Countywide

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Wednesday 4th March 2015 ko 19.30

Staffordshire County Senior League Division One

LEEK C.S.O.B. 4 (Bown 3 Pointon 46 57 83)

KEELE UNIVERSITY 0

Att 62

Entry FREE

Teamsheet FREE]

Tea 50p

We really should start with the obvious, it’s County School Old Boys! From a groundhopper’s perspective they were the North West Counties League club that shared at Leek Town. Most hoppers don’t seem to be interested in a ground’s second club, so for many years they sailed under many people’s radar, mine included.

All that changed with their resignation from the NWCL at the end of last season. They took their reserves place in the second tier of the Staffs County League, and moved to Pointon Park, in Cheddleton, some 4 miles south of Leek. That is where its starts getting interesting.

The major employer in Cheddleton is John Pointer Limited, a firm specialising in the sanitary disposal of food and animal waste. They wanted to build a new access road to their site, so as to allow lorries to get to the factory without driving past the houses in Bones Lane. The planning gain saw a former bus depot turned into a community sports park with a grass pitch, a 3G pitch, jogging track and a clubhouse. The £2 million facility attracted CSOB who have signed a 3 year lease to play here.

At the start of the season that added up to a roped-off pitch with a modern clubhouse, but in the last few weeks floodlights have been added too. That meant this game as the opener under lights, and two more will follow on the next two Wednesdays.

So the normal faithful were augmented by the inevitable cornucopia of groundhoppers, and the club did well from sales of drinks and pasties, and the one-off teamsheets were greatly appreciated.

On the pitch its proving to be an excellent season for them. 13 games played with 12 wins points to promotion, even if a fixture backlog means they’re only 3rd! Certainly on this cold evening they had far too much for a competent Keele side. Star of the show was Jamie Pointon (is he any relation to the factory behind?) whose hat-trick was the cream on the cake of a solid all-round team performance.

There was one nasty moment though. Just after the second goal, the lights on one side of the pitch tripped out, it seems due to someone switching on the lights for the 3G pitch behind. It wasn’t a difficult problem to solve, the lights were switched off for 10 minutes to cool, but the reactions of some of the hoppers was quite entertaining. It all boiled down to whether you count an abandonment as a completed game. If only CSOB had known, they’d have seen a few of those present next Wednesday!

Dark Times

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Tuesday 12th February 2008 ko 19.45

Northern Premier League Division One North

ROSSENDALE UNITED 0

BAMBER BRIDGE 1 (Salmon 36)

Att 146

Entry £7

Programme £1.50

A week or two I told the sad story of Mile Oak Rovers & Youth and how gut-wrenching it was to be at their final ever game. This tale also ends with the club’s extinction but the reason for the club’s demise proved to be more complicated.

Rossendale is a borough in Lancashire, consisting of a clutch of mill villages in the Blackburn and Burnley area. In this quitessentially footballing hotbed the club played in Dark Lane, Newchurch, near Rawtenstall. They were formed in 1898 and worked their way through the Lancashire Combination, the Cheshire League, and into the North-West Counties League. Continue reading

Vital Signs

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Saturday 28th February 2015 ko 14.30

Anglian Combination Division Two

BECCLES CAXTON 3 (Gorbould 18 Hume 42 Scriven 64)

WELLS TOWN 5 (Brewster 9secs 85 Harrison 55 Moss 68 78)

Att 9

Entry & Programme £2

As you clock up the ground visits, you soon pick up on the clubs that are in crisis. There’s the vital signs you see the absence of, the club taking a series of beatings, the quick turnover of players, the down-at-heel feel of the ground. You turn up, you commiserate, you watch the game, and you leave with a heavy heart.

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Individuality

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Wednesday 25th February 2015 ko 19.30

Western League Division One

CHARD TOWN 1 (Chlopecki 38)

ROMAN GLASS ST GEORGE 2 (Hamilton-Dunn 42 88)

Att 62

Entry £5

Programme £1

When groundhoppers talk over a pint, often its ground quirks that dominate the conversation. If the topic of sloping pitches comes up you soon find out who’s been to Chard or not. Put simply the ground at Zembard Lane is the slope to which all other slopes are compared.

