Friday, October 31, 2008

Ninja Tunes mixtape (off topic)


I thought it was about time I did a little mixtape, as I haven't for a while. This week I have been listening to a mixture of stuff, but one of the things I rediscovered was the Ninja Tunes record label, which I haven't listened to about 14 years, so here's a mix of some of their tunes:

1. Abe Twist - BREAK TO THIS
2. Anthony Bagette - Brown Said
3. Audiac - Everybody's Sneaking Baby
4. Comfort Fit - The Hunt
5. Daedelus - A Formula for Procrastination
6. DSP - Memories
7. Mentz - Sleepy
8. Saine - Elements
9. Sicilian AV Project - Todo Modo (a mio modo)

.... and here pop pickers is the link for you to mellow out to:

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=H0HYC2CG

Sod Off, 'Arry!

Harry sodding Redknapp, not content with calling Villa fans morons for being pissed off with him for gesticulating at them when his team won at Villa last season or calling Pompey fans idiots for not being chuffed when he returned to the city for an award and a bit of rubbing their noses in it 2 days after leaving them in the lurch for a second time there is his sodding Wii adverts.

Now normally this wouldn't rancour with me, but isn't this the manager who blamed the dirth in English talent (well that was his excuse for buying second rate foreigners) on the fact English kids were playing computer games instead of having a kick about outside? Well Harry, you moron shouldn't you be encouraging kids to play football rather than encouraging them to play computer games or is it just you love the smell of money? I think we know the answer to that (unless it is a 50p lobbed at his head)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Congratulations to Leiston


Leiston FC, who play in the Eastern Counties League. The same league as Ely City managed to beat Conference National strugglers Lewes 3-1 away in the FA Cup Qualifiers last night. Therefore they will play in the first round of the FA Cup and will be the lowest position team to play in the FA Cup proper this season. They might have wanted the chance to get an even bigger scalp, but they will play Conference North team Fleetwood Town, at the moment they are in a mid table position in the Ridgeon's League, but due to FA Cup commitments have played considerably fewer games than most teams due to their cup commitments

Play It Again

Well we finally have the Cambridgeshire FA's decision on the game that Ely were winning 1-0 with 1 minute to go in the Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup. It's going to be replayed on 11th November. Let's just hope the Robins can get a win and have a decent run in the competition and maybe get one of the bigger teams in the competition

What it's all about


I have to admit, there's something good about going and watching a game when the weather is really bad. Last night the weather was appaling it was freezing and pouring it down with rain when Ely met wisbech in the Eastern Counties League. the weather was so bad that Luton and Northampton had to call their games off.

As for the football, it was entertaining enough, although the bad weather saw some pretty direct long balls. The game finished 3-2 to Wisbech Town, in a game where the result could have gone either way and frequently did the Fenmen of Wisbech showed a bit more knowledge than Great Shelford and Market Needham did. Firstly they seemed fairly sussed to the offside trap Ely tend to use and defended well from Bradley Stone's long throws.

That said, the game could have easily been a draw and the kids were probably disappointed when they called for another failure of the floodlights, as Wisbech scored a winner in the 80th minute.

Andy Petit managed to net a double for the Robins, but it was all in vain.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fens Football Focus - 7 Wisbech Town


Tomorrown night Ely play a team known as the Fenmen from a town that proclaims itself as 'the capital of the Fens.' So the question is, how did I miss them out when I first wrote the Fens football focus?

Wisbech Town were formed in 1920 when 3 teams from the town came together to form one club who went on to play in the Peterborough League, which they won in 1925,28,29,32 and 33. They then turned semi pro and joined the United Counties (which they won in 1947, 48 and 60) , they later switched to the Eastern Counties League and then the old Midlands league. In 1958 they finished runners up to a club who are now well established in the league, Peterborough United. The game against Peterborough in that season saw them get a record crowd of 8044 and finishing second led to them gaining a place in the Southern League, where they remained for 12 seasons. After a shortage of cash they went back down to the Eastern Counties League. They won the ECL in 1971, 72 and 1995 and in 1983-84 they set an unbeaten league record of 37 games.

In 1996 the board decided that the club would embark on the road back to the Southern League. In 1997 they managed to reach the Midland Division of the Southern League, but were relegated. Since then they have gone back to the Eastern Counties League and got through a number of managers. Last season they finished 9th in the Eastern Counties League.

Last season they also moved from their famous Fenland Park ground to a new site on Lynn Road.

