Leverington Sports v Peterborough ICA Sports

2pm  31 July 2017

Peterborough and District League, Premier Division
Leverington Sports 2 Peterborough ICA Sports 0 (att 304)

This should have been the second Peterborough and District League game of the day. At 11am Long Sutton Athletic and Tydd St Mary kicked off their division one encounter but, sadly, it was halted by a serious injury after just 10 minutes.

Following a delay of close to an hour, during which a pair of first responders arrived and did their best, it was a clear an ambulance was required and the referee wisely abandoned the game.

Groundhoppers are often divided on whether or not to 'count' abandoned games. I feel life is too short to worry too much, but also that 10 minutes of play is too short to count a ground as being 'hopped', so I'll return to Long Sutton in the future. For now though, best wishes to the injured player for a speedy recovery.

With the morning's action truncated I arrived at Leverington, a village just outside Wisbech, very early. I had time to enjoy a pint from the clubhouse and a spot of reading while sat in my car, parked in the large Church Road sports field, before the action began.

It wasn't the greatest of games but it was good to watch a full 90 minutes after the earlier disappointment. The home side won thanks to two second half goals, the clincher in stoppage time.

Leverington's ground is typical for the league. The pitch is mostly roped off, although there's fencing and advertising boards along the far side, where the dugouts are situated. For some reason the referee wasn't happy with spectators standing along the barriered side, so it was a squeeze along the roped off touchline for most of the 300 or so spectators.

Moulton Harrox v Sutton Bridge United

1.45pm  29 July 2017

Peterborough and District League, Premier Division
Moulton Harrox 3 Sutton Bridge United 0 (att 280)

The start of the English football season seems to get earlier every year, but while a July start helps some clubs prepare for next weekend's FA Cup ties, for the Peterborough League it's a chance to boost their finances with an organised 'groundhop'.

The Peterborough 'hop' has evolved into an annual event including teams from the local league as well as the higher-ranked United Counties League, but as it's just the district teams I needed (and not all of them) I settled for just one of the three matches, with staggered kick offs, available today.

Moulton is a village just outside Spalding, and the Broad Lane ground is an attractive spot in summer, with a roped off pitch and a pair of sturdy dugouts flanking a small covered structure, which might originally have been intended for spectators.

In any case there were far too many today to squeeze into it, with an official head count of 280 watching a comfortable win for the hosts.

Moulton Harrox had the game won by half time, scoring all three of their goals before the break. The second half was something of a non event, although Sutton Bridge performed better and on another day might have had a goal for their efforts.

Two more Peterborough and District League games for me tomorrow .... and we're still in what used to be called the close season.

Lausanne-Sport v St Gallen

7pm  22 July 2017

Switzerland, Super League
Lausanne-Sport 3 St Gallen 3 (att 3,415)

My first truly competitive football of the season, aided by an early start for Switzerland's top divisions and a home fixture for Lausanne, close enough to our French Alpine holiday base to make it an easy trip.

Lausanne's Olympic Stadium is a short bus ride north of the attractive city centre, and the early evening kick off gave us time to see a bit more of Lausanne than just the stadium.

For a few moments I though I'd struggle to get inside to see the game. As I was only in Switzerland for a few hours I hadn't changed much money, and my few Swiss Francs weren't enough to buy tickets for the game.

Remarkably the ticket booths didn't accept card payments, so I had to follow directions to the nearest cash machine, luckily not far away. Sixty Swiss Francs, about £50, bought two tickets for what turned out to be a terrific match.

Lausanne took an early lead, a little against the run of play, which what was apparently the opening goal of the 2017/18 Swiss Super League season. St Gallen's equaliser was deserved, and they scored again to lead 2-1 by half time.

A third goal early in the second half looked to have settled things, and St Gallen had chances to go even further ahead. They paid the price for not taking them, when two quick goals for the hosts midway through the half levelled the score. Both teams had opportunities to score again, but surprisingly there were no more goals.

Lausanne-Sport's stadium, the Stade Olympique de la Pontaise, was opened in the early 1900s. It's been revamped since then of course, but it still has more character than most modern box-like stadiums, despite a running track separating spectators from the action.

Home supporters were spread around the two main stands on either side of the pitch, while St Gallen's noisy following - who deserve respect for singing non-stop, even as their side let it's two goal lead slip - were in a covered section behind the goal.

Borrowash Victoria v Mickleover Sports at Shobnall Leisure Complex

1pm  8 July 2017

Helen Belgrave Memorial Trophy at Shobnall Leisure Complex, Burton-upon-Trent
Borrowash Victoria 2 Mickleover Sports 4 (att 60)

Helen Belgrave was the mother of a Mickleover Sports player, and sadly died early this year. A trophy in her memory will apparently become a regular event and Sports, fittingly, were the first club to lift it.

Despite being a pre-season friendly in all but name it wasn't a bad match. Higher ranked Mickleover scored very early, then doubled their lead before Borrowash pulled a goal back. The second half saw Sports score twice more, and a consolation for Borrowash.

I was pleased to see a game at all. I'd been tempted to the fixture by the venue, which was supposed to be the Marston's Brewery sports ground in Burton. On arrival players and officials found the pitch wasn't fit to stage the game. I didn't get chance for a close look, but was told holes on the surface made it unplayable.

Luckily Shobnall Leisure Centre is just across the road, and after a couple of phone calls a pitch there was booked. Judging by a map behind the sports centre reception, the game was played on 'pitch four'.

I wasn't entirely sure whether I might have been to Shobnall once before. The name sounded familiar, but I didn't recognise it. Having checked, it seems I saw the now-defunct Stretton Eagles on the neighbouring Shobnall Sports Ground in 2010, so this was a new ground for me.

Wythenshawe Amateurs v Vulcan at Blessed Thomas Holford Sports Academy

2pm  1 July 2017

Pre-season friendly at Blessed Thomas Holford Sports Academy, Altrincham
Wythenshawe Amateurs 6 Vulcan 1 (att 17)

Six days after I rounded off my 2016/17 season at Limerick I decided it was time to begin 2017/18, with a rather easier journey to a school in Altrincham.

I'm not a big fan of friendlies, and rarely travel far to watch them, but I can be tempted when they're played at venues that don't regularly stage Saturday football. Blessed Thomas Holford falls into that category, with this game played on a well-worn artificial pitch.

Both Manchester League Wythenshawe Amateurs and Vulcan, newly elevated to the Cheshire League for 2017/18, should be moving into new grounds this season, so chances are I'll be seeing both sides again in the weeks and months ahead.

That Wythenshawe ran out easy winners was no surprise, as they play a couple of levels higher than Vulcan, but they had to come from behind.

The visitors, wearing training tops after bringing kit too similar to their hosts' shirts, opened the scoring. They held their lead until the 37th minute, then two goals in sixty seconds, swiftly followed by a third before half time, turned the game around.

Wythenshawe were much the better side in the second half, and ran in three more goals which reflected their superiority.

No doubt it was a useful workout for both sides, and as a neutral spectator it wasn't a bad game for a friendly, although it felt very different from a properly competitive encounter.