Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Launceston vs Dartmouth AFC (27/03/10)

Match 74

Ground #: 45

Ground: Pennygillam

Competition: Southwest Peninsula Premier League (Level 10)

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £4

Programme: Free – A4 paper folded over

Attendance: 53

Launceston 4

Richardson 37’,76’, Tilley 56’, Davey 88’

Dartmouth AFC 2

Barrow 6’, Brown 43’


So, finally I’d get to Witheridge, at the 3rd attempt I would see a game at Edge Down Park. (I know its nothing special, but its now the principle) However, on Friday night, the great SWP League forum alerted me with this message:

As the forecast for Saturday is better (can’t get much worse) and we are so short of fixtures all home clubs are asked to make every effort to get games on, hold inspections as late as possible bearing in mind where the away team is travelling from and ensure an appropriate referee does conduct any inspection necessary

SWP forum 2

So, Witheridge looks likely to be on then I think as I head to bed, only to find out on Sat morn, that it was called off at 10:10am, one of the first games to go. Someone in Witheridge must dislike me. :| It was then Plan B as I was looking at Launceston’s home game against Dartmouth. Another fairly close ground that I had previously missed out on. When news came through that it was on, I was glad to avoid another Christmas debacle when ALL my plans were nailed by the weather, so I headed South for N.Cornwall for this SWP Premier game.


Launceston is a town and ancient borough which is situated just on the Cornwall side of the Cornish/Devon border, 2 miles away from the Devon side. Thus giving the town the name “Gateway to Cornwall”. The town is dominated by the Castle in the centre of town which was an old Norman motte which was possibly built as early as 1067 and became known as ‘Castle Terrible’ due to the amount of hangings that took place there. The castle is still there today, owned by English Heritage and hosts the “Castle Rock” music festival in the lower grounds of the castle every July. It is also a main market town for the local area (with Holsworthy being the other big town nearby I don’t blame the locals) yet the mass amounts of major supermarkets in the town is a strange one. I wasn’t complaining, Tesco ftw. There isn’t much else in this sleepy Cornish town to distinguish itself from other places, although just wait till you see what I have to write about Witheridge…


The drive down was straight forward (mainly because its a straight road, I had driven here before going to Saltash and I Google Street-viewed it) and on the way I passed Holsworthy’s Upcott Field, where their game had been called off against Wadebridge Town. Once arriving at Pennygillam (named after the Industrial Estate the ground is on I presume) there was an ample car park that I cruised right into, and then the gate was locked behind me, strange until I realised that I had parked in the players & officials car park and didn’t actually then have to pay as I was already in the ground. However wanting a proggie I bimbled over to cough up £4 and find that a full programme “could not be produced” for this game but a free sheet of A4 paper folded over was given so can’t moan too much. Pennygillam looks quite similar to Holsworthy’s ground with the car park behind one goal, clubhouse in the corner and one seated stand that runs down part of the pitch. The rest of the ground is uncovered and hard standing, but does have tall trees down the NE side of the pitch which does make it look quite scenic. Launceston FC have spent all of their time in the Southwest League which later became the Southwest Peninsula in 2007. They have only won the league once in that time, in season 1994/1995, but do seem to be moving forward, albeit slowly after making their FA Cup debut last season when they reached the Preliminary Round losing 2-0 to Paulton Rovers (who play 2 divisions higher). After finishing in 10th (out of 19) last season, they went into this game in a disappointing 14th (out of 19 after Clyst Rovers had pulled out the league in February) 3 points behind Dartmouth, but with 4 games in hand over them and a better goal difference.