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The Mini Driver

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Tuesday 24th February 2015 ko 19.45

Hampshire Premier League Cup Semi-Final

BAFFINS MILTON ROVERS 3 (Watts 18 Couzens 47 Burnley 90)

WINCHESTER CASTLE 0 Pickett sent off 90 (2nd booking)

Att 36 at Liss Athletic

Sometimes when I reflect on what I’ve watched and where I’ve been I do spot an obvious pattern. Here for a variety of reasons I’ve seen quite a bit of the Wessex League and its footprint. Perhaps its because its easy enough to reach, just a blast down the heartily boring A34, but you know what that means though, time to seek out the little gems somewhere else!

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Diverse Relations

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Wednesday 18th February 2015 ko 19.45

United Counties League Division One

BUCKINGHAM TOWN 1 (Cleere 81)

NORTHAMPTON O.N. CHENECKS 4 (Underwood 47 75 Hancock 65 Ogden 88)

Att 50

Entry £4

Programme £1

Life hasn’t been easy to Buckingham Town, from their high point of Southern League membership and their 1985 FA Cup 1st round tie at home to Orient, the succeeding years have been characterised by a near constant struggle. They were relegated back into the United Counties League in 1998 knowing that the road down to Ford Meadow was too narrow for them to be promoted back. Continue reading

Questions & Answers

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Tuesday 17th February 2015 ko 19.45

Portsmouth Senior Cup Semi-Final

PETERSFIELD TOWN 3 (McEnery 19 Read 42 Howes 50)

UNITED SERVICES PORTSMOUTH 0

Att c80

Entry £5

Programme £1

For a town a mere 12 miles north of Portsmouth, Petersfield isn’t half tucked away. Perhaps its the twisting A272 from Winchester that gives that impression, clearly the A3 would have been a better idea! It’s a genteel place, with an internal ring road, and a level crossing serving to slow the pace of life down as the traffic stops to let Portsmouth Harbour-bound trains in to the town station. Continue reading

Local Intrigue

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Saturday 14th February 2015 ko 13.30

Oxfordshire FA Intermediate Cup Semi-Final

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS RESERVES 3 (Bicknell 43 58 Clarke 87)

BERINSFIELD 5 (Palmer 22 Ingram 54 62 Saunders 97 D Murphy 108) Hammond sent off 72 (2nd booking)

Att 25 at Oxford Spires Academy, Glanville Road, Oxford

Entry FREE

No Programme

I should start by declaring a vested interest in this game. Berinsfield play in the North Berkshire League, I organise that league’s annual groundhop, and I have a lot of friends both at the league, and at Lay Avenue. If you are looking for an unbiased view for this game I fear you’ve stumbled on to the wrong blog! Apart from anything else Berinsfield seem rather proud of the fact the hop game they staged still holds the record for the highest attendance in North Berks’ hop history- 251. I would point out though that ever since I’ve been trying to beat it!

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Ticking almost every box

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Friday 13th February 2015 ko 20.06

Women’s International Friendly

ENGLAND 0

UNITED STATES 1 (Morgan 25)

Att 14,369 at StadiumMK, Bletchley (MK Dons FC)

Entry- Comp’

Programme £3

The groundhopping purist tends to have a long list of what they won’t go to see. Amongst that list is friendlies, women’s fixtures, games at a stadium that aren’t the home club’s home fixture, and of course there’s always the vexed question of the MK Dons. There’s few who would try to defend the uprooting of the old Wimbledon to Buckinghamshire, but the club that built StadiumMK is certainly flourishing, and the stadium is by anyone’s standards a fantastic edifice, designed as it is by HOK, who also were behind Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. Nevertheless, there are still plenty who would fall into the “Never forgive, never forget,” camp so short of there being no programme, the teams being reserves, and the game finishing goalless this was a close as you can get to the ultimate “Irk the purist” game!

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Without Prejudice

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Wednesday 11th February 2015 ko 19.30

Welsh League Division Two

ABERBARGOED BUDS 1 (McCarthy 50)

CWMBRAN CELTIC 1 (Thomas 7)

Att c60

Entry £5

Programme £1

I wish there were more teams with lights in the Welsh League, I could enjoy mid-week fixtures here a lot more often. It takes my mind back to happy days when the Welsh Groundhop dealt in the cards of the Welsh League and the South Wales Amateur league. We tried to pronounce the likes of Ynysddu, and Blaenrhondda, and quaffed pint after pint in the Otley Arms in Trefforest. As one half of GroundhopUK, we will return to the Valleys one day, and the imminent merger of the Amateur and Senior Leagues will help that process.

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