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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Salisbury City

Salisbury City 2 Cambridge City 0
Nationwide Conference South
The Raymond McEnhill Stadium, Old Sarum, Salisbury, Wiltshire

Salisbury CityOne of a number of worthy projects to celebrate the new millennium was the provision of architectural lighting at many of the country’s rural churches. At the time Extreme Groundhopping headquarters was in the West Suffolk village of Chevingopolis and the local church was one of the beneficiaries, thus providing a splendid nighttime view to the rear of our humble abode, which faced the church and church yard. Given the relative remotest of the location, and the limited amount of other unnatural light in the evenings, the church appears to hang all ethereal like in the air as if suspended from some invisible heavenly filament. The point of all that is that as you approach Salisbury from the South East (and I would imagine its pretty much the same from any direction) that is the impression that the City's Cathedral gives, but on a much grander scale than the humble All Saints of Chevingopolis.

A couple of miles to the north of Salisbury is the Raymond McEnhill Stadium. A relatively new affair, this is a tidy ground with covered terracing behind one goal and in one corner and seating for 200 or so along the adjacent touchline. There is a large Club House block behind the seats whose first floor bar extends out onto a balcony giving an elevated view of the action on the pitch below. Behind the other goal and touchline are grass banks which will allow for future development of the ground should the "Whites" progress upward through the non-league pyramid.

I've not watched a huge amount of football at this level but what I have seen has been pretty decent and tonight was no different offering as it did a good hour and a half's entertainment. The standout player of the evening was the visitors Spanish born goalkeeper Edgar Mercade who came on as substitute ten minutes into the second half. The starting keeper Danny Naisbitt had just been red carded for upending Salisbury forward Matt Tubbs. Tubbs had made a meal of the challenge as he charged into the box and justice was done when he clipped the outside of the post from the resulting penalty. Already a goal down - Wayne Turk had put the home side ahead ten minutes before the interval - Cambridge rarely looked like getting back into the game but Mercade certainly prevented them from going further behind with a string of top draw saves. But it was as he joined his colleagues at the far end for a corner deep into added time that Salisbury finally put the result beyound any doubt. Robbie Matthews won the ball in his own area, and with the Cambridge goal unprotected, raced the length of the field, with the visitors chasing like Keystone Cops after him, to net the second and final goal of the night.

Match Number: 1350

posted by chevblue at 9:26 pm 0 comments


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Gosport Borough

Gosport Borough 3 Moneyfields 1 (aet)
Russell Cotes Cup Q/Final
Privett Park, Gosport, Hampshire

Gosport BoroughAs they say “It’s not over till the fat lady sings”. Having taken a deserved first half lead, survived a few close shaves in the second, and then run the clock down by playing keep ball down by a corner flag, Moneyfields could be excused of being sick as sick as the proverbial parrot when they conceded an equalizer three minutes into injury time, and a further two quick goals in the first period of extra time to exit the xxx xxx cup at the quarter final stage. A sometimes fractious affair this was a decent game to welcome me back to Privett Park for the first time since November 2005 as I start another two-month work stint in glorious Hampshire. So expect a fairly regular dose of reports from down here in the south of England as I amuse myself weeknights with trips to various local grounds. First (or rather second after tonight) in the frame is Salisbury City this coming week and the week after that a trip to AFC Bournemouth is on the agenda. Or maybe that’s the week after.

Match Number: 1348

posted by chevblue at 10:01 pm 0 comments


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Chester City

Chester City 0 Wycombe Wanderers 1
Coca-Cola League Two
Suanders Honda Stadium, Chester, Cheshire

Chester CityThe City of Chester is a gem of place. Steeped in history it has some wonderful architecture: the remains of a Roman Amphitheatre; a xxth Century Cathedral; a Castle; “The Rows” shopping area - a split level affair dating from Medieval times; the Shropshire Canal - which runs along the northern edge of the city centre and has a fascinating lock system (Northgate Staircase); the Eastgate clock built in the eighteenth century and the most photographed clocked in the UK after Big Ben; Etc., etc., etc. It also boasts the only complete City wall in the whole of Britain which offers fine views of the City, the River Dee to the south and west, and the Welsh hills beyond. It takes around an hour, at dawdling pace, to walk atop, and is well worth the effort.

