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Parks and Recreation - Weekend Matchgoing April 9-11

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    Parks and Recreation - Weekend Matchgoing April 9-11

    So, settling in to another six weeks or so of finding games at unenclosed pitches and I am likely to sample the Thames Valley Premier League this weekend.

    This could be a fruitful competition in coming months as they plan to complete their league season in full meaning fixtures throughout the week with a lot of them at accessible (if not floodlit) venues.

    This weekend I am hoping to meet up with a few Berks/Bucks based 1927 Club mates at one of the following games, all attractive in their own way ;

    Finchampstead v Newbury - first v third in the Premier so a plum tie but my mates have been there before.

    Cookham Dean v Burghfield - taking place at the splendidly named Alfred Major.

    Wraysbury Village v Richings Park - a mid-table fixture between what sound like Midsomer Murders locations

    Last edited by Ray de Galles; 07-04-2021, 13:20.

    A shortage of public spaces in South East London, and the Kent County League not resuming in any form, means it's slim pickings for me, especially as I want to avoid public transport wherever possible.

    My best bet is looking like Lewisham Town vs West Bromley Albion in the Bromley & South London League... although that's still an hour and 45 minute walk away so if it's raining I doubt I'll bother.


      My u10s got back to losing ways last weekend with a 5-0 defeat at Pershore Town u10s. It was 1-0 at half-time but a change of keeper led to us conceding goals our main keeper really wouldn't have let in. Lesson learned and there has still been improvement - last time we played them we lost 8-0. Even their coach asked what my boys had been up to during lockdown.

      Anyway, this week, we're at home to Sheppey Swifts. Last season this was the only team we managed to beat and this season we were 3-1 up with a couple of minutes to go and ended up losing 4-3.

      Fortunately, it's my joint coach's turn to ref so I'll be on the sidelines (assuming we don't get a late appointment) and, after a great session last night, I can't wait for Saturday morning to come around!!


        Originally posted by Uros Predic View Post
        A shortage of public spaces in South East London, and the Kent County League not resuming in any form, means it's slim pickings for me, especially as I want to avoid public transport wherever possible.
        Yeah, I did think that this ridiculous unenclosed pitch restriction hits even harder in London proper. A colleague of mine who lives in Belsize Park was asking for advice on who he could watch and I didn't have a clue.
        Last edited by Ray de Galles; 07-04-2021, 19:59.


          Yeah, I've had to drop to the second tier of the Bromley and South London League to find something that doesn't look like it's on a recognised sports ground of some kind. The Amateur Football Combination is also playing again, but it's the same issue there really; of the few teams that are on this side of London they're all on enclosed grounds.


            So all being well I'll be heading to Horwich on Saturday for my first taste of football since Boxing Day. I hope to be able to get to as many as possible by bike but either way with the bulk of the Hope Valley League within an hour's drive in one direction and the West Lancs League the same distance away in the other I'm actually going to be spoilt for choice for accessible games with a scenic backdrop over the coming weeks.


              Might get my pushbike out later and get down to Frodsham to watch Orange Athletic v Black Horse (Heswall) in the bottom tier of the Chester & Wirral Football League. With the visitors boasting a 100% record and the home team yet to record a point, I'm not anticipating a competitive affair with conversation being the main draw.

              Tomorrow morning on the adjacent pitch, I'm having my first go this year. At the very least, I'm hoping to clock more than the five minutes I managed last time out at the tail end of last year, before my right hamstring failed me. Its my first dabble in over 45s football so I'm hoping the (slightly) more sedate pace will be accommodating.


                Southwick are at home (well, adjacent to their home) this afternoon, but with rain looking likely I'm not risking taking the kids out this afternoon. I can imagine the complaining if they got rained on, and I'm not really in the right headspace for that today.


                  There's was some discussion last week about watching matches involving reserve teams. In the match I watched today, the visitors were the reserve team of Astley. Unusually the home side were their own first team - both play in Division Three of the Mid-Lancashire League, which is as low as things get in this area. Home for both sides is Astley Park, the grounds of the Elizabethan Astley Hall. Whilst the park is a very pleasant place to spend an afternoon, it's fair to say that the football pitches are relatively neglected - the crossbars have a very noticeable dip towards the middle.