I had seen Dartmouth earlier this season when they went to Holsworthy and suffered a 1-2 defeat. That game put Holsworthy on 8 points and since then (the end of September), they have picked up just 2 more points in 6 months and look certain to be playing in Division 1 (East or West, who knows) next season. That did make me think how bad Dartmouth must have been that day (they were actually unlucky to lose) and made Launceston favourites for this game in my mind at least. However when the game kicked off, Launy did not get going at all, summed up in the 1st minute when their long ball from kick off went straight out for a throw in and Dartmouth counter-attacked and volleyed just over. If that didn’t wake Launceston up then on 6 minutes they were, as Dartmouth again counter-attacked down the right side and some good work in the middle through their #9 (a big Barry Conlon look-alike) worked the ball out to the left and the low cross was turned in, under the goalie’s legs by John Barrow to give the Darts a deserved early lead. Having claimed a seat on a bench right next to the near corner flag I had a good view as Launceston began to actually play and get back into the game and were just a final ball away from getting in a shot or when they won corners or free kicks on the edge of the area, they came to nothing. So when they won a corner on 37 minutes, not a lot was expected to happen. However a deep ball towards the back post caught the Dartmouth goalie out and Dominic Richardson was on hand to head the ball in for an unlikely equalizer. Dartmouth though hit back straight away as again, Launceston fell asleep defensively as they watched Dartmouth take a quick throw in on 43 minutes and play a long ball forward to Luke Brown who volleyed over Launceston keeper Paul Hider to give the Darts a 2-1 lead. Launceston though had 3 main chances to score before half-time as they had a shot cleared off the line, a header that missed when it looked easier to score and also should have had a penalty when the Dartmouth goalie barged a Launceston striker in the box when seeing the ball go out for a goal kick. At half-time this game wasn’t over by a long shot.


For the 2nd half I had moved round to the seated stand which had some tops views of the pitch and allowed me to take some decent photos as the glare of the Sun was taken out by the roof. Launceston went at Dartmouth as they searched an equalizer early on and nearly found it on 52 minutes when some more good build-up play saw Launceston volley over the bar. They did get the equalizer however 4 minutes later when some great work down the right by Sam Davey and his low cross was slammed in at the near post by Liam Tilley. A deserved equalizer for the Clarets. By this time, Launceston were well on top as Dartmouth just struggled to get going as they seemed to undo all their hard work done in the 1st half. Only one team were now going to score and they did to take the lead for the 1st time in the game on 76 minutes when a ball in from the left found Dom Richardson so poorly unmarked he had time to adjust his feet and guide his header into the bottom corner of the net. Launceston finished the game off with 2 minutes to go when a great run fed through Sam Davey and the lively winger got his goal when he controlled the ball in the area and placed it past the goalie to end the match. Launceston did score a 5th in injury time as Davey smashed the ball past the goalie but another Launceston player diverted it on the line and was thus offside. A recovery win for Launceston though and they went above Dartmouth in the table on this performance.


A good day out then in N.Cornwall as Launceston was finally visited after Withy fell to the weather. A decent ground with a cracking clubhouse means its another enjoyable experience in the SWP League. While the lack of a proper programme was disappointing, Launceston is fairly close by so I could re-visit to get a proggie some other time. I also found out that during Launceston’s last home game, they were 0-2 down to Bovey Tracey at half-time before scoring 6 unanswered 2nd half goals to bag a 6-2 win, so clearly only come for the 2nd half to Pennygillam if you want to see Launceston play well! This game also started the hectic Easter schedule I had planned, with the next game taking place on the Monday, 2 days later at Western League side Willand Rovers. Also, no coat needed again. Summer is nearly here.

Pictures from Launceston vs Dartmouth


Match Ratings:

- Match: 6/10 (fairly decent)

- Value for money: 7/10 (the norm at Level 10 for £4)

- Ground: 6/10 (room for expansion if ever needed)

- Atmosphere: 4/10 (fairly quiet)

- Food: 6/10 (damn good bacon bap, but small choice of hot food)

- Programme: N/A – not a full programme, would be unfair to score

- Referee: I Roberts – 6/10 (not much to do)

Launceston vs Dart prog

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Easter – plans and shizz


With me spending most of the Easter holiday in Devon, its back trying to get to grounds that I missed over Christmas, or had no idea I lived anywhere near. Here is my provisional (and I stress provisional after my Christmas plans actually only saw me go to one of the games I’d picked) list of games I might be at. Also to celebrate Google Street View now being able to show perverts, stalkers and the nerds 95% of Britain, I’ve ‘Street Viewed’ the grounds I’m hoping to go to. (Yes I have too much spare time on my hands)

Saturday 27th March

Witheridge vs Elburton Villa (Southwest Peninsula Premier)

Mid-table clash at Edge Down Park as I will finally get to Witheridge after missing out at Christmas. Withy are in 11th and E Villa in 12th, although Withy have 3 games in hand on them, so this one could be a close game.

