Monday, August 31, 2009

A walk in the park

On Saturday me and Sean went to Cambridge United v Gateshead and apart from spending an arm and a leg it was a great day out, unfortunately I forgot my camera, so there are no pictures to go with this report.

Cambridge United won the game easily with the young centre forward Chris Holroyd providing the heroics scoring a splendid goal 5 minutes before the break and a penalty in the last minute. His performances this season have been impressive enough for him to get a call up for the England C squad.

Gateshead looked out of their depth for much of the match and the consecutive promotions, including last season's play-off victory might mean that they have bitten off more than they can chew. It is still early on in the season, but it would appear that their best hopes of staying up are for another club to implode, as Chester with their 25 point deduction and Forest Green Rovers with their incredibly poor form look set for the drop and even this early on it seems that Gateshead might join them if they don't find some form soon.

Cambridge will be expecting to compete at the top of the table, but despite an emphatic 3-0 win a team with confidence would have produced so much more. The emotional scars of 2 successive play-off losses are there for all to see and yet another management change with Martin Ling taking over from Gary Brabin won't help settling the squad. I can't really see them go one better and getting back into the league at the end of this season with Oxford finally playing without a points deduction and strong Wimbledon and Luton sides in the same division. However, one silver lining is the young Chris Holroyd, who seems to be filling the boots of Scott Rendell well, after the talismanic centre forward left the Abbey for the team that defeated the Us in the play-offs, Torquay United.

That said, Cambridge at times produced some sublime football and when their passing game works it is very, very good. They had several chances to take the lead before Holroyd scored in the 40th minute. The second half was more of the same and the Cambridge defence had very little to do and on 66 minutes Andy Parkinson made it 2-0.
This obviously frustrated Gateshead as a minute later their French midfielder Pelonde dived in with a reckless challenge and was given his marching orders. Cambridge were now on cruise control and finally extended their lead to 3-0 in the last minute when Mrk Beesley's shot was handled in the area and Chris Holroy popped up to put the penalty away and end the match on a high for Cambridge.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Club focus -- Gateshead

Gateshead will play Cambridge at the shabby Abbey today and they certainly are a club with a chequered and interesting history.

The original Gateshead Football Club started life in Division 3 North in 1930 when South Shields folded, and they got off to a good start, in their second season they narrowly missed out on promotion to Lincoln City. However, they did miss out and then stabilised their position in Division 3 North.

Their finest moment probably came in 1953 when they reached the quarter finals of the FA Cup, narrowly losing 1-0 to a Nat Lofthouse goal for Bolton, after they had already beaten Liverpool in the 3rd round.

In 1958 Gateshead found themselves in the newly formed fourth division, after missing out on a place in the 3rd division by only one point. Just 2 years later they failed in an attempt to apply for re-election and were booted out of the league. They lost their place to Peterborough United in a move that seemed to have a lot more to do with their geographical disadvantages rather than footballing ability. One of their first reactions was to try and join the Scottish League, a move that didn't prove successful.

In 1968 Gateshead became founder members of the Northern Premier League. However, by 1973 they were somewhat bizzarely playing in the Midland League and eventually went out of existence. They were to be replaced by Gateshead Town and then Gateshead United, but by 1977 Gateshead was without a team.

In 1977/8 a new Gateshead club was formed and they started out life in the Northern Premier League. In 1983 they won promotion to the Conference, and then spent most of the 1980s yo-yoing between the Conference and the NPL. Two of their best seasons came in 1995 and 1996 when they finished 7th and 5th in the Conference. This was to be short-lived though as after financial difficulties they found themselves in the NPL North.

Gateshead have been bouncing back though and apart from plans to move from the ludicrous athletics stadium that they currently play at, which holds 11,850 people, successive promotions has seen them rise from the NPL to the Conference National, where they are playing this season.

