Monday, 16 June 2014

World Cup Food Off - Monday 16th June

Previous: Thursday 12th June

             Friday 13th June

             Saturday 14th June

             Sunday 15th June


Germany – Herman Ze German

The classic London based diner, (probably, actually no, definitely) my favourite place to eat out in the capital. Their wurst is the best and you can even have schnitzels if you are that sort of person.


Portugal – Prawns and Spinach in Peri Peri Sauce

Nando’s – home of the peri peri sauce and originally from Portugal. Rather than crack some chicken in there, went slightly left field and gone with prawns. Portugal has a coastline! Makes sense!


Verdict: Herman Ze German smashes this dish. While the prawns (I wasn’t that hungry) were ok, its not a bratwurst and some sexy fries.

Germany Win (£5 @ 10/11)


Iran – Koobideh with Cucumber Salad

Another wrap based dish, this one is a favourite on the streets of Tehran, apparently. Using minced meat and other bits and pieces, this is a potential contender to compete with the classic Greek kabab. Potential.


Nigeria – Nigerian Chicken & Tomatoes

While many Nigerian recipes are plantain happy, this African style stew is a decent change from the usual to come out of this region.


Verdict: The Koobideh is a strange one. The spices don’t add too much to the meat and so it comes off quite dry. Don’t worry Donner Kabab, you are still the king. While the Nigerian stew is probably the least exciting dish I made for the tournament, it does enough to scrape past.

Nigeria Win (£5 @ 10/11)


Ghana – Kentumere

Fish and Spinach in tomatoes. A popular dish in Ghana that needs the charcoal effect to get it properly done.


United States – Phili Cheese Steak

So much big food I could have done for this. The burger, the wings, the grease. Went with a (slightly) healthier option of the Phili Cheese Steak although packed it full of fatty goodness.

United States

Verdict: Normally, I always will pick the healthier option, however this dish from the States was so good. Power wins on this occasion.

US Win (£5 @ 2/1)

Previous Winnings

£18.72 from Sunday

£5 on Switzerland vs Ecuador Draw @ 21/10 – Lose = -£5

£5 on France @ 3/10 – WIN = £6.50

£5 on Argentina @ 1/3 – WIN = £6.67

TOTAL = £26.89

Sunday, 15 June 2014

World Cup Food Off – Sunday 15th June

Previous: Thursday 12th June

              Friday 13th June

              Saturday 14th June


Switzerland – Cheese & Beer Fondue

The Swiss classic of a fondue, with a twist of sticking a whole load of beer in. Add some baguettes to dunk/dip/dive into the cheesy mixture and I struggle to see how much more Swiss you could get.


Ecuador – Stuffed Avocados

Another country that loves its Plantain so not that much choice when coming to Ecuador. Stuffed Avocados with egg, ham and other bits and pieces was a decent, healthy option – the complete antithesis to the cheese and beer.


Verdict: Both of these were heavy going! There is only so much cheese you can eat before you feel sick and the same with avocados. Sort of suggests that they will cancel each other out.

Draw (£5 @ 21/10)


France - La salade au Saint-Marcellin (@ Les 3 Brasseurs)

Before you judge me for having a salad in France, with the range of exceptional food I could have had, I would like to point out it had been a heavy weekend! The salad also came with a lot of local products from the Lille area so was perfect.


Honduras – Baledas

Honduran flour tortillas with beans and cheese. Simple, quick and can use a range of ingredients to spice it up a wee bit.


Verdict: The Baledas were awful. Partly due to one recipe suggesting to put butter beans in which are dreadful. The class of France will see them through this.

France Win (£5 @ 3/10)


Argentina – Argentine Chicken and Rice

Steak is so 2000s for Argentina, its all chicken over there now! A simple dish with some good spices and some lemon thrown in for good measure. Probably could have done something more explosive, but it may not have ended well.


Bosnia – Ćevapi

A Bosnian kabab that combines some bizarre ingredients such as cottage cheese into it and turns it into a taste sensation.


Verdict: Such a close call. The Bosnian kabab is one to be feared, while the stylish chicken and fried lemon is also very good. While I do want to say draw, I felt better after the Argentine meal. So they just nick it.

Argentina Win (£5 @ 1/3)

Previous Winnings

£20.22 from Friday

£5 on Col vs Greece Draw @ 23/10 – Lose = -£5

£5 on Uruguay @ 4/9 – Lose =-£5

£5 on Italy @ 17/10 – WIN = £13.50

£5 on Japan @ 2/1 – Lose =-£5

TOTAL = £18.72

Saturday, 14 June 2014

World Cup Food Off – Saturday 14th June

Previous: Thursday 12th June

              Friday 13th June


Colombia - Chuzos de Res & Arepas de Queso

With two countries who love a good wrap based dish. It was the South American version up first, with home made Arepas with cheese (a cheesy type bread) and beef skewers marinated in spices and olive oil.


