Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Netley Central Sports 0 VT FC 3
Wessex League Cup 2nd Round
A second consecutive night of Wessex League Cup action takes me to Netley Abbey just a mile or two to the east of the city limits of Southampton and one of those venues where the definition of what does and does not constitute a football ground becomes a bit vague. A wonderful old cricket pavilion sits in one corner of the Station Road Recreation Ground, although sadly it is boarded up - but remarkably appears to remain graffiti free – and so the players and officials have to use an adjacent and hideous looking breezeblock affair, vaguely reminiscent of a WWII bunker, in which to change. There’s progress for you. The playing area is roped off from the rest of the Rec. on match days and is well served, illumination wise, by three floodlight pylons down each touchline but that’s about it for facilities. No burger bar, no cover, no turnstile or gateman, but then no charge for admittance either.
A pretty good turnout it must be said to for the visit of Wessex One side VT FC from nearby Sholing – in one particular lull in action I counted around a hundred spectators – numbering quite a few teenagers whom I suspect were hoping to the use the area for rather more nefarious activities and probably did so once the lights had been extinguished. Any hopes of a cup upset by the home side, Division Two side Netley Central Sports, were quickly dashed by an early goal from the visitors. A red-and-black clad striker firing home from a yard or two out following a low cross from the right. A mix up between keeper and defender led to VT’s second after about half-an-hour and that about settled it as a meaningful contest. VT, formerly shipbuilder Vosper Thornycroft’s work side, scored a third toward the end of the second period to cap a very workman like performance. Of the home side this is the second time I have seen them in action this season, and while tonight they had a number of chances to make a game of it, they have failed to score on both occasions.
And now off on a complete tangent I can’t recommend highly enough the newly published “Four Minutes to Hell” by Paul Firth, a harrowing account of the fire that swept through the main stand at Bradford City’s Valley Parade Ground in 1985, killing 56 fans. The author, a City fan who himself escaped from the inferno, tells the tale of the fateful day and its aftermath. The story of some real heroes (supporters, police, plastic surgeons and the like) and how a City united in support of the survivors and the victim’s relatives. Just under a tenner from Parrs Wood Press who will make a contribution to the continuing work of the Bradford Burns Unit for every copy purchased.
Match: 30 (2005/06) 1,274 (Lifetime)
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Winchester City 2 Locks Heath 0
Wessex League Cup 2nd Round
Sadly we have reached that time of year when photography of any sort of quality is nigh on impossible at a night game (unless the lights are up to UEFA competition standards which is not the case at any of the Wessex League grounds I have visited so far) - hence lack of pictures over the past few weeks - and I lose the inclination to play tourist at hopping destinations when the nights draw in early and the weather is on the inclement side.
So, I didn’t visit Winchester Castle (home of King Arthur’s Round Table), Winchester College (the UK’s very first public school) or Winchester Cathedral (final resting place of, amongst others, William the Conquerors son, er William II, and novelist Jane Austen). Winchester Cathedral, Mrs Extreme Groundhopping reliably informs me, also features heavily in the lyrics of the Crosby, Stills and Nash 1970’s hit “Cathedral” (not entirely sure where Young was at that point). On the subject of music the choice at some grounds of canned entertainment is sometimes a bit of mixed bag. For example tonight we were treated to a (not bad) cover version of the Strangler’s Golden Brown at half-time, not once, not twice, but thrice – which incidentally is not a complaint.
The Denplan City Ground is around about a 15 minute walk north-east of the city centre and occupies a largish area of what appears to be a flood plain. The pitch is circled by a sand and gravel track, part of which is taken up for car parking on match days. The Club House, supporters hut, burger bar and changing rooms are clustered together at one end of the ground in front of which is a small section of covered terracing. Seating for one hundred or so is available in a covered stand along one touchline and that’s pretty much it. Denplan, the ground sponsors, have a number of advertising boards around the pitch informing us that they are the largest private employees in the Winchester area and on the subject of Denplan its nice to see some of my monthly private dental care premiums trickling down into grass roots football.
Winchester City, winners of the FA Vase in 2004, currently top the Sydenhams Wessex League (for the time being at least blowing my theory that Gosport Borough were the team to back for the title this year). Not a classic and the visitors, Wessex Two side Locks Heath in no way disgraced themselves, but after they had missed the chance to go a goal-up from a one-on-one after fifteen minutes you felt that was their chance of cup glory gone. And so it proved. City squandered a number of chances before going a goal up five minutes before the break. Ben Kneller lashing in a shot from a cool 25-yards out. Progress to round three was secured on 58’ when Kneller scored his second, a simple header from the edge of the six-yard box.
