Thursday, November 24, 2016

AS Monaco U19

AS Monaco U19 2 Tottenham Hotspur U19 1 - UEFA Youth League, Group Stage

The Phoenicians, and after them the Greeks, had a temple on the Monacan headland honouring Hercules. The principality took its name from Monoikos, the Greek surname for this mythological hero. After being independent for 800 years, Monaco was annexed to France in 1793 and placed under Sardinia's protection in 1815. By the Franco-Monegasque treaty of 1861, Monaco went under French guardianship but continued to be independent. A treaty made with France in 1918 contained a clause providing that, in the event that the male Grimaldi dynasty should die out, Monaco would become an autonomous state under French protection. Monaco has a tourist business that attracts as many as 1.5 million visitors a year and is famous for its beaches and casinos, especially world-famous Monte Carlo. It had gaming tables as early as 1856. Prince Rainier III, born on May 31, 1923, succeeded his grandfather, Louis II, on the latter's death, on May 9, 1949. Rainier was married, in 1956, to American actress Grace Kelly and they subsequently had three children. Their son, Prince Albert Louis Pierre (b. 1958) was heir to the throne. Immensely popular, Princess Grace died on Sept. 14, 1982, of injuries sustained in a car accident near Monte Carlo. 

Association Sportive de Monaco Football Club was founded in 1924 and plays in Ligue 1, the top tier of French football. The club's traditional colours are red and white, and the club is known as Les Rouges et Blancs. The team plays its home matches at the Stade Louis II in Fontvieille. Monaco played at the original Stade Louis II since its construction in 1939. In 1985, the stadium was replaced with the current iteration, built on a nearby site consisting of land reclaimed from the Mediterranean, which has become a recurring feature of the stadium's seaside surroundings. The stadium is named after the former Prince of Monaco Louis II and houses a total of 18,500 supporters. In December 2011, 66.67% of the club was sold to the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev while the club were bottom of Ligue 2.

Having attended both of Tottenham Hotspur’s away fixtures in the UEFA Youth League so far, this Pieman was keen to complete the set with a visit to AS Monaco’s training centre. I was already running late due to incompetence at Nice railway station, which meant I had to wait over an hour for a train. On arrival at Monaco there was just enough time to head over to the main stadium to obtain programmes for that evening’s main match before heading to the earlier fixture.

The Stade de La Turbie is situated close to the village of La Turbie, which is not in Monaco but France. A factor to consider is that this location is at the top of a mountain overlooking Monaco and although there is a local bus service to the village, our assembled group took a taxi to the summit. An added complication here being that our taxi was registered in Monaco and was not allowed to pick us up after the match. For this purpose we were able to secure a French taxi to get us back to town afterwards.

On arrival at the ground an hour before the scheduled 3pm kick off. We were unable to enter the stadium straight away. We were issued with our free match tickets but had to await the arrival of two policemen whose job it was to facilitate the body search of spectators. Once inside the stadium I immediately realised that this is a venue where spectators are suffered as an unwanted necessity by the host club rather than seen as a benefit. There are toilet facilities but these are outside the viewing areas and back at the ground entrance. Refreshment facilities are limited to a vending machine. 

Worse was to follow with the revelation that you would either be watching the match through a fence or at best looking over the top of one. Behind the far goal is a small uncovered stand, which presumably meets regulations (the club’s reserve team plays their home fixtures here). Along one side is a flat standing area. On the opposite side is where the respective benches are located (adjacent to the mountainside) and the remaining end houses the changing facilities and administrative block. All in all this is an extremely unfriendly place with some obstructive personnel. An attempt to obtain a team sheet was met with contempt although this Pieman is extremely grateful to Dean Rastrick (a Tottenham Hotspur official) for helping and arguing the case for the visiting supporters.

Assembled Englishmen

The match saw ten men AS Monaco overcome their visitors from London, having gone behind in the second period. Before the match Spurs had to make a late change as their goalkeeper was hit in the face by a ball during the warm up. Having received medical attention, he was unable to play. The replacement to the original line-up had to be approved by both clubs and UEFA. Our return taxi was waiting at the end of the match and we were soon heading down the slopes to Monaco and another match!