Greece - Grilled Pork Souvlaki & Tzatziki

The king of wraps, if such a thing exists. The Souvlaki with spicy pitta bread and home made Tzatziki – potentially the greatest dip in the World. A formidable combination.


Verdict: Such a tough, tough clash. Colombia’s beef skewer is a taste sensation. But the spicy pittas, the souvlaki and the tzatziki, see Greece take a win, but then I can’t let this Colombia dish lose either. A draw.

Draw (£5 @ 23/10)


Uruguay - The Chivito

Yes, I know its basically a sandwich. But it’s THEIR sandwich. With a lot of meat. And some other token non-meat options such as egg and pepper.


Costa Rica - Bistec Encebollado

Steak and Onions. Not much else. No ambition in Costa Rica it seems.


Verdict: Both dishes are extremely basic, but Uruguay’s sandwich with so much on it, (Easily a MANwich) actually tasted damn nice. Next time a bigger ciabatta is needed and it becomes the perfect sandwich. Comfortable victory.

Uruguay Win (£5 @ 4/9)


England – Cottage Pie

The classic pie was always going to be the dish to be used, just what one? As I couldn’t be bothered putting a pastry together, the lazy cottage pie option was taken.


Italy – Home made Pizza

What else was it going to be!?


Verdict: If I ever do make a cottage pie again, more mash was needed. Hence the confused stew/pie/splodge on that plate. A pie was never going to beat a pizza though. When has a pizza ever let you down? (One at 3am from a dodgy takeaway doesn’t count!)

Italy Win (£5 @ 17/10)

IVORY COAST vs JAPAN (2am Sunday)

Ivory Coast - Poisson Braisé

Being a country next to the see, fish was always going to be one of their main meals. This one, grills (or sticks on a charcoal grill for an authentic taste) the fish after rubbing in a spice mixture to give it a good flavour.


Japan - Japanese salmon & avocado rice

Basically a sushi dish without the pain and hassle of trying to roll all of the sushi up into neat little balls. The avocado added something a bit different to the normal type of sushi.


Verdict: Both dishes have their flaws sadly. Ivory Coast’s was too watery after the liquid in the fish came out and Japan’s was too heavy going after a while. That being said, Japanese food done well is normally exceptional and even here, Japanese food done averagely still pips the Ivorian effort.

Japan Win (£5 @ 2/1)

Previous Winnings

£6.50 from Thursday

£5 on Mexico @ 13/10 - WIN = £11.50

£5 on Spain @ 5/6 – LOSE = -£5

£5 on Chile @ 4/9 – WIN = £7.22

TOTAL = £20.22

Friday, 13 June 2014

World Cup Food Off – Friday 13th June

Previous: Thursday 12th June


Mexico - Chicken enchiladas with red mole sauce

While it could have been easy to go with a bog-standard enchilada or fajita, the red mole sauce made this slightly different the usual bog standard Mexican. The red mole sauce being mainly chocolate and tomatoes.


Cameroon - Brochettes a la Camerounaise & Sese Plantains

While the Brochettes with a Cameroon sauce is a simple skewer with beef and peppers, the plantains were an interesting for me. Is it a vegetable? Is it a banana in disguise?


Verdict: Mexico were always going to look good here with Mexican being the king of food. Despite it being a disappointing meal (in part to my poor cooking), nothing could prepare me for Cameroon. The skewers were fine. Good solid marinade. But then came the plantain. Possibly the worst thing I have ever eaten. Looks like a banana but tastes of shame. Comfortable Mexico win.

Mexico Win (£5 @ 13/10)


Spain - Chorizo, potato & cheese omelette

The omelette is a classic and with a Spanish twist of chorizo to add even more depth to the dish.


Holland – Spekpannenkoek & Appelstroop

A bacon pancake with apple sauce is a Dutch classic (apparently) with the sauce meant to be a treacle based one for maximum coverage.


Verdict: Yes, that is a pancake. Maybe I have inadvertently created a metaphor for the Dutch World Cup campaign. A shambles. Even the apple sauce was too watery. Spain, solid and did the job. Like they should do for the game in Salvador. I made that Dutch dish back in February and it looks even worse now. Terrible.

Spain Win (£5 @ 5/6)


Chile - Chancho a la chilena & Salsa de ají colorado

A sexy dish of slow cooked pork, with a salsa sauce and finished off with some veg and rice. Early contender for dish of the tournament.


Australia - Kangaroo Burgers & Bush Tomato Chutney

Aussies love their meat. And what more Australian meat is there than Kangaroo? (Maybe apart from Koala but that is hard to find in London) Make it into a burger and “stick it under the barbie” to make it proper Australian.


