Monday, 31 December 2012

Cowdenbeath vs Livingston (22/12/12)

Match 180

Ground #: 140

Ground: Central Park

Competition: Scottish Division 1

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £15

Programme: £2

Attendance: 409

Cowdenbeath 1

McKenzie 1’

Livingston 1

Scougall 70’ 


It’s Christmas time and there’s no need to be afraid. You’re back in Scotland and there’s loads of games to be played. As the song goes, or something like that. The weather had beaten me on a recent jaunt to Scotland when I had tried to go watch Cowdenbeath. However, I was back in the greatest country in the world and while matches were getting rained off everywhere, the Blue Brazil had managed to get their game against Livingston on and so I was finally getting to the Kingdom of Fife.


Cowdenbeath is a town and burgh in west Fife. The earliest indication of human activity in the immediate vicinity of the current site of Cowdenbeath was provided by the discovery of late bronze-age vessels containing incinerated human remains, in 1928. There is no evidence of a permanent settlement establishing itself around the current site of Cowdenbeath until the designation of the original Beath Kirk as a parish church in 1429/30 to act as a focal point to serve the surrounding area. By 1790 the records show that the parish of Beath had about 100 families whose livelihood came mainly from the soil. This church was replaced by the present church, built in 1832 and enlarged in 1886. Cowdenbeath first came into prominence around 1820 as a stop on the north-bound coaching route to Perth. Indeed, Queen Victoria's entourage stopped at the Cowdenbeath Coaching Inn to change horses, on her first trip to Scotland in 1842, en route for Balmoral. The arrival of the Oakley Iron Company around 1850 was to have a long-lasting impact upon Cowdenbeath and make the name synonymous with coal-mining for almost 100 years. The Forth Iron Company took over around 1860 then amalgamated with the Cowdenbeath Coal Company in 1872. This effectively made the Fife Coal Company one of the largest coal mining concerns in Scotland. Such was the upsurge in mining activity that the population of Cowdenbeath doubled in the ten years between 1890 and 1900 and gave rise to the nickname "Chicago of Fife".


Cowdenbeath traditionally date their origin to the merger of two local clubs, Cowdenbeath Rangers (formed 1880) and Cowdenbeath Thistle, which occurred in 1881. However research undertaken by the club’s historian suggest the actual founding should be properly dated to 1882. As they are a small provincial club, they have had few major successes in the Scottish game, particularly in the modern era. The club were relegated in the 1933–34 season but claimed their third Division Two championship in the 1938–39 season. However, the outbreak of the Second World War cut short Cowden's return to Division One, and the club closed down for the duration of hostilities. When peacetime football resumed, the club were controversially placed in the new second tier. While a 1949 League Cup success over Rangers at Ibrox was a highlight of the early post-war period, Cowden struggled to return to the elite level of Scottish football. A solitary season in Division One that followed remains the club's only top flight campaign since the 1930s. More recently, hopes for the future were raised when Cowden were promoted to the First Division in season 1991–92, but they soon slumped back to the basement of the Scottish League amidst a run of 38 League games without a win at Central Park. More recently Craig Levein and Mixu Paatelainen started their managerial careers here as did Danny Lennon who achieved promotion to the 2nd Division in 2009. More recently Cowden have become a yo-yo club after relegation in 2011, they romped to the Second Division title under Hearts legend Colin Cameron who is now player/boss here.


The reason I have wanted to get to Cowdenbeath’s Central Park for some time is because of the dilapidated nature of the place. A delightfully ramshackle stadium that has been home to the club since 1917, is under threat with the club wanting to move to a new ground on the edge of town in the near future. Central Park has two main stands, the Main Stand which was partially destroyed by a fire in 1992 and so another separate stand was built next to this in 1995. The Alex Menzies Stand was where I was situated for the game and while it is a seated stand, stewards didn’t mind fans (including me) standing on a raised step right at the back of a stand so I had an excellent view of the game. The rest of the ground is uncovered with the South Terrace directly opposite the main stands. Two curved terraces complete the venue and even in the pissing rain, this is a unique place to watch football. A must visit. And I haven’t even discussed the stock car track!


Unsurprisingly considering the size of the club, Cowden are struggling towards the bottom of the 1st Division. They were going into this game in 7th position and around the relegation playoff spots. With Dumbarton looking already doomed, The Blue Brazil will be competing against Airdrie Utd and Hamilton Accies to try and avoid going up against Division 2’s second best in May. With no league win since September 1st when they beat Airdrie 3-0, Cowden were needing one quickly, but with no goals in their last 3 games (albeit one was against SPL St Johnstone in the cup), just a goal would be a start. I had seen Livingston not that long ago, back in March, in John Hughes first game in charge. Since then it’s been all change as Hughes bizarrely took the Hartlepool United job to try and prep them for League 2 next season and Gareth Evans has been in charge since. The ex Hibee reserve team coach had seen a steady start with Livi up in 4th but some 10 points behind leaders Partick for this game.


Considering Cowden couldn’t buy a goal in the games prior to this, taking the lead in the 1st minute is something that very few people would have put money on. Winning an early corner, Dean Brett managed to get the ball in after an initial block. Andy McNeil could only parry the ball to Thomas O’Brien who’s shot was blocked by Callum Booth but fell kindly to Marc McKenzie to bundle the ball in from about 2 yards out. With McNeil picking the ball out of his net being the first genuine touch the visitors got, they looked slightly startled and they couldn’t get going at all. The Cowden midfield lead by Colin Cameron (never thought I’d get the chance to see him play again!) hustled the Livi side into making constant mistakes while they continued to create good chances. It should have been 2-0 on 25 minutes when Lewis Coult hit the bar following in McKenzie’s cross. Livi offered very little in the first half but Liam Fox did blast over the bar in a rare chance they created.


