Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Football Snapshots – Kenilworth Road (Luton Town FC)

I was lucky/unlucky (delete how you see fit) to have to travel to Luton yesterday and while I had a couple of spare hours waiting on my train back to London, I decided to take an outside tour of Kenilworth Road, home of Luton Town who play in the Blue Square Premier. I did look somewhat out of place walking around the ground, which is slap bang in the middle of a residential area, in a suit but nevermind! As the East Side of the country is basically inaccessible to me to watch a game currently, it will probably be sometime before I actually watch a game here. Yet, in the style of Mishi’s “Grounds for Concern” blog, here’s a quick tour of Kenilworth Road!

P1530_24-08-10 (Outside the bigger stand…)

P1530[01]_24-08-10 (…the Kenilworth Stand!)

P1531_24-08-10 (Club Shop – a basic portakabin affair)

P1534_24-08-10 (Down the back alleys of the ground)

P1536_24-08-10 (One of the most famous away entrances in football? Having to go through people’s gardens to get in)

P1538_24-08-10 (Main Stand entrance)

P1541_24-08-10 (Luton Town – anti racist)

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Elmore vs Hamworthy United (14/08/10)

Match 87

Ground #: 54

Ground: Horsdon Park

Competition: FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £5

Programme: 50p

Attendance: 247

Elmore 1

Pickford 48’

Hamworthy United 5

Corby 10’, Cannie 52’, Burbidge 57’,63’, Toghill 62’


Whoever does lift the FA Cup at Wembley on May 14th 2011, Elmore vs Hamworthy United would probably be one of the last things on their mind. However, the “most famous cup competition in the World” has to start somewhere and for the plucky clubs at Levels 9 and 10 it was an early August in the season where they hoped they could reach the 1st Round proper (they can dream). Unlike last season where I sort of just gave up, I also will follow the clubs who go through each ties in a “Road to Wembley” feature to see how the clubs meet. The game I chose for the 10/11 Extra Preliminary Round was a club that was fairly close by and yet, I still hadn’t visited so a trip to Tiverton’s 2nd team was in order to see “The Eagles” of Elmore.


Elmore have a long history in the lower leagues of Southwestern football, as Tiverton Town have been the dominant and bigger club of the town. However Elmore were founded in 1947 to provide sporting and social facilities to Tiverton and bought the land that Horsdon Park lies on today soon after 1958. While not the most successful club in the World, they have won the Western League Les Phillips Cup twice, last in 1998 and were Western Combination League Champions in 1999. I had been prewarned that their home ground of Horsdon Park was a soulless place – however when I arrived it was actually a quite nice ground. Lots of trees covered the surroundings and so it had a nice green feel at this time of year. A decent looking sized clubhouse (although I didnt go in) and a small seated, covered stand down one side of the pitch. The rest of the ground is hard, uncovered stand which is railed off and so comparing it to other Western D1 grounds that I’d visited/seen, Horsdon Park is a fine venue.


Elmore’s previous FA Cup runs have been non-existent as their last meaningful run came in 2005/ 2006 after dispatching of Tuffley Rovers (now Gloucestershire County League) and Torrington (now North Devon League) they were knocked out 2-1 by Highworth Town. Therefore, after the past few season the Western 1st Division side were looking for a reasonable cup run this season. However, in the days leading up to this game, football and South-west football in particular were dealt a massive blow with the news that ex Elmore, Cullompton Rangers, Yeovil Town, Hereford United and Exeter City striker Adam Stansfield had lost his fight against cancer. I have not heard a single bad word said against Stansfield, even from rivals which speaks volume and his efforts for SW non-league football have to be admired. The Adam Stansfield Foundation has been set up to support this and for Adam to be remembered in the perfect way. With Exeter’s game against Dag and Red called off, fans made the way to other grounds to pay respects, with a large number of them coming here to one of Adam’s former clubs.

