Tuesday, 29 December 2009

A day out in Nottinghamshire

Radford fc 0-3 Holwell sports

The plan this morning was to watch the Imps away at rock bottom Darlington in league two. Alas the weather had other plans as the Imps match was one of only two matches in league two to fall foul of the weather. In all fairness to Darlington as you can see from the picture below, they were always fighting a losing battle to get the match on and they did, unlike Hereford united, call the game off in good time before any of the travelling red and white army set off. The fact that their near neighbours Hartlepool united called their game off too showed how bad the weather was up there.
Being as the game was called off at 9.30 am it gave me chance to join Mr Rob Waite for a spot of Nottinghamshire non league action.

Darlo v Lincoln-match off

Two games were planned for today. The first was Radford FC v Holwell sports FC in the East midlands counties league. Radford is a borough of Nottingham only a quick ten minutes or so tram journey from the city centre(or about a 50 minute drive from Retford). Due to Nottingham Forest playing at home this afternoon Radford had brought their kick off time forward to 12.30 am. Forest are doing well at the moment and alot of their fans are now crawling out of the woodwork which is starting to get on my tits. oh and all council tax payers in Nottinghamshire are going to be helping with funding for their new stadium for the world cup, fantastic eh? they cant sell out a 30,000 stadium so what are they going to do with a 50,000 one? Pittsburgh's Heinz field or the Giants new stadium would be a much better venue for a world cup match FIFA take note. And do Plymouth really need 46,000 seater stadium either?

Its been a hard season for Radford FC in the EMCL. 18 games played and only two wins and two draws to show for their efforts. Only one team is relegated to the CML at the end of the season and The pheasant's seem to be one of three sides who could suffer the dreaded drop. Anstey Nomads are bottom on 5 points, Radford have 8 while 3rd bottom Graham st Prims have 9 but do have two games in hand and a much better goal difference, so for me it is between the bottom two. Just to spice things up Radford play them both back to back. Graham at home on the 30th of Jan and Anstey away a week later. I am sure a certain Nottingham based Rangers/New york Giants/Radford fan i know will be having a few sleepless nights before those to matches.

Radford fc club shop

As we drove into Nottingham it dawned on me that about 75% of the buildings we passed were either Pubs or takeaways, I knew there was a reason why I always liked Nottingham. The Shelhurst street stadium is a little hidden but we got parked up without too much trouble. As we paid our money at the turnstile we were told that the match had only just got the green light from the ref. Most of it did seem to ok there was just a strip that was a little hard because the trees covered it from the sun. The Radford players were warming up on it though so it couldnt be that hard.

The early kick off time had certainly brought the Hoppers out of the woodwork. The clubhouse before the game was like a hoppers xmas party with fans of clubs as far away as Leatherhead fc attending the match. I like it when you can tell people are trying to work out what scarf you have on, but lack the social skills to ask you which team it is. I had my Shakhtar Donetsk v Breman UEFA cup final on one today and could tell it was confusing some of the life forms in the clubhouse before the match, two badges two colours schemes etc etc.
As we left the clubhose the bad news was that the food hut was closed due to the lady who runs it being ill! This was bad news because firstly the food is first class and secondly the staff were very nice last time we were here in August (and good looking)
We looked into the clubshop/hut and I bought a Forest Town fc badge (I got a Radford one earlier in the season) The shop has a good range of badges and programmes and I can thoroughly recommend a visit.

Holwell sports themselves had only won four games all season and were in the bottom third of the table so Radford would have fancied their chances. The visitors brought a good number of supporters with them and took control of the game early on and it wasnt a great suprise to anybody that they took the lead. To be fair Radford gave as good as they got but that final ball just wasnt there. Then just as the Pheasents were finding their feet they were 2-0 down as the Holwell sports number 11 spotted the keeper off his line and scored for 40 yards, just to rub it in the keeper helped the ball in just to make sure.
HT 0-2
The half time entertainment was provided by a groundhopper running up and down on the spot on and off for the whole half time break. I really hope that isnt me in 30 years time.
At 0-2 down i would imagine the home sides team talk would have been along the lines of keep it tight for the first ten mins or so and lets get a grip in the game and go from there.
I would also imagine that conceeding in the 46th min wasnt in the plan which is what happened as Holwell killed the game off with a well worked goal which the keeper wearing a Barcelona keepers shirt didnt see till it was too late.

