Tuesday, September 18, 2018

FC Internazionale Milano U19

FC Internazionale Milano U19 1 Tottenham Hotspur U19 1 - UEFA Youth League, Group Stage

Milan is the capital of the region of Lombady and of the province of Milan. The city was founded under the name of Medhlan, by the Insubres, Celtic people. It was later captured by the Romans in 222 BC, and the city became very successful under the Roman Empire. Later Milan was ruled by the Visconti, the Sforza, the Spanish in the 16th century and the Austrians in the 18th century. In 1796, Milan was conquered by Napoleon I and he made it the capital of his Kingdom of Italy in 1805. The city has been recognised as the world’s fashion capital and the world's design capital, thanks to several international events and fairs, including Milan Fashion Week and the Milan Furniture Fair, which are currently among the world's biggest in terms of revenue, visitors and growth. Milan hosted the Universal Exposition in 1906 and 2015. The city hosts numerous cultural institutions, academies and universities, with 11% of the national total enrolled students.


The Campo Comunale Ernesto Breda a multi-use stadium in Sesto San Giovanni. It is mainly used for football matches and is the home ground of AC Pro Sesto. The stadium has a spectator capacity of 4,500. . The railway station is the northernmost stop on the Milan Metro M1 line.


The repetitive nature of the Champions League, has the ability to limit the options for visiting new grounds. The visit to Stadio Giuseppe Meazza for the evening match was my 4th excursion to that venue. A wonderful stadium we are informed, but not necessarily the best experience for visiting supporters. The UEFA Youth League, which runs parallel with the main tournament, does offer new grounds to those interested and it was good that the TV scheduling for both matches allowed plenty of time in between, in order to comfortably get from one to the other.


It was relatively easy to get to this stadium by public transport and less than a ten minute stroll from the nearest metro station meant I was in the ground with around 45 minutes before the scheduled 14:00 kick-off. The ground is compact and tidy with seated stands on both sides of the pitch and behind one of the goals. Only the main stand is covered and it was this structure that accommodated all of the spectators at this match.


The remaining end of the ground is just a flat grassed area with a few trees providing the backdrop. Refreshment facilities were situated at one end of the main stand and this Pieman enjoyed a salami roll washed down with a cold, if somewhat unspectacular, beer. Team sheets were distributed freely to those assembled (not always so straightforward at these matches).



This match saw an exceptionally fussy referee almost spoil a really good day for the young Spurs side. I believe that being on live television for the man from Finland, helped him crave the spotlight. Having gone 1-0 down on the counter-attack through Facundo Colidio during the first half, Spurs fought back to level, before the man who won the spot-kick, striker Troy Parrott, was sent off for a second yellow card following a challenge on goalkeeper Vladan Dekic. It was Jack Roles that scored the penalty for the visitors on a balmy Milan afternoon.

They came from afar
After the match I had time to go back to my hotel before the onward journey to the main match. A designated metro station, conveniently situated near to the section for away supporters now serves the main stadium. Air conditioned trains on the new line were also a bonus on this warm day.





Attendance: ?
Admission: 5 Euros
Programme: None



Saturday, September 08, 2018

Walsham Le Willows FC

Walsham-le-Willows 2 FC Clacton 2 - Eastern Counties League, Premier Division

Walsham-le-Willows is a village in Suffolk, England, located around 2½ miles south-east of Stanton, and lies in the Mid Suffolk council district. Queen Elizabeth I had granted Walsham-le-Willows to Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, in 1559. Because the village is documented unusually fully in surviving records of the time, the Cambridge historian John Hatcher chose to use it as the setting for his semi-fictionalised account of the effects of the mid-14th century plague epidemic in England, The Black Death: A Personal History (2008). The first regular daily bus service from Walsham to Bury St. Edmunds was started in February 1924. The make of bus was Tilling Stevens and it was operated by the Eastern Counties Roadcar Co. In 1931 the company was renamed Eastern Counties Omnibus Co. The bus was first manned by two local men – Fred Ellis was the driver and Neil Debenham was the conductor. This duo worked together for several years. In later years the service was extended to run to Stowmarket.


