Friday, 28 September 2012

London 2012 Paralympics – 7 A-SIDE FOOTBALL (09/09/12)


(Tickets: £20 – Category B, Riverbank Arena)


Described by the Paralympics as: Played outdoors, 7-a-side Football follows FIFA rules, with some changes: each team has seven players; the pitch and goals are smaller; there’s no offside rule; throw-ins can be made with one hand; and each half lasts 30 minutes. Teams are made up of athletes whose coordination is affected when walking and running and each team must include players with varying levels of impairment.

Described by me as: Not a normal 7 a-side slug fest as two teams who could easily play at an excellent level play in enthralling games with some excellent goals scored.


The venue: (I’ve been here before!) The temporary venue hosted the hockey during the Olympics and both 5 and 7 a-side tournaments for the Paralympics. The ground obviously is unchanged since my visit in May except the sign changes for the football tournaments.


The experience: Much like the Paralympic Athletics, the overall atmosphere for the football tournament was excellent. My tickets did get me the top row of the Riverbank Arena which provided some excellent views as usual of the action as well as the overall Olympic Park. While there wasn’t a full 14,000 capacity crowd, everyone there was right up for it and there were a lot of Iranians there to cheer on their boys for the Bronze Medal match. Sadly, not many Brazilians there to see as nice distractions.

During the games, the normal football chanting kicked in which was brilliant as it was like being in a full sized game. As mentioned above, the quality I saw from all 4 sides were top class and both games were good watches for different reasons. Made me wonder why I hadn’t watched any of the tournament before I turned up for these games, the last medals to be decided in the whole of London 2012.


The action:

BRONZE MEDAL GAME: Iran 5-0 Brazil –> When you mention Iran and Brazil playing a football match you would normally expect Brazil to cruise home and to be honest, I expected the South Americans to pick up the Bronze medal. Brazil had even started better but Iran did look comfortable in defence. The changing point of the match came on 17 minutes when Atashafrouz opened the scoring and then Iran hit another two in quick succession to make the game look comfortable already. The second half saw Brazil go gun ho attacking but only managed long range efforts which Moslem Khazaeipirsarabi in the Iran goal had easily covered. When Brazil left too much space at the back, Iran added a late two goals from Bakhshi and Mehri to give the scoreline a glossy look.


GOLD MEDAL GAME: Russia 1-0 Ukraine –> A repeat of the Gold Medal match from 2008, this game was a lot more closer, but you couldn’t tell which way it was going to go until Eduard Ramonov’s goal 4 minutes into the 2nd half. Up until then it was Russia who did look the more threatening with Ukraine looking fairly clueless up front. After the goal, Ukraine came into more as you would expect, but Russia easily held them off to get revenge for 2008.

IMG_2282(The athletes collect their medals)

Overall: A brilliant day in the sun, watching some excellent football, with a brilliant atmosphere. This was a top way to finish watching the 2012 Games and to reflect on what was an exceptional month of sporting action and seeing one of the best cities in the World soak it all up. I was honoured to be living here during the Games and I hope to experience somewhere else one day.

IMG_2292(My arm later on that evening with the heat!)

Photos from Paralympic 7 a-side Football

PF ticket

PF leaflet

PF prog

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Hanwell Town vs Hertford Town (08/09/12)

Match 167

Ground #: 129

Ground: Reynolds Field 

Competition: Spartan South Midlands Premier Division (Level 9) 

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £6

Programme: With Admission

Attendance: 45

Hanwell Town 3

Rowlands 69’, Kisuule 70’, Davis 90’

Hertford Town 2

Healey 3’, Bangura 46’, Bangura s/off 57’, Walker s/off 90’


This hobby of mine is normally done on a single man basis, meaning I rock up at these backwater towns alone, armed only with a man bag, phone/camera, wallet and just pure enthusiasm/stupidity. Every now and again however, some poor sod takes pity on me and decides to come along for the fun. This time it was my flatmate who had decided to come along for the ride and after his sheer look for absolute confusion when I told him when we met up for drinks in 2010 that afterwards I was going to Cockfosters FC, it was only fair he could enjoy some Spartan South Midlands League action.


