dy10 1nb

Throughout the 90 minutes chances were at a premium and the main difference at the end was the quality of finishing. 

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KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS

Aggborough Stadium, Kidderminster, DY10 1NB

Main Stand: C & S Solicitors Stand

Pretty much where everything happens at the club. Outside, you can access the club offices, shop and their very own bar/pub, Harriers Arms. Once inside, the viewing is from a covered seating, mainly unreserved, stand, at the rear are the executive boxes/suites and the players tunnel brings the teams out on the halfway line with the dugouts on either side.

This is where I choose to sit, my ticket costing £16, though if you buy online like I did, you pay an additional £1.68 for the privilege of printing on your own paper at home.

North Stand:

Where the Harriers faithful and Ultras stand. Covered terracing with free atmosphere from the singing, drum banging home fans. Entry is £14, unable to buy online.

Outside at the junction with the East Stand is the Supporters Social Club.

East Stand: Hire It Stand

Another covered seating stand which is shared with the Away fans who have a couple of blocks of seats at the southern end of the stand. Weirdly, access to this stand is right at the back of the North Stand.

As with the Main Stand, entry is £16, unfortunately the £17.68 option online is not available.

South Stand:

On my visit this was unused, apart from a few Harrogate Town flags, similar in structure to the North Stand, this is currently only used when the away club bring a larger number of fans. If they do, they will pay £14 for the privilege of cheering on their heroes.

Public Transport:

At most it is half a mile from the train station, exiting to the north, turn left heading into the town centre, if unlike me you manage to make it past the excellent Captain Cod’s Fish Bar then take your next left and just keep going, 10 minutes at a stroll.

My Stats

My Ground #: 221

Visits: 1

Goals: 2

Female Officials: 1

Penalties: 0

Red Cards: 0

Teams Seen: 

Kidderminster Harriers & Harrogate Town

Games:

17/02/18 – Kidderminster Harriers 0 Harrogate Town 2

My Visits

17 February 2018

Kidderminster Harriers 0 Harrogate Town 2

Vanarama National League North

Attendance: 1,739

Programme: £3

The hosts came into this fixture unbeaten for 17 league games stretching back to September, including a 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture with today’s opponents. In 4th place in the league, whilst they may struggle to catch the leaders Salford City, a play-off place is surely the minimum expectations at Aggborough.

Town, are recovering from a mid-January stumble with defeats at Nuneaton Town and Salford City. Currently going toe to toe with Salford City for the title, though both need to keep an eye on Brackley Town who are hanging on to their shirt-tails. Harrogate are the league’s leading goalscorers and came into this game in second place, this could only change if Salford City didn’t win and Town did, giving them top spot.

Following a minute’s silence for a couple of club stalwarts who had recently passed away we got underway bathed in a very strange thing. Yes, sunlight. Ah, the memory of days watching football in the dry.

The pattern of the game was set quite early on, with the battle between the two teams happening in-between the penalty areas, it was certainly an afternoon for the midfielders to earn their corn. Throughout the 90 minutes chances were at a premium and the main difference at the end was the quality of finishing.

First to nearly strike were the visitors, Leesley’s free-kick strike took a huge deflection and looked to be looping in, but landed on top of the net, quickly followed by a long range effort from Ngwatala fizzed wide it was the Town who took the lead on the quarter of an hour mark. Leesley firing home from an angle, beating Flatt with his effort going in off the bar, the winger looked like he had a point to make with his celebration, running straight at the Harriers bench.

Harrogate were now in control, and for 15 minutes or so did not look like they were going to lose their advantage. That all changed on the half hour mark, Harriers won a free-kick 25 yards out. Smashed at goal by McQuilkin, it crashed down off the underside of the bar, my first thought was it had crossed the line, however, the ball bounced up and was looping in the air, Ironside won the race and nodded home past Belshaw, only for the assistant to be flagging that the striker was offside when the free-kick was taken. The home fans were not happy.

Half-Time: Kidderminster Harriers 0 Harrogate Town 1

A minute into the second period and the visitors were 2-0 up. Knowles turning on the edge of the box in space and placing his short into the far bottom corner, his effort seemed to take an age to go in, Flatts dive unable to stop the effort.

That was pretty much game over. Harrogate controlled the game, yes Kidderminster had chances, but most were at best half chances and you got the feeling that if they did score then Town would go down the other end and pop another in.

As the pressure was ramped up in the last 15 minutes the Harriers went close a couple of times and even forced Belshaw into the only real save he had to make all afternoon, but as we entered the last 6 or 7 minutes the hosts appeared to realise that the game was over and did not press with the same vigour.  In fact at the end, it was nearly 3-0, Flatts nearly dropping a clanger and stopping an effort from Thewlis at the second attempt on the line.

Full-Time: Kidderminster Harriers 0 Harrogate Town 2

Post Match Stats:

750th Away Goal – Leesley (Harrogate Town)

250th Goal of the Season – Knowles (Harrogate Town)

14th Female Official in 470 games, first in 15 games.

