Saturday, 30 March 2013

Raith Rovers vs Dunfermline Athletic (16/03/13)

Match 191

Ground #: 150

Ground: Stark’s Park

Competition: Scottish Division 1

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £9

Programme: £2

Attendance: 3,733

Raith Rovers 1

Spence 39’

Dunfermline Athletic 1

Geggan 57’


When Inverness player Philip Roberts skied his penalty over the bar at Easter Road on January 26th to send Hearts into the League Cup Final, that prompted myself and my Deutsch friend Mr Gieseke to come up to Scotland for it. What was meant to be the undercard match on the Saturday would see him travel to Livingston and myself to Pumpherston Juniors (which are 3 miles apart) to catch some fitba. Sadly, the weather decided to intervene (again!!) and knock both out rather quickly. That led us scamping across to Kirkcaldy to catch the Fife Derby between Raith and Dunfermline.


Kirkcaldy is a town and former royal burgh in Fife, on the east coast of Scotland, around 12 miles north of Edinburgh. The name Kirkcaldy means "place of the hard fort" or "place of Caled's fort". It is derived from the Pictish caer meaning "fort", caled, which is Pictish "hard" or a personal name, and –in, a suffix meaning "place of". Caled may describe the fort itself or be an epithet for a local "hard" ruler. Prior to the development of Kirkcaldy, the Battle of Raith in 596 AD is believed to have taken place to the west of the town. The battle was fought between the Angles and an alliance, led by King Áedán mac Gabráin of Dál Riata, of Scots, Picts and Britons. The first document to recognise the town was issued in 1075, when the King of Scots, Malcolm III granted the shire of Kirkcaladunt, to the church at Dunfermline. In 1304, a weekly market and annual fair for Kirkcaldy was proposed by the Abbot of Dunfermline to King Edward I. The reason given for these discussions was that the town may have been referred to as "one of the most ancient of burghs". This status as a burgh dependent on Dunfermline Abbey was later confirmed in 1327 by Robert I, King of Scots. At the beginning of the 16th century, the town became an important trading port, which facilitated trading contacts with Western Europe. According to treasurers' accounts of the early 16th century, timber imported via the harbour was used at Falkland Palace, Edinburgh Castle and shipbuilding. Raw materials such as hides, wool, skins, herring, salmon, coal and salt were exported from the town until well into the 17th century. Towards the end of the 17th century, the economy recovered with growth in manufacturing and during the mid-19th century, whaling became important to the town for a short period. For most of the 19th century, the main industries in the town were flax spinning and linen weaving. In the 21st century, Kirkcaldy remains an important centre for the surrounding areas, with a Museum and Art Gallery, three public parks and shopping facilities. The town also hosts the annual Links Market, commonly known as Europe's longest street fair. Kirkcaldy Harbour, which closed in 1992, re-opened in October 2011 to cargo ships.


The modern Raith Rovers were founded in 1883, playing at Robbie's Park. The club became a senior team in 1889 around the same time they were forced to leave Robbie's Park. The team subsequently moved to their current home of Stark's Park named after and run by councillor Robert Stark in 1891. The club turned professional by 1892 and were the first football team in Fife to be elected to the Scottish League in 1902/03. Three years later, the club made their only appearance in the Scottish Cup Final losing 2–0 to Falkirk. The team battled on during tough times between 1920s and 1930s but things improved by 1937/38 as Raith set a British League Record with 142 goals in just 34 league matches while winning the 2nd Division. In the period of the club's greatest high level consistency, Rovers stayed in the top division until 1962/63, when the club finished bottom of the 1st Division conceding 118 goals in 34 games. In 1975/76, the league set-up changed to a 3 tier system and in the inaugural year of this system, Raith were promoted to the 1st Division, before becoming a yo-yo side. Raith then performed reasonably well in the 1st Division, hovering around the top 4 until the early 1980s. Raith reverted to being a full-time side again for the season of 1991/92 which was soon followed by winning the 1st division title in the season of 1992/93. This was to start the most successful period in the club’s history, which saw the team's first foray into the SPL. In November 1994, Raith, surprisingly beat Celtic 6–5 on penalties to win the Coca Cola Cup, after a 2–2 draw. The same season, Raith were again promoted to the Premier League after winning the First Division title. As a result of the Cup win, Raith qualified for Europe for the first time in their history. After eliminating both GÍ Gøta and ÍA Akranes in the first two rounds of the UEFA Cup, the club finally succumbed to eventual winners Bayern Munich 2-1 on agg.

