Saturday, January 05, 2019

Airbus UK Broughon FC

Airbus UK Broughon 1 Presyatyn Town 2 - Cymru Alliance

Broughton is home to a large aircraft factory at Hawarden Airport. This was completed in 1939 for use by Vickers Armstrongs, who built 5,786 Wellington bombers. De Havilland Aircraft took over the factory in 1948 and built 2,816 planes of several designs. Today, the plant is the Airbus wing factory, manufacturing wings for the A320, A330/A340, A350, and A380 aircraft. Airbus wings produced in Broughton are flown out in Airbus Beluga planes with the exception of the large A380 wings, which are transported by barge along the river Dee to the nearby Mostyn docks. The Broughton factory was featured in the 2011 BBC Television programme How to Build a Super Jumbo Wing. The ITV1 drama series, Midsomer Murders has used Broughton as a filming location. Broughton war memorial institute is situated on the main road opposite entry to Broughton hall road, this building was built in lieu of a memorial stone to commemorate the sacrifice by residents of the village in military conflicts between 1914 and 1919, to hosts groups and events for the benefit of local people year round.

The football club was formed in 1946; the club has known several different names as the ownership of the factory has changed over the years. Originally called Vickers-Armstrong, it has variously been named de Havillands, Hawker Siddeley, British Aerospace and BAE Systems. The club's early years were spent in the Chester and District League and the Wrexham area leagues. The club won the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Division Two title during the 1991–92 season, when they won 28 of their 34 matches and scored 130 goals to finish 19 points ahead of their nearest rival. After four years in the Premier Division the club was promoted to the Cymru Alliance at the end of the 1999–00 season. At the same time the club changed its name to Airbus UK. In 2003–04 the club earned promotion to the top level of Welsh domestic football for the first time. The 2016–17 season produced only five wins and saw first round exits from both the League Cup and Welsh Cup, ending with the Wingmakers finishing in bottom place and being relegated back to the Cymru Alliance ending 13 seasons in the Welsh top flight.

With the Tranmere Rovers v Tottenham Hotspur FA Cup tie being switched to the Friday evening for TV broadcasting, I was able to take advantage of the opportunity to visit a new venue in the vicinity the following day. To reach The Airfield by public transport is relatively straightforward. There are a number of frequent bus routes connecting Chester and Broughton with routes 4 and 12 stopping directly outside the ground.

On arrival at the ground, which is situated within the vast Airbus complex, I was able to go inside and take some photographs. The extremely helpful club official (Steve) that I met, was clear that although it is ok to take pictures of the football ground, it is not permissible to photograph the airfield runway and associated structures. There is a company social club across the road from the ground and prior to the match I went there for a pint (no real ale so opted for Guinness) and was able to watch some televised FA Cup football.

The ground boasts an artificial playing surface, one of a number I have seen in Welsh football. Along one side of the pitch is the main club building which houses the changing facilities along with a boardroom/sponsor’s lounge. In front of this building is a small covered seated stand. Also along this side is an extremely well stocked club shop and a refreshment trailer, serving hot drinks, burgers etc.

On the opposite side of the pitch is a larger covered seated stand and yet another stand (also seated and covered) is situated behind the end of the ground that backs on to the airfield. The remaining end of the ground is where the turnstile entrance is located, but there are no further spectator facilities.

This match saw top of the table Airbus host twelfth placed Prestatyn Town. The visitors were well supported and those that had made the trip from the coastal town were rewarded when Prestatyn took the lead in the first period. An equaliser early in the second half looked to pave the way for another home victory. However, the visitors claimed all three points following the second goal capping a battling performance against the team favourites to win the league. The winning goal was adjudged to have crossed the line by the assistant referee. Not a popular decision for some but this Pieman saw it the same way and believe he got it right. A bus within ten minutes of the match ending meant I was back at Chester station just after 5pm with plenty of time to catch my connection to Crewe.