0,,10436~8963226,00 (Adam Stansfield 1978-2010)

Elmore’s FA Cup 2010/11 would start against a team 1 level higher in the Pyramid than them, Hamworthy United. Playing at Level 9 in the Wessex Premier, Hamworthy hail from a suburb of Poole in Dorset. After finishing in a disappointing 16th out of 22 last season, the Hammers will be looking to rise up the table this time out and started their season with two draws, 1-1 with Lymington Town and 3-3 away at Bournemouth. Compare that to the poor start Elmore had, with a 5-0 home defeat to Oldland Abbotonians and a narrow 2-1 defeat at home to Bridport. This looked an easy away banker, but the FA Cup had thrown up its surprises over its long history…


Before kick-off, an impeccably observed minutes silence was held for Stansfield, and when the game kicked off, Hamworthy took the game to Elmore as the hosts were happy to sit back and counter attack with the small opportunities they had. Major controversy occurred on 9 minutes when a Hammers player was bundled down clearly just inside the penalty area, however referee Mr Strout (who looked about 10) gave a free kick and incensed the Hamworthy supporters. From this free kick, the first cross into the box was poor, yet wasn’t cleared properly and when the second cross was headed back across goal, Aaron Corby was on hand to beat the keeper to the ball in make it 0-1. Hamworthy suddenly lost their way though and let Elmore back into the game, with their #8 looking very good in midfield. On 27 minutes, Elmore should have equalized when a cross from the left, found a striker at the back post and his shot/cross went inches wide past the post and outstretched leg of his fellow striker. They went even closer on 41 minutes when Ackerman dropped a free kick and a melee ensued of desperate hacking at the ball and somehow Hamworthy scrambled it away and went into half-time in the lead, somehow.


During the half-time break, members from Stansfield’s family I presume gathered on the pitch with all the Exeter fans present to take a group picture from in front of the stand at Horsdon Park. I also noticed a decent food selection being cooked on the grill, which I didn’t have as I was told a burger van would be in operation and so went into the nearby McDonalds for a Chicken Summer Supreme, which was quite nice! The Exeter fans wanted to see Elmore continue their good performance into the 2nd half and got the perfect reward two minutes in when a long throw was not cleared and bounced all the way through the penalty area until Mark Pickford smashed it home from about 6 yards delighting the travelling Exeter fans behind that goal. This did wake Hamworthy up and Elmore were only on level terms for 4 minutes as they retook the lead in what was a sensational 10 minutes for them. Firstly Stuart Cannie put the Wessex side back in front when he finished well after good work down the wing. Elmore then just imploded as Luke Burbidge was allowed time and space to run at the home defence before shooting low into the bottom corner to make it 3-1. On 62 minutes it was 4 as a through ball cut Elmore open and Joe Toghill ran onto it and cracked the ball into the top corner, a fantastic finish at any level. From this kick-off, Elmore immediately gave the ball away and Burbidge was able to roll the ball under the keeper to put the game to bed. Both sides did have chances to add to the scoreline, although the best chance came right on 90 minutes when a brilliant volley from outside the area by an Elmore player cannoned back off the underside of the bar with the Hammers goalie well beaten. In the end though, 5-1 was the final score.


I thought 5-1 was harsh on Elmore as they played their part in this entertaining game, but when you concede 4 goals in 10 minutes, you’re always going to lose. Hamworthy Utd are now at home to Sherborne Town in the Preliminary Round at the end of the month. A good day out at Horsdon Park, helped by the large amount of Exeter fans, in fact the gate of 247 meant this tie was the 4th highest attended game of the round, not bad for a club who rarely get over 60. A nice touch at the end was the Elmore players going over to thank the Exeter fans who had made the journey and “ONLY ONE ADAM STANSFIELD!” rang around the ground.

Photos from Elmore vs Hamworthy Utd


Match Ratings:

- Match: 7/10 (good entertainment)

- Value for money: 6/10 (normal FA Cup pricing)

- Ground: 7/10 (at this time of year, very green)

- Atmosphere: 8/10 (helped by large amount of Exeter fans)

- Food: N/A (looked nice though!)

- Programme: 7/10 (great for only 50p)

- Referee: J Strout – 3/10 (didn’t look comfortable)


Sunday, 8 August 2010

Witheridge AFC vs Tiverton Town (02/08/10)

Match 86

Ground #: 53

Ground: Edge Down Park

Competition: Pre-Season Friendly

Kick Off: 7:45pm

Cost: £2

Programme: With Admission

Attendance: 137

Witheridge AFC 1

Ebdy 54’

Tiverton Town 0


In some ways this almost felt like my 1st match of the season. Maybe because of doing 2 unexpected grounds in the North and a re-visit for my last match, this felt like a brand new start. It was also 4th time lucky for my 4th game of 2010/11 as I would finally make it to Edge Down Park after being denied by the elements twice at Christmas and once over Easter last season. So with the weather surprisingly looking great in N.Devon when I left, I headed over through the sticks to Withy.


