Thursday, 29 October 2009

Game 22 - Lincoln United v Cambridge United 25th October 2009 F.A. Cup 4th Qualifying Round

A game a bit nearer to home today with the Unibond League representatives Lincoln United taking on Cambridge United of the Conference in the final F.A. Cup Qualifying Round with the chance of taking on one the League big boys. Except the draw is already made before the game kicks off and so we know who awaits the winners, Ilkeston Town.

Ashby Avenue is the venue today with a capacity of 2,700 and the Club are hoping for a crowd of over 1,000, hopefully boosted by fans of Lincoln City. I pick up Keith, my fellow Fox fan who is to be my guide today, and who actually played for Lincoln United a few years ago and it should be pointed out that the groundsman is also a Foxes fan who has come to games with us in the past. We park up and make our way to the Clubhouse which is outside of the ground and is shared with the cricket club which you pass to get to the ground. The clubhouse is packed and a large number of Cambridge fans are in attendance, some of whom we are told were at the ground at 10am! The focus of most people is on Sky's coverage of the Premiership game between Liverpool and Manchester United. We depart before half time of this game as a queue is already building up outside the turnstiles. This presents me with a first on the Non League scene, segregation, with Cambridge being given the side stand accessed through separate turnstiles. When we get in its fairly packed down the side stand so we make our way to the stand behind the opposite goal. There is a good following to our right from Cambridge in a stand with a mix of seats and standing.

The Cup upset that we hope to see looks on as veteran Jamie Forrester lobs Potter after only 3 minutes and its almost 2-0 before the shaky Cambridge defence clear it off the line (although someone at that end insists the ball was over the line). After weathering this early storm Cambridge start to show their class and the game is over by half time with a 3 goal burst, scorers for Cambridge McCauley, Willmott and Hatswell.
We get a pass out at half time and head back to the Clubhouse. Its just as full but the Premiership supporters are out in force and its a little bit like being in Liverpool and when they score their second the cheering is unbelievable. A guy near me turns and says "This is what is wrong with football". I think I agree, they seem to be totally oblivious to the fact that there is a Cup tie going on only yards from where they sit. I get talking to my fellow traveller who has travelled from the West Midlands for today's game. He tells me he is a groundhopper now in response to my question "who do you support" and goes on to tell me he has been to over 300 grounds, and nearly completing down to Step 4. I bid farewell to him and we head back into the ground.
The second half is not as dull as I feared but Cambridge have control of the game and there seems to be only one team that will score. However both defences hold out and Cambridge see out the game and into the First Round proper against the Robins of Ilkeston. We leave the ground to be faced by a large number of the local plod. It has to be said that there was no hint of trouble that I saw and the day passed off without incident.

Lincoln United 1-3 Cambridge United
Att: 837
Admission: £8
Programme: £2
Badge: £3

More photos of Ashby Avenue here.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Game 21 - Bala Town v Haverfordwest County 24th October 2009 Principality Building Society Welsh Premier

We get up to see a very wet Saturday morning and after a superb breakfast we check out of the hotel and head for Bala for the second game of our North Wales trip. Our journey takes us through the Snowdonia National Park, with the rain becoming heavier as our journey progresses. What is amazing is the number of empty cars parked at all the car parks along the way, obviously the walkers have not been put off by the heavy downpour.
Along the journey we come to Bethesda and despite a small knowledge of Welsh football I know that they have a team that won the Welsh Alliance League last season. You've guessed it, we start to look out for the ground. There are no signs of it but as we start to reach the end of the town we spot it on the right as the A5 leaves town. We double back and park up to have a quick look at Parc Meurig, the home of Bethesda Athletic FC.

This is a bonus as although I'd done a route I was relying on the Satnav and so hadn't noticed where we were going to be driving through. Please excuse the pictures as it was absolutely hammering down, resulting in a few strange looks from people passing by in the dry and comfort of their cars. (more photos of Bethesda Athletic here).

We carry on with the weather showing no signs of improving. I'm starting to get worried about the game being on especially as I have no immediate alternative. We decide to ring the Secretary of Bala Town and are reassured that there is no problem and the game will definitely go ahead. We arrive in Bala by 11.45am, in plenty of time for the 1.30pm KO. As we park the car we meet a fellow Fox who is about to go home after a weeks holiday in the area. He tells us that he usually goes to Porthmadog games when he is in the area and how that there are some nice grounds in the Welsh Leagues to visit. We make our way into the centre and have a look around before grabbing a coffee and a danish. On to the ground after this which is not far from Bala High Street.