                  As would be expected this wasn't a particularly close match. The first team took the lead within five minutes before the reserves levelled through a penalty on 25 minutes. However the firsts were back in front within seconds and were 5-1 up at half time. The second half was similar, eventually finishing 8-2. It could well have been more, but it appeared to get a stage where the forwards for the first team seemed more interesting in scoring themselves than looking for teammates in better position. The result sent Astley [1st XI] to the top of the division, so it looks quite likely that the club's two sides won't be meeting again next season.


                    I had a date with ifollow for the Cumbrian derby at 3pm, so that left me just enough time to take in the first 40 minutes of the 2pm ko between Maghull v. Mersey Royal in West Cheshire League Division 1.

                    Dotted sparsely around the ground was a motley collection of subs, club officials, dog walkers, kids on bikes and middle aged fellas like me who'd gone for a walk and just happened upon a game. There was even a couple of lads outside the ground on a bench on the canal towpath who had a cracking view as the trees aren't in leaf yet.

                    Maghull (in hoops) went in front fairly early on and had the away defence under pressure a few times, but Royal equalised when the 9 beat his man out wide and snuck a shot inside the near post. Mersey Royal are second in the division (behind league leaders and last season's champions elect South Liverpool) and had a few useful players, the 7 in particular having a lovely touch and a good burst of speed when he needed it. It was 1-1 when I headed home to swear at the feed from Holker Street, but Mersey Royal scored again to win the game 2-1. I should probably have saved myself a tenner and stayed til the end.


                      Horwich St. Mary's Victoria 0-3 CMB
                      West Lancs League Regional Cup

                      A very pleasant afternoon on an imaculate pitch in the shadow of Winter Hill which was thoughtful enough to bookend the game with snowstorms rather than shower it with them.

                      The story of football in "the historic railway town of Horwich" as the sign on entering has it meanders along uneventfully for the best part of a century until it reaches the mid-90's and the chapter; One Out, One In or Be Careful What You Wish For at which point the Horwich R.M.I. board decide that the only way to achieve their ambitions is to move out of town. Unfortunately for them their destination, Leigh is not a railway town and nor, more pertinently is it a football town. The re-named Leigh R.M.I. played a couple of seasons in the conference but crowds plummeted and so eventually did the club which eventually folded, by then re-named again as Leigh Genesis in 2011. At least Bolton Wanderers would ensure that the dream of bringing 4th Division football to the town was eventually achieved.

                      Today's hosts, in green, play in the 1st Division of the West Lancs League and from what little I could ascertain are the result of a merger between a church team and a Sunday League team. Their opponents sat second from bottom of the Premier Division at the premature end of the league season and were somewhat flattered by the scoreline today. A goal either side of half time, the first from a corner, the second lashed in from just inside the box gave them sufficient breathing space as shot after shot flashed by their own goal. Their third was a header scored, so a fan of theirs I'd been chatting to explained, by their reserve keeper who'd begged his manager for a go playing outfield for once.

                      If anyone deserved a goal though it was the Horwich no.10 (below) who looked every inch the archetypal no.9. Everything good that Horwich did came through him and so one could only conclude that, although he didn't particularly shine in any sense, it was the presence of the 38 year old ex York and Bury legend Andy Bishop (head bowed and bearded below) at the heart of the away side's defence that was the main reason he didn't.

                      Last edited by Artificial Hipster; 10-04-2021, 19:14.


                        Tewkesbury Town Pumas U10s 3-2 Sheppey Swifts U10s

                        What a game this morning. After the league demanded minute's silence (which I had to chat through because I was being asked to move my car by someone who obviously couldn't wait 1 minute) we struggled to get going. Annoyingly, after about 5 mins we found ourselves 1-0 down due to no-one closing down their attacker who basically had a free shot on goal. After that we dominated the rest of the first quarter (we played quarters and not halves) and our striker missed two 1-on-1s with their keeper. We started the second quarter with more urgency, and had a few chances, basically camping in their defensive 3rd, but somehow we couldn't find a goal and it was 1-0 to Sheppey at half-time.

                        Thankfully, within the first couple of mins of the 3rd quarter we had a throw-in on the left. It was taken quickly and the centre-midfielder looped the ball into the box for our right midfielder to knee across goal and make it 1-1. We again then camped in their defensive 3rd and were caught on the break in the final seconds of the 3rd quarter to somehow go into the final break 2-1 down. The final quarter was one way traffic and we equalised about halfway through. A lovely through ball from our right defender played the right midfielder through and he scored a lovely placed shot in the bottom corner. Our main forward then hit the post and the side-netting and it really looked like the Gods were against us before, in the final seconds, our right midfielder played the ball across goal for the forward to slide in from about a yard. Jubilation all round, and sheer relief for me as we got our first league win of the season.

