Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Game 36 - Bridlington Town v Arnold Town Saturday 23rd January 2010 NCEL Premier

A trip to Queensgate, home of Bridlington Town is my chosen game today. Brid are top of the table on goal difference from Rainworth, having amassed 49 points from 19 games and scoring a whopping 74 goals. Arnold are in 7th place and so I'm looking forward to a good game. Although it is only 64 miles to Bridlington it takes 1.1/2 hours to get there but Ifind the ground very easily and I'm able to park very easily outside.

After taking photos outside I make my way into the ground. You enter in the corner with the main stand to your right and an open end to the left where the Clubhouse can be accessed together with a tea hut and shop.

I make my way round the ground starting off behind the open end in the picture above. To the right, the main stand has covered seating at this end with a standing area towards the other end. The opposite end has a covered standing area to the right with the rest being open to the elements with a huge sign reminding you where you are.

I carry on down to the other side where I meet the Arnold Town official photographer and we have a good talk about today's game and Arnold's prospects, which he does not feel are good! The dugouts are on this side of the ground and behind these is a small covered stand.

I make my way down this side to the other end and carry onto the corner where the covered standing is situated.

This is a very smart ground, well looked after and a credit to the people who run the Club. I'm now at the main stand and at this end it is standing.

Walking further on the stand becomes seated.

So to the game. It starts off very lively and but for a superb save by Brid's goalkeeper Arnold would have taken the lead after only 2 minutes. However it was the home side who took the lead on 11 minutes with a good volley from the edge of the box from Fleming. The lead was not to last long as Rob Gill equalised with a brilliant lob over the keeper. This stirred Brid into action and the chances came thick and fast. They were rewarded on 36 minutes when Hotte cut inside and shot past the goalkeeper. Arnold replied with a couple of good chances themselves but wasted them and the teams went in at half time with no further goals.
The second half was lacking in quality at first and while Arnold closed down Brid this had the effect of preventing them from making any chances themselves. The result was settled on 72 minutes when following a decent move by Brid, the ball fell to Fleming who scored off the underside of the bar to make it 3-1. Four minutes later it was 4-1 as Allanson fired home. Arnold's resistance was well and truly finished and fifth followed on 85 as Palmer scored from a free kick with the benefit of a deflection. Although Brid were not at their best today they were able to see out the game for a 5-1 victory.
Not a bad game and a nice ground. Good day all round.

More pictures of Queensgate here.

Bridlington Town 5-1 Arnold Town
Att: 184
Admission: £6
Programme: £1.20
Badge: £3

Game 35 - Grimsby Borough v Leeds Carnegie Wednesday 20th January 2010 NCEL Division One

Tonight sees a return to The Hawthorns to see the tenants, Grimsby Borough play their first game of the year against Leeds Carnegie. Apparently this gives me a bracketed tick in the world of groundhopping, the first time I've done this I think. The turnstiles are not open tonight and you go through the players entrance and pay at the table set up just inside. The floodlights are not all on and the players have to warm up outside the ground to try and preserve the pitch.
The game starts off very scrappy on the bobbly pitch, but Carnegie gradually take charge of the game with their neat passing play. Carnegie have several chances to go ahead but have to wait until 37 minutes to take the lead through Harrison to go in at half time 1-0 up. Grimsby certainly looked rusty in the first half but came back after only four minutes of the second half to equalise through King. This seemed to lift Borough and they were looking likely to score again. However, Carnegie continued with their neat football and worked their way back into the game and gradually took control of the game again. They regained the lead on 78 minutes with a goal from Ross. They made it 3-1 two minutes later through Chilaka who showed strength and clinical finishing. That was that or so I thought. Borough rallied and made several chances before pulling it back to 3-2 on 85 minutes with a goal from Brown. Carnegie had an uncomfortable last five minutes with Borough having a glorious chance to draw level with a good header from Newby drawing a terrific save from Carnegies keeper.
This is the second time I've seen Carnegie this season and I have to say that they are great team to watch, always passing the ball and working hard for each other. Well done.

