Sunday, 11 October 2020

Bourne Town 0-4 Loughborough University




Monday evening saw us visit Sheffield Town FC to watch their Under 21 team take on (and beat) Retford United U21 The final score being 3-1 and it could have been a bigger margin of victory if truth be told had it not been for a great display of goal keeping from the Retford  keeper. I didn’t hear the attendance number but there was around 150 people watching and the best atmosphere i have ever experienced at a youth game. It’s been a tough start to the season for the two main Sheffield Clubs with the City's leading club Sheffield United starting the season losing every game in the Premiership so far and the city's  second club Sheffield Wednesday propping up the Championship (due in no small part to starting the season on -12 points) So it’s good to see a good news story in the form of Sheffield Town FC. I tip my hat to them.



Saturday began the way that every Saturday should; having a breakfast in the White Lion and catching up on the latest news in the paper, this morning however something different was going on in the pub. Saturday the 10th of October was world national mental health day and as such the pub had allowed a local mental health support group called Muddy Fork  who people could meet, talk with and find out about the group, what they do and how they can get involved. Mental Health is a huge topic at the moment and thankfully it is now starting to be taken seriously. My own mental health has taken a huge battering over the past few months what with COVID and the economic impact it has had on my life, getting dumped via text message during lockdown and the sobering thought i am now 41 and living alone with two cats. Not really where i planned on being at this stage of my life. To know there are organisations like this are a huge help and if anybody in the Retford area who feel they need somebody to talk to i strongly suggest they check them out. They can be found here Muddy Fork wellbeing

 

Today’s game saw us taking in the FA Vase second qualifying round tie between Bourne Town v Loughborough University. Bourne play their football in the United Counties League division one and have collected three wins, two draws and three defeats from their opening eight games and currently sit in eleventh place in the table (out of twenty clubs) There opponents Loughborough University play a league higher in the United Counties Premier division and are currently sixth having won four drawn one and lost two matches so far this season. On paper it looked like a tough game for Bourne and that’s exactly how it turned out.



We picked this game to take in today because the home side are currently managed by former Lincoln City player Nathan Arnold. The 2016/17 season will go down in history as one of the finest seasons in the clubs history. The Imps won the National League that season with Arnold playing a huge role in it. The two moments that really stand out for me are his famous last minute goal that gave the Imps the win over Ipswich Town in the FA Cup 3rd round reply and another last minute goal when he bagged the winner away at Gateshead, a goal which all but gave the Imps the title and broke  Tranmere Rovers hearts in the process.



Bourne is a sleepy little place in the south of Lincolnshire with the journey taking a little over an hour from Retford. On the way we discussed England’s comprehensive midweek win over Wales. It was a tough one for Felice to take given he always wanted to sing with the Pontypridd male voice choir and failing miserably. All joking apart i have always wanted to do some non league hopping in Wales; sadly my goons don’t feel the same so it looks like i will have to do a weekend in Wales at some point once all the COIVD bollocks is over. Beer, a new ground or two and kebabs what could be better? Plus i have to admit the Welsh accent is my favorite in the UK. Come get me you Welsh ladies.


We pulled up opposite the ground and a little after 2.30. There were plenty of cars around so it looked like a decent crowd had turned up for the match. The continued ban on fans attending games in the Football League seems to be benefiting non league clubs as we saw a handful of people wearing Peterborough United hats/ coats in on the quick walk up to the ground. Admission was £5 for adults with a raffle tick costing an extra quid. The ground is dominated by a proper old school style stand covering two thirds of the near touchline. Half of this is a covered terrace with the other half consisting of wooden benches. The dugouts are in front of the stands and the clubhouse and toilets below it. As is the way of the world right now there is a one-way system in the clubhouse with drinks served via table service. The rest of the ground is open with hard standing all the way around. All in all it’s a tidy little set up. The cricket ground is behind the near goal that you enter in and the bowls club is behind the touchline opposite the main stand. All in all it’s a nice area but i imagine that it’s annoying for the folks playing bowls when stray footballs get booted out of the ground and onto the Bowls pitch.



About 10 minutes’ before the kick off the heavens opened up so we took cover in the stands. About 5 minutes into the match the rain stopped so we made our way round to stand behind the goal that Loughborough were attacking.

Bourne lined up playing five across the back but sadly it wasn’t enough to stop their much quicker opponents. They had already missed several half chances by the time they took the lead in the 13th minute. The visitors had been causing problems with their pace and they finally made the breakthrough when Tope Fabamunsi was sent through and coolly finished a one on one against the goalkeeper.  On 17 it was two nill when Ronan Silva applied the finish after a neat passing move. The hosts were putting in plenty of effort but were really struggling to get a foothold in the game. The visitors could have had a third when Loughbrough cut through again , the shot beat the keeper only for Scott Lock (who was by far the team’s best defender on the pitch) made a last ditch goal line clearance to keep his side just about in the tie. Arnold had selected himself to start the match and you could easily see why as he was head and shoulders above the rest of his players quality wise. The visitors had looked very impressive with number nine Tope Fabamunsi really catching the eye.



