Saturday, February 25, 2006
Ipswich Town 2 Leicester City 0
Left it late getting to this one arriving just before kick-off. I needn't have rushed my cup of tea back at Chez Extreme Groundhopping before hotfooting it to PR though, as the first forty-five minutes was probably the most instantly forgettable half of football that I've seen this season.
And god was it cold. A nasty wind picked up during the half-time break, whipping into the faces of the stalwarts in the upper tier of the North Stand. But oddly, this spurred Town into action, and goals from young Owen Garvan and loanee debutant Ricardo Fuller sealed a deserved win against a Leicester side whose unadventurous tactics suggested they would be more than happy with a goalless draw and had no idea what to do when they went a goal behind.
Match: 52 (2005/06) 1,296 (Lifetime)
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Ipswich Town Reserves 2 Coventry City Reserves 0
FA Barclaycard Premier Reserve League (South)
Reserve encounters it must be said don’t always offer a feast of entertainment, although tonight’s game wasn’t completely devoid of excitement, and my mind does tend to wander from the action into a cosy world of fond football memories. This evening as I stared trance like into the glare of one of PR’s floodlight pylons I was suddenly reminded of my first ever European adventure with Town way back in the 1975 as Town took on Feyenoord in Rotterdam.
This is an important week for various English clubs in Europe, not least for Bolton Wanderers, who on Thursday will attempt to oust Marseille from the UEFA Cup and reach the last sixteen of Europe’s second most important club tournament. The Trotters, not the greatest of Town’s mates it must be said, have enjoyed a great run in their first ever European campaign, which has taken their fan’s to Turkey, Portugal and this week France. And regardless of the outcome I’m sure the Bolton fans have had a great time on their travels as I have with Town over the past thirty years.
If you can’t see your side in competitive action on the contintent the chances are they will have a pre-season tour to some exotic European City at some point in time. My advice don’t miss the chance to travel with them. Invariably the weather will be better - no matter what time of year you travel; the stadium you’ll watch the game at won’t be located on some forgotten piece of wasteland at the edge of town; you won’t be bussed out of the ground and away from the area under police escort immediately after the final whistle; you’ll most likely receive a warm welcome at the local bars and restaurants and may even get the chance to discuss the days/evenings action with the locals – rather than being chased off by the local skinheads. Football tourism – can’t beat it.
Match: 51 (2005/06) 1,295 (Lifetime)
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Histon 1 Weston-Super-Mare 1 (h/t)
Nationwide Conference South
When you plan an afternoon out with military precision you can virtually guarantee that things will get cocked-up. Collecting Mrs Extreme Groundhopping up from work at 6:15 being a known constant and working backwards from there I decided that this weekends groundhop would take me to the southern tip of the Fen’s and Histon FC’s Glass World Stadium. I could watch the game and drive to my rendezvous with Mrs. E. afterwards arriving at exactly the right time. Sadly the coach carrying the players, directors and officials of Weston-Super-Mare broke down en-route to the fixture meaning a 4pm kick-off and a half-time departure for myself. But all was not lost.
Riding high after last seasons Southern League Championship success, and promotion for the first time to the Nationwide Conference South, Histon have taken to life at level two in the non-league pyramid and currently sit in a respectable mid-table position – just a few points off the play-off places.
Promotion has also seen continued improvements to their Bridge Road ground (actually in Impington just north of the A14) thanks to the continued sponsorship of Glassworld. Arriving what I thought was a reasonable thirty minutes ahead off kick-off actually proved to be an hour-and-a-half ahead of the start of any action. This gave yours truly plenty of time to investigate this pleasant and tidy venue and to enjoy a decent enough burger and chips, and after several laps of the playing area, a nice cuppa too.
The Stutes are well supported by the locals, and considering that the combined population of Histon and the adjacent Impington is around 8,500 the club do very well to average around 450 for home games. Much larger Town’s struggle to attract anywhere near that level of support for their local sides. Back at the beginning of last season some 2,000 fans flocked to Bridge Road for the FA Cup 1st Round tie with Shrewsbury Town. The red and blacks advance to the second round for the first time in their history with a two-nil win over the League Two side, and equaled that achievement this season succumbing to Nuneaton Borough after a replay. 2,100 turning out for that game.
Weston-super-mare, also newcomers to the Conference South, have struggled to find any sort of form this campaign, but despite fifteen league defeats so far this season the Somerset side are well clear of the drop zone with eleven points to spare on the relegation places. Clearly suffering from the effects of their delayed arrival they went behind in the 11th minute when ‘keeper Northmore saved a short range effort by Histon’s Bloomfield, his defence failed to clear the ball as it rebounded off his chest and Ian Cambridge made easy work of the follow-up.
Northmore saved again a few minutes later and also saw a shot return off his bar before his side equalised just after half-an-hour, and very much against the run of play. Defender Scott Walker picked up a lose ball some thirty yards out and hit a pile driver into the far corner of the Histon net. An absolute scorcher of a goal that silenced the crowd apart from a handful of travelling Mare fans positioned behind said goal. The game settled into a midfield battle for the remainder of the half before I had to make my exit.
A player who caught my attention in the forty-five minutes of action I did get to see was defender Erkan Okay, probably because I had seen him in action for the Ipswich Town Youth side some years back. He didn’t make it with Town but by all accounts played a key role in Histon’s Championship victory last season.
One-one proved to be the full-time score too according to local radio. So another blog entry comes to an end but before I go a quick mention for the slightly sinister looking Histon mascot (pictured) – The Hound - who reminded me vaguely of the giant furry animals that fought to the death in Dom Joly’s Trigger Happy TV a few years back. Or perhaps it’s just me.
