AFC Hucknall 4 Harworth CI 2

Wednesday 29th December 2010
AFC Hucknall 4 Harworth CI 2
Quartet Catering League Challenge Cup First Round
At: Watnall Road
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (20 pages)
Mileage: 111.0
Weather: cold, foggy
Attendance: 35 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 46:08; second-half: 47:57

This game wouldn’t normally be on my radar as I don’t tend to watch league cup games and I don’t tend to head out so far anymore on dark evenings when the clocks are on GMT. However, the ‘need’ to watch a fourth game this month, to avoid watching less than four games in December for the first time since 1982, and an opportunity to meet up with some of my East Midlands football friends proved too hard to resist. Fog was a menace both on the way and during the game but didn’t really spoil what was an enjoyable way to see out football in 2010.

The Quartet Catering League Challenge Cup is the league cup competition of the Abacus Lighting Central Midlands League and this first round tie pitted Premier Division newboys AFC Hucknall against higher-ranked Supreme Division Harworth CI. Rob Hornby reckoned the game may have been postponed four or five times already.

When I left home, fog was closing in and with some trepidation I decided to head for Hucknall trying to ignore the 5Live travel bulletin which mentioned that ‘fog was a problem on the M1 between junction 29 and junction 15’.

I knew my way to Hucknall’s Watnall Road ground, being close to A611 Hucknall bypass and next to the roundabout with the B6009. I’d previously been to the ground on three occasions, all to see Hucknall Town – against Eccleshill United in 1993 and twice against Stafford in both 2004 and 2006.

True to their word, Rob, and Malc and Kev (of ‘On The Road’blog fame) were there as were ‘Bob L. Hatt’, ‘osborne’, and Margarete Henke and Jens from Germany, amongst other travellers – a nice post-Christmas gathering.

Prior to kick-off a one-minute silence was held in memory of Tom Brogan, a man who was ‘secretary at Harworth Colliery for over 30 years and involved with the club for over 40 years - a giant of a man who gave his life to the club’. With fog making it difficult to identify players in the distance, AFC Hucknall (wearing yellow shirts, black shorts and yellow socks) got the tie underway attacking the Watnall Road end of the ground during the first half.

This was the first Central Midlands League game of any description to be played since Wednesday 15th December. Hucknall were the better side during the opening quarter and forced a save out of Harworth keeper Steve Lindsay in the 19th minute who got a boot in the way of Cashel Walters’ shot. Lindsay also used his legs to thwart Jake Fisher as well. Just before the interval Harworth created a couple of decent scoring opportunities. Hadlee Dunn turned over a rising drive from Fisher and from the resulting corner the Hucknall keeper pushed away a fierce shot hit by Simon Ward.

The deadlock was broken at the far end (we were standing under cover behind the Watnall Road goal) four minutes after the restart. An initial shot hit a post and the same or another plyer hammered home the rebound. Was it ‘11’ or ‘9’ who scored. The tannoy announcer said ‘Max Wright’. A mere 115 seconds later, including the time taken to get the action underway again, before AFC Hucknall scored again. Fisher got on the end of a deep left-wing cross and fired home at the far right post. Another goal came, Hucknall’s third, 113 seconds after the second one and this time it was Wright who converted a left-wing cross at the far right post.

In eight second-half minutes, the game had progressed from 0-0 at half-time to 3-0, and the goals kept on coming. Just after the hour mark, Harworth substitute Ryan Paczkowski, from the left side of the area, lifted the ball over Dunn who could only parry it into the far side of the net.

Stood up amongst the covered seats the fog was making it difficult to make out players on the far touchline where the dugouts were situated. Hucknall’s made a change in the 75th minute which for a time remained a mystery before I established it was ‘14’ replacing ‘10’.

AFC Hucknall restored their three-goal lead in the 80th minute through Fisher’s close-range shot. The goals weren’t over. Harworth scored again when unchallenged Kevin Shelley headed home from Paczkowski’s cross. The visitors kept pressing to try and force an unlikely replay. Wayne Duik fouled Lloyd Wilkinson inside the area but Dunn kept out Gareth Sides’ penalty with his boot.

I made good time heading home and the fog didn’t bother too much, apart from the unlit stretch from Alrewas to Armitage.

And as ‘On the Road Malc’ wrote: ‘it was a really good night, and the company was superb’. Rob added: ‘Was good to see some footie and some good faces as well..even the lino asked me in the clubhouse after, was there anyone in the crowd that didn’t know me lol’ Can’t disagree with either of them and I picked up two new Facebook friends in Kev and Margarete.