Half time called for a gentle walk around the ground and a visit to the tea hut for a hot drink. There looked to be a decent crowd in and i hoped that the home team would raise their game in the second half and give them something to cheer. Alas that didn’t happen.

On 50 minutes Bourne had a great chance to get back into the match when a Cummings cross was narrowly headed wide by Arnold, it was a chance that could have changed the game but a minute later Loughborough sealed the game when they added a third curtsey of a quick breakaway allowing Silva to grab his second of the game. The game now became much more even although the visitors still had the better of the chances. Things got even harder for Bourne when they were forced to play the last twenty minutes of the match with ten men as having made their three allowed subs Josh Spencer suffered an injury and was unable to continue. Given all this it is to their credit that they only conceded one more goal but it has to be said some of this was down to poor finishing from Loughborough The final goal coming in the 82nd minute when Fabamunsi grabbed his second of the game from close range. During the final ten minutes the rain returned and as we were stood on the open side of the ground we got piss wet through like a couple of doughnuts.



At the final whistle we trudged back to the car piss wet through, disappointed at hearing of a 1st league defeat of the season for the Imps  but glad that we had ticked off yet another new ground. It was a shame for Nathan Arnold that the result didn’t go his way but looking at their form in the league there is plenty to build on going forward. Good luck to Loughborough in the next round, they were a pleasure to watch and they look like they have decent set up and well drilled team.

Given the conditions i must also give credit to both sets of players for the way they conducted themselves and the referee Amiee Kier who commanded the respect of both sets of players and looked to let play flow whenever she could.



 

 

 

Sunday, 4 October 2020

Selston 4-6 Sporting Khalsea

 

Over the years i have been watching football i have seen absolutely awful games at all levels of the game. But ever so often you get a classic that sticks in the memory for years to come. Normally these games come along when you least expect it. Selston v Sporting Khalsa definitely  falls into this category and from a pure footballing point of view it was one of the best games i have seen in quite a while.

The ironic thing is that i almost didn’t bother with a game this weekend. The weather not to be blunt was  shite and what with the “Rona” still on the rise i did think twice about doing a game thankfully i did.

We had a few choices of game today but after a quick deliberation the Midland Football League clash between Selston and the league leaders Sporting Khalsa. Before this season the Midland league was an unknown quantity to me but having seen Newark FC a month or so ago and having seen this match today i can only conclude that it is a pretty decent standard of football and if you haven’t dipped your toe into it yet i strongly suggest you check it out because from what i have seen you won’t be disappointed.  



The day started yet again at the White Lion pub in Retford with a quick sausage sandwich washed down with a couple of cups of tea to blow the cobwebs away. During lockdown i got pretty good at cooking breakfasts at the weekends but just recently i have lost the motivation to cook in the morning as much. Just after 1.30 pm we set off on our merry way to the Nottinghamshire village of Selston near Kirkby in Ashfield. En route Felice was in good spirits given the Champions League draw had put his respective sides Bayern Munich, Manchester United, and Real Madrid in different groups. It’s a win/win for him to over in Group G as eternal Champions League bottle jobs Juventus have been drawn to face Barcelona, another couple of teams who’s results he looks out for with great interest and owns several knock off replica shirts of each club bought on a beach in Turkey (though they are a bit snug now) As a lifelong Dundalk fan the thought of them playing Arsenal, a club where he had a membership at for many seasons also fills him with excitement.



Weather wise rain was pretty much the order of the day across the UK and i did wonder if many games would get called off.  Once we parked up i was more than happy  to see that the ground offered enough cover so as we could keep dry. The club is really on the ball regarding its COVID policies. Simply scan the NHS trace and trace app at the gate, then a quick temperature check, pay your cash and you are in. Entrance was £6 for adults and it what was a nice touch NHS staff got in free.

The ground is shared with the local cricket club and the pavilion acts as the clubhouse for both clubs. It was pleasing to see a small club shop in the clubhouse selling a range of hats, scarf’s and t-shirts and best of all club badges.



There is a well planned out one way system in the ground which goes around the cricket pitch to the football pitch. The pitch is slightly lower than the stands so where ever you view from you get a great view of the action. Had it not been pissing it down then it would have been good to stand behind the goal. Alas it was the standing cover for us just to the left of the halfway line as we looked at it.



Sporting came into the match top of the table and early on it was very obvious as to why. They knocked the ball around well on the deck and looked to play out from the back. For the first ten minutes or so it looked like they would run away with this game but Selston were more than playing there part in this game and they took the lead when a shot was saved only for the ball to be recycled and crossed into the back post allowing Kenan Layton to apply the finish. Sporting didn’t panic however and continued to stick to their way of playing. On several occasions they had caused trouble for the Selston defence by crossing from their left to the back post and after 21 minutes this tactic paid off as a cross was headed home by Rikardo Reid for a deserved equalizer. The goal didn’t affect Seston to much however and they took the lead again on 29 when Layton added his second of the game blasting the ball into the roof of the net from 15 yards out.  The lead didn’t last long however as Sporting produced a lovely bit of football that ended up with Lee Chilton finishing via a great first time shot. No further goals were added and the two teams went into halftime level.



