibly detailed and informative.


All in all a friendly club clearly with a core of hard-working and dedicated officials, staff and volunteers making for a good visit for travellers.  Match rating: 4*


19/10/05 TT No.75: Ron Jones - Spanish Sojourn


On Sunday 9th October, I attended the Santa Pola v Burriani Tercera (Third Division) Group 6 match. Kick off 11.30. The Municipal stadium is only about a 5 minute walk from the Bus Terminal, some 20km from Alicante. Admission was 12 Euros; the pitch is surrounded by an athletics track, and has an elevated main stand with a high roof running most of the length of the side nearest the entrance. On the far side is a single row of about 50 open seats either side of the halfway line.  Of course I was not expecting a programme, but a club official posted a copy of the team sheet on a wall next to the entrance and I managed to get a copy, printed on paper bearing the club badge. This listed the line-ups for both sides with boxes for goals, substitutions and red/yellow cards next to each player. Along with most of the crowd of around 800, I sat in the main stand although drummers beat out a constant rhythm from the opposite side, and a few home fans crossed the track to watch from behind the goal, where temporary barriers enclosed the pitch. The hosts even missed a penalty as they failed to improve on the single goal scored in their first six matches, resulting in their fourth 0-0 of the season.


Leaving Santa Pola I travelled by bus and train to Murcia, where groundsharers Ciudad Murcia were at home to Xerez, in Division 2A, put back to 8.30pm for live TV. The Condominia Stadium is only about a 15 minute walk from the City Centre. For this fixture, tickets for the upper tier of the main stand were 18 Euros, surprisingly there was a complete lack of any souvenir stalls in the area around the main entrance and ticket offices. Passing through the turnstiles, I picked up a couple of programmes from a table just inside the entrance. I made my way up several flights of stairs, into the upper tier which has an excellent and unobstructed view. There were no stewards in this part of the ground so the seat number on the ticket was irrelevant.


The high roof over this stand, which has individual plastic seats provides the only cover in the ground, along the far side are high terrace steps used as seating, with the same behind one goal, except for a couple of rows of individual seats at the back. Behind the other goal are individual plastic seats. The pitch is surrounded by a high fence with even higher netting immediately behind the goal, although no track at this venue. Visitors Xerez had a vociferous following segregated into a corner, from where I was; it was impossible to estimate their numbers. The free “Revista” – magazine- contained 16 glossy (A5) pages with match details on the cover, included league tables, results with the visitors details showing names and squad numbers, although no line ups for the home team as such. With a vast colour TV introducing each player with his photo, perhaps not necessary! The match had everything, a penalty and home sending off in the first five minutes, two more penalties (one saved) and some memorable goals as Xerex went to the top of the league with a 6-2 win. The reported crowd of 3500 in the following morning's press seemed more than a little on the low side.


Due to the expansion of some of the Tercera League Groups to 22 clubs, scheduled midweek fixtures have been introduced this season, and on Wednesday 12th October I was at Torrevieja v Villareal “B” for a 5.00 kick-off, also in Group 6. The ground is about 25 minutes walk from the Bus Station although local buses pass close to the ground. Arriving shortly before this time I paid 10 Euros admission, inside the ground programmes were on sale for 1 Euro. This 40 page A5 issue, fully printed in colour throughout is better than that produced by many “home” clubs at twice the price, mostly in English with two match reports and an editorial also in Spanish, and includes colour action pix, and a map showing other clubs in this group along with stats and club news. The home squad feature on the centre spread, although there is no information on the opponents at all.


The Vicente Garcia stadium is a “proper” football ground with the fans close to the action, three sides comprise of 6 to 8 rows of very steep and wide stone steps which provide seating. Either side of the halfway line is a covered seated stand where the majority of the “Torry Army” of British supporters who have “adopted” this club sits. There’s even a club shop at the back with replica kits and various souvenirs. Probably around 80% of the crowd were English, on a very warm (by UK standards) and sunny evening noticeable for appearing in t-shirts and shorts, in contrast to the coat wearing Spanish!  Quite strange experiencing the British supporters cheering their team on in a game with moments of great skill but, as expected, where any physical contact resulted in the “injured” player rolling around the pitch... The Villareal “reserves”, yet to concede a goal and top of the league were under pressure but held out in for another 0-0 with the attendance reported on the Torry Website as 4,386. If you are in this part of Spain a match at Torrevieja is not to be missed!


19/10/05 TT No.74: Ron Jones - Bedfont Sports (MCLP) and Tongham (CCL1)


Bedfont Sports v Walthamstow Avenue & Pennant;  MCLPrem; 1/10


Bedfont Sports have transformed the Recreation Ground next to Bedfont FC’s home in Hatton Lane, a ten minute walk from Hatton Cross into a venue which really belongs to the next level up. The pitch is fully railed off and has brick dug outs on the side furthest from the clubhouse which has been fully refurbished incorporating a tea bar with a serving area on the outside. Programmes at £2 are on sale here, a regular issue with an 8 page insert inside a standard blue cover. There’s an area of hard standing in front of the club house while the ground has an enclosed feel as behind one goal is the fence enclosing Bedfont’s ground and some fenced off land, while allotments lie beyond the other goal. Another match was in progress on a pitch set back far enough from the far side of the main one to avoid any interference. With such a set up, it was a pity that only a handful of spectators saw the whole of an entertaining 3-2 victory for the hosts, these numbers rising considerably once the other match ended.