Grimsby Borough 2-3 Leeds Carnegie
Att: 22
Admission: £4
Programme: £1
Badge: £3.50

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Game 34 - Brigg Town v Goole AFC Tuesday 19th January 2010 Unibond First Division South

The Hawthorns, home of Brigg Town is a revisit for me, although I have not seen a game there for many years. Only 23 miles from home and so it does not take me long to get there.

Both teams are in the bottom half of the league but neither are in danger of being relegated and both are playing for the first time this year due to the weather playing havoc with fixtures. I enter the ground and find myself in the corner of the ground. To the left are the dressing rooms and a small covered seating stand, with a small covered standing area beyond that. In front of me is an end with hard standing behind the goal.

I walk down past the goal and along the far touchline there is a modern covered seating stand.

The other end also has hard standing behind the goal and I continue to the other side of the ground and come to the covered standing area I first saw from the other corner.

I walk through this area and come to the small seated area.

It must be my age, but I remember this stand being a lot bigger than this and I'm taken aback by how narrow it is too. I make my way back to the corner I entered and get myself a hot drink to try and combat the cold. I take a seat in the seated stand that runs along the far touchline and settle in for the game.
The first half saw Goole making the running but they fell behind on 42 minutes when Grimes' shot deflected and looped over the Goole keeper. 1-0 to Brigg at half time. Brigg came out and looked stronger for the first part of the second half and could have gone further ahead. But Goole gradually came back into it and on 74 minutes drew level with a goal from Allott. Six minutes later and it was 3-1 to Goole with a goal from Law and a second for Allott. Brigg's collapse was complete when Grimes was sent off for a lunge on a Goole player on the other side of the pitch.
Overall a deserved for Goole and an entertaining game.

More pictures of the Hawthorns here.

Brigg Town 1-3 Goole AFC
Att: 83
Admission: £6
Programme: £1.50

Friday, 22 January 2010

Game 33 - Swansea City v Leicester City 16th January 2010 Coca Cola Championship

A long old haul this one. However my daughter had booked us into a hotel for Friday and Saturday in Neath, only 8 miles form the Liberty Stadium. On Saturday morning I took the opportunity to wander down to the home of Neath FC, The Gnoll. I should point out that this is also the home of Neath RUFC and you will see some strange looking posts in the pictures. When I arrive I see the best sight for any groundhopper - an open gate! I go in and immediately bump into someone, ask him if it is ok to look round, only to be told he is the hot dog man. He tells me to carry on and he will ring someone to tell them I'm here. I'm in the corner of the ground with a large covered terrace in front of me.

I go to the left and there is a large covered seating stand running along the length of the pitch. There are extensions in front of each stand which are increasing the number of seats but I don't think you would remain dry in them on a wet day.

I carry on to the opposite corner where the Social Club is situated. The end of the ground has a small open terraced area but I do not go onto this as it means crossing over the barriers, so I head back to where I came in. Opposite the stand I am in is another covered seated stand, lower than the stand I am in, but this also runs the whole length of the ground.

I return to the corner I came in and go onto the impressive terrace and take some more snaps. The remainder of these can be seen here: The Gnoll.
I return to the hotel and we set off for the game, but first we take a quick diversion to Llarndarcy Park, home of Neath FC until 2008.

Just the one stand, and those strange looking posts again! It looks like the ground is used by the Swansea Ospreys RUFC for their development programme. Neat ground but I can see why Neath FC moved to The Gnoll as future expansion for the team onfield would be hampered by the facilities here.
More photos of Llandarcy Park here.

Then, to the relief of my passengers, we carry onto The Liberty Stadium, home of Swansea City since their move from The Vetch in 2005.