To the west of the City, and on the farthest most edge of an industrial park is the Saunders Honda Stadium, originally the Deva Stadium and built in 1992. Chester have had a number of previous grounds, leaving their last, Sealand Road, in 1990 to ground share with Macclesfield Town while their new home was built. With a total capacity of 6,012, it has terracing behind each goal and seating (with executive areas at the rear) along both touchlines. Apart from the offices, changing facilities, etc. behind the main stand, the ground is symmetrical and - in complete contrast to the City – is a rather bland and featureless affair. The home fans have livened it up somewhat with an interesting assortment of banners and flags, one a striking skull & crossbones affair hung at the back of the stand on the half-way line. Interestingly the pitch is actually in Wales, while the main stand is in England!

The previous weekend Chester had lined up against my very own Ipswich in the FA Cup (drawing nil-nil), but having set-up a get together with some former work colleagues (one from North of Chester, the other a Wycombe fan) in Chester this weekend, well before the draw for the 1st round let alone that for the 3rd, the plans stood firm (I wasn’t going to make the same trip twice in eight days), and I found myself standing in the away end, with Wycombe fan’s, exactly seven days after a few thousand Town fan’s had occupied the same place. You can find a panorama, taken by a Town supporting friend, of the view from the away end last Saturday here.

The Blue’s are currently managed by Mark Wright, the former England centre-back and one of the stand out players for his country at Italia ’90. Wright, then with long flowing locks of hair, but now balding and today pacing the technical area in a baseball cap, has enjoyed mixed fortunes as a coach and manager. Now in his second spell at Chester (he won them promotion from the Conference in 2003), Wright has also managed Southport (briefly), Oxford United (sacked for alleged racist remarks to a match official) and Peterborough United (sacked for gross misconduct following alleged racist remarks to a member of the Club’s staff).

The game itself - and you should know better than to come here expecting a full blown match report - was a fairly tame affair won in the dying minutes by Wycombe, fresh from their midweek Carling Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg exploits that saw them hold mighty Chelsea to a one-one draw! Chester are off to Suffolk this coming Tuesday for the FA Cup replay at Portman Road, while the Chairboys have another ten days to work out their tactics for containing the reigning Premiership champions in their second leg at Stamford Bridge.

Match Number: 1347

posted by chevblue at 9:55 pm 0 comments


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Barnet

Barnet 2 Colchester United 1
FA Cup 3rd Round
Underhill, Barnet, Hertfordshire

Underhill

Postponements work both ways. Quite annoying when you brave the elements, make it to the venue only to find that the game has been called off, and the opposite when a game you hadn’t planned to be at presents itself as a rearranged fixture on a weeknight when you would otherwise have been sitting at home in front of the TV with the missus. So off to Barnet tonight for their rearranged FA Cup 3rd Round tie against Colchester, previously rained out last Saturday.

It must be quite annoying for Colchester followers to hate another football club and not to have the sentiment reciprocated. A number of times during the course of the evening their feelings towards Ipswich were made known through song. This is odd given that the clubs have only met one in the league since the 1950’s, and the last competitive meeting between the sides, before the Championship fixture last September was back in 1969, way before most of the singers were even born. Ipswich fan’s, for the most part, have a soft spot for the U’s, perhaps due in part to the fact that in excess of forty former Town players (including great’s such as Ray Crawford, Allan Hunter and Kevin Beattie) have continued their careers at Layer Road after leaving Suffolk. Indeed one such player, Geraint Williams, is current manager of the Essex side. Not a single former U’s player has headed the other way, although former Town star George Burley did leave the managers role at Colchester to take the hot seat at Portman Road in 1994 amidst allegations of an improper approach by the Ipswich board. Perhaps that is what really wrankles with the U’s followers rather than memories of past encounters on the pitch.