That was more or less it i am afraid.The only other points of interest was a guy in an afro coming out to his window balcony overlooking the ground to shout "come on Radford" every so often and i saw the worst corner ever taken by Radfords number 9. The glare he gave my friend was a picture. As was Robs face when a Holwell sports fan took the piss out of his Hearts Scarf. The ref played what seemed like too much injury time but when the final whistle went we got back to the robmobile and sped from Nottingham and headed North to Calverton Miners Welfare fc for our next match off the day.

Addmission £4
Teamsheet -free
Programme £1 8/10
Match Quality 6/10
Ground 8/10

Calverton Miners Welfare 0-1 Newark Town

The journey out of Nottingham was easy enough thanks to sat nav lady, she really does know her stuff. We pulled up at Calverton to find the car park full, which wasnt a suprise as every other game in Notts had been called off due to the cold snap

As we ambled over to the entrance a booming voice shouted out "ITS ROB WAITE!" It was none other than our old friend Rob Hornby, CML committee man and the planner of the CML Football bonanza Hop. We didnt get much of a chance to talk to him but he did come over to shake hands and take the piss out of my Lincoln City Fleece.
Calverton are a club that has come along way over the last few years and there ground is very smart and tidy, it is also quite scenic, a stark contrast with Radford.

Teamsheets were given free on the turnstile and we got a Programme just before half time when they very kindly printed some extra copies as the first batch had sold out.
Calverton are 6th bottom of the Central Midland League Supreme division (the league below the Radford match this morning) and Newark Town are 5th top so it wasnt a huge suprise that Newark totally dominated much of the first half. Newark had some big guys up front and with Calverton having a young side there was a threat that Newark would run away with the match.
Although Calverton were lucky at moments due to poor finishing from newark and last ditch defending they kept trying to play the ball on the ground and it looked as if they were going to hang on till half time. A couple of minutes before half time a low Newark cross was met hard by Simon Ellison to give town a 1-0 Half time lead which was a little harsh on Newark as they could have had the game wrapped up.
HT 0-1
A swift pint was taken in at half time as well as a recent copy of Ballsmania. I was happy to see that Grimsby were wasting their chance to gain ground on the Imps by losing 0-2 at home to Port Vale. By the time the Imps play again Grimsby will have played two more league games than us due to our FA cup game against Bolton on Saturday. I know points in the bank are better than games in hand, but its even better to have both! The pint in the club was very good value and i can see why this place alway seems busy.

We then had one of those moments that can only happen at a non-league match, the floodlights wouldnt fire up for the second half so somebody from the club had to take the battery out of their car to fire them up. He wasnt a happy bunny about it but he has to take the credit for getting the match finshed. Non league football is littered with people like this, we salute you!

The second half was much more even although chances were limited. Calverton looked much better as Newark ran out of ideas and steam. Calverton finished the strongest but just couldnt get the goal that their second half display deserved.

Admission £3
Teamsheet -free
Programme £1 5/10 10/10 for printing some more though
Ground 7/10
Clubhouse 8/10
Match 5/10

All in all it was a fine day out; two games seen and Grimsby missing the chance to gain ground on the Imps. Much credit must go to the two host clubs for getting the matches on when other clubs didnt.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

A little bit of everything

I am struggling to find anything positive to write about my sporting interest's at the moment so i am going to cast my eye over to Europe to find some sort of comfort. And low and behold i have found some!
I will get the crap out of the way first.The Imps were second best to League leaders Rochdale at the weekend. We scored a well worked goal when all three of our Aston Villa loaness combined to give us the lead but there was little cheer after that.There first was a good goal so i can't moan about that. What i can moan about though is the fact that the next two,one from a corner and one from a quickly taken free kick were very preventable.Again though i felt we created more going forward but against a side that are flying like Rochdale it was never going to be enough.The bottom of the table is still as tight as a pair of trousers Barry fry got for Christmas last year so we just have to battle on.
There were two high points of the day though. Baz,s funny story about a rodent is sure to make the end of the season awards!!
The other was that the head steward in the Stacey west wasn't at the game but his very able deputy filled in very well and the day went smoothly for him and all concerned give yourself a pat on the back good sir!