Verdict: If you’ve never had Kangaroo meat, there is really nothing wrong with it. Quite tender and a decent taste and it goes well with the Bush Tomato Chutney. However, when you put it against the might of that slow cooked pork and the salsa sauce, the sexyness comes through. Is Australia sexy? Are Kangaroos sexy? No to both.

Chile Win (£5 @ 4/9)

Previous Winnings:

£5 on Brazil @ 3/10 – WIN = £6.50

Thursday, 12 June 2014

World Cup Food Off – Thursday 12th June

Way back in 2013, it was a simple idea. Cook a meal from every country who are at the World Cup and then see how much money I can win (or lose) through the power of food. The idea evolved over time as some restaurant trips were also included and 32 meals later, with the opening day of the World Cup and the opening games, it’s time to begin:


Brazil - Ensopadinho de Carne

A “classic” dish that is basically stew and one that is hearty and wholesome.


Croatia - Croatian Dalmatian Red Risotto

Nicknamed “Fisherman’s Risotto”, this dish had fish, fish and more fish.


Verdict: Croatia started off really well with the shrimp, squid and mussels combining with the sauce well but, like the football team, Brazil kept it steady and the dish probably came out on top. But only just. Brazil to come from behind and win.

Brazil Win (£5 @ 3/10)

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

World Cup 2014 Predictor-Fest


World Cup 2010 Predictions (they weren’t good) HERE

So another four years has passed. And as Brazil vs Croatia kicks off the 20th World Cup, I will add my predictions to the millions that are already out there to try and guess which one of the 32 will actually go on and win the thing. Ignoring my sweepstake picks (‘Mon the Chile!) and my complete satisfaction when England throw it away, again, take a read and go and bet on the opposite. You’ll make good money.






--> Brazil on home form should see a comfortable 9 points from 9, without even breaking too much of a sweat. That leaves the small conundrum of who gets second. A team that loses to Scotland twice in qualifying shouldn’t even be at the tournament so that rules out Croatia. (You can’t rely on Luka Modric for everything!) Mexico were utterly awful in qualification, although results this year have improved slightly. So that leaves Cameroon. And before you laugh yourselves away. A team that has no expectations, have little problem with the climate and could have one last hurrah for that generation. The hurrah will be short lived however, have you seen Group B? 

Winners: Brazil, 2nd Place: Cameroon






--> Poor old Australia. Getting lumped in a group they have little chance of even taking a point from, never mind qualifying out of. With Spain not the Kings they once were, it could be a proper fight for the 2 qualifying spots from B. However, you feel they have enough in them to top the group with Torres normally finding form at tournaments and Diego Costa looking a handful, if fit. Holland for me are the ones to crash out. Despite cruising through qualification, this team lack experience at the back and may not have the temperament in a potential ‘winner takes all’ final group game vs Chile. Also, Chile have Mauricio Pinilla in their team. Job done.

Winners: Spain, 2nd Place: Chile



Ivory Coast



--> Some bizarrely weak groups at this year’s tournament, started by Group C. Colombia will miss Falcao massively, however with James Rodríguez and Jackson Martínez in their lineup, it should be enough to win this one. I cannot see Japan doing anything here, so watch them win the Group now. Greece, having had their nosebleed in 2004 are back to normal and will exit here too. That leaves Ivory Coast who I have big hopes for. Some world class players, and players that are in form too. They should finally have enough to make it out of the Group Stage.

Winners: Colombia, 2nd Place: Ivory Coast



Costa Rica



--> Not sure Uruguay will go as far as some people are making them out to be (the Final?!), but they should cruise through this group. Have enough up front to rip the other 3 defences to pieces which means it looks like Italy vs England is the decider. (Sorry Costa Rica) I can just see England scraping through that, although the firepower of Immobile and Balotelli just make me seriously consider this one.

Winners: Uruguay, 2nd Place: England






--> Having tipped France for an early exit in 2010, I can’t see them making the same mistake this time, especially with Didier Deschamps in charge which should see them top the group too. The other 3 I actually can’t split, with Switzerland likely to be steady and lacking in the goals again, that could give Ecuador and Honduras a chance. However, Switzerland are the top seeds in this group and if they can keep Josip Drmic fit and in form, then 2nd place should be achievable. What a key first game for them though!

Winners: France, 2nd Place: Switzerland






--> What Argentina needed to get them settled into the tournament was an easy group that they can’t possibly throw away. Group F is pretty much perfect then as apart from Bosnia (who don’t have any World Cup pedigree anyway), they face a woeful Nigeria and an Iran side just happy to be there. Putting a strikeforce of Messi, Aguero, Lavezzi and Di Maria is just unfair, so 100% for Argentina. Bosnia have the quality of Sejad Salihović and Vedad Ibišević (before we even consider Džeko!) to easily pick up 2nd place.