What might wrankle even more is the possibility that they may be playing their home game at Portman Road next year should their fine run of league form continue and end in May with promotion to the Premiership. Layer Road is well past it’s sell-by date and the club have already been told that they would not be allowed to host top flight games there. And speaking of grounds that leave a lot to desired, let’s talk Underhill ...

Jammed turnstiles, toilets without hand basins, catering facilities with no hot drinks or hot food. These were some of the obstacles presented to the visiting fans as they arrived in number to congregate on the East & North terraces (I mentioned Town fans has a soft spot for Col U so of course we joined their supporters for the evening). Underhill is OK in July for a pre-season friendly (like my previous visit back in 2002) but it’s a bit basic on a cold and windy January evening.

The East Terrace from where we watched the action is fully covered but it’s difficult to find an unobstructed view (see picture above). As the ground guide on Barnet’s Official Website points out little has changed at Underhill since the 1960’s. The uncovered North Terrace is quite narrow and offers fine views of the gardens to it’s rear, the West Bank (actually at the southern end of the ground) was at one time the home end but has been covered with temporary uncovered seating for a few years now. The Main Stand on the west touchline seats 900 and is flanked by an all-seated Family Stand to its right and a bank of terracing to it’s left. The picture is completed with a newish club house block in the south-west corner and four sets of floodlights along each flank set quite low so as to give you the feeling a rabbit might have as it’s caught in the glare of a cars headlights.

I remember being told by the pundits, while watching the Col U v Ipswich game, “Live on Sky Sports” earlier this season, that the key to Colchester’s success in the Championship was their ability to move the ball forward down either wing and deliver telling crosses into the penalty area. And convert those crosses into goals. There was certainly no evidence of that this evening as route one hoof ball was adopted as the main method of getting forward. They did enough to go in one-up at the break, courtesy of a very well taken goal by Jamie Cureton, and a lack lustre effort by the home side who created no goal attempts of any note. Not sure what was in the half-time tea but it was a very different Barnet side that appeared for the second forty-five minutes. Ismail Yakubu forced home an equaliser from close range and with just ten minutes left Jason Puncheon hit an unstoppable shot from outside the penalty area to clinch the tie and a well deserved victory over a side 56 places above them in the league standings.

Match Number: 1346

posted by chevblue at 11:53 pm 2 comments


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Mildenhall Town

Mildenhall Town v Leiston
(Match postponed - waterlogged pitch)
Ridgeons League Premier Division
Recreation Way, Mildenhall, Suffolk

Recreation Way

Having spent the morning in the pouring rain watching the Ipswich youth side lose the U-18 derby to Norwich (nil-two), you would have thought that I would have had the sense to check whether conditions at the other end of the county were any better before heading off to Mildenhall. Conditions weren’t improving at all on the forty-mile journey, in fact they were getting worse, and it was really no surprise to find Recreation Way locked up and with not a soul around by the time I arrived. It transpires that the game was actually called off at noon, a good hour before I set off. Oh well.

Official Website: www.freewebs.com/mildenhalltown/

What did you get for Christmas? In amongst the obligatory socks and toiletries in my stocking were hidden three absolute gem ...

(1) David Bauchman’s excellent Dugouts, a tongue in cheek (at least I hope so) celebration of the dugout’s that grace the touchline’s of non-League grounds the length and breadth of the country.

(2) Escape to Victory on DVD, probably the best football film ever made with starring role’s for some footballing legends. John Wark, Russell Osman, Kevin O’Callaghan, Laurie Sivell and Robin Turner, to name but a few.