Attendance: ?
Admission: Free
Programme: None (team sheet just about obtained)

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Hadley FC

Hadley 1 Hertford Town 2 - Spartan South Midlands League, Premier Division

Arkley is a village in the London Borough of Barnet. It consists of a long village strung out between Barnet and Stirling Corner, roughly centred on the "Gate" pub, and composed of the ancient hamlets of Barnet Gate, Rowley Green and Arkley. It is located 10.6 miles north north-west of Charing Cross. The origins of the name Arkley are unclear; it is first recorded as Arkleyslond in 1332. The name Arkley appears to mean "woodland clearing by the ark or by the place where arks (chest, bin or other wooden receptacle) are made. Arkley Windmill was in use by 1806. It is marked as "corn" windmill on the Ordnance Survey of the 1860s. From photographs, it appears to have had only two of its original sails by the 1890s, by which time it may have been powered by steam. It ceased to be a functioning mill during World War I, and was restored in 1930, but not as a working mill.

Hadley Football Club was founded in 1882 and started playing in the North Middlesex League. After the Second World War they joined the Barnet and District League and, from about 1947, played at Wrotham Park at the Barnet end of Kitts End Road. In the 1977–78 season the club joined the Hertfordshire Senior County League, starting in Division Three and winning that division in their first attempt. The club also moved grounds to enable them to progress to the Herts Senior County League and moved to a pitch with better facilities in St. Albans Road, Barnet. The club stayed in this league until 1985 when they joined the Southern Olympian League and moved grounds again to play at the Woodside Park Club, Southover, Totteridge. The club moved grounds again in 1992 to Brickfield Lane in Arkley, Barnet and re-joined the Herts Senior County League in the 1999–00 season. The club joined the Spartan South Midlands League, and the club was accepted into Division Two for the start of the 2008–09 season. The club gained promotion to Division One in their first season and repeated the promotion process again a season later.

In recent seasons Hadley FC has been unable to use Brickfield Lane for home matches and had been groundsharing at Potters Bar Town FC. However, with the required ground improvements in place, they are now back at base. To reach the ground by public transport, it is possible to get a bus direct from either Potters Bar or Barnet. The bus route passes the end of the private road that is Brickfield Lane. I was fortunate to be offered a lift to this match and on arrival at the ground, having parked up, a refreshment opportunity was realised. The Gate public house is conveniently situated just across the road from the ground. This establishment was doing good trade and the Doombar was in good condition. Three handpumps in total, the other offerings being Abbot and IPA from Greene King.

I believe it is fair to say that this venue is still a work in progress but the club is to be congratulated on what has been achieved so far. The main club building sits back from the playing venue and houses the changing facilities, the boardroom and refreshment area. It was here that we opted to sample the rather large hot dogs on offer just as you enter the building. Our Polish correspondent Kevin Morris is often featured on social media with a large sausage and this Pieman pulled of a coup by persuading Tottenham Hotspur legend and current Hadley FC manager Micky Hazard, to pose in similar fashion.

Micky Hazard with hot dog

The revamped venue has concrete hardstanding around the entirety of the pitch. Along the side where the dugouts are situated is a covered seated stand. On the opposite side of the pitch is a covered two step terrace, which although basic in appearance, affords an excellent view of proceedings. There are conifers situated along this side of the pitch which along with the more established trees behind one goal and those further back near the road, give the ground an enclosed feel. For a relatively small venue there appears plenty of car parking available immediately outside the clubhouse and a larger area just beyond.

The move back to this venue has encouraged visits from groundhoppers and it was good to catch up with Luke, Lee and Bob. On a progressively chilly afternoon, despite the bright sunshine, we opted to watch the match from the covered terrace as this was the least windy, thus warmer, part of the ground. A competitive match ensued with the home side leading before conceding a penalty. From where I was standing I thought the resulting red card was extremely harsh and did affect the rest of the match. Yellow at best was this Pieman's verdict and possibly not even that. However, referee Kennedy Kikulwe decided otherwise.

Ten men Hadley were up against it for the majority of the second period. Their goalkeeper was superb and it is to his credit that Hertford only scored once. Hertford are a form team at the moment and this victory lifted them to 3rd in the table with four games in hand on leaders London Colney who are fourteen points ahead. This match ended just before 5pm and I think Mr Kikulwe may be in need of a new watch for Christmas as this was excessive. However, this fine November 5th afternoon perhaps deserved an encore and with Micky Hazard, Giant Hotdogs and Sussex Hopper, who needs fireworks?