Walsham-le-Willows FC was founded around 1890, and played at the Sumner Road sports ground where there was a pavilion with a thatched roof. During World War II, the ground was ploughed up to grow food and was not returned to sports use until 1951. The club was a founder member of the St. Edmundsbury Football League in 1907 and won the Suffolk Junior Cup in 1988, 1989 and 1990. After winning several league titles, the club switched to the Suffolk and Ipswich League in 1989. It won the Senior Division in 2001–02 and again in 2002–03. In the following season, the club finished second, but earned promotion to Division One of the Eastern Counties League. The club finished fourth in their first season in the division, narrowly missing out on promotion. They also reached the final of the Suffolk Senior Cup, losing 2–1 to Needham Market. The following season, they reached the final again, this time beating Capel Plough 4–3 after extra time. In 2006–07 the club won Division One, and was promoted to the Premier Division.


I was fortunate to be offered a lift to this match, the journey via the M11, A11 and A14 took around an hour and a half. I assume there to be public transport options, as I saw a bus heading for Bury t Edmunds when in the main street of the village. However, as is often the case in these rural areas, it is possible that the regularity of the service is sparse.


On arrival I was able to take a few early photographs whilst there were just few people about. The club officials I spoke to were very accommodating and willing to chat, which set the scene for the day. I then went back to the main street for lunch at Moriarty's, a relatively recently refurbished building now operating as a café. First impressions were that this was an up market establishment enjoying good trade. My choice of jacket potato with cheese, beans and salad, washed down with a pot of English breakfast tea was inspired. I now know why this establishment is popular and deserves the reviews I have read.

The ancient pavilion provides a superb backdrop
Back at the ground, around an hour before kick-off, there was an opportunity to take some more pictures., before being invited into the boardroom for a cup of tea. A lovely gesture that also gave me the opportunity to view a collection of photographs charting the progression of the development of the ground and the additional facilities across the road. The invitation was repeated at half time where once again refreshment was enjoyed. The football club, along with various other sporting arms (not least cricket), form the wider community sports association for the village. The football club is clearly thriving at the current level and the efforts of the off the field team should not be underestimated.

Tea?
The main clubhouse buildings are used all year round with cricket and football dovetailing successfully. These facilities are situated behind one of the goals, immediately as you enter the ground. There is a covered seated stand along the side of the pitch that backs on to the car park. A very impressive aspect of this stand is that the earmarked area for wheelchair users has a lower perimeter fence in front of it. Often clubs do not appreciate that wheelchair users need to be able to see over fences – well done Walsham! Behind the other goal is a covered standing area, which would provide decent shelter on a rainy day. One other structure worthy of mention is the ancient pavilion, which is situated at the far side of the cricket area adjacent to the football pitch; just looking at it takes you back in time.


Visitors, FC Clacton had a fine band of enthusiastic supporters with them. When chatting before the match, I was informed that they were not expecting their side to get anything from this match. Despite what the team sheet posted by the main stand might have indicated, FC Clacton only had one substitute. The home side was also having a great start to their season. The Clacton fans would have been further dejected when their substitute was forced into action early in the match. However, those fears proved unnecessary as they visitors came from behind in the first half and actually led briefly in the second period before settling for a well-earned draw. A similar duration for the journey home meant that this Pieman was able to reflect on a fine trip to a wonderfully friendly club.




Attendance: ?
Admission: £7:00
Programme: £1:00 (32 pages)
Tea: £1:00



Saturday, September 01, 2018

East Cowes Victoria Athletic FC

East Cowes Victoria Athletic 4 Pewsey Vale 3 - FA Vase, 1st Qualifying Round

East Cowes is a town and civil parish to the north of the Isle of Wight, on the east bank of the River Medina next to its neighbour on the west bank, Cowes. The two towns are connected by the Cowes Floating Bridge, a chain ferry operated by the Isle of Wight Council. East Cowes is the site of Norris Castle, and Osborne House, the former summer residence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The Prince had a major influence on the architecture of the area, for example on the building of St Mildred's Church in nearby Whippingham, which features distinctive turrets imitating those found on a German castle. During the reign of Queen Victoria, East Cowes was the subject of planned estate of grand houses, groves and parks. The scheme, not finding the finances it needed, was folded, but a few residences built in the early stages still survive to this day such as the former Albert Grove residences of Kent House and Powys House on York Avenue. Southern Vectis operate bus route 4 linking the town with Ryde and bus routes 5 and 25 linking the town with Newport including intermediate villages.


The Football club was established in 1885, taking the Victoria part of the name from the fact that their Beatrice Avenue ground is on the area owned by Osborne House. The club was founder members of the Isle of Wight League in 1898, and won the league in its inaugural season. Retaining the league title the following season the club went on to win the league again in 1930–31, 1934–35 and 1935–36. In 1947 East Cowes moved up to the Hampshire League. The 1985–86 season saw East Cowes win the Division One title for the first time. After retaining the title the following season, the club moved up to the Wessex League. The club won the Wessex League Cup in their first season in the league. They finished bottom of the league in 1999–2000 and were relegated back to the Hampshire League, becoming members of its Premier Division. They were runners-up in 2001–02, and in 2004 the Hampshire League merged into the Wessex League, with East Cowes becoming members of Division Two. The Division was renamed Division One in 2006.