Match: 50 (2005/06) 1,294 (Lifetime)
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Ipswich Town Reserves 1 Crystal Palace Reserves 1
FA Barclaycard Premier Reserve League (South)
Don’t panic I’m not going to bore you with details of last night’s action from the FA Barclaycard Premier Reserve League (South), but thought I would just jot down a few lines pointing you in the direction of Extreme Groundhopping’s Big Brother Pride of Anglia.
A plethora of new images, taken of football grounds the length and breadth of the country, have recently been added to the sites gallery of stadium panoramas. These include Vicarage Road, Turf Moor, Home Park, the Madejski Stadium, Bramall Lane, Deepdale, Ninian Park, Layer Road, Elland Road, Withdean, St Mary's, Mjallby AIF's Strandvallen and Ram Meadow (home of Bury Town FC).
The images are of varying quality but obviously considered good enough to be featured in Southport Online’s review of this weekends Conference clash between Cambridge United and Southport FC, where our panorama of the Abbey Stadium takes centre stage ;-)
Match: 49 (2005/06) 1,293 (Lifetime)
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Ipswich Town 2 Burnley 1
When Saturday Comes rarely disappoints and this months edition is no exception (March 2006). In addition to three Ipswich related articles there is also an interesting piece on admission prices at the twenty-four Championship grounds. Portman Road, it would appear, is the second most expensive venue in the second tier of English football, where you will need an uneven £27 to buy the cheapest match day seat, whilst Selhurst Park is the most expensive. There it will set you back £30 to park your butt for ninety minutes of Palace action.
The gist of the article is that prices are driving away the casual fan, and even the most dedicated are thinking twice about attending some of their teams lesser games. Oddly at Ipswich, where the fayre on offer in the first half of the season was pretty awful to say the least, crowds have held up pretty well at an average of 24,265. That compares very favourably with the highs of Bobby Robson’s reign.
Burnley, and no disrespect to them, are hardly renowned as a big crowd puller these days, yet 24,482 turned up for today’s game. The Turf Moor outfit, incidentally, offer the cheapest seat in the league at a mere £18. Perhaps the long journey from Lancashire and rarified prices in Suffolk explains one of the poorest turn outs by away fans at PR this campaign.
Proper report here.
Match: 48 (2005/06) 1,292 (Lifetime)
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Hadleigh United 2 Godmanchester Rovers 1
Ridgeons League Division One
My Football watching since returning to Suffolk from Hampshire back in September has mostly been confined to short walks down to Portman Road to watch the seniors, reserves and youth team in action (the U-18’s local derby against Norwich attracting an impressive 3,900 at the tail end of last year). Mrs. Extreme groundhopping has released me from decorating duty on a couple of occasions for the rather longer journey’s to Coventry City and Stoke City. The trip to Coventry an eventful one being as it was Town’s first trip to the shiny new Ricoh Arena and consequently my debut their too. The Britannia I had experienced a number of times before (you must check out the highly impressive statues (there’s three of them) of the late Sir Stanley Matthews if you ever make the trip yourself). Click here, here, here and here for panorama’s of the two stadiums.
Saturday’s short car drive to Hadleigh United’s Millfield represented my first non-league action since September and reasonable affair it proved to be to. The Brettsider’s (so named due to their grounds close proximity to the river Brett - more a stream that a river but that’s neither here nor there) have enjoyed a somewhat unremarkable career in local senior football. Founded in 1892 they spent the majority of the last century in the Suffolk & Ipswich League and its forerunner the Ipswich & District League. They competed in Division One of the Eastern Counties (now Ridgeons) League for the first time in 1991-92 clinching promotion to the Premier Division, as Champions, just two years later. They enjoyed three seasons in the top flight before relegation back to Division One in 1996-97 and have settled comfortably into life there since. Winners of the Suffolk Senior Cup on four occasions, most recently in 2004, they enjoyed their best run in national cup competitions in 1994-95 when they reached round 5 of the FA Vase.
Visitors Godmanchester Rovers joined the Ridgeons League as recently as 2002 finishing the 2004-05 campaign in last place although their disappointing league form last year was made up for somewhat by the clubs first ever appearance in the FA Cup. The earliest mention of the side is as recent as 1930 when they lifted the Hunts Junior Cup. They won three consecutive Cambs Premier League Cup’s in 1995, 1996 and 1997, before joining the Ridgeons following an odd combination of relegation from the Cambs Premier League and the reorganisation of the lower levels of the non-league pyramid.
Having withstood a lively attacking start by the visitors, Hadleigh took the lead after 17 minutes, Jon Chinnery catching the Rovers defence ball watching to nip in and score from just inside the area. Rovers fought back well however and equalised following a somewhat dubious penalty award on the half hour mark. Chris Burling netting from the spot after Dominic Carmanati went to ground in the area. The second half saw United score the winner just two minutes after the restart when Simon Merrick’s floated cross-cum-shot found the top far corner of the Godmanchester net. The win ended a 19-league match winless streak for the home side much to delight of the crowd of 102.
Next weekend Ipswich take on Burnley at FPR. If the form (or lack of it) that they showed at the back end of last year had continued into the new one I may have been tempted to skip the clash with the Clarets and headed over to West Suffolk for AFC Sudbury’s local derby with Bury Town in round 5 of the FA Vase. But the Blue’s are on a six match unbeaten streak and, with victory over the great unwashed fresh in their minds, must now have more than half-an-eye on a play-off spot – so FPR it is for me.
Match: 47 (2005/06) 1,291 (Lifetime)
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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)