Saturday, 30 January 2010

Burton Albion 1-0 Lincoln City

After spending around three months training on a new process for work in Burton I was looking foward to going to watch the Imps take on Burton Albion. For those three months we passed their new stadium everyday. It was in the process of being built back then (2005). I think it was finsihed the week or so after we finished down there.
Since I knew the way i was able to navigate our way perfectly without a hitch or problem! 27-01-10 the flight of the navigator! But dont expect me to repeat the trick for either the Chesterfield of Darlington away matches next week chaps!

Burton Albion's ground is called the "Pirelli Stadium" Pirelli, a tyre company also sponser Italian champions Inter Milan!!! Only the other week Inter stuffed their city rivals AC Milan 2-0 despite have 10 men for over an hour. Lets have a quick peek at the highlights :-)

It's about an hour and a half to Burton. We parked the car in the carpark opposite the ground(only two quid). Just after we pulled up the Imps supporters coach turned up. As we crossed the road i heard them moaning about how the coach hadn't dropped them bang outside the away turnstiles even though it was only a 30 second or so walk over the road, lazy twats!

From the outside the stadium looked smart enough, as you would expect from a new stadium. The reception area looked very smart and clean. As we still had about 50 minutes till kick off we had time to walk round and check out the club shop. The range in the clubshop did seem to be quite limited compared to other league two clubs we had visited this season. The badges were priced at £2.50 and there was a choice of three. I got one that celebrated Burtons promotion, but only because i didnt see the crest badge Doh! I also picked up the Programme for £2.50.

This is one of the strangest looking programmes i have ever bought at a league two stadium. The size is about the size of a CD case which prompted my first thought to be along the lines of what the fuck is this! I didnt read it at the match as it was too cold but after studying it in the bath the next night i can say that it reads alot better than it looks, although somebody may want to check the mascot "Billy Brewer" page for correct content. For some reason he seems to think the two sides played each other in the same league in 2004 where as tonight was the first time the sides had ever met in a competitive league match; Muppet.

We handed over our £13 quid at the turnstile and piled into the ground. Below the away end there is an area where you can grab a pint in the warmth and watch sky sports news. Next to the bar there is a food area selling all the normal crappy football food. Although for the first time this season though, faggots were on the menu. Alas when felice went for some 15 minutes or so into the game they had sold out of the afore mentioned faggots so he had a burger that he said was crap and received a season low of 2.5 out of 10! Although his mood was brightened by the fact there was a smoking area below the stand. I am sure he said something about quitting smoking when we were all in Germany...

From the inside the ground is abit of a let down. Three sides are terracing, with the only stand with seats in to our left. Behind the opposite end of the ground to us the Burton fans had a nice collecton of flags in black and yellow.
Burton haven't lost from a winning postion this season so the one thing we didnt want to do was go 1-nil down. Alas we did so after about 50 seconds. The rest of the first half was a total non event for both sides as too many niggly fouls ruined the match. Although on the balance of play the Imps didnt deserve to be behind.
Lincoln stepped it up in the second half but couldn't force the equaliser we deserved. The Imps won the match even though the home fans were quiet throughout the match. Overall not a bad ground but there is still a very strong non league feel about the place.

Admission £13
Programme £2.50 6/10
Food -burger 2.5 out of 10
Ground 5/10
Match quality 4/10
Imps man of the match - Delroy Facey

Friday, 29 January 2010

Groundhog day 2010!!!!!

Forget Independence day,Thanksgiving the super bowl etc etc the biggest party in the United states of America takes place on Tuesday...Groundhog day!The most important weather prediction known to man! Should Big Phil see his shadow then its six more weeks of winter weather,no shadow and its an early spring! 20,000 people can be in attendance to see this event unfold!

For more details on this monumental event just click on the groundhog club link on the index on this blog and join in the fun! you can even have breakfast with big Phil the day before! If you live local you would be mad to miss the chance to dine with the most famous living Rodent in the world!
The most likely outcome is for six more weeks of winter but an early spring was correctly predicted in 2007 and 1999 so you never know,you have to keep the faith!

