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Showing posts from January, 2016

First Tower United v Sporting Academics reserves

4.30pm  30 January 2016 Jersey Combination, Division Two First Tower United 1 Sporting Academics reserves 3 (att 25) Booking a weekend break in the British Isles in January is always a risk, and so it proved as our short stay in the Channel island of Jersey coincided with weather so wet it wiped out all Saturday's scheduled games on grass. Luckily for me, the island's de facto national stadium, Springfield in St Helier, now has a 3G pitch, allowing a couple of games to go ahead. Less fortunately, it wasn't a new ground for me, as I'd seen a Jersey Combination game at Springfield in 1991. In the 25 years since, the stadium has been entirely rebuilt, and now looks completely different. As well as replacing the grass, the pitch itself has apparently been rotated 90 degrees, the old stand and huge open terrace opposite are gone, replaced by a neat and modern seated stand. First team football in Jersey is restricted to the top two divisions, the Premiership and Ch

Sheppey United v Lewisham Borough (Community)

3pm  23 January 2016 Kent Invicta League Sheppey United 7 Lewisham Borough (Community) 0 (att 208) This wasn't the game I was aiming for, but it always pays to have a plan B. My intention, after the academy game at Crystal Palace, was a 2pm kick off at Gravesend-based Guru Nanak FC, but a late finish to the morning match, plus heavy south London traffic, meant I'd have missed the first few minutes. Instead, I headed further into Kent for a 3pm game. Sheppey United's Holm Park is a ground I was keen to get to anyway. It recompleted the Kent Invicta League, and means I'm now down to just two grounds to complete the English non-League pyramid down to "step six" (some 47 divisions). Sheppey doesn't feel much like a step six club, and are surely destined to climb higher. Few teams at this level can attract more than 200 paying spectators for a home game against struggling opposition, and the whole set up has a buzz about it. The home fans will have g

Crystal Palace U18 v Brentford U18

11am  23 January 2016 Under 18 Professional Development League 2 Crystal Palace U18 3 Brentford U18 4 (att 60) I was in two minds whether I really fancied the very early start and long drive needed to reach Palace's youth team ground for an 11am kick off. I'd emailed the club earlier in the week to ask about admission, as it's a long way to go if there's a risk of being turned away at the gate, and the club has a reputation of insisting youth fixtures are "behind closed doors". They replied on Friday to say I was able to attend, and that my name would be passed to security, so I decided I ought to make the effort. I left home at 6am, and found a parking spot close the to Goals Beckenham North centre, in south east London, about four-and-a-half hours later. Palace have begun borrowing the pitches here this season. It's just across Copers Cope Road from their training ground, where youth team games used to be played. Palace's "security&qu

Bradford v Salts reserves

2pm  16 January 2016 West Riding County Amateur League, Division Two Bradford 3 Salts reserves 1 (att 5) Another Saturday when the weather dictated the choice of game, at least in the north of England where grass pitches were vulnerable to being either waterlogged or frozen. Once I knew a couple of options had been postponed I was more than happy to settle for another artificial pitch, this time the 3G surface at Bradford Academy, a school-cum-sports centre in the Bowling area of the city. When it was an old-fashioned school, rather than a modern new academy, the playing fields provided a home to West Riding League Bowling FC. Their old pitch remains, some distance from the new 3G which is, typically, floodlit and enclosed by high fencing. Unfortunately, this is one 3G venue where spectators are not permitted inside the cage. Access was controlled by staff, and without the necessary "pitch pass" it was difficult to get a decent view. To be fair, spectators haven&

Heyside v Holme Valley Academicals

1.45pm  9 January 2016 Huddersfield and District League, Barlow Cup 2nd Round Heyside 5 Holme Valley Academicals 1 (att 10) Evening plans meant I needed a local game, so this cup tie appealed primarily thanks to its early kick off, and an artificial pitch which meant the rain was unlikely to pose a problem. I've not seen a lot of Huddersfield League football, but the games I have watched have been a decent standard, so I was looking forward to a cup tie in which top division Heyside were hosting HV Academicals (as they're usually known) from the league's second tier. I guess Heyside, to the east of Oldham, is a bit of an outpost of the Huddersfield League. They play on a newly-constructed all-weather pitch in the grounds of Crompton House School in Shaw. Like most venues of this type it's floodlit and enclosed by a high fence, but on the plus side there's an area on the near side for spectators, plenty of room around the pitch for those, like me, who pref

Brownley Albion v Blackley Town

10am  9 January 2016 Manchester Saturday Morning League, League Cup 1st Round Brownley Albion 2 Blackley Town 4 (att 3) After days of rain I was surprised to learn that Stockport Council's grass pitches were to be open at the weekend, and playable subject to referees' decisions. Two Saturday morning games were scheduled at the William Scholes Playing Fields in Gatley, so despite a previous visit I was guaranteed a new pitch, subject of course to a final decision by the match officials. Heavy rain as I left home for the short drive to Gatley meant I was expecting a wasted journey, but I was in luck. One game was off, Parrswood Thursday's pitch was waterlogged, but Brownley and Blackley's Manchester Evening News-sponsored league cup tie was on. Last time I saw a game at the venue, the now defunct Gatley FC in 2000, they played on an open pitch alongside an enclosed ground that was surrounded by an ageing running track. The playing fields have had a makeover sin

FC Cavaliers v West Bridgford

3pm  2 January 2016 Nottinghamshire Senior League, Premier Division FC Cavaliers 0 West Bridgford 5 (att 65) With lots of rain having fallen, and plenty more forecast, it made sense to avoid to risk of a late postponement by taking the safe option of a game on an artificial surface. I chose table-topping West Bridgford's visit to FC Cavaliers, a nomadic club who, for this season at least, are based on a new all-weather facility at the Forest Sports Zone. The ground seems to be part of Nottingham Forest's community commitment, and is on the edge of a large park which stages the city's annual Goose Fair. The pitch is typical of its type, being floodlit and enclosed by a high fence. The official spectator area is on the side nearest the entrance, but I opted for a better view by sneaking to the far side. On a gloomy and damp afternoon, although it was nowhere near as wet as weather forecasters had predicted, there was plenty of bright football to admire. Most of it