The ground is reached through the Club car park and as you go through the turnstiles you enter the ground in one corner, to the right there is a small covered stand, to the left are the dressing rooms and the seated stands. The opposite side of the ground has the dugouts and today, a television gantry as the game is being covered by S4, the reason for the early kick off. There is hard standing all round the open sides and we have the usual stroll round the ground before taking a seat in the covered stand. The wind is very strong and looks as if it will make life difficult for the players. Some home fans take a position behind one of the goals under the overhanging trees, they will need that cover later.
Bala Town were promoted from the Welsh Alliance last season and have had a good start to their first season in the Welsh Premier. Haverfordwest were original founders of the Welsh Premier and have qualified for the UEFA Cup as recently as 2004.
The game kicks off and it becomes obvious the strong wind will play a big part in today's proceedings. Bala are quickly into their stride and take the lead on 6 minutes through Owain Roberts. Haverfordwest struggle to get a foothold in the game but Bala spurn several chances to extend their lead and have to be content with the one goal lead at half time. The players are lucky to be in the dressing rooms at this point as the rain comes lashing down again. Fortunately it stops as soon as it has started but one of the Bala subs is obviously feeling the cold as he warms up on the pitch with a cup of tea and several biscuits hidden in his training top. We've also spotted some more ball boys wearing oversized fluorescent jackets, is this common in Wales?
The second half sees Haverfordwest improve and 10 minutes in they score an equaliser through Robbie Walters and this seemed to spur them on. An offside decision stopped Haverford going in front and the game could have gone either way at this point. However Bala then had a great chance to take all three points when they were awarded a penalty in the last minute but a superb save by Lee Idzi kept the scores level. A draw was a fair result but both teams could look to having had chances to secure the win. a good game given the conditions and a very nice ground too.
A very enjoyable weekend in Wales and i think another visit is on the cards. Just one more picture, this one is for my daughter.

Bala Town 1-1 Haverfordwest County
Att: 227
Admission: £6
Programme: £1.50
Badge: £3

More pictures of Maes Tegid here.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Game 20 - Bangor City v Prestatyn Town 23rd October 2009 Principality Building Society Welsh Premier

I know how to finish the week off work, we'll follow the Foxes to Reading on Saturday. Except those nice chaps at Sky decide to move it to Monday night, this despite the fact we are already on TV on Friday night away at QPR. They have no consideration of the fans who want to attend their teams games at the best of times, but to move two games in the same week is unbelievable. So, where to go? After a look on the internet I notice that it is possible to do two games in two days in the Welsh Premier League and after a bit of searching we find a hotel in Bangor and the weekend is sorted. We set off on Friday morning for the 220 odd mile trip to North Wales and after a fairly easy trip arrive in Bangor actually passing Farrar Road the home of Bangor City. More importantly, I spot an open gate at the ground and after checking in at the hotel, drag the wife straight round to the ground.

We enter the ground through the open gate and see the Groundsman and ask if it is ok to take some photos. He tells us no problem and we have a good chat to him as he tells us lots of interesting things about the Club, the ground and the new proposed ground. We then make our way round the ground taking lots of photos.

The ground consists of a seated stand (pictured above), a covered stand behind one end and open terracing on the other two sides. The ground is in need of some love and attention but you cannot help but love it. An old fashioned ground with plenty of character and one to enjoy and savour. After a good half hour wandering throughout the ground we eventually leave to explore the City, the Garth Pier being our ultimate destination.
After a superb meal in the Chinese Restaurant attached to the hotel we head for the evening game at Farrar Road between Bangor City and Prestatyn Town. Bangor were founder members of the League of Wales and won the title twice under the tutelage of Nigel Adkins, the current Scunthorpe Manager. There have been Welsh Cup wins too and these have resulted in several excursions into Europe in the Cup Winners Cup and UEFA Cup. This is only Prestatyn's second season in the Welsh Premier finishing 15th in their very first season.
The game kicked off with Bangor making all the early running and the Prestatyn goal coming under early pressure. Two goals in a minute put Bangor firmly in control of the game and they extended their lead on 42 minutes to go in 3-0 to the good at half time. The ball boys came past us at half time, all wearing fluorescent jackets that were clearly made for people about three foot taller than them. The second half saw more of the same with Bangor wasting numerous chances and Prestatyn's Matty Towns making several fine saves. A fourth goal came on 85 minutes and Prestatyn's misery continued with 7 minutes additional time which saw no further goals. A very good win for Bangor which moved them up to 9th.
A very entertaining game which we thoroughly enjoyed. A special mention of the pitch, which as we had seen earlier in the day really looked superb and played very well too, a credit to the groundsman.