Match: 29 (2005/06) 1,273 (Lifetime)
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Ipswich Town 0 Watford 1
Criminal. Can someone please explain to me how 11 finely tuned and very well paid professional footballers between them can’t contrive a single attempt on the opposition goal. That’s right, not one shot on target, not one header on target in ninety minutes of play. An achingly bad performance by the Blue’s. A hundred or so supporters stayed on after the full-time whistle to call for Chairman David Sheepshanks head and finally left the ground three-quarters-of-an-hour later. Those with more sense had made a dash for the exits well before then.
Match: 28 (2005/06) 1,272 (Lifetime)
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Ipswich Town 2 Coventry City 2
An highly entertaining affair drummed up by two pretty ordinary sides. Town enjoyed a particularly creative spell mid-way through the first half that allowed them to conjure up two-goals from absolutely nothing - until that point they hadn’t managed a single meaningful attempt on the Coventry goal. Old habits die-hard however and the renowned generosity of the Town defence snatched a point from the jaws of victory yielding twice to the Sky Blue’s attack in the second-half.
Match: 27 (2005/06) 1,271 (Lifetime)
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Alton Town 1 Fareham Town 3
Wessex League Division One
The Bass Sports Ground isn’t likely to be around for that much longer as Alton Town look to move to pastures new – presumably so that it can be covered in Barratt homes like so many other former football grounds up and down the country. Town, like so many other clubs, find themselves short of the old readies but sitting on a few acres of prime real estate and are going to cash in.
Which is a shame really because “The Bass” is a bit of a gem. An old cricket pavilion sits in one corner of the site, quite a distance from the main pitch, suggesting at one time that a local cricket club would have shared the facilities. A quaint old wooden grandstand occupies the near touchline and was well used for this evenings near-basement battle with Fareham Town as an unusually warm day in Hampshire - for this time of the year - turned first to drizzle and then to heavy rain. Even the diehard travelling support from Fareham (eight in number) gave up towards the end of the game and took cover under its eaves having previously encouraged their side to victory from behind the two goals.
The ground also boasts a sizeable club house, to the left of the grandstand, and “Nick’s Kitchen” (burger and tea bar) to its right. The two youngsters running it were caught out by a sudden rush of patrons just before kick-off who waited patiently in the drizzle for the kettle to boil. You don’t get this level of tolerance from the punters at a Premiership or Football League game, but then you don’t get to top your tea up from a china milk jug either.
Given the conditions this was a pretty decent game with Fareham taking the game by the throat from the off. But they couldn’t turn more than ample possession into goals and found themselves a goal down at half-time as Alton capitalised on a goal-keeping error and scored from one of their rare chances.
Alton looked to be heading to a rare league victory but in the 80th minute needlessly conceded a penalty, which the visitors converted for the equaliser, went behind two-minutes later directly from a free-kick and had their fate sealed when Fareham went 3-1 up as a red-and-white clad striker side footed home a cross driven in hard and low to the six-yard box from the left-wing.
Match: 26 (2005/06) 1,270 (Lifetime)
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
AFC Totton 1 Poole Town 1
Wessex League Division One
Totton, just to the west of Southampton, is not one of the more scenic locations that I have found myself in while groundhopping round Hampshire this past three months. I’m sure it has its good points but these do not include Totton Shopping Precinct, the railway station and the area in between. A friendly enough welcome at the ground, however, which has been shown a bit of love and attention since it was visited by Pyramid Passion a few years back. Too dark at evening matches this time of the year to be taking pictures. Floodlights at this level aren’t quite up to the job and neither is the flash on my camera, but as always the aforementioned Pyramid Passion has some decent ones for you to peruse.
Arriving early at Testwood Park, and having enjoyed a decent cup of tea in the pleasant surrounds of the club house I took to a seat in the mainstand and waited for game to start. From this vantage point you can see the lights of downtown Southampton, which tonight, were augmented by a firework display of some sort. This reminded me of the many happy evenings I spent watching the Chicago White Sox baseball team slug it out with their American League rivals at the old Comiskey Park in the early 1980’s. Above the bleachers stood a huge scoreboard which, if the Sox hit a home run, would fire off a salvo of very very loud rockets in celebration.
Not a huge amount to celebrate in tonight’s rather average Wessex League One encounter and certainly no requirement for any scoreboard antics. AFC Totton I saw trashed 10-0 at Eastleigh back in pre-season but Poole were a new side for me, and much impressed I was, at least by their kit of red and white halves. Poole had marginally the better of the first half, had a goal disallowed for pushing and saw a glancing header hit the bar, while Totton (The ‘Stags’) edged the second. Indeed after having one chance well saved by the Poole ‘keeper and another effort cleared off the line they went ahead on 73’. Poole were having none of that and were level in under sixty seconds with a goal requiring just three passes from the kick-off.