Tongham v Raynes Park Vale CCL League cup 2nd Round 15/10


An extremely pleasant setting on a perfect sunny autumn afternoon, easily accessed by Public Transport, with a bus every 15 minutes from Aldershot Station, a 10 minute journey to a stop around 7 minutes walk from the ground. £2 buys a 12 page programme including admission, these were on sale from a table set up by the entrance. Tongham’s ground has already featured here so suffice to say a very enjoyable match with the hosts overcoming their higher division visitors 4-0 in front of an enthusiastic crowd of around 60, a very friendly club and well worth a visit


18/10/05 TT No.73: Mike Latham - Worcester City (Conference North) 


Mon 17 Oct 2005, Conference North - Worcester City 0-1 Nuneaton Borough (att- 922)


Worcester City's St George's Lane home is an increasingly rare example of a traditional football ground situated close to the city centre and surrounded by housing and narrow lanes and roads.  Set to be developed into housing by Miller Homes the message to travellers is 'tick it off while you can' as the football club investigate two planned locations for a new ground, including rumours of a ground-share with the rugby club at Sixways close to the M5 junction six.


On a mild autumnal evening the St George's Lane ground, City's home since 1905, looked at its best- the glare of its floodlights apparent from a distance away and helping guide a way through the maze of tightly packed streets that lead to the ground from the A38 north of the city centre.  With no carpark there is only street parking and latecomers can have a frustrating time searching for a space.


With an impressively ornate gate emblazoned with the initials 'WCFC' the entrance gives the immediate impression the traveller is entering a ground of some substance and there are plenty of welcoming signs.  A well stocked club shop is situated by the entrance.


Once inside the ground is dominated by the main stand that runs lengthways down the nearside touchline and which has a small paddock in front.  The other three sides are terraced with a spectacular cover, known as the Cowshed, in the far corner.  The old seated stand that straddled the halfway line on this side was demolished due to ground safety regulations.  Unusually, the dressing rooms are housed in a two-storey building in the nearside corner.


Surrounded by mature trees the ground, particularly for an evening game, has a tremendous feel to it and a decent crowd contributed to the atmosphere.  It was one of those games that favoured the side on the up- second placed Nuneaton securing the points with a well-taken goal just after the half-hour mark and Worcester, struggling near the bottom, looking at least their equals with a neat passing style but failing to convert several half chances.  Despite their struggles on the pitch the home fans were very supportive and there was no apparent barracking.


A 32-page full colour programme, containing all the basic material but short on editorial compared to many others the writer has seen recently, was £2 and the £8 admission was good value for the interesting game on view.  With the ability to move around the ground and go in the stand from the terrace below there was the chance to view the game from a number of vantage points and the two sets of fans were able to change ends at half-time.  A visit to St George's Lane comes highly recommended. Match rating: 4*.


17/10/05 TT No.72: Mike Latham - Newi Cefn Druids (Welsh Premier League)


Sun 16 Oct 2005, Welsh Premier League: Newi Cefn Druids 2-5 Llanelli (att- 301)


Play when no-one else is playing and you will pull in the punters.  It's a simple but effective marketing strategy that other clubs could well copy to their advantage.  Newi Cefn Druids may be the oldest football club in Wales as they proclaim on the front of their programme but they are clearly not adverse to new ideas.


On a beautiful sunny autumnal afternoon this Welsh Premier League clash attracted a crowd of 301, including a host of groundhoppers from far and wide to Plaskynaston Lane.  Situated in the old coal-mining village of Cefn Mawr, a few miles south of Wrexham the ground is atmospheric and surrounded by some great scenery and the welcome is a warm one.


Though formed in 1992 as a merger between Druids United and Cefn Albion, the roots of the club can be traced back to 1869 when Plasmadoc FC was born and a successor, Druids, won the Welsh Cup eight times between 1880 and 1904.  Since 2003 the club has been sponsored by NEWI, a Wrexham based college known as the North East Wales Institute and former Wrexham legend Dixie McNeil is the current manager.


Llanelli have undergone a revolution in the past few months since being taken over by an asset management company.  Spaniard Lucas Cazorla Luque has been brought in as director of football and he cut an elegant and animated figure on the touchline alongside former Welsh international Peter Nicholas, the coach.


With four Spanish players in their side Llanelli played some excellent attacking football at times though they looked vulnerable at the back as the home side wasted an abundance of chances.  After coasting to a 3-0 lead with the help of two clinically struck goals by Craig Williams Llanelli conceded a penalty just before half-time and then a thumping header by Druids sub Darren Williams just after the hour before sealing their win with two late gaols from Ivan Nofeuentes.


The Druids ground can be reached via a small winding lane from the main road leading through the village and there is plenty of car-parking.  A large stone-built structure at the entrance houses the dressing rooms with entry to the pitch for the players via a railed pathway down a grassed bank. There was a small amount of terracing at this side of the ground and a small main seated stand straddled the halfway line with another small seated stand in front of the clubhouse behind the near-side goals.


An excellent tea bar served a good array of hot and cold drinks and tasty steak pies among other delicacies and though the 32-page programme had a rather homespun feel it did contain excellent histories and pen pictures of both clubs and was good value for £1.


