Saturday, January 31, 2009

Jumped up Varsity and the Case of the Dutch Groundhoppers

On Thursday I went to the match between Cambridge United and Oxford United in the Conference. The game was on Setanta and the Press were sponsoring the game, so I managed to get cheap tickets for the South Stand rather than the Newmarket Road End where I usually go when visiting the Abbey.

It was a little strange sitting with people who are more interested in drinking coffee than watching football and at the other extreme we also had a run in with the Dutch groundhoppers, who actually seemed quite cool for groundhoppers and were visiting the game after being at Blackburn v Bolton the previous night. The Brazilian drummers gave the whole evening quite a csmopolitan feel, but the football and the weather was about as far as you could get from the Maracana.

Oxford who had won their previous five matches started quickly and Adam Murray's goal on 9 minutes for the visitors was his 3rd shot on target.

The Us tried to respond, but weren't using the width of the pitch unlike their opponents. The second part of the first half was dominated by Cambridge, but Oxford defended in numbers and it didn't like they would be beaten. Cambridge must have been happy to see Scott Rendell return, but he was unable to penetrate the Oxford defence, especially as he was followed around wherever he went by 2 defenders.

Oxford had a chance to extend their lead just before half time when Danny Potter saved from Nelthorpe. Cambridge responded with an attack of their own when Robbie Willmott's cross was glanced just wide by Scott Rendell.

The Us came out fighting in the second half and both Willmott and Dan Gleeson squandered good chancs early on. Rendell also came close again with a header on 51 minutes, but Oxford keeper, Billy Tunley was equal to the shot. Oxford then ran up the other end and top scorer James Constable cleverly beat the offside trap, but again Danny Potter kept the Us in the game.

For the next 10 minutes most of the play took place in the middle of the pitch and the referee did his best to ruin the match with a couple of questionable free kicks and yellow cards being dished out. However all that was forgotten on 72 minutes when Cambridge captain Paul Carden hit his first goal for the club. It was probably goal of the season as well. He hit the ball from over 20 yards and it flew in the top right hand corner of the net.

Tempers flared in the last 20 minutes and the referee nearly lost control on more than one ocassion, but the game finished 1-1, which was probably a fair result.

Below the pictures of the clubs' badges are Andy Murray in blue putting Oxford ahead and Paul Carden celebrating his goal

Overdue Returns and the End of the Shelford Saga

On Tuesday night Ely finally got past Great Shelford in the Cambridgeshire invitation cup to set up a tie against Soham away. If you haven't been following it the hole story started in October when Ely beat Shelford 1-0, but the result didn't stand because the floodlights failed on 87 minutes. The game was subsequently postponed twice because of bad weather. The match was finally replayed on 9th December and Ely anhilated Shelford 5-1, this time though Ely won with an allegedly unregistered player. The rules weren't clear, so the match was replayed yet again.

On Tuesday night we finally, finally got a result, but it was a long time coming. For most of the match Ely pressurised the Shelford defence and Shelford, as they had for most of the time in the previous matches, didn't look like scoring. It was afterall a team that had struggled past the reserves on Saturday. However, Shelford hung on for extra time, which was the last thing we wanted with the freezing weather. Fortunately the game didn't go to penalties, which was probably what Shelford were waiting for, but was resolved by 2 goals from Robbie Mason. This was the first start Mason had made since returning from Cambridge City where he warmed the bench for a couple of months. It was good to see him back and scoring and if he can link up with Andy Petit and Nick Impey Ely should be able to avoid the drop.

It wasn't only Robbie Mason and Great Shelford who made returns to the ground though, the kids from the Red Army were back after missing the Wroxham and CRC games. Nobody knows exactly why they disappeared it could have been the telling off they got at the Lowestoft match or the fact that the club couldn't run to giving them a mini bus for away games. Anyway Dennis Lightning, the manager called for them to come back on the club website and they were there again on Tuesday. As there isn't a home game until February 21st, and I'm working on that day it looks like I won't be down there for a while though.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The badge of Boldmere St.Michael's

Boldmere St.Michael's come from Sutton Coldfield and their badge shows that they are very proud of the fact. The club started off in 1883 as a junior team that combined football with bible classes. At the moment they play in the Midlands Football Alliance, which is step 5 on the pyramid.