Witheridge Ground - GM

Monday 29th March

Willand Rovers vs Tiverton Town (Devon FA St Lukes Cup Quarter Final)

Its always great fun to do a Western Prem ground and both teams will be looking to progress to the Semis where only Bideford have currently qualified so far. Add in its a local derby and this could be a corker.

Willand Rovers ground GM

Friday 2nd April (Good Friday)

Bickleigh vs Appledore (Southwest Peninsula Division 1 East)

Having ‘Street Viewed’ this tiny Devon village, I’m actually quite looking forward to this one, its Bickleigh’s first ever season at this level and they are still yet to win at home this season so put your bets on Appledore.

Bickleigh ground GM

Monday 5th April (Easter Monday)

Tiverton Town vs Chippenham Town (Southern League Premier)

I have wanted to go back to Ladysmead since I last visited, this time last year. A spicy game it was then, and with the teams heading in opposite directions, this could also be a great game.

Tiverton ground GM

Saturday 10th April

Torquay United vs Rochdale AFC (English League 2)

I may not actually have the money to do this game, or may come down to not being bothered to get the train to Torquay. Rochdale could secure promotion to League 1 in this game and Torquay still need points to stay up.

Torquay ground GM

Obviously, this schedule is at the mercy of weather, money and if I can be bothered. Lets go!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Blackburn Rovers Youth vs Chelsea Youth (17/03/10)

Match 73

Ground #: 44

Ground: Ewood Park

Competition: FA Youth Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg

Kick Off: 7pm

Cost: £1

Programme: Free Teamsheet

Attendance: 1,332

Blackburn Rovers Youth 0

Potts s/off 55’

Chelsea Youth 1

Hitchcock (O.G) 23’, Djalo s/off 55’


Before heading back down to Devon for the Easter break and the joyful time of revision, I wanted to get one more game in up in t’North as there are some great places I’m still yet to visit up here. After the failed attempt of Nelson on the previous Saturday, I decided to take in some FA Youth Cup action at Ewood Park, as Blackburn hosted Chelsea (a team I secretly like) in the 1st leg of their Semi-Final tie. With tickets also priced at £3/£1, it was going to be a cheap night out regardless how much I got in for. As I had no clue about any of the players I also did a little bit of research on the Chelsea Youth side to see if there were any players I should be keeping my eye on. Jeffrey Bruma – a central defender who has caps for Holland at Youth Level and also has played for Chelsea’s first XI, Gokhan Tore – signed from Bayer Leverskusen in Jan 09’ and Josh McEachran who was captain of England U-17’s were the ones that stood out. So with my scouting done (if they don’t make it at Chelsea, I’m sure Hearts would have them ;) ) I headed off down the short journey off the M6/65 to Blackburn.


Blackburn is a large town in Lancashire, and like most like towns in this County had its roots firmly in the Industrial Revolution as a former mill town and became one of the first industrialized towns in the World. Once deindustrialization kicked in, Blackburn did fall into decline through economic deprivation and unemployment. Today Blackburn is a growing town, with a diverse community with 25% of the population Muslim which is the highest in the UK outside London. Major landmarks in Blackburn include the Cathedral, Ewood Park (more on that in a mo) and the Italian renaissance style Town Hall. Amongst other things. The main team, Blackburn Rovers play at Ewood Park, where they have played since 1882. The 4 Stands, are all fairly modern with the Blackburn End and Darwen End behind both goals, with the Riverside Stand and Jack Walker Stand running down the side of the pitch. Only the Jack Walker Stand was open for the game, and then it was the lower tier only. The ground looks quite modern apart from the Riverside Stand which looks fairly old and there are plans to rebuild this, although this will only start when Blackburn start filling their ground (so never then). I arrived fairly early to take some snaps before kick-off and managed to take advantage of the ample (and free) parking that was next to the ground.