There is only one groundhog day chapter in the UK at the moment but we can change this! its to late for this year but next year could be ours! we just need ten people to join and pledge $10 (about £6.50) and we can start the ball rolling! Gav and myself are up for it! contact me for details and next year there could be a North Nottinghamshire groundhog day chapter!

You can rely on the "mind of an Imp" blog to be at the front of all the things that mater and Groundhog day is no different! as we have our own reporter in the field!!

The "Mind of an imp" blogs Groundhog day reporter on her way for an interview with big Phil!!!!

What this lady doesn't know about groundhog day isn't worth knowing and she will be bring me Phil's prediction as it happens on Tuesday!!


Long Eaton United 0-3 Worksop Town

With the big freeze having wrecked havoc with the non league scene here in Great Britain,many teams have been organising friendlies to gain some much needed match practice and this game was one such match.
Going to keep this short and sweet.Long Eaton competed for much of the first half but as the game wore on Worksops class began to tell.Ex Imp Danny Bacon scored a great goal for the tigers and that was the High point.Worksops third was also very good coming from a cheeky back heal into the net from close range.

Admission free!!!
Programme 50p credit must go to the ball boy for putting the programme together and selling it.(i believe he wrote it as well) it may not have been a normal league standard issue but it was very impressive that the club had done a
programme at all.

Clubhouse -5/10
Match 5/10
Food Mars bar- 7/10 (hot food was on sale but i had already eaten)
Ground 6/10 Par for the NECL i would say.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Fleetwood Town 4-2 Blyth Spartans

Unlike most of England's batsman on the recent tour of South Africa i am closing in on a century. Only mine was different football grounds visited. Ground 100 was to be Fleetwood Town's Highbury stadium, paired up with a weekend in Blackpool; the UK's top holiday resort famous for pubs, clubs, casinos, Tat, sex shops and other seaside related antics! Fleetwood is a short bus or tram ride from Blackpool.

Blackpool tends to act as a magnet for visiting fans of clubs who are playing away games in the North West of England. I have based myself in the town when the Imps have had away games in places such as Rochdale (lost 1-3) and Wrexham (lost 1-0 in one of the worst away days i have ever had). There were a few Chelsea fans in the town ahead of there FA Cup tie at Preston for example.
The first thing i always do when i go to Blackpool is head straight for the Counting House pub(pictured below) a pub that i have had some many great times in over the years

The first time i ever went to Blackpool was a boys trip to watch the Imps play Blackpool away in league one back in the 1998/99 season when we were all about 19/20 years old. As i remember we spent a fair amount of time in the pub. Indeed one of our number, a follower of Blue square premier club Mansfied Town had a bet with the chairman of the English Cameroon supporters club that he would drink 16 pints that very night. Sadly after about 6 or 7 he was rolfing his guts up and trying to hide it from the uncle fester look alike bouncer on the door. We all made fools of ourselves that weekend and it was all great fun, even better as the Imps won 1-0 but were ultimately relegated on the last day of the season. To this day i am not sure what was worse from the weekend all thoses years ago; Me not being able to find the hotel one night, the 16 pint bet, one of our number fooling the door staff with his baby face but not his footwear or the tenpin bowling scores after a night of linikers hatricks (back when a triple cost about £2 or something stupid!) Great days my friends, great days.
I got a tad drunk on the Friday night, it was fairly quiet by Blackpool standards. The high points was having a curry at the end of the night in the Thamasha Indian restaurant on dickson road(very very nice). i did my normal drunken trick talking total shit to the waiter. I told him i was from "near" Nottingham well 30 miles is near-isnt it? He replied "oh you mean Shottingham!" nice to see Nottingham has such a fine reputation throughout the country.
The other high point was a Shaggy master mix in Brannigans the beer was way way too pricey but the Shaggy tunes made up for it. pity the pub was dead with about 5 in, but lets have a few words from the great man...

I wasn't hungover in the morning, just groggy and rough, the fry up breakfast in the morning helped but it took me till about 1.30pm to feel "with it"

Fleetwood Town have had quite a journey over the past few seasons. They have slowly climbed up through the leagues and are now playing at the highest level that they have ever played at. Not only that but thay are top of that very league(the blue square north) and the target is very much promotion to the blue square premier division(the one below league two).
The chairman has pumped a considerable amount of cash into the club; investing on a new club house, new stands and most impressively, a pitch protection system which has been invaluable to the club over the past few weeks.