Livi did play far better in the 2nd half but were almost caught out again by a slow start when Kyle Miller forced a save from McNeil. The away side started to dominate after this however as Marc McNulty fired a low drive wide from the edge of the area. With more and more possession an equalizer looked like it was always going to come and it did arrive on 70 minutes. Jordan Morton worked some space down the right and fired a great cross in where Stefan Scougall was on hand to fire in from 6 yards. The game was now extremely open but Livi were still continuing to create the chances to try and find a winner which looked only a matter of time. On 77 minutes I witnessed miss of the season when Scougall missed an open goal from 6 yards as he fired wide. Cowden then pushed forward and late on O’Brien fired a 30 yarder off the bar with McNeil beaten. A little while later John Armstrong fired a header off the post as Livi were then lucky to escape with a point. 1-1 it finished which was a fair result, but both sides should have added to their only goal.


Having read some other reports on some dire SFL1 games, I was lucky that even in extreme conditions, this was a great watch. Credit to both sides for playing some decent football in this weather. Central Park is a classic ground that people need to get to before The Blue Brazil leave it in the near future. I was wanting to stand with the Cowden Ultras in the 2nd half on the terrace but the rain lashed it down so I decided to stay under cover. With them being a friendly club, I’ll be back here one day before the ground disappears to get some pictures on the other side in a truly unique footballing arena.

Photos from Cowdenbeath vs Livingston


Match Ratings:

- Match: 6.5/10 (reasonable enough)

- Value for money: 6/10 (seems to be normal for SFL1)

- Ground: 9/10 (“groundhopping porn”)

- Atmosphere: 5/10 (both fans were ok)

- Food: 7/10 (can’t go wrong with pie and bovril)

- Programme: 7.5/10 (was filled with info)

- Referee: Willie Collum – 5/10 (can see why he’s been dropped a league)

Cow vs Livi prog

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Brentford vs Bradford City (18/12/12)

Match 179

Ground #: 139

Ground: Griffin Park

Competition: FA Cup 2nd Round Replay 

Kick Off: 7:45pm

Cost: £12

Programme: £2

Attendance: 2,643

Brentford 4 

Trotta (pen) 45’, 102’, Donaldson 103’, Forrester 106’

Bradford City 2 

Reid 34’, Connell (pen) 94’

(After Extra Time)


When is a game not a game? This was pencilled in as soon as Bradford snatched a late equalizer at Valley Parade in the original tie. However, plans seemed dashed when Bradford were thrown out of the Cup for playing ineligible Curtis Good, who was on loan from Newcastle. Bradford appealed against the decision but everyone expected this to be rejected. Amazingly (and well done to them for opening a massive can of worms), the FA accepted the appeal and this game was back on.


Brentford is a town in west London and part of the London Borough of Hounslow. It is located at the confluence of the River Thames and the River Brent and was formerly within the historic county of Middlesex. The name is recorded as Breguntford in 705 in an Anglo-Saxon charter and means 'ford over the River Brent'. The ford was most likely located where the main road crossed the river. The settlement pre-dates the Roman occupation of Britain, and thus pre-dates the founding of London itself. Many pre-Roman artifacts have been excavated in and around the area in Brentford known as 'Old England'. Bronze Age pottery and burnt flints have been found in separate sites in Brentford. Brentford is the first point which was easily fordable by foot on the tidal portion of the River Thames. Partly for this reason it has been suggested that Julius Cæsar crossed the Thames here during his invasion of Britain in 54 BC. In his own account, he writes that he crossed the river 80 miles from the sea and Brentford is also this distance from his supposed landing beach.


Sometime after Cæsar’s tour, Brentford FC were founded, in 1889. Set up to serve as a winter pursuit for Brentford Rowing Club, the club moved to Griffin Park in 1904. In 1920 it was a founding member of Division 3 South and in 1929/30, they achieved a perfect home record, but still failed to go up. (The last of the 6 teams in the Football League to do so) Promotion to the Second Division was finally achieved in 1932–33 and then two years later, Brentford reached the First Division. They finished 5th in its debut season which is still the club's highest ever league position. Despite a decent record in the London War Cup, after WW2, the club were relegated from the First Division and promptly sank, reaching Division Four in 1961/62. The club’s existence was then threatened as QPR tried to take over the club which was only fought off by a late emergency loan. The club then stabilised and began to yo-yo between Divisions Three and Four where they managed to stay in 1977/78. Recent highlights have been the Freight Rover Trophy Final in 1985 where they lost to Wigan, promotion back to the Second Division in 1991 (just before it became the First Division), the takeover by the Brentford Supporters Trust in 2006 and the recent promotion back to League One in 2009.

IMG_0156(Tonight Matthew, I’m a plastic Bantam!)