Just five minutes into the second half we got a great example of the fine lines that exist in football. Selston were kicking up the hill second half and they had a great chance to take the lead when they had a three against as the winger broke down the left he chose to shoot instead of crossing to an unmarked teammate. Moments later Selston had a free kick near the cornor flag. The ball was crossed in and partially cleared to the edge of the box. A Selston player picked up the ball, blasted it in hard, but with the keeper beaten all ends up the shot was headed over by a defender on the line. Once these two golden chances hadn’t been taken i had a feeling what was going to happen next.

After this let off the league leaders took the lead for the first time in the game when Selston gave the ball away in their own half allowing Jake Gosling to beat the keeper one and one. Two minutes later on 54. Sporting doubled their lead after patient build up around the box was finished by Gurjit Singh. It looked like the visitors were on their way for another three points.



But Selston weren’t beaten yet. On 61 Layton completed his hatrick via beating the keeper one on one before coolly finishing low into the bottom of the net and it was suddenly game on again.  Sporting restored their two goal lead 3 minutes later thanks to a scrappy goal via a corner with Rikardo Reid. We then had to wait a whole ten minutes for the next goal but it was worth the wait and it was the pick of the ten goals. Layton turned provider and played in Jordan Black whose fantastic chip over the keeper from the edge of the box to get Selston back into the game once again. Any great game isn’t complete without a controversial moment and on 84 we got ours. Selston thought they had equalized only for the linesman flag on the far side to discount the goal. It looked very tight to me and i am glad it wasn’t me making the call. Who would be an official eh?  

That incident did seem to kill the game off slightly as it became very scrappy for the last ten minutes or so. Right on the final whistle Sporting Khalsa completed the scoring via Sean Williams from close range.  Full Time score: Selston 4-6 Sporting Khalsa.



Once the dust settled i had the following thoughts. Firstly it will take a very good side to stop Sporting Khalsa from winning the league. Before the game i had no idea that Selston were bottom of the table and having watched this i have no idea how they are bottom but i am confident that if they play like this then the wins will surly come. It’s also only right to give both sets of player’s and management teams huge credit for serving up such a great game of football in such dreadful conditions. All in all one of the best non league games i have ever seen. If you get a chance to watch either of these teams in action take it. You won’t be disappointed.



It would be wrong for me not to mention the Imps. A 3-2 away win at Blackpool kept up the Imps 100% record in the league and sent them to the top of the table in League One. Throughout this pandemic i have tried not to think about what could have happened and focus on what we have. However in the case of missing Blackpool away it’s very tough to do this. I love visiting Blackpool and it’s my favourite place to escape to in the UK. So When Lincoln score two in the last five minutes two win the game it’s hard not to picture the scenes. We would have been on the piss Friday, banging back the shots etc then off to the club before Baz kicked off in the kebab shop late at night. More ale would have been drunk before the game and after claiming a famous win the party would have continued. Then on the Sunday morning after rolling in at 3.00 am Baz would have fallen asleep in his breakfast.

Dam you COVID 19

 

 

Friday, 2 October 2020

West Bridgford 0-1 Halesowen Town

 

Tuesday evening the FA cup continued so it gave us the perfect chance to tick of a ground that we wanted to do in the previous round as we visited Step 6 West Bridgford played host to Step 4 Halesowen Town. Once upon a time when i started watching non-league football regularly i had a goal to tick off all of the grounds in Nottinghamshire in the pyramid from Steps 1-7.  Over the years i have neglected this goal a little and it’s become a bit harder with the NLS becoming a Step 7 league but it is still something i would like to achieve. This season has seen Newark FC ticked of the Notts list and now West Bridgford can join them.



Nottingham is one of a handful of cities that i could actually see myself living in. Mainly down to all the great times i have had there over the years.  I enjoyed the drive through our county town as it’s very rare that i see the city when i not either 1) very drunk 2) nursing a hangover. We found the ground relatively easily even with Baz’s dodgy sat nav on his phone being a tad slow. On our way to the ground we pasted Notts County’s Meadow Lane that was hosting the Magpies FA Trophy semi final v Harrogate Town. As we got near to the ground i took over the navigational duties thus ensuring we arrived in good time. Whenever you watch football in Nottingham you cannot help about thinking of Nottingham Forest and their golden era of 1978-1981. It’s crazy to think they have as many European Cup/Champions League titles at Juventus despite not playing in it for over 30 years.



The evening was a big deal for West Bridgford as it was the first time the club had hosted a side from step 4 in their history thus they were dealing with a crowd much bigger than they would normally attract. A big shoutout has to go to Baz for pre-booing the tickets for the big game. Given that the crowd was capped at 300 and the away side had been given 75 tickets a was a tad worried that it would sell out if we arrived late.



