What About Me

But it’s alright you know
I really don’t mind that you know

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GAME OF THE WEEK

Wembley 3 Broadfields United 0

The Buildbase FA Vase 1st Round Proper

Attendance: 44

Gate: £5

Programme: £2

Thanks to another Virgin Trains Sale I was off to London.

After a quick look at the fixtures I picked a game, contacted the club concerned and never received the courtesy of a reply. So on Thursday I decided to change my mind, struggling to find a league match that grabbed me I remembered it was FA Vase weekend. Off to the site of the racists who run our game I scanned through the fixtures and one name jumped out straight away. Wembley. Sorted.

Excellent journey down to London (first class, got to love these sales) and Underground across to Sudbury Town, Vale Farm is a 10 minutes stroll away. When you turn off the road and down a driveway you are met by the clubhouse, with the turnstiles suddenly appearing on your left. In the cubicle was sat a wonderful gent who I had a nice chat with. My ignorance got the better of me and I didn’t get his name. Apologies sir and thank you for your time.

I love older grounds. Prefer any ground that is made up of different parts than something fresh with the flat pack stands. Wembley FCs home is a prime example of the latter, especially on the clubhouse side. Three sides of the ground have cover, the sides with seats, one end, to the north, is open standing, at which is the food bar where you can get a pretty decent burger and chips. In the distance you can see the arch of Wembley Stadium. Home to the bunch of buffoons who do their best to ruin our game.

Storm Brian blew threw North London throughout the game and made conditions hard to play in and on a number of occasions the wind took the ball away from its intended target. A pretty even first half saw Wembley cope better with the conditions and this showed in the number and quality of chances they created compared to United. Tyrer the right full-back/wing back/winger stood out as did Sabti who added a touch of class to proceedings. It was Sabti that gave his team the lead after 25 minutes when good play on the left led to the ball being cut back from the byeline, Sabti ome from 15 yards, 1-0 to the Lions.

The visitors nickname is the ‘Fighting Cocks’ and they certainly came out and gave it a fight in the second half. They controlled the game in terms of possession and territory but again struggled to create clear cut chances. Wembley looked dangerous on the break, when the forwards stayed onside they looked like adding to their single goal. Their second came on the break as Osborne pounced on a loose ball and slotted into an empty goal, it was harsh on United but class was showing.

Broadfields continued to push forward and as the game moved almost permanently into the Wembley half they gave it a bloody good go. A point blank save from Spinks by the hosts keeper Zulmatashvilli stopped United from having a chance of a comeback before with 10 minutes remaining Sabti finished off a move at the far post giving Faley in goal no chance.

In added on time a poor challenge from Edwards led to mass handbags, saw the referee try to break the world whistling record and ultimately after a thousand blasts on said whistle a red card for the blues number 5.

Back onto the tube to Euston, first class seats on Virgin Trains with the Macclesfield Town team. I arrived home after thoroughly enjoying a day out at Wembley in the FA Vase.

ADDED ON

A planned trip to Sandbach United was cancelled last minute due to traffic, off to Brookburn Road for my twelfth visit, and ultimately seventh defeat out of that 12, a kind of statistic that will get me barred. I was in the company of Mr Wilks, slowly introducing him to the grounds of the non league world, and in the presence of Mr I Breeze-Block, though he was hob-nobbing it with non league royalty.

Weird game really. West had most of the ball but Barlick looked the more dangerous side, an early header from Cavanagh gave the visitors the lead and whilst West had chances to pull level they were foiled either by their own quality or the defending of their opponents. The game was settled late on by Hill. His free-kick curled round a crumbling wall giving Ashley no chance in goal.

A deserved win for Barlick.

GAMES

Wed: West Didsbury & Chorlton 0 Barnoldswick Town 2

Sat: Wembley 3 Broadfields United 0

FACTS

Games: 429

Goals:  1464

Grounds: 203

Games since a 0-0: 42

Milestone: None

Random Fact: The Wembley match was my lowest attendance of the season.