Bangor City 4-0 Prestatyn Town
Att: 588
Admission: £7
Programme: £1.50
Badge: £1

More photos of Farrar Road here.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Game 19 - Leicester City v Crystal Palace 20th October 2009 Coca Cola Championship

I've always enjoyed games under the lights, they have a special atmosphere all of their own. Tonight's opponents are Crystal Palace who are on a 5 game unbeaten run. The first half is totally forgettable and we reflect that the second half can only be better. A half time substitution by Nigel Pearson with the introduction of Paul Gallagher proves to be inspired. A nailed on penalty is squandered by top scorer Matty Fryatt but Gally puts in the saved shot. I see Warnock is moaning about him already being in the box as the spot kick is taken but conveniently ignores the two Palace players also in the box! I don't mind the rules being enforced, so a re-take would have been the outcome but Warnock only ever seems to see it from his own point of view. And if you read this Neil, how about the goal you scored at Bramall Lane that went out of play by a good yard right in front of you ? I don't recall you mentioning that one. (Bitter? Yes, I probably am). A second goal follows a mistake by ex-City player Butterfield gave Gally the chance to lob the ball over keeper Speroni's head from 30 yards. An excellent goal which made the night for my Gally loving daughter.
This win leaves us 8th in the Championship, heady days indeed. The drive home is always quicker with a win and tonight is no different.

Leicester City 2-0 Crystal Palace
Coca Cola Championship
Att: 22,220
Admission: £14 (with my Season ticket)
Programme: £3

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Game 18 - Leicester City v Derby County 17th October 2009 Coca Cola Championship

Home matches for me consist of a 200 mile round trip with a stop off in Lincoln to pick up Keith and see Keith's dogs Bertie and Bud. We meet up with my daughter who is at DMU in Leicester, and park up at the Electricity Sports Club where we then have a relaxing drink. It's only 5 minutes or so to walk to the Walkers Stadium, very handy.

We are Season Ticket holders in the Kop, Block SK1 and have been since the Walkers opened in 2002. With the new ground being a short distance from the site of Filbert Street it has meant that City fans have been able to carry on going to their usual haunts before the game.

This is the view from my seat.

Anticipation is high as the game kicks off with Leicester playing all the football. It is soon clear that Derby have come for a point and are well marshalled at the back. Chances for both teams are few and City have the upper hand without making the breakthrough. 0-0 at halftime. The second half follows the same pattern but Derby are a bit more adventurous and Commons has a shot that clips the top of the bar. I feel we edged the game overall but if you don't score you can't win and I think Derby will be happier with the draw more than Leicester.
This brings my run of games without a 0-0 to a halt at 31 games.

Leicester City 0-0 Derby County
Coca Cola Championship
Att: 28,875
Admission: £14 (with my Season Ticket)
Programme: £3

More photos of the Walkers Stadium here.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Game 17 - Barton Town Old Boys v Leeds Carnegie 13th October 2009 NCEL League Cup 2nd Round

Tonight I headed for Barton Town Old Boys' Euronics Ground. I tried three times to get here last season but was thwarted by a waterlogged pitch each time, but tonight was a clear night and no likelihood of a postponement. 27 miles and thirty five minutes later I've arrived.

Barton's opponents tonight are Leeds Carnegie, the team of Leeds Metropolitan University, originally formed in 1970 and currently play their home matches at Farley Celtic's Throstles Nest Ground. Barton were formed from two sides, Barton Town and Barton Old Boys in 1995 and joined the NCEL in 2007/08.

The ground is well lit by the state of the art floodlights and you enter through the turnstiles in one corner of the ground. The whole ground is to your left, the impressive Clubhouse to your immediate left with the changing rooms attached. Opposite the Clubhouse side is the impressive JVC stand with 240 seats.

The other cover in the ground are two identical stands behind the right hand goal.

There is hard standing around the whole ground, and overall it is an impressive small ground with plenty of effort obviously having gone into reaching this standard. All the Club officials I spoke to were extremely friendly and helpful even though I did get grief for being both a City fan and living in Cleethorpes! It was also interesting to note that Barton are sponsored by "The South Bank Tigers", the local Hull City Supporters Club, and I saw plenty of Hull fans attending tonight's game. Well done to them.