Admission was £5 adults, £3 senior citizens and there are plenty of good vantage points to be had around the ground with the far goal backed by a steep wooded bank. The sloping playing pitch was in good condition and facilities were maintained to a high standard with a very clear tannoy system delivering team news and scorers details. The final score-line could have been anything given the number of chances created but Llanelli were fully deserving of their victory after a very entertaining and fluid game played in a good spirit and tolerantly refereed. A visit to Plaskynaston Lane comes highly recommended. Match rating: 4*


16/10/05 TT No.71: Paul Roth - Debenham Leisure Centre (ECL1)


Debenham L C  v March Town United; Eastern Counties Lge. Div. 1; Sat. 15th October 2005;
Res: 2-2; Programme: 32 pages/£1; Entry: £3.00.

After a three week break from football, spent hill walking and scuba diving in the warmer climes of Mallorca, I was really ready to get back to Saturday football.

The football season encompasses all the seasons for me and now that late summer has passed and those balmy days are behind us. Autumn is truly here with those mellow, misty, dank mornings and dark nights drawing in.

On a glorious morning I travelled to rural suffolk to sample all this Autumnal magic and as I sped up the A12 towards Debenham F C in the glorious sunshine the on board weather station in the car showed a warm 20 degrees outside.

For the thousands of you who log onto this site worldwide you will by now know I am a GBG/Real ale fan and a trip to four pubs had been mapped out en route. In all my time ground hopping I doubt I have ever visited four such cracking hosteleries in one session. So superb they were I list them here and recommend a meander through the Suffolk lanes to find them: 1 Moon and Mushroom at Swilland; 2 The Chequers at Kettleburgh; 3 The Station at Framlingham and 4 The Victoria at Earl Soham. The last pub at Earl Soham has the brewery and shop 200 yards down the road that sells bottled beers and local produce so I took advantage of this by getting our veg for the Sunday roast and some duck pate for the cat.

Oh yes, I almost forgot the Football! Debenham L C (Leisure Centre) were playing March and their well appointed ground is behind the leisure centre - no surprise there - on the Stonham Aspal road on the edge of the village. £4 got me the prerequisite programme and entry and I quickly found the well appointed clubhouse that actually has real ale on handpump, although I declined the temptation.


The pitch is fully railed off with hard standing all round (which looks very new) and goal nets in amber and black stripes, the homesters colours.

March dominated the first half to lead 2-0 at the break but a really spirited second half showing by Debenham, despite having their number eleven sent off, saw them fight back to get a deserved 2-2 draw.

A day out at Debenham L C F C and in the glorious county of Suffolk comes highly recommended.

Match rating 4*; the day itself truly 5*.


16/10/05 TT No.70: Mike Latham - Wigan Athletic (The Premiership)


Sat 15 Oct 2005, Premier League- Wigan Athletic 1-0 Newcastle United (att- 22,374)


Wigan Athletic fans of long standing must constantly pinch themselves and feel they are dreaming as they survey their incredible rise through the divisions. Ten years ago Latics played in an old decrepit stadium in the third division with average crowds of 1,832- second worst in the Football League. After the demise of the old Wigan Borough club in the 1930s that resigned from the old Third Division (North) during the season history could well have repeated itself.


In a town dominated by rugby league Latics, who gained League status in 1978, always faced a hard battle for support and their Springfield Park ground- ageing, crumbling, windswept and lacking in even basic facilities was one of the worst in the League.


The intervention of Wigan's richest man, Dave Whelan, and the metamorphosis in the town's sporting outlook has been well chronicled.  Whelan financed the construction of the JJB Stadium in 1999 on an old wasteland site and Springfield Park and Wigan rugby's Central Park grounds were sold for development. The two clubs now groundshare a modern stadium on the outskirts of town.


About a 20-minutes walk from the railway station, if you know your way down the canal bank, takes you near Wigan Pier, the central piece of George Orwell's famous book of the '30s that highlighted the squalid living conditions then existing in the old coalmining town. There are 2,000 carparking spaces around the stadium but many Latics fans chose to park in the vicinity of the old Springfield Park ground and walk over the canal bridge to the ground, avoiding the inevitable traffic bottlenecks after the game. The JJB Stadium must be one of the most 'walked to' grounds around its proximity to housing.


The four stands are virtually identical with good sightlines and a feeling of being close to the action wherever you are in the stadium. The visiting fans packed the north stand behind the goal and virtually to a man and woman remained standing throughout the game. Both sets of fans created a tremendous atmosphere as Wigan continued their incredible start to life in the Premiership with a 1-0 victory, courtesy of a well-worked Jason Roberts goal five minutes before half-time. The work-rate and application of the home side was outstanding but they have many skilful players in their side, too and are obviously well coached and organised.


Latics operate a two-tiered pricing strategy depending on the opposition. This was a category A game and so admission to the main, west stand was £25 adults and £20 juniors (£25 and £12 in the east stand opposite). The club has built up a successful JJ's matchday club in the south stand encouraging young supporters and tickets for U16s are £10 in this section.  It was noticeable just how many families formed part of the Latics support and the atmosphere outside and inside the ground was friendly.