If we look at the badge and go from left to right and top to bottom we can see the following: In the top left corner is the tudor rose and this illustrates that King Henry VIII made Sutton Coldfield a royal town in 1528. The bear and staff signifies the Earls of Warwick, as Sutton was in Warwickshire before counties were messed with in the 1970s (and beyond). The deer on the bottom left also signify the influence of Henry VIII in 1528, as apart from granting a royal charter to the town he also gave the deer park, which is now Sutton Park to the town. The sword in the bottom right corner is a bit more of an enigma, but it's believed that it's there to signify that in the eigteenth century arms, including swords were mad in Sutton Coldfield

When luck isn't with you......

Ely brought their losing streak to an end last week with a 1-0 away win at Walsham Le Willows, however they couldn't improve again this week and like in the last game with CRC they played well, but couldn't get a result.

Ely started off brightly enough and the game was fairly open until the 28th minute when Badcock in the Ely goal seemed to catch the ball from a Wroxham cross and then throw it in to the back of his net. It wasyet another embarrassing mistake that saw the Robins go a goal behing. Wroxham then went on to extend their lead with a superb volley at the end of the first half. Again luck wasn't with Ely, there could be no arguements with the goal which was really well taken, but the ball bounced fotuitously for the Yachtsmen to extend their lead.

The second half started with Ely conceding a penalty after the ball was handled in the box - 3-0 to Wroxham. It didn't look like the Robins would get back in to the game, but with the return of Nick Impey, who started the game and Robbie Mason came off the bench, warming the bench being his speciality in his ill fated few months at Cambridge City. They didn't spend too much time on the pitch together, but at least it gave some hope of them linking up together and Ely were given a penalty shortly after to make the game 3-1. Ely continued to press for another goal and had several good chances, especially those created from Ben Lawrence's long throws, in the last minute they finally managed to bundle one in, which set up a frantic few minutes of stoppage time, but that's how it ended, Ely 2 Wroxham 3

Bumper week?

This week promises to be a bumper week for football, if the weather doesn't adversely affect everything. Yesterday Ely played Wroxham and lost 3-2, more of that in a minute.... On Tuesday Ely take on Great Shelford, yet again! To hopefully finally decide who will play Soham Town Rangers in the next round of the Cambridgeshire Cup and on Thursday Cambridge United take on Oxford United in a game that will be live on TV, but I'll be going to, hopefully. The problem is that the rain has been coming down pretty solidly and the Ely game passed a late pitch inspection yesterday and also took a bit of a hammering during the game. Coupled with this Histon's game was off, which isn't really a shocker as their pitch is useless, but CRC also had their game called off, which is a bit more worrying as they play at Cambridge United's Abbey Stadium. So it might be a bumper week and it might not, let's hope it is as the fixture list is looking quite barren after this week.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Greene King Brewery, Bury St.Edmunds (off topic)

Bury St.Edmunds pictures part 3 - off topic

Random pictures from Bury St.Edmunds 2 - off topic

Random photos from Bury St.Edmunds 1 (off topic)

Ram Meadow home of Bury Town FC (1)

Club focus - Bury Town

Today I went to Bury St.Edmunds and although I didn't go to any football I did manage to see Ram Meadow the home of Bury Town.

Bury Town are one of the oldest clubs in the World and are certainly one of the oldest clubs not to be from an industrial town. They were formed in 1872 and became one of the founder members of the Suffolk County FA in 1885. The club, who were previously known as Bury United were also the first club to have floodlights in East Anglia. First before any other club in the region including Ipswich and Norwich. They first turned on the floodlights on 12th January 1953 for a game against Cambridge City.

In 1935 Bury Town became founder members of the Eastern Counties League. In 1937, and again in 1938 they managed to win the Suffolk Cup, a competition they have won on numerous occasions since and in 1938 they also finished as runners up in the league. Their run was then interrupted by the war, but they again managed to win the Suffolk Cup in 1945 before the league was resumed in 1946.

In 1958/9 Bury Town became the first ever winners of the Suffolk Premier Cup and managed to retain the trophy for the following 3 seasons. In 1962 they also managed to win the Eastern Counties League Cup. In 1964 they won a unique treble of the Eastern Counties League Cup, the Suffolk Premier Cup and the Eastern Counties League.