The ground appears to be part of a larger complex and one that is very well looked after. Plenty of parking was on offer and everything seemed to be running smoothly. A large table was set up for taking track and trace details and selling tickets, programmes and badges. All the club officials were doing a great job given the crowd was much bigger than normal and when you take in all the COVID regulations we have nowadays the club can look back on a job well done.

The ground may be a tad basic but it’s tidy and is adequate for the clubs needs. Its mainly three sides hard standing, there is a small modern seater stand on one side of the ground which offers the only cover in the ground. The club had set up a burger stall outside of the ground near to the table selling tickets to feed the masses requiring refreshments but also inside there was a stall selling Pie and Peas along with the Nottingham specialty, a simple pot of peas.



As the game started Haleswoen came out of the blocks pretty fast and really took the game by the scruff of the neck. After the first ten minutes or so it looked like this could be a very one sided game but to their credit the hosts rallied and started to settle. Sadly for West Bridgford just as it looked like they had weathered the storm Halesowen took the lead when Holmes fired in low from long distance with the keeper view obstructed by the many players in the box.  Halesowen had the lion’s share of the play in the first half but never really looked like getting the second goal that would have killed the game off.   



Half time was spent catching up on the latest Bullshit announcement from Boris about the country’s ongoing battle with the Corona virus. Needles to say the UK isn’t covering itself in glory in its attempt to beat this wrenched illness. It’s going to be interesting to see how history judges Boris and co in 5, 10 years time. My guess is it will be viewing alongside the first day of the battle of the Somme or the first months of WW2 when the British and French were woefully unprepared for what awaited them. At halftime we also discussed which TV shows we have been watching. I then told them about this fantastic video i watched on Youtube about Billy the Kid. I told them to watch it and you all should too. Here it is, thank me later.



The first twenty minutes or so of the second half was pretty none descript with not much happening. Then with twenty minutes to go West Bridgford started to believe and took the game to Halesowen. Sadly for us neutrals they didn’t get to the goal to force penalties but it was great to see them try. All in all the hosts did themselves proud on and off the pitch; they are defiantly a club to visit if you get a chance.



On Thursday it was something a little different. Having disposed of Crewe and Bradford Lincoln were drawn to play Liverpool at home in the third round of the League Cup. As i spoke about on my last blog these was a huge deal for Lincoln and was picked up for TV coverage. Now the big question.. Where to watch it?

We decided on the Vinn Inn in Retford. Nowadays there are very few options to watch sport that is on Sky in the center of town these days. Back in the day this was where Felice strutted his stuff on the dance floor in between knocking back cans of Red Stripe. This was also the first night of pubs being forced to close at 10pm and table only service in pubs in the UK so it would be interesting to see what the new “Normal” would like for the next few months.

Given all this i have to give the girl working the bar that night a huge amount of credit. Drinks were served promptly and all in all it went pretty well. Sadly for Lincoln on the pitch this wasn’t really the case.



Lincoln were to be blunt outplayed with Liverpool looking a class above. A world class free kick started the route and the top class goals kept coming. At halftime it was 0-4 and i feared a double figure scoreline. The second half was a little better with the Imps getting on the scoreline not once but twice. It’s just a shame that Liverpool hit seven at the other end as the goals went in the pints flowed even more and made me glad that i had booked the next day at work off. The game reminded me of a game Felice and i had on a football arcade game at a service station en route to Wycombe in 98 when playing as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia i demolished his Italy 5-1. To give the Imps huge credit they dusted themselves down from this beating and dispatched Charlton 2-0 at the LNER Stadium 2-0 on Sunday.  

I didn’t attend a game Saturday. But i did have a fun Sunday going on a date with a very nice younf lady.  Ever since i suffered a dumping via text a month or so in lockdown my confidence with women has been through the floor. (i will be writing a blog about this at some point in the future) Although it looks like we are just going to be friends it was great to get out there and we have had a few text conversations this week so that a win in my humble view.

We go again.

 

 

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Mansfield Hosiery Mills 1-4 Mickleover FC Reserves

 

Before we get into this week’s game day blog (and basically because plenty of people have asked me about it) i thought i would share my views about the big football stories in my life over the past week or so. You really are lucky buggers aren’t you?

On Tuesday night Lincoln routed Bradford City away by five goals to nil in the second round of the League Cup and therefore setting up a match with Liverpool at home in the third round. Now in ordinary times 1) We would have gone to Bradford and 2) we would have been buzzing about the prospect of playing the side that won the Premiership last season. Obviously these aren’t normal times and thus the game will be played behind closed doors and in the process killing much of the excitement from my point of view. It will of course be a great occasion for the Imps to host Liverpool and the news that the game will be live on Sky Sports has defiantly added a little charm to the occasion not to mention the chance to head to the pub for a few beers and shots of sambuca thrown in for good measure.



