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Monday, March 20, 2006

Ipswich Town Reserves 0 Chelsea Reserves 1

FA Barclaycard Premier Reserve League (South)
Portman Road, Ipswich

At the back end of my school years Subbuteo was all-the-rage and in the various leagues created by and competed in against school chums, and my younger brother, I was always Glasgow Celtic - my second team at the time. I’m not quite sure exactly how this allegiance came about to be honest, perhaps it was due to memories from a few years earlier of black and white TV footage of the Lions of Vienna clinching Britain’s first European Cup, or perhaps I just liked the green and white hoped shirts (Subbuteo catalogue number #025). Like the 1967 real life players, my side were all conquering and after each game were carefully stored away in their original box on which was inscribed the names of the Celtic side that triumphed in the final against the Nerazzurri. I had carefully cut out and glued the numbers onto the back of each player as well and can remember that my favourite was number 7 (Johnstone) who would often cut in from the wing to score himself or lay-up a perfect assist for a team mate (all within the regulation three flicks of course). Sadly, the real life Jimmy Johnstone, considered by many to be Celtic’s all-time greatest player, died last week. One of a number of the games more prominent names, from my formative years as a fan, to have passed on in recent months, including George Best, Noel Cantwell, Ron Greenwood and Peter Osgood.

Meanwhile, tonight’s action saw Town’s reserve lose by a goal-to-nil to their London visitors through a second half goal by Jimmy Smith – a magnificently struck free-kick it must be said. Apart from that it was pretty much even stevens for 90 minutes between the Blues and the second XI of the Premierships reigning champions, which makes a bit of a mockery (if the reasons are footballing alone) of moves afoot to expel Championship sides from the FA Premier Reserve League. Some woolly suit at the Premier League has put forward a proposal that clubs from the Football League no longer be allowed to mingle with the stiffs of England’s elite and be despatched henceforth to the Pontins Combination League. Ipswich are former winners of the FA Premier Reserve League (South) clinching the title in 2001/02 the same season as ... ironic pause … the seniors were relegated from the Premiership proper.

Match: 56 (2005/06) 1,300 (Lifetime)

posted by chevblue at 9:46 pm 2 comments

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Ipswich Town 1 Millwall 1
Coca-Cola Championship
Portman Road, Ipswich

Match: 55 (2005/06) 1,299 (Lifetime)

Ipswich Town 1 Aston Villa 3
FA Premier Academy U-18 League
Playford Road, Ipswich, Suffolk

Match: 54 (2005/06) 1,298 (Lifetime)

Haven’t done two matches in a day for a while. Headed out to the ITFC training academy on the edge of Ipswich for the youth team game at noon and then back into the centre of town at the final whistle of that game for the 3pm kick-off at Porman Road, via Chez extreme grounhopping to spend forty-five minutes unthawing. One of those days were all four seasons get represented in the space of a few minutes. Snow, followed by clear skies and brilliant sunshine, followed by dark clouds, drizzle and a biting wind, followed by clear skies and brilliant sunshine, etc., etc.

Two games in the space of a few hours may be considered a sign of dedication to the cause by some or the first signs of madness by others. However, the length to which some will go in the name of the beautiful game is illustrated no better than in Baghdad (yes off on another tangent) where league football restarted last year after a two year hietus when Al-Zawra and Al-Shurta (two police sides) squared up in the capital’s Al-Sha'ab Stadium. The area surrounding the stadium (which opened its gates to its first paying spectators back in ‘66) had been requisitioned by coalition forces in those intervening years, but a project to restore it back for use as a sporting venue finally paid off and several thousand turned out to watch the game.

Incredible to think that the ground once hosted major internationals and that top flight English sides were once regular visitors there. Well Ipswich anyway. Back in 1986 a prolonged cold snap had enveloped Britain and many league fixtures were postponed as a result. In their bid to keep match fit in amongst all those cancellations, and in top shape in a bid to avoid relegation from the old Division One, Town arranged two games against an Iraq Select XI in early March at the very same Al-Sha'ab. The Iraq national side had the little matter of their first ever World Cup finals on the horizon and wanted some match practice too. For the record Town won the opener 1-0 while the second game ended goalless. Also for the record Iraq went onto to lose all three of their World Cup group games in Mexico, while Town were relegated to the Second Division after an eighteen year stint in England’s top flight.