Blackburn Youth had beaten Blackpool (H), Leyton Orient (H), Man Utd (H) and Everton (H) on the way to the Semi-Final, whereas Chelsea had dispatched of Charlton (A), Notts Forest (A), Portsmouth (H) and Watford (A) to get to the Semis so Chelsea had a harder route to get this far, with far more away games played. Looking at the free teamsheet given out (sadly no programme, but a teamsheet would suffice), the 3 “ones to watch” were all starting for Chelsea so I had that to look forward to, whereas I hadn’t researched Blackburn’s Youth Team so I didn’t know any of their players. After nailing a chicken balti pie (so so good) and a Sprite to wash it down and taking a few snaps of the ground, I was ready for kick-off. A bit of a shame that only just over 1300 people had come out to watch this, as the Jack Walker lower tier was full, but an empty 3 stands made the atmosphere a fairly echoic one. Although it was good to hear the players shouts and hear what they were saying.


The game kicked off and it seemed a fairly polite atmosphere both on and off the pitch as both sides tried to get a hold on the game. Blackburn were looking to get the ball to their pacey wingers, while Chelsea were passing it around quite well and early on, one to watch, Gokhan Tore was ripping apart Blackburn’s right back Jackson Ramm who was struggling to cope with the two footed Turkish player. Chelsea’s early chances were shots from outside the area as C.Clifford tested the Blackburn goalie early on. A big chance came on 17 minutes however B.Clifford whipped in a ball from the right and Marko Mitrovic saw his header smash off the crossbar and go wide. Chelsea were beginning to get right into this as Blackburn struggled to hold on and the opening goal was surely not far away, on 23 minutes when Aliu Djalo had a shot deflected over for a corner, then from the resulting corner, Jacopo Sala’s corner curled straight past at the near post, which has gone down as a Tom Hitchcock own goal which I feel is a tad harsh as Sala’s corner was great, although Josh Swann in the Blackburn goal must take some responsibility for conceding that. Blackburn did come back into it for the rest of the half as they won several free kicks on the edge of the area but Chelsea goalie Sam Walker (who looks very impressive – one for the future defo) had the crosses easily covered as they led 1-0 at the break.


Blackburn went for it at the start of the 2nd half and began getting the crowd going with some decent possession and then creating some good chances. They nearly were level on 51 minutes when Grant Hanley headed from a corner but his shot was cleared off the line by Djalo. Then came the big talking point of the game, Sala, who had began getting frustrated with a few late challenges on himself, had a cheeky late swipe at Josh Morris, which led them to both square up to each other and resulted in a 22 man brawl with even both goalkeepers getting involved. After the dust had settled, two players were sent off, first Chelsea’s Djalo and then Blackburn’s Potts as they had apparently kicked and punched each other in the melee. Sala, who had caused the brawl in the first place was given a yellow card for his late challenge. This wound up the crowd and they began to get right behind their youth team as they began to create a few more chances and were again nearly level when a Hitchcock header made Walker produce a great save to keep the score at 0-1. That was Blackburn’s final real chance as Chelsea began to dominate again and created a few more late chances as McEachran had a shot easily saved as did Sala who also saw his shot well saved. The final whistle went as Chelsea had done the job up in Lancashire, but as the stadium announcer said, “it was only half-time”.


An enjoyable night out in Blackburn then as my first FA Youth Cup game was a decent one, so I hope to take in a couple more of these next season. Also, a shout out to the man on the gate who let me in for only £1 when I asked if the concession tickets were for students too (they clearly weren’t but he was nice). No coat was needed either in a very mild evening, which is something to look forward to for my games (if I get to any) at Easter. The 2nd leg of this game is on Monday 22nd as both sides were try and reach the final where they will face either Aston Villa or Newcastle Utd. Good luck to both sides.

Photos from Rovers Youth vs Chelsea Youth


Match Ratings:

- Match: 6/10 (fairly decent game)

- Value for money: 9.5/10 (you cannot argue with a £1)

- Ground: 6/10 (decent)

- Atmosphere: 2/10 (not the best, very quiet)

- Food: 7/10 (chicken balti pies are nice, shame about the Premiership prices)

- Programme: N/A – only a team sheet available

- Referee: R J Booth – 6/10 (thought he was fine)

Rovers vs Chelsea TS

Rovers vs Chelsea stub

Thursday, 11 March 2010

MOT fail. :|


I was hoping to get to Nelson vs St Helens this Saturday but my car has decided to fail yet another MOT and give another large cost to fix it like last year. Therefore as driving it would be illegal (and I’m not into that), its a weekend stuck inside or doing something even worse, shopping. If you are off to Nelson vs St Helens this Saturday, I hope it finishes 0-0. Yes I am bitter.