The old stand build in 1939 behind the new Highbury stand

The bus ride from Blackpool takes about 30 mins and was quite uneventful apart from an old couple at the front giving a running commentary on the journey. For FTFC you need to alight by the stop next to the "Highbury Chippy". It may suprise all reading this that i didnt go in and stuff myself, I was still full from the full english breakfast i had at the hotel. The chips smelt fantastic though, as do most seaside fish and chip shops. Plus with the VIP tickets we had bought you got a pre-match and half time meal thrown in.

Fleetwooods club house(jim's bar) is inside the ground and is very impressive and has clearly had alot of cash spent on it and was alot smarter than some of the pubs and bars in Blackpool. There is one large screen at one end with lots of plasma screens dotted about the club some of which were showing the Preston v Chelsea cup tie and others showing soccer Saturday. To the right of where you come in was a cabinet showing various memorabilia from the clubs high points in its history and the club shop which was well stocked with a nice Nike range of goods. A nice young lady sold me a couple of Badges for £2.50 each. I had a pint of Coors to try and wake up from the previous night but it didnt go down to well. The clubhouse must hold about 300 and was full of "cod army" head lines from recent FA cup adventues.
One very nice touch was the TV screens in the toilets, something i have never come across in non league football.

During the game the match is screened live into the bar so you can sit inside and watch it in the warmth with a few pints should so you choose, another non league first for me. Elsewhere in the clubhouse the plans for the rest of the redevelopment of the stadium are on show for all to see. At about 1.30 we left the club and made our way over to the VIP Bar for the food.
This was abit of a letdown compared to the Sports bar.It was nice and cosy, it just suffered abit in comparison to the much newer bar. We were welcomed and shown to our table which had the Programmes and menu laid out.
On the menu for today was soup for starters followed by either Lasagne, Beef and potato pie or oriental noodles, i went for the Lasagne which was accompanied with french stick garlic bread with cheese on(very nice 9/10). The bar only served bottles so it was bud for me. About 2.20pm the teamsheets came out. One detail highlighted on the teamsheet was a well done to Fleetwood under 18's, who had beaten Celtic fc under 19's 2-1. A great result indeed, given the size difference between the two clubs.

Fleetwood's nickname is the fishermen so their mascot, unsuprisingly, is a cod. Behind the end over the club house proudly fly the flags of the "ultra de cod" and the "cod army"

The mascot walks around the pitch before and during the game, getting up to the normal mascot antics high fiving fans etc he seemed a top bloke and it will be fun if Fleetwood do welcome Grimsby in the conferance next season the battle between the cod and grimsby's mighty mariner could be fun to watch!

The cod army's heroes wear the same kit design as Arsenal, the stadium shares the same name as there former home (highbury) and they do try and play the ball around on the deck like Arsenal. For the first 20 minutes or so Blyth were chasing shadows as Fleetwood played the ball out to the wings alot to try and stretch the game out. It was a case of not if, but when they would score and they duly took the lead on 19 mins through Adam Warlow. Blyth rarely threatened the cod's goal and a second was added on 42 mins by Nick Rogan. This was my cue to head back for more beer and food at the halftime break

The sandwiches on offer were served on a tray on each table, cheese, egg and cress, tuna, and ham were on offer (and as the fat bastard i am, i ate them all bar the ham) a small selection of mixed flavour crisps and nuts were also served along with tea and coffee. I was a happy bunny as the halftime scores came in with Lincoln up 2-0 against Bradford and Grimsby losing 2-0 at Rotherham united.

As with most non league grounds most of the fans swapped ends for the second half, with most of the cod army crammed behind the clubhouse end of the ground and the 20 or so Blyth fans behind the other goal. The only seated side of the ground was to our right and was about half full.

the cod army watch on

The game was as good as over on 58 minutes when a long range shot was spilled by the Blyth keeper and Rogan followed in the rebound for his second of the game. Blyth came more out of their shell after that and they won a corner on 68 minutes which brought cheers from their supporters behind the goal. Even more celebrations followed as the Fleetwood keeper flapped at the corner allowing Paul Brayson to score. Fleetwood killed the come back off in the 85th minute when Nathen Pond scored following a goal mouth scramble. As we made our way back into Jims bar Blyth added a second goal again from Brayson.(I didnt see it so i can't describe it) so 4-2 the final score but that flattered Blyth, such was Fleetwoods dominance.

