Saturday, 30 June 2012

Season 2011/12 – Teams Witnessed

My last 2011/12 post is the one where I detail all the teams I saw over the season and look at how they did. Where are they now? Are they even still there? Those questions you’ve never asked and many more are answered here as all 67 teams I saw are rated or slated. What’s that you ask? Just where did Hatfield Peverel finish in the Essex & Suffolk Border League this season? Read on below…

AFC Hornchurch (Final position: Isthmian Premier Division: 2nd) –> Managed to get over missing out on the league title to Billericay Town by winning the play-offs. A 2-1 extra-time win over Lowestoft Town means Blue Square South football for the Urchins next season.

AFC Wimbledon (League 2: 16th) –> Decent first season back in the Football League for The Dons. Lost form during the middle which could have got them into trouble but finished well.

Aldershot Town (League 2: 11th) –> A disappointing season overall for the Shots as they missed out on the play-off places by 6 points. Partially covered by the League Cup run where they reached the 4th Round before losing 3-0 to Man Utd.


Amersham Town (Spartan South Midlands League 1st Division: 20th) –> Poor again from the village club as they finished towards the bottom of league. They did finish 8 points clear of Sun Postal Sports but 121 goals conceded tells a story.

Arsenal (Premiership: 3rd) –> Recovered after their dreadful start to pick up some form and beat Spurs and Newcastle to 3rd place. Still no trophy yet though…

Ashford Town (Middx) (Evo-Stik Southern Division 1 Central: 9th) –> Poor start to the season cost them dear as they finished 10 points off the play-offs.

Aston Villa (Premiership: 16th) –> Negative and downright shite for most of the season, relegation would have been fitting. Unsurprisingly Alex McLeish was sacked and now Paul Lambert has the task of making Aston Villa play positive football again.

Barking (Essex Senior League: 5th) –> Will always be remembered by me for being ground #100 and this season they were well away from the Top 2, but well away from being towards the bottom of the league also.

Beckenham Town (Kent League: 6th) –> While Herne Bay dominated the league (and subsquently went up), Beckenham only finished 5 points behind 2nd place Erith & Belvedere.

Bethnal Green United (Essex Senior League: 9th) –> Reasonable season in the league by finishing in midtable. Also reached the FA Vase 5th Round but lost to eventual winners Dunston UTS.

Blackburn Rovers Youth (Premier Academy League Group C: 1st) –> Just pipped Manchester City Youth to the Group C win but lost in the Academy Final to Fulham and the FA Youth Cup Final.

Blackburn Rovers v Chelsea FA Youth Cup Final dYGDTw_fFOVl

Boreham Wood (Blue Square South: 8th) –> Good end of the season run to finish 8th. 10 points off the play-offs.

Bradford City (League 2: 18th) –> Still no progress for Bradford, slumped at the bottom end of the Football League. 6 points off relegation this time out, Phil Parkinson is a man under pressure to deliver next season.

Bradworthy (North Devon League Premier: 6th) –> While 6th is a decent league finish, only a goal difference of +11 compared to 5th place Torridgeside’s +34 shows where they need to improve.

Bristol City Youth (Premier Academy League Group B: 10th) –> Really must do better.

Buckingham Athletic (Spartan South Midlands League 1st Division: 18th) –> Not great from Buckingham as they struggled for most of the season.

Charlton Athletic (League 1: 1st) –> Once Chris Powell’s side went top of League 1, there was no stopping them as they romped home with 101 points and only 5 defeats all season.

Chelsea (Premiership: 6th) –> What an eventful season for the Blues. The AVB project didn’t work as he was punted in early 2012. Legend Di Matteo took over and while they finished a disappointing 6th, the club won the FA Cup and the holy grail of the Champions League.


Chelsea Youth (Premier Academy League Group A: 7th) –> Disappointing in the Academy League as they were not challenging near the top. They did win their 4th FA Youth Cup title though with a 4-1 aggregate win over Blackburn Rovers Youth however.

Chorley (Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier: 3rd) –> Another excellent season from Chorley where they almost achieved consecutive promotions but lost in the play-off Semi-Finals to FC United of Manchester 2-0.

Croydon FC (Combined Counties League Premier: 16th) –> 10 points clear of relegation but a lot of points away from making an impact at the top.

Dagenham & Redbridge (League 2: 19th) –> Their dreadful relegation form from 2010/11 continued into this season but their late season form saved them as they were 6 points off relegation.

Dolton (North Devon Premier: 11th) –> Were well away from relegation as they finished 14 points clear but will need a bit more to push forward into the top half.

Dulwich Hamlet Youth (Kent Youth League North Division: 4th) –> Reasonable finish from the youth side. They also saw Michael Chambers join Crystal Palace during the season.

Dunston UTS (Northern League 1st Division: 3rd) –> Just missed out on a Top 2 finish and a promotion place to the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League. The FA Vase win however, will more than make up for it.


Ebbsfleet United (Blue Square Premier: 14th) –> Good first season back in the BSP, finishing 13 points away from relegation. Can they now push on?

Exeter Civil Service (Southwest Peninsula League Division 1 East: 13th) –> Seem to be going backwards, albeit slowly. One position down on last season but one point more.