38318587_3fe9150153_z(That’s not photoshopped)

The club were eventually relegated to the 1st Division and at the start of the 2004/05 season, Claude Anelka offered £300k to any team who would offer him a manager's job and was subsequently appointed the manager of Raith Rovers. Anelka signed a team of continental players from the lower leagues in France. A disastrous season followed, despite Anelka resigning halfway through the season, as Raith were relegated to the 2nd Division after finishing bottom of the 1st with just 16 points in the season. During 2005/06, the future of the club looked doubtful after the club and its traditional home of Stark's Park were both placed under threat. However, the Reclaim the Rovers fans' campaign, which was launched in a bid to secure a local future for the club, raised £100,000 towards the final figure and in late December 2005, Raith Rovers' future was secured after a £1.2 million community buy-out assisted by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown who is a fan and shareholder of the club. In 2008/09, Raith were promoted back to the 1st Division, clinching the title with a 1-0 win at Queens Park. They have stayed there since, with a 7th place finish last season after a late run of good form got them clear of the relegation places. They were looking fairly solid this time out under the guidance of new boss Grant Murray and were coming into this game in 6th place, 6 points clear of the relegation places.


Stark’s Park is 122 years old and as a result of that is a classic looking ground that can be seen from distance on the walk from Kirkcaldy rail station and up Pratt Street to the ground. Two large seating stands dominate the ground in the North and South Stands. These were built as a result of Raith’s Coca-Cola Cup win and the UEFA Cup run that allowed the money to come in. Down the side that the railway passes is the Railway Stand (see why!) and is currently unused by spectators but does house a large Raith flag that is present at every game. I have seen pictures of this stand with seats in, but these have now been taken away. Opposite this is the classic Main Stand that was built in 1925 and designed by the Leonardo di Vinci of football stadia, Archibald Leitch. There is an uncovered terrace that runs down next to the Main Stand but that is also unused by supporters. This is great mix of old and new and the floodlight pylons you can see in the distance, just add to the build up as you walk towards the San Starko.


While Raith looked fairly comfortable in their fight against relegation, things were quite dire for their Fife rivals Dunfermline. Money troubles had well and truly hit and some people in the media were claiming this could be their last ever game with a tax bill owing to HMRC needing to be paid but no money there to pay it. With that in mind, Raith had done the brilliant offer of donating gate money to Dunfermline if they brought with them 2,000 fans for this game and supporters of other clubs such as Hearts and Hibs saying they would go along and support the Pars by attending this game and donating to the collection that was going on in the away end. In the end “only” 1,951 away fans were in the North Stand and so a donation was not made, but it allowed for an excellent atmosphere as both sets of fans got right behind their teams.


After the minute’s applause to ex Raith and Dunfermline player Ian Lister, I learnt rather quickly that these two sides do not like each other, at all. With chants of “WE FUCKING HATE YOOOOOO!” from Raith and “WE’LL ALWAYS BE THE BIG TEAM!" from the Pars, it fed onto the pitch as both sides jumped into tackles and played the match at a 100mph pace. Raith started the better side as Greig Spence fed ex Jambo Jason Thomson to fire wide and then Spence also had a shot at Paul Gallacher’s goal as Rovers tried to grab an early goal. Dunfermline slowly got to grips with the game as the match became a tight contest in the midfield area. They also managed to create a chance as Callum Morris fired an overhead kick at Raith goalie David McGurn. The Pars started to create more chances as Andy Kirk also headed over the bar from a corner but went a goal down later. Jason Thomson launched a high ball into the penalty area and while Brian Graham controlled the ball down, it was deflected into the path of Spence who had an easy tap in. The home fans went mental as they were looking at their first derby win in 5 attempts (in January 2011). There was a moment of controversy right on HT as Joe Cardle beat Thomson to the ball in the Raith penalty area and was taken out but John Beaton had none of it, despite it being a stonewaller.


Dunfermline started the 2nd half a lot better as they managed to nullify Josh Watt’s pace down the wing and create chances for themselves. Ryan Wallace was allowed time to turn and get a shot that McGurn saved well before they equalised on 57 minutes. Joe Cardle managed to get a cross in and Wallace was all alone in the area to head the ball back across goal and Andy Geggan fired in from close range to send the 1,900+ behind the goal mental. The Pars were well on top now and Raith had to defend well from shots from Kirk and Wallace. The game went into the closing stages still level as both sides had chances to win it. Dunfermline were denied another clear penalty when Kirk was taken out by Grant Murray in the area and then the ex Hearts man connected with a low cross but the ball was deflected wide. The final chance of the game feel to Raith as Graham sent Allan Walker away down the right but he was caught in two minds and his cross/shot failed to trouble Gallacher in goal or fall to Grant Anderson who was open at the back post.


Considering how this day started with a double postponement, this could have been an afternoon sat in Edinburgh somewhere and moaning at the weather. Instead, me and Julian ended up watching an entertaining Fife Derby. Stark’s Park is an excellent old school ground and is definitely worth a visit and I’ll be back again one day. The game was also a great watch and an excellent advert for Scottish football. Dunfermline have managed to survive at the time I write this, however they have announced they had applied for voluntary administration which had been granted. Eight first team players have been released which included Gallacher (who joined Ross County), Cardle (currently unattached) and former captain Jordan McMillan (who joined Partick Thistle). The club are “touch and go” to survive according to the administrator Bryan Jackson. I hope the Pars survive, either in their current form or as a new co. This season may be tough to avoid the drop to Division 2 now when the administration penalty kicks in, however this will be one of the least things on the club’s mind currently.

