The Bigger Picture

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Thursday 24th July 2014 ko 19.30

Pre-Season Friendly

ABINGDON TOWN 1 (Lightwood 75)

OXFORD UNITED XI 10 (O’Dowda 16 Long 27 52 56 Roberts 32 45 Bevans 35 Culley 64 Hawtin 87)

Att c350

Entry & Programme £5

So Oxford United’s development squad ran up 10 goals against a North Berkshire League outfit, and genuinely that isn’t the story at all. In Oxfordshire few clubs have fallen as rapidly and as far as Town in recent years. I remember seeing Town playing in the Isthmian League Division One (then just 2 promotions from the Football League) but now find themselves, in theory, seven promotions from their guests’ status. But where did it all go wrong?

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What we did on our holidays

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Wednesday 23rd July 2014 ko

Pre-Season Friendly

AEK-BOCO 2 (Kitson 41 72)

CADBURY HEATH 2 (Tongue 10 Huxley 44)

Att 78

Entry FREE

No Programme

My appearance at this was purely based to London-based Mark Wilkins. We were watching Coventry United the previous day, and I asked Mark where he was going the next day. He replied, and once I’d established they were a team from Hanham in Bristol, and not a Nigerian Islamic terrorist group I decided to join him. Continue reading

Just Wanna Play

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Tuesday 22nd July 2014 ko 18.45

Pre-Season Friendly

COVENTRY UNITED 1 (Stokes 52) Nduna missed penalty 43

BRINKLOW 3 (Cawley 13 90 Nelson 67p)

Att 47 at Keresley RUFC, John E Radford Fields, Burrow Hill Lane, Corley

Entry FREE

No Programme

This was one of those grounds you can’t visit for football during the normal season, but with the pitch at Allard Way being reseeded, the club moved this fixture to Keresley, a village right on the northern edge of the Coventry conurbation. Its a rural location, even the undulating pitch showed signs of its former use as strip-farmed agriculture.  As it so often the case with a rugby union ground, the facilities are mostly in the clubhouse, there was no rope, rail, or stand, but to be fair to the egg-chasers, this was the furthest pitch from the clubhouse. And on a warm evening, what facilities did you need anyway? Continue reading

Fly Past

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Saturday 19th July 2014 ko 15.00

Pre-Season Friendly

GUILDFORD CITY 1 (Baker 27) Spencer missed penalty 70

LINGFIELD 2 (O’Hara 41 Abraham 80)

Att c20 at the Mytchett Centre

Entry FREE

Programme – Don’t be daft

I’m not sure why City opted to play this away from the Spectrum Centre, perhaps athletics takes precedence in July. Either way it offered up the chance to watch a game at a location not normally used for Saturday football to my knowledge. Mytchett is near Farnborough, it’s where Rudolph Hess was imprisoned in Camp Z in 1941. The camp had been specially set up for his arrival with heavy security and bugging devices, and he stayed there for 13 months.

This would have been a completely run-of-the-mill pre-season friendly but for one detail, and that became obvious when nearing the ground I espied something in my rear-view mirror. Continue reading

Four Laps, Clutch Start

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Friday 18th July 19.30

British Elite League

COVENTRY BEES 52 (Andersen 12+1 Jepson Jensen 11+1)

BELLE VUE ACES 39 (Zagar 10 Nielsen 9)

Entry £17

Programme £2.50

In another life I could have easily become a speedway hopper, the Oxford Cheetahs’ Sandy Lane track was a cycle ride away during my youth, and once one of us learned to drive there was the likes of the Reading Racers, the Milton Keynes Knights, the Cradley Heathens, Swindon Robins, Wolverhampton Wolves, and Poole Pirates all within a reasonably straightforward drive. But if you wanted a match at a big stadium with a sense of history you went to Brandon Stadium. My hey-day was the late eighties and nineties I suppose, but times change.

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Sunset

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Tuesday 15th July 2014 ko 19.30

Pre-season Friendly

UNITED SERVICES PORTSMOUTH 2 (Coker 9 Dark 26)

FAREHAM TOWN 5 (Neal 22 Houks 53og Robinson 55 A T Rialist 83 90)

Att 13 at 3G pitch HMS Temeraire, Portsmouth

Entry FREE

Programme- You are joking aren’t you?

I visited USP’s Victory Stadium around 4 years ago, and it too is in HMS Temeraire, near Portmouth Docks. There’s no great security here, just a contracted-out guard, who seemed to be about as interested in me as I was in him! When I found out about this fixture, two things immediately struck me, firstly that I now had the camera to do the backdrop justice, and secondly that I was banned!

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Self-Esteem

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Saturday 10th July 2014 ko 14.00

Pre-season Friendly

FARNBOROUGH 1 (Lucas Enrique 77)

OXFORD UNITED 2 (Roberts 71 Ashby 76)

Att 278

Entry £10

Programme £1.50

Sometimes you re-visit a ground and find the place almost completely different from your previous visit. My first visit to Cherrywood Road, I’m sorry but I can’t get used to Paddy Power Park, was during Graham Westley’s time as owner/manager here. Continue reading

Death of a 1000 passes

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Thursday 10th July 2014 ko 18.45

Europa League 1st Qualifying Round

BANGOR CITY 0

STJARNAN FC 4 (Rauschenberg 53 Bjorgvinsson 61 81 A Johannsson 85)

Agg 0-8

Att 805

Entry £14

Programme £3

Let’s be honest here, I’d waited far too long to visit the Welsh club’s new home on the banks of the Menai straits. But the decision to wait proved to be a good one, as a competitive game this time of year is not to be sniffed at, and I’d never watched a side from Iceland either!

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Two-and-a-half Percent

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Sunday 6th July 2014 ko 16.00

League of Ireland Premier Division

ATHLONE TOWN 0

DERRY CITY 1 (P McEleney 20)

Att 354

Entry €15

Programme €3

Badge €3

NB. The Irish tour’s cost of £285 included entry into all the 3 games, and programmes, all transport, all excursions, and 3 nights bed and breakfast at Dublin City University

The relaxed nature of the weekend was neatly summed up by its final day. A leisurely breakfast was followed by a trip west to Athlone for a boat trip on the Shannon. It turned out to be a mecca for the birdwatchers, and for the boat a chance to meet two residents of its birthplace Southend-on-sea! Even the RNLI badge was still attached!

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Here, There & Everywhere

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Saturday 5th July 20145 ko 19.45

League of Ireland Division One

LONGFORD TOWN 3 (O’Sullivan 65 81 Shaw 79) G. O’Connor sent off 62 (dangerous play)

SHELBOURNE 0 McDonagh sent off 62 (violent conduct)

Att 780

Entry €10

Programme €3

Badge €5

NB. The Irish tour’s cost of £285 included entry into all the 3 games, and programmes, all transport, all excursions, and 3 nights bed and breakfast at Dublin City University

The great advantage of a day with just the one match to see is that the rest of your time is a blank canvas. There was time for a leisurely, if large breakfast before the coach headed north to the pretty seaside town of Skerries, In fact you could trace the coast north and see over the border to Northern Ireland. Continue reading

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