Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Saltash United vs Liskeard Athletic (26/12/09)

‘East Cornwall Derby’

Match 64

Ground #: 36

Ground: Kimberley Stadium

Competition: Southwest Peninsula Premier League (Level 10)

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £4

Programme: £1

Attendance: 206

Saltash United 4

Farnham 31’, Menhenick 49’, Hughes 60’, Coulton 74’

Liskeard Athletic 0

Kanakh s/off 70’


I’ll start this by being honest, when I woke up on Boxing Day morning, I couldn’t even tell you where Saltash was on a map such was its insignificance to me. I had planned to go to Somerset to watch Wellington’s game against Ilfracombe, or if worse came to it, Taunton’s clash vs Frome Town. However the “P” machine shot them down early on due to waterlogged pitches when the frost and snow began to melt over the past few days. Not to worry, tons of games on in Devon such as Credition, Cullumpton, etc. All of them however by 11am went and it was down to Launceston to give me a game to go to today from my list. That crashed and burned by 11:30 and it was either find a game quick or spend the afternoon with Jeff Stelling. I found Saltash on the “Football Grounds Map” application on facebook (its very good) and decided to drive the 50 miles to see a game. Their local derby against Liskeard Athletic.


Saltash is a small town on the Cornwall/Devon boarder and is commonly known as the “Gateway to Cornwall”. Famous landmarks now include the Tamar Bridge which allows people to cross from Devon to Cornwall over the River Tamar, and also the story of the Saltash Ferry which allowed fisherman to cross the Tamar at around 1190AD. Apart from that there isn’t really much here to distinguish it from other small towns, although it is the largest in East Cornwall. The drive down from North Devon was rather straight forward (been a while since I got lost looking for a ground!?) and I passed through Launceston which means I know how to get to their ground which will probably be done over Easter. When arriving at the Kimberley Stadium, I was rather impressed as it actually looked like a proper ground compared to Holsworthy (the other ground I’d visited in this league) and also ample parking. The ground has one stand, which has benches and the tea-hut built into it, where as the rest of the ground is hard standing with no cover and its railed off. The clubhouse was also very nice and modern (and warm!) as I popped in to have a gander and then did the nerdy thing of walking around the ground taking pictures of the place and standing out like a sore thumb.


Saltash United moved to the Kimberley Stadium in 1951 when the first season of the South Western League began where Saltash finished 7th out of 12. They floated up and down in the SW League before joining the Western League in 1976, where they won the 1st Division at the first attempt and became a permanent fixture of the Western Premier from then. They had won the division 3 times before dropping back down to SW League level in 1995 as the costs of running a team at a higher level became too much. A 5th place finish in the SW Peninsula Premier last season suggests that the club would be in the higher reaches of the division this season and they were currently 14th (out of 20), however did have at least 5 games in hand over teams above them, so expect them to rocket up the table when they could actually play some matches. Their opponents were based only 14 miles away in East Cornwall, at Liskeard and had made the short journey down the A38 to this game. Liskeard had also been a Western League side until 1995 also and when they dropped back down to SW League level they had been doing ok until the newly formed SW Peninsula League was formed in 2007. Finishes of 13th and 16th and their current position of 17th (with no games in hand) suggest the team is struggling to avoid the drop down to SWP Division 1. However, with derby games, form goes out the window and this game was right up for grabs.


For the 1st half I sat in the packed stand and watched a far better quality game than I had been expecting with both teams playing some decent stuff early on, even more impressive with the fact that the pitch was resembling a bog so any balls played along the floor were getting caught up along the floor. Saltash though began to press and right winger Carlton Farnham began to rip Liskeard’s left back repeatedly to create chances. He first missed a one-on-one chance which Liskeard’s goalie Ian Baker did well to smother. However it was 1-0 on 31 minutes when Farnham picked the ball up on the right wing, cut inside on the edge of the area and got a fairly weak shot away which Baker managed to balls up and let it roll in, 1-0. Saltash then looked to add more to their tally in the 1st half while Liskeard had been clearly knocked back by conceding that goal and let Saltash’s Hughes again get away for a one-on-one chance but this time he put it straight at the keeper. Towards the end of the half, Liskeard did finally have some possession and won a free kick from the edge of the area, but it came to nothing. It was only 1-0 at half-time and both sides could look to take the win.