Winners: Argentina, 2nd Place: Bosnia






--> Not massively sure what point Germany coach Joachim Löw is trying to prove by only taking one striker to Brazil. 36 year old Miroslav Klose will no doubt be in the goals again, but if he gets injured, then what? They do of course have one of the most exciting midfields at the tournament and a rock solid defence so should easily make it through the group. Portugal have Ronaldo, but then scratch beneath the surface and you have the makings of an average team. Having to qualify for the play-offs after finishing below Russia in the group also just adds to the feeling they aren’t going far. Ghana have always made it out of the Group and you feel they can do the same here again. Especially if it comes down to the final game.

Winners: Germany, 2nd Place: Ghana





South Korea

--> Belgium, who are everyone’s “dark horses” have a decent draw to make the QFs, especially with an easy looking group such as this. That leaves the extremely interesting battle between Algeria and Russia for 2nd. (South Korea barely deserve to be here so will be bottom) Russia have the class and the tactical nous through Don Capello to just pip the Algerians.

Winners: Belgium, 2nd Place: Russia


- Brazil vs Chile

- Spain vs Cameroon

- Colombia vs England

- Uruguay vs Ivory Coast

- France vs Bosnia

- Argentina vs Switzerland

- Germany vs Russia

- Belgium vs Ghana

Wins for teams in italics. All but one of the Group Winners I see making it past the 2nd Round. Brazil should have enough flair and home support to see off Chile, while Spain will also have enough attacking talent to dismantle Cameroon’s aging defence. Colombia vs England will be a tight one if it happens, but the lack of experience in key areas vs the Colombians will probably see them out. Uruguay likewise, on a home continent, should beat the Ivorians. The only real shock I can see is Bosnia beating France. There is always one at this stage and the Bosnians have some quality to see off France. Belgium vs Ghana is also my tip for game of the tournament. Sexy football all round.


Brazil vs Colombia

Spain vs Uruguay

Bosnia vs Germany

Argentina vs Belgium

Potentially the best QF line up at a World Cup ever if this happens. Brazil, again have the fans behind them to just see off Colombia, who will miss Falcao too much at this point. Spain’s attacking threat should also be enough to beat Uruguay, but goals goals goals in that game. Yes, I have tipped Bosnia to beat Germany. There is something exciting about that team and with a large chunk of them playing or played in Germany, they’ll know what to expect. Argentina should easily see off Belgium. The Red Devils crashing out against the first big team they come up against.


Brazil vs Bosnia

Spain vs Argentina

While Brazil should finally end Bosnia’s dream World Cup debut, the Spain vs Argentina game is one that is likely to go all the way. However, a defence that has not looked the rock it once was, may be Spain’s undoing against that rampant Argentine defence. Also, Messi has clearly been saving himself during the last few weeks of the La Liga season, so what better chance to turn it on than against the country he plies his trade in.


- Brazil vs ARGENTINA

I tipped Brazil to win in 2010 and they crashed out at the QF stage but I see a shock with Argentina winning it in Brazil. A squad that has the games to build it up to the Final and an attack and defence that you feel is stronger than the home side. Brazil have been here before remember. 1950 – when they bottled it at home. It can happen again…

Top Scorer - Lionel Messi (Argentina) –> While the top scorer rarely comes from the team that wins it, for Argentina to get as far as I think they will, they’ll need Messi to smash them home. Aguero will help, but the magic will come from the wee man.

Surprise Team – Bosnia –> Have a relatively ok draw once they get out of the Group as they will fancy their chances against whoever comes from Group E and then anything can happen from the QFs onwards.


Monday, 26 May 2014

Windsor vs Frimley Green (19/04/14)

Match 231

Ground #: 183

Ground: Stag Meadow

Competition: Combined Counties League (Level 9)

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £6

Programme: £2

Attendance: 165

Windsor FC 5

Day 13’, 24’, Jones 39’, Jeffery 88’, Lucas 90’

Frimley Green 0

Taylor s/off 83’


Easter always brings out a great load of games over the extended weekend and gives fans the chance to see their team lose twice in quick succession. For the neutral, the grand choice of games gives them a hard choice. After last Easter’s major excursions out of London to Oxford and Worcester, it was time to stay a bit more local. Having lived in Windsor as a young wee boy (c.1995!), it was a trip back to the royal town and down to the Meadow.