SOUNDTRACK

The Cribs – The Cribs

Pleasantly Disturbed

Think of a colour
Tell me what you see
That colour’s red
You can take it from me

GAME OF THE WEEK

Altrincham 3 Halesowen Town 0

The Evo-Stik Premier Division

Attendance: 808

Gate: £10

Programme: Unsure, forgot to get one

Due to an engagement in the evening, off to watch the excellent comedian Paul Chowdry, I had to stay local. A scan of all the nearby fixtures, I thought to myself that I hadn’t been to Moss Lane for a while, just shy of 8 months, and Alty were hitting a bit of form. No-brainer.

On a unseasonally warm afternoon the 245 carried me from Urmston to the centre of Altrincham and a 10 minutes stroll later I was at Moss Lane. I had been here 6 times before and quite incredibly for the run of form they have had in this period, I had yet to see them lose at home.

A ground for the those of us who love the older things in life. Well most of it is. The main side with it’s fairly brand new hall, less new main stand and family/sponsors stand looks fairly ok. Going in an anti-clockwise direction there is an open terrace, followed by my favourite part of the ground. The Popular Side Terrace is covered. A mixture of posts, scaffolding and anything else they could lay their hands on, it is a gem. Love it. The final end has covered standing and the home fans can make a fair noise when they get going from here.

So, on to the first half. Only there is not much to say at all. It was pretty shocking if I am honest. Best forgotten as quickly as is humanly possible.

Right, on to half-time, which although nothing happened was more bearable than the opening 45 minutes.

Whatever was said at half-time, in particular to the home team, worked. Straight from the off there was pace and purpose, this wasn’t the same team I had seen 15 minutes earlier. In less than a minute the Robins were 1-0 up. Neat play on the right, Hancock played in, finished low and hard into the far corner. That is why Alty are flying.

With that, the game sprang into life, the reds were bossing the game, Poole went close before a strange penalty decision. A Yeltz defender was caught ball watching in the area as a forward pinched the ball off his toes and was tripped by another defender, only the ball went out to the wing. The official signalled advantage. Yes, advantage. As the whole ground thought ‘What?’ He realised his error and correctly gave the spot-kick. Johnston tucked it away.

A pattern of play had been established now and continued until the final whistle, Alty controlling the game, creating chances whilst Town were left to breaking away, that said, if it wasn’t for two good stops by Thompson in the home goal they would have rather unfairly been back in the match.

Finally with just under 10 minutes remaining it was 3-0 as Poole finished with ease as Alty toyed with the Yeltz back line. What a difference half-time made.

ADDED ON

I took my pal James to Maine Road on Monday for his first ever visit. It was my 21st. After Road hit the post early on it was Padiham who then took control. Taking the lead just after the quarter of an hour to a goal officially scored by Boyle. Looked like an own goal by the keeper to me.

The teams swapped chances and went close a couple of times before the interval. In the second half the Storks took control, Craig missed a glorious chance with a header before he slotted his sides second. With the visitors in total control the hosts pulled one back with a dozen or so minutes left. A cross from the left was turned into his own goal by Holden,

Step up Hart, picking up a ball around the halfway line, he ran 20 or so yards before chipping the keeper to perfection. Absolute class. Take a bow son. 3-1 game over.

For the second Friday in a row I was starting the weekend the right way. Over to Prestwich with the father-in-law on a windy evening. Both teams went for this one and to be fair I cannot think of a time when I have seen either in anything less than an entertaining match. Chaddy smashed one against the bar early on with the keeper beaten all ends up, Heys were slightly the better side when they took the lead on the half hour through Bruce.

A second followed through White from the penalty spot, a fairly soft award from the officials handing the hosts a 2 goal advantage at the break. Chaddy did have the ball in the net at the end of the half but it was ruled out for offside, coming in a spell where the visitors were on top.

Following the break Heys continued to dominate, Baguley put them 3-0 up on the hour and then Chaddy sprang into life. Son of the England International Scholes thumped a header home 3 minutes later, Iloube added a second for the visitors 5 minutes after that, Chaddy were flying.