I moved around to the uncovered hard standing section behind the dugouts for the 2nd half where I instantly felt the cold sea wind hammering right at me and wondered whether this was a wise decision, in the end, an entertaining half of football made me all but forget the cold (until the final whistle where I couldn’t feel my feet) as Saltash continued where they had left off and battered the Liskeard goal. Ex Bideford striker Jamie Densham had the first chance of the 2nd half but his shot was well saved by Baker. From the corner however Saltash defender Chris Menhenick rose highest and his header seemed to be looping straight into the keepers hand, until for some unknown reason Baker decided to jump and catch it. His jump was awful and the ball sailed over him and went in for Saltash’s 2nd goal. Liskeard had chances to get one back as Saltash began to get sloppy in their play but good blocks and a shot off the line meant Saltash kept their 2 goal lead. There was a horror moment at around 55 minutes in when a Schumacher/Battiston 1982 World Cup moment, Liskeard goalkeeper Baker ran out and smashed straight into Saltash striker Sam Hughes who was clattered to the ground instantly. He was ok, just blood coming out of his nose and was cleaned up before being sent back on with plugs up his nose to stop the bleeding. He had only just come back on (only a drop-ball was awarded) when a Farnham shot which had been set up by Densham was spilled by Baker and there was Hughes, plugs an’ all, to tap in for #3 on the hour mark. Then Liskeard started to come back into the game, into a moment of utter stupidity from Liskeard midfielder Demitri Kanakh who rose highest to handle the ball when Liskeard had won a corner. When you are 0-3 down, thats just silly. When you’ve also been booked previously to that, then that is ridiculous and he was sent off. Saltash added a 4th when Gavin Coulton caught a Liskeard defender in possession and fired home from 15 yards. Densham nearly added a 5th, but Baker did save well as Saltash cruised home to victory.


A decent afternoon’s entertainment then down in East Cornwall as I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the ground and football on show here. Might just need to start looking Southwards and Westwards instead of the opposite direction for games in the future! I also didn’t want to gauge my eyes out after this game, unlike the previous week’s abortion witnessed at Minehead. It got even better by the fact Hearts had managed to win at the Falkirk Stadium for 2 in a row! :o

Photos from Saltash Utd vs Liskeard Athletic


Match Ratings:

- Match: 6.5/10 (quite entertaining)

- Value for money: 6/10 (the norm at Level 10)

- Ground: 6/10 (pleasant surprise, it actually resembled a ground!)

- Atmosphere: 5/10 (bits here and there)

- Food: 7/10 (quite tasty Cornish Pasty for a decent price served by an attractive blond – whats not to like?)

- Programme: 3/10 (at least they produced one, I suppose…)

- Referee: Andrew Tinkler – 5/10 (did ok)



Sunday, 20 December 2009

Minehead vs Devizes Town (19/12/09)

Match 63

Ground #: 35

Ground: Minehead Recreation Ground

Competition: Western League Division 1 (Level 10)

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £4

Programme: £1

Attendance: 63

Minehead 0

Devizes Town 1

Moffat 67’


Firstly, I didn’t make Morecambe on Sat 12th but never fear Christie Park lovers! I will be doing a special “Goodbye to Christie Park” in May. As for my first game over Christmas in Devon, it proved that no matter what you plan and hope will happen, someone or something will normally p*ss all over it. Plan A was Witheridge vs Cullompton Rangers but that was shelved when Witheridge decided to play the game on Friday night (18th). Ironically the game was then called off for a frozen pitch – serves them right. Nevermind, Plan B was Bickleigh vs Exeter Civil Service, a slightly desperate game to choose, but I wanted out the house. Problem solved on Friday night. Saturday morning and having snowed in Devon, that game suffered the infamous “P” and left me with an afternoon in or go slightly further afield for a game. In the end I chose the Somerset coastal town of Minehead for their bottom of the table clash against Wiltshire based Devizes Town. Massive.