Photos from Raith Rovers vs Dunfermline Athletic


Match Ratings:

- Match: 8/10 (absorbing local derby)

- Value for money: 7/10 (kudos to the gateman for the cheap price)

- Ground: 8/10 (a classic)

- Atmosphere: 7.5/10 (feisty)

- Food: 8/10 (found a new favourite in Macaroni Pie)

- Programme: 3/10 (advert happy)

- Referee: John Beaton – 4/10 (missed two penalties)

RR vs DA prog

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Barnet vs Morecambe (09/03/13)

Match 190

Ground #: 149

Ground: Underhill

Competition: English League 2

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £13 (concession)

Programme: £3

Attendance: 2,012

Barnet 4

Ganbin 52’, Lopez 65’, (pen) 70’, 87’

Morecambe 1

Redshaw 33’, Roche s/off 70’


It had been 3 months since I last watched the Morecambe boys in the south after the glorious last minute equaliser against Wycombe. Since then, the Shrimps had picked up and some excellent recent results meant that relegation was no longer a fear and the play-offs looked a real possibility if we could keep our form up. It was now time for the Shrimps last visit to Underhill, the current home of Barnet FC. Having missed this game last season and time running out for the ground, there was no chance I was missing it this time having pencilled it in since the fixtures came out.


High Barnet (or Chipping Barnet) is a place in the London Borough of Barnet. It is a suburban development built around a twelfth-century settlement and is located 10 miles north north-west of Charing Cross. The town's name derives from an ancient settlement, recorded as Barneto in c.1070, Barnet in 1197 and La Barnette 1248. Its meaning is 'the land cleared by burning', from Old English bærnet, referring to the clearing of this once densely forested area in early times. This was the site of the Battle of Barnet in 1471, where Yorkist troops led by King Edward IV killed the rebellious "Kingmaker" Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick. Barnet Hill is said to be the hill mentioned in the nursery rhyme "The Grand Old Duke of York". It is also the site of an ancient and well-known horse fair, whence comes the rhyming slang of Barnet Fair or barnet for 'hair'. The fair dates back to 1588 when Queen Elizabeth I granted a charter to the Lord of the Manor of Barnet to hold a twice yearly fair. Famous Barnet Market is now over 810 years old. In Saxon times the site was part of an extensive wood called Southaw, belonging to the Abbey of St Albans. The name of the town appears in early deeds as 'Bergnet' - the Saxon word 'Bergnet' meant a little hill (monticulus). Barnet's elevated position is also indicated in one of its alternative names ('High Barnet'), which appears in many old books and maps. According to local belief, though not verified, "Barnet stands on the highest ground between London and York." The area was historically a common resting point on the traditional Great North Road between the City of London and York and Edinburgh.


Barnet FC were formed in 1888, having formerly been known as New Barnet FC (1885–88) and Woodville FC (1882–85). The club's origins are from ex-scholars of Cowley College and Lyonsdown Collegiate School. Initially they played friendly games before becoming inaugural members of the North London League in 1892/93. They went on to have success in the North Middlesex League Division II, Division I and the Premier Division. Promoted to the London League Division II, Barnet became champions in 1898 and spent the following seasons in London League Division I before ceasing to exist in the 1901/02 season. For over 50 years Barnet FC competed in the Athenian League. Inaugural members in 1912–13 they were league champions no fewer than seven times between 1919–65 before turning professional in 1965. Their first season in the Southern League saw them finish top and promoted to the Southern Premier when they became cup specialists. Reaching the semi-final of the FA Trophy in 1970 (losing to Macclesfield) and the 3rd Round of the FA Cup in 1971 (losing to Colchester Utd). When the Alliance Premier League was created, Barnet were founding members and while struggling at first, they improved and started picking up 2nd place spots to just miss out on promotion to the Football League in the 80s.


Their first two games in the FL were a 7-4 defeat to Crewe and a 5-5 draw with Brentford in the League Cup. After reaching the play-offs in their first season, in 1992/93 they finished 3rd to achieve promotion to the 2nd Division. After some financial problems and most of the promotion side leaving during the summer, Barnet were promptly relegated back to Division 3. (25 points from safety) They floated around Div 3 until 2000/01 when Tony Cottee took charge midway through the season and were promptly relegated back to the Conference. They managed to get promoted back to the FL in 2005 but have struggled ever since and have only saved themselves on the last day of the season for the past 3 seasons. This season has seen another one of struggle, but bizarrely have Champions League winner Edgar Davids in their team and as Head Coach after Mark Robson had seen his contract terminated. By only winning their first game in October, Barnet have been down in the bottom all season and came into this game in 21st place, just a point clear of the drop. They had started to pick up wins however and have a fair load of loan players in the squad to help them secure their FL status.


