yellow

it was all yellow

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There aren’t many weeks where you get to be part of the ‘Yellow Wall’, go to the outposts of Mossley and Darwen, watch an international friendly between Argentina and Italy, before rounding it all off in the beautiful town of Harrogate. That was my week though.

yellow wall

I am old enough and lucky enough to have once stood on the Kop at Anfield. Done the Stretford End too and the Kippax. All pretty special. One of the few things left on my ‘to-do list’ was to visit Signal Iduna Park (or Westfalenstadion without sponsorship) and be part of the hosts incredible ‘Yellow Wall’.

Westfalenstadion has been the host to some incredible times, with a capacity over 80,000 and the largest terrace in Europe; the near 25,000 capacity Sudtribune. This is the ground where Liverpool beat Alaves 5-4 in the UEFA Cup Final, Scotland played Zaire here in the 1974 World Cup and Italy knocked Germany out of the 2006 World Cup in the Semi-Final. Not a bad history that is it?

An early morning express train from Cologne to Dortmund, the ground is a 45 minutes straight forward walk from the train station, just follow the crowds. Once at the ground, the sight is yellow wherever you look. For such a large ground, weirdly the turnstiles are all at the North End and then you make your way to whatever part of the ground you are in.

The standing areas are made up of individual blocks/pens, however they are strictly stewarded to make sure that the correct numbers go into the correct pen. It works, it works very well FA. Bring it back. Please.

With the atmosphere building towards kick off, the last 15 minutes before the teams come out was brilliant. A rousing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” just before the sides emerged into the sunshine.

When we got underway it was Borussia who took control, Chelsea loanee Batshuayi hit the post within the opening 60 seconds, in fact the opening 45 minutes was pretty much all one way. That the score was only 1-0 at the interval was done to lax finishing and some desperate last ditch defending. However, the goal had a moment of true class, a corner on the left wing was played into the near post at pace by another Chelsea ‘reject’ Schurrle, Batshuayi’s run gave him space and a deft flick with his right boot took the ball past Tschauner in the Hannover goal.

Dortmund didn’t have it all their way in the second half and as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes both the team and their fans started to tense up, in fact it was the home fans who looked to drag their heroes over the finishing line in the end with their rousing songs. In the end the solitary goal was enough for the 3 points as the hosts revival under coach Stoger continued.

My German adventure was over, back to Blighty.

seadogs manchester adventure part 1

Following a home game on Saturday, Scarborough Athletic had to make the trip to the suburbs of Manchester 3 times in 5 days, nigh on 700 miles of travelling. Hopefully the east/west split next season will assist to make weeks like this a thing of the past.

The travelling did not do them any harm on Tuesday, they dominated Mossley from the word go, Grimsby Town loanee winger Wright was the main threat, he tormented his marker all night. It was from the right that Athletic’s opener came from, Valentine being on hand to put the ball over the line. A bullet header from striker Walshaw doubled the advantage before the break. It should have been more.

It was just after the hour, Walshaw practically walking through the home defence to get his second and his teams third. A late penalty brought Mossley some consolation, though to be honest a 1-3 scoreline was flattering to them.

matthews hits 4?

Does it always rain in Darwen? My fourth visit and it has rained every time. It also rained goals for Northwich Victoria and in particular Matthews. This match was over in the first 30 minutes, the visitors at that point were 4-0 up and in cruise mode. Debutant Halsall opened the scoring on the quarter of an hour mark, I thought he also scored the second a couple of minutes later. The NWCFL website gives it to Matthews.

If the goal was Halsall’s then Matthews opened his account five minutes later to make it 3-0 and another five minutes after that he made it 4. At this point there was a feeling of wondering at just how many Vics could score. Their foot came off the pedal slightly and they toyed with their hosts for the remaining hour.

A fifth was added with 20 minutes to go. Matthews got it. Now we just need to clear up, did he get 3 or was it 4?

good & bad

Friday was a rare opportunity to do something unusual for me, an international friendly. Argentina v Italy at the Etihad.

A night of complete contrast. For a friendly I thoroughly enjoyed what happened on the pitch, both sides showed a level of skill and technical doings that Southgate’s mob cannot attain. Really enjoyed it, liked Lanzini on the night in particular, Argentina deserved winners.

Off the pitch was awful. Huge queues to get in, how on earth do they get 50,000+ in here for a game. Good job we arrived at 6:45, 30 minutes to get in. No programme. £5 for a hot chocolate & diet coke. Probably a good job there wasn’t a programme.

However, the worst bit were those in attendance. Is this what a modern day popular event is like. People taking selfies from start to finish, rarely watching the game and do not even get me started on the Mexican Wave. In the end I was glad Messi didn’t get on the pitch, it would have been just stupid.

yorkshire yellow

I finished my week off with another one that has been on my to-do list for far too long, Harrogate Town.

A pleasant train journey over to Harrogate, via Leeds, and a relaxing 20 minutes stroll to the CNG Stadium. I must say at this point that everyone I spoke to from the club was very friendly and helpful, a credit to Harrogate Town FC. I would also recommend ensuring you are hungry when you arrive, club caterers Burgers & More offer an excellent choice of scran.

Getting underway in the sunshine, this was a game that Town should not have too much trouble with, Trinity struggling at the opposite end of the table and their new boss Sinnott didn’t even get a honeymoon period when he recently took over.

Early exchanges were fairly even and the first chance of the afternoon fell to Trinity, quite how you do not score from a 3 on 1 breakaway I do not know, but Gainsborough managed it, Belshaw saving from Jarman. As we approached the 20 minutes mark Town took the lead, Knowles setting up Emmett who fired past Ravas , 1-0 to Town.