Minehead is a small coastal town close to the boarder with Devon and Exmoor National Park. A touristy town by nature, the main “highlight” is the Butlins holiday camp that loads of people flock to if thats your thing. Throughout history Minehead has also been used as a port, primarily trading with Wales in such items as wool, butter and sheep. (No joke) The local team, Minehead FC were a massive non-league side in the past, for example they finished 2nd to Wimbledon FC in the Southern League in 1977, when Wimbledon were elected to the Football League. Since then, the only way has been down for the seaside team and they have found themselves playing in the Western League 1st Division since 2001, where they have never finished higher than 17th and last season they came rock bottom. The ground is a strange one as its essentially a public park (or Recreation Ground) with one massive stand which is fairly old and the clubhouse built underneath it. The rest of the ground is railed off with no paths, just grass and children’s play areas surround the ‘ground’. The visitors today were a side in more of a mess than Minehead, Devizes Town. The Wiltshire side had been relegated from the Western Premier last season and high fairly high hopes of mounting a return, however an appalling season so far saw them bottom of the table with just 8 points from 18 games, Minehead only 1 place and two points above them. A big game was on the cards. (Forgive me for trying to hype this)


Early on it was clear that the quality would be lacking from both teams as hoof ball was in order for 90% of the passes. However, while the quality was low, the commitment was extremely high which is all you can ask as both sides started to create chances. Minehead struck first when Neville Southall look-a-like (but add 20 stone) Scott Armstrong had to chase a good throughball and smothered well from the onrushing Minehead striker. After that however, it was all Devizes as the theme of the game began to become clear. The strikers were crap. Chance after chance came for the Wiltshire team as one on ones were missed or an awful final stopped the away side taking the lead. The referee was also beginning to lose control of the game that could have been stopped with a showing of a yellow card, but it stayed in his pocket as both sides began to get frustrated, mainly due to their awful inability to finish. The best chance of the half fell to Minehead when a free kick was only cleared to a Minehead striker on the line. Wahey! A goal, surely! Only for the big goalie to make a great save, but that really should have been 1-0. HT came and went straight to the clubhouse with a bovril (hardcore) to keep warm.


The 2nd half began with the exact same pattern as the 1st, with all 63 spectators screaming inside themselves as more chances were created and more chances were missed. The fear that this game would finish 0-0 came around the 55 minute mark when Devizes hit the bar twice and had 2 shots cleared off the line in the space of 30 seconds. A goal did finally arrive and I would like to take some credit for it as the ball went out for a throw in I walked over and picked the ball up and passed it to the Devizes player when Minehead were still arguing over the award of the throw in. Devizes took the throw quickly and a great first time cross found Nathan Moffat who’s header looped over the Minehead goalie to make it 0-1. Chances were still not over as Minehead still managed to miss an open goal and Devizes missed another one on one as the game finished with the one goal. Utterly frustrating, it should have been 8-8.


While I was glad to get out the house on the day, I could have picked a far better game than this one, although hindsight is a wonderful thing. Minehead’s ground is slightly strange with it being a public park and the lack of hot food (except a Pot Noodle!?) also wasn’t that welcome on a day that was cold and also welcomed a hail storm too. Minehead are also now bottom of Western Division 1 and will need to improve remarkably and improve fast otherwise its another bottom finish for the seasiders. My next game on Boxing Day was meant to be Wellington and then a trip to Elmore, however Elmore have decided to put their game back to 12:30pm and thats leaves me stuck. So who knows where I’ll be with my turkey sandwiches!?