Bury decided to try and build on their success by joining the Metropolitan League. They remained here until 1971 when they won the league, as well as the Suffolk Cup for the 8th time and they decided to chance their arm in the Southern League. It was too much too soon though and after only 5 seasons the club found themselves back in the Eastern Counties League. They again got promoted in 1987 and stayed there for 10 years before being relegated to the ECL again after 10 years in 1997. In 2004 they finished second in the ECL and then in 2006 they gained promotion to the Ryman North. After one season they transfered across to the SouthernLeague Midland Division where they are still playing

One way traffic

Yesterday I went to Cambridge United v Woking with dad and Rod, I've been so off the boil of late that I thought that they were playing Crawley. Fortunately they weren't as they lost 5-0 to them at home in the trophy in the week.

Obviously the Us wanted to banish the bad feelings of the mid week game with a good win at home against woking on Saturday, and I'm happy to say that they found the antidote with a 4-1 win over the Cards.

Cambridge went ahead after just 3 minutes when Mark Beesley set Danny Crow up for Cambridge to take the lead. On 22 minutes Beesley and Crow again linked up for Crow to make it 2-0.

In woking's goal was Simon Eastwood, who had recently arrived on loan from Huddersfield and to be honest his quality was more that ofa league player than a conference player, but he must really have been wishing he had stayed in West Yorkshire.

The score remained 2-0 at half time, but new signing Daryl McMahon had had a few decent atempts from set pieces to worry the Woking goalkeeper even more. Beesley also had a penalty appeal turned down before half time when his shot appeared to have been handled by a Woking defender in the box.

At the start of the second half Cambridge again looked likely to increase their lead and again it was Eastwood in the Woking goal who saved their embarrassment. At the same time a couple of defensive lapses could have let Woking get back in the game if it wasn't for goalkeeper and captain Potter in the U's net.

On 66 minutes Beesley finally got a goal for all his efforts when an unusual flap from Eastwood parried a thundering freekick from McMahon in to his path that he was only too happy to convert.

Cambridge put the final nails in the coffin when a long range shot from Robbie willmott beat the keeper. With a few minutes left and the crowd urging the Us on to make amends for Wednesday night and get a fifth they managed to let substitute Giuseppe Sole get a consolation goal for the opposition, but it was too little too late and didn't taint what was a fine result for Cambridge.

The photo was taken 30 minutes before kick off and shows the South Stand taken from the North Terrace

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Catching up

I've been fairly minimal on the old blogger of late and probably will be for the next couple of weeks.

Asya is in Ukraine and I have a lot of work on at the moment. The football has been fairly minimal of late too with the freezing temperatures of the last few weeks seeing most games postponed.

Ely instead of being home to Leiston are away today with Julian Dicks' Wroxham coming to Ely next week. Rod is in Cambridge again so we are going to the United v Crawley game this afternoon. Macca has made an audacious attempt to get Kettering V Fulham tickets for next week, but it seems a long way off. I already have tickets for the Cambridge v Oxford game midweek in a couple of weeks. Live and exclusive on Setanta, as I'm sure they don't claim, but at £3 a throw you can't go wrong.

The Ely / Shelford fixture is now getting to be as long as 'War and Peace'. Ely beat them 1-0 and then the floodlights went out, if you haven't been following, the game was abandoned with a couple of minutes left. Then Ely beat them 5-1, but Shelford complained that one of the players was inelligible and they tried to get them thrown out of the cup, just as everybody was getting ready for a juicy tie at local rivals Soham Town Rangers. The latest news is that the Robins have to play the wasters yet again!

I'll try and keep up to date with the blog, but probably won't be doing any of the special sections until things lighten up. Anyway, lets hope the U's can see of the Creepy Crawlies this afternoon, and that Rodders gets to see a better game than he did last time he was in Cambridgeshire.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Classic shirts # 5 - Arsenal 1935

The team that Herbert Chapman built at Arsenal in the 1930's was the first team from south of Birmingham to win the league and the first team to win 3 titles in a row since Chapman's previous club, Huddersfield had achieved the same feet in the 1920s.