Despite the best efforts of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, their industrial action was merely a hindrance. I was able to catch a train to Portsmouth Harbour in order to connect with the 10:15 Wightlink sailing to the Isle of Wight. The crossing only takes 22 minutes and before long my cousin had collected me from Ryde Pier. This facilitated a long overdue visit to see my aunt, who is currently in a residential care home. After a good catch up with her, it was on to the Chequers at Rookley where I enjoyed a fish finger doorstep sandwich washed down with a nice pint of Islander (4.0%) from Yates’ Brewery. This ale is brewed with Goldings & Chinook hops.


I was then driven to Beatrice Avenue in plenty of time for the match. There was a friendly atmosphere at the ground, although a number of the home supporting regulars were expressing surprise that there were so few in attendance. Clearly the numbers have been greater recently for league matches. I believe it fair to describe the ground as basic, but it still had a rustic charm that appealed to this Pieman.


There is a covered seated stand that straddles the halfway line. This is dissected by the tunnel to the changing rooms, which are at the rear of this structure. Additional to this, along the same side of the ground, is another covered area containing a continuous long bench. This area will predate the current main stand and the view from some of this area is obscured by one of the dugouts. There is also a clubhouse with both a licensed bar and snack bar facilities


Visitors Pewsey Vale started this match the strongest and looked likely winners when taking a two-goal lead, having been thwarted by some resolute defending on other occasions. However, a goal for the home side just before the break, signalled that the islanders were not about to throw in the towel. A leveller early in the second period underlined this point and the match started to swing in favour of the Vics. Not for long though, as the visitors regained their lead following a counter attack and could have further added to their tally. Another equaliser for the Vics with around ten minutes of the match to go looked to have provided those assembled to an additional treat of an additional 30 minutes extra time.

"we've only gone and won it"
In the closing minutes of the match I was joined by my other island based cousin who had arrived to give me a lift back to Ryde. As we stood by the corner flag I explained that extra time was likely. At this point, a corner from in front of us was curled into the box and struck home. The home side was ahead for the first time in the match. An exciting finale to an entertaining match. I was back at Ryde with plenty of time to catch the 17:43 sailing, connecting with the 18:17 service to London Waterloo. A quality day out on Vectis!





Attendance: 25
Admission: £5:00
Programme: £1:00 (32 pages)
Tea: £1:00


Monday, August 27, 2018

Salford City FC

Salford City 3 Barrow AFC 1 - National League

Salford is a city in North West England, in a meander of the River Irwell, which forms part of its boundary with the city of Manchester to the east. The wider City of Salford local government district is administered from Swinton. The former County Borough of Salford, which included Broughton, Pendleton and Kersal, was granted city status in 1926. Historically in Lancashire, Salford was the judicial seat of the ancient hundred of Salfordshire. It was granted a charter by Ranulf de Blondeville, 6th Earl of Chester, in about 1230, making Salford a free borough of greater cultural and commercial importance than its neighbour Manchester, although since the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries that position has been reversed. Salford became a major cotton and silk spinning and weaving factory town and inland port on the Manchester Ship Canal in the 18th and 19th centuries. The name of Salford derives from the Old English word Sealhford, meaning a ford by the willow trees. It referred to the willows or sallows that grew alongside the banks of the River Irwell.


Salford City FC was founded in 1940 as Salford Central. The club competed in local leagues until 1963, when promotion was secured to the Manchester Football League when the name was changed to Salford Amateurs. Nicknamed "the Ammies", the club won the Lancashire Amateur Cup in 1973, 1975 and 1977 and the Manchester Premier Cup in 1978 and 1979. Salford moved into its present ground, Moor Lane, in 1978 and following restoration of the ground, the club entered the Cheshire County League in 1980, which two years later amalgamated with the Lancashire Combination to form the North West Counties Football League. In March 2014, news broke of the proposed takeover of the club by former Manchester United players Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt, subject to Football Association and Northern Premier League approval, with the deal expected to be completed by the summer. The remainder of the 2013–14 season saw Phil Power lead Salford to a 12th position finish in the Premier League Division North. On 21 April 2018, the club became champions of the National League North for the 2017–18 season with one game to play, thereby securing promotion to National League, once again re-setting the bar for the highest level the club has ever attained.