More recently the colours of Ipswich have again made an appearance in Iraq, this time in the form of a collection of several hundred Town kits donated by fans back in Suffolk and delivered by the US Military to Iraqi kids in the town of Hamrin. Hat’s off to all who donated and particularly Mark Stoneman, a Town fan and US Army captain based in Iraq, who organised the whole thing.

posted by chevblue at 7:49 pm 0 comments

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Newmarket Town 1 Cammell Laird 2

FA Vase Quarter-Final
Cricket Field Road, Newmarket, Suffolk

THE form-book was certainly thrown out of the window by Newmarket Town, “The Jockeys”, in round five of the Vase to set-up today’s quarter final match up with the highly fancied Cammell Laird. The Birkenhead side had been installed as new cup favourites after Winchester City where dispatched 4-3 after extra time by Newmarket on the same day that four times finalists AFC Sudbury where ousted by local rivals Bury Town. Just two weeks prior to their epic win at Winchester’s Denplan Stadium (visited earlier his season by yours truly), Newmarket had been knocked-out of the competition by Welwyn Garden City, but Welwyn had fielded an ineligible player and the Jockeys were reinstated, at City’s expense, on appeal.

The Winchester-Newmarket clash was a classic by all accounts. Within ten minutes Newmarket, strugglers this season in the Ridgeons Premier, were two goals up against the Wessex League leaders, who fought back to draw level by the half. Newmarket went ahead again in the second period with Winchester again pulling level to force extra time in which the visitors struck the winner through Paul Shaw in the 108th minute. Newmarket rightly won the Carlsberg “Team of the Round” award for their endeavoirs. Meanwhile up in Birkenhead Cammell had beated Kent League side VCD Athletic 1-0 courtesy of a Jamie McGuire five minutes short of the regulation ninety to set-up today’s tie.

Various branches of the Extreme Groundhopping clan live in and around the town of Newmarket (including, rather embarrassingly, three Norwich City supporter’s, two of whom are season ticket holders at the Temple of Doom) so I am a reasonably frequent visitor there, although never previously to Cricket Field Road. This end of Suffolk is a bit of an oddity as its hangs on for dear life through an umbilical like narrow strip of land to the rest of the county. The good people of Newmarket put up a bit of stink when the Boundaries Commission attempted to make them part of Cambridgeshire as part of their county line straightening policy in the 1960’s. A drive along the A14 to the north of the Town, in an easterly direction, takes you past two welcome to Suffolk signs, with one for Cambridgeshire wedged in between, in the space of a mile or two. And its not because we’re over friendly in these here parts.

Newmarket is of course reknowned for its links with horse racing which date back to the early part of 12th century. The National Stud, a breeding centre for Thoroughbred horses is here, as is the famous bloodstock auctioneers Tattersalls, the Horse Racing Museum, and two race courses - the Rowley Mile and the July Course. The area around the town is also dominated by all things equine, with studs occupying large tracts of land to the north, south, east and west.

Considering the sporting history boasted by the town the football club have had a quite unremarkable run since their foundation in 1877 – incidentally making them one of the oldest club’s in the country. The Jockeys joined the (Ridgeons) Eastern Counties League in 1937, opted out of the league for the seven seasons between 1952 and 1959, and enjoyed their best finish ever as runner’s-up in 1967. Their previous best in the Vase coming back in 1992 when they reached round four, losing 3-2 at home to the old Sudbury Town club. Their Cricket Field Road ground, just to the south of the town centre and a short walk from the railway station, is a neat affair with some great oak trees behind one goal. The main stand has seating for around 100 spectators, and there is also a small covered area adjacent to the clubhouse, but the rest of the ground is open to the elements although underfoot all four sides do have hard standing.