Exeter City (League 1: 23rd) --> “Devon’s biggest club”™ were a shambles all season at the back and were promptly relegated back to their level in League 2.

Fisher FC (Kent League: 10th) –> Starting to settle down on and off the field after a few years of turmoil. Next step for them will be getting their own ground.

Fleet Town (Evo-Stik Southern Division 1 Central: 21st) –> Dreadful season for the Fleet as they finished in the relegation zone. Yet, due to Bedfont Town pulling out of the league, they were reprieved so live to fight another day.

Fulham (Premiership: 9th) –> Excellent end of season form to finish in the top half of the league.


Fulham Youth (Premier Academy League Group A: 1st) –> Won their group and retained the Academy League with a 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers Youth in the Academy Final too.

Gresley (Midland Football Alliance: 1st) –> Kept their nerve to win the League by 2 points over Westfields. They will be playing Evo-Stik Northern Premier League football next season.

Hatfield Peverel (Essex & Suffolk Border League Premier: 8th) –> Finished right bang in the middle of the table due to too many draws over the season. Still a decent base to start their 1st season at their new home however.

Heaton Stannington (Northern Alliance Premier: 1st) –> Kept their good form going right until the end of the season as they took the title by 3 points over Hebburn Reyrolle.

Hendon FC (Isthmian Premier Division: 7th) –> Good effort from The Greens as they finished only 3 points behind the play-offs. Lost in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round with a 5-1 away defeat at Luton Town.

Luton Town v Hendon 4

Hillingdon Borough (Spartan South Midlands League Premier: 10th) –> Pretty much in midtable obscurity as they were nowhere near the top, nor the bottom.

Kentish Town (Spartan South Midlands League 1st Division: 19th) –> Struggled on the pitch the season and with the loss of the Copthall Stadium to Saracens, they may struggle of the pitch too. Not sure where they are playing next season?

Livingston (Scottish Division 1: 5th) –> Reasonable start back at Level 2 for Livi, John Hughes will need to get them higher in 2012/13 however. And still no news on this new ground?

Macclesfield Town (League 2: 24th) –> Only 39 goals scored tells its own sorry story. Relegated back to the non-league where they may struggle again.

Manchester United (Premiership: 2nd) –> Were a 95th minute goal away from winning yet another league title. Surprisingly it was their loss of form late on that cost them with defeats to Wigan and Man City being the most crucial.

Millwall (Championship: 16th) –> Disappointing league season as they floated around the bottom of midtable throughout and went out of the League Cup in the 3rd Round after a 5-0 away defeat to Wolves.


Morecambe (League 2: 15th) –> After a fantastic start where we all dreamt of promotion, injuries hit a small squad and cost them as they could not regain the form from Aug-Sep. After last season though, this is an improvement – hopefully it’s continued into next season.

Nantwich Town (Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier: 10th) –> Lost form towards the end of the season as they finished 15 points off the play-offs. Even had a point deducted for fielding an ineligible player.

Newcastle United (Premiership: 5th) –> A brilliant season under Pardew means the Toon Army can enjoy some European tours next season.

Odense BK (Danish Superliga: 10th) –> A poor season and were very nearly relegated from the top flight. Only 6 points clear of Lyngby Boldklub.


Oldham Athletic (League 1: 17th) –> Non-existent end of season nearly pulled them into relegation trouble but they finished 11 points clear.

Ottery St Mary (Southwest Peninsula League Division 1 East: 17th) –> Looked a beaten club when I saw them so no surprise they only picked up 1 win all season and finished bottom. They sadly pulled out of the SWP League at the end of the season too so will try to regroup in the Devon & Exeter League 3rd Division.

Oxford United Youth (Football League Youth Alliance South West: 6th) –> Missed out on the end of season play-offs by 7 points. Also lost in the FA Youth Cup 3rd Round with a 2-1 home defeat to Bolton.

Oxhey Jets (Spartan South Midlands League Premier: 17th) –> Recent improvement over recent seasons in terms of league position but not in points. Stuck in the mire?

Percy Main Amateurs (Northern Alliance Premier: 10th) –> Comfortable in the end for PMA as they finished 17 points clear of the bottom two.

Queens Park Rangers (Premiership: 17th) –> Still unsure how they stayed up as QPR were dreadful for large chunks of the season. They also have Stoke City to thank as Bolton failed to beat them, meaning they went down instead.


Raith Rovers (Scottish Division 1: 7th) –> Stayed out of the relegation play-off fight by 6 points to play again in D1. Will be interesting next season how they cope with John McGlynn’s departure to Hearts.

Redbridge (Isthmian League Division 1 North: 6th) –> An excellent season for the Motormen as they finished just outside the play-offs and had that FA Cup run to the 2nd Round before Crawley Town beat them 5-0. Seems strange then that the Chairman and Manager left in the close season. A state of flux?

Rowhedge (Essex & Suffolk Border League Premier: 10th) –> Reasonable midtable season from the Essex side.

Shrewsbury Town (League 2: 2nd) –> Graham Turner’s men hit form at the right time and more importantly kept it up to secure promotion to League 1.