                        To top it all off, my son had his best game ever and ended up being voted man of the match. Cheltenham's result this afternoon almost pales in comparison.


                          That looks a lovely ground AH. The two pictures posted so far have made me very jealous of the weather - I was on the south coast, where it was raining sideways until about fives minutes before kick off. I think I've only just warmed up.


                            Lewisham Athletic 0-1 West Bromley Albion
                            Lewisham Athletic 2-1 West Bromley Albion
                            Bromley & South London League First Division

                            Reward for my 11+ mile round walk to wear Lewisham meets Bromley in the form of an unexpected double header (two 60 minute matches... "Wait, ref, does this mean we have to do another minute's silence?"). It's hard to pitch a standard for a league outside the pyramid, but the fact that I turned up two mins before kick-off and at least six players turned up after me probably sets it. That and the fact two Lewisham players were in a completely different kit to their teammates (halves instead of stripes). Plus a small hard bobbly pitch and a light ball made any attempts to play neat football largely obsolete. Lewisham had the better of the first match, hit the bar, and had a goal ruled out for offside, but paid for their missed chances when WBA took probably their only clear chance of the whole game.

                            In game two Lewisham were the better side again, going in front with a great header from a corner from their old-school centre half. West Bromley equalised before half-time when their barrel of a forward bludgeoned his way through a succession of tackles and ricochets before finding the net with a neat finish. Lewisham went back in front with another header from a set-piece (pictured below, the player in green to the 'keeper's right the scorer), and WBA threatened an equaliser only to miss a sitter from 5 yards and see the crossbar deny a looping own-goal.

                            Only one booking across the two hours reflects what an incredibly good spirit both games were played in; that the two captains were probably the most jovial players on the field helped. On-field jokes and wind ups could be heard throughout the game, with both sides doubling over laughing at a couple of stumbles and wild bobble-induced airshots. The only exception was an incredibly angry Lewisham sub who kept loudly lamenting any missed chance, turning his back in a huff, and at one point twatting a spare ball 40ft up into the air and onto the pitch when one of his teammates mis-controlled a through-ball. He didn't come on in either game, and the rest of his squad seemed to ignore him, making me question whether he was there at all.

                            Attendance: 2 (me and another bloke for the first game, me and a player's girlfriend for the second game).


                              Originally posted by Forest Gump View Post
                              That looks a lovely ground AH. The two pictures posted so far have made me very jealous of the weather - I was on the south coast, where it was raining sideways until about fives minutes before kick off. I think I've only just warmed up.
                              Four seasons in a day yesterday. Horwich is a fabulous spot to watch football. Greater Manchester has its moments, in particular its canals and river valleys but if you ask me it's only when fanning out beyond the towns of Bolton, Bury and Rochdale that the true beauty of old lancashire with its rugged hills and old stone houses can be found.


                                Cookham Dean 1 Burghfield 2
                                Thames Valley Premier League
                                Alfred Major Recreation Ground

                                I was doubting my choice when I turned up at freezing windswept Alfred Major as it looked the ground looked pretty rudimentary and there was nobody else visible apart from the visiting team warming up with great gusto. They looked quite impressively set up with a whole squad and coaching team all kitted out with their own cones and paraphernalia.

                                The home team eventually wandered out looking more ramshackle but a more impressive sight was the emergence of the officials, my first siting of actual neutral linesmen since matches recently restarted as opposed to subs or coaches running the line. The trio's full Berks & Bucks FA kit was quite spectacular as was the fact their combined age must have been around 200.

                                A few dozen spectators appeared must before kick off including erstwhile 1927 Club members/OTFers Rick Derris and Mirko Bolesan who I'd arranged to meet and we made our way to the more sheltered side of the rec to avoid the icy wind, This also gave us an impressive view of Cliveden in the distance overlooking both the Thames and the Marlow to Maidenhead train line (where is BB&F! by the way?), none of which I managed to catch in my photos.