Their ground of Underhill has been home to Barnet since 1907, however an inability to renew the lease on the ground and failure of the London Borough of Barnet to fully help the club build a new stadium in Barnet will see them move at the end of the season. They are moving to The Hive, in Hendon which looks like it will be a bland 4 stand identikit stadium. Woopdy-do. That being said, Underhill isn’t a particularly great ground with some good classic terracing, spoilt by adding plastic stands at every corner. The East Terrace is shared by both home and away fans and is a good classic stand as is the uncovered North Terrace behind the goal. In between this is a pointless away seated stand called the North Family Stand before Barnet have tried to fit as many stands as possible on the other two sides of the pitch. Maybe it’s just me but it’s not a favourite ground of mine and I might even enjoy the 3 sided Hive next season, should I visit with Morecambe in 2013/14.


Since seeing that last minute Jack Redshaw equaliser at Wycombe, the Shrimps have gone from 17th to 11th and with an outside chance of the playoffs after good results against Aldershot and at Port Vale (when they lead the league) meant that with 10 games to go (including this one) we were only 9 points off 7th place. Games against teams struggling near the bottom would be tough, but it should be games that we could get something from. Especially if we showed the same fight and spirit that I saw in the 2nd half at Wycombe. I had also brought along for this game my work colleague Phil, who despite being a Macc fan, was today being a plastic Shrimp for his 2nd visit of the season to Underhill. (Coming along as a Bradford fan earlier in the year).


It had been noted on Twitter that during the warm-up, one side appeared to want to win this game a lot more than the other one. That was the home side and they went into it at full pace as like the Wycombe away game, Morecambe just didn’t get started early on. It wasn’t through good defending however that Morecambe kept it at 0-0 early on, it was largely Barnet being so wasteful that it stayed goalless. Maybe Morecambe (like the away fans) were not used to seeing Edgar Davids playing League 2 football, but while his legs have pretty much gone, the mind and the passing ability is still there. He found Mauro Vilhete early on with a cross that Barry Roche did well to save (although it was offside anyway). Ross Jenkins was next up as Dani Lopez got a cross in all too easily but Roche was there again to make the save. Barnet were well on top and on 26 minutes should have had the lead when Lopez got on the end of a cross and his header clattered the crossbar. The ball came back out to Davids who met the ball with a diving header but put the ball wide despite the open goal. Morecambe had offered nothing at this point but when Chris McCready fired well over in the penalty area, we all felt we could slowly come into it. Amazingly, we did and took the lead with a goal marked “Textbook League 2 Route 1 football.” Roche’s long goal kick opened up the Barnet defence and Jack Redshaw controlled it, took a few touches to run on and slotted past ex Hibs wanker Graham Stack. Easy. Both sides had a chance both HT as Redshaw’s low shot was just deflected wide, but 1-0 up at HT with that performance was excellent.


I felt that even though Barnet would come out fighting for the points in the 2nd half, if we held off the early storm, we’d pick them off. It was no surprise when they did come out firing and Luke Gambin fired an early warning shot wide. Despite 52 minutes being played, Barnet hadn’t created a chance that you thought, “yeah, fair play” and when Dani Lopez sliced his chipped through ball to the middle of the box, you thought it was be that way again. However, Nick Fenton stopped moving altogether and Roche decided to try and come for the ball despite never having a chance of getting there to leave Gambin an easy header to equalise. Morecambe do have a habit of shooting themselves in the foot and quickly found themselves trailing to a side who, quality wise, are a non-league team. A weak freekick was awarded to the home side by ref James Adcock and Davids’ ball was again defended dreadfully as Roche fumbled and Lopez was on hand to fire in. It got worse (no really) as an aimless ball allowed Roche and Will Haining to stare at each other as Gambin nipped in and so Roche had to take him out. Penalty and Roche was promptly sent off. Sub goalie Andreas Arestidou brings me all of the confidence of a Cypriot Bank, but he never had a chance with Lopez’s penalty as he fired it down the centre and off the bar. Barnet clearly remembered the 4-1 defeat to Morecambe earlier in the season at the Globe Arena and equalled that scoreline when the Shrimps defence went missing again Mark Byrne’s cross and Lopez fired home for his hat-trick. Redshaw had a chance to get some pride back late on with a 1 on 1 chance, but Stack easily saved his shot.


This was my 14th time watching Morecambe play and this was easily the worst performance of the lot. Barnet are not very good, but fully deserved their win in this game to keep their survival hopes up. Since this game, they have also beaten Fleetwood who are sinking like a stone and claimed a credible draw with Cheltenham to set them up nicely with some crunch games against relegation rivals AFC Wimbledon and Torquay Utd. As for Morecambe, costly dropped points against Northampton and Gillingham as well as a desperate defeat against Wimbledon means that with 6 games left to play and a 10 point deficit to the play-offs, there can afford to be no slip ups. This will be starting with the game against Oxford, one which I’ll be at. Goodbye Underhill, you won’t be missed.

IMG_0503(It’s fucking Edgar Davids!)