Windsor is a town and unparished area in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire. It is widely known as the site of Windsor Castle, one of the official residences of the Royal Family. The early history of the site is unknown, although the site may have been settled many years before the medieval castle was built as there is ample evidence of Anglo Saxon settlement in the area. Windsor Castle was originally built by William the Conqueror in the decade after the Norman conquest of 1066, a timber motte and bailey structure. The town of New Windsor, as an ancient demesne of the Crown, was a privileged settlement from the start, apparently having the rights of a 'free borough' for which other towns had to pay substantial fees to the king. New Windsor was a nationally significant town in the Middle Ages, as its prosperity came from its close association with the royal household. The repeated investment in the castle brought London merchants to the town and provided much employment for townsmen.


The town however began to stagnate about ten years after the Reformation. The castle was considered old fashioned and shrines to the dead were thought to be 'superstitious'. The early modern period formed a stark contrast to the medieval history of the town. Most accounts of Windsor in the 16th and 17th centuries talk of its poverty, badly made streets and poor housing. Shakespeare's play The Merry Wives of Windsor is set in Windsor and contains many references to parts of the town and the surrounding countryside. The substantial redevelopment of the castle during Queen Victoria's residence from 1840, as well as the coming of two railways in 1849, signalled the most dramatic changes in the town's history. It catapulted the town from a sleepy medieval has-been to the centre of empire with many European heads of state coming to Windsor to visit the Queen throughout the rest of the 19th century.


Windsor FC are only 3 years old in their current state after the former club, Windsor & Eton FC folded during the 2010/11 season. Mounting debts for the former club, despite a promotion to the Southern League Premier in their final full season, saw them finished off and the new club started the 2011/12 season down in the Combined Counties League. After a decent first season where they finished 2nd in the league, chairman Kevin Scott came back from the 2012 Olympic Games to remove the playing budget as “the club had already lost its way.” Despite most of the playing staff leaving, new boss Mick Woodham came in and led Windsor and their new young team to a very decent 6th place finish. If they can continue this upward trend, Windsor may well find themselves back at their original level in the not too distant future and in a far better financial state than their previous form.


Stag Meadow is found on the southern edge of Windsor and is part of The Great Park that wraps around the town. The ground was placed there in 1911 after an order from the Monarchy that stated an area of The Great Park should be for football. Therefore, an extremely scenic ground that also offers some decent facilities for this level. A Main Stand straddling the halfway line dominates the place, while opposite this is a fully covered standing terrace. With some uncovered terracing around the pitch and a small clubhouse down in the far corner of the ground, Stag Meadow could easily go back to hosting football from a far higher level if Windsor FC ever get there again. Considering some of the dross that is at Level 9 currently, this is one of the best grounds at this level.


Being one of the best grounds at this level was just as well, as Windsor were nowhere near the promotion spots going into this game. A dreadful run of form had seen them win in the league in 7 attempts and had lost the last 4 games. Despite the lousy form, they were still in 6th place, although a long long way behind runaway league winners South Park. They had however won their first trophy under their new form in the week leading up to this with victory in the Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy win over Reading Town. With a place in the top 5 up for grabs, there was still a good amount to play for The Royalists.


In town for this clash were the mighty Frimley Green who hail from Surrey. Down in 11th, they were only 7 points behind Windsor, which was a fantastic achievement from the club that won the Combined Counties 1st Division last season. The two clubs had met way back in October, when Windsor romped home to a 5-2 win. However, with Windsor in poor form and Frimley looking to finish as high as they can, this game wasn’t meant to be a forgone conclusion.


That’s really what it was however, as Windsor tore the Green to shreds. With the away team only turning up with 12 players, it didn’t take too long for Windsor to open the floodgates. When Matt Day crashed the ball past Stuart Norman on 13 minutes, you feared for Frimley and they did well to only keep it at 3-0 at HT. With Day adding another and Kane Jones ending the game as a contest on 39 minutes. The second half was a complete procession with Windsor happy to kick the ball around and Frimley Green getting nowhere near testing Carl Dennison in the home net. Frimley could not deal with Windsor’s #11, Kyle Lucas all game and after Joey Taylor was sent off late on for a daft 2nd yellow, Lucas set one up and scored in injury time to give Windsor a bit of gloss that their domination deserved on the day.


Windsor managed to keep this up for the close of the season as they only lost one of the last 5 to secure another 6th place in the league. However with club captain Dan Hicks moving up a level to join Marlow, Windsor may find it tough again with no budget to try and have a tilt at promotion for 2014/15. Frimley finished 12th for an excellent season back at Level 9 and will look to try and go a wee bit further for next season. Having caught them on a barethread day, and with only 7 fit players who actually started, it is maybe a tad harsh to label them as completely rubbish. Having lived just a 5 minute walk from the ground way back in the early 90’s, it is nice to finally see the place and is well worth the trip down. On a nice day, the excellent setting and the good quality of football that Windsor play make this a recommended visit.

