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!