Two of the most amusing points were the blyth player's tracksuits were sponsored by "viz" magazine, and that after every home goal the club played the first few bars of the captain Pugwash theme tune.

I really enjoyed myself at Fleetwood Town. I am normally sceptical about clubs who have had a lot of cash pumped in, but here i can see that firstly it has been well spent and secondly the club has a growing and solid fan base (helped in a small way by the fact that now Blackpool are in the championship alot of fans are priced out of going there) I can really see this club being in the football league in 5 years time!
All the best Fleetwood Town fc!

Addmission £20 (V.I.P) £10 normal
Programme (Free) £2 average 6/10
Clubhouse 9/10 on a par with Northwich
Badge £2.50
Food 9/10
Ground 7/10
Match quality 8/10

A big thank you to my hopping compaion on this trip! two games in a month! i will make a hopper of you yet!!!!!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

New Signing!!!!!!

Just a quick question and answers sesson with my pet cat Scamp.

Favourate Football teams
Lincoln City and Sunderland (the black cats)

Most hated football team

NFL Team
Jacksonville Jaguars

Playing with the Wii remote,scratching,biting and being a cute little shit

I will ask him some more questions when i have had time to paws for thaught.If YOU have any questions for Scamp feel free to write in and i will put the best ones to him.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Gainsborough Trinity 1-3 Stafford Rangers

What with the weather still a bit dodgy we decided to do a nice local game as appose to driving down to London to watch the Imps take on Barnet.Most of leagues lower down the league system had called there games off So it gave me a chance to see if Gainsbrough Trinity of the Blue square north premier league had improved since the last time i saw them.

Gainsbrough is only about a 20 minute drive away so i had a swift pint in the old sun in Retford before we set off and got to ground at about 2.00pm.The blues club is one of the smartest club houses around with a tap room,a best room and a large dancing room which is were everybody piles into at half time.Pre game entertainment was served up in the form of Stoke City v Liverpool.I don't watch much premiership football but i do like catching some of whatever game gets the 12.45 pm Saturday was looking like Liverpool would just about hold on for a draw until Stoke bundled in a late (but deserved) equaliser.Liverpool are in the doll drums at the moment,And in a very similar position to the one Inter found themselves in the early 2000,s.Then they appointed a bright young fresh manager in Roberto Mancini and the title was brought back to the right side of Milan for the 1st time in 20 years Liverpool could well take note of what happened at Inter,Rafa is just taking them backwards and it is only now that Liverpool fans have stopped blaming there American owners and started wondering where has all the money Rafa spent gone?
Mancini is now at Manchester City...Boat missed for Liverpool maybe?

Gainsborough had gone to great lenghts to clear the snow from the pitch so the game could go ahead.Fans had been down at the club for the past three nights removing snow from the pitch so that there hero's could take to the hallow turf.(The pitch is probably the best in Lincolnsire) And as you can see from the pictures above they did a great job.Even if i lived next door to Sincil Bank theres no way i would clear snow from the pitch for the club. Sod it and play it when its warmer would be my words should the call come.

The appointment of Brian Little has,nt had the Impact that everybody connected with the club was hoping for.The club are still in a relegation battle and crowds are dwindling.A few years ago Trinity always managed to get 500 or so through the gate now 300 is the norm.The chairman wants to build a new 4000 seater stadium and take the club forward to the Blue square premier league but at the moment the Unibond league is looking far more likely.

As seems to be the script with all Gainsborough games they started well created plenty of chances than crumbled.Stafford were also in the bottom third of the league
and only 3 points above the home side so it really was a game the blues needed to win and it looked like they would do until ex Imp Nathan Peat made a hash of a clearance to help give Rangers the lead.Like the Eastwood game we saw earlier in the season that Goal took the wind out of Gainsborough's sails although they did still create a few chances more often than not from Luke Beckett.