Photos from Barnet vs Morecambe


Match Ratings:

- Match: 6.5/10 (reasonable enough, dire performance)

- Value for money: 6/10 (£13 is ok for League 2)

- Ground: 4/10 (ruined by cramming)

- Atmosphere: 5/10 (123 away fans could be heard well, nuff said)

- Food: 6/10 (typical FL cheeseburger)

- Programme: 5/10 (fair enough)

- Referee: James Adcock – 6/10 (good performance, correct penalty call)

Bar vs More prog

Bar vs More stub

Friday, 22 March 2013

Dartford PvsP Wrexham (08/03/13)

Despite me wanting to one day get to every ground in the country in some form or another, I do enjoy picking games that are interesting and could be entertaining rather than going just for a “tick”. The weekend of this game was all about Barnet vs Morecambe but thanks to those people at Premier Sports (no I don’t know either) this game was scheduled for a Friday night under the Princes Park lights.

Premier Sports (Does anyone subscribe to this? Be honest!)

Even though it had been raining all day, I didn’t even think about the game being called off. However had I checked Twitter, I would have seen Dartford getting more and more wet and so at 6pm (ironically when my train left Charlton as I got on) the game was off. Yet another game this season where the weather had beaten me. I went to have a look at Princes Park anyway and got some snaps as well as overhearing a few annoyed Wrexham fans.

BE2jdfwCcAEotRs.jpg large(Yeah it looks a little wet…)




IMG_0477(Toilet inspiration)

In the end, the game was played the next day on the Saturday and Dartford added Wrexham to the list of teams at the top of the Blue Square Premier to come to Princes Park and lose. (Such as Kidderminster, Newport, Mansfield and Luton) Goals from Jack Evans and Elliot Bradbrook gave the Darts a 2-1 win. I’m wanting to come back here and with the last “top team” in the league still to come here in Grimsby, I’m keen to see if Dartford add them to their list of victims this season.

dartswrex(Token match shot which isn’t mine)

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Road to Wembley 2012/13 (Quarter-Final)

While I was heading up North for a pre-planned family visit to the greatest country on Earth, the Road to Wembley in the form of Ascot United were also heading up north for their biggest ever game. After seeing off Newport (IOW) in the previous round, Ascot now had Northern League cracks Shildon in the QF.

Shildon(Shildon probably unchanged since then)

Shildon had kept up the recent Northern League tradition of that league dominating the competition and their clubs reaching the latter stages of the draw. (Along with Spennymoor Town who had also made the QFs) Shildon had seen off Liversedge, South Shields, Consett, Parkgate, Bitton and Brantham Athletic to reach here. The game at Shildon’s Dean Street ground seemed quite a tight one as Ascot took the lead against the run of play through Rob Saunders. It looked like Ascot would snatch a surprise win (which I would have been ribbed for on Twitter) until a 92nd minute equaliser through Jamie Owens sent the game into extra-time where no further goals were scored.

jamie-owens-ascot-1-1(This is what a 92nd minute equaliser looks like)

While many thought the replay down at Ascot would be tight, they were wrong. Shildon took their chances in this game and came out with a 4-1 win to reach the semi-finals for the first time in their history. Sam Garvie grabbed a hat-trick as Ascot’s mighty run came to an end. The 4-1 win is all the more remarkable considering they only travelled down from County Durham with 12 fit players.


Shildon could have been drawn against a fellow north-east side, Guernsey or a Kent side for the Semi-Finals. Hoping that they would draw the Kent League team, they did and so I was delighted to see Tonbridge Wells vs Shildon being the Semi 1st Leg, which I’ll be at. Tonbridge have surprised many getting this far, but have already dumped out some big names including holders Dunston UTS, so are clearly no mugs. An interesting 90 minutes await.

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)

4TH ROUND: Borrowash Victoria 0-3 Ascot United (Watkinson Construction Bowl, Att: 157)

5TH ROUND: Newport IOW 2-2 Ascot United [After Extra Time] (The Racecourse, Att: 474)

5TH ROUND REPLAY: Ascot United 2-1 Newport IOW (The Racecourse, Att: 359)

QUARTER FINAL: Shildon 1-1 Ascot United [After Extra Time] (Dean Street, Att: 448)

QUARTER FINAL REPLAY: Ascot United 1-4 Shildon (The Racecourse, Att: 780)

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Edinburgh University vs The Spartans (02/03/13)

Match 188

Ground #: 148

Ground: Peffermill Playing Fields

Competition: King Cup 2nd Round

Kick Off: 2:30pm

Cost: £4

Programme: With Admission

Attendance: 63 (h/c)

Edinburgh University 0 

The Spartans 1

Motion 28’, Whatley s/off 90’


It had been a few months since my last visit to the 2nd greatest city on the planet and with a family engagement party I had been invited to, I needed no excuse to come up again. While that was sadly cancelled, that allowed me to look for a cheeky football match and even though Hearts were at home on this day (I refused to go to Tynecastle until Vlad had gone – which has sort of happened), I instead took a look at my favourite Scottish League, the EOS. Some games stood out, but watching the majorly progressive side of The Spartans at this level before they no doubt become a SFL club was a must.