Sidmouth Town (Southwest Peninsula League Division 1 East: 14th) –> An acceptable first season at Level 11 that started well and then tailed off too early. 75 goals conceded highlights an area they need to improve.

Staveley Miners Welfare (Northern Counties East League Premier: 5th) –> Finished well behind league winners Retford United, however they are making progress in the ground improvements.

Sutton United (Blue Square South: 4th) –> An excellent season back at this level to finish in the play-offs and have a good FA Cup run. We’ll see if they can repeat that this coming season.

Three Bridges (Sussex County League 1st Division: 1st) –> Kept their nerve to win the Sussex County League title by 3 points from Lancing. Their reward is Isthmian League football next season.

Tooting & Mitcham United (Isthmian Premier Division: 21st) –> Dreadful season and in the end they finished 20 points from safety. Will need to regroup and fast before they sink even further next season. Can look forward to their derby vs Dulwich Hamlet though.

Tring Athletic (Spartan South Midlands League Premier: 6th) –> Decent from Tring this time and they’ll want to push on now to challenge for promotion next time out.

Truro City (Blue Square South: 14th) –> Dominated all season (and continued into the summer too) by HMRC court orders and administration threats but on the pitch, they adapted well to their first season at this level.

maidenhead-sep11 035

Welling United (Blue Square South: 3rd) –> Unsurprisingly lost in the play-off final 1-0 to Dartford meaning they’ll have to do it all again this season.

West Auckland Town (Northern League 1st Division: 2nd) –> The nearly men of the season. Just missed out on the Northern League title as Sunderland RCA beat them to it by 2 points and lost in the FA Vase Final too.

Wodson Park (Spartan South Midlands League 1st Division: 16th) –> Floated around the lower ends of the league all season.

Yeovil Town (League 1: 17th) –> Looked to be heading down with Exeter until Gary Johnson came in as boss and Terry Skiverton was moved aside. In the end this was an inspired move as they finished 11 points and 4 places away from the drop.

And that is it! 2011/12 now officially over for me. The prep has already started for 2012/13 too so I’m looking forward to getting back out there and watching some more great/good/average/tinpot/dreadful football. The final pics are some snapshots of games I was at this season. None are my own, thanks to those who took them.



Oxhey Jets

Red vs Ebbs



Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Season 2011/12 review

In terms of mileage, this was easily the daddy of all seasons for me so far. With 38 games of football (as well as 2 games of rugby league and half a day of field hockey), I also got in a fair few minutes of sporting action. As always, some of this action was brilliant while some of it was tinpot with lots in between. Got some unexpected grounds in this season (if you asked me where Three Bridges was in August 2011, I would have looked at you in confusion!) which was always a bonus. I also finally made good my promise on bringing more sports to The Travelling Fan! Hopefully it’s again onwards and upwards – but a quick look at the season gone by including the TTF awards.


Games Attended: 38

Goals: 112 (2.95 per game)

Most Goals: 6 (Truro City vs QPR XI, Beckenham Town vs Fisher FC, Fulham Youth vs Bristol City Youth)

Least Goals: 0 (Hatfield Peverel vs Rowhedge, Welling United vs Sutton United)

New Grounds: 36 (Treyew Road – Truro City, Washbrook Meadows – Ottery St Mary, Manstone Lane – Sidmouth Town, New Den – Millwall, The Playing Field – Dolton, Croydon Sports Arena – Croydon FC, Victoria Road – Dagenham & Redbridge, Emirates Stadium – Arsenal, Eden Park Avenue – Beckenham Town, Boundary Stadium – Oxhey Jets, Oakside Stadium – Redbridge FC, Mayesbrook Park – Barking, Champion Hill – Dulwich Hamlet, Victory Park – Chorley, Craven Cottage – Fulham, The Valley – Charlton Athletic, Stamford Bridge – Chelsea, Spratleys Meadow – Amersham Town, St James Park – Newcastle United, Middlesex Stadium – Hillingdon Borough, Moat Ground – Gresley FC, Kingsmeadow – AFC Wimbledon, Jubilee Field – Three Bridges, Gander Green Lane – Sutton United, Almondvale Stadium – Livingston, Recreation Ground – Aldershot Town, Copthall Stadium – Kentish Town, Grounsell Park – Heaton Stannington, UTS Stadium – Dunston UTS, Motspur Park – Fulham Youth, Imperial Fields – Tooting & Mitcham FC, Strutt Memorial Playing Field – Hatfield Peverel, Robert Parker Stadium – Ashford Town (Middx), Valley Parade – Bradford City, Park View Road – Welling United, Wembley Stadium – England

Best and Worst

Best Game: Gresley 1-1 Three Bridges (A.E.T) – A brilliant FA Vase tie that had 120 minutes of action and drama. Played in the windy backdrop of the Derbyshire hills, Three Bridges nearly pulled off a shock but a draw was the right result on the day. The return game in Sussex was nearly as good, but this first game just pipped it.

Worst Game: Hatfield Peverel 0-0 Rowhedge – If this game was still being played today then both teams still wouldn’t have scored. A dreadful game that was only slightly liven up by a late red card for a professional foul. Has put me off this league slightly, but will no doubt forget my lesson next season.