A full colour 72-page programme packed with interesting articles sold for £3.  Best feature was a four-page look-back to 1954 when non-league Latics played Newcastle in the FA Cup third round, drawing 2-2 away before losing the replay 2-3 before 26,500 at Springfield Park.  In a nice touch the Latics goalkeeper that day, Bert Lomas, was guest of honour at the game and was introduced to the crowd at half-time.  Despite the early kick-off for television purposes (12-45) there was no let-up in the atmosphere or sense of occasion and the Wigan fans are clearly relishing their first taste of the Premiership. An enjoyable game and occasion.  Match rating: 4*.


15/10/05 TT No.69: Mike Latham - Airbus UK (Welsh Premier League)


Fri 14 Oct 2005, Welsh Premier League, Airbus UK 0-5 TNS (att-240)


Airbus UK completed a rapid rise through the Welsh pyramid system by reaching the Welsh Premier League in 2004 and are now in their second season in the top flight.


But their promising start to the season was severely tested against leaders TNS who strolled to a 5-0 victory courtesy of some ruthless finishing.  Marc Lloyd-Williams, a prolific scorer at this level, led the way with a hat-trick as TNS played a high standard of passing football, particularly impressing with their methodical and skilful build-up play from the back.


The Airbus ground is named the Airfield and is situated in Broughton, just off the A55 road that links Chester with North Wales.  After passing a huge retail park the Airbus factory looms into view and a couple of stewards helpfully pointed the way to a well lit and concreted car park.


The football ground is situated just inside the works entrance and the floodlights, four towers on each side of the ground, which are retractable due to the close proximity to the airfield, were shining brightly.


Admission was £5 and a 28-page programme with liberal use of colour and good pen pictures and club histories of both teams was a bargain £1.  Pen pictures of the home side are particularly of value to neutral spectators and this is a concept that should be used more widely.  Several of the home team's players are employed at the Airbus works.


The Airfield ground boasts an excellent playing surface, though slightly undulating in parts.  The ground itself is rather basic though immaculately kept.  There is a small pavilion on the far side of the ground housing the committee rooms and dressing rooms and with a small seated area in front.  On the near side, closest to the turnstiles, is a small temporary seated stand.  The rest of the ground is hard standing behind the perimeter boards though there is a grass-banking behind the far goal, backing onto the runway that gives an excellent view.


There is a small refreshment facility in a temporary building in the far corner that did a roaring trade on a clear and still evening and the tannoy system was very distinct as the announcer gave out the two line-ups and later the names of the scorers.


The club officials were very friendly and a number of travellers were in attendance, including one gentleman from Warwick who was completing his set of Welsh Premier League grounds.


The standard of the Airbus warm-up was extremely high and very impressive, certainly on a par with some English Premier League clubs, but once the play got underway the home players seemed somewhat overawed by the standard of opposition.  Settling into their neat passing style with some good movement and use of wide players, TNS established a 3-0 lead by the interval and could have won even more convincingly, though to their credit the home side always tried to play constructive football.


It was an enjoyable and stress-free evening's entertainment and a visit to the unusual setting of the Airfield comes recommended.  Match rating: 4*.


13/10/05 TT No.68: Mike Latham - Bacup Borough (NWCL1)


Thurs 13 October 2005, NWCL Division One, Bacup Borough 0-0 Atherton LR (Attendance- 80)


First the good news- Bacup Borough have made Thursdays their regular time for midweek games, affording travellers the chance to watch North West Counties Division One football on a normally barren day.


But now the bad- Bacup still don't issue programmes for home games and the man at the gate has even stopped using the excuse of 'There's been a fire at the printers' by way of explanation.


How bad is that?  Clubs way below Bacup in the football pyramid issue and it doesn't take much effort or inclination to produce a basic programme with team line-ups and a bit of news and information on the club.  With fifteen years experience of being an editor of club programmes in rugby league I know how unrewarding and time consuming it can be but surely it's a necessary PR tool and a programme can make or break the enjoyment of a game.


So £5 admission and no programme- always an unsatisfactory state of affairs.  With no tannoy system in operation gaining any information on the team line-ups proved to be a fruitless exercise and grated throughout the evening.  About ten travellers were in attendance in the crowd of around 80 and they were equally frustrated.  Two travellers turned away at the turnstiles on hearing there was no programme issued.


Bacup is deep in the heart of old Lancashire cotton mill territory and there are some magnificently renovated terraced stone properties in the town centre and leading up to the ground.  If travelling by car Bacup is about 20 mins drive off the M66 motorway that leads off the M62 near Bury though the speed cameras through Rawtenstall can trap the unwary.


The ground is found just off the Burnley Road out of the town centre, turning up Cooper Street just before the Irwell Inn.  There is plenty of street parking and the walk up Cowtoot Lane to the ground, seemingly hewn into the side of a hillside is atmospheric.


There is one main turnstile entry and the club house is located at this side of the ground where the Martin Peters Bar (named after England's 1966 World Cup star) dispenses a wide range of drinks and there are interesting photographs on the wall.  The Bacup club is run seemingly virtually single handed by Brent Peters (I think no relation) who is a manager with a silver tongue.  In recent years he has persuaded a number of prominent former Football League personalities to turn out for the club including ex-Manchester United players David May and Ben Thornley, the experienced former Bolton goalkeeper Dave Felgate and ex-Bury and Blackpool defender Ian Hughes.