Hanwell is a town situated in the London Borough of Ealing in west London, with the motto of “Difficulties be Damned”. The earliest surviving reference is AD 959 when it is recorded as Hanewelle in pledge, when Alfwyn (a Saxon) pawned his land for money to go on a pilgrimage. The origin of the name is uncertain; various suggestions have been put forward. One is that near to the old Rectory and close to Hanwell spring is a large stone of about a ton in weight. In Anglo-Saxon the word Han denoted a boundary stone. This juxtaposition of these two natural features could have given rise to the name Han-well which dates back to before the Domesday Book. Or The original borders of the parish stretched from the bend of the River Brent at Greenford and followed the river down to the River Thames. Its geography, before the draining of the marshes, formed a natural boundary between the different tribes of the south east of England. This gives some support to the suggestion that Han came from the Saxon han for cockerel. If so, the name is derived from Han-créd-welle. Han-créd or cock-crow meant the border between night and day, and is neither one nor the other. So Hanwell would mean well upon the boundary.


Amazingly the origins of Hanwell Town can be traced back to a group of Geordies who were living in the area at the time and formed the club in 1920, adopting the same black and white kits the Toon played in back up in the NE. They played in the London League until after the War where they dropped back to playing in local football. They joined the Middlesex County League in 1970 but after treading water in there, joined the London Spartan League in 1980 before winning the Senior Division in 1984. Being a member of the Premier Division when the Spartan League amalgamated with the South Midlands League in 1998, Hanwell were placed in the Premier Division South and after taking a couple of seasons to settle saw them playing in the Premier Division. The reorganization of non-league in 2006 saw some teams promoted to well above their level and Hanwell were one of them playing in the new Southern League Division 1 South & West where they promptly finished second bottom and relegated. Since then they have been playing in the South Midlands League and were lucky to escape relegation last season as they finished 21st in the league but as no side came down, then they lived another day.


Hanwell have played at Reynolds Field since 1981 as beforehand they have played for over 20 years at the Ealing Central Sports Ground (right next to Perivale tube station). Floodlights were installed in 1989 and have allowed them to play at this level. The rest of the ground is a lot better than I expected considering the lack of pictures I have seen of the ground. The ground is dominated by the clubhouse/changing room block that also strangely, doubles as a nursery. Therefore having a pint surrounded by children’s painting pictures is a strange feeling. A big covered standing area is behind one of the goals (picture above) and a seated stand runs next to the clubhouse building, named the Bob Fisher Stand in honour of the current Chairman. It’s a great little ground and looked even better in the basking sunshine on the hot day.


Having only survived last season by a reprieve, the home side have had a fairly decent start having won 3 and lost 4 to put them into midtable 8th. They are however, already 10 points behind leaders Dunstable Town who have started on fire. They welcomed Hertford Town who are only 2 points behind Hanwell but down in 14th. A slight improvement on their 16th place from last season. Despite having only 45 people in the ground, most people there were supporting one team or another which was good. One Hertford fan remarked that they normally started well but have frequently lost leads in games. A bit of a premonition.


Hertford looked the team far more up for it early on and took an early lead when their top scorer Billy Healey was allowed to run towards goal and fired into the bottom corner to leave Charlie Fanner with no chance. Hanwell hadn’t learnt when another low drive was fired in just 5 minutes later as the home bench and fans were extremely hacked off with the awful start. It took the home side 22 minutes to come into the game when Doug Kisuule was put through on goal but his first time lob shot just went over the bar. But most of the half was Hertford Town as first Junior Bushiri hit the bar from a deflected shot before Healey should have added another when he headed wide when it looked easier to score. Just before HT, Hanwell nearly equalised when a brilliant piece of skill from Kyle Watson took the ball past two players but he fired his shot wide. Relatively entertaining half of football considering the heat.


