Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Road to Wembley 2010/11 (4th Qualifying Round)

So for non-league teams, this was it. The final hurdle they would have to jump through to have a possible crack at a League team in the 1st Round proper. Few teams who started their cup run in August were still here and with the Premier teams of non-league coming in for this round, the real lower teams would need one hell of a performance to get to Round 1.

718-bubble-bath (A bath. And probably the reaction of the Bath City’s manager’s son when he found out who they’d drawn in this round)

After Swindon Supermarine had done football a favour by dispatching of gobshites Hungerford Town in the previous round. Their reward was a local West Country derby with Blue Square Premier side Bath City. Bath were finding their first season in the top flight of non-league football for ages after their relegation from the Conference National in 1997. Now a club on the up, they were in the relegation zone but as soon as they turn their large number of draws into wins, they’ll be fine.


While Bath were clear favourites for this tie, the opening game didn’t end up that way as it was goal-less at Marine. Bath did score through Phillips, but the goal was ruled out for offside. Fans who were there said the game was crap which was a shame, but Marine had a good attendance and a replay at Twerton Park.


The replay was a bit of a shocker as after a crap game on Saturday, Bath and Marine played a sensational game where Marine scored a late winner to come out on top 4-3. A bit of a shock as Bath are two divisions higher than Marine and did have home advantage for the replay, but this is the FA Cup! Even better for Marine who are now in the 1st Round proper for the very first time. They also have a winnable tie as they have drawn Blue Square North side Eastwood Town at home at the beginning on November. Come on Marine!!

ROAD TO WEMBLEY 2010/2011:

EXTRA PRELIMINARY ROUND: Elmore 1-5 Hamworthy Utd (Horsdon Park, Att: 247)

PRELIMINARY ROUND: Hamworthy Utd 2-2 Sherborne Town (County Ground, Att: 122)

PRELIMINARY ROUND Replay: Sherborne Town 3–0 Hamworthy Utd (Raleigh Grove, Att: 154)

1ST QUALIFYING ROUND: Wimborne Town 1-3 Sherborne Town (The Cuthbury, Att: 226)

2ND QUALIFYING ROUND: Sherborne Town 1-2 Hungerford Town (Raleigh Grove, Att: 138)

3RD QUALIFYING ROUND: Swindon Supermarine 4-0 Hungerford Town (Webb’s Wood Stadium, Att: 365)

4TH QUALIFYING ROUND: Swindon Supermarine 0-0 Bath City (Webb’s Wood Stadium, Att: 551)

4TH QUALIFYING ROUND Replay: Bath City 3-4 Swindon Supermarine (Twerton Park, Att: 665)

Friday, 22 October 2010

Football Snapshots – Non-League Grounds of Edinburgh

During a busy week in Edinburgh, I had arranged to meet a university pal in the greatest city in the World, yet when that fell through I could either spend money I didn’t have or get creative! I chose to get to some of the many many non-league + junior grounds in the city and take snaps of what I could get to.

As I have already been to The Spartans and Preston Athletic, so it was a bit pointless to head towards there. I will also hopefully be at an Edinburgh City game @ Meadowbank at the end of the month so it seemed needless to go there. In the end, I picked my first ground and then just jumped buses that turned up if they took me near a ground! Here are my snaps:

Tynecastle FC – Fernieside Recreation Ground


Playing in the East of Scotland Premier, Tynecastle FC play in a public park in Fernieside. (near the ‘new’ site of the Royal Infirmary) When I went the pitch was marked out, although the goal posts were not up and a new looking changing room building was standing on the far side.



There is some covered standing (in theory) provided by the building and there are benches around the ground to provide some seating for nice days.

Dalkeith Thistle – King’s Park


After a quick look on Google Maps, I noticed Dalkeith was close by to Fernieside so I popped over to take a look at an East Junior side in Dalkeith Thistle. While from the outside, their ground looks actually quite smart and resembling a ground, sadly the gate was locked so shoving my camera through the gate (below) to take a picture was a close as I could get.


Easthouses Lily – Mayfield Park


The most basic of the lot of grounds I saw on this day as this took an absolute age to find. I walked around Easthouses for about an hour before I finally discovered Mayfield Park, which is essentially a pitch which is railed off and has a protective gate around the pitch too (although the above picture does not do it justice). There is a small changing room block and a grass bank to stand on. However this does look a no go if its peeing down!



Civil Service Strollers/Leith Athletic – Muirhouse Sports Ground


Technically home of two teams on two grounds (I know a few people will definitely agrue that!) and the one I wanted to see as I hope to get to a Civil Service or Leith Athletic one day. Home of several pitches as Telford College along with the two clubs use the facility. CSS play on the nearest picture as below, and I’m reliably informed that Leith use one tucked away in the corner.



Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Road to Wembley 2010/11 (3rd Qualifying Round)

While I was enjoying a hammering at Hartland, the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup was also taking place as winners from the previous round, Hungerford Town took on a team from a town I am very familar with, Swinedon, sorry, Swindon.

tragic roundabout (The “magic roundabout” – Swindon’s greatest attraction)

Having studied for my A-Levels in Swindon, I can tell you that its not the most nicest place in the World, but it does have a certain ‘charm’ about it and most of the natives there are friendly enough. Swindon has two major football teams in the town and many other minors ones when you start to trawl down the leagues. While most have heard of The Robins (or Swindon Town), not many others, myself included for quite a while, have heard of the other team, Swindon Supermarine.


Located in the North side of the town, in the South Marston Industrial Estate, Marine have a hardy band of supporters and they currently play in the Southern League Premier Division. At the end of last season the club were reported to have financial problems but a commercial drive allowed them to fight another day. And this cup run would do the club no harm at all. They played dirty gobshites Hungerford from the division below after they dispatched Sherborne in the previous round, however Supermarine horsed Hungeford by 4 goals to nil and took their place in the 4th (and final) Qualifying Round.


Their reward for humping Hungerford is a plump tie against local and Blue Square Premier rivals Bath City. Marine will be hoping for a big crowd on 23rd October and Bath should bring a fair few to Webb’s Wood Stadium. Good luck to Marine! They may even land a Swindon derby in the 1st Round should they make it…

ROAD TO WEMBLEY 2010/2011:

EXTRA PRELIMINARY ROUND: Elmore 1-5 Hamworthy Utd (Horsdon Park, Att: 247)

PRELIMINARY ROUND: Hamworthy Utd 2-2 Sherborne Town (County Ground, Att: 122)

PRELIMINARY ROUND Replay: Sherborne Town 3–0 Hamworthy Utd (Raleigh Grove, Att: 154)

1ST QUALIFYING ROUND: Wimborne Town 1-3 Sherborne Town (The Cuthbury, Att: 226)

2ND QUALIFYING ROUND: Sherborne Town 1-2 Hungerford Town (Raleigh Grove, Att: 138)

3RD QUALIFYING ROUND: Swindon Supermarine 4-0 Hungerford Town (Webb’s Wood Stadium, Att: 365)

Monday, 11 October 2010

Hartland vs Café Roma (09/10/10)

Match 93

Ground #: 60

Ground: Pavilion Playing Field

Competition: Devon FA Senior Cup 2nd Round

Kick Off: 2pm

Cost: Free

Programme: None

Attendance: 24 (h/c)

Hartland 0

Café Roma 9

D.Norman 1’,67’, Haddock 16’, Riley 20’,34’,59’, Heard 50’, Gould 72’, M. Norman 81’


After Radcliffe Borough’s programme no show earlier in the season, it made me think that as long as I could get the goal scorer information and attendance, I really didn’t need a programme always at a game. And so when Devon County Cup day came around, I looked further down the pyramid than I normally would and journeyed to a league that I had sadly ignored until now and with all the grounds within easy driving time of me, it was time to “tick” one off! So off to the small, sleepy, Devon town of Hartland.


Hartland is a small town on the most South-westerly point in Devon which also incorporates the village of Stoke too. Hartland was an important port, until Tudor times and the Quay was swept away in 1887. Today, ships have the un-used lighthouse and the Church of Saint Nectan to help guide them should they come this way. Apart from that, the town of Hartland is very small and doesn’t have much going on there.


County FA’s up and down the country run many County competitions for all sizes of clubs and Devon is no exception. Devon FA (to my knowledge) run 4 cups for Saturday teams ranging from the big teams in the county, to the tiny village ones. Bottom of this ladder is the Intermediate Cup, then the Senior Cup, Premier Cup and the St Lukes Bowl at the top of the pile. This Senior Cup tie was in the 2nd Round stage and featured two teams from the same level, but in different geographical leagues. Hartland are currently playing in the North Devon Senior Division and sit bottom after 7 games with 6 defeats (all quite heavy) and a 1-1 draw with North Molton’s Reserve team. After being relegated from the Premier Division in 2009/10, it seems that Hartland are currently on a downward spiral and could be playing even lower next season. Their opponents, the strangely named Café Roma, play in the Plymouth and West Devon Combination League 2nd Division and sat in 7th place (out of 12) going into this game. I couldn’t find much else about their origins, so I presume they represent (somehow) the Café Roma in Plymouth which can be seen through Google Street View. They beat Tedburn St Mary (of the Devon & Exeter League) to get through to this game at the Pavilion Playing Field.