With Manchester United hosting Tottenham Hotspur at 8pm on this Bank Holiday, getting back home afterwards by public transport was not possible. Accordingly, an enforced overnight stay helped to facilitate further activity and also an opportunity to take in another match without rushing around too much. Euston Station was closed over the bank holiday weekend, but an alternative route via Leeds worked well. Arriving at Manchester before midday allowed plenty of time for refreshment before catching a No 98 bus from Shudehill Interchange to Moor Lane.


After a short walk I arrived at the ground. It was evident that there had been considerable recent investment and massive development of the ground in the last couple of years. I was impressed with the stadium, but also wished that I had had the opportunity to visit the ground in previous years. A bonus for me, once I had toured the ground taking photographs, was the discovery of a stall selling craft beer from Seven Bro7hers Taproom. My choice of IPA (5%) was inspired and this treat set me up nicely for the match.


Covered seated stands are situated along the full length of the pitch. The stand opposite the main stand also has a small area of terracing behind the seating, which is a really good idea and there were plenty of people taking up that option. The main stand houses the corporate hospitality areas. Covered terracing is situated at both ends of the ground. With the exception of the segregated area for away supporters, it is possible to access all areas of the ground, terraces and seating.


Some very reasonable admission and season ticket pricing has resulted in Salford City gaining a good following. The recent match v Chesterfield attracted an attendance 3,595. This match saw visitors Barrow bring around 500 supporters down from Cumbria. Being a modern build, this stadium provides good spectating facilities for visitors, one end of the stadium and a section of seating in the main stand.


The visitors took the lead through Jason Taylor in the 20th minute but were quickly pegged back by Graham Alexander's side. Adam Rooney, the high-profile summer arrival from Aberdeen, levelled the scores nine minutes later after a Danny Whitehead break, before Salford pulled clear after the interval. Nathan Pond powered in a header from a Danny Lloyd corner before Lloyd himself was on hand to score from the spot after Jack Hindle handballed inside the box. The two goals in four minutes knocked the stuffing out of Barrow and made it four unbeaten for Salford, who moved into the top 10 in the National League table. Within a few minutes of this match ending, I was on the return 98 bus which was full of Barrow supporters, they were heading for Manchester Victoria station and I was looking forward to my visit to Old Trafford.









Attendance: 3012 (512 away)
Admission: £10:00
Programme: £2:00 (56 pages)


Saturday, August 25, 2018

Crawley Green FC

Crawley Green 2 Aylesbury United 3 - FA Cup, Preliminary Round

Crawley Green Football Club was established in November 1989 by a merger of three Sunday league clubs, Ramridge Rangers, Stopsley Harriers and The Wyvern. After absorbing Somerset Tavern in 1992, the club established a Saturday team. They joined Division One of the South Midlands League in 1995, and when the league merged with the Spartan League to form the Spartan South Midlands League in 1997, the club was placed in Division One North. However, they left the league at the end of the 1997–98 season. In 1999 the club re-joined the Spartan South Midlands League, and were placed in Division One, which was renamed Division Two in 2001. They won the Division in 2004–05, but were not promoted. In 2007–08 they finished as runners-up and were promoted to Division One. In 2011–12 they won the Division One Cup. They won it again in 2015–16. The season also saw them finish second in the league and earning promotion to the Premier Division.


After the club's formation, they obtained a 99-year lease on the Crawley Green Sports & Social Club. A new clubhouse was built and opened by Luton Town manager David Pleat on 9 June 1992. However, the first team was later forced to ground share at Barton Rovers due a lack of floodlights, although the reserves still play at the Sports & Social Club. In 2018 the club moved back to Luton to play at The Brache.



I was fortunate to be offered a lift to this match and the journey from Cheshunt via Hertford and Wheathampstead took around 45 minutes. However, reaching this venue by public transport would be relatively easy, as Luton Airport Parkway station is no more than a 15 minute walk. The Brache is the former ground of Vauxhall Motors FC (once of the Isthmian League). Despite the recent and ongoing refurbishment of the ground, there are number of signs of this former glory.


Both ends of the ground are blessed with two steps of narrow terracing, clearly remaining from the previous use. The seated stand is also recognisable as being older than recent additions to the ground. The same can be said for much of the concrete hardstanding. All in all, the place has a renewed smartness and Crawley Green will be pleased with the development so far. Refreshments are available from the Luton Town FC building and it is here that the toilet facilities are housed.