209th Clean Sheet – Belshaw (Harrogate Town)

Team Records

Kidderminster Harriers:

Home: P 1 / W 0 / D 0 / L 1 / F 0 / A 2

Overall: P 3 / W 1 / D 0 / L 2 / F 1 / A 5

Harrogate Town:

Overall: P 6 / W 3 / D 2 / L 1 / F 8 / A 4

 

 

 

 

 

Give it Away

Realize I don’t want to be a miser
Confide with sly you’ll be the wiser
Young blood is the lovin’ upriser
How come everybody want to keep it like the kaiser

GAME OF THE WEEK

West Auckland Town 3 Morpeth Town 2

Ebac Northern League Division One

Attendance: 179

Gate: £6

Programme: £1

Why has it taken me 466 games and 219 other new grounds to finally visit West Auckland Town? I have no idea, but I have finally managed it.

As a kid I watched ‘A Captain’s Tale’ in awe, and even in those pre-Sky Sports days I could not believe that I didn’t already know about the original ‘World Cup Winners’. In fact, in the morning I was thinking about the fact non-league football in this country boasts West’s 2 World Cups, the oldest club in the world, oldest ground in the world, the first club to beat Real Madrid in Spain, a team that played in front of over 100,000 in India and more , yet few know about these exploits. However, the kids of today will know about the massively over-rated likes of Beckham and his peers who have done bugger all in the game. Ridiculous.

The drive over the to the North East saw the weather improve as we got nearer to our destination, not by much but it did, the highlight of the driver being Mr Wilks unable to find his way out of Hartshead Moor Services. Priceless. Final pit stop was at Bedale’s Chippy in St Helens Auckland. Decent.

The Wanted Stadium has its own driveway at the end of which you are met by the turnstiles, entering in the North East corner, the side to your left is open standing as are both ends, though the northern end where you enter has a raised platform too. Over on the Western Side you have the sponsors lounge, tea bar, clubhouse, covered standing area and Main Stand. I was a bit surprised that the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy was not on show, I can only presume it is in the sponsors lounge. Well the replica of it is.

Coming into the game, the Northern League Division One is very much a 2 horse race. Morpeth Town were nearly 20 points clear at the top, however, Marske United lie a further 2 points behind but have 7 games in hand. West are part of the bunch chasing for third. This was a big match.

After an understandable cagey opening West went close with a header by Parker from a corner, Town started to control the game a bit more and as we past the quarter of an hour mark they started to create. A free-kick on the right hit the wall.

Header. Another free-kick a minute or two later on the right was played in and centre-half Coppen swooped to had the visitors into the lead. It was deserved, and at that point it looked like it was going to be a fairly one-sided afternoon. Especially when shortly afterwards Henderson went through and narrowly missed after lobbing McHugh in the home goal.

Opportunistic. As we approached the 30 minutes mark West were level. Though if we had VAR they wouldn’t have been. Good harrying high up the pitch won the ball for the hosts, the ball was played to Fisher, who was offside, missed by an out of position assistant, the striker took full advantage of the opportunity he had been given, drew Lowson in the Morpeth goal, rounded him and equalised with ease.

Bullet header. Five minutes later West took the lead, a corner on the right, fired in by playmaker Mitchell was met at pace by defender Parker, his header flew into the back of the net. Lowson had no chance. 2-1 to West.

Far post header. Half-time was approaching when the visitors equalised. Another free-kick on the right, this one played into the far post and Coppen got his second, McHugh rooted to the spot, what a cracking game this had turned into.

Missed. After an earlier investigation by Mr Wilks into purchasing a club badge we made our way around to the tea bar for the next clue, as we walked along the North End, West scored. Purewal got it. No idea how as I wasn’t watching. I missed the winner. Least it wasn’t as bad as Mr Wilks who missed the opener too.

H-T. West Auckland Town 3 Morpeth Town 2

Badge got, they have them behind the bar. Good game of treasure hunt.

Break done.

We moved onto the second half.

The league leaders pushed forward. Had a number of chances. Missed some. McHugh saved some. Others were blocked. How they didn’t score I don’t know.

At the other end, West broke away often enough, quite how they also didn’t score I don’t know.

After 5 goals in the opening 45 minutes, how both teams managed a goalless second half, I do not know.

Great entertainment though.

F-T. West Auckland Town 3 Morpeth Town 2

Also stopped at Hartshead Moor services on our way home, a lot easier to exit on the westbound side.

ADDED ON

Over the tops to Yorkshire on Tuesday and another new ground, number 219, Thackley. Worksop Town were the visitors.

We attempted to pay another visit to Bolton Square Traditional Fish & Chips, which was unfortunately closed, so back down Bolton Road to Peel Park Fisheries. It was ok, but both Mr Wilks and myself preferred our original choice.