Edinburgh University began life as a College of Law, founded by the Edinburgh Town Council using part of a legacy left by Bishop Robert Reid after his death in 1558. Originally a College of the Liberal Arts, the constant efforts of the Town Council and Ministers of the City to establish a seat of learning meant it soon blossomed into a university, which was established by a Royal Charter granted by James VI in 1582. The fact that its funding was granted by the Town Council makes it in many ways the first civic university. It was renamed King James's College in 1617 and instruction began in 1583 under the charge of a young St Andrews graduate Robert Pollock. It was the fourth Scottish university in a period when the much more populous and richer England had only two. By the 18th century Edinburgh was a leading centre of the European Enlightenment although the University did not have a custom-built campus and existed in a hotchpotch of buildings from its establishment until the early 19th century. The university's first custom-built building was the Old College, situated on South Bridge. Its first forte in teaching was anatomy and the developing science of surgery, from which it expanded into many other subjects. The university is responsible for a number of historic and modern buildings across the City, including the oldest purpose-built concert hall in Scotland, St Cecilia's Concert Hall; Teviot Row House, which is the oldest purpose built Student Union Building in the world; and the restored Mylne's Court student residence which stands at the head of Edinburgh's Royal Mile. At writing, University of Edinburgh is placed 1st in Scotland,  49th in the world and 6th in the UK in reputation by Times Higher Education in 2012.


Established in 1878, Edinburgh University AFC is the third-oldest senior club in the East of Scotland and has been a member of the SFA since establishment. The club won its first ever trophy in 1883, beating Hearts (really?!) in the final of the Edinburgh Shield. Since then they have picked up other successes such as the East of Scotland Amateur Cup in 1948 and the Scottish Qualifying Cup (South) in 1965. Although having never won the East of Scotland League title, they have come 2nd in three consecutive seasons during the 70s. In University football they are much more stronger with their 27 successes in the Scottish Universities title and also winning the British Universities Cup back in 1993-94. They have been an EOS Premier side for the past 9 seasons and finished 2nd behind Whitehill Welfare in 2007/08 by just one point. They are also now entrants into the Scottish Cup but failed to progress past the 1st Round this season, losing at home to St. Cuthberts Wanderers. This season they are struggling slightly and were 10th (out of 12) being only 2 points outside of the relegation zone. However 11th place Vale of Leithen had 5 games in hand on them so a nervous spring could await the Students.


They play at Peffermill Playing Fields, which is a large complex that belongs to the uni which houses not only football pitches, but pitches for rugby, hockey and a sporting centre. EUAFC play at the Eastern side of the pitch and their first team play on a field that is railed off part the way round as well as having a small seated stand (which is a cricket pavilion) in the middle of the two dugouts on the far side. A nice touch is the classic grass banking on the far side of the pitch which is also good to watch football on. The main highlights of Peffermill however as the two differing views depending on either end of the pitch, which looked brilliant in the sunshine on the day I came. On one side, a block of flats and the surrounding area to one side and the view of Arthur’s Seat on the other. Brilliant.


The Spartans lost their EOS crown last season to new contenders University of Stirling and the week before this game, the two sides had faced off against each other. Stirling came out on top 2-0 in the Image Printers Cup semi-final and also came out 2-1 winners in the only league meeting so far this season at Ainslie Park. While The Spartans are top of the table, Stirling have enough games in hand to catch them up so a close contest also looks on at the top of the table. The Spartans have a good fan base and through the power of Twitter I had chatted to a couple of them before the game. I ended up watching this match with Spartans fan Grim O Grady who films the Spartans highlights (on Spartans TV Channel X) for the Pie & Bovril forum. With a good fanbase and fantastic venue, the next space that comes up in the SFL (who knows, it could be the one Hearts had) then the Spartans must be favourites for it.


As the match kicked off in the glorious sunshine, it was clear from the early proceedings that The Spartans would not romp to another 4-0 win as they did a couple of weeks ago. It was a good open start from both teams with the Students looking to dominate play but The Spartans dangerous on the break. Ironically though it was the Uni who nearly took the lead on the counter attack. A brake down the right saw the ball crossed deep towards the far post and Kohei Habata forced an excellent save from away goalie Craig Flockhart. However, just 8 minutes later, The Spartans took the lead with a goal that showed two pieces of good quality. Firstly, Jack Beesley, went on a mazy run and was taken out on the edge of the box. Up stepped Kevin Motion who fired a freekick past Mark Tait and it was 1-0. Spartans could have nearly had a couple more goal scoring chances as Beesley had another couple of runs at the Uni rightback who couldn’t cope with The Spartans pace and trickery but the home side held it at 1-0 at HT.


The second half was a completely different story however as Edinburgh Uni took the game to The Spartans and were unlucky not to grab an equaliser on several occasions. Habata especially was causing the away defence trouble as his runs were forcing The Spartans onto the back foot constantly. For all of their pressure however, I can’t really remember the home side forcing Flockhart into a good save. The Spartans rarely threatened shooting towards the sun, although they did have a brief attacking spell late in the 2nd half. The game dynamic changed on 90 minutes however as referee Jordan Stokoe (who had been fairly dismal up to that point anyway) sent off Mark Whatley in a farcical decision. I though Whatley had actually been accidentally kicked by the Uni player. Stokoe then went one better and also sent off The Spartans manager Dougie Samuel for having the audacity to ask what the player was sent off for (as had the other 63 people in the crowd). His final strange decision was to book Edinburgh Uni player Cyrus Moosavi for diving when it seemed he was tripped on the edge of the area.  With that little outburst, The Spartans were through to Round 3 and nobody was impressed with the referee.