Witheridge is a small village in North Devon and is really quite small. In fact the only distinguishing point Wikipedia could find is, “Its name is derived from the Old English for "Weather Ridge", probably as a result of its exposed location on the top of a hill, which means it and surrounding hamlets such as Nomansland generally suffer from poor weather for much of the year.” Exciting stuff! You could tell how small Witheridge is and how important its team’s clubhouse is as it was fairly packed upon my arrival with people who weren’t even watching the game.


Edge Down Park is a strange ground is there is a small gap between it and the clubhouse/changing rooms which was quite worrying at first when I arrived and could see no sign of a pitch. Going through the small hut to pay admission entry (£2 = win), Edge Down Park is a small ground and its hard to see how it could be improved substantially if they wanted to make the move to Western League. There is a seating area, a small block of benches which is covered and next to the dugouts and there is a small covered area behind one goal, although not many people could fit under it! The rest of the ground is standing, except for behind the other goal which is off limits due to it leading to another field! Despite it being small, it has a certain character which I really like and it suits Witheridge’s needs perfectly.


Witheridge have come quite a long way in a short(ish) amount of time. Having joined the vast Devon and Exeter League in 1971, they finally made it to the Premier Division of this League in 1996. 10 years later saw Withy promoted to the Devon County League and were benefactors when the Southwest Peninsula League was created as Withy found themselves in the Premier Division where they still are today. Withy came 10th last season, however they were rocked in June by their manager’s decision (Chris Vinnicombe) to join Tiverton Town and so Wellington boss Warren Patmore stepped in to lead the village club on. Vinnicombe was back for this game as Tiverton boss who face a daunting task to try and stay in the Southern Premier League after only surviving on a reprieve last season. Vinnicombe himself is Player/Manager taking his left back position while a few old faces have left and so Tivvy line up with a new looking side hoping to stay up. Probably as part of the deal that allowed Vinnicombe to go to Tivvy, this friendly was arranged and it looked to be an intriguing one at that.


Soon after kick-off it was clear that Witheridge were more ready for the new season than Tiverton and that was understandable considering Withy kicked off a week earlier. Most of the 1st half was quite average but two main chances both fell to Withy as on 9 minutes, they broke clear but the one on one chance was saved by Tivvy goalie Chris Wright. Witheridge were oh so unlucky not to take the lead on 14 minutes when Wright was caught out in no man’s land and a Withy player lobbed the ball over him only to come back off the post and Tiverton escaped. The rest of the half was a fairly dull affair with my only other moment of note came on half-time when in a Tiverton rare attack, a Tivvy player collided with the Witheridge goalkeeper – both were ok though.


The 2nd half saw more of the same as I began to accept that this would be an early 0-0 for the season until 54 minutes in when Withy broke down the right and while the first shot in the box was cleared off the line, Withy’s right winger got another chance to get the ball in and Steve Ebdy smashed the ball in from inside the 6 yard box and the Withy fans behind the other goal went mental. This woke Tiverton up and could have nearly equalized straight away when they won a free kick just outside the box, but the effort just curled over the bar. Tivvy’s best chance came late on when their Scottish captain sped unto the area and was one on one against Withy keeper Steve Johns, but his cheeky chip went straight into John’s grasp and Witheridge won the match.


Witheridge looked fairly decent in this game and should be more than ok in the Southwest Peninsula Premier this season. As for Tiverton, you have to be more than concerned. Player/Manager Vinnicombe was one of the quietest players on the pitch and so surely being in the dugout would be better for him? Also, this team look a shadow of the side of last season that finished 4th bottom and should have been relegated. Their opening game of the season at home to Windsor and Eton on 14th August should be a very interesting one indeed.