Despite having a rather distinctive badge, featuring a blue Camel, Cammell Laird are officially nicknamed “The Battleships” (although Laird’s seems to be the moniker favoured by their supporters) due to their links with the famous Cammell Laird shipyard near Liverpool. The original Cammell Laird company closed it doors as a shipbuilder thirteen years ago. Impressively, between 1829 and 1947 some 1,100 vessels slid into the Mersey from the Laird shipyard, which has produced such notable vessels as the aircraft carrier Ark Royal, the liner Mauretania and the infamous Confederate raider Alabama. The club started life as the shipyards works team back in 1907. In more recent times they have dominated local football, nineteen West Cheshire League titles in the last thirty-five years attest to that, but promotion into the North West Counties League and hence the non-league pyramid was achieved as recently as the 2004-05 season. They entered the FA Cup for only the first time last year but have already shone in the FA Vase, reaching the last sixteen on four occasions and the quarter-finals twice (including today).

A 750 strong crowd turned out for the game, bolstered in part by a good number of Ipswich fans who would have been up at Deepdale for Town’s clash with Preston had that game not succumbed to the weather. And that’s some 700 more than Newmarket’s average, and I would imagine it’s been a while since the main stand was last filled to capacity. The Laird’s were reasonably well supported, two coach loads having made the trip south from Birkenhead.

There had been some doubt towards the later part of the week as to whether the recent cold-snap would cause this game’s postponement but things began warming up midday Friday and a warmish start to the morning in West Suffolk meant the ground was firm rather than frozen underfoot - although we were treated to some snow showers, that blew blizzard-like across the pitch, midway through the first half and again at the start of the second.

As they had at Winchester, Newmarket where at their opponents from the off, creating the games first goal scoring chances. A Sam Reed header was blocked on the line, but the clearest chance fell to Paul Shaw who beat goalkeeper John Gilles to the ball, and was just about to turn and fire home into an empty net, when the referee pulled play back for a foul on the Laird’s number one. James McGuire went close with a header for the visitors shortly before the opener arrived at the end of the half. The fourth official had just signalled that two minutes of additional time would be played when the Jockey’s deservedly went ahead. Paul Shaw out jumping the Laird’s backline to head home a corner from Thomas Crawford.

The Laird’s belied the tag of favourites in the first half, looking well off the pace and creating very few chances, although you always suspected that they could up their game and that fitness would perhaps be a deciding factor in the later stages of the game. And that’s the way the second period panned out, albeit with the help of three substitutions by Laird’s manager Ian Doran, made in rapid succession shortly after the restart. This gave the visitors greater pace enabling them to take a hold in midfield and to be more creative up front. The equaliser though was pure Route One stuff. A long clearance found Ronnie Morgan who out ran the Newmarket defence and rounded ‘keeper Lee Hulyer to slot home his 39th goal of the season. A pretty decent tally at any level.

Other chances came and went for both sides and just as extra-time looked likely Laird scored in almost identical circumstances to the home sides opener, as John Collins out leapt the Newmarket defence to head home a corner from the left with just five minutes left to play.

The closing minutes threatened to turn nasty, and with the Laird’s annoyingly playing keep ball at the far left-hand corner flag, the Newmarket players were doing well to keep to their tempers in check. As was the Laird’s keeper John Gilles down the other end who had been taunted for most of the game by a group of “larger-ed up” lads behind his goal. But he took it all with a smile and wasn’t even phased by a streaker, who emerged from their number in the dying minutes, and made a vital save seconds later turning a strike from Tommy Crawford away from goal with his legs.

So the Jockeys dreams of a first ever Vase semi are dashed while the Laird’s justified the bookies favourites tag with a solid second half performance and can now look forward to Monday’s semi-final draw with some confidence.