Onto the match and if like us you were in the first half, stood at the top end, then you watched all the action from a long way. The first half belonged to Town and they duly took a 2 goal led with 2 goals in 2 minutes 1/2 way through the opening half. Baird and Trench were the scorers, both from close range.

Early in the second half, a game changing tackle, Town’s Trench bringing down Ngoe without attempting to play the ball. Penalty and a red card correctly given. Garrod dispatched, Thackley revitalised. The hosts huffed and puffed, built up the pressure and finally breached the Worksop defence again in added on time. Garrod the scorer again, this following a scramble. Good game.

Wednesday was supposed to be another game day, but the weather put paid to that.

GAMES

Tue: Thackley 2 Worksop Town 2

Sat: West Auckland Town 3 Morpeth Town 2

FACTS

Games: 466

Goals:  1586

Grounds: 220

Games since a 0-0: 77

Milestone: 220th ground visited. West Auckland Town.

Performance of the Week: Mr Wilks. His performance at Hartshead eastbound services was quite unbelievable.

Random Fact: The earliest I have ever got to 70 games in a season. By 8 days.

SOUNDTRACK

Blood Sugar Sex Magik – Red Hot Chili Peppers

 

Brillo de Facto

We all know
Where he came from
Check this out–
Loves him

GAME OF THE WEEK

Bristol Manor Farm 1 Swindon Supermarine 1

The Evo-Stik Southern League Division One West

Attendance: 173

Gate: £8

Programme: £2

As I set off for Bristol nearly 14 hours before I would see home again a fair plan of what was about to pan out had formed in my mind. A peaceful train journey, decent match (hopefully), return peaceful trip and write a blog called ‘Sexy MF’. No. None of it worked out like I thought.

I have abandoned trains in the Manchester area as much as possible, so I headed off into Manchester on the 256 bus and was soon sat on my train to Birmingham New Street, which was absolutely rammed. Changing at New Street, with a little over 10 minutes to spare, I had to get negotiate the ticket barriers with a barcode that didn’t work 4 times, yes 4 times just to move from one platform to another, finally made it to be told it had changed platform, luckily no ticket barrier this time and on to a train full of men off to Cheltenham races.

At least there was a bit of peace once we got past the Gloucestershire spa town, quick change at Bristol and I was soon jumping off at Sea Mills. Bristol Manor Farm’s home is a short walk from the station over the River Trym where it meets the Avon. As you walk to ‘The Creek’ you can see the gem of a ground that awaits.

Entering behind the North goal you are at the highest point of the ground which drops away to the far right hand corner, got to love a sloping pitch. There is open standing behind both goals, to the north you are above the pitch, at the opposite end your feet are below pitch level. To your right upon entering is the River Avon Side, with train track inbetween, this is where the dugouts are and a small covered stand that you enter at the rear of the away bench, love it. Opposite is the Main Stand, where you find the clubhouse, worth a visit, Tea Bar, again worth a visit, three covered areas, yes three. A seated area with standing at the back of it, and two standing only areas.

There are steps down to the pitch from the clubhouse for the players and if you are as lucky as I was, this is where you will find Kevin. Tannoy announcer and pre-match (and h-t) music guy. So many top tunes played. It was through talking to Kevin that I realised I had to change the title of my blog to a The Fall song. Kevin thanks, for your time and inspiration, Manor Farm you have a gem of a man there.

This was a game of two halves, the rule being, kick down the slope you own the ball. To start with it was Supermarine’s turn, from the kick-off to the half-time whistle they were on top, the fact it took them 20 minutes to take the lead was a surprise. The attacks came in waves, winger Selman was a constant thorn in the home defence and was caught late with a couple of tackles, but as all good wingers do, he just dusted himself down and got back on the ball.

Penalty. Supermarine took the lead in controversial circumstances. The visitors had a corner on the left, as the ball came into the box, a shot was saved by Clark in the home goal, the rebound hammered at goal by Gray, now the shot was certainly blocked by Mills, but the liner flagged that he had done it with his arm(s), I am unsure. But if he did he is wasted. To have reactions that fast somebody somewhere must be able to make use of them. he was 3 or 4 yards away from the thumping effort. Anyway it was given. Up stepped Hooper, he finished with ease, Clark was sent the wrong way.

Until the break, Supermarine continued to attack and continued to fire in shots on goal, but they all seemed to be straight at Clark or wildly off target, the half-time whistle must have come as a welcome sound to the home side.

H-T. Bristol Manor Farm 0 Swindon Supermarine 1

Following the restart, the Supermarine Ultras suddenly had massive heads, the balance of play switched and whatever had been said in the home changing room was soon working. The River Trym magnet was doing its magic again.

Flicked Header. On the hour Farm won a free-kick on the left, whipped in by skipper Metters, it was met by the perfectly timed run of Stamp, his header flew past Hill in the visitors goal, 1-1, game on.

The last half hour was a push for a winner, the hosts had the majority of the ball and were working hard at creating chances, but the opposition defence were holding firm, at the top of the hill, Supermarine were breaking away and causing trouble for the Farm defence.