The club are now led by German bomber Uwe Rosler and while last season saw some disappointments, such as missing out on the play-offs by 6 points and crashing out of the FA Cup to Wrexham, this time out it looks good for the Bees. Coming into this game, the Bees were in 2nd place following good wins over MK Dons and Notts County. With League 1 looking really tight this season, Brentford should be there or thereabouts in May. And with QPR seemingly determined to throw themselves back to the Championship, there could be a tasty West London derby next season… Bradford City since I saw them late last season have improved remarkably. I had tipped them for another season of struggle but a great start to their campaign sees them in the play-offs and looking strong for a promotion tilt in 2013. Bradford were also going well in the other national cup competition as they are through to the Semi-Finals of the League Cup after beating Arsenal on penalties at Valley Parade. With a 2 legged tie against struggling Aston Villa coming up, a day out at Wembley could be on the horizon. Stranger things have happened…


I went along to this game with several work colleagues including a couple of Bradford so I was in the away terrace of the Brook Road Stand. A two tiered number that had a shallow terrace on the bottom with seating on the top. While standing at football matches is good, you can’t really see the far side of the pitch from this stand so I can only presume the view from the seats are better. To the right of us was the laughably named Bees United Stand which is the main seating area of the ground. Behind the other goal was the bigger Ealing Road terrace where the Brentford ultras were standing. The other impressive seated stand of The Bill Axbey Stand was closed for this game (and for good reason with Brentford easily coping with the fans who turned up in only 3 sides) although one loner did manage to get in there so fair play to him for proving a point. Despite rarely achieving attendances of over 5,500 in a 12,000 capacity ground the Bees are looking to move to the Brentford Community Stadium in the future and they have purchased a potential site at Lionel Road. If things go well, they could be playing at their new ground at the start of 2016/17.


For a midweek game miles away Bradford had brought a fair amount of fans for this and while they sang, “ITS ONLY A CUP, WHO GIVES A FUCK! WE’RE SUPER CITY AND WE’RE GOING UP!” I kept my love of Morecambe quiet and the expected battering we will be giving out to them on January 1st. (We can hope!!) With some big games coming up for City, they used this game to put out a weakened side to allow youngsters and reserves to get some experience. Brentford did the same and so promptly 2,643 people in Griffin Park witnessed a dreadful 90 minutes of football. The home side had forced some good saves from City goalie Jon McLaughlin before Bradford went down and scored with their first real chance. Zavon Hines was put through into the box by Alan Connell but his shot was blocked. It fell to Kyel Reid who fired first time past Gournet. The away side looked fairly comfortable till half-time until Marcello Trotta was felled in the area by Carl McHugh with one of those challenges that looked like a soft penalty. Trotta fired home the penalty to make it 1-1 at HT. The 2nd half saw Brentford unsurprisingly take the game to the away side with Sam Saunders and Shaleum Logan having the Bees best chances. Late on Bradford caused the home side problems with Ricky Ravenhill twice going close as everyone was delighted with the prospect of another 30 minutes of what we had just witnessed.


Luckily, extra time brought 30 minutes of good entertainment as both teams opened up and went for it. City retook the lead when Blair Turgott got to the byline and while he got his cross in, he was taken out by Logan. Ref Graham Scott awarded the 2nd penalty of the night which Connell converted easily. Again though, Brentford went for it and were rewarded when two goals in two minutes ended City’s resistance. Firstly came the equaliser on 102 minutes when Harry Forrester’s shot flew into a crowded penalty area and before City could clear, Trotta smashed home to make it 2-2. Clayton Donaldson who had been anonymous up until this moment then made it 3-2 when he fired past McLaughlin at the near post. The home side then made the game safe just a minute into the second period of extra time when Forrester ran past Richie Jones before firing a low shot in right in front of the Ealing Road terrace. At this point the game was safe and Bradford were facing their first cup defeat of the season. The away side did push to try and get one back but Gounet in the Brentford goal was comfortable for the final 10 minutes.


Brentford’s “reward” for winning this was a 3rd Round tie in January to Southend. Sounds delightful. With the club still in the Top 6 and only two points off top of the table Tranmere, the FA Cup may take a back seat as the club try and achieve promotion to the Championship. Bradford still have League 2 promotion, the League Cup and the Johnstones Paint Trophy to compete in and so this defeat will probably be not that concerning to them. In fact, boss Phil Parkinson can take many positives that this inexperienced side competed so well with a club challenging for promotion in the league above. It was a good night out with good company and (eventually) the football was good too. Another London based FL club done, not many more to go now!

Photos from Brentford vs Bradford City


Match Ratings:

- Match: 5/10 (eventually woke up)

- Value for money: 6/10 (fair play to them for reducing the price)

- Ground: 6/10 (nothing out of the ordinary)

- Atmosphere: 6.5/10 (created by the away fans)

- Food: 5/10 (£5 for a burger and bovril!?)

- Programme: 6/10 (normal FL effort)

- Referee: Graham Scott – 6/10 (very little to do)

Br vs BC prog

Br vs BC stub

Friday, 28 December 2012

Chesham United vs Barrow AFC (15/12/12)

Match 178

Ground #: 138

Ground: The Meadow 

Competition: FA Trophy 2nd Round 

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £6 (concession)

Programme: N/A – sold out before arrival

Attendance: 470

Chesham United 1

Wilson 86’

Barrow AFC 5

Boyes 25’, 64’, McConville 26’, Baker (pen) 71’, Rowe 89’


When cup draws are made, there is always a tie, for whatever reason, that stands out. It might be because it features the top teams in that competition or brings together a local derby. It might also be because the person who writes this blog is a nutjob and had been looking forward to Chesham United vs Barrow since the draw was made. It was for simple reasons; a chance to go part of the Metropolitan Line I hadn’t been to, tick. A ground I had heard good things about, tick. And the fact that Barrow in this competition last season had crashed out to a team playing at the same level as Chesham, tick x3.