A small refreshment bar manned by a very cheerful lady dispensed hot drinks and tasty meat and potato pies and seemed to do a roaring trade on a dry but chilly evening.  The pitch slopes from side to side and also diagonally from the far top corner but was in good condition and the floodlights were excellent.


There is a small seated stand running along the side from the corner flag at the entrance and a small cover behind the far goal and on the far side with the rest of the ground hard standing.  Surrounded by stone walls, with strategically placed ladders to enable volunteers to retrieve misplaced footballs, the ground has plenty of character.


Thornley and Hughes were in the Bacup ranks but despite their obvious class the home side had to settle for a draw in a keenly contested game of few chances with the skills of visiting forward Ian Knapman really catching the eye.  With both sides in the bottom six of the division they seemed content with a point apiece.


The obvious misgivings of the lack of programmes aside, Cowtoot Lane is an atmospheric and interesting place to visit.  However, travellers will continue to be dissuaded from venturing into the heart of deepest Lancashire until the programme problem is addressed and surely the NWCL cannot be too happy with the situation. FGIF Match Rating 3*.


12/10/05 TT No.67: Barry Neighbour - Burnham (Southern League Div 1 West)


Tuesday 11th October 2005;  BURNHAM 0  Bracknell Town 2;  Southern League Division 1 West; Att:123
24 Page Programme £1;  Match Rating Football 2*;  Entertainment 4*


Brutal is probably the best way to describe this local derby with both sides guilty of wild reckless challenges which resulted in a Bracknell player limping off with a suspected broken ankle for a nasty foul from behind which the Ref chose not to see. After this it threatened to get out of control at anytime. Not one for the purists as any attempt to play football was brought to an abrupt halt but these sort of games do tend to keep you on your toes. For the record this was a welcome win for struggling Bracknell which brought them level on points with their hosts with goals in the 43rd and 85th minutes. In between Bracknell missed a penalty after another reckless lunge in the area which the  keeper pushed out and the Bracknell player completely mickicked in front of an open goal before the Burnham keeper smothered the ball.


Burnham have just opened a brand new stand which runs for 3/4 of the length of the pitch and contains bar facilities and dressing rooms. It is certainly a bold and exciting addition to what was a somewhat delapated old ground which to be honest probably had no better than Hellenic League Facilities.


12/10/05 TT No.66: Mike Latham - Cammell Laird (NWCL)


Tues 11 Oct 2005, FACup 3rd Qualifying Round replay, Cammell Laird 0-1 Hucknall Town (att-395)


Cammell Laird's rapid rise through the pyramid has earned them respect from opponents for the excellent standard of football they play and though they bowed out of the FA Cup on a wet evening on the Wirral they gave another good account of themselves against opponents three levels higher.


Having moved through the North West Counties League Division Two in their first season following promotion from the West Cheshire League, Lairds have won four of their five league games so far in the first division but are already building up a big fixture backlog.


They earned a fine 2-2 at Conference North side Hucknall to earn a place in the fourth qualifying round draw for the first time in their history.  An entertaining, free-flowing replay was only decided by a late goal by the Hucknall substitute to deny Lairds the prospect of a tie against Burscough.


Located in Rock Ferry near Birkenhead the Kirklands ground is on St Peter's Road.  Opposite the main entrance is the Lairds clubhouse where a warm welcome was extended to travellers.


Known throughout the world for its connection to the ship-building industry, the works team club will celebrate their centenary in 2007.


The ground is small and hemmed in by housing with a small seated stand straddling the halfway line on the St Peter's Road side and a small cover on the opposite side where the dugouts are located.  The rest of the ground is hard standing behind a white post and rail fence.


At the entrance the officials and secretary's rooms and tea bar are situated.  The pitch was flat, well grassed and in good condition and the floodlights were excellent.


A crowd of nearly 400 was comfortably accommodated and club officials were friendly.  A well-printed programme, which included the FA Cup draw from the day previously and several interesting articles was £1 though admission was raised from the normal £5 to £8 for the game.


To progress further up the pyramid the club may well have to relocate to a new ground with locals talking of a proposed new site nearby and also change their name from the works name with Birkenhead Town one possibility.  They have obviously come a long way in a short space of time and the team's neat, constructive and entertaining playing style has already won lots of admirers.  They certainly more than held their own against last season's beaten FA Trophy finalists.  Lairds were unlucky to concede just as extra-time beckoned but the crowd had certainly had an entertaining evening. Match rating: 4*.


11/10/05 TT No.65: Barry Neighbour - Verwood and Shaftesbury (Wessex League)


Saturday 9th October 2005; England playing on the Saturday gave me the chance of a double in the Wessex League. My first port of call was Verwood Town 1 AFC Aldermaston 1 Attendance About 50 with around Half being Hoppers, Match Rating 3*


No Admission Charged but 36 Page Programme sold for £1. Verwood are striving to improve their facilities as was evident by 2 new stands and new dugouts. Work is going on to create hardstanding down the side and they have planning permission for floodlights, even if they do not have the finances at present. AFC Aldermaston came away with a surprise point here as Verwood were top of the Division 3 table (some 10 points clear of mid table Aldermaston). The home side's efforts were not helped by the 25th minute sending off with their goalkeeper for handling outside the box. This was the second time in the game he had committed the offence; the general opinion was that the ref 'bottled it' first time around giving Verwood the free kick for feet up. The away side took advantage of the extra man to take a deserved lead but 10 men Verwood rallied in the second period to pull the game level and save a point. Overall a draw was probably the fairest result although both sides had chances to win the game. After the game came a relatively short journey to Shaftesbury for a 3pm kick-off.

