Cagefighter

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Saturday 18th April 2015 ko 15.00

Midland League Division Two

COVENTRY UNITED 1 (Stokes 80p)

BARNT GREEN SPARTAK 1 (Semple 44)

Att 98 at “The Cage” Alan Higgs Centre, Allard Way

Entry FREE

Programme £1.50

Badge £2

As the patrons walked across the car park towards the caged grass pitch at the side of the Alan Higgs Leisure centre they walked past a minibus decorated in full Coventry City insignia. It served as a salutary reminder to all on how tenuous a club’s links to its roots can be with City only recently returned after a period in exile in Northampton.

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Show me the way

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Wednesday 15th April 2015 ko 18.30

Gloucestershire County League

CHELTENHAM CIVIL SERVICE 0

FRAMPTON UNITED 0

Att 104

Entry FREE

Programme £1.50

In an odd way, the roots of the club aren’t in Cheltenham. The Civil Service suffix refers to GCHQ which used to be based near Swakeleys Junction, Hillingdon. The football club was formed there in 1948 and when the Government Communications HeadQuarters moved to Cheltenham in 1953 the club (and half the team) relocated with it. They moved to their current home at Tewkesbury Road, Uckington, at Cheltenham’s western edge in 1954, and the club renamed itself from GCHQ in 1957 as players from other parts of the Civil Service locally were representing the club. Continue reading

Ambitions

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Monday 13th April 2015 ko 18.30

Hampshire Premier League, Senior Division

AFC STONEHAM 1 (Forbes 48)

HAMBLE CLUB 3 (Thomson 5 90 Watts 35)

Att 71

Entry FREE

No Programme

When you visit a few grounds in a particular league, you start to get a feel for that league. And then a club comes along that completely changes that perception and that club for me was AFC Stoneham. Continue reading

Stand By Me

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Saturday 11th April 2015 k0 19.00

North Berkshire League Cup Final

FARINGDON TOWN “A” 0

WALLINGFORD TOWN RESERVES 2 (Bone 32 Marks 59)

Att 180 at “The Heights” Potash Lane, Milton Heights (Milton United FC)

Entry and Programme £3

I don’t think I’ve ever been so surprised as when an email from NBFL media officer Phil Annets plopped into my in-tray inviting me to present the trophies at this final. I mean, why.. yes I know I’ve been behind 4 successful groundhops in the NBFL, one in rather trying circumstances, but it is only 4 and the previous day I watched Bill Gosling present the trophies on the back of 50 years service!

But if it was the reward for those hops, then credit should go to the other half of GroundhopUK Chris Berezai, and all those committeemen, and the legions of volunteers who’ve made the idea come to life. I found myself thinking of the likes of Josh Nathanielz, Jackie Cullen, Jon Radcliffe, Taff Blackshaw, Ian Stonham and Lindsay Mudie as I parked up.

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Shoot Out

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Saturday 11th April 2015 ko 14.30

North Berkshire League Division One

KINTBURY RANGERS 4 (Allsop 8 11 30 Thorp 30)

BERINSFIELD 5 (Ingram 18p 65p Palmer 41 D Murphy 59 Rawlings 84)

Att 85

Entry FREE

No Programme

With my presence requested at the North Berkshire League Cup Final at Milton United later, my choice of afternoon games was rather limited. But serendipity can be wonderful thing, as I received word from Berinsfield assistant manager Nathan Frost that this game was going to be a shoot-out for the title. Yes I’d visited the ground as part of the Hellenic Hop in 2005 but this game had the potential to be a cracker. But great games on paper seldom turn to be classics do they? Continue reading

Don’t Mention…

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Friday 10th April 2015 ko 19.30

North Berkshire League- War Memorial Cup Final

EAST HENDRED 1 (Mason 35og)

BURGHCLERE 2 (Gannon 22 Smallridge 32)

Att 267 at Alfredian Park, Wantage (Wantage Town FC)

Entry & Programme £3

I’m tempted to start with this one with a similar line to the one I used when I attended the 2012 final here, in fact lets do just that,

That’s right folks, a measly three quid. I mean, what of significance can you buy for £3 these days? Of course, if you like the NBFL it buys you a fantastic evening’s entertainment.”