In recentish years 2 of the most famous / infamous characters associated with Gateshead are Lawrie Mc.Menemy and Ali Dia, both of whom played for Gateshead and both of whom made a 'name' for themselves in the other end of the country at Southampton. Lawrie Mc.Menemy was the coach at Southampton during their most successful years, where as most fans would probably rather forget Ali Dia. Ali Dia was signed by Southampton by Graeme Souness and was made out to be the next George Weah, in fact he arrived in the Premier League with a letter of recommendation from Weah himself. However, either George was having a laugh or the letter was a fake, as Dia looked like he had never kicked a ball in his life. Dia also played in the North East at Gateshead and Blyth Spartans before disappearing into thin air.

The top picture shows Gateshead's badge which depicts 'the Angel of the North' a sculpture designed by Turner Prize Winner Antony Gormley in 1994 that is situated on the outskirts of Gateshead.

The second picture shows the original Gateshead's first kit, the current club where white shirts and black shorts.

Friday, August 28, 2009

No mid week sport special

I didn't make it to a game on Wednesday, there was just too much to think about, regarding work. I saw Arsenal cheat Celtic on telly instead. I have some plans for tomorrow, but don't want to tempt fate after the aborted attempt to go to Histon on Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back to work tomorrow

Well this post is completely off topic and unfortunately I'll be back to work tomorrow, so here's a video of what I was doing last week, to cheer myself up. On a brighter note Villa murdered Liverpool at Anfield, rather unexpectedly last night. I also discovered the Mexican Institute of Sound, when I say discovered I mean I downloaded their album after reading an article on them, so I didn't discover them at all. Tomorrow night it's Ely away at Histon reserves and hopefully I'll be at that too. The weekend is a bank holiday, so things could be worse.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Too little, too late

On Saturday Ely took on Kirkley and Pakefield and as predicted Kirkley and Pakefield won. The result also put them top of the league, and they should be there or there abouts at the end of the season, although it is very very early days yet.

Russell Stock put the visitors ahead on 5 minutes when he beat the offside trap and not long after Chris Henderson, who had a blinder for the visitors, beat 3 Ely defenders to make the score 2-0.

It remained 2-0 for most of the match and again Ely didn't look like getting back in the game. When Stephen Bell and Chris Strecki were introduced with 10 minutes to go, Ely looked a lot more lively and in the final minute Strecki scored a goal that nobody thought was going in, least of all the extra wide Kirkley goalkeeper. He must have been doing something right though, as it was the first goal that Kirkley and Pakefield have let in this season. However, for Ely it was too little, too late.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Club focus -- Kirkley and Pakefield FC

Last week I was on holiday just up the road from where Kirkley and Pakefield play, so perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise that they have a badge that looks like it belongs on a sign for a caravan park.

Kirkley and Pakefield take on Ely this afternoon and it would take someone with a lot of optimism to predict a win for Ely. Ely have had a very mixed start to the season, but Kirkley and Pakefield have got off to a flyer.

The first records of a Kirkley Football Club come from 1887 when a Kirkley team merged with East Suffolk to form Lowestoft FC . In 1890 another Kirkley team was formed and in 1897 they reached the final of the FA Amateur Cup.

For most of their history though Kirkley have been in the shadows of Lowestoft, who are certainly the best supported club in the Eastern Counties League and probably are the best supported of step 5 clubs as a whole. Kirkley started to step out of the shadows in 2004 when they won promotion to the Eastern Counties from the Anglian combination. The following season they won promotion to the Premier division and finished 3rd in their first season there.

In 2006/07 Kirkley merged with Pakefield boys who themselves were formed in 1981. What prompted the mergere, I don't know, although I'm guessing that it was due to Pakefield's stadium and Kirkley's success on the pitch. The club now play at the 2000 capacity Walmer Road ground in Pakefield and there are over 50 teams playing under the Kirkley and Pakefield banner, which isn't bad considering the population of Pakefield is about 1400. It has to be remebered though that Pakefield was once a separate community from Lowestoft, but now it is difficult to see where Pakefield starts and Lowestoft stops.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Holiday Mix tape (off topic)