After a normal first half, nothing could prepare us for the one of the most action packed 45 minutes of football I had seen for some time. Hertford started again brightly and when Healey had broken down the right, his low cross was easily tapped in by Chris Bangura to give Hertford Town what looked like an unbeatable lead. Hanwell were reeling until the turning point of the match came on 57 minutes. While I was watching Hertford T’s boss Marvin Samuel strangely ask the linesman if the ball was too flat, a scuffle broke out to the right of me (pic above) and 18 players ended up being involved accusing Hertford’s Bangura of punching a Hanwell player. Bangura’s response was “if I hit him, I would have knocked him out”. After a good 5 minutes of discussion, accusing and counter-accusing, referee Mark Stevens sent off Bangura despite probably not seeing the incident. Hertford nearly scored with 10 men just 4 minutes later when Brissett curled a shot onto the bar. Hanwell managed to compose themselves however and fired themselves to an equaliser with two goals in two minutes. Firstly a long ball to the back post found Martin Rowlands who controlled the ball well and fired a low shot into the bottom corner. A minute later, Hertford couldn’t clear the ball properly and when Hanwell got a lucky break to put Kisuule through on goal and he finished under Jake Knight to make it 2-2. Hanwell’s bench went mental with the equalizer and then we played out the last 20 minutes with both sides looking like they could win. The home side brought on Dennis Zadekis who seem to waste chances much to the home side’s annoyance. Hanwell did cap an extraordinary turnaround with a 90th minute winner when George Davis picked the ball up on the edge of the area and crashed home a wonder shot into the top corner. Hertford were beaten but still had time to get a 2nd red card when Jason Walker was sent off for spitting at Dennis. Breathless.


As I explained to my flatmate, not every game I get to see is as good at this. (Cockfosters and Hatfield Peverel come to mind) The SSML don’t release their fixtures throughout the season, however I will be looking out for the Hertford vs Hanwell re-match as it will surely be fiery. Hanwell are a decent club and despite being nowhere near the central areas of London, are worth an effort to get to. Good luck to them for the rest of the season.

Photos from Hanwell Town vs Hertford Town


Match Ratings:

- Match: 8.5/10 (excellent game)

- Value for money: 7/10 (good Level 9 price with prog included)

- Ground: 6.5/10 (better than some of the SSML I’ve been to)

- Atmosphere: 5/10 (good stuff from the fans)

- Food: 6.5/10 (bonus marks for being in a nursery)

- Programme: 7/10 (professional looking and good detail)

- Referee: Mark Stevens – 5/10 (lost control)

Han T vs Her T prog

Sunday, 16 September 2012

London 2012 Paralympics – ATHLETICS (04/09/12)

220px-London_Paralympics_2012.svg(Tickets: £20 – Category B, Olympic Stadium)


Described by the Paralympics as: Part of the first ever Paralympic Games at Rome 1960, Athletics has produced some of the most iconic images in the history of the Paralympic Movement – with legendary figures such as Chantal Peticlerc, Tanni Grey-Thompson and Oscar Pistorius making their names before a worldwide audience.

Described by me as: A moment I was looking forward to entering the Olympic Stadium for the first (and possibly) only time. A glorious day watching some world class athletics.


The venue: Ignoring the ongoing controversy over the future of the stadium, the 80,000 seated structure is a magnificent arena that will no doubt change now the Games have ended. The stadium is at the heart of the Olympic Park site, being on an island surrounded by water ways. The innovative flexible design of the Olympic Stadium means its 80,000 capacity can be reduced after the Games. It has a permanent lower tier with a capacity of 25,000, and a temporary steel and concrete upper tier, which holds a further 55,000 spectators, that can be dismantled after the Games.

Facilities for athletes within the Stadium include changing rooms, medical support facilities and an 60m warm-up track. An Olympic Stadium with such a large removable element and mix of permanent and temporary seating has never been attempted before. The Stadium is also the most sustainable ever built for an Olympic Games. The lower tier sits within a bowl in the ground, which minimises the use of construction materials. This bowl was created by excavating 800,000 tonnes of soil, the majority of which was cleaned and reused elsewhere on the Olympic Park.


The experience: After getting some decent Category B tickets for the first time in the games, I had no idea where to expect to be sitting so I was quite surprised to be on Row 2 at the very front of the ground. This allowed me to soak up what was a brilliant atmosphere as most of the 80,000ish tickets available for my session were sold. Everyone cheered and supported all the athletes before they started in their events although it was the British ones who got the biggest cheers as they stepped up.

I was lucky to be right in front of the long jump area so had the F11 (essentially, extreme visual impairment) long jump which everyone around me were engrossed in. During the jumps everyone was supportive of the athletes which made the whole session quite special. Us Brits also always cheers an underdog so a special mention to Isatou Nyang of Gambia who got one of the biggest cheers of the day when she finally finished her Women’s T54 800m race despite the other 6 athletes finishing a long time before. All in all it was a delight to be a part of this.