(3) The Miracle of Bern on DVD. One thing that I would never have expected was for me to find myself cheering on the German national side. But I defy anyone who watches this feel good film from not displaying similar sentiments as the film draws to a close with West Germany taking on Puskas and Hungary in the 1954 World Cup Final. Set against the back drop of a country recovering from defeat in WWII, the film (subtitled) tells the story of the German’s route to the final, through the eye’s of a young boy struggling to come to terms with a father only just released from prisoner of war camp. Cine and TV footage from the era are cut with match re-enactment’s to very good effect. Two hours very well spent, and if you don’t want to know the score from the final look away now ...

WEST GERMANY 3 HUNGARY 2

posted by chevblue at 7:57 pm 0 comments






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Ground Visit Record

ENGLAND

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)

Arsenal
(Emirates)

Arsenal
(Highbury)

Aston Villa
(Villa Park)

Barnet
(Underhill)

Barnsley
(Oakwell)

Basildon United
(Gardiners Close)

Billericay Town
(New Lodge)

Birmingham City
(St Andrews)

Blackburn Rovers
(Ewood Park)

Blackpool
(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)

Brentford
(Griffin Park)

Brighton & Hove Albion
(Withdean Stadium)

Brighton & Hove Albion
(Goldstone Ground)

Bristol City
(Ashton Gate)

Bristol Rovers
(Eastville)

Bromley
(Hayes Lane)

Burnley
(Turf Moor)

Bury
(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)

Chelsea
(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)

Dartford
(Watling Street)

Debenham Leisure Centre
(Maitlands)

Derby County
(Pride Park)

Derby County
(Baseball Ground)

Diss Town
(Brewers Green Lane)

Eastleigh
(Sparshatts Stadium)

Ely City
(Unwin Ground)

Everton
(Goodison Park)

Fareham Town
(Cams Alders)

FC Clacton
(Rush Green Bowl)

FC Fleetlands
(Lederle Lane)

Felixstowe & Walton United
(Dellwood Avenue)

Framlingham Town
(Sports Ground)

Fulham
(Craven Cottage)

Gillingham
(Priestfield)

Gorleston
(Emerald Park)

Gosport Borough
(Privett Park)

Great Yarmouth Town
(Wellesley Recreation Ground)

Grimsby Town
(Blundell Park)

Hadleigh United
(Millfield)

Halstead Town
(Rosemary Lane)

Hamble ASSC
(Follands Park)

Harwich & Parkeston
(Royal Oak)

Havant & Waterlooville
(West Leigh Park)

Heybridge Swifts
(Scraley Road)

Histon
(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 )

Kingstonians
(Kingsmeadow)

Leeds United
(Elland Road)

Leicester City
(Walkers Stadium)

Leicester City
(Filbert Street)

Leiston
(Victory Road)

Leyton Orient
(Brisbane Road)

Lincoln City
(Cincil Bank)

Liverpool
(Anfield)

Long Melford
(Stoneylands)

Lowestoft Town
(Crown Meadows)

Luton Town
(Kenilworth Road)

Manchester City
(Maine Road)

Manchester United
(Old Trafford)

Middlesborough
(Ayresome Park)

Millwall
(The New Den)

Millwall
(The Den)

MK Dons
(National Hockey Stadium)

MK Dons
(stadium:mk)

Needham Market
(Bloomfields)

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)

Portsmouth
(Fratton Park)

Preston North End
(Deepdale)

Queens Park Rangers
(Loftus Road)

Reading
(Madejski Stadium)

Redbridge
(Oakside Stadium)

Romsey Town
(Bypass Ground)

Rotherham United
(Millmoor)

Saffron Walden Town
(Catons Lane)

Salisbury City
(Raymond McEnhill Stadium)

Scunthorpe United
(Glanford Park)

Sheffield United
(Bramall Lane)

Sheffield Wednesday
(Hillsborough)

Shrewsbury Town
(Gay Meadow)

Shrewsbury Town
(Prostar Stadium)

Soham Town Rangers
(Julius Martin Lane)

Southampton
(St Mary's)

Southampton
(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)