Chesham is a market town in the Chiltern Hills, Buckinghamshire. It is located 11 miles south-east of the county town of Aylesbury. There is archaeological evidence of the earliest settlement during the Late Mesolithic period around 5000 BC in Chesham where a large quantity of Flint tools were found. The first recorded reference to Chesham is under the Old English name Cæstæleshamm meaning "the river-meadow at the pile of stones” around 970 in the will of Lady Ælfgifu, who has been identified as the former wife of King Eadwig. Chesham is noted for the religious dissent which dominated the town from the 15th century. In 1532 Thomas Harding was burnt at the stake in the town for being a heretic. From the 17th century Chesham was a focus for those dissenting from mainstream religion as the Quakers met in the late 17th century and the Baptists first meetings date back to about 1640. The primary industries of the town in medieval times were flour production, woodworking and weaving of wool. The number of clothworkers, including spinners and those associated with dying grew rapidly between 1530 and 1730 and became the major industry in the town prior to a period of rapid decline. Between 1740 to 1798 mills were converted to produce paper (pulp) responding to London's insatiable demand for paper. However, technological developments in paper-making elsewhere rendered the mills unprofitable and they reverted to flour production in the 1850s. From the early part of the 20th century onwards there has been a considerable expansion of the town with new housing developments and civic infrastructure. Increasingly Chesham has also become a commuter town with improved connection to London via the Underground and road networks. The town centre has been progressively redeveloped since the 1960s and was pedestrianised in the 1990s. The population of the town has increased to slightly over 20,000 but further growth has been restricted because the area forms part of the Metropolitan Green Belt.


The club of the town were set up just after WW1 as a result of a merger between Chesham Generals and Chesham Town in 1917. After floating around the Spartan League, they finally moved in 1947 to join the Corinthian League. Here they achieved very little apart from a 2nd place finish in 1961 before the league was disbanded 3 years later. After some time in the Athenian League and a runners-up place in the FA Amateur Cup (where they lost 1-0 to Leytonstone) they joined the Isthmian League in 1973. They yo-yoed between the leagues over time but their finest moment in the Isthmian came in 1992/93 when they became Champions of the Premier Division, followed up with a Berks & Bucks Senior Cup win too. Joining the Southern League Premier in 2004/05, they were relegated to D1 just two seasons later but recovered to re-join the Premier in 2010/11. After last season’s impressive 4th place finish, they lost out in the play-offs to AFC Totton.


This season has not been as kind to them however as they have struggled to recreate last season’s form and were going into this tie down in 18th and looking like having a relegation battle. They still managed to have an impressive trophy run amongst this though and had already seen off Bishops Cleeve, Taunton Town, Canvey Island and Bath City to set up this 2nd Round tie. Their opponents had just nipped down the road, a 276 mile road from Cumbria. Last season, the Blue Square Premier side played fellow Level 7 club Wealdstone in this competition at the 2nd Round stage. While I had been tempted by it, I diverted away to nearby Hillingdon Borough. Barrow had a nightmare game with goalkeeper Danny Hurst suffering a worrying injury that took 25 minutes for him to be taken to hospital. Then Barrow threw away their lead to crash out 2-1 to top a miserable day off. With the Bluebirds struggling in the Blue Square Premier, and their previous troubles at this stage of the competition, this had all the makings of a cracking cup tie.


What should have been an easy journey turned into a shambles. Cheers to TfL for claiming to run a Chesham service from Finchley Road at 13:20. That’s no good when it’s already left when you arrive at 13:15. We got to the ground at 14:55 just in time to see the players come out but far too late to snag a programme. (I’ll find it on eBay one day…) What also didn’t help was the dreadful weather as it lashed it down on arrival all game. All that could save the day now was for the game I’d been looking forward to for a few weeks to be half decent. Oh. It was evident early on that Barrow boss Dave Bayliss was determined to avoid another Wealdstone and they looked really up for this. Barrow had made the brighter start with Adam Boyes and Paul Rutherford causing the home defence all sorts of problems. The game could have been very interesting however if Chesham’s early goal had been allowed to stand. James Potton burst into the Barrow area and pulled the ball back for Simon Thomas (not him) to tap in but he was called offside. From then on it was all Barrow as they were backed by a good following from Cumbria as they dominated. Ches goalie Shane Gore saved well from Richie Baker but a goal was coming. That arrived on 25 minutes. A cross from Gavin Skelton looped in via a deflection and Boyes had the easy task of tapping in at the back post. What Chesham (and this game) needed now was for the home side to stay strong. Conceding a 2nd just one minute later then was probably not for the best. Rutherford sent a great cross in from the right and Sean McConville crashed his header in off the bar. Chesham had Gore to thank again as he saved from Boyes and then James Owen as at HT the game looked over already.


Myself and Richie B (who is starting to attend more and more of these games with me, maybe out of pity) watched the majority of the 2nd half from the comfort of Chesham’s clubhouse in the warmth with a nice cold pint. The view was still good (see pic below) as we watched the home side create an early chance as Thomas broke away on the left and rounded Barrow keeper Shaun Pearson (who had needed to do cock all so far) , his cut back found James Potton but his shot was well blocked. It was normal service resumed soon after however as Barrow chased the goal to really kill the contest off. It arrived on 64 minutes when McConville’s cross from a short corner was headed in at the back post by Boyes. Too easy. Barrow added a 4th just 7 minutes later when Joe Jackson was taken out in one of the most blatant penalties I will ever see. Richie Baker easily converted to make it 4-0 which was fully justified based on the Barrow performance. Late on the Cumbrians eased off which is what you would expect being 4-0 up and that allowed Chesham to come back into the game somewhat. They got a consolation goal on 86 minutes when Bruce Wilson fired a shot in from outside of the area and this took a massive deflection off Matt Flynn and fooled Pearson. Barrow then went and added a 5th even later on when McConville set up sub Danny Rowe who fired in as Barrow cruised into the 3rd Round.