Photos from Minehead vs Devizes Town


Match Ratings:

- Match: 3/10 (so frustrating)

- Value for money: 6/10 (£4 is fine at Level 10)

- Ground: 4/10 (its a public park basically, but a nice single stand)

- Atmosphere: 4/10 (none to speak of)

- Food: 3/10 (only had a bovril and Double Decker – not hot food!?)

- Programme: 4/10 (fair enough effort but a bit much for £1)

- Referee: Andy Gibbons – 4/10 (yellow card is there for a reason!)



Friday, 11 December 2009

All I want for Christmas is….

……3 points at Falkirk on Boxing Day!

xmas post 1

Christmas Schedule (subject to change, weather, money, petrol and if I can be bothered – actually this is probably a list of where I won’t be going!)

12th December:

Morecambe vs AFC Bournemouth (Christie Park)

--> To say goodbye to uni friends over Christmas we’re off to watch in-form Morecambe take on promotion chasers Bournemouth. Should be good.

19th December:

Witheridge vs Cullumpton Rangers (Edge Down Park)

--> An E.Devon derby in the SWP Premier – quite concerned at a “frozen pitch” for this one, but we’ll see.

26th December (Boxing Day):

Wellington vs Ilfracombe Town (The Playing Field)

--> A dash across to Somerset at noon to watch (currently) top of the table Ilfracombe, then…

Elmore vs Minehead (Horsdon Park)

--> Whether I can be bothered to watch 2 games in one day remains to be seen, but a 3pm KO means we should make it from Wellington, should.

2nd January:

Ilfracombe Town vs Bideford AFC (Marlborough Park)

--> The “big-one”. 1st vs 2nd in the Western Premier and its a derby too.

I’ll be then back in t’north on the 5th or 6th of January and then its hello Unibond!

Have a great Christmas and hopefully your team(s) win! (Except for Dundee Utd tomorrow, Celtic on December 20th, Falkirk on Boxing Day, Motherwell on 30th December and Hibs on Jan 3rd)

xmas post 2

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Hamilton Academcial vs Heart of Midlothian (06/12/09)

Match 62

Ground #: 17 (2nd visit)

Ground: New Douglas Park

Competition: Scottish Premier League

Kick Off: 12:45pm

Cost: £11 (student ticket)

Programme: £2.50

Attendance: 2,003

Hamilton Accies 2

McArthur 5’, Mensing 24’

Hearts 1

Jonsson 39’, Stewart s/off 48’, Bouzid s/off 80’


PREVIOUS VISITS: 31/01/09 – Hamilton Accies 2-0 Hearts (Scottish Premier League)

Maybe I’m a sucker for punishment but I wanted to see first-hand Hearts’ car-crash of a season with my own eyes. Hopes of maybe even challenging the Top 2 were whispered at the start of the season but a 0-2 defeat on the opening day to Dundee Utd has set the tone from there. Going into this game in 7th place at least we had a ‘cushion’ of a 5 point lead over bottom side Falkirk which could have been extended win a win over Hamilton. I had travelled to Hamilton last season in January which was the first match report I wrote for the blog (link above) and as its coming up to the blog’s 1st birthday I felt a return trip to Lanarkshire was in order. This time I brought two mates for the pain, although one decided to sack it off (wise, wise call) and go to the cinema instead. The game had also been picked for Sky Sports live coverage strangely, so the early Sunday start of 12:45 for kick off and 9:30 for leaving Lancaster was in order.