The Imps are a bit down at the moment.For me we have to stick with Chris Sutton.Most of the players he has brought in have been better that what we had (although i prefer Kovas to Barker,but thats not to say Barker is shit)Yes we havnt won for a while but i believe that it will turn around (i have to) we are creating more chances while we have looked much more solid at the back.Yes we are in a relegation battle so lets just roll our sleeves up and battle.
What we don't need right now is people who haven't been to watch us play since the summer writing blogs slagging off the manager saying how he is doing everything wrong and we need to put some bloke who did a bit of coaching at forest in his job instead(this coming from an Imps fan btw).
For my part i will be wearing my lucky hat to the next home game.The only time i wore it we won 5-1 so it will be back!!

Over in the states the scene is even worse. Having made a bet on who would get further the Steelers of the New York Giants i intercepted a close run thing with both sides going to the Championship game at least.When the bet was struck both were 4-2 and looking good. Now the Steelers are 6-7 with no chance of the playoffs and the Giants 7-6 with a slim chance of the playoffs. So it looks like both the 2008 and the 2009 Superbowl champions are going out early how can you go from the being the teams to beat to being crap in such a short time span?

Lets look to the Czech Rep...
Because of the harsh weather in central Europe the Czech league shuts down November through to early march.The locals don't seem to mind much though as it gives them more time to drink the most tasty beer in the world from one of the county's many many bars and ogle nice barmaids.

The mind of an Imps blog favourite Czech side Viktoria Zizkov,so being because of there red and white striped shirts,Left wing support and being based in the area of Prague with the most pubs per head have made a stuttering start to life in the second division after last years relegation.They now sit in 5th place 8 points behind the second promotion spot so maybe a little to far back to get promotion but stranger things have happened as they say.

Elsewhere in Prague the big two have had mixed results in the Europa League this season.
Champions Slavia,are bottom of group B with one round of games left to go are looking for there first win and can not made the knockout stages having gained three draws and two defeats from there five match's.To be fair to them though they have been drawn in a very tough group alongside Valencia,Lille and Genoa.

Arch rivals Sparta face a winner takes all match at home to FC Copenhagen of Denmark for a place in the knockout phase.both teams are locked on 7 points with Hollands PSV on 11 and the top of group K. my prediction?A 1-2 away win. Although it would be nice for Sparta to win and keep Czech Interest in the Competition alive.

Now to Italy

After a narrow defeat to Juventus Inter gained a useful point at the weekend as both AC Milan and Juventus suffered surprise defeats.Inter are now 5 points clear of Milan in 2nd and 6 points ahead of Juventus in 3rd and on course for a FIFTH straight league championship.

Last week Inter safety made the knockout stages of the champions league although as a group runner up to Barceloana.So there is still a chance that the Jose will be jiving all the way to Madrid for the final in march!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Armthorpe welfare v Shirebrook Town

We went to watch Armthorpe a few weeks ago when they got stuffed 1-4 by Ossett Albion in a county cup game,but i couldn't be arsed to blog about it for some reason so this game gaves me chance to share my thoughts on the ground and write my normal crap about the match.
Despite the kicking they got when we last went to watch them Armthorpe are having a decent season in the NCEL Premier league,A win tonight would have take them up to second in the table.
I have a soft spot for Shirebrook Town,i can't put my finger on why but i do.Along with Lincoln United they are the first non-league side scores i look for in the non league paper.for this reason the following match report may be a tad bias.


Town have been struggling this season.Although due to Broadsworth being very poor relegation does look unliky.They went into the match third bottom in the table. Which for a side of Shirebrooks standing is surprising.A surprise FA cup exit to Boston Town didn't help much either.It was back in August i say them slam 5 past Rothley Imperial in a pre-season match and look rather good while doing it. (Although Rothley play at least a couple of divisions below Shirebrook it probably didn't count for much.

