New Armley v Bramley Town

11am  29 July 2018

Leeds Sunday League
New Armley 3 Bramley Town 3 (att 9)

A quirk of the fixtures on the days I've headed into Yorkshire for matches in the Leeds Sunday League's summer season means Bramley Town have featured on all three occasions.

Last time I saw them win 14-0, although the league website still insists they scored 15, and goal difference is likely to be the determining factor as they and Whitkirk go into next week's final league games level on points.

The be fair the 'ghost goal' probably won't be crucial as Bramley are nine goals better, but Whitkirk's final game is against Crown and Anchor, the side who were thrashed by Bramley.

New Armley provided a much stiffer test in this game at Fearnville Pitches in East Leeds. Bramley were ahead early on but New Armley soon got back into the game and were 2-1 up at half time. Their third goal, just after the break, looked to have settled things but Bramley battled back for a crucial point.

Since my last Leeds Sunday League matches Thorner FC have withdrawn both their sides from the competition, leaving just six clubs. All of them were in action on different pitches at Fearnville, and I chose to watch this match mainly because it was first to kick off.

It was a good choice as the two sides provided some decent entertainment in horribly wet and windy conditions.

Sutton Bridge United v Peterborough Polonia

4.30pm  28 July 2018

Peterborough and District League, Premier Division
Sutton Bridge United 5 Peterborough Polonia 3 (att 337)

The third and final game of the day for me (the 'hop' continued with a fourth at Sleaford Town, a ground I'd already been to) was at Sutton Bridge, a village I've driven through dozens of times on my way to and from Norfolk.

The club is based on a village sports field off Bridge Street, and the roped off pitch is typical of venues in the Peterborough and District League. Once again it was a top division game that provided good entertainment.

Sutton Bridge United opened the scoring but Polonia, wearing a red and white kit as you'd expect, hit back to lead 2-1 at half time. The home side came back strongly in the second half, scoring two penalties in quick succession as they racked up the goals.

The second spot kick resulted in a red card for the Polonia keeper, and both penalties came during a short spell when the heavens opened and I - like the majority of spectators dressed for warm weather - tried in vain to find shelter under trees that lined the ground.

Disappointment for the Polonia supporters, who included young mascots in replica kit, fans with scarves and one who provided noisy and enthusiastic support with his drum ... until it was wrestled from him in a second half squabble that seemed unnecessary.

Tydd v Moulton Harrox

1.30pm  28 July 2018

Peterborough and District League, Premier Division
Tydd 2 Moulton Harrox 3 (att 342)

From Whaplode Drove I joined a convoy of groundhopper-laden cars snaking its way through the lanes on the short journey to Tydd St Giles, where last season's Tydd St Mary FC have relocated to.

The move has meant a name change, with the club now known as Tydd FC, and work on the new venue is still continuing. Apparently the league gave them permission to stage this game, but future matches will be played elsewhere until work on the changing rooms is complete.

Obviously I didn't see the state of the changing rooms, but what I did see was a decent village football ground that seems more than adequate for this level of the game. The single football pitch is screened off from the wider recreation ground, although whether that was a one-off to ensure everyone paid to get in for this match I'm not sure.

Like Whaplode Drove before them (and Sutton Bridge United later in the day) the club was well organised to cater for the larger than usual crowd. It was a decent game too, with the visitors leading 1-0 at the break before going on to get a deserved 3-2 victory.

Whaplode Drove v Rippingale and Folkingham

10.45am  28 July 2018

Peterborough and District League, Division Two
Whaplode Drove 1 Rippingale and Folkingham 3 (att 227)

After spending a fortnight travelling through the Canadian Rocky Mountains I re-started my domestic football season, by way of contrast, in the flatlands of south Lincolnshire.

It's become a tradition for a handful of Peterborough and District League clubs to begin their season in late July, for no other other reason than to get a large crowd of groundhoppers and to get a welcome boost to their income.

The first of three Peterborough League games was at third tier Whaplode Drove. The league's second division is lower than I'd usually travel such a distance for a one-off game, but it was a decent opener ahead of premier division games to come.

Whaplode Drove were a little fortunate to lead 1-0 at half-time, but their luck ran out in the second half as visitors Rippingale and Folkingham overturned the deficit for a convincing 3-1 win.

Whaplode Drove is a village a few miles from Spalding, the football pitch is as basic as you'd expect at this level. It's enclosed though, with an adjacent community centre providing the required off-field facilities. With this being a hop match, and a larger than usual crowd, there was plenty of additional refreshments laid on, and the pitch was partly roped off.

Vancouver Whitecaps v Montreal Impact

7pm  25 July 2018

Canadian Championship, Semi-Final, Second Leg
Vancouver Whitecaps 2 Montreal Impact 0 (2-1 on aggregate) (att 19,267)

Whitecaps are apparently named after the snow-topped mountains and the foam-crested waves that surround the city. Vancouver is lovely, and the BC Place Stadium is close to the centre, like a flying saucer that’s landed in downtown. Its central location reminded me of Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

The impressive modern arena is home to Canadian Football team BC Lions as well as Vancouver Whitecaps. The upper tier of the stadium is closed for soccer games, but cleverly screened so you’re not looking at acres of empty seats, and leaving a capacity of around 22,000.