Unfortunately, at times the commitment and effort on both sides boiled over and tempers flared, which took away from what was a good battle between two evenly matched teams. Though my overall memory will be of a good game, where the mysterious River Trym has an impact on who controls the game, I just need to find if the tide was in or out?

F-T. Bristol Manor Farm 1 Swindon Supermarine 1

The return train journey was interrupted in the Midlands by their version of the Gallaghers from Shameless. Until they got off at Wolverhampton they ran riot, the parents? Just sat and ignored it all. Ah well.

I will be back at The Creek. Soon.

ADDED ON

Two games, two 2-0 wins.

Over to Ossett on Tuesday, delicious chippy at Park Square Fisheries, finally on to Ingfield on a cold evening. Town controlled the game from start to finish, took a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes through Pembleton and did not look like they would relinquish this grip on the game.

Up until this evening, my favourite goal had been a blast into an open goal from about 3 inches out, all was to change. As a running battle between Town’s Nelthorpe and United’s skipper Hollett threatened to erupt into something more a high looping cross came into the box, the former challenged for the ball with substitute Baxendale, the forward won and sent an easy to deal with high looping header towards the goal and into the arms of Roberts in the United goal. Only the keeper tripped/slipped/crumbled into the back of the net as he reached the place where the ball was going to land into his arms. The ball looped into the empty net. Oh yes, it landed onto Roberts as he was still in a crumpled heap in the back of the net. Priceless. I have a new favourite goal.

Onto Friday and another delicious pre-match chippy. Just up the road from the Widnes Stadium is Paul’s Chippy. Well worth a visit and a big reason as to why I have been to Widnes so often.

Third versus second in the league, a derby of sorts, both looking at Linnets in the distance, even though we are still in January this very much looks like a race for runners-up. This leg of the race was won by Widnes at a canter. Lomax opened the scoring around the 5 minutes mark with a finish from inside the box and player-(joint) manager Towey scored emphatically after the break again around the 5 minutes point.

Widnes moved into third, Town’s season looks like it could be falling apart a bit. I couldn’t help but wonder if a smile or two was raised in the green and yellow half of the town on the other side of the River Mersey.

GAMES

Tue: Ossett Town 2 Skelmersdale United 0

Fri: Widnes 2 Runcorn Town 0

Sat: Bristol Manor Farm 1 Swindon Supermarine 1

FACTS

Games: 463

Goals:  1577

Grounds: 218

Games since a 0-0: 75

Milestone: 200th Home Win (Widnes victory on Friday); 75th game without a 0-0 (Saturday)

Performance of the Week: Kevin O’Donohue. Top class tunes, great bloke. Thanks Kev.

Random Fact: The penalty for Swindon Supermarine was the 142nd I have seen awarded and the 96th I have seen converted.

SOUNDTRACK

New Facts Emerge – The Fall

Shakermaker

But when you’re happy and you’re feeling fine
Then you’ll know it’s the right time

GAME OF THE WEEK

Brocton 1 Heather St Johns 3

Total Motion Midland Football League Division One

Attendance: 56

Gate: £5

Programme: £1

Third time lucky. As we pulled out of the back exit of Hilton Park southbound services, illegally I might add, we were making our way to Brocton. Ninety minutes earlier when we had left Manchester the destination had been Walsall Wood. We were not even on the M56/M6 spur bypass thingymajig when news came through the twitter web that the weather had won and a change of plan was required.

Alty were at Stourbridge, I knew it was on as I had seen the hosts tweet something earlier that morning, no problem, Stourbridge v Altrincham it was. After a quick toilet stop for the boy Wilks at Keele, I checked my phone, suddenly Stourbridge was in doubt. They were going to wait for the match referee to make a decision, 1:15, so we pulled into Hilton Park to await the decision. The decision was put back another 30 minutes. Not for us, new plan required.

Wilksy wanted to visit the home of the Badgers, so we headed off to Brocton, breaking laws, dodging traffic and ridiculous potholes on the M6, we made it Silkmore Lane in plenty of time.

Brocton’s home is just off Silkmore Lane and has it’s own driveway, very nice folks. At the entrance you are met by a number of pleasant gentlemen who take your pennies and point you in the direction of where you are to park. Two stands, one seated the other for the standers greet you as you come through the gates, the rest of the ground is open standing. In the North East corner of the ground is the clubhouse, compromising of changing rooms, toilets, hospitality, tea room and bar. A friendly welcome awaits.

There was little sign on the Silkmore Lane pitch of the poor weather that was decimating the fixture lists up and down the country, credit to the groundspeople and volunteers who manage the ground.

Header. It took a little while for the game to get going, both sides threatening until the final ball, that was until the 20th minute when The Saints took the lead. Neat build up in midfield led to a ball out wide to Cobourne, the winger, who gave the Brocton defenders a dizzy afternoon, put in a superb cross to the back post where Yonwin had lost his marker and met the ball to head past McCarthy.