The action: As usual with Athletics sessions you have a lot of events going on and you need to watch the stuff you can see or enjoy otherwise you’ll just get lost amongst the events and miss everything. The following was going on during my session; Women’s 800m T54, Men’s 400m T46, Men’s 200m T34, Women’s 100m T11, Men’s 400m T12, Women’s 100m T46, Men’s 200m T11, Men’s 800m T53, Men’s Shot Put Final F57/58, Women’s Shot Put Final F37, Men’s Long Jump Final F11, Men’s Javelin Final F52/53. So as you can see, you won’t be able to watch it all! As well as the track events that were longer than 200m (as I could catch them all running around the bend) I kept my attention of the Long Jump Final right in front of me.

The event was won by Ukrainian Ruslan Katyshev who jumped 6.46m in his first jump which was never matched. Silver was won by the World Record holder Elexis Gillette while bronze was won by showman Li Duan. (His triple jump effort here) The event was a brilliant watch as the medals were always in doubt until the final jumps (sounds obvious but I’ve seen some events where the gold is won early on by a monster jump) and seeing the guides and how they work with the athletes was extremely interesting. The final part of the session was the 3 guys picking up their medals and most of the crowd had stayed to congratulate them on a great competition.


Overall: I was absolutely delighted to have purchased a ticket to the athletics and have some time in the Olympic Stadium. Now the Games have finished, I will be following the future of the Olympic Stadium with interest and I hope to get a ticket for the World Athletic Championships in 2017. (Where-ever I am in the World) Wouldn’t fancy watching football here though…

Photos from Paralympic Athletics

PA tickets

PA leaflet

PA prog

Friday, 14 September 2012

Colliers Wood United vs Badshot Lea (01/09/12)

Match 166

Ground #: 128

Ground: Wibbandune Sports Ground

Competition: FA Vase 1st Qualifying Round

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £6

Programme: £1

Attendance: 37

Colliers Wood United 3

McCarry 39’, Swaby 65’, Turner 90’ 

Badshot Lea 1

Cornell 61’


The Road to Wembley is beginning again. Every September, hundreds of clubs set out to try and have their big day under the Arch but most will fail. Stories are made, legends are born (lets big this up as much as possible) and games are remembered. The FA Vase is my favourite knockout competition and after following it through last season, it made sense to do the same this time out. For 2011/12 I picked a nearby Combined Counties League side in Croydon FC and that worked well so repeated the trick this time out. Off to Colliers Wood!


Colliers Wood is an area in south west London, in the London Borough of Merton. Colliers Wood takes its name from a wood that stood to the east of Colliers Wood High Street and remained at least until the 1870s but had been cleared for development by the mid-1890s. It is home to 12th Century ruin Merton Priory which is where Henry VI was coronatated in 1437, making him the only Royal in the past 1000 years to have their coronation outside of Westminster Abbey. Today the landscape is dominated by the Colliers Wood Tower, which recently won a Shit London award for worst building. It was originally occupied as the HQ for property company Ronald Lyon Holdings before they went bust as part of the collapse of the commercial property market in 1978. It today, remains un-used and proper shit.


Colliers Wood United are actually one of the oldest clubs in Britain, being founded in 1874 as Vandyke. The early years of their existence were spent in the Wimbledon and Sutton leagues before moving eventually to the Surrey Intermediate League. They moved leagues again in the late 60’s to Surrey Senior League where they won the 1st Division in 1969/70. Off the field their old recreation ground was holding them up in terms of progressing up the pyramid and so they moved to the Wibbandune Sports Ground in 1991 (when they also joined the Surrey County Premier League) and the facilities have improved over time. The name changes have happened too with Vandyke becoming Vandyke Colliers United in 1997 (when they won the Surrey County League) before changing their name to their current name in 1999. 2003/04 saw CWU join the new Combined Counties League Division 1 and saw them promoted into the Premier Division that same season after a 2nd place finish. Midtable finishes have been the norm since then with a 19th place finish last season.