For the next 10 minutes it only looked like a matter of time before Chadderton equalised, chances were coming, one had to be taken, surely? No. Heys added a fourth and could breathe again, Bruce claiming his second.

Most of the second half was spent in the company of Alan and Mark Riding, father and son combo from 1874 Northwich, who tried (and failed) to find a successful manager who has played under Fergie. Don’t try, there isn’t one.

GAMES

Mon: Maine Road 1 Padiham 3

Fri: Prestwich Heys 4 Chadderton 2

Sat: Altrincham 3 Halesowen Town 0

FACTS

Games: 427

Goals:  1459

Grounds: 202

Games since a 0-0: 40

Milestone: 750th Home goal – Bruce (Prestwich Heys)

SOUNDTRACK

Life in a Day – Simple Minds

Pressure

Gotta keep it up, keep it up
Keep up the pressure

GAME OF THE WEEK

Montrose 1 Queen of the South 3 aet (1-1 after 90 minutes)

IRN-BRU Cup Round 3

Attendance: 534

Gate: £15

Programme: £2

Since the news filtered through in the Bobbins household that my much better half (think …..) was off to London for the weekend with her mother I was on my laptop planning and plotting. First thoughts were ‘bugger it is international weekend’, before I noticed it was IRN-BRU cup weekend. Where could I get to that was different for me. Only one stood out. Montrose v Queen of the South.

Everything booked, I was to Angus.

In My I went to Dundee United, the train journey to Tayside is a beautiful journey, the added part is every bit as spectacular. I also now need to get to Arbroath, looks an amazing ground. Alighting with amazing views over Montrose Basin, I made my way to The Little Mermaid chippy for an excellent lunch of fish and chips.

Off to Links Park, the home of the Gable Endies and a ground that is close to the 5th oldest golf course in the world, see educational as well as entertainment! Entry is behind the goal to the west. Opposite and to the North is the open standing area, a Main Stand to the south is a modern covered seating structure, my favourite part of the ground is the West Stand. terracing under cover with a great little extra bit in the corner.

One thing I love about this competition, the sides come out, none of that phoney handshake malarkey and we kick-off. No messing about, game underway. Get on with it. Brilliant.

Once underway it was difficult to spot which side was a couple of divisions above the other, which is all credit to Montrose. They turned up and gave it everything. Missing a golden chance early on when McLaren could not turn a rebound home, they continued to have a go, meanwhile the Doonhamers started to gain a foothold with Dobbie of Swansea City and Blackpool fame causing trouble.

Midway through the half the hosts took the lead, Masson scoring with a low effort from just inside the box. As the visitors gained more of a foothold, Fleming was called into making a point blank save and was saved by his crossbar not long before the half ended.

Due to an injury Dykes came on for Queen of the South at the restart, his performance raised the question as to why he hadn’t started. Lively, causing the opposition trouble and testing Fleming. The pressure was being cranked up and up as the half went on. The home fans getting nervy especially as McFadden, who would 24 hours later be a pundit in the Sky Sports studio for the Scotland match, came on and added even more class.

With the clock ticking towards 89 minutes the pressure told as the ball sat up nicely for Dobbie, his finish showed he had not lost his touch, great finish from 20 yards, Fleming had no chance.

So, an extra 30 minutes. There are times when you are happy with this, times when you are not. This was certainly the former.

Both sides went close in the first 15 minutes, the woodwork saving the visitors, the keeper denying them. The second period of extra-time belonged to Queen of the South as experience and fitness told. Dykes latched on to a through ball rounded the impressive Fleming and finished, before right at the death Dobbie got his second from a seemingly impossible angle. 3-1 the final score. Harsh on Montrose that.

Back to the train station and back to Glasgow. Could do with some of that girder strength they have in IRN-BRU to get me through the journey, or I could just have a kip. I picked the zzzzz’s.