As for the chances of Lincoln getting a result? Well let’s be honest, even with the Imps great start to the season (five wins from five in all competitions) it’s hard to see a Lincoln win. It’s not impossible, but it’s very, very unlikely. Given that Liverpool play Chelsea this weekend and Felice’s Arsenal next weekend i would doubt we will see Liverpool’s first choice starting eleven in action. But even a 3rd string Liverpool side would be packed with quality, to get onto the books at whatever level at any Premiership club you have to be hugely talented let alone the Champions of England and one of the biggest clubs in Europe. The only thing that gives me hope is that last season Liverpool played at Shrewsbury in the FA Cup and drew. (Before winning the reply at Anfield) With no relays and extra time in the League Cup should the game be a draw at 90 minutes then the game goes straight to penalties. And as we all know penalties is a total lottery, I mean it’s still very unlikely and up there with the chances of me going on a date next weekend but it could happen in theory...

Me at Anfield in 2011. A couple of stone lighter and with hair


Meanwhile it was another a fun week in the Europa League. The Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar bowed out of the competition losing 0-5 at home to Glasgow Rangers. For much of the game Lincoln performed well only running out of steam in the last 15 minutes or so.  I obtained a programme from the game to add to my random collection and i must say it was a fine issue that befitted the match. Elsewhere there was good news for Felice as he had a few teams playing and winning in it. Wins for AC Milan, Spurs, Wolfsburg, Aberdeen and Standard Liege among others put a smile on his face.

So onto this weekend’s game originally we had intended watch Retford United away at Clay Cross to tick off another new ground. However it was announced late on Friday night that the game was called off due to “Unforeseen circumstances” Baz had written this in our Whats App group chat but due to my large intake of alcohol Friday i didn’t read this message till a late night toilet visit in the early hours of Saturday morning.

As with most cat owners i was up early on Saturday morning and gave Felice a ring to sort out an alternative game to take it. After a quick look i suggested ticking off Mansfield Hosiery Mills FC who were at home to Mickleover FC Reserves.

The White Lion again was the first stop of the day for myself along with a couple of very good friends whose company has been a huge help to my mental health this weekend, and this time the medium full English was consumed. This consists of two eggs, two hash browns, two sausages, two bacon, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and toast all for the price of £5.50. They do a larger one to which consists of three of every item for the fat bastards among us for only a quid more. They open at 10 AM in the morning and the fact that we were stood outside waiting for the pub to open tells you all you need to know about us..



Now i have to be honest and admit i kind of messed up picking this game. I am always one for saying a little research goes a long way and i really should have done some in this instance. Our aim this season is to tick off new grounds while the Imps crowds are restricted. I knew we had never been to a Mansfield Hosiery home game so immediately suggested them. As we set off on our merry way it dawned on us that the club play at Sutton Towns old ground which we had both visited in the past (in my case about 12 years ago) at least this proved than even the very best of us make mistakes. We have now decided to draw up a “Hit list” of new grounds so if we need to find a new ground at short notice we will not be flapping about to think of one.



We made it through Mansfield and Sutton in Ashfield (AKA the land of a thousand traffic lights) in good time and pulled up in the car part with the best part of an hour to kill. There is a large clubhouse at the ground divided into two parts. After signing in for the track and trace we were directed into function room half of the building. It was all very well organised and seems to work very well. After a well deserved pint we headed into the ground.



Outside the ground there are plenty of Mansfield Hosiery signs and areas painted with the club colours of blue and white but you can still see signs that Sutton Town once played here. The entrance was the standard step 7 £3 with more track and trace antics on the gate. The ground looks pretty much the same as the last time i visited apart from the odd splash of paint here and there. The first thing walking around the ground is how it slops from one end of the ground to the other. The pitch was looked very good and all in all it looked like a decent set up.  



Both of these sides had won their previous game but early on it became clear who was going to win this game. When you watch reserve teams you normally see one of two things. Either they are full of players annoyed that they aren’t in the first team and players who think the reserves are beneath them. Or they are full of young hungry players who are finding their way in the game and being primed to play at a higher level. This Mickleover side most defiantly fell into the second category. They looked to play out from the back wherever possible and stuck to their philosophy at all times. They were ahead after only a couple of minutes’ due to a well worked goal.  They did have the advantage of kicking down the slope but some of their football was a joy to watch. Their coach was very supportive of his side not getting on the officials backs and encouraging his side even when moves broke down or mistakes were made.



After about 6 minutes the game was effectively over due to the most controversial moment of the game. Mickleover sent in a deep cross in to the Mansfield box and with no attacking players near the keeper he took what looked like a standard catch. The linesman however adjudged that the keeper had taken the ball over the line and thus gave a goal. We were stood right down the other end of the ground so we had no way of knowing if it was over the line or not. The home players protested strongly which gave me the impression that it didn’t go over but i am not the ref. I think the only person that will really know is the home team goalkeeper

The rest of the first half followed a similar pattern, attack versus defense. Although the home side didn’t see much of the ball they worked very hard to keep their shape and never gave up. The visitors added a third but thanks to some good goal keeping and poor finishing the halftime score finished up 3-0 in favor of Mickleover.  