AFC Hucknall (yellow/black/yellow): 1. Hadlee Dunn, 2. Richie Holmes, 3. Sam Clare, 4. Joel Goodacre (capt), 5. Joe Pheasant, 6. Wayne Duik, 7. Cashel Walters, 8. Sam Sims, 9. Jake Fisher, 10. Danwell Francis, 11. Max Wright. Subs: 12. Josh Henry, 14. Kamran Hussain (for Francis, 75), 15. Ben Waplington (for Fisher, 80).

Harworth CI (red/white/black): 1. Steve Lindsay, 2. Greg Fox, 3. Stuart Needham, 4. Martyn Gee (capt), 5. Luke Edwards, 19. Simon Ward, 7. Chris Belshaw, 8. Lee Edmondson, 9. Gareth Sides, 10. Kevin Shelley, 11. Dean Burrows. Subs: 12. Ryan Paczkowski (ffor Edmondson, ht), 16. Lloyd Wilkinson (for Burrows, ht), 20. Lewis Reid (for Edwards, 51).

Referee: Harry Hawkins.
Assistants: Robin Bourne and Paul Thomas.

1-0 Max Wright (49)
2-0 Jake Fisher (51)
3-0 Max Wright (53)
3-1 Ryan Paczkowski (61)
4-1 Jake Fisher (80)
4-2 Kevin Shelley (86)

Hucknall: none
Harworth: Ryan Paczkowski (YC, 61)

AFC Hucknall report

AFC Telford United 3 Redditch United 1

Tuesday 28th December 2010
AFC Telford United 3 Redditch United 1
Blue Square Bet North
At: Bucks Head Stadium
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £11; Programme: £2 (64 pages)
Weather: cold, dry
Attendance: 1690
Duration: first-half: 47:03; second-half: 48:27

Following the postponement of Worcester v Stafford that followed the postponement of the games at Morecambe and Chesterfield, I'd decided to stay in. But, suddenly at around 1-25 pm, I hit the road for Telford. All the goals came in the first half as the Bucks moved top of the BSB North table. The squads on the back page of the programme listed seven former Stafford players though only two - Marco Adaggio and Jemiah Richards - played any part.

AFC Telford United (white/black/black): 1. Ryan Young, 2. Will Salmon, 3. Sean Newton, 4. Carl Rodgers, 5. Stuart Whitehead, 6. Shane Killock (capt), 7. Greg Mills, 8. Phil Trainer, 9. Adam Proudlock, 10. Andy Brown, 11. Jon Adams. Subs: 12. Liam Murray (not used), 13gk. Daniel Platt (not used)), 14. Courtney Pitt (for Adams, 79 mins), 15. Alex Meechan (for Proudlock, 86 mins), 16. James Lawrie (not used).

Redditch United (red/red/red): 1. Dean Coleman, 2. Joseph Hull, 3. Shaun Timmins, 4. Jordan Fitzpatrick, 5. Lee Ayres (capt), 6. Gavin Hurren, 7. Robert Ager, 8. Wayne Dyer, 9. Matt Smith, 10. Marco Adaggio, 11. Josh Quaynor. Subs: 12. Luke Edwards (for Ager, 60 mins), 14. Adam Newbury (for Fitzpatrick, 72 mins), 15. Jemiah Richards (for Adaggio, 79 mins), 16. James Dormand (not used).

Referee: Sarah Garratt (Halesowen).
Assistants: Ross Crawford (Stoke) and Nigel Day (Burslem).

1-0 Carl Rodgers (11)
1-1 Josh Quaynor (19)
2-1 Andy Brown (21)
3-1 Adam Proudlock (30)

AFC Telford: none
Redditch: Gavin Hurren (YC, 90)

Monday 27th December 2010: OFF Part III

Monday 27th December 2010

Portishead v Shepton Mallet OFF
Hengrove v Keynsham Town OFF
Errea Somerset Senior League ALL OFF

I was right! Day 16 of the enforced winter break! Nothing else to say other than a family gathering in Bristol instead.

Sunday 26th December 2010: OFF Part II

Sunday 26th December 2010

Stafford Rangers v AFC Telford United OFF
Shrewsbury Town v Bury OFF

The snow which fell what must now be 10 days ago is still on the ground, Stafford continues to be gripped by freezing temperatures and the seems to be no end in sight to this arctic-like cold snap. So, it was no surprise there will be no action today at Marston Road where I was planning to watch the home game against AFC Telford United in the company of my Dad and Laurence Reade.