Attendance: 83
Admission: £6:00
Programme: £1:00 (20 pages)
Tea: £1:00
Giant Hot Dog: £2:50

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bayer Leverkusen U19

Bayer 04 Leverkusen U19 3 Tottenham Hotspur U19 1 - UEFA Youth League, Group Stage

The heart of what is now Leverkusen was a village called Wiesdorf, which dates back to the 12th century. The entire area was rural until the late 19th century, when industry prompted the development that led to the city of Leverkusen, and to its becoming one of the most important centres of the German chemical industry. The chemist Carl Leverkus, looking for a place to build a dye factory, chose Wiesdorf in 1860. He built a factory for the production of artificial ultramarine blue at the Kahlberg in Wiesdorf in 1861, and called the emerging settlement "Leverkusen". The factory was taken over by the Bayer company in 1891; Bayer moved its headquarters to Wiesdorf in 1912. After asset confiscation at the end of the First World War, it became IG Farben. The city of Leverkusen proper was founded in 1930 by merging Wiesdorf, Schlebusch, Steinbüchel and Rheindorf, and was posthumously named after Carl Leverkus.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen was founded in 1904 by employees of the German pharmaceutical company Bayer, whose headquarters are in Leverkusen and from which the club draws its name. It was formerly the best-known department of TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen, a sports club whose members also participate in athletics, gymnastics, basketball and other sports including the RTHC Bayer Leverkusen (rowing, tennis and hockey). In 1999 the football department was separated from the sports club and is now a separate entity.

As is consistent with the UEFA Champions League, the respective U19 sides have a parallel competition. The venue for Bayer Leverkusen home matches is the Ulrich-Haberland Stadion. This venue is adjacent to the BayArena, the main ground for Bayer Leverkusen. The name of the stadium is a tribute to the former name of the BayArena.

This Pieman had already enjoyed a splendid lunch just up the road from the stadium at Brauhouse Janes. This culinary treat was to celebrate Andy Scott’s 50th birthday. The typical German cuisine was extremely welcome. After consuming a large pan of pork, potatoes, fried onion and sauerkraut, washed down with some fine German beer, there was little room for anything else.

On the way to the match, there was time to collect programmes for the evening match. This is always preferable abroad, as distribution is often erratic. The smaller stadium has a published capacity of 3200. Along one side there is a reasonably sized seated stand (covered in the central area). This is the side adjacent to the main stadium. The toilet and refreshment facilities are those of the main stadium.

There is uncovered terracing behind both goals and a small uncovered area of seating in one of the corners. The remaining side of the ground is not accessible for spectators but was used by the TV company broadcasting the match. Although segregation for supporters was in place, it was easy to watch the match from the main section.

Pat Jennings and Martin Chivers

For the third successive match in this tournament, the young Spurs side was not outplayed but ended the match defeated, this was despite taking a first half lead. Refreshment facilities were open for the duration. At the conclusion of the match it started to rain. With time to spare before the main event, there was an opportunity to sample more of the local Kolsh beer at a nearby restaurant.

Attendance: 783
Admission: Free
Programme: None (team sheet issued)

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Havant & Waterlooville FC

Havant & Waterlooville 5 Harlow Town 2 - Isthmian League, Premier Division

Havant is a town in the south east corner of Hampshire, approximately midway between Portsmouth and Chichester. Its borough comprises the town and its suburbs including the resort of Hayling Island as well as Rowland's Castle, the smaller town of Waterlooville and Langstone Harbour. Housing and population more than doubled in the 20 years following World War II. This was facilitated by a period of major conversion of land from agriculture and woodland to housing across the region following the incendiary bombing of Portsmouth and The Blitz. It is reputed that the name Waterlooville is derived from a pub that stood at the centre of the village, then known as Wait Lane End, where the stage-coach horses waited to change places with the team that pulled the coach up and over Portsdown Hill. The pub had been named Heroes of Waterloo because, on its opening day, in 1815, soldiers who had just disembarked at Portsmouth, returning from the Battle of Waterloo, decided to stop there and celebrate their victory. According to local legend, many of them settled there. There is no proof of this assertion. The pub was thereafter renamed in their honour and the area around the pub became known as Waterlooville. 

In 1998 Havant Town FC and Waterlooville FC merged to play at Havant Town's West Leigh Park ground. In their first season as a merged team, Havant & Waterlooville won the Southern League Southern Division under the management of former Crystal Palace and Portsmouth defender Billy Gilbert. There was also instant success in the FA Cup, a penalty shoot-out defeat to Hayes was all that denied the Hawks an opportunity to visit league side Mansfield Town in the first round proper.