The Fenmen of Wisbech are also famous fore some impressive forays into the FA Cup proper. In 1947 they reached the first round proper where they lost over 2 legs to Ipswich Town. In 1958 they reached the second round, losing 2-1 to Reading after having beat Colchester 1-0 in the first round. They also reached the first round in 1959, 60 and 65. Unfortunately they won't want to remember the 1965 game though, as they lost 10-1 to Brighton & Hove Albion.

Online Shenanigans


In this month's edition of 'When Saturday Comes' was an interesting article about how nowadays not even a rich local could ever dream of buying his local football club with all of the overseas investment of multi billionaires. The writer also mentioned that the only possibility for those who had the chance of making millions could dream of was buying a local club and building them up, a bit like Rushden & Diamonds a few years ago. He also said that that wouldn't be fun because with more success, you'd get more fans and then have to put up with away fans coming and shouting stuff like 'where were you when you were shit?'. Well apart from being rather negative, I wonder why the writer never thought about plugging those football fans at myfootballclub.com.

The idea which was hatched last year and was that people could buy a club online and for a subscription of £35 a year they could run the club and choose the team and vote on things like transfers. A wacky idea indeed, but it quickly gained momentum. The club that was bought were conference set up Ebbsfleet United, the club formerly known as Gravesend & Northfleet.

Most of their history was spent in the Isthmian and Southern Leagues with highlights being a fourth round appearance in the FA Cup in 1963 and a loss in the same competition to Aston Villa in 1997. The first season of the 'experiment' was a great success though and in the first season they got 30,400 subscribers, won the FA Trophy and despite finishing 15th the club started the season off with them aiming for a place in the football league. In August they also made history when the members voted on the transfer of John Akinde, which saw the player leaving for Championship high flyers, Bristol City for a club record of £140,000.

However, it would appear that all is not well, despite calls for owners to get to at least one home and one away game a season if they are residents of the UK the club still survives on fairly low crowds. More disturbingly for the Fleet of the 30,400 members who signed up last season only 2427 have signed up to renew their subscription, which at the moment leaves the club £584,000 short. Maybe the fact that Akinde went, although they probably couldn't have stood in his way with such a big transfer on the table, or the fact that at the moment they are in 16th place has led to a lack of interest or perhaps it says more about the type of people who run a football club from their bedroom, I don't know. Maybe if they manage to beat Woking in the FA Cup replay tomorrow and then get a good result in the first round against Crewe it might spur the 21,236 memebers they need into action

Sunday, October 26, 2008

We're not from Barcelona




While we're on the subject of badges, if we were. I saw a bloke on Ely market who was selling all sorts of attributki, as the Ukrainian call them, or football tat that I waste money on and then put in cupboard, so what could I do, of course I bought some. One of the items I was tempted by, but didn't get was a Forest Green Rovers badge.

The first time I cam across Forest Green Rovers was when they were playing Burton Albion and were coached by Villa legends, Nigel Spink and Paul Birch. They managed a 2-2 draw and at the time were near the bottom of the Conferenc. They have since established themselves as a Confernece team with few resources compared with some of the other teams in this league. The starngest thing about them though is the fact that they have a badge which is a complete rip off of the Barcelona crest. It probably isn't a coincidence, but all I can find out about it is that 'it has the flag of St. George and looks like Barcelona's badge'. St. George being the patron saint of Catalunya and England.

Another team with a badge with St. George's cross on it is AFC Fylde. They were formed when in the 1980s Kirkham and Wesham came together to form the ambitious club. At the moment they are leaders of the Vodkat North West Counties League and holders of the FA Vase. They have dabbled with red and blue kits over the last few seasons, but will release an away kit which looks exactly like Barcelona's on Monday.

The question is will Carlos Puyol be signing for them in the near future? Are there any other clubs out there who have a close affinity or ambitions of being Barcelona through their merchandising?

The Balkans Cup

Reading about slavia sofia's victories in the Balkans Cup (see below) mad me interested in finding out more about this now discontinued cup.

It was started in 1961 for clubs in Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Turkey and the former Yugoslavia. Strangely enough it was not taken that seriously by all the clubs at the time, although the also discontinued Balkan Cup, which compromised of the national teams of the aforementioned countries was.

The cup was last played in 1994 when Samsunspor of Turkey beat PAS Giannina of Greece over 2 legs. It was played every year from 1961 to 1994, apart from in 1989 when it was postponed due to the Romanian Revolution.