Halftime signaled a retreat back to the bar for another pint/ half a coke depending if you were driving or now. The Imps were leading at halftime so all was well with the world.

The second half was more of a contest. Maybe it was because Mansfield were kicking down the slope or maybe it was because Mickleover had the game wrapped up. The visitors added a fourth when a long range effort left the keeper flat footed with Mansfield getting on the score sheet midway through the second half thanks to a well taken penalty. The real star of the show was the number 7 for Mickleover nicked named “Scholsey” due to his resemblance to Paul Scholes who ran the game in the centre of the park.

All in all another good day. We may not have seen the game we had planned or a new ground but we visited a ground we haven’t been to in a decade, found a good club house, saw a really good footballing side and the Imps have a 100% record in all competitions this season.  

As the saying goes.. We go again!

Other scores of note.

MK Dons 1-2 Lincoln City

 Arsenal 2-1 West Ham United

Dynamo Berlin 6-2 Bischofswerdaer 

 

Monday, 14 September 2020

Thorne Colliery 1-2 Retford United


The back end of last week was tough, as has my life since suffering a text message dumping during lockdown  in May (But that’s a story for another day) thankfully i have some awesome friends in my life to drag my sorry ass along when required.

In a non COVID world i would have been roughly 4000 miles away in the USA for a long overdue holiday to Pittsburgh,and on Saturday instead of taking in a local CML North game i would have been at PNC Park in Pittsburgh to see the Pittsburgh Pirates (The worse team in baseball no less).take on the Kansas City Royals. Even though i knew back in April the chances of getting to the US were a big fat zero, what could have been has been on my mind all week.



Up until the Thursday we had intended to follow the FA Cup to watch West Bridgeford v Lincoln United. However United have had an outbreak of the “Rona” and thus had to withdraw from the competition. Thankfully there is always another option so we chose to tick off another new ground and take in the match between Thorne Colliery v Retford United. The opening game of the Central Midland League season (Step 7 of the non league game)

Saturday morning was very much a case of “The morning after the night” before kind of morning having partaken in drinking a few beers on Friday. Thankfully i live next to the White Lion a, cracking pub that has recently started doing cooked breakfasts on a Saturday morning. I didn’t go for the full Monty though and settled for a sausage sandwich and a cup of tea for £2.50 and it was the best £2.50 i have spent for a while.



After reading the paper, another couple of cups of tea and an hour on the dart board it was time to head off to be picked up for today’s adventure. Felice was driving this week and he was on fine form when he picked me up. His Arsenal were leading 1-0 at Fulham and after winning the FA Cup last year his hopes are high for the Gunners this season. He will even renew his membership next year if fans are allowed in. As it was quite warm there was no sign of his Arsenal jacket but i would imagine it’s a bit snug nowadays anyway. It was good to see that Baz had survived a late fitness test to make the game after his arse had been on fire the previous night much of which was spent on the toilet apparently.  

The journey over to the far side of Doncaster was largely uneventful with the time being filled up listening to the build up to the Lincoln v Oxford game on BBC Radio Lincolnshire. It may have been the start of the EFL season but i just can’t get overly excited about it all till fans are allowed back into the stadiums in some numbers.



Thorne's ground is in a leisure area of the town. Next to the football ground is a cricket pitch, and just around the corner is a rugby ground with a small children’s play area thrown in for good measure. The turnstiles went open when we arrived and the players of both sides were warming up on the cricket pitch. As always the Retford fans were out in good numbers and looking forward to the game. Thorne's ground is dominated by one large old school style stand with standing around the rest of the ground. There is quite a lot of room to expand should the club ever need to. The ground was very clean and tidy and you can tell that it is well looked after. The turnstiles opened up about 2.30 ish with entrance being the standard £3.00. The standard COVID procedures were all in place and well managed by the club officials. As soon as we entered the ground my two cohorts heading straight to the food cabin and were soon scoffing away. The prices were reasonable and by all accounts the food was very nice, with me watching my figure i just had a cuppa.



I am not going to claim to be an expert on the CML North or even have a semi decent amount of knowledge on it. But i do know a half decent side when i see one and overall i think we saw two sides today that will be much nearer the top of the table than the bottom come May. I felt Retford had more of the ball in the first half but never really looked like doing much with it in the final third. A few minutes’ before the break the Badgers did have what looked a decent shout for a penalty but the ref was unimpressed.  

It was good to grab a word with legendary Retford DJ and blog fan Ian Beach at halftime along with the old warhorse Dave Wathell who wasn’t overly impressed at what he had witnessed in the first half. It takes a very special team to impress Dave. He judges all sides against the Spurs side that won the double back in 1961. He did most of the home games that season.



Just a couple of minutes’ into the second half the home side took the lead when a Retford defender turned a cross into his own net at the near post. It’s hard to blame the defender in all honesty. He had to go for it with a striker bearing down on him. To be honest i would rather praise the quality of the ball in as appose to blaming the defender. In hindsight this kick up the arse did Retford a real favor as they took control of the match and starting to look a lot better thanks mainly to some excellent wing play. They got the equalizer on 83 when Mark West was fouled in the box. West then picked himself up to dispatch the penalty giving the keeper no chance.