Match: 53 (2005/06) 1,297 (Lifetime)

posted by chevblue at 8:30 pm 1 comments

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extreme groundhopping

a (mainly) pictorial account of one man's obsession with football stadia, floodlight pylon's and ipswich town football club

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Ground Visit Record


AFC Bournemouth
(Fitness First Stadium)

AFC Portchester
(Wicor Recreation Ground)

AFC Sudbury
(King's Marsh Stadium)

AFC Totton
(Testwood Park)

Aldershot Town
(Recreation Ground)

Alton Town
(Alton (Bass) Sports Ground)



Aston Villa
(Villa Park)



Basildon United
(Gardiners Close)

Billericay Town
(New Lodge)

Birmingham City
(St Andrews)

Blackburn Rovers
(Ewood Park)

(Bloomfield Road)

Bolton Wanderers
(Reebok Stadium)

Bolton Wanderers
(Burnden Park)

Boston United
(York Street)

Bradford City
(Valley Parade)

Braintree Town
(Cressing Road)

Brantham Athletic
(Brantham Athletic Sports & Social Club)

(Griffin Park)

Brighton & Hove Albion
(Withdean Stadium)

Brighton & Hove Albion
(Goldstone Ground)

Bristol City
(Ashton Gate)

Bristol Rovers

(Hayes Lane)

(Turf Moor)

(Gigg Lane)

Bury Town
(Ram Meadow)

Cambridge City
(Milton Road)

Cambridge United
(Abbey Stadium)

Charlton Athletic
(The Valley)

Chelmsford City
(New Writtle Street)

Chelmsford City
(Chelmsford Sport & Athletics Centre)

(Stamford Bridge)

Chester City
(Saunders Honda Stadium)

Colchester United
(Layer Road)

Cornard United
(Blackhouse Lane)

Coventry City
(Ricoh Arena)

Coventry City
(Highfield Road)

Crewe Alexandra
(Gresty Road)

Crystal Palace
(Selhurst Park)

Dagenham & Redbridge
(Victoria Road)

(Watling Street)

Debenham Leisure Centre

Derby County
(Pride Park)

Derby County
(Baseball Ground)

Diss Town
(Brewers Green Lane)

(Sparshatts Stadium)

Ely City
(Unwin Ground)

(Goodison Park)

Fareham Town
(Cams Alders)

FC Clacton
(Rush Green Bowl)

FC Fleetlands
(Lederle Lane)

Felixstowe & Walton United
(Dellwood Avenue)

Framlingham Town
(Sports Ground)

(Craven Cottage)


(Emerald Park)

Gosport Borough
(Privett Park)

Great Yarmouth Town
(Wellesley Recreation Ground)

Grimsby Town
(Blundell Park)

Hadleigh United

Halstead Town
(Rosemary Lane)

Hamble ASSC
(Follands Park)

Harwich & Parkeston
(Royal Oak)

Havant & Waterlooville
(West Leigh Park)

Heybridge Swifts
(Scraley Road)

(Glass World Stadium)

Horndean Town
(Five Heads Park)

Huddersfield Town
(Leeds Road)

Hull City
(KC Stadium)

Hull City
(Boothferry Park)

Ipswich Town
(Portman Road)

Ipswich Wanderers
(SEH Sports Ground )


Leeds United
(Elland Road)

Leicester City
(Walkers Stadium)

Leicester City
(Filbert Street)

(Victory Road)

Leyton Orient
(Brisbane Road)

Lincoln City
(Cincil Bank)


Long Melford

Lowestoft Town
(Crown Meadows)

Luton Town
(Kenilworth Road)

Manchester City
(Maine Road)

Manchester United
(Old Trafford)

(Ayresome Park)

(The New Den)

(The Den)

MK Dons
(National Hockey Stadium)

MK Dons

Needham Market

Netley Central Sports
(Station Road Recreation Ground)

Newcastle United
(St James' Park)

Newmarket Town
(Cricket Field Road)

Northampton Town
(County Ground)

Norwich City
(Carrow Road)

Nottingham Forest
(City Ground)

Notts County
(Meadow Lane)

Peterborough United
(London Road)

Petersfield Town
(Love Lane)

Plymouth Argyle
(Home Park)

Port Vale
(Vale Park)

(Fratton Park)

Preston North End

Queens Park Rangers
(Loftus Road)

(Madejski Stadium)

(Oakside Stadium)

Romsey Town
(Bypass Ground)

Rotherham United

Saffron Walden Town
(Catons Lane)

Salisbury City
(Raymond McEnhill Stadium)