Best Team: Newcastle United – They had a brilliant season in the Premiership and deservedly finished in a European spot. I saw them hammer Man Utd 3-0 and they looked a class apart in that game. Easily the best team (relative to the level they play at) I saw this season.

Worst Team: Hillingdon Borough – Had a few candidates for this award (Kentish Town, Bristol City Youth, Macclesfield Town and Ottery St Mary) but Hillingdon Borough win this purely for their keystone cops defending vs Tring Athletic. A shame as they were a lovely club and even came 10th out of 22 in their league. Can only judge what I see though and against Tring they were hopeless.

Best Player: I have no idea why or how Carl Derewenko has ended up at Amersham Town but his goal scoring power was sensational. Continued it through the season too. Too good to be playing at Level 10.

Best Ground (Professional): Last season it was Sunderland and this season it’s Newcastle’s St James Park. Clearly some top grounds in the NE. A fantastic venue that I would be happy to go back to at some point in the future.

Best Ground (Non-League): Tooting & Mitcham Utd’s Imperial Fields is a cracking venue. Large terracing behind each goal, a massive main stand overlooking the pitch and an excellent clubhouse. I’ll be back – at some point.

Worst Ground: Really wasn’t a fan of Ashford Town’s Robert Parker Stadium. In the middle of nowhere, there wasn’t much to distinguish from other bland grounds. The piss poor weather when I went didn’t help but I didn’t enjoy the ground.

Most Picturesque Ground: Amersham Town is in a lovely setting. Out in the Buckinghamshire hills with an old building that is falling down to boot too. Fully recommended for a visit.

Biggest Dump: Croydon town centre is an… interesting place. 2nd place goes to Aldershot or as my travel companion called it, Aldershite. (Original, I know)

Best Programme: Not many outstanding programmes I came across this season but Dunston UTS only charged 50p for theirs and it was a good effort. Top stuff.

Worst Programme: Aldershot Town’s was naff. Most Football League programmes aren’t the best but this wasn’t good and certainly not worth £3.

Best Bar: Really liked Tooting & Mitcham’s digs. Modern clubhouse with some history of the club around the walls. Was a decent London price for a pint too – on to a winner.

Best Food: Welling United’s bacon and sausage baguette was actually magical. I can’t big this up enough, my tastebuds came after eating it.

Funniest Moment: Shrewsbury taking the lead at Arsenal was absolutely brilliant. Would have actually peed my pants laughing if I wasn’t sat in with the Arsenal fans.

Best Punch Up: Does Three Bridges vs Gresley count? It had abuse, red cards and the police were called without a single punch being thrown it appeared.

Hardest Place to Find: With the advent of Google Maps and me finally properly planning new trips, getting lost is a rarity if it even happened this season. Hillingdon Borough and Ashford Town (Middx) will need pre-planning. Don’t expect to find these grounds “on the cuff”.

Friendliest Club: Kentish Town and Ottery St Mary were a delight to speak to on my travels this season.

Most Miserable Club: Croydon FC weren’t exactly all smiles when I saw them.

Best Supporters: Fisher FC. Were dreadful on the pitch when I saw them but the hardcore crew of their fans turned up with flags and songs and created the atmosphere.

Worst Supporters: Bradford City. Never seen a group of fans turn so quickly against their team when things started to go slightly wrong. You aren’t Barcelona, you’re in League 2. Deal with it.

Best Song: While it may be a twist on a Man Ure song – “This is what it means to Hibees! This is what it means to small! This is what it feels like when your team wins NOTHING AT ALL! NOTHING AT ALL!”

Coldest Ground: Hillingdon Borough in early January was absolutely perishing. Coat & scarf & gloves included.

Best Goal: Billy Knott had never scored a professional goal when he hit his 30 yard volley towards goal vs Macclesfield Town. In it went and AFC Wimbledon went onto win. Unsaveable. Special mention to Livi’s 3rd vs Raith Rovers, a brilliant counter attack from a Raith corner.

Most Attractive Female Employee(s): All of them were beautiful this season. I could feel it in their hearts.

Special Merit Award: All non-league players. As without you, I’d have to spend most Saturdays shopping or doing something equally as shit.

This was easily the season when Hearts really pushed me away from them. Sacking a club legend is one thing (possibly deserved – I disagree). Yet, to continue to completely mismanage the club financially means I certainly will not be attending Tynecastle or buying any Hearts stuff until Romanov goes. It should have looked better this summer after amazingly qualifying for Europe and winning the Scottish Cup. But another hero in Paulo Sergio left, when the club thanked him for the work he had done this season by giving him a paycut. Unbelievable. So going into this season with no team, no manager and no pre-season. I can take the despair, its the hope I can’t stand.