Tomorrow I'll be off on my holiday, so here's a little mix tape I've put together for the occassion. I should really get round to doing a spotify mix at some point, but as I'm not taking my laptop here's an eclectic selection of some of the stuff that I've got on my computer at the moment, and transferring to my mp3 player.
1. Slag Boom Van Loon -- Poppy Seeds (Boards of Canada remix)
2. 65days of static -- the Fall of Math (65 dos remix)
3. Bibio -- Fire Ant
4. Venetian Snares -- Vokeheads
5. Boredoms -- Ant 10 (Lindstrom remix)
6. The Lea Shores -- Brand New Day
7. Kraftwerk -- Trans Europe Express
8. BMX Bandits -- Milky Way
9. Pissed Jeans -- False Jesii Part 2
10. Black Moth Super Rainbow -- Born on a day the sun didn't shine
11. Ruthless Rap Assasins -- Crew from the North
12. Everything is Made in China -- Buy 4 get one free
13. Felt -- Red Indians
14. Hartfield -- Nine Ball
15. House of Love -- Destroy the Mind

Listen and then delete it:

The curse of Wisbech continues

Ely Cty's run in the FA Cup was over before it began when Ely lost at home to Wisbech in the Extra Preliminary Round Yesterday. Wisbech Town destroyed Ely home and away last season, despite having a mediocre season themselves and having to play at the Nest in Outwell. Things didn't get better for the Robins yesterday.

To be fair Ely were without 10 players due to suspensions, injuries and holidays, but Wisbech were probably having similar problems and hadn't got off to the greatest of starts themselves having lost their first 2 games.

I was distracted by Sean for most of the first half with him demanding stuff and playing football on the pitch behind the new fence. However, Wisbech seemed to have the best of the first half and went in at the break 1-0 up.

Ely looked a better prospect in the second half, but never really worried the Wisbech goal with Robbie Mason and Tony Beck squandering several chances. The first really close cut chance came when Stephen Bell came on off the subs bench.

Nevertheless the game finished 1-0 and Ely only had themselves to blame. The goal for Wisbech coming from a goalkeeping error and what chances they had being squandered. It might be a new season, but it was definitely the same old story at the Unwin.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Club focus -- Rapid Wien

Rapid Wien or Sport Klub Rapid Wien, or Rapid Vienna, as they are known in English provide the opponents for Villa next Thursday in the play off for the Europa League. Let's hope Martin is going to take it seriously.

Rapid Wien play at the Gerhard Hannapi stadium in a picturesque area of Vienna, if there was any part of the city that isn't picturesque. Gerhard Hannapi himself was a midfielder who started his career at Wacker Wien, but went on to play for Rapid from 1950 -65 captaining the club and winning the Austrian League 7 times. In 1999 he was named Rapid's all time greatest player.

Rapid were founded in 1898 as Erster Wiener Arbeiter Fussball Club or First Workers' Club of Vienna as it translates into English. Their green and white shirts are now world famous, but they started off playing in red and blue and decided on the change to green and white in 1904. Since then Rapid have frequently worn red and blue as their away colours. Last season they wore green and white at home and er green and white away, for those of you watching in black and white.

In the inter war years before Anschluss Austrian football was at its most dominant and it has been suggested that catennacio was born here rather than in Italy. Argentinian coach Helenio Herrera made it famous with the dour Inter team of the 1960s, but it was based on a system created by Karl Rapan from Austria, although he spent most of his time managing Switzerland, so perhaps it wasn't that popular in Vienna.

After the Anschluss Rapid found themselves in the regional German leagues -- it was all regional then. In 1938 they won the Tscammerpokal, which later became the German cup with a 3-1 victory over Frankfurt and in 1941 they became 'German' Champions by beating Shalke 04 by 4 goals to 3 despite being 3-0 down. Perhaps in this game they were helped by the rythmic clapping that Rapid fans do for the las 15 minutes of every game and has been said to have turned results in their favour. This rhytmic clapping known as Rapidviertelstunde first started in 1913 and can still be seen today.