Photos from Windsor vs Frimley Green


Match Ratings:

- Match: 6/10 (fizzled out in 2nd half)

- Value for money: 5/10 (seems the norm for Combined Counties League)

- Ground: 7/10 (great setting)

- Atmosphere: 4/10 (the home fans did try)

- Food: 5/10 (standard stuff on offer)

- Programme: 4/10 (decent stuff but had better for £2)

- Referee: Isaac Jempeji – 6/10 (fussy, but wanted it played the right way)

Win vs FG prog

Win vs FG stub

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Cadbury Athletic vs Feckenham (12/04/14)

Match 230

Ground #: 182

Ground: Cadbury Recreation Ground

Competition: Midland Combination 1st Division (Level 11)

Kick Off: 3:07pm

Cost: Free

Programme: None

Attendance: 43

Cadbury Athletic 2

Carline 45’, Mooney 60’

Feckenham 1

Bennett 88’


You have those moments in life where you might catch the image of something, or see something just for a fleeting moment and you think, wow! While I’ve seen many pictures of Jennifer Lawrence since that first glance, for example, and always thought the same, I remember seeing a picture of a fantastic ground at uni. The quirky place of the Cadbury Recreation Ground with a brilliant classic pavilion type building. A ground that had been on my mind for some time (a different part of my mind to where Jennifer lies I might add), was in sort of danger to have no football played on it again for some time soon if Cadbury won the league this season. I wasn’t missing this again, not on my watch.


In 1824, John Cadbury began selling tea, coffee and drinking chocolate in Birmingham before joining forces with his brother Benjamin to become the “Cadbury Brothers”. After going into decline, John’s sons Richard & George took over in 1861 with a new focus on chocolate. The major breakthrough came however in 1878 when the brothers decided to move the factory to the countryside, 4 miles outside of Birmingham. With better access for milk and cocoa to the estate, it was renamed Bournville and George built a “model village” around the factory to “alleviate the evils of modern more cramped living conditions” which included the playing fields. From then, the rest is history with Dairy Milk (1905), Flake (1920) and Crunchie (1929) all being released to take Cadbury’s from strength to strength.

IMG_3975(Mondelez's Global Centre of Excellence for Chocolate Research and Development)

Cadbury’s Quaker roots changed in 1969 when they merged with Schweppes and took a more capitalist venturer approach to business. With acquisitions such as Peter Paul, Cadbury' Schweppes were a key player in the global food and drink industry. However a demerger was announced in 2007 as well as the closure of the old Fry’s Somerdale Factory in Keynsham. Cadbury’s as we know it were no more after 2010 too, with Kraft eventually getting through a hostile takeover to acquire the company. Kraft then split into two, with the confectionery business becoming Mondelēz International. (The name was brought by Kraft employees with Monde being French for world and delez an alternative to delicious – a clear reason why you never let employees name a company!)


Despite the history of the Cadbury brand, Cadbury Athletic were only formed in 1994 and joined the Midland Combination 3rd Division. The club was affiliated with the Cadbury's factory based in Bournville, using the company's logo as its badge and even playing in the Cadbury's corporate colours of purple and white. Despite their short history of only 20 years, the Athletic have been up and down all the way through the Midland Combination in that time, even making the Premier Division in 2005. However, a lack of floodlights at the Rec meant they had to share with local club Pilkington XXX, but played FA Vase and FA Cup football in that time. Going ok in the Premier Division, the club felt the need to drop down back to Division 1 after 2011/12 and finished 3rd in the 1st Division last year as they sort out potential ground problems.


I would politely describe Birmingham as an absolute shithole, however just a 10 minute train ride away is the beautiful town of Bournville, which I recommend a visit to. The Cadbury Recreation Ground is right next to Cadbury World (I had given up chocolate for Lent this year so it would not have been wise to visit) and was really worth the trip. Set in brilliant scenery around the old factory, the highlight of the place is the old, classic pavilion that dominates the place. With some stunning rooms inside such as the Memorial Room and a balcony on the 1st floor to provide an excellent view of the pitch, it is a classic building. With a small terrace area running down the side of the pitch too, it is a far better place than I was even expecting. The pitch at the Playing Fields apparently has links to Wembley Stadium too as it is one of 4 pitches in the country to use the same Northumberland turf that is used at the National Stadium. Go and visit.


On the pitch, Cadbury are doing fine as well and were seeing this game to try and Boost their title chances. (1st chocolate pun!) Before this game they were top of the league, only on goal difference from Aston, but had 5 games in hand over them. They were easily the strongest side in the league being the highest scorers and meanest defence and were just 14 points away from the title, under the assumption that all of the chasing sides won their remaining games too. What made this game even more daunting for Feckenham, was that Cadbury had not lost in the league since August, when they were defeated at Phoenix United. The small village in Worcestershire had their team 9th out of 15 for this clash, but again had games in hand over some of the sides around them and so could cause a few problems for Cadbury.