It's hard to appreciate what the Stadium is like outside as the weather is atrocious and we make our way around to the away turnstiles and after a few minutes wait they open to allow us in. Just a word about the most over the top steward I've seen for a long time. Not content with patting down a City fan he also makes him open his coat to see if he is concealing anything. Well if you cannot feel anything from the pat down you gave you are not doing it right mate. While he spends a full three minutes doing this several hundred other City fans have got in with no search at all and even one of his fellow stewards takes the mickey out of him with some of our fans. The concourse seems very small with only one block of toilets for each sex and one teabar for everyone.
Into the stand and the sightlines are very good. The bottom section of seats in not in use and so we are in the upper tier of the stand. The stewards are very laid back inside and I have no problems taking photos.

The ground is ok but very similar to many of the new builds and does not have the character of The Vetch. Our seats have good legroom and the view is good. Unfortunately the performance from City in the first half is not as good and we are losing 1-0 at half time after Pintado scores his first goal of the season after 32 minutes. Swansea have played some good football but do not create many chances in the whole game which means we always have a chance of pulling the game back and on 74 minutes Dany N'Guessan has the chance to slot the ball into the empty net. Instead his shot goes straight to de Vries who is laying on the ground on the other side of the goal. This is our last chance and despite pressing hard at the end of the game there is no further score.
We get back to the car and after only a few minutes wait we are on our way back to our hotel, nice not to have to drive straight back. A nice curry and a few beers waits us in Neath.

Swansea City 1-0 Leicester City
Att: 15,037
Ticket: £25

More photos of The Liberty Stadium here.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Game 31 - Spalding United v Grantham Town 1st January 2010 Unibond Northern Premier Division One South

Having been thwarted again on Bank Holiday Monday by the weather, my next opportunity for a game was New Years Day. A top of the table game at North Ferriby United was my first choice, but come the day the phrase PP appeared against the game on the Unibond site. Goole was my next choice but a pitch inspection soon put an end to that. My alternatives were also falling foul of the conditions but eventually I had confirmation of the Spalding-Grantham game being on from the Grantham message board. So I set off on the 65 mile trip to the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Fields, home of Spalding United.

On arrival, I had a small scare as the Ground looked shut, but I then saw a ball in the air and heard players warming up. As you enter the ground the social club and tea hut are in the left corner and the ground is to your right. I make my way to the shop to the right and buy my programme and badge. There seem to be a number of different Club badges on various hats and coats and it becomes obvious I'm not the only one to have ended up here after most games in the area have been called off.
The ground has two stands to my right, but I make my way behind the goal that was in front of me as I entered the ground.

There are large areas behind each of the three sides of the ground without stands, and there is hard standing all round. As usual I make my way round the ground taking my photos, eventually reaching the side of the ground with the two stands. The first stand is a covered standing area, very smart it is too.

Further along is the impressive main stand where all the seats are. Underneath the stand are the changing rooms and the toilets.

The large building in the background is a converted water tower. The pitch looked ok and the only frost was behind the goal to the right of the ground. I got myself a coffee to help with the cold and went and took a seat in the stand. There was a good following from Grantham and they had taken over one side of the stand. The game kicked off and was very scrappy with both teams making mistakes, not helped by the very bobbly pitch, and there were not many chances being created by either side. Grantham were unlucky not to take the lead on the half hour as Saunders lobbed the keeper only to see it disallowed for a foul on the defender, who I felt was just muscled off the ball. No score at half time.
Grantham came out very strongly for the second half and a tactical change snuffed out the Spalding attack and allowed Grantham to take control of the game. The winning goal came on 56 minutes from a free kick. The ball was played to the far post where Grantham won the header for sub Carchedi to shoot only for goalkeeper Roberts to make a good save but Robinson reacted first to the rebound and put his shot high into the top corner. Grantham dominated the rest of the half and deservedly ran out 1-0 winners.
The temperature had dropped and I was grateful to get back in the car. An enjoyable visit although the game will not linger long in the memory.

Spalding United 0-1 Grantham Town
Att: 219
Admission: £7
Programme: £1.50
Badge: £2

More photos of the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Fields here.