Heather St. Johns controlled pretty much the rest of the game. Brocton tried and had moments, but that was pretty much all they had until late on. The Saints had chances to increase their lead before the interval, Cobourne, Yonwin, Doyle and the skipper Weale all created and went close, the defence and McCarthy managing to keep the visitors at bay until the break.

H-T. Brocton 0 Heather St Johns 1

Following a 15 minute lie-down the team emerged into the freezing afternoon and things started to get a bit feisty, challenges were flying in, the heat was being turned up on the pitch a little. The Saints were denied a blatant penalty as Douglas flattened Cobourne in the area, quite how the officials missed it I do not know, looked nailed on.

Off. As they game flowed from one end to the other and tackles flew in, the odd yellow was being produced, with 15 minutes or so remaining I witnessed my 100th red card, Burns shown a second yellow for a poor challenge on Weale. The referee had no other option.

Bundled. A comeback had looked a task too far for Brocton before they were reduced to 10 men, it became even harder 5 minutes later, Cobourne was once again the architect. Played in on the right hand side his shot across the face of the goal was saved by McCarthy and the bobbling rebound was bundled into the back of the net and just beyond the keepers grasp by Bloore.

Emphatic. In the last minute or two the visitors went 3-0 up, a break on the right hand wing saw a cross played into Weale, he deftly flicked the ball on for Cobourne who was arriving at pace at the far post and he finished emphatically past McCarthy, the rout was complete, surely that was that.

Pounced. Added on time saw two incidents, both at the Heather St Johns end of the field, first of all the Badgers got a goal back, a corner was pounced upon at the far post by Phillips and turned in. Then moments later the hosts broke and a through ball led to a chase between a home sub and Allsop in the away goal, was won by the Badger forward, he dinked it over the keeper, only for the Saints number one to save it with his hands outside the area. It should have been a red card, the visitors stopper can count himself lucky.

F-T. Not that it would have mattered too much as the final whistle went soon after. Brocton 1 Heather St Johns 3. A pretty fair reflection of the afternoon. Myself and Wilks were off into the Staffordshire night, with just one definite destination, and a good day had been had by all. I just now need to make plans to visit Walsall Wood and Stourbridge in the future.

ADDED ON

A bit like the week before at Halifax, the midweek was spent watching an FA Trophy game. This time it was a replay and a round further on, and, like the weekend to follow it was not first choice of the day. Weather again decimating the fixture list and leave us needing an alternative to our first choice of Prestwich Heys v St Helens Town.

Off to Edgeley Park for Stockport County v Kidderminster Harriers. Had to be an away win, this was my 4th visit to County’s home, 2 draws and a defeat had been my previous three results for the hosts.

On an awful night I am not too sure the hosts wanted to play this. Could not find a programme for love nor money and the tea bar only opened 5 minutes or so before kick-off. In a pretty even game, the hosts booked their place in the next round. Both sides had chances to take the lead before County managed it in the 25th minute as Turner rifled home from an acute angle.

After the break the snow began to fall, Kidderminster poured forward in search of an equaliser, unfortunately, most of their efforts were limited to around the edge of the box and they had left their shooting boots back in the Midlands.

With 15 minutes remaining County doubled their advantage, McKenna finally getting his shot away, a deflection taking it past Hall in the Harriers goal, 2-0 to Stocky. This was added to in the last minute Pearson brought down Stephenson and Dixon slotted home the resulting spot-kick

GAMES

Tue: Stockport County 3 Kidderminster Harriers 0

Sat: Brocton 1 Heather St Johns 3

FACTS

Games: 459

Goals:  1571

Grounds: 217

Games since a 0-0: 72

Milestone: 100th Red Card (Ryan Burns, Brocton).

Performance of the Week: Has to be Simeon Cobourne the Heather St Johns winger, tormented this marker all afternoon, created 2 goals and scored the third. Take a bow son.

Random Fact: Heather St Johns are the fourth team I have seen with Saint in their name. The others Greenalls Padgate St Oswalds, Heywood St James and Beeston St Anthony’s being the others.

SOUNDTRACK

Definitely Maybe – Oasis

Home Is A Feeling

Washed by the warm tide, dried by the sunrise
It’s time to open your eyes to a feeling, feeling
To a feeling

Oi Oi

If you are in London and ever at a loose end on a Saturday, I truly hope that Fisher are at home. If they are, then get yourself down to SE16 and the St Paul’s Sports Ground.

A day that started out with myself and Mr Wilks on the wrong train to London, I will swear the board at the start of Platform 6 gave our train, finished 11 hours later back in Manchester after a wonderful day.

Thanks to Virgin Trains and another sale we were in First Class, along with BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty for the two and a quarter hours trip down south, the time of which picked our game out of a list of 10. Following a scan of the internet we were off on the Underground heading to London Bridge and as we made good time, including the additional 20 minutes from the train mishap, once we alighted near the Shard we decided to walk to Fisher’s home, a little over 2 miles away.