Sunderland
(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)

VT FC
(Vosper Thornycroft Sports Ground)

Walsall
(Bescot Stadium)

Walsall
(Fellows Park)

Walsham Le Willows
(Walsham Sports Club Ground)

Watford
(Vicarage Road)

Wembley Stadium
(Old)

Wembley Stadium
(New)

West Bromwich Albion
(The Hawthorns)

West Ham United
(Upton Park)

Whitton United
(King George V Playing Field )

Wigan Athletic
(JJB Stadium)

Wimbledon
(Plough Lane)

Winchester City
(Denplan City Ground)

Witham Town
(Spa Road)

Wivenhoe Town
(Broad Lane)

Woking
(Kingfield Stadium)

Wolverhampton Wanderers
(Molineux)

Woodbrige Town
(Notcutts Park)

Worcester City
(St. Georges Lane)

WALES

Cardiff City
(Ninian Park)

SCOTLAND

Aberdeen
(Pittodrie Stadium)

Heart of Midlothian
(Tynecastle Stadium)

AUSTRALIA

Northern Spirit
(North Sydney Oval)

AUSTRIA

SW Wacker Innsbruck
(Tivoli Stadion)

BELGIUM

RSC Anderlect
(Constant Vanden Stock Stadium)

FC Brugge
(Olympiastadion)

SV Zulte-Waregem
(Regenboogstadion)

DENMARK

FC Kobenhavn
(Gladsaxe Stadion)

Helsingor IF
(Helsingor Stadion)

ESTONIA

FC Flora
(Lillekula Stadium)

FINLAND

HJK Helsinki
(Finnair Stadium)

VPS
(Hietalahti Stadium)

Tampere United
(Tammelan Stadium)

FRANCE

St.Etienne
(G.Guichard Stadium)

GERMANY

1. FC Koeln
(Mungersdorfer Stadion)

Borussia Dortmund
(Westfalenstadion )

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

HOLLAND

AZ Alkmaar
(Alkmaarder Hout)

AZ Alkmaar
(Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam)

FC Dordrecht
(GN Bouw Stadion)

FC Groningen
(Euroborg)

FC Utrecht
(Galgenwaard Stadion)

Feyenoord
(De Kuip)

NEC Nijmegen
(Goffert Stadium)

PEC Zwolle
(Oosterenkstadion)

PSV Eindhoven
(Philips Stadion)

SC Heerenveen
(Abe Lenstra Stadium)

Twente Enschede
(Arke Stadion)

Twente Enschede
(Diekman Stadion)

Vitesse Arnhem
(Gelredome)

Willem II
(Willem II Stadion)

IRELAND

Bray Wanderers
(Carlisle Grounds)

Dublin City
(Tolka Park)

ITALY

Inter Milan
(San Siro)

LUXEMBOURG

Avenir Beggen
(Stade Josy-Barthel)

NORWAY

Skeid Oslo
(Ulevall)

POLAND

Widzew Lodz
(Stadion LKS)

SPAIN

Barcelona
(Nou Camp)

Real Madrid
(San Bernabeu)

Valencia
(Luis Casanova)

SWEDEN

Orgryte IS
(Gamla Ullevi (Old))

Helsingborgs IF
(Olympia Stadium)

Landskrona Bois
(Idrottspark)

Malmo FF
(Malmo Stadion)

Mjallby AIF
(Strandvallen)

Trelleborgs FF
(Vangavallen)

IFK Goteborg
(Ullevi)

USA

Chicago Sting
(Comiskey Park I)

Chicago Sting
(Wrigley Field)

Chicago Sting
(Chicago Stadium)

Chicago Sting
(Rosemont Horizon)

Chicago Sting
(Rockford MetroCenter)

Chicago Vultures
(Odeum)

Milwaukee Bavarians
(Bavarian Center)

Schwaben AC
(Schwaben Center)

Tampa Bay Rowdies
(Tampa Bay Stadium)