IMG_0145(View from the clubhouse)

It was Chesham’s big day but sadly with the weather and the game, this was easily my worst day out of the season. The home side was blown away by Barrow and the 5-1 scoreline was fully reflective of the game. The club officials who I spoke to during the game were all friendly however so I may pop out here again when the weather is a lot better. The Meadow is a picturesque ground with some good terracing in it that fits well in the Southern Premier League. Barrow since playing this game have only managed a 1-1 draw in the FA Cup with fellow BSP side Macclesfield Town, meaning they will have another game to play in the future. For the 3rd Round of the FA Trophy, Barrow have a shorter trip, but a tough game against Gateshead. Although they will have league survival higher up on their agenda for 2013.

Photos from Chesham United vs Barrow AFC


Match Ratings:

- Match: 2/10 (too one sided for me to enjoy)

- Value for money: 6/10 (reasonable with the discount)

- Ground: 6.5/10 (picturesque)

- Atmosphere: 6/10 (Barrow fans did well) 

- Food: 5/10 (from a burger van)

- Programme: N/A – sold out before I arrived

- Referee: Dean Treleaven – 7/10 (had nothing to do)

CU vs Bar stub

Monday, 24 December 2012

Road to Wembley 2012/13 (3rd Round)

The draw for this round had seen the side that I had been watching since the 1st Qualifying Round in Colliers Wood handed another home tie. Therefore I went off to watch Wycombe while the Wood had an intriguing game against Hellenic League side Ascot United.

283368-royal-ascot-2012-stylish-hats-are-back-at-racecourse(Of course you don’t look like dickheads, ladies!)

When you think of Ascot, football probably isn’t the first thing to pop into your mind. It’s usually the racecourse that hosts ‘Royal Ascot’ and features The Gold Cup amongst its racing card. The town’s football club play just next to the racecourse and the way things are going in this year’s “Road”, it’s a ground I’ll be visiting in the near future.

With both clubs in their respective divisions being in the lower reaches of mid-table, a good FA Vase run was all that both sides had left. The game seemed a cracker reading the various match reports online. Ascot United took an 11th minute lead when Ben Knight reacted quickest to a free kick to crash home, however, the Wood were level within a minute when Chris Gregson fired home from outside of the penalty area. With both sides going for it, Ascot re-took the lead before HT when a poor backpass from Steve Lang allowed Knight to take the ball around the keeper and slot home. Ascot then missed a penalty on 44 minutes as the away side started to dominate.

CWU vs AU(Photo from:

Ascot got their 3rd goal on 53 minutes when Dave Hoar fired home a rebound and that looked like game over. Credit to the home side then for piling forward to save the game and they pulled one back on 84 minutes when Mathurin took it around Ascot’s goalie Grace to make it 2-3. Grace then pulled off a brilliant save late on as Ascot held on to make it through to the 4th Round for the very first time. The first round when the draw becomes national.


Considering some of the tinpot places that Ascot (and myself) could have ended up at, a trip to East Midlands Counties League side Borrowash Victoria is one that is quite acceptable. Playing a level below Ascot, this looks to have the makings of a cracking game and my train tickets to nearby Derby are already booked.

For Colliers Wood, a bigger problem is now in place as their home pitch has suffered more problems. From their website, “The club have been forced to close down the main pitch at Wibbandune for the foreseeable future. The pitch was relaid during the summer thanks to a £71,000 FA grant and, up until November, had played superbly. However, a major problem has developed with the drainage, soil, grass and root system forcing the club into this drastic measure.” A more recent update has stated that the Wood will be playing their future home games at differing venues while they hope the problem is sorted quickly. Good luck to them.

ROAD TO WEMBLEY 2012/2013:

1ST QUALIFYING ROUND: Colliers Wood United 3-1 Badshot Lea (Wibbandune Sports Ground, Att: 37)

2ND QUALIFYING ROUND: Camberley Town 1-4 Colliers Wood United (Krooner Park, Att: 36)

1ST ROUND: Lingfield 1-2 Colliers Wood United (Godstone Road, Att: 50)

2ND ROUND: Colliers Wood United W/O – W/O Old Woodstock Town (N/A, Att: N/A)

3RD ROUND: Colliers Wood United 2-3 Ascot United (Wibbandune Sports Ground, Att: 70)

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Wycombe Wanderers vs Morecambe (08/12/12)

Match 177

Ground #: 137

Ground: Adams Park 

Competition: English League 2

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £16 (concession)

Programme: £3

Attendance: 3,238

Wycombe Wanderers 2

Morgan 22’, 50’, Grant s/off 41’

Morecambe 2

Brodie 59’, Redshaw 90’


It had been a while since the lads from t’Bay had played in the South, or at least played a game that I had a reasonable chance to get to. I watched four months earlier in the glorious sunshine, Morecambe storm to the top of the league after dismantling Exeter City within 30 minutes. By now, a small team and injuries had sent Morecambe down the table towards where we all expected them to be at the start of the season. Another trip south, this time to Wycombe was one I had pencilled in since the start of the season. “Bring me sunshine....”