Attendance: 227
Admission: £6:00
Programme: £2:00 (48 pages)
Tea: £1:00

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Woodbridge Town FC

Woodbridge Town 1 Brantham Athletic 1 - Eastern Counties League, Premier Division

Woodbridge is a town in Suffolk, about 8 miles from the coast. It lies along the River Deben and has a population of about 11,000. The town is served by Woodbridge railway station on the Ipswich–Lowestoft East Suffolk Line. It lies within a short distance of the wider Ipswich urban area. The earliest record of Woodbridge dates from the mid-10th century, when St Aethelwold, Bishop of Winchester, acquired it. The Doomsday Book of 1086 describes Woodbridge as part of the Loes Hundred. Much of Woodbridge was granted to the powerful Bigod family, who built the famous castle at Framlingham. In 1943, the Royal Air Force (RAF) constructed a military airfield east of Woodbridge. During the Cold War, the United States Air Force used RAF Woodbridge as the primary home for two Tactical Fighter Squadrons until 1993. Woodbridge has a brass band, the Excelsior, which was formed in 1846, making it the oldest community brass band in East Anglia.

Woodbridge Town FC was formed at a meeting held on 23 July 1885, and the first match was played between the club's own members on a pitch at Farlingaye Hall. The club's first match, against St Helens of Ipswich, resulted in a 10–0 victory. The Suffolk County Football Association was formed in the same year, and the club were a founder member, as well as winning the first Suffolk Senior Cup by beating Ipswich Town 3–1 in the final at Portman Road. In 1908–09 they won the Junior Cup by beating RFA Ipswich 2–1, and in 1912–13 were champions of the Ipswich and District League's Senior Division. They won the Junior Cup again in 1927, beating Southwold Town 4–2. In 1929 they reached the final of the Senior Cup, but lost 5–0 to Ipswich Town.

Making use of a complimentary Greater Anglia voucher. I was able to make a return journey from Cheshunt to Woodbridge via Stratford and Ipswich. The total cost of £5:00 representing fine value. On arrival at Woodbridge, my 25-minute walk to Notcutts Park was interrupted in order to take refreshment at The Cherry Tree (Adnams), where this Pieman delighted in his pint of Broadside.

Notcutts Park is a tidy, if basic, venue. All the main facilities are situated along one side of the ground. The main clubhouse building incorporates a licensed bar, snack bar and a function room. The changing rooms and turnstile area are also part of this block. A short distance along from the clubhouse is a covered standing area, adjacent to which, is a covered seated stand.

The pitch is fully railed and there is a concrete hardstanding surrounding the perimeter, with the exception of the area immediately behind the dugouts. This side of the ground backs onto the busy A12. There is housing behind one of the goals (it is via this estate that you access the ground) and a sloping open field behind the other.

This match saw the 5th placed hosts, pitted against their 8th placed visitors. A win for Brantham Athletic would see them leapfrog Woodridge Town in the table, although the latter had two matches in hand. The first period saw the visitors lead following a header from a corner and try as Woodbridge did, they were unable to get past some resolute defending.

The second period commenced with a couple of substitutions for the home side. This clearly had the desired effect, as the hosts were more assertive and levelled with another headed goal from a corner. Although finishing stronger, the hosts could not find a winner. I was back at Woodbridge station in plenty of time to catch the 17:18 service to Ipswich, from where my onward connection to London was on time. Special thanks to Martin Norton for the rail voucher.

Attendance: 226
Admission: £6:00
Programme: £1:00 (28 pages)
Tea: £1:00
Cheesburger: £3:00

Thursday, December 13, 2018

FC Barcelona U19

FC Barcelona U19 0 Tottenham Hotspur U19 2 - UEFA Youth League, Group Stage

Barcelona is located on the north-east coast of the Iberian Peninsula, facing the Mediterranean Sea, on a plain approximately 3 miles wide limited by the mountain range of Collserola, the Llobregat river to the south-west and the Besòs river to the north. According to the Köppen climate classification, Barcelona has a maritime Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and warm to hot summers, while the rainiest seasons are autumn and spring. The Port of Barcelona has a 2000-year-old history and a great contemporary commercial importance. It is Europe's ninth largest container port. Barcelona is served by Barcelona-El Prat Airport, located around 11 miles from the centre. It is the second-largest airport in Spain, and the largest on the Mediterranean coast. Barcelona is a major hub for RENFE, the Spanish state railway network. The city's main Inter-city rail station is Barcelona Sants railway station, whilst Estació de França terminus serves a secondary role handling suburban, regional and medium distance services.