Shaftesbury 4 Alresford Town 3; 24 Page programme included in £3 Admission price. Attendance about 40; Match Rating 3*


Shaftesbury are another side to invest heavily in ground improvements having virtually rebuilt the whole ground which has a 250-seater stand and covered accommodation on the far side and a brand new dressing room complex adjacent to the pitch (as the old ones were out in the car park). Shaftesbury appeared to be cruising as they went into a 3-1 lead but the away side hit back and looked to have rescued a well earned point until the last minute of the game when Shaftsbury scored a winner, much to the annoyance of Alresford who were appealing for offside. I will sit on the fence here as I could not see it from where I was standing (Mr Wenger!) The arguing carried on after the final whistle with at least one yellow card shown on the way back to the dressing rooms. All in all, another good day rounded off with dinner at the Wetherspoons in Salisbury!


11/10/05 TT No.64: Mike Latham - Nelson (NWCL)


Mon 10 October 2005, North West Counties League Division Two, Nelson 0-3 Blackpool Mechanics (att-100)


Nelson's Victoria Park ground is situated just down the road from the old Seedhill ground that staged League football from 1921-31.  Demolished in 1980 to make way for the present M65 motorway, Seedhill was an atmospheric ground though in its latter days was rather a sad sight and had an air of faded glories.


Located just a couple of minutes off J13 of the M65 Nelson's new ground at Victoria Park is a pleasant tree-lined venue with one of the best playing surfaces in the north-west.  There is a small stand along the far side and the rest of the ground is hard standing behind a neat post and rail fence.  The distinctive stone terraced houses on Holme Terrace form the backdrop down the near side of the ground and the club's dressing rooms, tea hut, social club and club shop are located behind the goal at the far end opposite the turnstile entry.


A friendly welcome at the turnstiles and from officials only too pleased to give out teamsheet details was a distinctly welcome change from some recent experiences and the excellent pie and peas added to the enjoyment on a pleasantly warm evening.


Admission was £4 with a 40-page programme, including the NWCL newsletter, an additional £1.  About twenty travellers, including some familiar faces, were in attendance, revelling in the comparatively rare opportunity to see Monday night football in Lancashire.


Blackpool Mechanics soaked up early pressure and then scored twice in five minutes midway through the first half, going on to seal a comprehensive away win with a third goal late in the game as Nelson's threat faded.  The visitors played some excellent constructive football at times and were well worthy of their win after a game played in excellent spirit.


Victoria Park is a most pleasant place to watch football with plenty of room to walk around a well maintained ground and good facilities to enjoy.  The floodlights were excellent and the setting and ambience made for a good evening's entertainment. Match rating 3*.


10/10/05 TT No.63: Stephen Harris - Hucknall Town (Nationwide Conference North)


Saturday 8 October 2005; Hucknall Town 2-2 Cammell Laird; FA Cup; att 292, programme issued, admission £8

I too was at the Shirebrook Town vs Mickleover Sports game in the morning and enjoyed it every bit as much as did Mike Latham. Arriving early, we were told the programmes were “selling like hot cakes” and almost all gone, so we limited ourselves to one between two and are therefore ‘not guilty’ on the greed front. But I do confess to buying the last two pies from the tea hut shortly after the kick-off.


Lacking any transport in the time available to Arnold Town, for the most obvious double-header, we opted for a quick train ride down to Hucknall for the afternoon FA Cup game against Cammell Laird. Fifty-five minutes and a good rain-soaking later we were through the turnstiles for what promised to be an intriguing game between two very upwardly mobile sides.


Hucknall’s Watnall Road ground is a strange mix, reflecting their rapid rise through the leagues in recent years. One side has a simple concrete pathway and rail and one end is similar with the addition of a little gravel banking. These sides attracted no more than ten spectators on a very wet afternoon. The remaining two sides are fully covered and sheltered almost the entire crowd. The end has two patches of covered terracing, the covered side contains both terracing and seats and all looks pretty new, although the low roof restricts viewing from the back row. There is a well-stocked club shop, an equally well-stocked snack bar and a modern-looking club house.


The rather damp crowd was well packed in where we stood, wore their colours with pride and gave the home side good vocal support. There appeared to be rather more present than the official attendance of 292, despite the foul weather and the rival attraction on the TV.


Laird were slow starting and conceeded in the second minute, prompting us to think the game might be a bit of a mis-match. In fact Laird pushed the home team hard throughout, equalised, took a lead against the run of play and ended up fully worth their draw. It was an entertaining cup tie and I would think that if Cammell Laird can play such enterprising football in their league games they will soon be pushing at the top of their league.


The match programme was perfectly adequate, but overpriced for its content at £2. FGIF match rating; 3*


09/10/05 TT No.62: Mike Latham - Arnold Town and Shirebrook Town (both NCELP)


Sat 8 Oct 2005; NCEL Premier Division; Shirebrook Town 3-2 Mickleover Sports (att-150)

There are many surprises on the groundhopping trail and a visit to Shirebrook Town’s Langwith Road ground certainly provided one.