Photos from Witheridge vs Tiverton Town


Match Ratings:

- Match: 4.5/10 (just never got going)

- Value for money: 9/10 (far cheaper than I expected)

- Ground: 7/10 (I like it, nice village feel to it)

- Atmosphere: 5/10 (decent enough)

- Food: 6/10 (burger was fine)

- Programme: 8.5/10 (was only 12 pages, but free and more than enough detail)

- Referee: Tony Cloak – 6/10 (entertaining as always)


Saturday, 7 August 2010

Accrington Stanley vs Blackpool (22/07/10)

Match 85

Ground #: 24 (2nd visit)

Ground: Vicarage Field (normally used by Torrington FC)

Competition: Joma Southwest Challenge Cup 2010 Group Stage

Kick Off: 8pm

Cost: £5

Programme: £2 (tournament programme)

Attendance: 617

Accrington Stanley 1

Ryan 12’

Blackpool 2

Ormerod 4’, Southern 48’


PREVIOUS VISITS: 17/07/09 – Yeovil Town 2-3 Grimsby Town (Errea Southwest Challenge Cup 2009 Group Stage)

I had wanted to do a few posts about this years SW Challenge Cup, however as my laptop wasn’t playing ball, this single post will have to do! 13 teams had entered this years tournament with big Premier teams Blackpool and Kilmarnock being the star names. As fate would have it, both of them were placed together in 4 team Group A along with Accrington Stanley and Bideford. Killie had scraped past Zamaretto side Bideford 7-1 the night before and if ‘Pool could beat Accrington in this game, they would set up a winner takes all game at the end of the week between each other.


Nothing has changed in Torrington since July 2009 except that a new Thai Restaurant has opened (woo hoo!) in the town and the Cavalier's Castle is finished and they will be setting it alight on August 28th. At Vicarage Field, with Torrington still languishing in the North Devon League (Level 12), improvements aren’t needed, but the ground has been given a lick of paint for this tournament and it looks very decent. Shame its hosting the football that it is, but for this match a Premier League side graced the Vicarage Field turf in the form of Blackpool.


Having surprised everyone (including me) last season by winning promotion through the play-offs after beating Cardiff 3-2, ‘Pool would be playing their first season of top flight football since 1970/71. Although near certainties to go straight back down (prove me wrong) they’ll certainly give it a good go and earn a fair amount in the process. They had taken part in the SW Challenge Cup last season and went out in the Group Stage after beating local side Barnstaple Town, they then lost to Rushden & Diamonds on penalties to go home early and were looking to make amends this time out. Fellow Lancashire side Accrington Stanley were taking part in their 1st SW Challenge Cup after a decent 15th place last season in League 2, Accrington now face the challenge of kicking on after spending 4 seasons back in the FL. Boss John Coleman seems to be collecting together a decent team and so this game looked to be a cracker and an excellent attendance of 617 (crowd record?) also made the atmosphere good too.


A lot of people may not have expected such a quick start but Blackpool twice got behind the Accrington defence in the first 4 minutes. The second time Keith Southern had broken clear after a piercing ball from Charlie Adam and Southern unselfishly passed the ball across to Brett Ormerod to easily score. If you expected a capitulation from the League 2 side then you are mistaken as Stanley came right back at Blackpool and grabbed a deserved equalizer on 12 minutes when Accrington won a free kick around 30 yards out and Jimmy Ryan curled a fantastic free kick straight into the top corner and we had a game on and an early early candidate for goal of the season. In fact it was the League 2 side that kept going and began creating a lot more than their Premiership counterparts and could have had the lead towards the end of the half but McConville just shot wide. We also had some good old fashion handbags right on half time with most of the players getting involved but no cards were shown, but the crowd enjoyed it.


Blackpool had started well in the 1st half and continued that at the beginning of the 2nd as Jason Euell had nearly scored from an Ian Dunbavin mistake before a great cross found Keith Southern who powered his header into the net to put ‘Pool back in front. Yet the 2nd half followed exactly the same pattern as Stanley got right back into it and should have been level 9 minutes later when another Jimmy Ryan free kick crashed off the underside of the bar and scrambled away by the Tangerine defence. Euell could have finished the game off on 65 minutes but his one on one effort was saved by Dunbavin as ‘Pool had a rare chance. Stanley though kept pushing away for an equalizer and another Stanley free-kick was spilled by ‘Pool goalie Paul Rachubka and the whole ground held their breath as the ball slowly rolled, just wide for a corner. The final chance of the game nearly saw a wonder goal when Phil Edwards flicked the ball up and volleyed just over the bar as the match ended with a ‘Pool win.


So Blackpool went onto face Kilmarnock in the Group A decider and squeezed through on penalties while Accrington beat Bideford 5-2 in what sounded an entertaining match. Blackpool got to the final after beating Leyton Orient and should have faced Shrewsbury Town who beat Havant and Waterlooville but the Shropshire side pulled out with injuries and so Havant stepped in but ‘Pool won the Cup with a 3-2 win. Accrington Stanley should be more than fine this season in League 2 on this showing and will go into confidence for their opening game against Aldershot (which is currently 0-0 as I write this). God knows who ‘Pool will fare. It could be a long season.