The Wibbandune Sports Ground is a strange venue, with the actual ground being slightly basic. A main clubhouse/changing room block sits on the entrance side of the ground with some space for a few cars. (CWU attendances mean this small car park is a good size) Alongside the clubhouse block is a covered standing area with a few benches that can allow a nice seating area towards one of the goals. Opposite that is a identikit seated stand that they’ve probably had to install to get the ground grading for this level. While this ruins some grounds with ridiculous plastic stands looking out of place, for some reason, it works as it adds more to this ground. With hard standing the rest of the way round the pitch and the ground enclosed by a lot of trees, this should be a great place to watch football. However, the atmosphere and ambiance is ruined by the Kingston Bypass that runs directly next to the ground. It’s not Colliers Wood fault but the noise of cars whizzing past does detract from the pleasant setting the actual ground is in.


Colliers Wood have had a good run in the FA Vase over recent seasons as last time out they crashed out in the 1st Round after dispatching of Dorking and Redhill before South Park put them out. In 4 of the past 7 seasons they had also won at least 3 ties in the Vase to prove more of their pedigree. They were facing fellow Combined Counties League side Badshot Lea in this tie, who hail from a small town outside of Aldershot. The town’s Wikipedia page brilliantly describes the place as “though apparently pleasant, in recent years the village has been victim of several unsavory drugs related offences including stabbings, dealing in broad daylight, and the discovery of a cannabis factory. Further serious crimes have been committed in the village including horse stabbing, repeated distraction burglary, and anti-social behaviour.” Badshot had actually started better in the league being in 6th position prior to this game although they hadn’t won a game in the FA Vase since 2009 when they beat Faversham Town in the 2nd Round.


As soon as the game kicked off you could notice the two different styles of play that both teams adopted. Colliers Wood went for a more direct approach but not in a Stoke/Bolton style neck craning way but just getting forward at every occasion and using their pacey wingers. Badshot on the other hand were taking it slower and passing the ball around which seemed to work as they began to put Dan Burnett in the home goal under some pressure. Some crosses were finding Badshot strikers unmarked but their headers wide fired wide or shots fired over. Some of these were great chances too that a more controlled player would have buried. As is normally the case in games when one team dominates, the other side come straight back into it and they were helped by a bizarre injury to a CWU player. When a midfielder jumped up to win a header, he fell to the ground in a lump and had to be carried off after sometime due to a knee injury. His replacement Rob McCarry, came on and opened the scoring on 39 minutes when he received the ball on the edge of the area and fired a low shot in off the post. Badshot’s ropey defending could have cost them a couple more goals before HT but they went in 0-1 down much to the anger of their players. “We are weak as piss”. Indeed.


The 2nd half saw CWU play a little deeper as they allowed Badshot to come and attack them in the hope of hitting them on the break. The home side seemed to have it under control as well as the first 15 minutes of the game were played at a slow pace with not much action. Badshot should have then equalized just before the hour mark but then did so after 61 minutes played. A throughball saw Adam Cornell and Burnett come together as well as a back tracking defending. It did look like Burnett had saved it but the ball had come away to allow Cornell to get up quickest and fire the ball into an empty net. It looked now to all that Badshot would go and win the game now, especially as they seemed so much more up for it then CWU. However, if you can’t defend, you probably won’t win. The Wood played a rare long ball up over the away defence and Swaby used his pace to dart away and slot the ball past Matt Watson in the away net. Badshot really went for it but CWU booked their place in the 2nd Qualifying Round with a late carbon copy goal of the 2nd on 90 minutes when Nathan Turner was put through and he made no mistake from close range.


Colliers Wood now play another fellow Combined Counties League side in the form of Camberley Town in the 2nd Qualifying Round after they squeezed past Epsom Athletic with a 4-3 win. The two sides have already met this season in the league and Camberley won that 1-0 with a late late goal. Badshot Lea can lick their wounds from another FA Vase defeat with an impressive FA Cup run where they are still in the competition with a 2nd Qualifying Round match against Isthmian League side Leiston. CWU have lost both of their games played since this game as a warm up to the Camberley match – oops. If you are in London and are in need of game, there are a few clubs that should be higher on your list to visit instead of this one. I received a pretty cold welcome (not expecting a party upon my arrival before anyone remarks) and from behind the bar to put me off going back. Good luck to them though in the upcoming Vase game, it should be good.