From a club who don’t seem to give a shit about their supporters to one that does, I spent a lot of time with Morecambe this season and fully enjoyed it. Since my support went to them after a trip to Christie Park in my freshers week – I did 3 away games with the Shrimps this season and each were extremely different. It’s a shame the early season promotion charge faded but I’ll be there with them (on occasions) next season. Thanks to everyone who looked in this season and here’s to another great 12 months at TTF!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Wakefield Wildcats vs London Broncos (03/06/12) [RL]

RL Match 3

RL Ground #: 3

Ground: Belle Vue 

Competition: Super League

Kick Off: 3:30pm

Cost: £12 (concession)

Programme: £2.50

Attendance: 5,876

Wakefield Wildcats 24

Tries: Mellars 1, Collis 1, Lauitiiti 1, Kirmond 1

Goals: Sykes 4

London Broncos 6

Tries: Wheeldon 1

Goals: Rodney 1


I blame my friend Pete Macmillan. He convinced me to join the rugby league team at uni (a sport I knew nothing about) and then after enjoying playing it (despite being crap) convinced me to pick a team out of a hat to support in the Super League and Co-Op Championship. That team pulled out (for the Super League side) was the medium size side of the Wakefield Wildcats. I was going to take this seriously, I’ve followed the club (from afar) since then and have always intended to go up to the Yorkshire city that I have no connection to. That day had come.


Wakefield is the main settlement and administrative centre of the City of Wakefield, a metropolitan district of West Yorkshire, located by the River Calder. Tools and later iron implements have been found at Lee Moor and Lupset in the Wakefield area showing evidence of human activity since prehistoric times. This part of Yorkshire was home to the Brigantes until the Roman occupation in 43 AD. Wakefield was probably settled by the Angles in the 5th or 6th century and after 876AD the area was controlled by the Vikings who founded hamlets or thorpes around Wakefield. The settlement was recorded as Wachfeld in the Domesday Book of 1086, and covered a much greater area than present day Wakefield, much of which was described as "waste". At the time of the Civil War, Wakefield was a Royalist stronghold however in 1643 the town was taken by the Parliamentarians. In medieval times Wakefield became an inland port and centre for the woollen and tanning trades but by the start of 19th century Wakefield was a wealthy market town and inland port trading in wool and corn which became one of the biggest in the country. When cloth dealing declined, wool spinning mills using steam power were built by the river as well as a glass works, several breweries, soapworks, brickyards and of course mining to give the town a diverse economy. West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum was built just outside the town in 1816. During the 19th century, the Wakefield Asylum played a central role in the development of British psychiatry, with Henry Maudsley and James Crichton-Browne amongst its medical staff.


While Wakefield does have a football team (albeit playing in nearby Ossett now) this really is a rugby league city. Trinity Wildcats were founded in 1873 and were one of the original 22 clubs the formed the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895, making them one of the oldest clubs in the world. Founded by a group of men from the Holy Trinity Church in 1873. Early matches were played at Heath Common (1873), Manor Field (1875–76) and Elm Street (1877) before the club moved to Belle Vue in 1879. One of the initial forces in the game, Trinity won the Northern Union Challenge Cup for the first time in 1909, beating Hull 17-0 at Headingley. The corresponding 1914 final saw the result reversed, with Hull winning 6-0, and proved to be an accurate guide to the teams pre-war endeavours, as Trinity lost four Yorkshire Cups in the 1930s with a side that included club stalwart Jonathon Parkin. The post war years for Wakefield were the most successful as during the 50s, the club won the Yorkshire Cup twice as well as the Yorkshire League before the real glory days in the 60s when the Challenge Cup was won 3 times as well as the Championship which was finally won in 1967 and then again in 1968.


When the summer era of Rugby League came in with the birth of the Super League in 1996, Wakefield along with Castleford and Featherstone were down to merge to form a new team called Calder. While Wakefield voted for this, the other two didn’t and Wakey missed out on the SL by finishing below 10th spot in 1995. (13th) They won promotion to SL for the 1999 season and started off ok, although they did end up in relegation battles in 2001 and 2005. 2006 also saw a relegation battle as John Kear came in but they missed the drop due to the “Battle of Belle Vue” game where Wakey beat Cas 29-17 to send the Tigers down. Recent times have been hard as the ridiculous licence system came in. Administration hit in 2011 and it looked like relegation would happen too as it was expected Wakefield would lose their licence but Crusaders pulled out and Wakefield lived again in the SL.


Belle Vue is a ground that splits opinion. Home of Wakefield since 1879, it does show its age and is one of the reasons why Wakefield have been close to losing their SL license twice. Two sides of the ground have terracing with the West Stand being uncovered and running down the side of the pitch. The North Stand is also a terrace but now has the added bonus of a roof which was much needed for the miserable weather this game was played under. The East Stand is the only seated stand which looks like it may provide a decent view of the action as well as being an old structure that fits in well with the rest of the ground. The South side holds the corporate boxes which looks like a block of flats lumped at the back of the ground as well as the clubhouse in the corner of the ground. While Belle Vue has its critics, I love the ground as it is proper old school. Is it unsafe? No. Unfit for purpose? No. Fans of the plastic fantastic corporate hell need to take a good look at their soulless ground before lambasting this one. Belle Vue’s days look sadly numbered though as Wakefield are awaiting the outcome of the planning referral for their Haymarket development which is due on June 19th. A positive outcome to that should see Trinity play there around 2014.