On 22 October 1899, Hans Gamper placed an advertisement in Los Deportes declaring his wish to form a football club; a positive response resulted in a meeting at the Gimnasio Solé on 29 November. Eleven players attended – Walter Wild (the first director of the club), Lluís d'Ossó, Bartomeu Terradas, Otto Kunzle, Otto Maier, Enric Ducal, Pere Cabot, Carles Pujol, Josep Llobet, John Parsons, and William Parsons – and Foot-Ball Club Barcelona was born. FC Barcelona is one of three founding members of the Primera División that have never been relegated from the top division since its inception in 1929, along with Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid. In 2009, Barcelona became the first Spanish club to win the continental treble consisting of La Liga, Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League, and also became the first Spanish football club to win six out of six competitions in a single year, by also winning the Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

The 15,276-seat Mini Estadi is situated across from Camp Nou, the home stadium of FC Barcelona. The stadium is currently home to FC Barcelona B (reserve team), as well as FC Barcelona's women's team. It has also been home to the Barcelona Dragons, a NFL Europe American football team, until they were disbanded in 2003. It occasionally hosts the national team of Andorra. Queen performed at the stadium during their Magic Tour on 1 August 1986. David Bowie performed, on two consecutive nights, at the stadium during his Glass Spider Tour on 7–8 July 1987. Elton John performed at the stadium during his One Tour on 21 July 1992. My visit was timely as it is expected that the Mini Estadi will be demolished following the conclusion of the 2018–19 season, when the Estadi Johan Cruyff is finally opened. This is an impressive two-tiered venue with decent view from all angles. Only one side of the ground is covered.

Having witnessed all five preceding matches for Tottenham Hotspur in the Group Stage of the UEFA Youth League, I was determined to get along to the Mini Estadi for this final encounter. We became aware that Internazionale had defeated PSV, which meant that Spurs had to win this match in order to qualify from the group along with their hosts.

I had been impressed with the quality of performances from the U19 team this season and like the first team, they are an accomplished side, balanced with ability, tactical nous and dogged determination. This particular match epitomised that spirit. From the outset it was clear that they were not going to allow their hosts to intimidate them and with the exception perhaps of a ten-minute spell during the second half, Spurs were in complete control of proceedings.

Gary Mabbutt, the much travelled Adam Carne and Ledley King pose for the Catalan media
Troy Parrott's strike after 17 minutes and substitute Rodel Richards' goal with his first touch having come off the bench in the final minute are the recorded statistics. However, it should be stated that this was an immense performance and every player deserves credit for making a decent home side look rather ordinary.

The watching Ledley King and Gary Mabbutt will have been impressed with the performance as were the decent gathering of Spurs supporters attending this match as an appetiser before an emotionally charged encounter over the road later in the evening.

Attendance: 870
Admission: Free
Programme: None
Team Sheet : Free

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Leicester Nirvana FC

Leicester Nirvana 5 Oadby Town 2 - United Counties League, Premier Division

It is believed that the Romans arrived in the Leicester area around AD 47, during their conquest of southern Britain. The Corieltauvian settlement lay near a bridge on the Fosse Way, a Roman road between the legionary camps at Isca (Exeter) and Lindum (Lincoln). It remains unclear whether the Romans fortified and garrisoned the location, but it slowly developed from around the year 50 onwards as the tribal capital of the Corieltauvians under the name Ratae Corieltauvorum. In the 2nd century, it received a forum and bathhouse. In 2013, the discovery of a Roman cemetery found just outside the old city walls and dating back to AD 300 was announced. The remains of the baths of Roman Leicester can be seen at the Jewry Wall; recovered artefacts are displayed at the adjacent museum. Henry Walker was a successful pork butcher who moved from Mansfield to Leicester in the 1880s to take over an established business in High Street. The first Walker's crisp production line was in the empty upper storey of Walker's Oxford Street factory in Leicester. In the early days the potatoes were sliced by hand and cooked in an ordinary fish and chip fryer.