Without Chapman it has been argued that arsenal wouldn't be the dominant force they are today and one of his other innovations was to add the now familiar red sleeves to the kit, although a lot of gooners have been disappointed that the kit is missing purely white sleeves this season.

Arsenal originally settled on red kits when they were donated some shirts from Nottingham Forest, but it was Chapman who spotted someone working in the ground wearing a tank top that led to him adding the now familiar white sleeves.

Chapman, as a footballer had played for 10 different clubs. As a manager he started out at Northampton Town who were in the Southern League in 1907. when he took over the club they were bottom of the league, but after 2 years he had won the championship with them. He then moved to Leeds City , who he got promoted, but his management creer was then curtailed by World War 1. After 1919 Leeds City were disbanded due to illegal payments and Chapman was banned for 2 years before taking charge at Huddersfield.

In 1922 Huddersfield won the FA Cup and then went on to win the championship 2 years later. In 1926 they made it 3 in a row, but by then Chapman had already absconded to the Arse

Chapman saw the potentiol of a club in London and revolutionised tactics at the club. He also has to thank the board of Arsenal who had the patience to give him the 5 years to build a decent team. Their first major honours coming in 1930 when Arsenal beat his old club Huddersfield in the FA Cup final.

Chapman died in 1934 when Arsenal were on their way to the second of the 3 titles. However, Chapman's spirit lives on and the colours are the one's he had envisaged the club wearing

Eastern Counties Support

A bit of boring stats for you here.
So far this season the best supported team in the premier division is Lowestoft Town with an average of 606 for their league games. The worst support in the Premier is Walsham Le Willows with 58. The highest attendance for a league game in the Premier was the Christmas Derby clash between Lowestoft and Krkley and Pakefield, which saw a very respecatble (well having seen the Lowestoft fans not that respectable) 1523. The lowest attendance was a game between Whitton United and Norwich United where only38 turned up.

Down in division 1 the best supported team are Saffron Walden Town with an average of 155 and the biggest crowd for a game was between Gorleston and Great Yarmouth Town where 440 turned up. The worst supported team are Swaffham Town with an average of 48 and the lowest attendance in division 1 so far this season was when 25, which happened in both of the fixtures between Cornard United and Brantham Athletic.

The overall average for the Premier is 136 and for division 1 is 83.

Who are ya?

That's the question I had when I first started watching Eastern Counties League football and saw the name CRC in the league. This was rather stupid on my part as I walk past a bus that goes to CRC everyday on the way to work. Put simply, CRC stands for Cambridge Regional College, but the club operates as Cambridge United Reserves. I'd heard rumours that the club called itself CRC, as they wouldn't be allowed in the league as a reserve team. This seems a bit proposterous though, as Kings Lynn Reserves and Histon Reserves are in the same league and CRC took the place of Cambridge City reserves in 2006.

The club is actually named such as CRC provided the initial coaching and outlay to form the club. The club are based at Cambridge United's Abbey stadium and wear the same colours as the first team. There has also been sponsorship from Cambridge United fans to help the team get more recognition and there were a few of the Amber Army in attendance at the game against Ely City yesterday.

Ely City have been dropping down the table of late and before the match CRC were in a very respecatble 5th place. It was no surprise therefore that Ely crashed to a 4th consecutive league defeat with CRC running out 1-0 winners.

Hopefully Ely won't get too down in the mouth as there were a lot of positives to be taken from the game. The defence looked fairly solid with Keiron Badcock filling in well between the goals and although CRC had most of the first half action they didn't look like braking the deadlock until a defensive lapse let them through to score on the stroke of half time.

Ely looked a far better prospect in the second half and kept CRC at bay, although the keeper had to make a few more spectacular saves. However, Ely still looked a little lacking up front and didn't manage to break the defence down, although Ben Lawrence who came on as a substitute caused all sorts of problems with his long throws and this saw CRC adopting a 10-0-0 formation for most of the last 20 minutes. Ely also appeared to have good claims for the ball to have crossed the goal line at one point, but to be honest the mele of players in the box made it hard to see what actually happened.

So another league defeat for Ely let's hope 2009 gets better for the Robins soon.

One question remains though, where were the Red Army yesterday? Aren't they supposed to be City till they die?