The most succesful team in the tournament was Beroe Stara Zagora of Bulgaria, who won the trophy 4 times. The first winners were Steagul Rosu Brasov of Romania, who won the competition in the only year that the title was decided by a league rather than a 2 leg knock out format.

The chances of the cup being reinstated seem to be a long way off, due to high political tensions that still prevail and the low interest that existed when the cup was competed for before. I believe that there would be higher interst nowadays, as clubs like Steau Bucharest and Red Star Belgrade, who 15 - 20 years ago were capable of winning th European Cup now can't compete in this competition, but would in a regional league. There have been some calls for it to be reinstated on the Internet with fans of Greek, Turkish and Serbian sides being the most in favour of it, on the other hand it doesn't seem to be popular with Croats who don't see themselves as being from the Balkans and Bosnians, who for obvious reasons have their doubts about the cup's viability.

It is interesting that although a football tournament of this type seems to be a long way off there are already examples of Balkans Cups in, among other sports, squash, hockey and paintball.

Club Focus - Slavia Sofia



No football yesterday, as it was Sean's birthday, but my dad brought down some old badges that I had collected when I was a kid, including some that a Bulgarian penfriend had sent me. At the time I couldn't read cyrillic, so I hadn't a clue who the teams were. Now I can read it and managed to work out all the teams were apart from one and this one turned out to be Slavia Sofia.

Slavia Sofia were formed on 10th April 1913 and have since won the Bulgarian Championship 7 times and the Bulgarian Cup 8 times. Their last victory in either of these competitions came in 1996, when they won the double. They also won the Balkans Cup twice, in 1986 and 1988.

They were formed as the first incorporated sports club in Bulgaria when Bofev and Razvitie came together to form Slavia. Their first president was a 21 year old student whose name was Dimitar Blagoev - Palio.

In 1921 they settled on their current strip of all white and became known locally as ' white pride' or 'white avalanche'.

their first competetive game was in August 1913 when they beat Savata 1-0 at the end of the season. Their first championship came in 1928 when they beat Vladislav Varna 4-0

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Escape to Victory



My fourth visit to Ely City finally led to a victory, well at least a definite victory as it doesn't seem like a decision has been made about the game on Tuesday. It came as a bit of a shock as it came against Needham Market, who finished runners up in the league last season and who won the Suffolk Cup. In fact I was expecting them to get a good thrashing, but the scarf I got in the club shop before the game must be a lucky one.

The first half was pretty incident free with Needham dealing better with the Ely attack than they did with the offside trap. On 29 minutes Andy Petit fired Ely ahead from 12 yards, but they didn't hold on to the league for long. Just 3 minutes later Ely's stand in keeper had what is known in Rocester as an 'empty head' moment, he came charging out of the goal and Needham were able to score into an empty net from 35 yards.

The second half was a lot more exciting and Ely had the best of the chances. On 73 minutes Russell Flinton scored what can best be described a Geoff Hurst goal, as the ball bounced on or over the goal line. I thought it was over the line and so did the referee, although the linesman didn't signal a goal, so he can't have any Azeri blood in him!

It seamed like the referee despite giving the goal had had money on the game being a draw, or that he just wanted to see if the floodlights were working OK today, as he played 5 minutes of extra time in a game with few stoppages. However on 95 minutes Simon Warren scored for Ely to make it 3-1 and the referee blew his whistle.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blackout!


Last night saw Great Shelford visit Ely City for the preliminary round of the Cambridgshire Invitation Cup. It might not sound like a big match, especially as Great Shelford play in the Cambridgeshire Senior League, 2 steps below Ely (who are a step 5 team) and the same league as Ely City's reserve team, but the crowd was bigger than they usually get on Saturday, although there were no programmes available.

When I was leaving Cambridge the weather was pretty bad and it was raining. I feared for the worst and that the game would be played in a storm, but by kick off the evening had turned into a fairly pleasent autumn night. The pitch was obviously a bit skiddy and I thought we would probably be in for a lot of goals, especially as Ely had a fairly strong side out, despite top scorer Andy Petit being off the team sheet and it also looked as if Great Shelford might be amongst the goals, as Ely were having to play the 'A' Teams goalkeeper.

The first half was a fairly dull affair though and the highlight was getting to meet and have a chat with a guy who went around the country following Ely City, Port Vale, Colwyn Bay and Kings Lynn, although he lived in Essex. He also mentioned that he'd been to a couple of Accrington Stanley games lately. I'm hoping that next time I see him that he has added Blyth Spartans to his portfolio, just so he has a good geographical spread!