We paid our £5 entry fee and decided to go in search of a nice warm drink in the tea hut
As we got a pre match cup of tea (55p) one of the Shirebrook officials asked us if we had the time.It was 15 mins to kick off and Shirebrooks center forward was still 20 mins away.It was going to be a long night for Town.
Armthorpe isnt the kind of place you would want to go to very often.Its a typical South Yorkshire town and you all know what i think of that part of the world.There was a decent crowd in to be fair which was a surprise with Doncaster Rovers playing local rivals Sheffield Wednesday on a couple of miles away.
The ground is a little run down but is more than adequate for this level of football. We sat in the covered stand along the side of the pitch. The seats consist of wooden beams on concrete steps and arnt that comfy.Thankfully tonight was a league game so no chance of extra time tonight.
As the two sides came out two things stood out. Firstly we had a female lineswomen.(You would have thaught a nice girl like this would have better things to do that run about in wet and windy Armthorpe on a rank Tuesday evening.)Secondly Shirebooks keeper have an all pink kit.

Armthorpe v Ossett

The home side as you would expect took the game the visitors in the first ten mins or so till Town found there footing in the game.Shirebrook for all there problems do try to get the ball down on the deck and play and this was soon evident as they created a few chances while surviving the odd Armthorpe attack here and there. A couple of decent efforts for the visitors whistled past the post then they missed the best chance of the game when there center forward headed past the advancing keeper but the ball just went the wrong side of the post.
As so often happens in football the first goal went against the run off play but i must say it was a great strike.A volley first time for an acute angle brought back memories of when i was a player and Marco van Basten in the 1988 European championship final against the USSR.Gutted!!
that goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Shirebrook as they went further behind just before halftime.for my money 2-0 flattered the home side.

Town came out in the second half with all guns blazing as Armthorpe didn't know what hit them!Shirebrook made it 2-1 with a well worked team goal and it was game on and the traveling Shirebrook army realised that all wasn't lost.
Alas it was.Armthrope added a third although it had a hint of offside about it.The rain was now coming down and it effected Shirebrooks passing game badly as they faded towards the end of the match.
To be fair Armthope deserved they win but if Town continue to play like this then good times are just around the corner.

Admission £5
Programme £1 worse of the season for me.20 pages of adverts,6 pages of reading material.And two of those were league tables.
Tea 55p not the biggest cup you will ever get but it was ok.
Ground 5/10
Match 6/10

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Retford Town 5-3 Awsworth Villa

Nottinghamshire Intermediate cup 3rd Round

This game appealled for a few reasons. Firstly despite living in Retford for 30 years i had never seen a match on this pitch, the half one KO allowed me to be back to watch most of Soccer Saturday, thirdly it was a cheap day out, and lastly it was a County competition

Retford Town play in the Doncaster senior league and are currently in third place with games in hand on the clubs above them. Todays opponents Awsworth play in the Nottinghamshire senior league (NSL.) They were relegated from the premier divison last season by just one point (thus giving up their place in the Notts senior cup as well). In division one this year they are scoring for fun having hit goals twice and 7 goals once in the last few weeks. To reach this stage of the cup Retford had seen off Arnold Town Reserves and Trident FC (3-0 and 5-1 respectively) where as Awsworth have had a slightly tougher time beating Wollaton Res 4-5 on penalties and Nottinghamshire FC 3-1 in extra time.

We arrived at the ground about 10 mins before kick off.The first person we saw was a visiting offical that seemed suprised that Retford was in Nottinghamshire, i am sure some people in Nottingham and South Notts seem to think that Nottinghamshire finishes at Mansfield. Plus Awsworth is nearer to the Derbyshire border than we are to the Dump and barren lands of South Yorkshire. You would have thought the fact that Retfords other club United are holders of Nottinghamshires top knockout football competition would have been another clue.