I wasn’t sure what sort of crowd to expect for a Canadian Championship semi-final. I’d bought tickets in advance just in case of a sell out but as it turned out seats were available, albeit not that many.

The Canadian Championship might be seen as a hindrance to MLS clubs, but does provide a route into the CONCACAF Champions League as well as bragging rights in the north of the continent. MLS sides get byes to the final four, with a couple of earlier rounds to see off plucky underdogs who qualify by winning local leagues.

Montreal Impact had won last week’s first leg by the only goal, but goals in each half oveturned that and earned Whitecaps a deserved (on the evidence of this match) place in next month’s two-legged final against Toronto FC.

It was a good game, although many locals won’t have known that as lots arrived late, then spent much of the 90 minutes constantly leaving their seats in search of vast amounts of food and drink. A family of four sat directly in front of us can’t have actually watched more than 10 minutes of football, although between them they did manage to consume three huge buckets of popcorn.

That said, Whitecaps did have a vocal section of support behind the goal, and they did their best to create a decent atmosphere. I didn’t spot any Montreal fans, but if any had made the mammoth journey their team gave them very little to shout about.

Calgary Foothills v Seattle Sounders U23

2pm  14 July 2018

USA (& Canada), Premier Development League, Western Conference, Northwest Division
Calgary Foothills 2 Seattle Sounders U23 0 (att 350)

I booked the dates and worked out the itinerary for our Canadian road trip long before any fixtures were available. I got lucky with this, as it had been scheduled for Friday night, ahead of our arrival, before being changed to Saturday afternoon.

The timing may have been convenient, but not the location. To find an available venue up to PDL standards Foothills have moved 30 miles south to the town of Okotoks. We weren't collecting our hire car until after the weekend, and there’s no public transport option.

Fortunately though, the club has a deal with a Calgary pub, the Ship and Anchor, where if you buy a match ticket you get free return bus travel (in one of those iconic yellow north American school buses) and a free pint. We arrived early enough for brunch as well, and to admire the collection of club scarves, including Stockport County and Hartlepool United, that adorn the bar.

It took about 45 minutes to get from central Calgary to the Foothills Composite High School in Okotoks. Large signs declare it is home to the Falcons, presumably one of those bafflingly high profile school sports teams.

The Falcons must pull in the crowds for their gridiron games, as several hundred uncovered seats line one side of the pitch. The opposite side houses the changing rooms, benches and other facilities off limits to spectators.

Behind the goal nearest the entrance is just a wide area of open grass, with some advertising boards enclosing the pitch. The far end has a fenced in ‘beer garden’ where a guy in a Blackpool FC shirt sold me a cold can at half time, and where Foothills’ vocal supporters, known at The Footsoldiers, gathered.

A barbecue was set up next to the beer garden, and as it was Foothills final regular season game, before the playoffs, all ticket holders got a free hot dog and soft drink. Add in a free programme, a four-page foldover, and I can’t recall getting so many added extras for the cost of a match ticket.

On the pitch it wasn’t much of a game to be honest, although the heat won’t have helped the players, nor the long grass although at least the natural surface meant the only visible pitch markings were for soccer.

Foothills have won the division, and followed this game with success in California in the first stage of the playoffs. Second placed Sounders needed a win to have a chance of a wild card playoff spot themselves.

The visitors were marginally the better side in a tight first half but couldn’t maintain that after the break. The turning point was a goalbound Foothills shot that was kept out by a great diving save ... by a Sounders defender with the keeper already beaten.

The offending player was red-carded but the penalty was saved. With a man advantage it wasn’t long before Foothills broke the deadlock. A bad tackle about 15 minutes from the end resulted in a second red for the visitors, and it was a surprise that it took until stoppage time before Foothills doubled their lead.

Not the most exciting of games, but matches abroad are always interesting beyond the match itself and this was no exception. Next year a new Canadian Premier League is due to start, and newly-formed Cavalry FC will represent Calgary. Not sure what that will mean for Foothills, and whether they’ll become a feeder club.

In the meantime I'll be following Foothills' progress in the playoffs from across the Atlantic.

Crown and Anchor v Bramley Town

11am  8 July 2018

Leeds Sunday League
Crown and Anchor 0 Bramley Town 14 (att 19)

I don't usually watch Sunday league football, but I much prefer competitive matches to friendlies and the Leeds Sunday League now has a summer season making it an acceptable way to kick off my 2018/19 season.

Not that this game was very competitive to be honest. Bramley went ahead in the opening minute, were 6-0 up by half time and added a further eight goals in the second period. They could easily have scored plenty more.

As I type this the league's Full Time website insists the final score was 15-0. I've been wrong before, but on this occasion I reckon my tally is accurate.

Eight teams are taking part in this year's Leeds Sunday League. Last month I visited Thorner, whose two teams play at their own ground in the village. The other clubs play on pitches allocated by the league, two at Fearnville and one at Bramley Park.

This match was at the latter, played on pitch three at what is a very pleasant park. The pitch was very narrow, but was in far better condition than pitches one and two, neither of which looked playable.

Just Fearnville's pitches left to complete the league, but they may have to wait until next summer now.