After enterprisingly switching to a noon kick-off for their NCEL encounter with Mickleover, Shirebrook were rewarded with the patronage of at least thirty travellers eager to fit in a double header and the welcome at the turnstiles was a warm one.

Unfortunately one traveller appeared to have bought a ‘job lot’ of programmes, depriving anyone arriving just before kick-off of a purchase, which he allegedly later sold for a premium- such people are the bane of traveller’s lives and beneath contempt.

Enough of the downsides.  The writer had been led to believe, albeit from southern based softies, that this Derbyshire based ground deep in former coal-mining territory was one to be taken with a large pinch of salt.  But nothing could have been further from the truth.  Easily found through the small town of Shirebrook, about 15 mins drive from J29 of the M1, the Langwith Road ground affords excellent parking on a grassed area on the approach to the ground and the cheery greeting at the entrance set up a most enjoyable visit.

An unstapled 44-page programme packed with statistics, reports and information on both clubs was excellent value for £1 and the £4 entrance fee was money well spent as the two sides put on an entertaining game.

After falling behind to a first-minute goal, Shirebrook scored twice in quick succession to lead 2-1 after eight minutes’ play.  The visitors levelled after 67 minutes but a defensive blunder led to Shirebrook sub Eyre scoring the winner eight minutes from time though the visitors hit the post in injury time.

Shirebrook are clearly an ambitious club and aspire to Unibond League status in the future.  Their ground has plenty of room for future improvements but already boasts some good facilities.

After going through the turnstiles there is a small covered standing area and tea hut purveying a wide range of products down one side and two small seated stands on the opposite side.  Both ends are grassed bankings behind hard standing perimeters with a neat white fence enclosing the playing area and distinctive white-painted perimeter fence.  The dressing rooms are located at the corner of the entrance and there is also a small committee room building.

With excellent vantage points and a warm and cheery welcome a visit to this friendly club comes highly recommended.  Match rating: 4*.

Sat 8 Oct 2005; NCEL Premier Division;  Arnold Town 2-2 Long Eaton United.

King George V Playing Field, home of Arnold Town FC since 1962 is located opposite the market in the Nottingham suburb just off the main shopping drag. With the football club in their final season at this council owned venue they also share with the cricket club, a visit there was a must, and was easily made down 3 motorway junctions from Shirebrook despite the incessant rain.  Around twenty travellers ahd also fitted in a double header with Shirebrook.

Upon paying the £5 entry, swapping banter with the cheery gateman and securing another superbly informative and fact-filled programme for only £1 (containing 56 pages) there was chance to go in the small club house, also housing a small tea bar before the game.

As with most clubs that share with cricket clubs the facilities were rather rudimentary with a small covered standing area on the far side and a covered end at the market side of the ground with bench seating.  The other two sides of the ground are hard standing behind a post and rail fence.

In contrast to the Shirebrook game this was a scrappy and ill-tempered affair partly caused by the referee’s inability to stamp down on some foul tackling early in the game but due largely to the poor attitude of many of the players who constantly questioned his authority.  

After falling behind to an early goal, the home side looked set for a win to continue their pursuit of Liversedge at the top after scoring following an indirect free-kick inside the penalty area and a late penalty.  Despite being down to ten men after the sending-off of one of their defenders, the visitors salvaged a draw in virtually their only attack of note of the second half with a glancing header from one of their substitutes.  But this was not a game that reflected the NCEL in the best light, the constant fouling stopping the game getting any flow or momentum and the continual bad language and poor behaviour of some of the players ruining the game for the uncommitted neutral.  Match rating: 1*

06/10/05 TT No.61: Barry Neighbour - Recent Travels....Bracknell Town (SLW); London Maccabi Lions (FA Sunday Cup) and Holmer Green (SSML)


Tuesday 27th September 2005; Bracknell Town 1 Leighton Town 3; Southern League Western Division; 60 Page Programme £1.50; FGIF Rating 3*


Bracknell started the brighter and took a deserved lead only for Non League Paper columnist Stuart Hammond to deflect the ball past his own keeper for an equalizer. A second deflection put the visitors 2-1 up early in the second half. Bracknell's confidence went when Leighton added the 3rd. After this game Bracknell announced a cut by one third in their budget which saw the departure of Skipper Hammond and former Reading midfielder Scott Taylor. The decision to place the Robins into the Southern League last season is certainly having a very negative impact at Larges Lane at the moment.


Sunday 2nd October 2005; London Maccabi Lions 5 The Well 3 AET; FA Sunday Cup 1st Round; FGIF Rating 4*; Attendance 19 No Programme Issued.


This game was played at Rowley Lane Sports Ground in Arkley; formerley Laings who were members of the Hertfordshire County League. This is part of a large sports complex that includes a golf course, tennis, cricket and junior football. It has a fairly large well appointed clubhouse. The pitch is up on a plateau with a large slope on the far side. This meant that any ball going out rolled down the hill and into the distance. It has a plastic rail all the way around the pitch and a small transparent stand. An interesting part of the ground is in the corner where railway sleepers have been used to hold the earth back indicating that the ground has been dug out and levelled. As for the game itself Hertfordshire-based The Well took a 15th minute lead when the home keeper palmed a mishit cross into his own net. The Well soon added a 2nd and looked like heading for an easy win but the Home side pulled a goal back against the run of play just before half-time. The second half was a transformation as Maccabi pulled back the defecit but could not find a winner before the end. Extra time saw Maccabi continue to dominate and they  when they made it 3-2 it looked as though they would win. Incredibly The Well equalized to make it 3-3 at half-time. The fitness of the home side told in the final quarter with 2 more goals to progress 5-3. A good day out and recommended should Maccabi get drawn at home in a future round.