Every game in the country it seems kicked off at 3:07pm on this date to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster and the minute’s silence was perfectly observed. With the game underway, Feckenham instantly showed the threat they were going to be as an early free kick from them was fired just wide. Content to break up play in the middle of park and then counter, Cadbury struggled at first to deal with this but slowly managed to get some momentum going and should have taken the lead on 10 minutes. A weak header away from a Feckenham defender saw Anthony Clarke put clean through but he fired his shot well wide with a shot befitting of Level 11. The pace of Clarke and Dean Lea were causing the Feck problems as their defence were being to Flake away. (Another choco pun!) It did look however that it would be 0-0 at HT, but right on HT Lea skipped away down the right and while his cutback at first was blocked, the rebound fell to George Carline who lashed in.


You felt Cadbury only needed one more goal to make the game safe as Feckenham hadn’t really resembled an attack force since early on. Lea was still causing the away team problems down the right as he pulled off all sorts of Twix. (I know its a Nestle bar!) Cadbury’s main threat however was from corners as Carline had a header cleared off the line from one on 52 minutes, but Feckenham were to regret giving a needless corner away on 60 minutes. From the cross, Ben Mooney powered an easy header home to make it 2-0 and looked like game over. While Cadbury for the final 30 minutes did try and make it 3, the intensity of the game had gone and it looked like it would play out to 2-0. However, Feckenham did pull a goal back late on as Cadbury went to sleep when a cut back from the left was deflected in. While it gave the final few minutes a bit more interest than there would of been, Kenny Sanders in the Cadbury goal wasn’t tested again. A good win for the league leaders, and certainly wasn’t a Picnic. (Last one I promise)


Cadbury were only needing a few points now for the title as rivals began to lose games in the chase to catch them. They confirmed the title, ironically at Feckenham a few weeks later with a 1-1 draw. In the end, they won the title by a comfortable 11 points and should now take their place in the Midland Combination Premier next season. With a confirmed groundshare at Alvechurch now in place, only Cadbury’s Reserves will be playing here next season. Will the first team be back? Maybe one day and hopefully with floodlights as this place is a real gem.


Photos from Cadbury Athletic vs Feckenham


Match Ratings:

- Match: 6/10 (fizzled out in the 2nd half)

- Value for money: 10/10 (was free!)

- Ground: 7.5/10 (such a great place)

- Atmosphere: 4/10 (ripples now and again)

- Food: 7/10 (home made rolls and a decent cup of tea)

- Programme: N/A – do issue now and then but not today

- Referee: Tom Staten – 6/10 (did the job fine)

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Bromley vs Eastleigh (08/04/14)

Match 229

Ground #: 181

Ground: Hayes Lane

Competition: Skrill South (Level 6)

Kick Off: 7:45pm

Cost: £5 (concession)

Programme: £2.50

Attendance: 1,011

Bromley 1

Swaine 45’

Eastleigh 2

Wright 17’, (pen) 58’


Fate has a weird way of working itself out. This game was meant to be played back in October when Bromley were riding high and looking like an unstoppable force in the Skrill South, it might have been a routine home win. Then however, down came the rain, in came the fixture congestion and Bromley had struggled while seeing Eastleigh rise above them in the league. This rearranged clash was now an all out title battle. Bromley having to win to keep it alive. Of course I was there.


Bromley is a district of south east London that was historically a market town until 1965 when it became part of Greater London. Bromley is first recorded in a charter of 862 as Bromleag and means 'woodland clearing where broom grows'. At this time the King of Kent, granted land to form the Manor of Bromley. It was held by the Bishops of Rochester until 1845, when Coles Child, a wealthy local merchant and philanthropist, purchased Bromley Palace and became lord of the manor. The town was an important coaching stop on the way to Hastings from London, and is referred to in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It was a quiet rural village until the arrival of the railway in 1858 in Shortlands, which led to rapid growth, and outlying suburban districts were developed to accommodate those wishing to live so conveniently close to London. It still maintains the commuter feel today as the multiple routes from Bromley into London makes it an attractive place to live.


Bromley FC were founded in 1892 and played friendly games against mainly local opposition sides in its first season. Their first competitive football came in the South London League, which was won at the first attempt. However, they moved frequently between leagues in those early days with 2 seasons in the Southern League were followed by a spell in the London League, winning the Division Two title in 1897. They finally settled down in 1952 after rejoining the Isthmian League and became a yo-yo club for the next few decades with highlights of winning the League twice, tempered with 4 relegations over this period. In 1988, they finished 2nd, behind Yeovil Town (look where they are now!) but after a romping start in 1999, where Bromley took 13 points from their first 15, they then promptly only won 4 out of the next 37 and went down.