Luckily, a couple of changes were made at half time, and one of Ely's subs (who I don't know the name of) put Great shelford under pressure with some tough tackling and long throws that made Rory Delap's efforts look more like Walter the Softee of Beano fame. Ely took the lead on 55 minutes with a goal from Dean Blackman and should have been awarded another goal soon sfterwards when another long throw was put in by an Ely striker who was judged to have fouled him.

However, things were to take a twist and it wasn't due to a concerted effort by the Great Shelford team, who didn't seem able to get anywhere near the Ely goal, but through a power cut. On 88 minutes Ely or at least that half of Ely was plunged into darkness. The referee decided to wait 15 minutes to see what happened, but the only visible light was from the cathedral. So, that was it. The first time I had ever been to a match that was abandoned, but let's face it in Ukraine they would probably have found some miners' helmets and made the players play in those.

One thing is for sure the already badly lit walk to the ground was even more hair raising on the way back, and I was a bit disappointed to lose my new friend before I could get him a pint back.

So what's next? Well, I'm not sure. To be honest even though it was the last minute of the game and Great Shelford din't look like scoring it would seem fairer to have a replay, as a run in this cup could end in a fairly lucrative tie with Histon or one of the Cambridge teams. On the other hand it was the last minute and with the number of competitions both teams are involved in they might agree for the result to stand. I'm not actually clear about what will happen at the moment as the Cambridge Evening News says that there will be a meeting to decide if the result stands, as do the various websites. However, Asya seems to think that on Star Radio they said that Ely had been awarded the victory, we'll see.

i didn't take my camera to the game, but the picture shows the only available light last night, although obviously from closer up

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Club Focus - Great Shelford

On Tuesday night Ely City will play Great shelford in the Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup. They play in the Kershaw Premier Division (the Cambridgeshire League), which is a feeder league for the Eastern Counties and the same league that Ely's reserves play in.

Great Shelford were formed in 1912 and have been playing at Woodlands Lane since 1920. Their first major trophy came in the 1950s when they won the Foster Cup, which was followed by the Creake Shield in 1963 and the Cambridgeshire Premier League in 1963.

In the 1970s the club started to become very successful, when they won the league title in 1975 it was to be one of 12 victories in the league over the next 15 years. They also won the Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup 3 times, which is the most number of victories for a club of this level.

In 2006-2007 all 3 of the clubs who play under the name Great Shelford won trophies. The first team won the Kershaw's League and the Terry Wilson Trophy, the reserves won the Foster Cup and the A Team won the Reg Haigh and Arthur Peck Cup.

Last season they came second in the league and were runners up in the Cliff Bullen Cup. They also have a mission statement that looks more like something some suits a Procter and Gamble would write than a non league football club

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Club Focus - 1. FC Koln


Next month I'll be going to Germany for some work related stuff, and although it is highly unlikely that I'll get to a game I thought I'd look at the local team, who are 1. FC Koln.

Die Geissbocke or 'Billy Goats' as they are known got their nickname when circus ring master Carola Williams gave them a billy goat as a mascot in 1950, whose name was Hennes. Nowadays Hennes has his own fashion label with the fan friendly club doing their own merchandising under the label.

Koln, who last season averaged an attendance of of 43,741 in 2 Bundesliga and gained promotion were formed in 1948 when Kolner Ballspiel club and Spvgg Sulz 07 merged to form what has become one of the best supported clubs in the Ruhr Valley.

Kolner BC themselves were formed in 1901 when they split from the more gymnastically inclined sport club Borrusia Koln. In 1912 they became the Westdeutsher Champions and in 1920 lost the league final to a club who have become one of Koln's bitterest rivals, Borussia Dortmund.

Spielvereinigung 1907 Koln - Sulz were established in 1907 (funnily enough given their name - I wonder why so many German teams decide to put a number in their names?) and on New Year's Day 1919 merged with Hertha Sulz to form Spvgg Sulz 07.

After several changes to the German League and World War 2, the 2 teams came together and formed 1.FC Koln in the 1949-50 season. They started off in one of the hardest leagues in Germany at the time, the Oberliga West. In 1954 they managed to win the first division championship and reached the German Cup final where they lost to VFB Stuttgart. After relegation they won the 2nd division in 1960. In 1962 and 1963 they reached consecutive German Cup Finals beatin Nuremberg in 1962 and losing to Borussia Dortmund in 1963.