Match Ratings:

- Match: 6/10 (decent enough standard)

- Value for money: 6/10 (normal tournament price)

- Ground: 6/10 (good ground for this level)

- Atmosphere: 7/10 (well attended and a good mix of fans)

- Food: N/A – didn’t have any

- Programme: 6/10 (good tournament programme)

- Referee: Adam Bromley – 6/10 (dealt with most things well)



Radcliffe Borough vs Bury (13/07/10)

Match 84

Ground #: 52

Ground: Stainton Park

Competition: Pre-Season Friendly

Kick Off: 7:45pm

Cost: £5 (student)

Programme: None

Attendance: 547

Radcliffe Borough 1

Brooks 46’

Bury 0


So this was it, after 3 years at Lancaster University it was time to collect my degree, graduate and head off home. Wherever that may be! Just before that though I had to get one last Northern ground before I headed South and so chose Evo-Stik club Radcliffe Borough as they hosted League 2 side Bury in their annual pre-season friendly.


Radcliffe is a town in the Metropolitan Borough of Bury in Greater Manchester and only 2.5 miles away from Bury. Along with every town in this area, Radcliffe’s legacy is based in the Industrial Revolution with textile manufacturing and some buildings from this era still stand today. Radcliffe in 2010 is now a heavy residential area, most likely for commuters travelling to Manchester and the local bigger towns. Landmarks include the Radcliffe Tower and Outwood Viaduct, which is now for the general public only.


Sport has also left a rich history and legacy in Radcliffe, with one of the football teams being Radcliffe Borough who were the reason I was there. Boro play in the Evo-Stik Division 1 North (Level 8) and after finishing 10th in 2009/10, may fancy their chances of a play-off position this season. Their home ground of Stainton Park is a decent one by Evo-Stik standards with a decent sized seated stand behind one goal. and alongside this down one end of the pitch is a covered standing area and the other two sides of the ground is uncovered and standing. Boro have a fine history with ex players with Frank Worthington, Matt Derbyshire and Craig Dawson all having graced Stainton Park.


FL side Bury annually bring a side down here for pre-season and having won the last two games 2-1 and 4-1, they clearly used this game as a serious workout. This time out, Shakers boss Alan Knill brought 8 trialists to start the game as well as two 1st year pros and a player who missed most of last season. While this was disappointing to most of the crowd to not see recognisable 1st teamers, some of the trialists were known such as Jermaine Johnson, Kenny Strickland (Man Utd FA Youth Cup Finalist 2007), Adam Kay and Simon Whaley who, amongst others, were looking for a full contract.


The game kicked off with Bury clearly looking like the FL side as they dominated early proceedings with Kyle Bennett especially impressing with some great pace and trickery. The first chance of the game came through Bennett’s pass to Duane Samuels, but he was caught offside. On 12 minutes, Bury thought they had the lead when Craig Mahon’s quick flick over the Radcliffe backline found Danny Carlton who poked past the Radcliffe keeper. Yet the flag was raised and Radcliffe were let off the hook. The rest of the half saw Radcliffe struggling to get going and get out of their own half as when they did, their toothless strikers struggled to get anything out of Bury’s backline. Bury should have opened the scoring several times with Carlton, Bennett and Hewson wasting chances as it was 0-0 at half-time.


By this time, the weather, which had been miserable all evening got worse with the rain increasing and the wind starting to pick up too so I sat behind the goal Bury were attacking for the 2nd half on this very cold evening. Low and behold, in the 1st minute of the 2nd half, Radcliffe launched the ball into the box and Tom Brooks had time to place a half volley well past Richie Branagan to give the non-league side the lead. It was back to normal soon afterwards as Bury started to pummel Radcliffe again but lacked a clear cut penetration that would probably be found in their 1st XI. Bury’s performance was best summed up late on when Danny Carlton was put clean through and blasted his shot so high that it cleared the stand and out the ground. A miserable night and a miserable game too as Radcliffe secured the win.