On the pitch, Wakefield are improving slightly since the debacle I watched at the Twickenham Stoop back in March. After a few defeats (and a win over Salford), a win over Castleford at Magic Weekend has seemed to kick-start Wakefield’s season and were coming into this game against the Broncos in much more confident mood. The Broncos were the complete opposite however as since that 36-0 win, they had lost all 7 games (to Catalan x2, Leeds, Hull KR, Bradford and Hull) and were floating around the bottom of the table with tinpot Widnes. Not many (if any) away fans seemed to have made the trip which could have possibly meant, I was the only person to travel from London for this. Even with the poor weather, just under 6,000 were here and there was a decent atmosphere as the game kicked off.


Watching from the dry of the North Stand, I was a little concerned at how Wakefield would start as within 5 minutes of the London game we were already a converted try and penalty down. A better start was needed and Broncos kept giving away penalties early on for staying too long in the tackle. One of those penalties was converted on 5 minutes though as Ali Lauitiiti put Vince Mellars through for the opening try. Sykes converted a penalty to make it 6-0 before Tim Smith split a static away defence to put Dean Collis over and it was 12-0 with only 20 minutes gone. The standout try came around the 30 minute mark when Lauitiiti received the ball around the 10 metre mark. He smashed his way through four defenders before going over to give Wakefield an 18-0 lead at HT. It was looking very good!


Broncos did come out for the 2nd half and put Wakefield under a wee bit of pressure but the defensive line held firm before Broncos had a man in the sin bin. Michael Robinson crudely stopping a quick restart and deservedly went off. It got worse for Broncos as attacking with a man advantage Wakefield scored their 4th try when Danny Kirmond went over. At 22-0 it looked easy but Broncos took advantage of some slack defending for the first time from Wakefield as Scott Wheeldon scored with Shane Rodney converting. If it looked like Broncos would start a late surge a needless penalty conceded from them allowed Sykes to kick another two points over and end the belief that Broncos could come back. Sykes had a kicking rate of 4 from 6 which in the conditions was a decent rate. While the rain continued to hammer it down and the wind got stronger, Wakefield played out the majority of the last few minutes with the ball in hand but could not add anymore to score. A fairly comfortable win in the end.


Wakefield’s excellent form continued into their next game as a stunning 20 point come back saw them beat Hull 32-30. Broncos unsurprisingly beat Championship side Widnes 28-24 to move off the bottom of the table to make the fight around the bottom interesting for the next couple of months. While the conditions were terrible and it wasn’t the most exciting game of rugby league I fully enjoyed my first visit to Wakefield and I will certainly be back for a few times before the Wildcats move to their (hopeful) new ground at Haymarket in a couple of years. Despite the fact I have no connection with Wakefield, I love the fact I’m a Wildcat. Mr Macmillan, thank you.

Photos from Wildcats vs Broncos


Match Ratings:

- Match: 6.5/10 (fair game in poor conditions)

- Value for money: 6.5/10 (ok concession prices – I have a student card again)

- Ground: 8/10 (brilliant, old school venue)

- Atmosphere: 6/10 (good noise from North Stand)

- Food: 6/10 (decent burger)

- Programme: 5/10 (combined this and Hull game – not much content)

- Referee: Tim Roby – 7/10 (was consistent – all you can ask)

Wildcats vs Broncos prog

Wildcats vs Broncos stub

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Euro 2012 Predictor Bandwagon


The 14th European Championship is nearly upon us and with that comes piss poor and incorrect predictions. As this blog is one for jumping upon any bandwagon, here are mine for the tournie. Usual rules apply. Read, go to bookies, bet on opposite. Win some money.


POLAND – The hosts do have a chance to make the QFs I feel. With a decent goalkeeper in Szczesny and a solid midfield, they should have enough to see off Czech Rep and Greece. With Dortmund pair Lewandowski & Blaszczykowski, Poland have a strikeforce that can trouble any defence and, importantly, coming off the back of an excellent season in the Bundesliga. A weakness could be (up till now) the lack of killer instinct as 11 goals in their last 10 games shows they rarely hammer teams. The new Greece?

RUSSIA – Four years ago, the side led by Guus Hiddink reached the semi-finals. That won’t happen this time. They plodded along to get here and current manager Dick Advocaat isn’t universally popular. Especially with the decision to normally overlook striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov in favour of Pavlyuchenko or Pogrebnyak. If however Arshavin rolls back the years and Alan Dzagoev continues his excellent form, Russia should challenge the Poles to win this group. But will they beat anyone in Group B? Doubtful.

CZECH REP – If you can only qualify through a 92nd minute non-penalty against Scotland (yes I’m still bitter) then you have problems. Scraping through the play-offs, the Czechs arrive with a team that is partly about to retire and partly not even ready. The impressive Under 21 side from last year (you know, the team that knocked out England) have only had 2 players called up to the squad (Tomas Pekhart and Marek Suchy) which suggests they are not ready, yet. Their one positive is that in my eyes they have the best defence in the group. With Cech, (if he plays like his Chelsea 2005-2007 days) Tomas Sivok and Roman Hubnik, they won’t concede many, but will they score any?