Match: 25 (2005/06) 1,269 (Lifetime)
More reminiscing courtesy of breakfast TV footage
GMTV’s coverage this morning of the hospitalization of George Best (with an infection apparently related to the liver transplant he received three years ago) included a 10 second bit of footage showing the Northern Irish wizard playing in the Blue and White of ITFC as they took on an England XI in Bobby Robson’s Testimonial at FPR in the late 70’s.
Normally when Best is in the news the clip of him weaving around ten Spurs players before lobbing Pat Jennings from 25-yards at the Stretford End is dusted off and shown to the punters. Maybe it was filed away in the wrong place the last time it was wheeled out and the Ipswich footage was the next best thing in the archives!
Anyway, made me come over all nostalgic again so soon after last weeks appearance by my boyhood hero David Johnson on breakfast TV.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
Ipswich Town 2 Crewe Alexandra 1
Nicky Forster made a timely return from a cartilage operation to score Town’s winner in the 60th minute. This was his second goal of the season, a super finish after latching onto flick-on by Richard Naylor, coming just six minutes after Darren Currie had pulled Town level from a free-kick which he had struck into the top left-hand corner of the Crewe goal.
But, second half comeback aside, this was a pretty abysmal showing by the Blue’s who started the first half badly and somehow contrived to go from worse to awful to hideous. The visitors passed Ipswich off the pitch during the first period, deservedly took the lead through David Vaughan just before the half-hour and can consider themselves very unfortunate not to have gone in at the break 2 or 3 goals further ahead.
Sam Parkin, who has not had the greatest of starts since signing from Swindon in the close season, was taken off at half-time, central-defender Richard Naylor was moved up front to add a bit of bite to the attack and this switch, combined with the return of Forster, turned the game.
One upside of Parkin’s signing is that it gives the intelligentsia in the North Stand a Town player to jeer and boo for the first time since Andy Marshall left – although I’m pretty sure the former Norwich ‘keeper was given at least half a season to demonstrate his ineptness before being singled out for abuse.
Match: 24 (2005/06) 1,268 (Lifetime)
a (mainly) pictorial account of one man's obsession with football stadia, floodlight pylon's and ipswich town football club
recent postsOn the move...
The Manchester City Experience
Olympic Stadium HDTV Ready
links:: Am I Supposed To Be At Home?
:: Black & White & Read All Over
:: Dub Steps
:: The 100 Grounds Club
:: Non-League Groundblogger
:: Each game as it comes
:: Pie and Mushy Peas
:: Local Bus Driver
:: Six Tame Sides
:: FA Vase diary
:: Pitch Invasion
:: Llandudno Jet Set
:: The Amazing One Man Brake Club
:: Bill the Navigator
:: Grounds for concern…
:: My Football Travels
:: European Football Weekends
Ground Visit RecordENGLAND
(Fitness First Stadium)
(Wicor Recreation Ground)
(King's Marsh Stadium)
(Alton (Bass) Sports Ground)
(Brantham Athletic Sports & Social Club)
Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton & Hove Albion
(New Writtle Street)
(Chelmsford Sport & Athletics Centre)
(Saunders Honda Stadium)
Dagenham & Redbridge
Debenham Leisure Centre
(Brewers Green Lane)
(Rush Green Bowl)
Felixstowe & Walton United
Great Yarmouth Town
(Wellesley Recreation Ground)
Harwich & Parkeston
Havant & Waterlooville
(West Leigh Park)
(Glass World Stadium)
(Five Heads Park)
(SEH Sports Ground )
(The New Den)
(National Hockey Stadium)
Netley Central Sports
(Station Road Recreation Ground)
(St James' Park)
(Cricket Field Road)
Preston North End
Queens Park Rangers
Saffron Walden Town
(Raymond McEnhill Stadium)
Soham Town Rangers
(Julius Martin Lane)
St Albans City
(New Farm Road)
(Green Meadows Stadium)
(Stadium of Light)
(White Hart Lane)
United Services Portsmouth
(Vosper Thornycroft Sports Ground)
Walsham Le Willows
(Walsham Sports Club Ground)
West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
(King George V Playing Field )
(Denplan City Ground)
(St. Georges Lane)
Heart of Midlothian
(North Sydney Oval)
SW Wacker Innsbruck
(Constant Vanden Stock Stadium)
1. FC Koeln
1. FC Union Berlin
(Stadion An der Alten Försterei)
(Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam)
(GN Bouw Stadion)
(Abe Lenstra Stadium)
(Willem II Stadion)
(Gamla Ullevi (Old))
(Comiskey Park I)
Tampa Bay Rowdies
(Tampa Bay Stadium)