With no fixtures scheduled today below Blue Square Bet North, my long-term plan was to make a second visit of the season to Marston Road. However, a news item add as early as Tuesday on Rangers’ official website told of a planned inspection:

‘In view of the current ground conditions and the long range weather forecast a preliminary ground inspection will be carried out at 3pm on Friday 24th December.
It should be stressed that this is a preliminary inspection and a final decision may not be made at this time.’

Come Thursday, the game was described as being in ‘serious doubt’ and the aforementioned Christmas Eve inspection came to an inevitable conclusion:

Boxing Day Match Off
Following a pitch inspection today, the pitch is still frozen and covered in snow and unfortunately the match will not be able to go ahead.

My thoughts then turned to League action and a short list of two games: Reading v Bristol City and Shrewsbury Town v Bury. To be honest in these conditions, it didn’t make any sense to make a 280 mile round trip to the Madejski Stadium especially but Shrewsbury’s Greenhous Meadow Stadium was a short journey along the M54. Better than that, when I checked their website yesterday evening, the game looked set to go ahead with a precautionary inspection planned for this morning. Could it survive after an incredibly cold Christmas Day night?

In a word ‘no’! At 9-05 am this morning I heard on 5Live that there were ‘a couple more games off: in League One Exeter v Swindon Town and League Two Shrewsbury Town v Bury’.

Shrewsbury’s website confirmed the news:

‘After a monumental effort by the ground staff and volunteers the Referee has deemed the Towns game against Bury to be non playable, conditions have not significantly improved to ensure supporters safety in and around the ground.

‘Despite the efforts of everyone involved when the groudstaff [sic] started to take the covers off early this morning the pitch froze as soon as it was uncovered. Referee Rob Lewis was at the Greenhous Meadow as scheduled and with temperatures now [sic s/b not] forecast to rise during the day he had to [sic s/b no] hesitation in postponing the game.’

So, what is left on a 15th consecutive day without football? For start with, enjoy the fact that England finished day one of the fourth test on 157-0 after bowling Australia out for 98. It was sheer delight to be up during the night watching the Aussie innings disintegrate. And, a trip to the cinema to watch Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in Digital 3-D.

Prospects don’t look any brighter for tomorrow either. I’ve got a family gathering in Bristol to attend, and can’t possible see my escape route of a game at either Portishead, Hengrove or something on in the Somerset Senior League taking place. We can hope!

Saturday 18th December 2010: OFF Part 1

Saturday 18th December 2010

Plan A - Wigan Athletic v Aston Villa OFF
Plan B - Bristol Rovers v Colchester United OFF
Plan C- Northampton Town v Morecambe OFF
Plan D - AFC Telford United v Eastwood Town OFF

Today was a rare day when heavy snow and health and safety resulted in Plan A, Plan B, Place C and even Plan D failing to produce a game to watch.

Snow fell in Stafford on Thursday, more snow fell yesterday and even more snow fell this morning. The same was true for the virtually the whole of England. So, yesterday, with chances of watching a non-league football in my usual haunts looking bleak, I came up with Plan A which was a trip to either Wigan Athletic, Cardiff City or Hull City, grounds I’d not previously visited. Cardiff’s home game was never really on the agenda (postponed yesterday afternoon anyway), nor was Hull (due to expensive and lengthy train trip) so after much pondering and checking weather forecasts I opted for Wigan v Aston Villa the DW Stadium.

The Wigan part of Plan A was put into action late last night when I booked a ticket online and worked out I needed to catch one of three mid-morning trains from Stafford to Manchester Picadilly to pick up a connection to Wigan Wallgate. Sorted!

But ‘sorted’ turned to ‘doubtful’ when I heard, at 8-15 am, of problems on both the M6 and M61 near Wigan due to snow, If these motorways had problem the surely the town of Wigan had problems too. Spot on, as a message appeared on Wigan Athletic’s website reported under the headline ‘GAME IN SEVERE DOUBT’ that ‘despite the best efforts of the club to keep today's game on by bringing in snow ploughs and gritters, today's game against Aston Villa is now in serious doubt after 10 inches of overnight snowfall’.

So expecting an inevitable postponement, my attention turned to Plan B and a trip to Bristol Rovers. It was possible to catch a train from Stafford around 11 am to Bristol Parkway and a walk to the Memorial Stadium in plenty of time before kick-off. Rovers’ website seemed confident about the pitch but, around 9-40 am, came the announcement that the game was off. The message read: ‘Today's match against Colchester has been postponed. Referee Michael Naylor visited the Memorial Stadium this morning and had no hesitation in calling the game off. Although the pitch was perfectly playable, the car park and surrounding areas were deemed too dangerous for spectators.’