After  pit stop at Eat, a delicious meal of pie. mash and gravy later, we continued following a path pretty parallel to the south bank of the Thames we arrived at St Paul’s, also the home of the Millwall Lionesses, in good time. A warm welcome and chat to a fellow Mancunian later we made our way to the clubhouse.

The ground itself is fairly basic, on the side you enter there is a covered seating structure along with the clubhouse building that also houses the dressing rooms and toilets etc., opposite, is a narrow path of open standing that stops at bothe ends just before it meets the dugouts. The East End is open standing, the West has a covered standing area where the ‘Fishtras’ gather and make a noise for 90 minutes.

On a very chilly afternoon we got underway with the hosts kicking towards Canary Wharf. An early free-kick for the hosts whistled just wide, but other than that, the opening 30 minutes didn’t really have much to write home about. The hosts dominated possession without really creating anything clear cut and right winger Ramsamy looked like he’d left his best boots at home, his accuracy especially crossing was off. Maybe, just maybe he was getting his aim in.

As we got to the half hour The Dere had their best moment of the game as a ball from the left found McGinty, his shot on the turn smashing against the bar, though this was a rare goor chance in the first half for the visitors.

Half-time was welcome. If to get in from the cold more than any other reason.

Attacking their shoal of fans Fisher really took the game to their opponents after the break, a shot by Brown was saved by Taylor in the Dere’s goal, Ramsamy sending the rebound wide, he was getting closer. Ten minutes into the half he was put in the clear, a great tackle stopped him this time, minutes later it was a Taylor save that stopped the winger, he was dangerous and the visitors had no answer for his pace and timing of runs. On the hour he had the keeper at full stretch again, forcing Taylor into a great save.

After a brief respite at the other end, Fisher took the lead, it was no surprise that Ramsamy got the goal, another good run, shot (which took a slight deflection) over Taylor and in off the underside of the bar, it was no more than Fisher and Ramsamy deserved. The wingers reward was to be pretty much immediately subbed.

The hosts continued to control the game and doubled their lead with just left than 15 minutes to go Small leaving his marker bamboozled with a flick, going past another defender as though he wasn’t there before finishing past Taylor. The remainder of the game was spent with the teams swapping breakaways and half-chances before the referee blew up and we made our way off into the South London evening.

ADDED ON

Two games over the New Year period, firstly to east Manchester for a derby, Maine Road the visitors on a wet and bitterly cold afternoon where we bumped into Rob McKay for the first time in far too long. Road dominated from the off and should have probably won by more than the 4-0 margin they finished with. The highlight of the afternoon though has to go to the taxi driver who turned up in a minibus and got stuck in the mud at the far end. Really was priceless.

Two days later and in a downpour at Moss Lane Altrincham and Witton Albion shared 7 goals, the visitors taking the lions share, just. Hulme gave Alty an early lead, back came Witton with goals from the brilliant Owens and Foley  before half-time. The rain continued to pour down as the Robins came back with 2 goals to take the lead Poole and White the scorers. In the last 10 minutes Albion shocked everyone as Owens got the equaliser and with a minute or so to go Jones got the winner. What a cracking game.

GAMES

Sat (30/12): Abbey Hey 0 Maine Road 4

Mon: Altrincham 3 Witton Albion 4

Sat: Fisher 2 Erith & Belvedere 0

FACTS

Games: 455

Goals:  1560

Grounds: 215

Games since a 0-0: 68

Milestone: 100th Away Goal of the Season – Thomas Owens (Witton Albion)

Performance of the Week: Mathieu Ramsamy – Fisher. For 20 minutes he was unplayable.

Random Fact: The Fisher game was my 79th at Step 6, during which I have seen 306 goals

SOUNDTRACK

Weather Diaries – Ride

 

Talk About the Passion

Not everyone can carry the weight of the world

GAME OF THE WEEK

Sandbach United 1 Abbey Hulton United 2

The Hallmark Security League First Division

Attendance: 136

Gate: £5

Programme: Not seen for sale

So with the festivities over for another day, time to get out the Christmas coat/scarf/hat/gloves/jumper, you get the picture, and head off to a local derby. Ashton United and Droylsden both called their games off, so as Mr Wilks picked me up there was no plan. I mentioned Sandbach United and we were on our way.

An unexpected new ground, my 214th and the second nearest to my home that I have never been to. That statistic has now gone to their opponents for the day, Abbey Hulton United.

After a quick tour of the streets of Sandbach trying to find a cash machine, we finally got to the Sandbach Community Football Centre, at least a ground without a sponsorship name, but not one that would roll off the tongue for the fans in a song. ‘We are Sandbach, super Sandbach, from…’ Once parked, we made our way in, passing the match board with the visitors name spelled incorrectly, always a pre-match winner for the opposition manager.