ADDED ON

I have started to take the father-in-law on a tour of some of the best (and worst) grounds locally and after waxing lyrical about Winsford United’s home the plan was made to visit when Runcorn Town were the opponents on Monday night.

In all my years of being at football, many of them as a fan, but now some 400+ games as a neutral I have never seen such an awful refereeing performance. His assistant on the main stand side was not much better. To say they favoured the league leaders would be an under statement. They got the vast majority of decisions, were let off with numerous indiscretions, the main culprit being Joseph Holt. He could have been booked 8 times that I can remember, his skipper was not too far behind, neither shown a single caution, in fact I cannot think of a team-mate getting one either. Very disappointing behaviour, shocking officiating. Oh yes, they won 4-2.

Wednesday it was up a few levels to the National League and a second trip to Prenton Park and Tranmere Rovers v Leyton Orient. As Football League clubs continue to drift down slowly, games like this become more of a norm in non-league.

Raining all evening, it was the O’s who took the lead through Harrold midway through the opening 45, only for Cook to equalise minutes later sliding home a loose ball into an unguarded net. Following the half-time break the game was pretty much all one way, and with 20 minutes left it was no surprise when Rovers took the lead, Norwood nodding home from close range. 3 points to Tranmere, myself and Mr Wilks back up the M56.

So. On to Scotland. Friday off work. Early train north despite Northern Rail’s best efforts to stop me getting to Warrington, Virgin rounded off a miserable trip with very poor service on the train. Never mind, I was in Glasgow, in my hotel and soon looking to head west for Dumbarton.

Train from Queen Street took little time in getting to Dumbarton East and the ground is little more than a 5 minutes walk from there. If in doubt head for the bloody big hill. It’s right next to that. My 201st ground and a little bit of weird one. In the shadow of Dumbarton Rock with the castle on top you feel it should be a great setting. Sadly the one and only stand faces away from the view. Three sides just have a fence around them, you feel as though the club have missed a trick with the design and layout.

Stranraer came to have a go at their hosts, but it was the Sons game from the off really, after a couple of close shaves for the visitors, Barr did well to control a ball in the area and finish from close range. An injury to the hosts keeper led to a substitution on the half hour and the lead was preserved with ease to the break.

Stranraer gave it a good go after the break but they were missing that clear cut chance, with 25 minutes left Stewart powered in a header for Dumbarton’s second and the tie was over. Or was it? Still Stranraer came forward, chances started to come more often but they couldn’t take them. That was until with virtually the last kick off the match when substitute Okoh fired in from inside a crowded box.

I headed back off into the drizzling night air and my return to Glasgow City Centre.

GAMES

Mon: Winsford United 2 Runcorn Town 4

Wed: Tranmere Rovers 2 Leyton Orient 1

Fri: Dumbarton 2 Stranraer 0

Sat: Montrose 1 Queen of the South 3 (aet)

FACTS

Games: 424

Goals:  1446

Grounds: 202

Games since a 0-0: 37

Milestone: 100th goal of the season – Dykes (Queen of the South)

SOUNDTRACK

Connected – Stereo MCs

Lisbon

‘You’re gonna look at me twice, it’s eventual’

GAME OF THE WEEK

Glasgow Celtic 2 Hibernian 2

Ladbrokes Premiership

Attendance: 59,259

Gate: £35

Programme: £3

A figure like 200 requires something special. Very special.

So for my 200th ground, I wanted to do something a bit over the top compared to where I usually go. So I put together a list and there was one standout option. Glasgow Celtic. Parkhead. Home of the Lisbon Lions. First British side to win the European Cup. A club with a special history.

Ticket bought over the old internet, I had decided to pay the extra few quid for a padded seat and would be watching the game from the Jock Stein Stand. First of all though I had to get there. Setting off from home at 9am in the company of my pal Mr Wilks, we were soon driving through sun then rain, then sun again and then rain again. Stopping for refreshments en route a couple of times we arrived in the East End of Scotland’s biggest city.