Considering this is Level 13, I wasn’t expecting the San Siro, however, this is a decent little pitch with some cover (in the picture above) although, that is set a fair distance away from the pitch. The pitch wasn’t roped off and most of the spectators chose to sit on the dugout block opposite me as neither team were using it for subs. As the game kicked off, I wondered how long Hartland could hold out for against Roma and the answer was only 1 minute, when Roma’s first foray forward saw Danny Norman shrug his defender off the ball and slotted past the Hartland goalie to gave the away team the perfect start. That was the cue for this game to be a roasting for Hartland, yet on 12 minutes, they should have equalized when a hesitation in the Roma defence allowed a Hartland forward to nip in, but he put his shot just wide. That miss was costly. On 16 minutes a long ball forward to the Hartland back line out again and Neil Haddock raced through. His first shot came back off the post, but luckily for him, the Hartland goalie couldn’t collect the ball in time and Haddock cracked home the rebound for 2. Four minutes later it was #3 as Rob Heard put Wayne Riley through on the right and he skipped past 3 or 4 woeful tackles and rounded the keeper before slotting home. Easy. Roma finished the scoring in the 1st half on 34 minutes when a ball was crossed into the box and Riley (despite being behind his defender) managed to get in front and volley home. The situation could have been made even worse for Hartland just before half-time when their captain brought down Riley in the penalty area, however Riley got up and curled his shot just wide before saying that was the advantage played and there should be no further action.


Despite everybody at the pitch wanting Hartland to make a game of it in the 2nd half, that fire was well and truly pissed on just 4 minutes in when Rob Heard put himself through on the right and hammered a brilliant finish into the top left corner which his whole team were amazed at. Even though they were getting hammered and the majority of the team looked fairly young, Hartland to their credit were still trying and played most of their football on the deck which was great to see. Their main achilles heel though is their defence and when Roma attacked, more often than not, they scored. #6 came on 59 minutes when more good play down the right hand side allowed the ball to be cut back to Riley for his hat-trick. Danny Norman got #7 when another long ball over the top caught the slow back 4 out and he ran through to put the ball under the goalie. My record goals in a game had been Lancaster City 3-5 Salford two seasons ago and that record was equalled when from a corner, the Hartland goalie’s punch was quite dreadful and big defender James Gould volleyed home via a defender’s head on the line. My record was beaten on 81 minutes with the final goal of the game as lanky defender Marc Norman found himself up front on his own when a long ball pieced Hartland again, yet Norman thought he was Cantona as he brilliantly lobbed the goal from the edge of the area to round the scoring at 9. It could have easily of been double figures yet for wasteful finishing and the occasional save made by the Hartland goalie. Hartland didn’t let their heads drop though and could have pulled one back late on but the Roma goalie made a great save at his near post.


Good (and very cheap!) day out in Devon then for this game as it beat my previous record of goals in a game and boosted my goals seen average for this season quite well too. Café Roma go marching on to the Senior Cup 3rd Round where they drew Witheridge Reserves in a home tie to be played on November 6th. Looks quite an interesting tie that one. As for Hartland, their relegation battle goes on as they’ll look to continue their recent good form in the league to pull away from the job. A decent ground and game in North Devon and probably my first of many village games.


Match Ratings:

- Match: 6/10 (decent enough)

- Value for money: 10/10 (its free)

- Ground: 4/10 (basic – but has enough for its level)

- Atmosphere: 3/10 (none really)

- Food: N/A – none available

- Programme: N/A – they don’t issue

- Referee: Gerald Luscombe – 6.5/10 (did ok and refereed the game in good humour)

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Taunton Town vs Hungerford Town (02/10/10)

Match 92

Ground #: 59

Ground: Wordsworth Drive

Competition: FA Trophy Preliminary Round

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £7

Programme: £1.50

Attendance: 131

Taunton Town 2

Blake 23’, Marsh 41’

Hungerford Town 2

Davis 43’, Boardman 78’


Normally around this time of year I would be looking for new grounds back up in the North as I head back to Viva Las Lancaster. However, as a poor jobless graduate, I am stuck down here and so wanted to get out the house for a day and go to an FA Trophy game. As the train journey to Sherborne worked so well last week, I repeated the same journey along the Tarka Lane to travel not that far, to Taunton.


Taunton is the county town of Somerset and is home to quite a lot as well as over 1000 years of religious and military history. The town name comes from “the town on the River Tone” or Tone Town and has seen a Saxon monastery, a War of the Roses Battle and a siege in the Civil War. It also has many major landmarks such as Taunton Castle, 40 Commando – the Royal Marines and the County Ground, home of Somerset Cricket Ground. Taunton is also a key stopping point in the area for coaches and trains before heading down to the crazy deep South-west. And I arrived in Taunton in the morning to head around the shops, check the independent comic book shop out (a new nerd hobby of mine) and grab a bite to eat while getting updates of a textbook “how to grab a defeat from the jaws of victory” with Hearts vs Rangers.