High Wycombe commonly known as Wycombe and formally called Chepping Wycombe or Chipping Wycombe until 1946, is a large town in Buckinghamshire. The name Wycombe comes from the river Wye, and the old English word for a wooded valley, combe. The existence of a settlement at High Wycombe was first documented in 970, as Wicumun. The Parish church was consecrated by the visiting Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester in 1086. Wycombe also appears in the Domesday Book and was noted for having six mills. The town received market borough status in 1237, although the market has featured in the town since early in the 12th century. High Wycombe remained a mill town through Medieval and Tudor times, with the manufacture of lace and linen cloth but by the 17th and 18th century the paper industry was the most notable in High Wycombe. Wycombe's most famous industry, furniture (particularly chairs) took hold in the 19th century, with furniture factories setting up all over the town. Wycombe was completely dominated socially and economically by the furniture industry and, consequently, there was considerable unemployment and social problems when the industry declined in the 1960s and many of the housing areas decayed into slum conditions. Many regeneration schemes have taken place since then with the town looking a lot more respectable now. However, In 2007, a GMB Union survey ranked the Wycombe district as the 4th dirtiest in the South East and the 26th dirtiest in the whole UK so there is still more work to do.


Wycombe Wanderers exact formation appears to have been lost to the depths of history, yet it is known that in 1887, a meeting held at the Steam Engine public house in Station Road saw the formation of Wycombe Wanderers. It is highly likely the club was named Wanderers after the famous Wanderers, winners of the first F.A. Cup fifteen years earlier in 1872. In 1895, the club moved to Loakes Park which they stayed at until 1990 and joined the Southern League a year later. After dropping out of the league and World War One, Wycombe joined the Spartan League in 1919 and won it in successive seasons and so promptly joined the Isthmian League in 1921. During their 64 years in the Isthmian, they won the FA Amateur Cup in 1931 and seven Isthmian League titles. Crowds however had started to drop by the 1980s so after finishing 3rd in the league in 1985, they finally joined the Gola League (later known as the Football Conference) but were promptly relegated on goal difference. After regaining their Conference place in 1987, the club consolidated under Jim Kelman before an embarrassing FA Trophy defeat to the Met Police saw him asked to resign.

qgbh060514095634(Loakes Park – old home of Wycombe Wanderers)

This allowed Martin O’Neill to come in as boss and start the most successful period of Wycombe’s history. They moved to their new ground of Adams Park in 1990 which is a great venue, helped today by extra income the club receive from the groundshare with rugby side London Wasps. The ground is dominated by the large Frank Adams Stand that is two tiered and has the hospitality boxes in. The Dreams Stand is usually home to the away supporters, but we were placed in the North Stand for this game right next to the media people. Finally, the West Terrace is where Wycombe’s “louder” fans stand in a small, shallow standing area. O’Neill’s Wycombe finally achieved promotion to the Football League in 1993 and then continued their brilliant form by winning the Division 3 play-offs the following season. O’Neill’s final season saw them finish 6th in Division 2 before he took the Norwich City job. They survived at D2 (only just) for a while and even had a brilliant FA Cup run in 2000/01 when they reached the semi-finals after Roy Essandoh’s last minute winner at Leicester City. They finally were relegated in 2004 and this started a period of constant yo-yoing between the two divisions, including last season when they finished 21st in League One and were promptly relegated.


A few people had tipped Wycombe to make an instant return to League One this season and I had watched them on the opening day when they stubbornly held out against Watford in the League Cup until an extra-time winner cost them a place in the 2nd Round. They didn’t improve at the start and with the club around the relegation zone, Gary Waddock was sacked in September and player/boss Gareth Ainsworth took charge. Ainsworth has overseen a small recovery and were going into this game just behind Morecambe in the table, but away from the relegation zone. Since that glorious August day in Devon, Morecambe yet again have become consistently inconsistent. Reaching the 2nd Round of the FA Cup was a minimum requirement and while losing away to League 1 Coventry City looks ok, the Shrimps on the day probably deserved more. Despite this, awful defeats to Plymouth and Rotherham have disrupted their season and they were coming into this game on some reasonable league form. A win against AFC Wimbledon coming after a tanking by Northampton. Morecambe didn’t have a good record against the home side but we hoped for the best.


As the game kicked off, it was all so apparent that Morecambe were still on the team bus and the home side blew them away early on. The pace and movement of Joel Grant and Dean Morgan gave our defence all sorts of problems while the midfield was just getting bypassed. The tone was set in the first minute when a Barry Roche clearance hit Morgan and trickled just wide. Roche saved us though just a few minutes later when Stuart Lewis was put through on goal and his first shot hit the base of the post and his rebound was excellently saved. Morecambe continued to live dangerously as they allowed Grant to sidefoot wide from 5 yards on 10 minutes. Wycombe’s goal was always going to happen though and it was no surprise when they did take the lead on 22 minutes. Morecambe had a freekick on the edge of the Wanderers penalty area but Jordan Mustoe’s delivery was poor and the ball was cleared back to Andrew Wright. His header was a disaster as he launched it behind him to allow Morgan to sprint away and place the ball past Roche. Nobody should concede a goal from their own freekick, nobody. By this time Roche had been injured in the warm up and this niggle had been made worse by Dave Winfield clattering into him early doors, but he still had to make saves from Winfield and Morgan. The game then took a twist on 41 minutes. Wright was taking the ball forward when Grant made an awful studs up challenge. Ref Andy D’Urso sent him off much to the disgust of the home fans. They responded by abusing the Morecambe bench and Wright for “faking it”. This was despite Wright’s shinpad broke in half as a result of the challenge. Keep it classy Wycombe. This game now had a spicy element with Wycombe’s deluded sense of injustment.