What a centre this is, football pitches all over and I am sure that the local community benefit enormously from this facility, just a pity that there isn’t more like it across the country and in particular the region. The main pitch is fenced off  and is only accessible on two sides. The main side where the clubhouse and changing rooms are housed behind is open standing and also includes a nice patio area that I am sure the club use to great effect in sunnier times. Behind the goal to the right of the clubhouse is also available to watch the game from. In addition to the Colin Oakes Stand, a covered seated new structure and then the best is saved for last; there are two wonderfully crafted wooden covered standing areas. Superb folks, superb, love them.

As the sides came out a 135 game run came to an end. At last a female official. Only the 13th I have ever seen and a year, two months and eighteen days since the last one I had witnessed. As the game in this country makes this great public parade about being diverse I think that seeing 11 in 438 games in the four home countries is a pretty poor show, especially when 3 of those are repeat appearances by a previously seen official. For those who cannot be bothered with the maths, I have seen a different female official once every 55 games. Hardly something to brag about is it?

Back to the match and another official made this game. The referee. From the off the hosts were in charge and attacked more and with a little more purpose, but also pretty much from the off the man in charge allowed things to go. He several times signalled he was playing an advantage when there wasn’t an actual foul. That should not detract from a cracking game though.

Sandbach were wasting chances, Abbey were defending manically at times but it took the hosts until the half hour mark for them to take the lead, as Abbey had been attacking the goal came on the break, Jones finishing off a good move. As the half-time whistle came, both sides were starting to turn this derby into a feisty affair. The referee just waved play on.

Out for the second period and we continued as we left the first half, tackles flying in, challenges that make this game, proper football. Sandbach were missing chances, surely they wouldn’t rue them. Abbey got a little more of the ball and looked dangerous on the break, then a moment of pure inspiration. Williams who had been battling in midfield picked up the ball and from 25 yards out unleashed an unstoppable shot, 1-1. Abbey were level. Surely they couldn’t win it.

The equaliser changed the game, Abbey started to boss the game more, Sandbach players were getting riled. Whether it was Abbey’s game plan or not, they had brought Sandbach into a battle and they were winning it. Then with 5 minutes remaining the comeback was complete. Abbey were in the ascendancy and pushing at this point, when Wooliscroft saw his chance he curled it beyond Moss into the back of the net. Abbey’s players celebrated. Abbey’s bench celebrated. Abbey’s fan celebrated.

Sandbach tried to get back into it, but their threat had gone. Abbey Hulton claimed all three points.

ADDED ON

After a great experience earlier in the year at Parkhead, another visit was always on the cards (as will another be). Another road-trip with Mr Wilks. Ducks at Tebay Services are always worth a visit as you pass.

Then onto Glasgow and a chippy lunch. Already pre-selected, we passed close by Hampden Park as we made our way to ‘Hooked’. If you are ever in this area, you must give this chippy a go. Delicious.

The match itself was watched from the lung bursting upper tier of the Lisbon Lions Stand, Mr Wilksy hiding the fact that there is a lift as we walked up countless steps out into the ground and another 30 or so when we emerged into the open. Breathing back to normal the teams came out and we got underway. Until the opening goal in the 40th minute this was an even game, both sides having half chances and looking to create. Boyata lost the ball to Mackay-Steven who then dragged his shot just wide, At the other end, Sinclair shot straight at Lewis when clean through.

Celtic then got their stroke of luck, Lustig’s effort striking Ball on the back and looping into the opposite side of the goal, Lewis had no chance, 1-0 to the Hoops.

After the break it was pretty much Celtic’s, Dembele fired wide, headed over from a corner, fired over. The Dons went close at the other end, a McLean shot taking a deflection and creeping just wide, though that was a rare foray into the bhoys territory. With 20 minutes remaining it was 2-0, a Sinclair cross was headed away, hit Arnason and bounced into Hayes’ path for him to slot home, 2-0. Followed minutes later by the third, clearing a corner the task of playing the ball back to Lewis was McLean’s responsibility. He failed. Ntcham intervened, went round Lewis and scored. 3-0.

The only thing left to do was have a fog effected drive home. We’ll be back soon.

GAMES

Sat: Glasgow Celtic 3 Aberdeen 0

Mon: Sandbach United 1 Abbey Hulton United 2

FACTS

Games: 452

Goals:  1547

Grounds: 214

Games since a 0-0: 65

Milestones: Total attendances over 400k; Season attendances over 200k; 200th Clean Sheet; 200th goal of the season – Stephen Jones (Sandbach United)

Performance of the Week: Abbey Hulton United’s fans. Sang and cheered their team to victory and made a great atmosphere from their temporary home in the Colin Oakes Stand.

Chippy of the Week: Hooked, Glasgow

Random Fact: For the first time in 135 games, or 1 year 2 months and 17 days if you like, I saw a female official.