I arrived at Wordsworth Drive at around 2pm and got some pictures of the cracking ground. Easily the best ground I’ve visited this season. It has cover on all 4 sides, with two seated stands running down the long sides of the pitch. Behind both goals is standing under cover and good views all around the pitch. The food is served by a burger van but I had already had my lunch in town so I can’t comment on the quality. The clubhouse/bar is also great and I had a nice pint of Blackthorns while Wigan vs Wolves played out their conclusion. Wordsworth Drive is a cracking little ground and with it being within easy walking distance from Taunton station and the town centre, should be one to visit A.S.A.P.


Taunton Town have had an excellent recent history after dropping out of the Southern League to return to the Western League in 1983. They re-joined the Southern League 20 years later and in that time, won the Premier Division 4 times, finished in the Top 3 another 6 times and even won the FA Vase in 2000-01 after beating Berkhamstead Town 2-1 at Villa Park. Since re-joining the level they clearly belong at, a promotion tilt to the Southern Premier hasn’t really been coming with only one unsuccessful play-off campaign coming in 2006-07. In fact, relegation battles have been more common for Taunton with a finish of 18th last season and 20th the season before hand, a struggle to avoid the Western Premier have been achieved, just. This season though, seemed to be a major improvement as Taunton were currently in 7th place and outside the play-offs on goal difference. However, they had played more games than anyone else in the league, so expect them to be flying down the table soon. Hungerford haven’t played since last weeks win at Sherborne, so not really much to add on them!


The game kicked off with both sides having good spells of possession before not seeing the ball for long spells. This was arguably a weaker Hungerford side than the one I saw the previous Saturday, with 4 players missing from that squad due to holidays and weddings. Their top player from Sherborne though, Dijak John was captain for the day and his pace gave the Taunton defence problems early on. And Hungerford hit the post early on too as Jemel Johnson had a shot deflected onto the tip of a post. Yet on 23 minutes Taunton opened the scoring with a textbook version of the counter attack. A long punt up field eventually found its way to James Blake who was all alone on the edge of the area. As Hungerford appealed for offside (he wasn’t) Blake ignored these calls and drilled an excellent shot past James Foster to put the home side 1-0 up. This stunned Hungerford who had the best of the play so far and Taunton capitalised on this by battering them. After missing a few glorious chances, the home side did make it 2-0 on 41 minutes when a header was flicked on over the Hungerford defence and Rodney Marsh struggled off the challenge from the last man and slipped the ball under Foster. That scoreline was a tad harsh on Hungerford and so just before half-time they got a deserved goal when Ryan Crockford whipped a cross in from well outside the area and Scott Davis’ header looped over Chris Astley in the Taunton net and gave Hungerford a lifeline going into the 2nd half.


Within minutes of the 2nd half starting, Hungerford were denied a penalty which for all the World looked clear cut. Anthony Alleyne broke through and managed to get the ball around Astley before he clearly whipped Alleyne down but no penalty was given. Strange. Taunton didn’t heed the warning as they were the 2nd best side for all of this half and only had one opportunity of note when Marsh could only fire against Foster’s legs. Most of the half was Hungerford battering the Taunton goal as they got closer and closer to an equalizer. That goal finally came 12 minutes from time as from a Taunton corner, Jon Boardman beat Astley to the ball in the air and headed into an empty net. Astley was furious that he had been fouled, but from where I was he had just been beaten in the air and wanted a scape goat. Hungerford then sadly turned nasty as both sides went for the win and the foul language and awful tackling came back. Hungerford were lucky not to end the game with 10 men after an awful, crude tackle from behind when Taunton were counter attacking, yet the away defender only got away with a yellow. No side could find another breakthrough and so it ended as a draw and a replay to come at Hungerford.


That game was played this evening and sadly Hungerford snatched a late winner to beat Taunton 1-0 and go through to the 1st Qualifying Round where they will play Cinderford Town after they dispatched of Mangotsfield Utd. An entertaining day, although sadly the good side didn’t win, but it was well worth the trip to Wordsworth Drive – a cracking little Southern League ground.

Photos from Taunton Town vs Hungerford Town


Match Ratings:

- Match: 7/10 (good entertainment)

- Value for money: 6/10 (the norm for this round)

- Ground: 8/10 (cracking little ground)

- Atmosphere: 5/10 (a tad flat)

- Food: N/A – didn’t have any

- Programme: 5.5/10 (as average as a programme can be)

- Referee: Ian Roberts – 4/10 (weak)