In the end then, a fairly poor way to end my tour (for now) of Northern grounds as this game really wasn’t up to much. As I write this so long after the event (cheers Toshiba), I can see that out of the trialists who played that night for Bury, only Kyle Bennett appears to have been offered a contract which is no surprise. While I feared a little for Bury on this performance, their 1st XI have had a decent pre-season and should be full of confidence going into their opening game at home to Port Vale. Was also a little cheesed off about the lack of programme at this game after Radcliffe’s Programme Editor said they would be one, but nevermind. Shame Radcliffe didn’t respond to any of my e-mails asking what the attendance was or who the referee was. Nevermind.

EDIT - Radcliffe have since replied about the attendance and the official figure is now given!

Photos from Radcliffe Boro vs Bury


Match Ratings:

- Match: 4/10 (miserable weather, miserable game)

- Value for money: 4/10 (£5 was a discounted price!)

- Ground: 7/10 (decent Evo-Stik ground)

- Atmosphere: 4/10 (weather dampened the mood of everyone)

- Food: 7/10 (decent enough cheeseburger)

- Programme: N/A - none

- Referee: ??? – 5/10 (quite whistle happy)

Friday, 6 August 2010

Blyth Spartans vs Berwick Rangers (10/07/10)

Match 83

Ground #: 51

Ground: Croft Park

Competition: Pre-Season Friendly

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £2 (student)

Programme: £1.50 (joint issue with all 3 PSF’s with Scottish teams)

Attendance: 286

Blyth Spartans 3

Deverdics 25’, Alexander 27’, Dale 75’

Berwick Rangers 0


Its been less than 2 months since my last game of 2009/2010 and the World Cup was still even on when I decided to finish my time in the North-East with my first game of 2010/2011 with a friendly featuring one of the most Northern teams in England and one of the most Southern in Scotland (Technically). There had been other games I had planned to go see, included North Shields vs Calverton Miners Welfare, but when Calverton pulled out, Blyth was the game to see. So a short car journey from Newcastle saw me arrive (without getting lost!) in Blyth and getting the last space in the carpark next to the clubhouse. Already a good start to the new season!


Blyth is a town in the Southeast of Northumberland which has seen a dramatic decline in the town, followed by a recent revival and is clearly a town on the up. Like most Northern towns, the main industries which helped the town prosper have all but died, in Blyth’s case this being shipbuilding and coal mining. However regeneration projects kicked in around the 1990’s and so Blyth today is not as bad as people make it out to be. The Quayside has seen the most development but other attractions in Blyth include the Keel Row Shopping Centre and the Blyth Harbour Wind Farm. It is also home to a major giantkilling club which was the reason I was there.


Blyth Spartans are best known for their numerous exploits in the FA Cup where they have on several occasions given Football League sides a bloody nose and a cup defeat. Crewe, Stockport, Stoke City, Bury and Bournemouth to name just a few have all been on the receiving end of a Blyth cup shock. The Spartans now play their football in the Blue Square North (Level 6) and came a disappointing 13th last time out. Their home ground of Croft Park is a great wee ground situated just near the town centre. Its covered at some point all the way round with only 1 seated area called “The Port of Blyth Stand” which overlooks the pitch. Other covered/uncovered hard standing areas are around the ground which means should Blyth get promoted, improvements can be made fairly easily. Spartans boss Mick Tait was looking to strengthen his squad and so as always with a side’s 1st pre-season game, fielded many trialists looking for a permanent deal.


The team they faced in this game was SFL side Berwick Rangers who were in the 3rd Division after finishing a poor 6th in 2009/10. Famously the only English side to play in the Scottish Leagues, Berwick have been tipped by a few this season to struggle and when I write this have already crashed out the League Cup with a 1-0 defeat to Peterhead and face a daunting trip to Partick Thistle in the Challenge Cup after receiving a 1st Round bye. When they kicked off this game, Berwick actually looked the stronger team with their pace upfront giving Chris Swailes and Wayne Buchanan trouble at the back. However Blyth started to get going and opened the scoring on 25 minutes when a poorly cleared ball fell to trialist Nicky Deverdics on the edge of the area and his shot cracked off a post and in. Blyth then doubled their lead almost instantly when a throw-in found John Alexander who turned on the ball and quite brilliantly curled the ball into the top left corner and away from Berwick goalie McCaldon to make it 2-0 and shellshock Berwick. Blyth also had a goal disallowed just before half-time as they went into the break very comfortable.