Morecambe came out more attacking (and in a better shape) for the 2nd half but still found themselves 0-2 down within 5 minutes. Morgan received the ball on the right and skipped past some half arsed challenges before powering the ball past sub goalie Andreas Arestidou. This now looked game over by Ainsworth made the bizarre decision to start playing far more defensively despite the problems they caused Morecambe when they went forward. This decision was proved to be the wrong one almost instantly as while home goalie Jordan Archer made a good save from a Gary McDonald drive, the resulting corner saw an unmarked Richard Brodie head home to make the last 30 minutes of the game interesting. By this point Lewis Alessandra had come on and was beginning to tear the home defence apart with help from Kevin Ellison, Brodie and Izak Reid. On 68 minutes came another talking point as Reid made a late challenge on Stuart Lewis, which looked similar to Grant’s in the 1st half. The 56 of us in the away end expected a red card but D’Urso only gave Reid a yellow. As you can imagine the Wycombe fans were delighted with this but I can only think D’Urso thought this was more of a 50-50 challenge than Grant’s. Credit to Jim Bentley for subbing Reid instantly, which was a shame as he had been excellent up until that point but Jack Redshaw came on. Ellison hit the post and Brodie had a goal disallowed for offside as Morecambe were pushing more and more for an equalizer as the home side offered nothing late on. The equalizer came in the first minute of 6 that had been added on. A deep ball into the box found Nick Fenton at the back post whose header found 5ft 6 Redshaw and he powered a header past Archer. It had been a while since I celebrated a goal this much but this was brilliant. There was still time for for another talking point as Wycombe had a goal disallowed on 95 minutes. Bruno Andrade received the ball in an offside position and so Morecambe were awarded a freekick. What happened next was he played in Scowen who was taken out and Andrade ran in scored. This was all moot however as Andrade was offside in the first place. Wycombe fans didn’t realise this however as they blamed D’Urso for another poor decision and even the official match report stated, “However, for some reason D’Urso blow up for offside despite there being no advantage.” You can tell this is a rugby union town can’t you. Go back and learn the rules.


This was a brilliant point for Morecambe that was partly down to Wycombe throwing it away but the 2nd half performance from the Shrimps deserved this. A point in their next game against Oxford provides a good base for some tough games coming up over Xmas and New Year. Wycombe is a town that should really stick to rugby union. Some of the comments I heard on the walk back to the station and then read over the next few days were really laughable. In fact a fair few were probably at this game only because they didn’t want to make the trip to Bayonne in France to watch Wasps. The 2.6 mile walk back to the station was a delight as I had a beaming smile on my face thanks to Redshaw’s goal. The return game at the Globe Arena on 1st April will be a spicy one!

Photos from Wycombe Wanderers vs Morecambe


Match Ratings:

- Match: 7/10 (entertaining for me and the neutral)

- Value for money: 3/10 (remember what league you are in Wycombe)

- Ground: 7/10 (modern one with good views)

- Atmosphere: 4/10 (quiet clapping and an occasional drum doesn’t add much)

- Food: 6/10 (reasonable cheeseburger with added salad)

- Programme: 6/10 (normal FL effort)

- Referee: Andy D’Urso – 6/10 (bar the Reid decision, thought he did fine)

WW vs More prog

WW vs More stub

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Partick Thistle vs Dunfermline Athletic (01/12/12)

Match 176

Ground #: 136

Ground: Firhill Stadium 

Competition: Scottish Cup 4th Round 

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £12

Programme: £2.50

Attendance: 3,197

Partick Thistle 0

Muirhead s/off 27’, Forbes m/pen 71’

Dunfermline Athletic 1

Barrowman 35’, Barrowman s/off 90’


A nice trip up to Scotland allowed me to see another game North of the border. It had been planned so well. Cowdenbeath who have a possible ground move on the horizon, were at home in an intriguing Scottish Cup against Premier League St Johnstone. That was until the weather beat me (again!) and a frozen pitch ended that plan. (As I write this, the game still hasn’t been played) A frantic rush looking for other games found Partick vs Dunfermline and I was heading west to Glasgow’s best team.


Partick is an area of Glasgow on the north bank of the River Clyde, just across from Govan. Although Partick remained a village until the middle of the 18th century, it is an ancient place. The Kings of Strathclyde had a residence there, and in 1136 David I (1124–53) granted the lands of Perdyc to the see of Glasgow. The Bishops of Glasgow also had a country seat in Partick. It was later the site of Partick Castle, a country home of George Hutcheson (demolished 1836). It is thought the name comes from the Brythonic Peartoc, meaning bush or thicket. This was adopted into Scottish Gaelic as Peart(h)aig, giving modern Gaelic, Pàrtaig.


Formed in 1876 in Partick, the club lead a nomadic life early on. Thistle operated from various homes, among them Kelvingrove, Jordanvale, Muirpark, Inchview and Meadowside, before moving to Firhill in 1909. Firhill is actually in the neighbouring area of Maryhill, meaning they haven’t actually played in Partick in 104 years. The Jags won their first piece of major silverware in 1921 when they beat Rangers 1-0 for the Scottish Cup. They later did over the other side of Glasgow when they pumped Celtic 4-1 in the 1972 League Cup final. During this period they also had some success on the field, finishing 3rd in the top flight in 1948, 54 and 63. However, decline during the 80s and early 90s meant that Thistle’s existence was under threat. The 1998 campaign “Save the Jags” meant they survived just, although they were now in the Scottish 2nd Division and fighting against falling even lower. John Lambie’s return in 2000 meant that Thistle achieved back to back promotions to the SPL before being relegated in 2004. A yo-yo between D1 and D2 then followed before they have settled back into the 1st Division and trying to return to the SPL.