The second international weekend of the season enabled another opportunity to visit a new ground. Many years previously, following the very late postponement of a Spurs friendly match at Fratton Park. I was able to visit Waterlooville FC's Jubilee Park for a Southern League match v Corby Town. 

That venue is no more and this was my first visit to West Leigh Park. Cheap train tickets from London Victoria were secured early for just over £8:00 return. On arrival at Havant, a short walk enabled this Pieman to visit The Parchment Makers (J D Wetherspoon) for lunch and ale. This establishment is situated immediately behind the bus station and was already busy with shoppers when we arrived around noon. 

From the railway station, heading in the opposite direction to that taken earlier, it took no more than a twenty minute walk to reach West Leigh Park. On the site of the ground there is a public house The Westleigh and a brief visit was made to this establishment prior to entering the stadium.

I was really impressed with the ground. There is covered terracing on all four sides, rare for this level of football. Along one of the sides is a superb seated stand affording an excellent view of proceedings. The club shop is situated in the corner of the ground nearest to the entrance turnstiles. Catering facilities are situated in each corner at the opposite end of the ground. One particular aspect that I liked is that one of these facilities only sells sweets and hot drinks which is good to know if wanting to avoid the possible longer wait where people are queuing for hot food too.

Havant & Waterlooville were second placed in the table going into this match. Whereas Harlow Town had been struggling to acclimatise to this level following last season’s promotion. Away from home has been a real struggle and in the previous week defeats at Lowestoft Town and Grays Athletic had seen them concede seven goals. On this occasion there was barely four minutes on the clock when the home side took the lead. The eventual 5-2 win did not flatter the home side but I did see evidence of revival in Harlow's performance. I expect to see Havant competing for promotion throughout the season, they are a good side to watch.

Attendance: 682
Admission: £12:00
Programme: £2:00 (32 pages)
Tea: £1:00

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Codicote FC

Codicote 1 Risborough Rangers 5 - Spartan South Midlands League, Division One

Codicote is a village, and civil parish about seven miles south of Hitchin in Hertfordshire. It has timber-framed and chequered brick houses, of special interest being the 18th-century Pond House and the half-timbered "As You Like It" Peking restaurant (formerly the George and Dragon Inn). Codicote Lodge is 18th-century and Codicote Bury 17th-century. A most unusual structure north of the village is the Node Dairy and Stud, erected in 1927. It is circular in design, and thatched, with a circular courtyard and a tower, which is, in fact, a silo. Codicote lies on a chalk ridge on the dip slope of the Chiltern Hills. In the year 1002 Codicote entered the written records for the first time when King Ethelred the Unready, its owner, sold it by means of a charter for the sum of 900 shillings of pure gold to his 'faithful minster' Elfhelm.

The earliest records of Codicote F.C. date back to the 1913–14 season when Codicote joined the Hertfordshire County League Eastern Division, where they remained until the league was reorganised in 1921, moving Codicote into the North & East Division. In 1923, the league was reduced to a single league, the Herts County League, and at the end of the 1924–25 season the Herts league was disbanded. The league reformed once again, but only for the 1926–27 season, before disbanding again. Codicote then joined the North Hertfordshire League and remained there until 1993, when the previous manager, Jim Bundy, took the side once again back into the Herts Senior County League. They played in the first qualifying round of the FA Vase in the 2010–11 season.

I was fortunate to be offered a lift to this match and the journey from Cheshunt via Hertford and Welwyn Garden City probably took just over half an hour. There are public transport options as bus routes serve Codicote. For a Saturday afternoon match this would be fine but midweek matches might pose a greater challenge.

On arrival at the village we made our way to the John Clements Memorial Ground in order to get our bearings. From the High Street it takes less than five minutes to walk to the ground. We soon returned to the High Street in search of refreshment. The pubs were serving food but the pull of the local kebab grill establishment was greater and quality Chicken kebabs were enjoyed.

Codicote FC returned to this venue at the end of the previous season, having spent a few years playing at Hertford Town and latterly Hatfield Town’s Gosling Stadium. Whilst away ground improvements in order to meet league requirements were planned and subsequently made. This includes the installation of floodlights, hard standing and a covered seated stand. The parish council appears to be a hard bunch to please and I understand it has not been easy making such progress.

The main clubhouse building includes a licensed bar and tea bar. The older building next door house the changing facilities and both will be used for cricket during the summer months. Risborough Rangers had started the season well. However, they went behind early in the match. Following a superbly struck equalising goal, the visitors took control of the match, eventually scoring a further four times to end the match as comfortable winners. On a sunny afternoon this is a nice place to watch football. A leisurely drive home completed a nice afternoon out in the Spartan South Midlands League.