A fair amount of water has flown under the bridge since then, Berinsfield are Division One big-boys, whilst Sutton Courtenay are under new management and are having mixed fortunes in Division 2.

For me, the big change was what it all meant to me, back then we’d done one NBFL hop and I was still learning about the league, and them me. Now I get to share a joke with the committeemen manning the gate, and the gaggle of us at the half-way time consisting of referee, the committee, and the groundhop organiser can watch the game and chew the fat. We never did come up with answer to “What is the collective noun for referees?”

The competition is for first XI’s of clubs outside of the NBFL’s top division; its an unusual arrangement, but it does produce good finals, and this one was no exception. It pitched last year’s losing finalists East Hendred, trying to win the final at their fourth attempt, against Burghclere only in their second season in the NBFL.

Perhaps the weight of that history weighed heavily on East Hendred, as Burghclere raced out of the traps and were good value for their 2-0 lead. As a neutral the own goal made the tie interesting, but Burghclere’s defence looked solid and despite a late rally from East Hendred, Burghclere held for a deserved victory.

But as I left I glanced back at the throng still enjoying themselves. Just look at that crowd, the advantage I have watching as varied a diet of football as I do, is I see its significance. How many leagues can pull in an attendance to watch two sides nominally EIGHT promotions from the Football League? People keep telling me non-league football is dying, not in this league it isn’t, you just have a league that does things properly here, but anyone who’s turned up the hop games each September knew that already!

This Sporting Life

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Wednesday 8th April 2015 ko 18.15

North Bucks & District League Premier Division

BRACKLEY SPORTS 0 Hirons missed penalty 27

SYRESHAM 3 (Markham 11 Watts 17 Allen 20)

Att 44

Entry FREE

Nothing for Sale

I do like visiting a town’s second club, you tend to either see a studied indifference to the bigger club or the frustration of a one-sided rivalry. In the case of Brackley Sports its the former, even though the floodlights of Brackley Town’s St James Park are clearly visible from Sports home at the Recreation Centre. Continue reading

Success

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Tuesday 7th April 2015 ko 18.15

Cheltenham Association Football League- Division One

WHADDON UNITED (Winter 9 Hackett 13)

KINGS FC 0

Att 46

Entry FREE

Nothing for sale

It has so be said that this has been a particularly bad season for football in Cheltenham. Cheltenham Town are rock bottom of the Football League and racing certainties to return to non-league, and other local sides Bishops Cleeve and Cheltenham Saracens are also in deep relegation trouble too. In fact you have to look to local football to find any great success, and the great irony is that the success is to be found right opposite Cheltenham Town’s Whaddon Road ground. Continue reading

Worship

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Saturday 4th April 2015 ko 19.30

Northern Counties East League Division One

PENISTONE CHURCH 0 Howes sent off (2nd booking) 70

PONTEFRACT COLLIERIES 7 (Danville 15 Radford 33 Moxam 34 56 Catton 74 Lindley 89 Whitehouse 90)

Att 511

Entry £5

Programme £1.50

We didn’t have much time as tired minds made for the foothills of the Peninnes, and the club new to the NCEL for this season. It was good to see the man in his day-glo jacket directing us in, and the staff on the gate shepherding the coach passengers through the pre-paid ticket gate. “A team sheet? Just go the table to the left of the clubhouse?” As organiser you just love it when all that planning and preparation bears fruit! Continue reading

Imagine

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Saturday 4th April 2015 ko 16.45

Northern Counties East League Premier Division

SHAW LANE AQUAFORCE 1 (Denton 38)

HEANOR TOWN 0

Att 344

Entry £5

Programme £1.50

Imagine if you will, you were from Barnsley and a keen Sheffield Wednesday fan. You’ve started and built a successful water meter business, so you decide to rent an executive box at Hillsborough. You’ve won the game of life, and are metaphorically munching the prawn sandwiches at your favourite club, but there’s something missing.

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