Time to hatch Plan C: a trip, again by train, to Northampton and the League Two game against Morecambe. I’d seen to Sxifields 15 years ago though that didn’t matter as I went at night and didn’t take any photos. No pitch inspection was planned. While I was checking train times and printing a map showing the route from Northampton station to the ground, Sky Sports News announced, what I was expecting, that Wigan v Villa was off. Wigan’s website confirmed the bad news: ‘Today's Barclays Premier League game … has been called off after freak weather conditions in the town overnight … the ten inches of snow that fell overnight, and is still falling at the time of going to press, has made the surrounding area extremely hazardous for supporters travelling to the game’.

But, while I was getting ready to head for Stafford Station, Facebook friend Laurence gave the bad news at 10:37 am that Plan C had bit the dust: ‘Northampton Town OFF. Sorry’.

I’d spotted that AFCTelford’s home game with Eastwood Town in Blue Square Bet North wasn’t OFF, and indeed the Bucks’ website confirmed ‘GAME ON, GAME ON, GAME ON – VOLUNTEERS REQUIRED’. Great! Plan D will save the day. Even though it was snowing outside, we decided to head to Telford for a family shopping/football trip. But at 12:03 pm, shortly before we were due to set off, Ian Padley posted on Facebook: ‘Sorry. Its gone too (sic)’. What had gone? AFC Telford’s game due to ‘dangerous driving conditions’, etc.

So what was left was a rare football-free Saturday during the season. Hull City’s game with Bristol City was played but I must admit I’ve enjoyed today as something different – tidying the house, taking four charity bags to the British Heart Foundation shop and a revisit to Asda. And, I’ve still been able to blog around 650 words out of going nowhere!

Harborough Town 1 Burton Park Wanderers 1

Saturday 11th December 2011
Harborough Town 1 Burton Park Wanderers 1
Hereward Teamwear United Counties League Division 1
At: Bowden’s Park
Kick-off: 3-00 pm (delayed until 3-09 pm)
Admission: £3; Programme: free teamsheet
Weather: cold, dry
Attendance: 44 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 47:19; second-half: 48:03

'The case of the missing referee'

I was pleased to find a non-league game that was on at a ground not previously visited. However, joy almost turned to dispair when only one of the three match officials turned up. Thankfully, the assistant referee present moved into the middle with hurridly appointed local official and home Chairman running the line. The game, which kicked-off nine minutes late, wasn't a classic on what became a muddy pitch. Harborough led at the interval and BPW levelled after the break. It was good to meet up with several football travellers and watch the game in the company of John Revitt.

Harborough Town (yellow/black/black): 1. Luke Maher, 2. Sam Beckett, 3. Gary Owen, 4. Martin Callan, 5. Matt Gamble (capt), 6. Will Arnold, 7. Ben Gamble, 8. Callum Harris, 9. Andrew Wilson, 10. Chris Wake, 11. Andrew McMillan. Subs: 12. Dave Rogers (for Wake, ht), 14. Rich Hand (for Wilson, 68).

Burton Park Wanderers (red/white/red): 1. Liam Fox (capt), 2. Russell Escritt, 3. Jake Wesley, 4. Nathan Wills, 5. Anthony Fragola, 6. Leo Adams, 7. Jack Wisibriski, 8. Chris Davies, 9. Ben Morgan, 10. Wayne Brown, 11. Nick Fairhurst. Subs: 12. Jake Griffiths (for Brown, 84), 14. Fraser Smith (not used), 15. Ryan Clements (not used), 16. Kevin Fox (not used).

Referee: Charlie Sentence (Lincolnshire).

1-0 Andrew McMillan (10)
1-1 Ben Morgan (73)

Harborough: Will Arnold (YC, 45+1)
Burton PW: none

Derby County 1 Norwich City 2

Saturday 4th December 2010
Derby County 1 Norwich City 2
npower Championship
At: Pride Park
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £30; Programme: £3 (84 pages)
Weather: rain
Attendance: 26,134
Duration: first-half: 47:18; second-half: 50:09

The continued freezing weather meant a first-ever trip to Pride Park was the only option and, on Friday lunchtime, I booked a ticket in the East Stand. A slow moving queue in the bank why are bank queues so lengthy at the moment?) meant I missed my preferred train and so made my way to Derby via Birmingham New Street. What I saw was an entertaining game between two promotion-chasing sides with all the goals coming in the opening 17 minutes. Norwich took full advantage of poor home defending to score twice in 167 seconds before Derby pulled a goal back, but the Rams couldn’t find an equaliser. Back home via Stoke and in the house in time to see the end of Strictly Come Dancing!