Thistle were currently sitting top of the 1st Division coming into this game. Clearly enjoying being under the guidance of Jackie McNamara, in his first managerial role. Firhill Stadium is a classic ground, although looks beyond recognition from when it first opened in 1909. The Main Stand (opposite to where I was sat) is an impressive structure, although is no longer used on matchdays as Partick don’t fill the ground and they can save on stewarding costs. The North Stand was built in 2002 to comply with SPL regulations as it was a large terraced area before this. Partick were well and truly fucked over by SPL regulation which stated when they went up, that 10,000 seats were needed. As this later dropped to just 6,000, the Jags spent resources that they didn’t need to. The Jackie Husband Stand housed most of the fans for this game as the away lot get a little section in the corner of the stand while the home fans fill most of it. Views are excellent from here and the leg room was good too, so a bonus. Behind the other goal is a former terraced area which was landscaped and still has nothing on it currently. It’s good to see the former entrances and stairs to the terrace still there so you can appreciate the history of the place, despite the overgrown weeds now dominating it.

firhillpast2(Firhill with the old terracing in place)

The Scottish Cup had started a round earlier for the home side as Partick had beaten Highland League side Cove Rangers 2-1. The visitors for this game were last season’s SPL fall guys Dunfermline Athletic. After finishing bottom last season, the debacle over the Rangers saga had affected the Pars as they were disputing whether it was them or Dundee who would take Rangers spot. In the end it was Dundee and Dunfermline had made a reasonable start in trying to make an instant recovery to get promoted back to the SPL. Coming into this game they were joint top with Partick, although they had played at Firhill in early November with the Thistle coming out with a 5-1 win. While both sides are pushing hard to get promoted (along with challengers Morton, who are slightly behind), Dunfermline have the added pressure of current money problems and like Hearts have announced a share scheme to try and overcome these problems. Hearts legend Jim Jefferies is currently working minor miracles in keeping Dunfermline competitive, although he is not endearing himself totally to the fans with the style of football currently being played.


The opening moments of the game were played at quite a slow pace for a normal Scottish game as both sides clearly just eyed each other up. When the chances started being created, Dunfermline were on top at first as Ryan Thomson’s pass to Craig Dargo allowed the striker to force a good save from Partick goalie Graeme Smith. The game however, suddenly turned on 28 minutes. A hooked ball over the top of the Partick defence sent Dargo through on goal, but being chased by Aaron Muirhead. Just outside the edge of the area Dargo was pushed and took a tumble. Muirhead had to go. The home side were now going to be playing 62 minutes with 10 men but did escape from the resulting Dunfermline freekick which Stephen Jordan fired over the bar. Partick still hadn’t recovered from the red card and tactic changes however as the Pars began to press. Dargo should have scored on 34 minutes when he fired a shot over the bar, however the opening goal did arrive soon after. Josh Falkingham and Stephen Husband linked up well on the right and Husband’s ball in was headed home by Andy Barrowman. Simple as you like. The rest of the half saw Partick get slowly back into the game and so the 2nd half looked to be a cracker as both sides were well in this.


In fact, for the 2nd half it was clear Jim Jefferies had told his side to just sit back as Partick took the game to them. Early chances fell to Kris Doolan as he headed wide and Hugh Murray had a long range effort that was saved by Paul Gallacher. Dunfermline did occasionally offer something upfront and often caused the reshuffled Partick defence problems, making the constant negative play even more baffling. Jordan McMillan fired a shot wide of Smith’s post before the home goalie kept his side in the game with an excellent double save. Dargo sent Husband through on the left hand side of the area and his shot was well saved by Smith. He then went one better and dived low and bravely to stop the follow up from Joe Cardle going in too. Apart from that, it was mainly Partick and the home side were awarded a penalty on 72 minutes. Chris Erskine was blatantly tripped in the area by Andy Geggan, however Ross Forbes penalty was saved by Gallacher onto the post and the ball rolled along the line and out. The rebound was missed too as a Partick play crashed into the William Hill boardings behind the goal. Partick pushed forward still and Gallacher again did well to save from Erskine and then was nearly caught out by a Forbes shot but managed to palm it away for a corner. Dunfermline had the last chance of the game, but could not find a way past Smith again as he punched clear under pressure from Ryan Wallace before saving another Cardle effort. There was still time for Barrowman to produce something brilliant as he picked up 2 yellow cards within a minute of each other as the Pars would be without their top scorer for the next game.


The final whistle went and it was Dunfermline who were through to the 5th Round of the cup where they will meet the winners of the Dumbarton vs Hamilton Accies tie at home. With a continued challenge on the 1st Division title still to come in 2013, it looks to be an interesting next 6 months for the Pars. If someone asks me who my favourite Glasgow club is, then Partick Thistle will be my immediate answer. A really friendly side who were a pleasure to watch and be around during the day there. Good luck to them in their quest for promotion to the SPL.

Just prior to KO I also saw fellow blogger and nice bloke Shaun Smith (founder of the 100 Football Grounds Club) who was also taking this game in. You can read his report on it HERE.

Photos from Partick Thistle vs Dunfermline Athletic


Match Ratings:

- Match: 6/10 (reasonable enough)

- Value for money: 5/10 (better than Livi)

- Ground: 7.5/10 (great ground)

- Atmosphere: 6.5/10 (good stuff from both fans)

- Food: 7/10 (pie & bovril!)

- Programme: 3/10 (not worth £2.50)

- Referee: Steven McLean – 7/10 (got most right)

PT vs DA prog