Thurnby Rangers were established as a Sunday league team and played at Dakyn Road in Leicester. They won the Charnwood Sunday League Premier Division in 1988–89 and went on to win the title in each of the next three seasons. In 2008 Thurnby Rangers and Leicester Nirvana merged to form Thurnby Nirvana, retaining Rangers' place in the Premier Division of the Leicestershire Senior League, although Leicester Nirvana continued as a youth club. In 2009–10 they finished third in the Premier Division and were promoted to the East Midlands Counties League. The club won the League Cup in 2010–11 and the league title in 2013–14, earning promotion to the Premier Division of the United Counties League. They were runners-up in the Premier Division the following season. At the end of the season the club were renamed Leicester Nirvana. They were Premier Division runners-up again in 2015–16, missing out on the title on goal difference.

With the Leicester City v Tottenham Hotspur fixture rescheduled for a 19:45 kick off, this Pieman was presented with an opportunity to visit another ground within the city. I had seen Leicester Nirvana previously in an away fixture at Peterborough Northern Star a few years ago. It was good to get to see a home match at Hamilton Park.

To reach the ground by public transport it is very straightforward. Arriva buses operate routes 58 and 58a (five services per hour for each) from Humberstone Gate in the city centre. The two routes run in a loop and it is worth bearing in mind that the 58a service is quicker before the match and the 58 service is quicker after the match. The bus stops are just a couple of hundred yards from the ground.

Hamilton Park is a tidy venue. There is a small covered seated stand along one side of the pitch and next to this is a covered flat concrete based structure, both areas providing shelter from adverse weather which was certainly needed on this particular afternoon. The fine clubhouse building is on a raised level behind one of the goals. Apart from the changing rooms, this block also contains a refreshment area. There is also a slight overhang from this building providing a little more cover. With the exception of the dugouts, situated on the opposite side of the pitch, there are no other facilities.

This match saw 9th placed Leicester Nirvana host 4th place Oadby Town. The match was effectively a local derby with Oadby being located just outside Leicester. In tremendously blustery conditions, the home side were playing with a tailwind and really took the game to the visitors. Two early goals set the scene and by half time the score was 5-0.

Playing with the wind in their favour in the second period, Oadby pulled a couple of goals back and with a little more good fortune, could have made the match closer. However, when considering all factors, Leicester Nirvana displayed enough quality over the 90 minutes to deserve their victory. The half dozen Tottenham Hotspur supporters attending this match appreciated the warm welcome from the host club and the Spurs fan on the Oadby Town bench. Special mention to Robert Davies, one of the Spurs fans in the crowd, who probably touched the ball more than the home goalkeeper.

Attendance: 72
Admission: £5:00
Programme: £1:00 (28 pages)
Tea: £1:00

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Park View FC

Park View 0 Winslow United 5 - Spartan South Midlands League, Division One

Park View Football Club is based in Tottenham. Currently members of the Spartan South Midlands League Division One, the club plays home matches at the White Hart Lane Community Sports Centre. In 2007 the club joined Division One Central & East of the Middlesex County League, going on to win the division at the first attempt, but then left the league and entered Division One of the London Commercial League in 2012, and were runners-up in 2013–14. The club then switched to the Amateur Football Combination, entering Intermediate Division One North. After winning the division at the first attempt, the club was promoted to Senior Division Two North and went on to win a second successive title, earning promotion to Senior Division One. They subsequently won the Division One title in 2016–17 and then entered the English football league system, joining Division Two of the Spartan South Midlands League. The club was Division Two champions in their first season in the league, earning promotion to Division One. Park View FC draws many of its players from the Ghanaian community in London.

The White Hart Lane Community Sports Centre boasts a capacity of 5000 with the main grandstand having seating for 1000. The venue has hosted both codes of rugby and athletics. This venue is only a few hundred yards along the road from Coles Park, the home of Haringey Borough FC.

As with all stadiums with an athletics track, you are never certain of the spectator facilities. I entered the stadium through the main Sports centre reception area and was directed to the impressive covered grandstand. Admission is priced at £5:00 and includes a basic twelve-page programme.

The view from the stand is excellent and it is easy to imagine the place buzzing for a high profile athletics event. Much of the remainder of the stadium is given over to concrete terracing and one could be forgiven for imagining that you were at an old East European football ground from the soviet era.