The Spartans were drawn at home to Leith Athletic in Round 3 as the Athletic beat Craigroyston in Round 2. This was a massively enjoyable afternoon out as I had some glorious Edinburgh weather, some proper non-league football and a Scotch pie. I don’t know what more you could want! I do enjoy watching The Spartans play and next time I’m up with a free weekend, I’ll be finding out where they are that weekend. I’ve attached the highlights from Spartans TV Channel X – it’s not my video, but yes that is me.

(You can also read Grim’s thoughts on the game here at Pie & Bovril)

Photos from Edinburgh University vs The Spartans


Match Ratings:

- Match: 6/10 (reasonable for the neutral)

- Value for money: 7/10 (excellent value)

- Ground: 7/10 (basic, but excellent views)

- Atmosphere: 5/10 (got going now and again)

- Food: 7/10 (Scotch pie, yes! Sadly no caffeine for Lent couldn’t complete the dream team)

- Programme: 7.5/10 (was free and had everything you wanted)

- Referee: Jordan Stokoe – 2/10 (is he even qualified?)

EU vs TS prog

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Hertford Town vs Hanwell Town (23/02/13)

Match 187

Ground #: 147

Ground: Hertingfordbury Park

Competition: Spartan South Midlands League Premier (Level 9)

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £6

Programme: £1

Attendance: 92

Hertford Town 1

Donovan 44’

Hanwell Town 2

Buckley 5’, Tararov 22’


Way back in September, myself and R Dog went along a bog-standard league at Hanwell Town. What then happened was 90 minutes of action packed, proper non-league mentalness as Hanwell came from behind to beat Hertford with a late winner. On the way we both agreed that the reverse game at Hertford should also be a brilliant game and pencilled in the February game there and then. Now the game approached, sadly R Dog’s work was a selfish bitch and made him work the weekend of the gargantuan clash meaning I was going alone – expecting another classic.


Hertford is the county town of Hertfordshire and is also a civil parish in the East Hertfordshire district of the county. Possibly the first mention of the town is in 673 A.D  when the first synod of a number of the bishops in England was held either in Hertford or at Hartford, Cambridgeshire. In 912 AD, Edward the Elder built two burhs (earthwork fortifications) close by the ford over the River Lea as a defence against Danish incursions. The Normans began work on Hertford Castle, and Hertford Priory was founded by Ralph de Limesi. King Henry II rebuilt the castle in stone, but in 1216, during the First Barons' War, it was besieged and captured after 25 days by Prince Louis of France. The castle was regularly visited by English royalty and in 1358, Queen Isabella, wife of Edward II, died there. The priory was dissolved in 1536 and subsequently demolished and in 1563, the Parliament of England met at the castle because of an outbreak of plague in London. Hertford grew and prospered as a market and county town; communication was improved by the construction of the Lea Navigation Canal in 1767 and the arrival of the railway in 1843.


Hertford Rovers were established by a merger of Port Vale Rovers and Hertford United at the start of the twentieth century. The club was renamed Hertford Town in 1904, and absorbed two more clubs - Blue Cross and Horns - in 1908. The new club joined the Eastern Division of the Hertfordshire Senior County League. They also played in the East Herts League, which they won in 1912–13 and 1913–14. In 1920 they joined the Middlesex League, before switching to the Spartan League. When the league was restructured in 1929 they were placed in Division One. In 1938–39 they were Division One runners-up and were promoted to the Premier Division. After World War II they finished bottom of the division in 1946–47, before missing the 1947–48 season as their ground was unavailable. However, they returned to the league in 1948–49, and the following season won the Eastern Division to earn promotion. In 1959 the club transferred to the Delphian League, which they won in their second season and again in their third. In 1962–63 they were leading the league until it was abandoned due to bad weather, but did win the East Anglian Cup by beating Boston United 1–0 in the final. In 1966–67 they won the Herts Senior Cup, whilst a second East Anglian Cup was won in 1969–70. In 1972 the club joined the Eastern Counties League and won the league cup in their first season and finished third in the league. However, at the end of the season the Isthmian League formed a second division, which the club joined. When the league was restructured in 1991 they were placed in Division Three. They were promoted to Division Two after finishing runners-up in 1998–99, but were relegated the following season. Further restructuring saw the club placed in Division One North in 2002, but they finished bottom and were relegated to Division Two. After the division was disbanded in 2006 they joined the Premier Division of the Spartan South Midlands League. Since two Top 4 finishes in their first seasons in the SSML, Hertford have found it more hard going and have been towards the bottom of the league with a 16th (out of 22) place finish last season.