Photos from Colliers Wood United vs Badshot Lea


Match Ratings:

- Match: 5/10 (reasonable enough)

- Value for money: 6/10 (general Southern League pricing)

- Ground: 6/10 (fairly pleasant)

- Atmosphere: 2/10 (car engines)

- Food: 6/10 (not hot food but roll was good)

- Programme: 6.5/10 (fair enough for £1)

- Referee: Daniel Simpson – 6/10 (bit fussy)

CWU vs BL prog

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Cambridge City vs St Neots Town (27/08/12)

Match 165

Ground #: 127

Ground: The City Ground 

Competition: Evo-Stik Southern League Premier (Level 7)

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £5 (concession)

Programme: £2

Attendance: 514

Cambridge City 0

Chaffey s/off 41’, Dekanski s/off 84’

St Neots Town 5

Moore 1’, Mackey 9’, (pen) 41’, 72’, Jacob 53’, Rogers s/off 82’


I have a list of clubs who have announced they are to leave their ground at some point in the near future but until now have not really acted upon visiting any of these grounds before they disappear. (Hatfield Peverel the only exception so far) Cambridge City’s Milton Road (or The City Ground) has been “in danger” for years but until the recent Bank Holiday I had never pulled my finger out and went to see a game there. (I even lived just outside Cambridge for 3 months back in 2005) It was time to put that right.


Cambridge is a university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire. It lies in on the River Cam, about 50 miles north of London. There is archaeological evidence of settlement in the area in bronze age and Roman times including numerous farmsteads and a village in the Cambridge district of Newnham. After the Romans had left Saxons took over the land on and around Castle Hill and renamed it Grantabrycge – 'Bridge over the river Granta'. Over time the name evolved to become Cambridge, while the river Granta became known as the river Cam to match the name of the city. Cambridge played a significant role in the early part of the Civil War as it was the headquarters of the Eastern Counties Association, an organisation administering a regional East Anglian army, which became the mainstay of the Parliamentarian military effort. In 1643 control of the town was given by Parliament to Oliver Cromwell, who had been educated at the University and so the town's castle was fortified, with troops garrisoned there and some bridges destroyed to aid the defence. Although Royalist forces came within 2 miles of the town in 1644, the defences were never used. In the 19th century, in common with many other English towns, Cambridge expanded rapidly. This was due in part to increased life expectancy and also improved agricultural production leading to increased trade in town markets. During the Second World War Cambridge was an important centre for defence of the east coast. The town became a military centre, with an R.A.F training centre and the regional headquarters for the local area. The town itself escaped relatively lightly from German bombing raids, which were mainly targeted at the railway as 29 people were killed and no historic buildings being damaged. In 1944, a secret meeting of military leaders held in in Trinity College laid the foundation for the allied invasion of Europe.


When you mention Cambridge and football to most fans, they will immediately think of City’s neighbours Cambridge United who currently play 2 divisions higher than City. However the Lilywhites were formed first in 1908 as Cambridge Town and were committed to playing amateur sport, joining the Southern Amateur League. As Norwich were the only FL club in the area at the time, Town were invited to apply for the FL in 1936 but declined, allowing rivals Ipswich Town to apply successfully in 1938. When Cambridge became a City in 1951, themselves and Abbey United both applied to become Cambridge City which the Lilywhites won due to their application arriving first. Abbey United renamed themselves Cambridge United and later joined the FL in 1970. City from ‘51-‘70 were one of the best supported non-league teams in the country with gates over 3,500 (and far more than United). They were Southern League champions in 1963 and runners up in 1971. With United in the FL (and doing well) fans started to drift away from City and some games they attracted less than 200 supporters. On the pitch, they were relegated from the Southern League Premier in 1976 before consolidating in the Southern League 2nd tiers before joining the new Conference South for 2004/05. In 2008, City were demoted from the Conference South (despite finishing 14th) to the Southern League Premier due to ground regulations where they still are today.


City now need a new ground as combined with the failed ground grading, they have legal issues over the sale of the ground made by a former director. (The legal case looked quite complicated upon first read so I won’t try and dig something that is resolved further out, especially if I get it wrong) City have announced that they will start a groundshare with Newmarket Town from next season meaning the City Ground doesn’t have long left, which has been home to City since 1922. The ground is dominated by the big main stand (picture above) which runs down one side of the pitch and also houses the clubhouse, teabar and changing rooms. A new extension has been built recently towards the far corner of the stand which has more seats and offices for the Cambridgeshire FA. Opposite is a covered standing terrace that the louder City fans congregate in and all of the talk pre-game was on their recent 4-3 defeat to Chippenham Town, who were described as a “horrible club”. (Visit coming soon) Behind both goals is just hard standing while the ground is surrounded on the most part by trees to give this a decent feel to a reasonable sized ground. It’s better than a fair few grounds I’ve been to so it will be sad when play finally stops here at the end of the season.