As the game kicks off I'm still working my way round to the seated stand, stopping behind the goal as Leeds threaten the Barton goal. Leeds have quickly gained control of the game with their neat passing style and on 7 minutes they take the lead through Leaver firing home through a ruck of players. Barton could have had a penalty when Day was caught by the Leeds defender but to the dismay of the Barton fans behind the goal he kept his feet and the Referee did not feel a penalty was warranted. On 29 minutes Leeds took a 2-0 lead when Nicholson in the Barton goal made a mistake leading to Lawson scoring an easy goal. From the kick off Barton got themselves straight back into the game with Barlow, a good old fashioned centre forward chipping the goalkeeper from about 20 yards. This was just what Barton needed. The game was end to end for the rest of the half but there were no further goals.
The second half started with Barton taking control of the game The pressure told and on 65 minutes Barton were level when Snowden latched on to a quick throw in, showed both strength and composure to slot it past the Leeds goalkeeper. Barton now were pressing hard for a winner and the impressive Barlow creating and having chances. The Leeds defence could not cope with the physical strength of Barton but to their credit fashioned a couple of chances themselves. The winner came from Barlow on 77 minutes and what a goal. He picked the ball up a good distance from goal, beat two or three men, got into the box and calmly slotted past the goalkeeper. The final drama came as a mistake by the Barton keeper let Lester through on goal only for Barton's McKay tug him back leaving the Referee with no option but to send him off. The resulting free kick came to nothing and Barton were able to see out the rest of the game with no further threat to their goal.
An excellent game in the end and an enjoyable night. Home by 10.15.

Barton Town Old Boys 3-2 Leeds Carnegie
NCEL League Cup 2nd Round
Att: 94
Admission: £4
Programme: £1
Badge: £3

More photos of The Euronics Ground here.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Game 16 Bottesford Town v Ollerton Town 3rd October 2009 FA Vase

This FA Vase game was my game of choice today. I hadn't really ever considered City's game at the Ricoh, not one of my favourite grounds for a variety of reasons. Bottesford is just outside of Scunthorpe and about a 40 minute drive from home. The weather took a turn for the worst just as I came off the M180 but had improved by the time I was pulling into the car park at Birch Park, home of Bottesford Town F.C., members of the North Counties East League Division One.

Birch Park consists of one covered stand down one side, with hard standing around the rest of the sides, with the dugouts opposite the main stand. As you enter the ground a brick building containing the dressing rooms and toilet facilities are in front of you running towards the goal at this end of the ground. The only stand is to your right.

Todays visitors are Ollerton Town from the Abacus Lighting Central midlands Football League and were formed in 1988 as Ollerton and Bevercotes Miners Welfare F.C. changing to the current name in 1994 after the closure of Ollerton Colliery.

The game kicked off with both sides trying to play football in the difficult blustery conditions. Ollerton had several opportunities to score early on but Bottesford gradually played their way into the game, but lacked the cutting edge in the final third of the field for most of the half. The turning point of the game came just before half time when the Ollerton defender cut down the Bottesford striker who was through on goal, and being the last man was sent off after the referee consulted with his assistant. Nice touch as he came past the stand
and recognised some of the travelling Ollerton fans, shrugged his shoulders and said " I had to go really". He accepted his fate and at no stage argued with the ref, very sporting indeed and nice to see. 0-0 at half time then and an interesting second half to come.
I was interested to see how Ollerton would line up for the second half and they suprised me as they lined up with two up front still with the shuffle coming in defence/midfield. The managers reward for this attacking policy was immediate as Guest pressurised the Bottesford defender, won the ball and slid itacross the face of the goal past the advancing keeper to Senior who calmly slid the ball into the empty net.
This still did not signal a defensive set up and Ollerto
n continued to be the main source of another goal as Bottesford struggled to contain the lively Ollerton forwards, who at this stage looked more likely to extend their team's lead. Bottesford's forwards only had half chances and were unable to make the extra man count as Ollerton defended stoutly. A bizarre moment then came about 10 minutes from the end. A ball was played wide by Bottesford and in the corner of my eye I saw an Ollerton player go sprawling in the box. The assistant on the far side flagged furiously and indicated a free kick to Ollerton. confusion then reigned as the referee spoke to the players and then made his way over his assistant. After a minute or so he then came over to Annable of Ollerton, showed him the red card and awarded a free kick to Bottesford much to the bemusement of most of the crowd. This finally put an end to the attacking play of Ollerton and was replaced by resolute defending. Bottesford were still unable to find a way through and the final whistle went with Ollerton celebrating a hard earned win.

Town 0-1 Ollerton Town
FA Vase 1st Round
: 49
Admission: £5
Programme: £1
Badge: £2.50

More photos of Birch Park here

Saturday, 10 October 2009


I'm a Leicester City fan with a penchant for visiting grounds at all levels of football. I'm four grounds away from completing the current 92 League grounds, it's only taken me 40 odd years! I've seen League football at 135 different grounds and I've recently started out on a quest to go to all the North Counties East League grounds. The aim of this blog is to record my travels during the 2009-2010 Season and beyond. The non-league scene is somewhere I've always gone to, but never with any direction before.
I'll also be posting reviews of grounds I've been to in the past together with photos.

Hope you enjoy it.

Reynard The Fox