On 87 minutes Retford grabbed the winner! A shot from distance was only split by the Thorne Keeper and allowing skipper Tom Brook to slot home the winner. The spill brought back memories of watching Felice commit goof after  goof in his old 5 a side days and getting a lot of stick from his teammates in the bar after while drinking his pint of Shandy Bass. Ah the late 90,s. What fun they were.



Overall i have to say it was a good day out. A decent old school ground that had a real charm about it and two teams that looked to play football. If you haven’t ticked this ground off i highly recommend you do.

Other scores of note.

Lincoln City 2-0 Oxford

Fulham 0-3 Arsenal

Newcastle 2-0 West Ham

Kansas City Royals 4-3 Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB)

 

 

Monday, 7 September 2020

The FA Cup Returns!

 

Newark FC 4-0 Deeping Rangers 

Firstly a big thank you to everybody who read last week’s blog. Needless to say i was pretty chuffed with the views and kind comments that it received. Let’s hope that the content and views continue throughout the season ahead. I must also add my general mood and state of mind has improved slight knowing i now at least have football to look forward to once or twice a week and that i get to share the journey with you all.  



Over the weekend results were mixed. Lincoln lost their friendly away at Oldham but there was a first win of the season for Dynamo Berlin thanks to a 3-1 away win at Berliner AK07. One game to look out for is the Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar being drawn against the mighty Glasgow Rangers FC in the Europa League second qualifying round.  Lincoln have come through two qualifying rounds to get here but the run will surly come to an end at this stage. In the other ties there is plenty of interest for Felice who has links to about 40% of the teams in it including Spurs and AC Milan.



Football fixture lists have been thrown upside down by the whole Corona virus pandemic and as such the FA Cup is starting before the various leagues kick off, needs must and all that though. Our FA Cup journey was to start at The Lowfields, home of Newark Town for their extra preliminary round match with Deeping Rangers.  A Brucie Bonus of doing the match was that this was my first new ground i have been able to tick off since Sunderland away back in January.



Last season Newark Flowserve (The Company that’s grounds the club plays in) became Newark FC and they look like a club on the rise and one  that has received a decent amount of investment. I had seen them in their former guise on a Central Midland League ground hop back in 2008 ish but i think this club is light years ahead of its predecessor. Newark is decent sized town and could easily host a step 3 club given the catchment area around it and last season the club did have several plus 400 attendances.

Newark were just too strong for Deeping Rangers on the night running out easy 4-0 winners. The homes fans really got behind the side with a group in the covered stand along the touchline making a real racket with the drum. The club reminds me of a mix between Retford United cira 2001-04 and Shaw Lane Aquaforce. I really hope the momentum can be maintained as there is defiantly a fan base in the town that could keep the club sustainable. I guess it’s a case of wait and see. But so far it’s a cautious welcome from me to the local Nottinghamshire non –league scene.  I must mention that Baz found the burger delicious and i was more than happy to pick up my first programme of the season.



Wombwell Town 1-4 Retford United.

You wait nine months to visit a new ground then you do two in five names. This time we headed to Barnsley to watch County league Wombell Town lock horns with Retford United of the Central Midlands League North.



I was a tad rough after a heavy night of drinking ale and sambuca shots in the White Lion but made it to the pickup point in good time ready to navigate our merry way to the ground. After bottling the sambuca Felice was driving and we made it in good time. The ground is a real old school effort and one that i rather liked.



At one time it appears that there was a running track around the pitch. At the bottom end of the ground there is a Go-Kart track and plenty of tyre walls can be seen. I have to say that this was one of the most welcoming clubs i have visited for a while. The chap organizing the car park, the old boys recording the track and track details, the lady making the tea, everybody was first class and it made for a great day out. There wasn’t a fixed entry charge but we all chucked a few quid in the donation bucket as i am sure most of the travelling support form Retford did. Retford United have had their knockers in recent years but you can’t fault the diehard band of fans they take to away games week in week out. It was especially good to catch up with Dave Wathall. He may be knocking on in years these days but his commitment to cause is as strong as ever.



Retford play their football at a higher level than their hosts and it showed as they dominated much of the game. The visitors ran out 4-1 winners but squandered many chances including a missed penalty. Credit must go to the hosts to however as they never gave up and i was glad they got a goal back late one. If you are busying planning which clubs to visit i thoroughly recommend Wombell Town! 

Elsewhere here are a few scores that caught the eye.

Crewe 1-2 Lincoln (League Cup

Iceland 0-1 England (Nations league)

Italy 1-1 Bosnia (Nations league)

FSV Lukenwalde 2-5 Dynamo Berlin



 

Sunday, 30 August 2020

The season is underway!!




For me the 2020/21 season finally got up and running this week as myself and my sidekicks were finally able to take in some live football action. The fact that non league clubs are finally allowed to let supporters attend is a huge boast to both clubs and fans alike as i am sure plenty of clubs would start fearing for their future had games been behind closed doors for much longer.