The close proximity to Luton Airport means that aircraft are regularly flying over as they ascend after take-off and it can be a tad noisy. That said, if you are keen on planes you will get the opportunity to view many undercarriages. This particular match was in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup and the visitors, Aylesbury United have previously graced what is now the National League (5th tier of the English game).


Aylesbury United was by far the better side in the first period and it was no surprise when Jack Wood headed the visitors in front on 20 minutes. Just before the break this lead was doubled when Greg Williams met a corner kick and this effort was confirmed as having crossed the line by a linesman.


The second half saw the visitors have a number of decent attempts on goal without adding to their tally, with the woodwork intervening on three occasions. Gradually Crawley Green began to assert themselves and Graham Clarke pulled a goal back midway through the half. Jake Bewley then restored the two-goal cushion in favour of the visitors, but with six minutes remaining Clarke scored again to set up a tense finish (Crawley Green had an effort that hit the bar), with Aylesbury United hanging on to progress to the next round.





Attendance: 90
Admission: £7:00
Programme: With admission (64 pages)
Tea: £1:00







Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Haverhill Borough FC

Haverhill Borough 6 Cornard United 0 - Eastern Counties League, Division One (North)

Haverhill is a market town in Suffolk, next to the borders of Essex and Cambridgeshire. It lies 14 miles southeast of Cambridge and 45 miles north of central London. The town centre lies at the base of a gentle dip in the chalk hills of the Newmarket Ridge; running through the town is the Stour Brook, which goes on to join the River Stour just outside the town. The surrounding countryside largely consists of arable land. Haverhill dates back to at least Saxon times and the town's market is recorded in the Doomsday Book. Whilst most of its historical buildings were lost to the great fire on 14 June 1667, one notable Tudor-era house remains (reportedly given to Anne of Cleves as part of her divorce from Henry VIII and thus titled Anne of Cleves House) as well as many interesting Victorian buildings. The 1960's BBC soap opera 'The Newcomers' was filmed in Haverhill, which was used as the fictional county town of Angleton.


Haverhill Borough FC was established in 2011 as Haverhill Sports Association. The new club joined Division One of the Essex & Suffolk Border Football League and won it at the first attempt, and was promoted to the Premier Division. The following season the club entered the FA Vase for the first time, knocking out three clubs from higher divisions, before losing in the third round. They finished second in the Premier Division, earning promotion to Division One of the Eastern Counties League. In the summer of 2013 the club adopted its current name. In the 2013–14 season the club narrowly missed out on promotion, finishing fourth in Division One. In 2015–16 they won the Division One Knock-Out Cup. The following season saw the club finish third in Division One, earning promotion to the Premier Division. Relegation was to follow at the end of the 2017-18 season.


The New Croft 3G is a completely separate playing area from the New Croft (Haverhill Rovers FC) That said it is all part of the same complex and the main administration block, including changing rooms, is shared. There is though, a completely different refreshment area adjacent to the 3G. A covered seated stand and a smaller covered terraced are situated along one side of the pitch. There is hardstanding along the full length of the side and limited areas of similar behind one of the goals. However, the opposite side of the pitch and the remainder of the ends are out of bounds to spectators and not navigable.


Haverhill, although a relatively large town for East Anglia, is not blessed with railway links and for a midweek match is not the easiest location to reach by public transport. I was fortunate to be offered a lift to this match. The journey via the M11 and A11 was congestion free and arriving at the ground a couple of hours before the scheduled 19:45 kick-off facilitated a stroll to the nearby town centre and a visit to The Drabbet Smock (J D Wetherspoon) for refreshment.


Haverhill Borough had lost both of their preceding league matches this season, both by the odd goal in five. One of those matches was against tonight’s opposition Cornard United. It was clear from the outset that the home side had a point to prove as the swiftly set about their business. 


The opening goal came on two minutes when Matt Staines put the hosts ahead and it was the same player that notched the second with less than four minutes played. Not long afterwards Cameron Watson extended the lead with a powerful header and just before half time it was 4-0 when Staines completed his hat-trick.


The second period did not produce as many goals but continued to be entertaining. Cornard United will be disappointed with their performance and those early goals pretty much knocked the stuffing out of them. They will have better days. The scoring for Haverhill Borough was completed by Casey Phillips, sweeping home from inside the box and Ryan Swallow on 84 minutes. Again the roads behaved and I was home at Cheshunt around 11pm.





Attendance: ?
Admission: £6:00
Programme: £1:00 (24 pages)
Tea: £1:20