Attendance: 48
Admission: £5:00
Programme: with admission
Tea: £1:00

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

CSKA Moscow FC

CSKA Moscow 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1 - UEFA Champions League, Group Stage Match 2

The Moscow Region is located in the basin of the Volga, Oka, Klyazma, and Moscow rivers and covers an area of 46 000 square km, which is considerably larger than Denmark, Switzerland, or Belgium. Forests cover a third of the territory of Moscow Region. They are home to elk, wild boar, deer, foxes, weasels, lynx, and martens, as well as all kinds of birds. Moscow’s climate is continental, though mild. There are no severe frosts or excessive heat, although deviations from normal seasonal temperatures are quite frequent. December, for example, might bring along long-run thaws. In summer, periods of heat might be alternated with the sudden cold weather and protracted rains. On average Moscow has 194 days of above-zero and 103 days of below-zero temperature every year. As the city grew, the differences in climate between Moscow and Moscow Region became more distinctive. During clear frosty nights it is usually colder in the country than in the city (the difference might reach 4-5 degrees centigrade, while 10-12 years ago it didn’t exceed 1-2 degrees). 
Arena CSKA is a multi-use stadium in Khodynka Field, Moscow. The construction of the stadium was completed in 2016. The construction process was started in 2007 has been halted several times, with the longest pause lasting 16 months (between 2009 and 2011). The stadium was designed with a capacity of 30,000 people. An integral part of it is a skyscraper aimed to resemble the UEFA Cup, first European trophy won by a Russian club with CSKA beating Sporting CP in 2005. The remaining three corners have office spaces and skyboxes instead of regular stands.

PFC Central Sport Club of the Army, Moscow is a Russian professional football club. It is based in Moscow, playing its home matches at the 30,000-capacity CSKA Moscow Stadium. The club is the most known division of the CSKA Moscow sports club. Founded in 1911, CSKA had its most successful period after World War II with five titles in six seasons. It won a total of 7 Soviet Top League championships, including the last-ever season in 1991. The club has also won 6 Russian Premier League titles, and the 2004–05 UEFA Cup. CSKA was the official team of the Soviet Army during the communist era. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union it has become privately owned, with the Ministry of Defence as a shareholder. Russian businessman Roman Abramovich's Sibneft corporation was a leading sponsor of the club from 2004 to 2006.

The third part of my Moscow trilogy was to attend this UEFA Champions League encounter. Having attended the U19 match between the same clubs earlier in the afternoon, we were aware that there are factions associated with CSKA who are not interested in the football. An earlier visit to the stadium proved such a point. The much travelled Adam Carne alerted us to one such individual hovering close by. This person was clearly tracking our movements and I saw him hiding in some bushes – the spiv Harry played by George Cole in the original St Trinians films springs to mind!

Having purchased match programmes and taken a few daylight photographs, we decided to frustrate ‘Harry’ by leaving the vicinity in a taxi. We returned to the stadium in plenty of time prior to the 21:45 kick off. The stadium is rather good and all areas afford a decent view. The Tottenham Hotspur support was housed in a segregated upper tier section behind one of the goals. All four sides of the stadium are two tiered and I would think if the home side was doing well, this arena would generate a great atmosphere. There is a general greyness about the stadium’s exterior and the walkways within the confines before you reach the seated arena. That said, this venue will see good service when Russia hosts the World Cup.

Having lost to AS Monaco in the first group match, Spurs really needed to get something from this fixture. I did not know what to expect of CSKA and was surprised that throughout the 90 minutes they offered very little. A second half goal from Heung-Min Son was enough to secure victory for the visitors. At the time of going to press CSKA has played three matches at their new home stadium. They have won, drawn and lost. Tottenham Hotspur will forever be credited as the first visiting side to win there and currently have as many victories there as CSKA.

After the match we were able to snaffle a cab in the Moscow darkness, it was already Wednesday morning by this time! My three game tour of Moscow football was drawing to a close and I was contemplating my journey home via Brussels. Three new grounds in a little over 24 hours too (never done that before). As for “Harry” -  for all I know he may still be in the bushes on his mobile phone – I do hope so!

Attendance: 26,153
Admission:  Ticket states 15 Euros
Programme: 300 Rubles (32 pages)