Town looked to stamped their authority on the game, Ravas saving from Knowles, but Trinity would not lie down as Belshaw save from Hinchcliffe, the game opened up, end to end stuff until the break.

Following the tea break Thomson hit the post before Trinity must have thought they had equalised on a couple of occasions, Belshaw saving from Jarman, quite how he kept out the follow-up I do not know, this was followed minutes later by a header from a corner being cleared off the line by a falling Leesley.

Trinity were on top, but then as this game does, they paid for not taking their chances, Beck turning in a Burrell cross from close range. This game can be cruel at times. Trinity were beaten, their players looked a tad fed-up with that goal and it was Town who finished the stronger. Whilst Harrogate deserved the win, I think a 2 goals margin was flattering.

The return journey was just as pleasant. A great day out.

stats ‘N’ stuff

games: 4 (+ 1 friendly which I don’t count)

goals: 12 (+2)

total att: 82,889

milestones: Borussia Dortmund v Hannover 96; highest ever attendance – 81,360 / total attendances past 500,000. AFC Darwen v Northwich Victoria; 300th goal of the season – Matthews or was it Halsall, who knows? Harrogate Town v Gainsborough Trinity; 10 games since a 0-0.

totals – all-time

games: 485

goals: 1650

total att: 549,592

female officials: 14

red cards: 102

penalties: 149

0-0s: 13

highlight of the week: Has to be being part of the yellow wall. Not every week that you get a chance to do something like that. Incredible.

 

 

 

Slide Away

Don’t you feel alive
These are your times and our highs

GAME OF THE WEEK

Burscough 2 Northwich Victoria 1

Hallmark Security League Premier Division

Attendance: 103

Gate: £6

Programme: £2

Well the best laid plans and all that.

News came through that my original choice of Nuneaton Town v Harrogate Town was off, it was joined by numerous other games, in fact at one point only Hyde United and Stockport County were confirmed as being on locally.

Conferring with my partner in crime Mr Wilks, the decision was eventually made to head out to Burscough for their game with Northwich Vics and a clash between two clubs that look to be on a downward spiral, at the very least, they have both enjoyed better times.

So on a rainy afternoon we set off for West Lancashire. Parking in Tesco’s car park we headed off to the Village Fish Bar for some food to find it had closed 20 minutes earlier. Damn. However, it was going to re-open at 4:30. Post match chippy? Oh go on then.

After sheltering in the warmth of the car for a while we made our way to Victoria Park. A ground that may not be around for much longer, which would be a shame, it looks in need of a little bit of TLC. Entering behind the goal to the east, which is open standing, moving in a clockwise direction in the corner is the clubhouse/food bar/offices. On the south side as well as having open standing is a raised grandstand. At the ‘far end’ is a covered terraced area, unfortunately this area is cordoned off whilst maintenance work is carried out. Finally, on the north side, is another covered terraced area.

The sides come out, one in green the other in white, it took me a second to realise it was Burscough that were in white, a change from the last time I saw them. We got underway on a heavy pitch in horrible conditions. The opening 45 minutes were very much spent trying to cope with the conditions, as the players struggled with the ball and any kind of passing game, us spectators trying to stay warm.  Chances were at a premium and both sides were restricted to a fair amount of long shots as the referee had to keep changing the ball due to the condition of it. No surprise that it was 0-0 at the break.

Six minutes into the second half and a big moment of controversy, what looked like a fair tackle by Vics defender Kenny was punished by the referee Ince and a penalty was awarded. Justice was done when Donlon guessed correctly and pushed Whyte’s penalty away for a corner. Great save.

Was the dreaded 0-0 on the cards? As we neared the midway point of the half we got our answer. No! Burscough’s Ward sprinting clear in the inside channel and unleashing his effort that Donlon couldn’t keep out. 1-0 Linnets. Back came Northwich and they grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck creating chance after chance but missing time after time. That was until the 75th minute when they won a free-kick on the right hand corner of the box. Gorman took it. Gorman curled right into the far top corner. Keeper had no chance. What a goal! 1-1. Only one winner here.

Yes, I got that wrong. As Vics continued to dominate a Burscough break in added on led to Cummings slotting home the ball, big celebrations followed from the Whites, Vics looked on incredulously, Burscough had stolen the game.

When the final whistle sounded we finally managed to get our chippy. Very tasty.

ADDED ON

Original plan was to visit West Didsbury & Chorlton, which was postponed due to the weather. It did seem a little strange when Maine Road’s, which is about a mile and a half away, was more than playable. Anyway. Joined by 1874 mark, we soon witnessed bottom of the table Barnton arrived and found themselves 2-0 down in less than 15 minutes without doing much wrong. Sean Cookson was their villain. Road’s left winger scored a worldie of an opener, lashing home his effort from 20 yards out after just 8 minutes  and 5 minutes later reacted first to a looping ball in the area and nodded home.

A third was added after the break, Woodcock, the hosts impressive right winger, was fouled for the umpteenth time, this time in the box, penalty given, up stepped Coop, 3-0. A late consolation scored by Hamid, fine strike from distance gave Barnton a little consolation, but Maine Road still ran out worth winners, despite finishing with 9 men due to a late injury and sending off.

20171204_194941 (2)

GAMES

Mon: Maine Road 3 Barnton 1

Sat: Burscough 2 Northwich Victoria 1

FACTS

Games: 449

Goals:  1527

Grounds: 212

Games since a 0-0: 62

Milestone: None

Performance of the Week: Zack Woodcock. The Maine Road winger was a constant threat to the Barnton defence. Tormentor.

Chippy of the Week: Village Fish Bar, Burscough.

Random Fact: James Ormrod’s red card for Maine Road was my 99th.

SOUNDTRACK

A Storm in Heaven – The Verve