The Second half produced another flat performance from Trinity as Stafford stretched there lead to three Gainsborough huffed and puffed but all they had to show for there efforts was an injury time penalty from Beckett.
I don't like to say this about a great club like Trinity but having seen them 3 times this season and 4 times last year it looks like the club is sleep walking to Relegation.Some of the players seem to care very little for club and are happy to pick up there wages and go home. Its going to be a long fight till the end of the season and i hope they can stay up as there long term plans look very exciting.If only the players had but as much effort in as the fans did to clear the snow so that the game could go ahead.

Lincoln got a last minute winner to move 6 points clear of the last relegation spot!!!

2009/10 isn't exactly turning out to be a vintage one for Lincolnshire football. All three of the football league sides Scunthorpe in the Championship and Lincoln City and Grimsby in league two are all in relegation battles. As are Gainsborough in the Blue square north and Lincoln United in the Unibond south.In the NECL Lincoln moorland Railway are stuck in the bottom 5 or 6 places as well.
On the plus side Louth Town are looking good in the central midlands league, Oh and that team for a small place called Boston are doing OK in whatever league they are in at the moment.

Bolton Wanderers 4-0 Lincoln City

For the first time since 1999 the Imps were involved in one of the biggest days of the English footballing calendar; The third round of the FA Cup only 64 clubs out of the 600 plus who entered are left and this is the stage where the "big guns" of the premiership enter,and leave if you are Manchester United or Liverpool. Both humbled at home by lower league opposition.

A lot has happened to the Imps since we last graced the third round of the Cup. We had three Chairman, seven managers (plus two three caretaker managers) been relegated, been in administration, had 5 failed playoff campaigns including two final defeats, changed the club badge, made Sincil Bank an all seater stadium, seen Boston United join and leave the league, and the return of the old enemy Grimsby Town to our league. In 1999 Lincoln were in what is now league one Grimsby in the Championship.
Else where i was still living at home, out nearly every night in either Jenkins club (sadly missed) or the Anchor; playing in Local darts league in Retford(i was never late for work but then again i didn't start till 8 so i could get away with it)
In the charts this song was sitting proudly aloft at the top of the charts....


Back in 1999 The Imps faced Sunderland at home and lost 1-0 to a deflected goal that went in off the post. Gavin Mccann got the goal that day and as fate would have it was on the Bench for Bolton 11 years later to face the Imps. He was also on the bench in 99

ticket from the last time the Imps made the third round of the FA Cup

The Weather in Great Britain has been dreadful over the last few weeks. Bolton lies in Lanchshire which meant going cross country in the snow. We left in good time and it was just as well that we did as traffic was crawling over the M62 Motorway at snails pace. Although we had enough cheese sandwich's and doughnuts to keep our energy levels up. The beauty of games like this is that there is no pressure on us to beat a team three leagues above us. Imps chairman Steff Wright was interviewed on the national sports radio about the game and what it meant to a club of our size in terms of raising our profile and the cash we have made through out our cup run. Only on 3rd round cup day would we get this kind of coverage on national radio. Quite rightly Chris Sutton was praised for getting us to the third round showing that the only way forward is for us to back Chris and his plans. There will always be one or two who wanted "their man" in charge but i feel 95% of the Imps fans who follow us all over the country see what Chris is doing and like his plain talking and honesty. How refreshing is it to be signing players from Clubs like Aston Villa and Fulham instead of Clubs like Forest who give us injury prone players or ones that are never going to be strong enough for league two. England's crushing victory in the 2nd test match in South Africa was also a talking point on the radio. Its always nice to give our former colonies a good thrashing to show them what they are missing out on.(we wont mention the fourth test).

We pulled into Bolton's ground at just gone two and paid £6 to park the car. There were a lot of Imps fans about. We had sold 1400 tickets before hand but fans could also pay on the gate so a good away following was expected. Credit to Bolton for lowering the prices for this match to £13 for season ticket holders (for both clubs) and £15 for others. Which is cheaper than most clubs charge in league two (cough cough Notts County, Bradford city).
Bolton v Arsenal in the Premier league will set you back between £27-£35 with our seats being £27. The club shop had all the normal stuff you would expect from a premier club including fake nails for the ladies. Badges were a very reasonable £2 and were of good quality. The Programme was a watered down version of Boltons normal league version but only cost £1. It was ok but i was little disappointed that they didn't do a normal issue but with the crowd only expected to be a third of what they get in the league I could see why they did this.