I am hoping to get to see one more game before I’m back in Devon for my Easter holidays and if my car comes back before Wednesday night and I’ve budgeted well enough then its a short and cheap trip to watch Blackburn Rovers Youth vs Chelsea Youth at Ewood Park in the FA Youth Cup Semi-Final on St Paddy’s Day. Here’s hoping. Otherwise my next blog post will be another one of moaning and “potential” plans.


Jeffrey Bruma puts Chelsea 3 up during their 4-0 win over Watford in the Quarter-Final.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Lancaster City vs Southport (24/02/10)

Match 72

Ground #: 43

Ground: County Ground - Leyland

Competition: Lancashire FA Co-Op Trophy Semi-Final

Kick Off: 7:45pm

Cost: £8

Programme: £1

Attendance: 262

Lancaster City 2

Jackson 75’, Teague 87’

Southport 5

Stringfellow (O.G) 17’, Flynn 34’, Daley (pen) 39’, Simm 85’, Booth 90’


In November, after I watched Lancaster dispatch Ramsbottom Utd in the 2nd Round of this competition, they were drawn away to Radcliffe Borough at the start of January and came out 4-3 winners. I was delighted at this result as the Semi-finals of this competition were being held at the neutral venue of the Lancashire FA HQ in Leyland, with the final still at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium. It was also another welcome opportunity to watch Lancaster City as I had missed their away game at Chorley and did not know if I would make it to the Giant Axe again this season. With it being a new ground and one that isn’t used that often anyway, that was an even bigger bonus. The draw had sadly though given them the toughest team left in this competition, in Southport, who play 2 divisions above Lancaster in the Blue Square North, and were in 2nd place in that division looking for a return to the Blue Square Premier. Although Southport aren’t actually in Lancashire, they had beaten two Cumbrian teams to get to this round, in Holker Old Boys and Barrow AFC. With Lancaster riding high at the top of the Unibond Div 1 North, it was an intriguing game and I made the short trip down the M6 to Leyland.


Leyland is a small town in Lancashire, just South of Preston. The town is famous for its motor industry roots with BMC, Standard-Triumph and Rover which culminated in British Leyland. Although BL was broken up in the 80’s, there is still a motor presence in the town with Leyland Vans and the Motor museum which is situated right behind the LFA Ground. Leyland is also home to Chicago Town pizzas with the Schwan Food Company having its base in the town. Arriving at the ground fairly early, a large car park meant it was easy to park up and take a few pics before buying my ticket. Sadly no student discount here (I only have a few months left!!) so the full £8 it was. I had heard mixed reviews of the County Ground with some calling it “the most soul-less ground in England”, with others saying its not too bad. I think its actually an ok ground, with one main seating stand and the rest hard standing with it being railed off. There is cover behind one goal with the other goal having some great grass banking behind it. The LFA HQ runs down the side of the pitch with a balcony allowing some people to view the game from above.


There currently isn’t a pyramid side in Leyland after Leyland Motors FC left the league in 2001. However Bolton Wanderers reserves use the ground who play in Premier Reserve League North Division as well as the LFA representative and youth teams as well as LFA Cups, which included this trophy. The holders were Skelmersdale United, however they had pulled out and so both of these teams had a decent shot of winning the trophy and a day out at the Reebok Stadium. The other semi-final had finished 2-1 to Clitheroe when they played Leigh Genesis, so the winners were taken on our good old friends the Lancashire Clit Heroes in the final, a very winnable game for either side here. Southport had also the luxury of not playing the previous weekend and seeing their title rivals Fleetwood Town go down to a shock defeat to Gainsboro. So their manager decided to put out a 1st XI for this game in preparation for their weekend fixture at Corby. This made the tie even more interesting as it would be great to see how well Lancaster could cope with a first XI who play at two levels higher than them.