The changing rooms are housed in a separate building located behind one of the goals. Teams playing on the outside pitches also use these facilities. At one end of this block is a smart looking café, which appears to be privately run, serving hot and cold drinks, snacks and possibly more substantial meals.

This match saw 6th placed Park View host 4th placed Winslow United. These league positions would indicate that a close encounter was to follow. However, for a number of reasons, the opposite outcome unfolded. The away team was immediately on the front foot and early in the match had established a two-goal lead.

The second period saw a frustrated home side have two players sent off and concede a further three goals to give the final score a very one-sided look. For me a lack of discipline by some of the Park View players, a couple of unfortunate goal keeping errors and some very inconsistent refereeing were contributory factors.

Attendance: 25
Admission: £5:00
Programme: with admission (12 pages)

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Stafford Rangers FC

Stafford Rangers 1 Gainsborough Trinity 1 - Northern Premier League, Premier Division

Stafford is the county town of Staffordshire, in the West Midlands. It lies approximately 16 miles North of Wolverhampton and 18 miles south of Stoke-on-Trent. Stafford means 'ford' by a 'staithe' (landing place). The original settlement was on dry sand and gravel peninsula that provided a strategic crossing point in the marshy valley of the River Sow, a tributary of the River Trent. There is still a large area of marshland northwest of the town, which has always been subject to flooding. The Normans built Stafford Castle in about 1090. It was first made of wood, and later rebuilt of stone. It has been rebuilt twice since, and the ruins of the 19th century gothic revival castle on the earthworks incorporate much of the original stonework. The oldest building now in Stafford is St Chad's Church, dating back into the 12th century. The town was represented in Parliament by the famous playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan in the 18th century.

Despite extensive research, no one has been able to prove conclusively when Stafford Rangers FC was actually formed, as early minute books were destroyed during the First World War. Rangers' formation year is recognised as 1876 because of articles in the local Advertiser newspaper, but an alternative theory on Rangers' formation date, printed in the Sentinel newspaper during 1891, suggests that the club was founded by a Bible class in 1877.

With The Wolverhampton Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur fixture being scheduled for a “very considerate” 19:45 Saturday evening kick-off, this presented an opportunity to take in a non-league match in the vicinity. There are four trains per hour between Stafford and Wolverhampton, with a journey time of around 15 minutes and this fitted nicely with my plans. Marston Road is also a venue that I have wanted to visit for many years.

To reach the ground, walking from Stafford railway station takes around twenty minutes and takes you past the imposing HM Prison walls. Before heading to the ground, I also took the opportunity to have a look around the town centre. A number of olde worlde and quirky buildings help to add to the interest. It is good to see a town centre that has retained character and heritage.

On arrival at the ground I was greeted by a couple of stewards who informed me that the Gainsborough Trinity team coach was soon to arrive. The visiting supporters transport was soon to follow, having mistakenly arrived at Stafford Town FC before arriving at the correct destination. It was good to be able to enjoy the hospitality in the social club before the match. Bombardier on hand pump was a bonus, as was a brief tour of the club facilities. This also included an area dedicated to the Royal Staffordshire Regiment (particularly poignant at this time of year).

It was good to spend some time with the travelling Gainsborough Trinity supporters in the social club and both they and the home fans I spoke with were extremely friendly and welcoming. I was very impressed with the stadium. Lots of “old school” terracing around much of the ground. This was complimented by a fine seated stand along one side of the pitch. The terrace on the other side is covered and provides excellent shelter. In addition to the remembrance commemoration taking place before the match, we were able to pay tribute to Jon Downing (club president and former chairman), an extremely influential and popular man in the recent history of Stafford Rangers. Jon had passed away a few days earlier on 30 October.

As for the match, the home side (16th in the table) were taking on their visitors from Lincolnshire (8th place). Gainsborough Trinity were experiencing a bit of a goal drought leading up to this match and it was Rangers (or Boro as they are known!) that were worthy of their one goal lead at the break. The second period saw a much-improved performance from the visitors who got stronger as the half progressed. Their equaliser was good reward for this and a point each was probably about right.

Attendance: 457
Admission: £10:00
Programme: £2:00 (40 pages)