As we went from the clubshop to the turnstile we passed the queue for the people paying cash on the gate and it looked quite long to say in was about 2.30. About halfway through the first half Imps fans were still coming in the ground. Bolton had to open up the top tier of the away end to get everybody in. In the end 3,100 Lincoln fans were in the crowd from a total of just over 12,000. The fallout about who's fault it was that so many fans missed some of the game was the talking point for the week or so after the game on various message boards and the local press. Bolton blamed Lincoln and the Lincolnshire police for underestimating the number of away fans who would turn up paying cash on the day, Lincoln blamed Bolton for not opening enough turnstiles for cash paying fans (three)
My view is that a number of factors combined to create this mess. Firstly if we are fair nobody expected 3,000 Lincoln fans to turn up. After selling 1400 tickets in the build up to the game most people, me included, thought we would have just over 2000 fans there. The bad weather also played a huge part as i am sure many fans would have arrived earlier and got into the ground on time if driving conditions were normal. But for their part Bolton should have realised at 2.30 that they needed to open more turnstile's. So draw your own conclusions boys and girls. There was hardly a queue at the ticket turnstiles and we were in the ground in a matter of minutes.

I was still full from my cheese sandwich and doughnuts en-route. My three traveling chums however were still hungrey so they each tucked into a pie and all three recieved 7/10. The seats were still wet which was a downer, but there was plenty of toilet to be paper to be nicked to dry the seats with. The view was ok and the legroom was fine.
Lincoln had a much changed line up from the Chesterfield match. So it wasnt a suprise that Bolton took total control early on. The home side had sacked Gary Megson in the week so the Bolton players had a point to prove to any potential new managers watching on. Lincoln chased and hassled Bolton but no suprisingly didnt see much of the ball although we managed to limit Boltons shots on goal. I dont know much about Boltons normal starting line up so i have no idea if it was there strongest side or not. In games like this the underdog just has to battle away chase everything like mad hope the big side has an off day and then try to nick a goal,As the half went on The Imps forced a couple of corners and started to see more of the ball although Bolton were different class when it came to passing the ball around.
HT 0-0

After getting to the break even we were starting to think that we may, just may, nick a draw here and get a reply back at Sincil bank. Bolton had other ideas though as they took the lead shortly after halftime when a ball across the box was turned into his own net by Moses Swaibu. Own goals are killers at the best of times but it must be even more soul destroying to score one then look up at the giant replay screens and see it again..and again. We dont have giant screens in league two and to be honest i am glad as i was getting fed up with all the adverts the Bolton were churning out throughout the game.
A minute later it was game over. Somehow we lost the ball from the kick off Bolton raced down the left, knocked it in for Chung-yong lee to pick out the top corner perfectly. That passage of play showed the difference in quality between the Premeiership and League two. One minute we are thinking we can get a replay then a minute later its game over.
This opened the game up and Lincoln with nothing to lose took the game to Bolton who were content to play on the break. Chris Herd and Scott Kerr took control of the midfield and drove the Imps forward. Herd forced the Bolton keeper in to a number of good saves and the Imps forced a flurry of corners. Fitness levels began to tell though as the game went on and Bolton added further goals in the 82nd min and the very last minute of added time to give the score a one sided look that didnt tell the whole story of the game.(this was backed up by the radio reporter after the game and the national press on Monday)

There was chaos in the carpark after the game with only one entrance open. We got out at about 5.45 an hour after the final whistle which lead Baz to tell the car park guy to "come on sort the cunt out you twat for fuck sake!" we got through and didnt suffer any "old boy blind side attacks" like we had at Telford in round one.

All in all it was a good day out and nice to see how the other half of football live in the top division. I just hope it isnt another 11 years till we get to the third round again.

Addmission £13
Programme £ 5/10
Badge £2
Food -pies got a combined 21/30
Ground 7/10
Imps performance 8/10 seems odd for a 0-4 scoreline but i thought we did ok.
Imps man of the match- Chirs Herd