Overall Rapid have won 32 Austrian titles, however the big money of FK Magna and Red Bull Salzburg has helped to put an end to their dominance. That said they have scored 11 goals in their first 4 games of this season and last week demolished Karnten 5-1

This weekend and up for the cup

It's back as Sky keep telling us. That will be the Premier League, allegedly the greatest league in the World, if you believe Rupert Murdoch, and why wouldn't you? (Ha Ha). It will probably be the first competetive game of the season that I go to too.

Most Pro and semi pro teams started last Saturday, but I was at Villa Park for the friendly against Fiorentina. Villa take on Wigan tomorrow, so let's hope they get off to a flying start.

On the local front, and probably the game I will go to, Ely take on Wisbech in the FA Cup qualifying rounds. So if the media have noticed this year, and let's presume they haven't with all the salivating over the return of the Premiership, it will be time to see patronising articles, as journalists try and act all humble at lower league clubs. In that case let's hope they haven't. I have to say I did enjoy the first round where Andy Townsend was visibly suffering at Histon last season though, really, a day out at Histon is as qualty as it gets for some of us.

Anyway, back to Ely, just for a moment. Ely City will be playing Wisbech, as I just said, and for me this is a must win game as they really did the Robins over home and away last season. It also represents my last chance to see the Robins for a week, as although they take on Newmarket in midweek I won't be around to see it. I really think I should go to the Ely game, as people might start thinking I'm fairweather after missing the first home game of the season last week.

My other option is for a first visit to Histon in a mouthwatering tie against Oxford United. I really think I should make more effort to get to Histon on week, but I don't know if this will be the week.

Club focus -- SSV Ulm 1846 Fussball

A couple of weeks ago I was in Ulm in Germany and a very nice town it is too. Obvioulsy, I looked up the local football club, who are SSV Ulm, but unfortunately they were playing on the Friday and I was leaving on the Thursday.

They play in the regional leagues, so finding any definitive information on them was a tricky job. However, one of the more outlandish claims that they make in several places on the net is that the club started playing football in 1846 -- this seems odd as it would make them 9 years older than Sheffield FC, who are commonly regarded by all as the oldest club in the World. When you consider that the full name of the club is Scwimmm and Sportverein Ulm, I reckon that someone is telling porkies. The earliest record of them playing is 1926 under the banner of Ulmer RSV.

Since then there have been a series of mergers. The latest being in 1970 when TSG Ulm and 1.SSV Ulm merged.

I'm sure they are probably a nice club and judging from the evidence they have a pretty good fan base. I just wish they would get their facts straight!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More football from the darkside

On Tuesday night the Ely first team took on Dereham away and ran out 3-2 winners, which was a pretty good result. However, I wasn't there and had to wait until the day after for my live football fix, as Ely Reserves took on Manea, in what was for them a preseason family. I could have stayed at home and watched England pull back from 2 goals down to draw 2-2 with Holland, but I didn't.

The performance wasn't as convincing as the last time I went down to see the reserves and I wonder if the friendlies are against weaker clubs in order to bolster confidence in the season after a poor season for the reserves last season.

Ely won this encounter 2-1. They played pretty well in the first half, and went in 2 up at the break. The second half after a few substitutions saw Manea take charge. However, one of their better shots knocked my pint off the fence. In the end the game finished 2-1 to the Robins.

For most of the game Sean dribbled a ball up the sideline and Nadiya complained about then not kicking out the match ball near her. She did get a touch in the end, and it wasn't a bad evening out, although perhaps predictably the football on offer wasn't the best.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Delph makes his debut for Villa

Fabien Delpn takes on Marco Marchionni in the game between Villa and Fiorentina

More pictures from Villa v Fiorentina

Villa and Viola

On Saturday we went to Villa v Fiorentina. The previous two encounters between the 2 teams were also both friendlies, with Villa losing 2-1 in 1992 in Florence and 4-0 in New York against the indominatable team of 1999. Villa were to make amends for these poor results with a fine display on Saturday. The game in 1992 was played in front of only 4,939 fans, so it seems strange that the Birmingham papers were moaning about a crowd of 22,915 on Saturday. I think that they were forgetting that it was only friendly and is probably the first season that Villa aren't expected to improve on their previous positions. The previous pre-season friendly at Villa Park was 2 years ago against Inter of Milan. This was seen by a bumper crowd of 38,000, but although Fiorentina have cemented themselves as Champions League regulars they are never going to have the same pull as Inter. The papers were blaming Villa's lack of pre-season signings on the poor crowd, ironically they were also praising Villa's new signing from Leeds, Fabien Delph for his performance.