Hamilton is a large town in Lanarkshire which according to Wikipedia, not a lot has ever happened here. There is a palace and a few grand houses around the town but that seems to be about it. Hamilton also is undergoing a large regeneration project with new retail parks and shopping centres springing up around the town. The drive up was relatively fine, just a lot of rain and a lot of roadworks but we made it to the nice free parking Hamilton have with plenty time to spare. I’ll be honest right away about New Douglas Park – its laughable. It is basically a Morrison’s Supermarket with a football ground attached to it. One main stand for home supporters and away fans have the “Spice of Life” Stand behind the goal. There is also a piss-poor temporary seating stand which I have never seen used and behind the other goal is just large scaffolding to block the view from the Sainsbury’s store which is right next to the ground. (And is on the site of Hamilton’s old ground – Douglas Park) The Accies are enjoying their 2nd season back in the SPL and have set their targets higher than just survival this time. Hearts on the otherhand are in real danger of being sucked into the relegation battle which none of our players would be ready for and worryingly there would be only one outcome. Trips to Raith Rovers and Ross County next season.


Yet, Hearts had picked up a 2-1 away win at Kilmarnock the previous weekend and I was quietly confident we could pick up at least a point here to continue our good run. From kick-off Hamilton had all the possession but didn’t seem to know what to do with it. Until 5 minutes in when a hopeful through-ball took out hopeless Hearts defender Dawid Kucharski to let Mickael Antoine-Curier through on goal and while his shot hit the post, James McArthur still had time to run through and smash home the rebound. An awful start. Hearts then started to get a hold of the ball but with no movement from anybody, we were doing nothing with the ball. Hamilton then went and scored again when Simon Mensing took advantage of Janos Balogh completely missing the ball for him to make it 2-0 after only 24 minutes. I was sat in disbelief at the utter crap I was watching wondering why I had made the decision to drive a 314 mile round trip. At least Hearts boss Csaba Laszlo changed it by taking off Kucharski for David Obua and it was close to half-time when Obua took on Hamilton’s right-back and skinned him with ease, his low cross was turned in at the back post by Eggert Jonsson – game on! Half-time came and we were looking ok to mount a proper comeback in the 2nd half.


That comeback lasted all of 3 minutes in the 2nd half after Hearts captain Michael Stewart tangled with an Accies midfielder and Stewart pushed the player away. (TV shows this) ‘Referee’ David Somers however decided to show a straight red card to the player for reasons beyond me. Somers then decided to give everything to Hamilton, including a great tackle from Craig Thomson on Flavio Paixao which earned the youngster a yellow card. Hearts though were still creating the odd chance here and there and showed how bad Hamilton actually were. Any realistic chance of an equalizer vanished on 80 minutes when Ismael Bouzid (who had already been booked) decided to chest the ball down and play out from near his own area before bringing down an Accies player. 2nd yellow – cheerio. Hamilton obviously had all the possession now but as they are shite, they couldn’t hit a barn door with any of their later chances. Hearts then in injury time were denied 2 penalties, 1 clear cut after Calum Elliot had been brought down twice in the area. Somers wasn’t going to give anything to Hearts today. Full time.


The story didn’t end there however as there was a “brawl” in the tunnel after both teams were leaving the field which resulted in Hearts’ Ian Black and Suso Santana being sent off as well as Leon Knight to bring the red card total to 5 for the game. Rumours are abound at what started the mass brawl, but I did hear that the Hearts masseur hit the referee (if this is wrong – then I apologise) which if true is brilliant as Somers was quite easily the worst ref I had ever seen. While our performance wasn’t great on the day, we deserved a point from the game and I am fairly certain we would have achieved this with 11 men on the field, but it wasn’t to be. My awful record of watching Hearts continue and I am now really starting to believe I am a jinx. Back to watching games as a neutral I think!

Photos from Hamilton vs Hearts


Match Ratings:

- Match: 4/10 (for the neutral, maybe entertaining but not for me)

- Value for money: 6/10 (£11 is fine for the SPL)

- Ground: 2/10 (worst ground in the SPL – some achievement when Fir Park is also in this league)

- Atmosphere: 4/10 (none really)

- Food: 6/10 (didn’t brave the macaroni pie, but it sounds interesting)

- Programme: 5/10 (better than last season’s, but still advert-happy)

- Referee: David Somers – 1/10 (an abortion of a performance)

Accies vs Hearts 09-10 prog

Accies vs Hearts ticket