GREECE – Younger football fans who can’t remember 2004 may think that the tournament was a wind-up. Watching Greece at Euro 2008 and WC 2010 was a painful one as a side afraid to attack and have no ideas were easily eliminated. “Lord” Otto has now gone and replaced by Fernando Santos, but the tactics are the same. It isn’t pretty, but in qualifying it’s effective. Conceding only 5 goals in 10 games they should be ok at the back and even defeated a dark horse in Croatia to win their group. You have to wonder where the goals will come from though as Samaras even struggled in the SPL again. If the “Greek Messi” Ioannis Fetfatzidis gets a chance, he (and Greece) could shine, otherwise it’s another early exit.

THE GROUP – The first round of games (Russia vs Czech Rep and Poland vs Greece) will be the key. I expect Russia and Poland to win those so when they meet in Round 2, they could still probably draw against each other and cruise through. I’ve gone with Poland to win the Group based on home advantage but neither side are getting past the Group B qualifiers.

1st – POLAND, 2nd – RUSSIA, 3rd – Czech Rep, 4th – Greece

Rui Patricio Poland v Portugal International g0Sx8BpVwTPl


HOLLAND – The Orange boys are back and look a pretty good bet to reach the final once again. Put into the “weaker” side of the draw, a team that battered their group in qualifying (bar a last match defeat to Sweden – they were already through) should be right there. With Klaas-Jan Huntelaar they have the top scorer in qualifying and the man who almost single handily hauled Schalke back into a respectable position in the Bundesliga. (Top scorer with 29 goals) Even if he doesn’t show up, attacking riches of Sneijder, Robben, Van der Vaart and Van Persie will trouble any defence. The trouble is their defence. Jonny Heitinga and Joris Mathijsen doesn’t get the heart racing. Back home, Dutch media also think they will fail to make it out the group stages quoting Germany and Portugal as the stronger teams.

GERMANY - “Dies ist unsere Zeit.” The rest of Europe expects, as do Germany itself. They have arguably got stronger since the World Cup as the likes of Badstuber, Ozil and Muller have gotten older and wiser. Add in new talents such as Mario Gotze and Marco Reus – this is probably the best squad Germany will have for some time. Their weakness is the defence (except Phillip Lahm) but if they can keep the ball in the opposition half the creativity, skill and just sheer German efficiency will see them past their opponents.

PORTUGAL – Once again Portugal have to qualify through the play-off lottery as once again they ended Bosnia’s dream of qualifying for a major tournament for the first time. Portugal in my eyes are a one man team. Mr C Ronaldo. Mark him out of the game (which Bayern players already have good experience of) and you’ll probably beat Portugal. The rest of the squad are just not good enough to make the final stages and to exacerbate matters, key players seem to have lost form going into the tournament. Some really poor results recently have affected the side with defeat to Turkey and a 0-0 draw against Macedonia. More needs to happen from other players. But can they deliver it?

DENMARK – Before I started researching Denmark and their squad, I had them bottom of the group on 0 points. Now I have researched them, I think a 3rd place finish is on the cards. A tournament too early perhaps with some talented youngsters on the way. World Cup 2014 should see Nicolai Jorgensen and Rasmus Falk light up the Danish team. For this set of players, relying on Nicklas Bendtner for goals is always a risk but Christian Eriksen and Dennis Rommedahl can cause problems. Any of these key players get injured however, the Danish lack of depth would mean 3rd place may not even be achievable,

THE GROUP – Despite the problems the Dutch media expect them to face in this group, I can see them winning this on goal difference after a draw against the Germans in game 2. With wins against Portugal and Denmark, I think Holland will score more as the Germans start slowly with some narrow wins. Denmark will avoid the wooden spoon.

1st – HOLLAND, 2nd – GERMANY, 3rd – Denmark, 4th - Portugal



SPAIN – I’m very big on reoccurrences. No team has ever retained the European Championships and I can’t see Spain breaking that record this time. The Semi-Finals should be fairly easy to get to. Win a weak group and beat 2nd place in a weaker group before facing the might of Group B. The problem this time out with Spain is that teams know how to play against that time of game (look at the teams Barcelona failed to break down this season). With David Villa out of the tournament and Torres failing to hit a barn door, it seems the task of scoring their goals will be up to Pedro (2 international goals) and Fernando Llorente (7 international goals – although one was vs Scotland). The squad is strong with some class as Xavi, David Silva and Juan Mata can offer something very different. But is it the strongest squad in the tournament?

ITALY – It’s funny how long 2 weeks is in football. Had I wrote this two weeks ago, I would have discussed that Italy have taken a gamble with Antonio Cassano leading the line after missing most of the season with cardiac problems. Also Mario Balotelli can have the potential to explode or cause utter mayhem to opposition defenders. Yet now the Italian team has been rocked in yet another match fixing crisis and have even discussed pulling out of the tournament. Defender Domenico Criscito would have started at left back after an excellent season with Zenit St Petersburg but has pulled out due to these match fixing allegations. The squad now look disinterested and “warmed-up” for the tournament with a woeful 3-0 defeat to Russia. The saving grace is that manager Cesare Prandelli can appear to motivate the squad and they could squeeze through.