The game kicked off with both sides not really using the well kept pitch at Leyland and resorting to the long ball game, as both sides tried to settle down in front of a fairly decent crowd too. It was Southport however who made the expected early running as they were getting behind the Lancaster defence a little too often for the Lancashire’s team liking. They also thought they had taken the lead when Daniel Lloyd’s free kick was bundled in at the back post however, the Southport player had strayed offside and Lancaster breathed easy again. It didn’t last long though as another great cross from the right hand side, this time from Robbie Booth, and everyone in the ground heard Lancaster keeper Martin Fearon’s shout of “GOALIES!”, everyone except Lancaster defender Michael Stringfellow who headed the ball back towards the empty net…… 1-0 Southport. A calamity own goal. Lancaster started to fall apart after this shock and Southport upped the pressure and began to create more chances to test the defence in white. Every ball that came into the Lancaster penalty area was met with the shout of “Goalie!” from the Southport fans behind the goal, but it seemed that Lancaster had recovered until they only have cleared a corner and Adam Flynn’s shot was flying wide behind a pinball effect in the area so it hit about 3 players before finally going in. No idea how Flynn has claimed it, but fair play to him. The game looked all but over on 39 minutes when another well worked move down the Southport right and Paul Barratt’s cross was “handled” by Andrew Teague in the penalty area. No idea how he saw this, but who am I to argue. Steve Daly easily dispatched the penalty to give ‘Port a 3-0 half-time lead.


For the 2nd half I moved around to sit in the only Stand in the ground so I could get a different view of the action and this half was instantly all about a Lancaster comeback as they started to create chance after chance as they just went gun-ho and attacked Southport. While they pushed men forward however, Southport could (and did) use their pace to counter attack which made it an exciting half of football. Quite easily the best I’d seen all season. Lancaster should have pulled one back earlyish in the 2nd half when a great cross from Paul Jarvis found Mike Rushton just outside the 6 yard box, but he flashed his shot high and wide, when it seemed easy to get it on target. The changing point of the 2nd half came on the 69th minute, when Lancaster striker Jordan Connerton (who was being watched by scouts from Football League clubs) was subbed for Mark Jackson, and it was Jackson on 75 minutes who managed to turn his marker in the box before rolling a shot into the bottom corner to make it 3-1. That kicked off the craziest 15 minutes of football I had ever seen, with both sides just proper going for it in an attempt to get to play at the Reebok. Southport made it 4-1 and again seemingly out of sight of Lancaster when a counter-attack saw 3 vs 1 and Chris Simm finished the move off despite the best efforts of the last ditch attempt to clear the ball off the line. Lancaster weren’t done however though as Andrew Teague then played upfront and latched onto a through ball to smash past ‘Port goalie Sean Lake. It was nearly 4-3 when a Lancaster cross caused mayhem in the ‘Port area and a header was only just cleared off the line. Had that gone in, I reckon Lancaster could have grabbed a sensational equalizer and given us another 30 minutes of entertainment. In the end however, Southport added a 5th in injury time when Robbie Booth tapped home from a cross from the left. 5-2 it finished, a great game and Southport vs Clitheroe would be the Co-Op Trophy Final.


This game was just sheer great entertainment and only for £8. Easily the best 90 minutes I had seen all season. Its a shame that Lancaster didn’t make the final, but Southport vs Clitheroe at the Reebok should be a great game. I won’t be attending so a visit to the Reebok will have to wait. The ground at Leyland is really not that bad, and if a club from the town can be founded, then surely they will have a great ground to play at, for now only Bolton Reserve games and the occasional semi-final/final will have to do for now. Good luck to Southport for the final, and hopefully Lancaster can now push on in the Unibond to win promotion to the Unibond Premier. Here’s hoping!

Photos from Lancaster City vs Southport


Match Ratings:

- Match: 9/10 (great, great entertainment)

- Value for money: 7/10 (£8 is fine for a County Semi-Final)

- Ground: 7/10 (I like, room for an expansion too)

- Atmosphere: 7/10 (Lancaster fans were great)

- Food: 3/10 (while the pie at the time was nice, throwing it back up in the middle of the night was not)

- Programme: 4/10 (poor LFA effort really)

- Referee: Gary Hilton – 4/10 (out of his depth really)

lc vs southport prog