Scunthorpe United
(Glanford Park)

Sheffield United
(Bramall Lane)

Sheffield Wednesday

Shrewsbury Town
(Gay Meadow)

Shrewsbury Town
(Prostar Stadium)

Soham Town Rangers
(Julius Martin Lane)

(St Mary's)

(The Dell)

Southend United
(Roots Hall)

St Albans City
(Clarence Park)

Stanway Rovers
(New Farm Road)

Stockport County
(Edgeley Park)

Stoke City
(Britannia Stadium)

Stoke City
(Victoria Ground)

Stowmarket Town
(Green Meadows Stadium)

(Stadium of Light)

Swaffham Town
(Shoemakers Lane)

Swindon Town
(County Ground)

Thetford Town
(Mundford Road)

Tiptree United
(Chapel Road)

Tottenham Hotspurs
(White Hart Lane)

United Services Portsmouth
(Victory Stadium)

(Vosper Thornycroft Sports Ground)

(Bescot Stadium)

(Fellows Park)

Walsham Le Willows
(Walsham Sports Club Ground)

(Vicarage Road)

Wembley Stadium

Wembley Stadium

West Bromwich Albion
(The Hawthorns)

West Ham United
(Upton Park)

Whitton United
(King George V Playing Field )

Wigan Athletic
(JJB Stadium)

(Plough Lane)

Winchester City
(Denplan City Ground)

Witham Town
(Spa Road)

Wivenhoe Town
(Broad Lane)

(Kingfield Stadium)

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Woodbrige Town
(Notcutts Park)

Worcester City
(St. Georges Lane)


Cardiff City
(Ninian Park)


(Pittodrie Stadium)

Heart of Midlothian
(Tynecastle Stadium)


Northern Spirit
(North Sydney Oval)


SW Wacker Innsbruck
(Tivoli Stadion)


RSC Anderlect
(Constant Vanden Stock Stadium)

FC Brugge

SV Zulte-Waregem


FC Kobenhavn
(Gladsaxe Stadion)

Helsingor IF
(Helsingor Stadion)


FC Flora
(Lillekula Stadium)


HJK Helsinki
(Finnair Stadium)

(Hietalahti Stadium)

Tampere United
(Tammelan Stadium)


(G.Guichard Stadium)


1. FC Koeln
(Mungersdorfer Stadion)

Borussia Dortmund
(Westfalenstadion )

1. FC Union Berlin
(Stadion An der Alten Försterei)


AZ Alkmaar
(Alkmaarder Hout)

AZ Alkmaar
(Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam)

FC Dordrecht
(GN Bouw Stadion)

FC Groningen

FC Utrecht
(Galgenwaard Stadion)

(De Kuip)

NEC Nijmegen
(Goffert Stadium)

PEC Zwolle

PSV Eindhoven
(Philips Stadion)

SC Heerenveen
(Abe Lenstra Stadium)

Twente Enschede
(Arke Stadion)

Twente Enschede
(Diekman Stadion)

Vitesse Arnhem

Willem II
(Willem II Stadion)


Bray Wanderers
(Carlisle Grounds)

Dublin City
(Tolka Park)


Inter Milan
(San Siro)


Avenir Beggen
(Stade Josy-Barthel)


Skeid Oslo


Widzew Lodz
(Stadion LKS)


(Nou Camp)

Real Madrid
(San Bernabeu)

(Luis Casanova)


Orgryte IS
(Gamla Ullevi (Old))

Helsingborgs IF
(Olympia Stadium)

Landskrona Bois

Malmo FF
(Malmo Stadion)

Mjallby AIF

Trelleborgs FF

IFK Goteborg


Chicago Sting
(Comiskey Park I)

Chicago Sting
(Wrigley Field)

Chicago Sting
(Chicago Stadium)

Chicago Sting
(Rosemont Horizon)

Chicago Sting
(Rockford MetroCenter)

Chicago Vultures

Milwaukee Bavarians
(Bavarian Center)

Schwaben AC
(Schwaben Center)

Tampa Bay Rowdies
(Tampa Bay Stadium)