For the 2nd half I sat behind the goal Berwick were attacking, although based on the 1st half I didn’t really expect much action to take place there. In fact, Berwick actually were the better team as they created many chances around the Blyth penalty area but a poor final ball or block stopped them from really creating a golden chance. In the end, Blyth made it 3-0 towards the end on 75 minutes with a great counter attacking move that saw Paul Brayson break away to find Robert Dale who stepped past the last defender before curling the ball around the keeper to finish off the scoring. Berwick almost pulled one back very late on when a shot from outside the area looked to be going in directly in front of me until Sam Greievson pulled off a great one handed save to deny Berwick a consolation strike. A very good workout for Blyth in the end.


As I’m writing this nearly a month after the match because my laptop hard-drive failed, I can see now that Blyth are shaping up nicely for their opening league game away at Solihull Moors on August 14th. Berwick, lost their opening competitive game in the League Cup to Peterhead and look set to struggle down at the lower reaches of Scottish Division 3 this season starting with an away trip to Albion Rovers tomorrow. (August 7th) Finally, Blyth didn’t sign Nicky Deverdics, probably due to wage demands, and Wikipedia holds no clues about where he’s ended up!? Any ideas?

Photos from Blyth Spartans vs Berwick Rangers


Match Ratings:

- Match: 5/10 (the usual fare really)

- Value for money: 9/10 (great pricing for me!)

- Ground: 7/10 (I like it, would gladly re-visit one day)

- Atmosphere: 5/10 (nothing special, although Berwick’s left back got pelters)

- Food: 7/10 (decent enough cheeseburger)

- Programme: 7/10 (decent issue for the 3 PSF’s against SFL sides)

- Referee: S.Stockbridge – 6/10 (was ok)


Season 10/11 Predictions

So the Season is nearly here! With Norwich vs Watford kicking off the FL tonight, season 2010/2011 kicks off in full flow. Last year I actually got some of my predictions right (if you don’t believe me you can check here) so I’ve decided to have another crack. Lets see how bad these are in May 2011!



Winners –> Man Utd – It may seems strange considering Chelsea haven’t really got weaker and Man Utd haven’t added that much, however I think this will be Fergie’s last season and what a way he’ll want to go out. The signing of Mexican Javier Hernandez is inspired and we’ve already seen glimpses of what he can do at the World Cup. He’ll also take some of the pressure off Rooney as Owen and Berbatov are not good enough.

2nd –> Chelsea – Think they might just get pipped to the post. Carlo Ancelotti has already proved a point by winning the title and I think Chelsea will feel the Champions League is more important to them this season.

3rd –> Man City – Signing major players such as David Silva and Yaya Toure will only improve an already good team and so Citeh should easily finish higher than 5th last time out. I think the title is just out of their reach this season, but if come January, City still have a chance the ch£que book will be right out.

4th –> Arsenal – Keeping Cesc Fabregas at the club is vital as I think they’ll have enough with him to see off Spurs and Liverpool to take 4th. Pressure is on Wenger to deliver though, it could be his last season too.

Dark Horses –> Bolton – It seems gone are the days of long, boring, hoofball at the Reebok as Owen Coyle is turning himself into a well respected manager and a good one at that. Signing Martin Petrov is inspired and they could well surprise a few teams this season.

Cart Horses –> Sunderland – Picked them as dark horses last season and they turned in a poor 13th place. This team out things look trickier as captain Lorik Cana has gone and surely Darren Bent cannot repeat his heroics from last season again?

Relegated –> Blackpool – Getting here was an amazing achievement. They’ll just enjoy it and maybe pick up the odd win here and there.

West Brom – Haven’t really added much to an average squad that got them promoted last season and they have an awful start with their 1st 4 away games taking in the “Big 4”.

Wigan Athletic – Were quite dreadfully bad last season and I still think Martinez is too tactically naive to change if situations require it.


Promoted –> Middlesbrough – The SPL signings will really click into gear this season and Kris Boyd should be on hand to score a bunch of tap-ins when they are created. Also, Gordon Strachan has been a success everywhere he has managed. I don’t see why that should change now.

Notts Forest – Having gone so close last time, they will have experience, a good support for them and quality players to make sure it happens this time.

Bristol City – Steve Coppell is a master of this league having had 3 promotions from it. Has also signed some quite excellent players such as Kalifa Cisse from Reading and snagging David James is a masterstroke.

Dark Horses –> Norwich City – Should be fine this season and could maybe push for a sneaky play-off place with momentum behind them and a great manager, it could really happen.