CROATIA – The eternal darkhorses can cause a couple more shocks again but have been dealt a massive blow in the loss of Ivica Olic with a thigh injury which was suffered during the 1-1 draw with Norway. It’s now up to Eduardo and Nikica Jelavic to score the goals but Croatia will miss Olic’s energy and workrate. With Modric and Kranjcar they have a midfield that is extremely creative and can take them into the QFs. Their weakness is in defence however as Greece proved how vulnerable they can be during qualification. Weak to crosses and slow (Simunic vs Torres would be brutal) as soon as they come up against a half decent strike force, Croatia will be eliminated.

IRELAND – Probably sounds extremely patronising but Ireland have done well just to get here. Built on the back of excellent organisation under Trapattoni, Ireland appear to be the new Greece as their safety first approach means not many goals at either end in their games. Defensively sound as proven by keeping clean sheets against bigger sides such as Russia and Italy. They need to be excellent at the back though as their midfield is paper light with St Ledger, Andrews and Whelan nowhere near the class needed to compete at the top international level. Kevin Doyle had an average season with Wolves while Robbie Keane only managed 2 games all season at LA Galaxy. A lot of defence awaits.

THE GROUP – Despite Spain’s deficiencies, they should easily win the group with 7 or 9 points. The race for 2nd is very interesting but I have Croatia to snatch it by taking 3 points from their first game vs Ireland and sneaking through then. Maybe Italy should have pulled out the tournament.

1st – SPAIN, 2nd – CROATIA, 3rd – Italy, 4th – Ireland



FRANCE – The French have come a long way since the 2010 shambles (which I called!) when they were eliminated at the group stage. They should qualify from this group as the backbone of the team is now settled. Hugo Lloris, Yann M’Vila, Adil Rami and Karim Benzema will all be in the French team for years and can all contribute something too. Another important aspect to France as the depth on the bench as Mathieu Valbuena and Jeremy Menez can be impact subs. The weakness is that this tournament may have come too soon. Blanc can work his magic for World Cup 2014 where they will be one of the favourites, but they should make the SFs at least here.

ENGLAND – For the first time in my lifetime, the English media have already waved the white flag for this tournament. This however shows how pathetic the English (and British to a certain extent) media are as this England team are not all bad. They should get through this group and reach the QFs where they will get dumped out by the holders. England do have pace in Ashley Young, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain to get at defences (especially the older ones, like Ukraine) and cause problems. The main concern is Roy Hodgson hasn’t had long to get his ideas across as well as alienating players such as Rio Ferdinand. (Will he even be missed? No.) Young players can have this tournament for experience before a better (but unsuccessful) tilt at World Cup 2014.

UKRAINE – The other hosts have the harder group compared to Poland and will most likely be crashing out early. Relying on Shevchenko, Tymoshchuk and Rotan for goals and creative spark despite all being over 30 shows a team that is stale. They have also not played competitive football for some time, playing against the tinpot sides as “warm up” for France and England. A 3-2 defeat to Austria also shows this team lack the ability of others and should be heading for an early exit. 3 points most likely against Sweden however.

SWEDEN – Imagine Sweden being Portugal-Lite. With Ibrahimovic playing the role of C.Ronaldo, the rest of the team watch as he tries to make the magic happen. A slight exaggeration but should be close to the truth. A team in transition under Erik Hamren are starting to attack more (appealing to Ibra) and get other “key” players such as Elmander, Kallstrom and Larsson into the game. Add in up and coming talents such as Rasmus Elm and Ola Toivonen and it’s not all bad. But can they overcome any of these 3 teams in the group? I think not.

THE GROUP – France and England in the Top 2 with France nicking it. Probably through a narrow win in the first game against each other. Should England need a result in their final game against the hosts then 2nd and 3rd place could change hands but I think England should hold on to their QF place. Can’t see Sweden doing anything, but I’ve been wrong before, lots of times.

1st – FRANCE, 2nd – ENGLAND, 3rd – Ukraine, 4th – Sweden



Poland vs Germany

Holland vs Russia

Spain vs England

France vs Croatia

The four group winners (bar Poland) should have enough to get through to the Semis. Poland despite having a home crowd behind them should be beaten by Germany’s blitzkrieg tactics as Die Mannschaft should now be getting into full force. Holland won’t suffer the same result at Euro 2008 as they’ll beat Russia, Spain should pass their way past England while France will show Croatia’s defensive deficiencies up.


Germany vs Spain

Holland vs France

Spain’s run as Euro Champs will end as Germany will win a narrow game (elfmeters?) to fully show their credentials as favourites. Holland vs France is a tougher game, but I’ve gone with Holland as they have the experience of getting to a final while France still have shown signs they can self-implode.


GERMANY vs Holland

It’s the repeat of the Euro ‘88 semi and the World Cup ‘74 final. I’ve gone with Germany to win it as they have shown signs in the last two tournaments of going all the way and should finally win a tournament with a team that will get better too. I can see this being an even tighter game than the group stage encounter but the different elements of the German team along with their German efficiency will see them win their 4th Euro Champ title.

Disclaimer: This probably won’t happen.