While continuing to plod along in the Isthmian 1st Division, the introduction of the Conference South in 2004, saw Bromley effectively drop another league down to Level 8 which was the lowest in their history. They sorted this out quickly however with a play-off win in 2005, followed by another one in 2007 to start 2007/08 in the Conference South. They’ve been there since, never really looking like challenging for a promotion spot, with an 11th place finish the best they have had so far, until this season.


Bromley were doing so well at the start of the season, however their complete loss of form in March, including a late late defeat at Staines Town, has seen Eastleigh now jump above them in the table. Their form since that Staines defeat hadn’t improved with a draw at Eastbourne Borough as well as a 1-0 defeat to fellow play-off rivals Havant & Waterlooville. They were now coming into this game down in 3rd, only a point behind Sutton United. If the Ravens were not going to win the league, they may as well try and guarantee home advantage in the play-offs.


A really decent crowd had packed into Hayes Lane with over 1,000 watching this clash. The ground is one of my favourites this season with it being a mish-mash of stands and terracing. Down the far side is an uncovered, large terrace that offers a fantastic view of the whole place, while a good sized seated stand is opposite this, named The John Fiorini Stand, the former match secretary who sadly died in 2001. Behind both goals are covered stands, including one that is a true classic with wooden benches. It has been home to the club since 1938 and while it looks old, it has some modern touches that make this a fantastic ground.


So Eastleigh had travelled down with a fair few, and going into this game well clear at the top, anything other than a home win would essentially ensure that Eastleigh would be playing Conference National football next season. The Spitfires do have their detractors however with many pointing to the major financial backing that the club get compared to others in the league. Bridle Insurance Limited took over the club in 2011 and part of a 5 year plan was to get Eastleigh into the Football League. Still on target, they have signed some players with major Football League experience such as Stuart Fleetwood, Ben Strevens and Ross Flitney. With this much financial power, it probably isn’t a surprise to see the club where they are. Are Eastleigh the next Rushden & Diamonds however? Only time will tell.


Bromley knew that just playing for a draw would have been no good to them and so straight from KO, went at Eastleigh. Bradley Goldberg fired a shot off the bar within the first minute as you felt Eastleigh would have to weather some sort of SE London Alamo. Credit to Eastleigh then, for not only keeping the pace of the game up, but having a good go back at Bromley. Some difficult crosses had Bromley’s goalie Joe Welch struggling but the home side could have snatched the opening goal when Brendan Kiernan fired a shot that Ross Flitney had to save well. A goal was coming though and when Ben Wright collected Craig McAllister’s flick on to loft the ball expertly over Welch, Eastleigh could start to party. Eastleigh now were also peppering Welch’s goal as the whole defence did not look comfortable to deal with the attack. Despite this, Bromley were level right on HT. A daft free kick was given away and a perfect set piece in from Joe Anderson saw captain Rob Swaine power a header home. Maybe some life in the title race yet!


Eastleigh sensed for the 2nd half that they could finish this game off and tried to blow Bromley away by bombing forward early on. After some early decent chances, Eastleigh made the breakthrough on 58 minutes. A great run into the area from Daniel Wishart had Dean Pooley everywhere and as the home defender stuck out a lazy leg, Wishart was bundled over. Clear cut penalty. Ben Wright fired home the penalty and the title looked safe again. Bromley looked stunned but Welch kept the game alive as he brilliantly kept out Jai Reason’s glancing header. Bromley though began to put the pressure on Eastleigh to try and save themselves with the ball pinging around the box quite often. However, Flitney was rarely tested and so Eastleigh had done it. All but securing their title with that win.


It was only a matter of time and promotion for Eastleigh was confirmed on Good Friday with a 2-1 win vs Basingstoke Town. Conference National football for them for the first time in their history and it will be interesting to see how they do. The past few seasons, the Conference South winners have done fairly well before sinking back towards the way the came. Can The Spitfires buck the trend? Bromley continued to plod along with very little form in the league, seeing Sutton United looking like securing the 2nd place spot. However, it came down to the final day of the season and going to Sutton’s final game, I would be on hand to see how it panned out. Get to Hayes Lane for football sometime soon though. It’s even better under the lights.

Photos from Bromley vs Eastleigh


Match Ratings:

- Match: 5/10 (tense and nervous all round)

- Value for money: 7/10 (good standard Skrill South admission)

- Ground: 8/10 (classic ground)

- Atmosphere: 7/10 (packed in and both sets of fans made good noise)

- Food: 5/10 (was standard stuff from memory)

- Programme: 4/10 (slick and glossy, but lacked any real articles)

- Referee: David Rock – 7/10 (got on with, good calls)

BFC vs EFC prog

BFC vs EFC stub