Having been in the Southern Premier since 2008/09, City have always done reasonably well having finished 4th in 3 of their 4 seasons back at this level. The bookies who take bets on this level have made them one of the favourites, however their early season form could be described as stuttering, at best. After a promising 3-1 win over Bashley on the opening day, they had lost 3-2 and 4-3 to St Albans City and then Chippenham to put them 6 points down already on the leaders. The visitors had come just down the A428 from St Neots after some success in recent seasons. On the back of “financial backing” St Neots won the United Counties League back in 2010/11 before winning the Southern League 1st Central Division last season. Upfront they can afford ex-Premiership striker Stefan Moore and his quality can easily be seen at this level as he has been breaking scoring records on their way up. St Neots also were on 3 points for this game as defeats to Chesham United and Hitchin Town was followed up with a win over Weymouth coming into this.


City fans had been moaning about several poor starts their side had made, so what better way to start this game by going 0-1 down in under a minute. St Neots defender Jon-Paul Duncliffe broke up an attack and then played a long, route one ball over the top. This amazingly caught City’s defence out and Stefan Moore lobbed Enol Ordonez to give the away team a dream start. Less than 10 minutes later and it was 0-2 with City looking really fucked this time. Ollie Thorne picked out Ben Mackey on the edge of the area and he danced past a couple of non-challenges before curling the ball into the far corner. Brilliant. City did have a spell where it looked they could get back into it as Mitchell Bryant missed two good chances to pull one back. His 2nd chance, a missed header from a Robbie Nightingale cross was one that should have been buried. Just before HT, the referee ended the game as a contest by getting a key decision completely wrong. Another long ball over the top sent Moore away vs Lee Chaffey. Moore takes a tumble after Chaffey had made a challenge and the referee gives a penalty and a red card. A photographer at HT had shown his picture to prove that the “contact” was outside the area and from my view, it looked like Chaffey won the ball. Still, it wasn’t like it was important. Mackey dispatched the penalty to make it 3-0 at HT. Game over.


I always wonder when a team is so out of it at HT, how they approach the 2nd half? City tried to get a goal back with the 10 men and it was no surprise they were done on the counter attack at St Neots made it 4-0. Hilliard split the defence with a throughball to allow Dan Jacob to finish a 1 on 1 chance. City still pushed forward and showed signs that St Neots’ defence isn’t all that by creating some good chances that goalie Duggan did well to keep out. Down the other end, home goalie Ordonez fumbled a tame cross from Jacob and Mackey was there to make it 5-0 with 72 minutes played. The referee hadn’t kept any sort of control on the game so it was no surprise the final 15 minutes were played with a lot of fouls and two red cards, both for receiving a 2nd yellow. First Declan Rogers for the away side walked before Jack Dekanski joined home for City’s 2nd red card of the day. St Neots were fortunate not to concede at least one, but their offensive quality blew City away in this game for an easy 3 points.


Upon first look, a game that featured 5 yellows and 3 red cards suggests to the observer that the game was quite dirty. However this really wasn’t, it was a shame referee Nigel Smith ruined it with such an incompetent performance where he completely lost control. City’s season carried on in a dirge way for their next game as they lost 1-0 away at Leamington to leave them 20th after 5 games. St Neots are 8th after their 3-2 win over Banbury United to put them in a good position. You can’t win the league in August, but you can be so far behind others you are losing it. City need to win soon. A friendly enough club off the field, although I do wonder what attendances will be like down the road at Newmarket for 2013/14. Hopefully their new ground can get sorted ASAP.

Photos from Cambridge City vs St Neots Town


Match Ratings:

- Match: 7/10 (enough there for the neutral)

- Value for money: 6/10 (general Southern League pricing)

- Ground: 6.5/10 (decent, just nothing that catches the eye)

- Atmosphere: 7/10 (quite good, from both sets of fans)

- Food: 5.5/10 (ok food, miserable service)

- Programme: 6/10 (fair enough for £2)

- Referee: Nigel Smith – 2/10 (useless, hope to avoid in future)

CC vs St Neots prog