Parked up we headed to the ground, had a walk around, headed to the club shop, had a gander and then parted for the game. Yes, we were sat in opposite stands. Don’t like him that much!

Once inside Parkhead the buzz grew, even whilst I was having a drink on the concourse, the music was playing. This place is special. Out to my seat, soaked up the atmosphere and waited for the afternoon to unfold. A version of ‘Dirty Old Town’ was played, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ was belted out by the fans and finally the teams come out. Followed by the home boss, to a big cheer, then followed by old boss, Neil Lennon, returning to Celtic for the first time as a visiting boss, cue massive cheer.

Situated at the opposite end to me, in the railed seating (standing) area are the fantastic Green Brigade. They never stopped singing, waving flags. I need to be in this end at some point of my life.

Attacking the end hosting the ‘Green Brigade’ the hoops started the better, though Hibs were obviously not over awed and attacked when they could rather than just sitting back. Half chances were appearing at both ends. Celtic struck first, Dembele holding the ball up until McGregor arrived on the scene, controlled the pass and dispatched the ball into the back of the net, 1-0.

Efforts straight at the keepers were swapped before the best chance of the game, Boyle was put clean through, running 40 yards he was just about to pull the trigger when somehow Boyata had got back and prevented the equaliser.

Things got even better at half-time. Picking out the winning ticket was Coolio. Brilliant!

Second half saw the introduction of Sinclair for the largely ineffective Edouard, but apart from one effort from the sub, it was the visitors that had taken the game by the scruff of its neck, especially McGinn. He was bossing it, Ntcham was struggling. It was no surprise when in the 53rd minute the ball broke on the edge of the box for McGinn, he hammered into the bottom corner, their fans went mad, 1-1.

Whittaker headed just over from a free-kick then came a moment of brilliance. A corner flicked on at the near post and there was Whittaker to make it 2-1 for Hibs. Somehow Gordon got across and kept his effort out, If you haven’t seen it, Google it. It is incredible. I cannot remember ever seeing a better save.

Then Hibs took the lead. With just 13 minutes to go, McGinn again picked up a loose ball and hammered it past Gordon, 2-1 to Hibs. Was the unbelievable going to happen, was a 57 domestic game unbeaten run going to come to an end? Was Neil Lennon going to do the unthinkable?

No.

The lead lasted 3 minutes.

A ball to the far post broke in the area, who was on hand? McGregor. Side footing the ball past Laidlaw and also a stray boot on the line. 2-2. The release was enormous.

I can only imagine what it would have been like had Celtic been awarded a penalty in added on time. How the referee missed the hug given to Sinclair yards in front of him I will never know. Though to be fair a draw was a fair result.

Game over, I headed back to meet Mr W and the long trip home.

A great day. I am going to come back. Again and again. Love it.

ADDED ON

At one point every season I will be at a match around this point when the weather has turned, I am ill prepared clothes wise and I think to myself ‘Why on earth do I bother?’. Then the football entertains me and all such thoughts go out of my head. High flying Linnets made the trip north on this cold, wet and thoroughly miserable Wednesday evening and totally controlled the opening 45 minutes.

A strike from Bryant just past the halfway point of the first half was all the visitors had to show for their efforts when the players went in for the break. They should have had more. Quite a few more.

As the teams swapped ends so did the pattern of play, the hosts were reduced to 10 for a second yellow to right back Brown, and then picked up their game. Darwen went for it, as the weather continued to play havoc, they were eventually unlucky not to grab a point. Good effort lads.

Linnets may well look back on this as a very important evening. Awful weather, didn’t play particularly well, opposition had some decent chances, but they still came away with all 3 points.

GAMES

Wed: AFC Darwen 0 Runcorn Linnets 1

Sat: Glasgow Celtic 2 Hibernian 2

FACTS

Games: 420

Goals:  1430

Grounds: 200

Games since a 0-0: 33

Milestone: 200th Ground – Glasgow Celtic

SOUNDTRACK

My Love is Cool – Wolf Alice