SOUNDTRACK

Murmur – REM

 

Love is a Stranger

It’s savage and it’s cruel
And it shines like destruction
Comes in like the flood
And it seems like religion

GAME OF THE WEEK

Atherstone Town 13 Uttoxeter Town 1

Total Motion Midland Football League Division One

Attendance: 174

Gate: £6

Programme: £1.50

This was my 450th match. In the previous 449 I have only twice seen a team reach double figures. This was my third. I had never seen 3 players score a hat-trick in the same game. This was my first. What an experience.

On a day when the fixture list was once again decimated by the weather, when Mr Wilks picked me up we set off to the Midlands with a list of 6 games, by methods a bit silly we eliminated one by one we finished with Atherstone Town being our destination. As we progressed down the M6 the weather was getting worse. Would the game still be on? After a pit-stop at Keele Services we carried on into the heart of the Midlands and towards Atherstone, once ruled by Countess Godiva, home to the Shovetide Ball Game.

Luckily, pretty much as soon as we arrived the rain stopped, though with hindsight I am sure the visitors wish it had continued by the bucketful. Sadly for them, it would be goals that would be aplenty later.

Sheepy Road is just off the A5 and entry can be gained on either side of the ground. We entered to the west, where the main stand, covered seating and standing area, and changing rooms are housed. Both ends have open terraced standing. At the east side is the clubhouse and a covered terraced area behind the dugouts. It is an older ground and an absolute gem, I hope my pics do it justice.

Following a minutes applause for long time fan Frank Bartlam we got under way, the Adders took the game to Uttoxeter from the off Mitch Thomson who must have had his unluckiest day ever missed a glorious early chance before the visitors took the lead. Yes 1-0 up to a 13-1 defeat. Oops. Richie making the most of being through against the keeper and chipping him exquisitely. Probably my favourite goal of the day.

Cue madness. The fact it took the reds 17 or 18 minutes to register their first goal and in the following 77 minutes they scored another 12 was a true spectacle. Uttoxeter’s keeper Allen didn’t have a chance with most of them, though I am sure a couple will give him nightmares if he thinks too much about them.

The rout was started by skipper Baxter, who pulled strings all afternoon, following comical defending and a wandering Allen. A minute later another followed, this time following a bit of a scramble Miller started his hat-trick off by firing home. If Town thought that was bad, it got worse for them another minute later as Harris swung in a cross that missed everyone’s head and bounced into the far corner of the goal. What a turnaround.

As we approached the break the hosts stepped up their game again and scored another batch of 3 goals in 3 minutes or so. Stonehouse started his hat-trick off when he controlled a cross , was given all the time in the world to turn and finish easily. Miller’s second was even easier after tapping a through ball round Allen he followed up and put the ball into the empty net, before the last goal of the half by Quinn, the last of the hat-trick heroes to get off the mark, as he finished off a fine move by firing the ball into the top corner from a tight angle.

The visitors trudged off for a brew, it was to get worse.

Four minutes into the second period, seven, Stonehouse hammering home a cut-back for his second, made by Thomson. He was also to have a hand in the eigth as he was in the clear, his shot was saved by Allen fell to Quinn on the opposite side of the goal and he finished into the empty net. Stonehouse then got his hat-trick finishing under Allen who could only get a hand on the shot, it was now 9-1 with still 30 minutes to play.

Double figures came via Williams, a deep cross swung in to the near post and the number 6 powered his header into the top corner. This now equalled my second biggest ever win, with 15 minutes still remaining I saw a team score an 11th goal for only the second time ever. Miller completing his hat-trick with ease as a loose ball in midfield was capatilised on.

A minute later and the third hat-trick of the afternoon was completed, Quinn taking hold of a loose ball from a scramble, twisting and turning before squeezing the ball under Allen. We finished with a touch of class as Harris got his second, wrong footing the keeper and stroking the ball into the bottom corner. Records had tumbled.

I wanted to say a few words about Uttoxeter Town’s performance, they fielded a young side and appeared to only have one substitute even though 4 were named. They never gave up and attacked at times when they should probably have shut up shop, I counted 8 or 9 of the goals came as a result of a breakaway. Allen got his hand to at least 3. Yes they were outplayed by a good side, but they can hold their heads up for the effort they gave.

It was a weird game in the end, the Adders wasted a few chances when the game was beyond doubt and could possibly have finished with close to 20 had they been more clinical, but to have 3 players score a hat-trick on a special day for one of their own will make this a game to remember for years down at Sheepy Road.

GAME

Sat: Atherstone Town 13 Uttoxeter Town 1

FACTS

Games: 450

Goals:  1541

Grounds: 213

Games since a 0-0: 63

Milestone: Biggest ever win. Highest number of aggregate goals. 800th Home Goal – Danny Harris (Atherstone Town’s 13th). 100th Home Goal of the Season – Ryan Quinn (Atherstone Town’s 8th)

Performance of the Week: Atherstone Town. A true team performance.

Random Fact: Including programme, the goals cost 54p each. Pure football value.

SOUNDTRACK

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) – Eurythmics