In 1964 the Bundesliga began and Koln were among the founder members. In the early years they were one of the most succesful clubs in the league, in terms of the number of points won. Apart from coming runners up in the league and many competitions they were crowned German Champions in 1962, 64 and 78 and won the German Cup in 1868, 77, 78 and 83 and played in the UEFA Cup Final of 1986. They also lost a 2nd replay in the quarter final of the European Cup Final to Liverpool on the toss of a coin, and strangely the fans now have an affinity with Liverpool fans.

In 1988 they were relegated for the first time and have been a bit of a yo-yo club since. This season they are playing in the top level of the Bundesliga after winning promotion last season.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Modern Life is Rubbish....or is it?

The first thing you notice on returning to Britain is all the doom and gloom about the future financial armegedon, and a lot of affluent, well fed people moaning about how hard up they are as they spend 80 quid on stuff they don't need in the local Waitrose (I'm not saying people haven't been badly affected by the financial shenanigans, but the people in Ely Waitrose and on commuter trains to Cambridge probably aren't that close to moving into a garden shed on an allotment just yet).

Anyway, the other thing that you notice that as well as people on Radio 2 going on about the worst financial crisis since the 1970s and that you'll all have to give up your second cars (I wouldn't mind having one, to be honest) is the actual wishes, at least those expressed by the media are to return to the crap old days, just looking at the TV the last couple of days bears this out. First of all yesterday I witnessed a programme, I think called, 'Britain's Hardest Pubs' which was glorifying the days when you could go in any pub, be served flat ale and get your head ripped off, obviously the tossers from a variety of lad mags hadn't been out on a Friday night in Derby in the last few years. Then tonight was another programme getting all misty eyed about the days when people worked 20 hours down the pit and lived on potatoes, again I might argue that this is a reality for a lot of people(apart from working in mines, of course) who don't work for the London Media.

How is this connected to football you might well ask, well football seems to be playing the same game, especially my favourite weekly publication, 'The Non League Paper'. There seems to be a tendency to slag off everything connected with the modern game and the fact that the Premier League is the most popular league in the World and generates interest from all over the World. OK, the NLP isn't the only one who does this and the ludicrous ticket prices are pricing fans out of the game. For example, Fulham were charging £45 for restricted view tickets against fellow also rans West Ham, Derby were asking £28 as a minimum price of entry to a game that was being televised live when they hadn't even won for a year, and Man City charge a £30 fee just to become a member for the chance of buying a ticket. It is disgusting and is manipulating the fans, but at the same time it is quite obviously the strongest league in the World, and if you were more capitalistic than me you might say that it was a question of supply and demand. But my major beef here is the way that Non-League Football is seen as the new black. Again, it is overpriced sometimes, in terms of what you get for your money and it isn't all one big happy family with sporting players with handle bar moustaches. There are petty fans, moaning managers and petulant players just like in the big leagues. There are plastic teams like FC United, who after steam rolling their way up the leagues through having more financial clout, new fans and marketing opportunities.... a bit like....... have thankfully hit a brick wall and more than a fair number of clubs who think the level that they are playing at is beneath them.

Don't get me wrong, I love football in all its various forms, but as we head for the bad old days in all fields of life, we don't neet to pretend that the 70's were good. And we don't need to pretend that yes really I would much rather be standing in an exposed stand in some town I had never heard of before sipping watery bovril than having a prawn sandwich while watching a top level encounter people from all over the World would cut their arm off to get tickets for.

What Has Been Going On in the World of Blogo

Well, I've been busy settling into a new job, new place and new school for Nadiya, so I've been getting a bit slck on the old blogging front. I've also noticed how parochial the blog has been of late and I'm going to hopefully rectify that, but first a bit of Football Culture, touching on the very subject of moving back, parochial attitudes and stuff like that

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Eastern Front

No photos from Saturday's game betweeh Ely and Histon in the Eastern Counties League, but Scott was in town, so he was able to sample the delights of the Eastern Counties League and the Greene King on offer in the clubhouse, although unfortunately it was so cold we ended up switching to tea.

The first half was full of passiion and was fairly entertaining, although Histon made the most of the wind and went ahead early on. a speculative shot from 40 yards also was taken by the wind and hit the crossbar. Ely pulled a goal back with a penalty before half-time.

The second half was a calmer affair and Histon went ahead just after the break. Ely weren't able to take advantage of the wind and the game finished 2-1.

In the evening we went on a pub crawl of the town, although we spent most of the time in The Minster, so as well as lacking in photos, I'm a bit lacking in memories of the game. It might have been better if Sean had written this report