Tuesday 4th October 2005; Holmer Green 1 Biggleswade Town 0; Spartan South Midlands League Trophy Round 2;  48 Page Programme £1 (A reduction to the monster 74 Page plus ones of a few years ago but still a great effort); FGIF Match Rating 3*


Holmer Green have a stand on one side and a concrete surround for the remaining three sides. Remarkably the only advertising hording was on the back of the stand with none surrounding the pitch. The trees have grown since my last visit helping to make the ground fully enclosed. The most amazing thing about the game is how Biggleswade failed to score with at least six clear cut chances in the first half. Holmer Green got back into the game in the secnd half and won the game with a close range effort midway through the half to leave Biggleswade feeling they had been well and truly mugged!!


02/10/05 TT No.60: Andy Molden - Corfe Mullen Utd (Dorset County League)


Corfe Mullen Utd (0) 4 Dorchester Utd (1) 2; Dorset Senior Cup; Att 52 (headcount)
Club issued 1st ever proggie (club only reformed in 2000), £1 with admission,  28 pages, with some colour.
Many well known travellers in attendance.
80 or so progs were printed it looked like it was a sell out but if club gets requests for copies they will run more off, though as they progressed in cup I'm sure if they have another home tie they will issue again, most helpful people.
Ground on A31 trunk road just passed Coventry Arms pub (well worth a visit) - if heading east to west. Railed off pitch with dug-outs and advertising boards, only third season on ground. Well stocked teabar. Club also has a website which is kept up to date. If league form carries on as it is going at the moment they may well be in Dorset Premier League next season.


02/10/05 TT No.59: Mike Latham – Pontefract Collieries (NCELP) in FAV 2Q.


Sat 1 Oct 2005, FA Vase 2Q Round, Pontefract Collieries 2-3 Darlington Railway Athletic (att-100)


First impressions are often the lasting ones, particularly upon visiting a new ground.  Maybe at Pontefract they proved to be mistaken ones.


The football club, members of the Northern Counties East League Division One, is situated down Skinner Lane, a narrow, rutted track that leads off the dual carriageway leading up to the town from J32 of the M62, opposite Pontefract Racecourse.


The racecourse is one of the best in England, a magnificent sweeping oval with an excellent view from the ancient grandstand. But the soccer club is less salubrious- the entrance makes the heart sink and the distant power station with its chimneys churning out steam and the nearby grassed over slag heap and railway embankment are a reminder that this is the grimy part of industrial West Yorkshire.


Compensation is provided by the ample parking once the rutted lane has been safely negotiated and the two teams could be seen warming up on a disused cricket ground just before the football ground.


Any traveller arriving at 2-30pm for a 3pm kick-off would normally expect that programmes would still be on sale.


Sadly, this was not the case here.  Though £3 secured admission a request for a programme was met with a “sold out” reply from the taciturn gateman.  Further enquiries revealed a grand total of 32 had been printed- surely still enough as the ground appeared to be deserted. Alas no.  “Someone bought four, another three, another three,” was the reply.  On asking if there were any available from elsewhere the answer was a firm “no.”


A real downer, especially as no effort is made to display the team-sheet and the ground announcer gives out the teams just once and then in such a hurried fashion even the most talented shorthand typist would have been struggling to keep up.


To make matters worse, the tea hut, manned by a most pleasant lady, runs out of pie and peas by kick-off and is then restricted to purveying hot drinks only.


Travellers arriving later were met with the same unhelpful response from club officials regarding programmes.  As one had travelled from London, another from Exeter and another from Norfolk this was a most unacceptable situation.


The attendance, swelled by a few travelling supporters from Darlington, was around the one hundred mark on a sunny but blustery afternoon.


The main grandstand is quite impressive for this level, seating around three hundred in neat blue plastic seats of six rows. Underneath the stand is a small club house. Behind the goal at the cricket ground end is a small lean-to cover and the rest of the ground is hard standing behind a post and rail fence. On the far side, opposite the club house, is the railway embankment, bordered by trees with several balls being booted out of the ground at this side during the course of the afternoon.


The pitch was in good condition despite recent heavy rain, well grassed with a slight slope.


Darlington RA, newcomers to the Northern League this season, currently top the table but they got off to a painfully slow start and conceded within the first minute.


Thereafter they then dominated and scored two well-worked goals in the first half they spurned several gilt-edged opportunities.  They were almost made to pay when the home side equalised with fifteen minutes remaining only for the visiting striker, apparently a prolific scorer at this level, to grab a late winner in injury time as he rifled home a corner to save everyone from the demands of extra-time.


Despite poor first impressions Skinner Lane was a pleasant enough place to watch football though the lack of programmes and team information grated.  The game was hard fought and increasingly niggly but the visitors fully deserved to progress through to the next round of the FA Vase.  Match rating: 2*