Cart Horses –> Hull City – Mainly for the opposite reasons to Norwich, Hull have sold pretty much all of their best players, have financial constraints and are in poor form, Nigel Pearson has his work cut out here.

Relegated –> Watford – Things don’t look good this time out. Very very close to administration last season and were only saved by super loan signings who have now gone back to their parent’s club. No finances to improve the team,, League 1 could be very real for the Hornets in 2011/12.

Scunthorpe Utd – Losing your best players hurts a team, especially if you are also considered one of the smallest teams in the division. Replacements for Gary Hooper and co are needed, yet I don’t see Chris Dagnall providing the goals that the Iron need to stay in this division.

Crystal Palace – Another team down here because of financial mis-management. Having to bolster you squad with youth players is a desperate move and Palace will really need to hope these players are up to it. Its also Last Chance Saloon for George Burley as a manager. His career has taken a downward spiral since leaving Hearts in late 2005.


Promoted –> Southampton – Have the players, the manager, the finances and the fans to cruise through this division this season.

Charlton – Still some concern over a lack of goalscorer but the fans stuck with the Addicks last time and with the Division (bar Southampton) fairly weak this season, promoted should be achieved.

Huddersfield Town – Again only lost out to the play-off lottery last season. An ever improving manager should get them promoted this time out.

Dark Horses –> Exeter City – Having only survived by the skin of their teeth last season (1 point), Exeter will be hoping to improve this time out. The players and manager are wiser and provided Paul Tisdale stays, Exeter could be looking at Top 10.

Cart Horses –> Plymouth Arygle – Another team who seem to be in a mess and so have got in Peter Reid to make things better. Will surely end in tears.

Relegated –> Dag + Red – Like Blackpool, getting here was the achievement. Can’t see them staying up.

Oldham Athletic – Struggled constantly and finished nervously in 16th last season. Paul Dickov then being giving the manager’s role is something of a surprise given he has zero experience. Could backfire.

Notts County – Although in the end coasted to the title, they have lost their excellent goalkeeper, one of the main scorers and manager who secured the promotion all down to money issues. Lee Hughes can’t do it all on his own and Craig Short will need to learn fast having only had 1 years previous experience in the Hungarian League.

Tranmere Rovers – Somehow managed to stay up after the John Barnes debacle, yet with no real finances to improve the team, can’t see them doing it a 2nd season.


Promoted –> Gillingham – With a club legend back as manager, the fans and board now on song and a decent team with them, the Gills should bounce right back up.

Morecambe – Have improved their position every season so far in the league and to do it again would see them up. They have the squad, but much will depend on how their start and how they cope in their new ground.

Rotherham Utd – Should fire their way past teams this season with Adam Le Fondre and Marcus Marshall, the Millers should do what they did last season.

Shrewsbury Town – New boss Graham Turner took Hereford Utd up three years ago with zero money. He has oodles of it now at Shrewsbury and should be right up there after peeing around in midtable last season.

Dark Horses –> Oxford Utd – Now see themselves back near where they feel they belong, Oxford will be looking to impress on their first season back and should rocket up the table.

Cart Horses –> Stockport County – New owners are in and a new boss in Paul Simpson so it shouldn’t be as desperate as last season, but it remains to be seen what kind of team they put out and how it will cope with this Division.

Relegated –> Southend Utd – It looks all too familiar with Darlington last season. No players, no money – it looks grim for the Essex club.

Cheltenham Town – Have flattered to deceive back in the League 2 so far and the slide looks set to continue.


Champions –> Celtic – The best of a very bad bunch will not matter to Celtic who will want to stop Rangers making it 3 in a row. They have money, no Champions League distractions and look to have signed some decent players who should be comfortable at this level

Relegated –> St Mirren – Sacking Gus MacPherson is a strange one, they are never going to be challenging the Top 6 unless major investment comes their way so to put their trust in former Cowdenbeath manager Danny Lennon is a mightly risky move. As is signing former players from Cowdenbeath who are favourites for the drop from D1 this season. Can they cut it in the SPL?

Final Table Prediction:

1 Celtic, 2 Rangers, 3 Dundee Utd, 4 Hibs, 5 Hearts, 6 St Johnstone, 7 Aberdeen, 8 Motherwell, 9 ICT, 10 Kilmarnock, 11 Hamilton, 12 St Mirren

Lets see how these do this season! Enjoy!