                                The game meandered along for most of the first half while the players got over three and a half months of inactivity but Burghfield were clearly the better side and scored twice just before the break. The first was direct from a corner that help up in the wind bamboozling the home keeper before dropping over the line leaving the goalie with the double indignity of conceding and ending up up entangled in the net and needing help to extricate himself. The second came from a well worked move and cross that a flailing Cookham defender touched in to the net for an own goal, despite the attacking player's attempt to claim it.

                                The second half was mainly characterised by the needle that crept in to the match which ranged from proper shoving matches between both sets of players to a running battle between the home keeper and bench as to who should collect the ball after wayward shots. The agita wasn't helped by the ref deliberating over the big decisions like a particularly ponderous cricket umpire which left Cookham's players and "manager" very marked. I qualify the term manager because at first I thought he was just a spectator given he sported shorts & flip-flops but mainly because he was checking his phone while play was going on.

                                The hosts did pull one back with the goal of the game with about twenty minutes left after a sumptuous chest down and 25 yard volley from their captain who had spent most of the rest of the game struggling to make a decent pass. After that the home side pressed hard for what would have been a flattering equaliser but to no avail. The last move of the match was a Cookham corner which their burly, dayglo-clad keeper somehow managed to sneak up for (unnoticed by us or, it seemed, the Burghfield defence) and suddenly appear at the far post throwing himself at the ball like a flying yak but failing to connect.

                                Last edited by Ray de Galles; Yesterday, 14:31.


                                  Rottingdean 2-1 Littlehampton United

                                  Southern Combination Division 2 Supplementary Sheild

                                  When Walthamstow opted out of the Essex Senior League's supplementary cup competition, I had visions of visiting some of the country's most unique grounds, bathed in sunshine.

                                  The grounds have held up their part of the bargain so far, but the weather has not. Last weekend there was snow, and this time at Rottingdean in East Sussex, a brutal wind rolled down off the hills and across the pitch. If it was this cold in April, I dread to think what it's like in December; maybe a switch to summer football may not be such a bad thing.

                                  It looked like it could have been even worse, as for 90 minutes before kick-off, the was rain was sidewards, and if Rottingdean Cricket Club next door had a game planned, they would have certainly questioned walking out to the square.

                                  The footballers of Rottingdean were far more hardy, though, and went out for their warm-ups at 2pm, for a 3pm kick-off. This enthusiasm quickly caught up with both sides, and by 25 to 3, both were standing around, pretty much ready to start the game. A compromise was reached, with the game starting at 2.50pm, catching more than one attendee out.

                                  Rottingdean made the most of being the home side and went back into the warm for their team talk, leaving Littlehampton to stand around for 15 minutes and then have to warm up all over again.

                                  It was a bit of a surprise then, that Littlehampton came out the quicker of the two sides, clearly heeding their manager's advice that "if you yo out flat, you go out to lose. This is matchday, I want some noise".

                                  The visitors forced a few corners, bit the wind was playing havoc, with each of them over or under hit, depending on the side. Once Rottingdean did finally get out of their half, they got a corner of their own, which was shanked right into the near post - and that was with the wind. Fortunately, the rebound fell to Rottingdean's right back who lashed it home.

                                  This is the first time I've watched a lot of football at this level, and when a team scores, there seems to be a feeling of relief rather than celebration. That shouldn't be the case, though, as there have been some fine finishes on display, none more so than Rottingdean's second, the winger showing great composure to slot home a one-on-one.

                                  The wind in the second half made the game almost unplayable, but when the home side were able to keep the ball on the ground, they created a good number of chances and were it for some heroic defending and some wayward finishing, they could have been out of sight.

                                  Rottingdean had won only once in the league before it was curtailed - and that was on their last game before lockdown in December. Before then, they'd lost 8-0, 7-0 (twice) and 6-1. It looks like they turned a corner, though, and by the end of the game, were enjoying themselves.

                                  This was cut short with almost the last kick of the game when Littlehampton nabbed a consolation goal with a deflected free-kick. For the Rottingdean players, it felt like a defeat, but after a difficult start to the season, they've made an unbeaten start to the Division 2 Supplementary Shield.

                                  The farmer's fields around two sides and the windmill in the distance made Rottingdean a lovely little ground; hopefully, the locals get a proper summer to enjoy it.

                                  More photos:


                                    Did you contact Rottingdean? As a defender who scored a grand total of 5 league goals in my career, I'd love a souvenir of one of them.