Retford Towns Director of football casts his eye over his troops

Shortly after we had the pleasure of chatting to Retford Towns director of football Martin "buster" Keeton. I worked with buster at Jenkins for about 7 years. What he doesnt know about football in the Reford area isnt worth knowing.He told us about the plans that the club has to go foward with promotion to the CML being the target. Looking at the ground i would say there isnt that much that needs to be done to get it up to CML standard. Its certainly not far behind the Bulwell Towns of this world. The plans include getting a tea hut in place and to fence parts of the pitch off, but alas all this comes down to money and football at this level doesnt have much of it about.
Martin has been involved with the club for years and was the man who got Lincoln city to send down a Lincoln city X1 for a pre season friendly in the 1999-00 season at the clubs old ground on Babworth Road. He could also play a bit too. I remember when our 5-a-side team was starting off he sorted us a friendly out and he played for the opposition,in one move he skipped past Gav then blasted past me into the bottom corner! it must have been well over ten years ago but they all count!

Awsworth started much the better side, no doubt fired up by their manager shouting "come on lets have some noise from the sidelines" (there were about 4 people that travelled with the away side, in a crowd of at least 20).Much to their credit they played good football which from what i have seen/heard, is very rare in the NSL. Retford were thankful to their keeper for saving two 'one on ones' in the first twenty minutes as Retfords off side trap was breached all to often. The Ref seemed very much to be one of those "look at me types" although he was fair for both sides i thought. Awsworth continued to create chances but failed to score due to a combination of bad finishing and good goalkeeping.
Then after about 25 mins or so, as so often happens in football, Retford scored with their first attack of the game. That goal seemed to settle down the homeside who started to get on top and dominated the rest of the half.
HT 1-0

Awsworth were first out after the break and it was then we had one of the quotes of the season. one of the players said "come on if we come all this way and get beat we are going to look silly!"
Why? i am sure some people in South Notts think the NSL is the dogs bolloacks when it comes to non league football from what i have seen our old "up the field" crew would piss it in ths NSL. And all this way? its about 40 mins tops!

Retford seemed a different side in the second half and steamed into a three goal lead. The visitors were looking really silly now!
To their credit though they kept on playing good football and scored a good counter attacking goal to get it back to 3-1 then with their tails up, made it 3-2 and it was very much "game on" again.

Then we had the moment of the match. Retford had a free kick, and lumped it into the box, the Awsworth keeper under no pressure looked to us and the linesman to gather it but took it over the line. We had the best view of it in the ground and our impression was that it was over the line. The linesman saw it that way aswel and gave the goal straight away. This lead to the keeper totally losing it and launching a torrent of verbal abuse at the official. This went on for at least the next five minutes. The ref the booked the keeper and he was subbed shortly afterwards. If the ref had heard all of it i am sure the card would have been red. Credit to the Awsworth bench for removing the keeper and i am sure that the manager wasnt to impressed when he threw his top on the floor as he sat on the bench. Credit must also go to the other Villa players for getting on with it and trying to calm the keeper down.
The first thing the new keeper had to do was pick the ball out of the net as town made it 5-2. Villa pulled it back to 5-3 late on and thats how it stayed. I am glad it was a two goal winning margin so that "that goal" didnt decide it.

So Retford book their place in the quarter finals and, looking at the other sides in the competition, should fear nobody. I was back home to watch the scores come in as the Imps ground out a good away point at Crewe to stay 4 points ahead of the drop zone.
If you get a chance i would recommend a visit to Retford Town. I dont like to get into debates about whos league is best etc etc but if this is the standard of the NSL then Retford must be seen as one of the favourites to win the trophy.

Programme £1 very good lots of facts and stats although Buster really should have a page of his own!!
Match quality 8/10

Friday, 4 December 2009

Coming up..

Bit of a different game coming up on Saturday. I am joining up with Mr Rob Waite to watch Retford Town play in the Nottinghamshire intermediate cup.
This is the most local and more than likely the cheapest game of the season(which is very handy with Xmas fast aproaching!)

Rob is on a bit of a mission at the moment. His beloved Worksop Town are in a spot of bother and he is trying to raise much needed funds for through the art of sponsored ground hopping.The target is 75 games but i am more than sure he will piss that amount.
Worksop Town is a club that has a rich and proud history going back 150 years.To learn more and to sponsor Rob please check out the link below and join the fight to help the club along side people like Sophie ellis bextor Imp on the Worksop forum, whoever that could be!

if this man doesn't know it about non-league football it anit worth knowing!!