Our season opener was a short drive into South Yorkshire to the picturesque village of Maltby to see Maltby Main FC  square off against Retford United. Incidentally when ex number one left me a couple of years ago after 17 years together she moved to this quaint little village with two cats that we had rescued , Onyx and Sapphire. I do hope the cats are ok as i do miss them so. 




For us midweek games and pre game fine dining go together like Juventus and spectacular Champions League failures. The first Kebabs of the season were served up by the Charcoal Grill Kebab shop just around the corner from the ground. I played it safe and opted for the large Lamb donner at £6.30. It was tasty enough but could have done with being a tad larger, or maybe i am just a fat bastard. Either way it met with our seal of approval and is recommended. A solid start on the food front this season.

There has been much speculation as to how clubs will cope with the new COVID regulations and how different watching football would be. After watching two games this week it looks like things won’t be too different. Upon entry we signed in (i helped Felice spell his name) and leave phone numbers for track and trace, after this you sanitize you hands and off you go. All pretty simple really. 




Maltby play their football two leagues higher than Retford United but you wouldn’t know that from this match as the Badgers gave as good as they got. Sometimes in these kind of games teams can look a little disjoined but both sides really went for it in this encounter. Maltby looking smart in there red and black home shirts with Retford rocking a kit that looks remarkably one a certain Nottinghamshire based underachieving/ Also ran’s League Two side would wear at home.

As with all friendly matches the result wasn’t of the highest importance and its more about getting the players match fit and using different formations etc. The game finished 3-3 and featured some high quality goals with Redford’s 1st probably the pick of the bunch. All in all a decent start to the season and the 7.30 PM kick off allowed us to be back at a decent time. Let’s have more 7.30 kick offs in local football please.

On Saturday we were meant to travel to Clay Cross to tick of a new ground. However mother natural had other ideas as overnight rain caused the game to be cancelled .Felice consulted Twitter and it was quickly decided that Kimberley Miner Welfare was to be our destination. 




The 2pm kick off meant for a 12.30 departure time and a steady journey down to Nottingham for the game. Driving through Kimberley the place looked a nice little place with plenty of pubs that looked welcoming and plenty of people going about, a completely different experience from Tuesday night. The entrance to the clubs “Stag Ground” can be found just before the Stag Inn pub on the left, it’s a real blink and you will miss it though so thank the lord for sat navs as without one i am sure we would have been travelling around aimlessly looking for it.

We made our way to the gate and parted with our £3 and signed in. It looked like the club had really got the COVID procedure sorted so hat tip to them. And a second hat tip to Felice for spelling his name correctly. Once inside the ground hot and cold drinks were available but sadly the clubhouse was closed. With over half an hour to go till kick off we made the decision to head next door to the Stag Inn pub for a pre game pint. It turned out to be a cracking decision as the pub is a belter, a proper old fashioned boozer with a fantastic beer garden and friendly barmaids. From the beer garden you get a decent view of the ground and what was evident was the amount of work that had gone into the pitch as it looked a cracker. I had visited the ground over ten years ago and it looks like little has changed, the ground is fully railed off with the only covering being behind the far goal next to the entrance point and clubhouse. There doesn’t appear to be much room for expansion but i wouldn’t think that would be necessary as the ground seems to meet the clubs needs. The club has been busy adding new dugouts over the closed season and with the work that has gone on with pitch it’s obvious they have used the enforced break well. 




Today’s visitors were Wednesfield Football Club who ply their trade in the West Midlands Premier Division, a league i know absolutely nothing about or ever seen a game in. After a quick Google search it appears that this league is at step 6 of the non league pyramid, the same level as Kimberley who still play in the EMCL. So in theory a close game was in store and that’s exactly what we got.

I am afraid i can’t really dress this up but this game was a tough watch. Both sides really cancelled each other out with very little goal mouth action to speak of sadly. 

ak of. And whenever decent football was in danger of breaking out the referee out a stop to it with some over the top whistling. The only real high-point of the first half came in when the visiting keeper shanked a goal kick at about 30 degrees out of play when under no pressure whatsoever. It was a relief when the halftime whistle went allowing us to retreat back to the pub. 



We missed the first five minutes or so of the second half but it hardly mattered as it followed a similar pattern to the first i.e. very poor. As the game dragged on it looked odds on that we would see our first 0-0 of the season but thankfully a couple of minutes before the end Kimberley were awarded a penalty that they duly converted. Only a fool would make a cast iron prediction on a pre-season game but on this showing i wouldn’t imagine that either will be challenging for honours this time around. However it’s all about getting minutes’ in players legs etc and while there was little quality plenty of effort was on display from all involved. Good luck to both clubs for the upcoming season and all that.





Bourne Town 0-4 Loughborough University

Monday evening saw us visit Sheffield Town FC to watch their Under 21 team take on (and beat) Retford United U21 The final score being 3-1 a...