Since that game back in September, Hertford have found it a struggle and were going into this clash down in 20th position. Quite close to the bottom two being only 1 point away from it (although do have 3 games in hand). To try and tide the possible fall into the SSML 1st Division, Hertford had made a large amount of changes to the side as a fair few players who played on that sunny day in September for the Blues had now left the club. In fact only 2 players were playing in both matches. That would have extinguished the possible fiery game that I was expecting as the newbies for Hertford would probably have no idea about the previous meeting between the sides. Hanwell looked good that day and have since risen up the league to 5th, although quite some distance behind leaders Dunstable Town who look good to be playing Isthmian or Southern League football next season. I saw a Hanwell XI taken apart in November by Uxbridge in the Middlesex Senior Cup but losing to a team in a higher league is no disgrace. They have also made additions to the squad including ex Hertford striker Billy Healey who is still the 2nd top goalscorer at the Hertfordshire based side despite leaving for Hanwell in October. One final sad note to report, Travelling Fan favourite Denis Z was no listed in either the programme or in the 14 man squad that Hanwell brought to the game. I can only hope he was ill or unavailable to play for this match and hasn’t left the club. Any information on him would be brilliant.


Hertford’s Hertingfordbury Park ground is on the western edge of the town around a 15 minute walk from Hertford East rail station. It had been a long time since I had been to a ground that felt out in the country, but a walk down a narrow country road to the ground comes out next to a field with a fair few horses in it – this ain’t London anymore! The ground for SSML levels is a great one, with a large main stand right in the middle of the touchline and a big covered standing area behind one of the goals called the Stable End. The rest of the ground is uncovered standing, but does have a couple of small terraces on both remaining sides to have a slight elevated view of the game. With a small but cosy clubhouse and an old school toilet block that you basically piss on the floor in and has no running water – this is a ground that is worth the effort to see. One final positive is the view from the far side that looks over to the Hertford Loop Line and surrounding Terrace Wood.


The game started off at a reasonable pace but much like the game in September, there was an early goal for the away team. A nothing cross was poorly headed away by the Hertford defender and arriving with a half volley was X Buckley whose low shot deceived home goalie Dan Lewis and nestled into the bottom corner. Despite this setback Hertford still continued to try and be positive, although it was no surprise they went 0-2 down on 22 minutes. A long throw in was allowed to be controlled by Healey and his hold play allowed X Tararov to run in behind and fire the ball into the roof of the net. It was too easy. Hanwell looked good for the majority of the half but Hertford had a little spell in the game for the last 5 minutes of the half. Firstly Mitchell Palmer forced Charlie Fanner into a save before they fired a free kick over the bar. They did grab a goal however, right on half time as a Danny Charles corner was floated in and while Fanner made a fanny of it, Lewis Donovan tucked home to give the home side some hope for the 2nd half.


Despite being at fault for their goal, Fanner kept Hanwell’s lead intact right at the start of the half. As the Geordie’s defence went missing (slightly like the bigger team in black and white this season), Tommy Wade found himself all alone in the box with what looked like an easy tap in. However, Fanner brilliantly denied him with a point blank save. It was quite clear that this game was not the fireworks I had hoped for after the September game, but it was a compelling watch as both side’s midfields tried to gain the upper hand. In fact, most of the half was played in the midfield area as both keepers just tried to keep warm with the light snow falling during the game. Towards the end of the match, Hanwell looked the more likely to score as their #9 missed an open goal as his shot rolled onto the post with Lewis beaten and then their #9 missed a one on one chance as they looked to seal the game. Healey was fairly quiet in this match, probably not helped with the “judas, judas” chants from the home fans. On the balance of play, Hanwell just about deserved this and made it an excellent 10 wins in a row.


Despite the fact this game was far more subdued than the September clash, it was still a decent watch as some good football was played in tough conditions. Also, the Hertford Town fans were brilliant, especially in the 2nd half as they had chants, harmonicas and even someone with a flute cheering their side on. This game dropped them into the bottom two, with London Tigers winning their 6 pointer at Hatfield Town on the same day. Since then, Hertford lost 0-3 at Aylesbury United and drew 2-2 at home to Stotfold to leave them in 20th, outside the relegation zone on goal difference. Squeaky bum time for them over the coming months. As for Hanwell, they lost 3-2 in the SSML Challenge Trophy 3rd Round to Oxhey Jets before drawing 1-1 away at Haringey Borough to keep up their excellent league run. A pleasurable Saturday afternoon for me, now to find the whereabouts of Denis.

(Fellow blogger The Cold End was also at this game and you can read his thoughts and see his highlights here)

Photos from Hertford Town vs Hanwell Town


Match Ratings:

- Match: 5/10 (fairly standard viewing)

- Value for money: 6.5/10 (think its normal at this level)

- Ground: 7.5/10 (good scenery and great main stand)

- Atmosphere: 8/10 (ever heard a flute at a football match? Don’t lie)

- Food: 5/10 (took a while but was reasonably tasty)

- Programme: 6/10 (good effort)

- Referee: Andreas Anastasiou – 6/10 (thought he was fine)

HT vs HT prog