Delph certainly looks like a decent signing and was definitely man of the match. Milner, who on Sunday was called up to the full England squad also impressed, as did youngsters Albrighton and Delph when they came on in the second half.

Villa dominated most of the match and a wonderful goal from Emile Heskey put Villa ahead on 13 minutes. Craig Gardner also had a good match and peppered the Viola goal with a number of speculative, but dangerous shots.

Villa didn't have it all their own way, although they certainly deserved the 1-0 victory. In the first half Brad Friedel was nearly beat by a shot that hit the crossbar and in the second half substitute goalkeeper Brad Guzan helped steer Villa to victory. Guzan saved a penalty after Marco Marchionni's cross hit Curtis Davies on the chest, however a penalty was given -- this was given after Villa had had 2 good penalty shouts turned down for fouls on James Millner and Ashley Young. Anyway, no harm was done when Guzan pushed Alberto Gilardino's penalty on to the post and it went out of play.

So it finished 1-0 and 3 generations of Holloways went home happy.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Club focus -- Fiorentina

Next Saturday I will be at Villa Park for the friendly with Fiorentina. When I lived in Italy Fiorentina were one of my favourite teams. I saw them twice, once against Roma where they went down to a last minute goal by Dmitry Aleinichev and was with the Fiorentina fans when they played Lazio. At the time they had a lot going for them with Batistuta knocking the goals in and Trappatoni at the helm. Despite starting the season off well they were eventually pipped for the title by Milan and also finished behind Lazio. At the time they were likeable as they had a left wing fanbase, whereas fascism was on the rise at most serie A clubs (although I have heard that since then Fiorentina have also become more right wing). I also admire them for being the only city in Italy without a Juventus fanclub and the city was full of anti 'gobi' merchandise (hunchbacks, as Juve are often known) when I went there.

Fiorentina were formed in 1926 by Luigi Ridolfi a memeber of the fascist party when CS Firenze and PG Libertas joined together. In 1931 they got into Serie A and moved to the Franchi stadium, which is seen as a masterpeice and was designed by Pier Luigi Nervi. Their first piece of major silverware was the Coppa Italia which they won in 1941, however the war stopped them perhaps going on to further glory. In 1956 they got their hands on the scudetto, and the following year became the first Italian team to reach the European Cup Final (well it was only the second one) where they lost to the all conquering Real Madrid, who had beaten Reims the year before in the final and would go on to beat Milan the year after.

In 1961 Fiorentina got their hands on some European silverware when they beat Rangers in the final of the first ever Cup Winner's Cup. In 1969 they went on to win the Scudetto again despite being up against a formidable Milan team and Gigi Riva's Cagliari.

Things were quiet at Fiorentina until 1980 when the controversial Flavio Pontello took over the club. He was unpopular for breaking a lot of traditions, but won some friends by breaking the bank to sign players like Eraldo Pecci from Torino, Daniel Bertoni from Seville and Pietro Vierchewod from Sampdoria. There was also a young player by the name of Roberto Baggio who was coming through the ranks.

In 1982 the hatred of Juventus started in earnest when Fiorentina lost the Scudetto on the last day of the season when Juve were awarded a dubious penalty. In 1990 they had even more reason for complaint when they lost to Juve in the final of the UEFA Cup, again with a few dodgy decisions going against them. They also lost Baggio to Juve which prompted riots on the streets of Firenze. This led to the famous film director Mario Cecchi Gori taking over the club and he bought in some great players like Brian Laudrup, Stefen Effenberg and the toast of Firenze, Gabriel Batistuta. However, despite a start filled team a young Claudio Ranieri couldn't get them to achieve consistantly, and the 3rd place under Trap when I lived in Rome was the most succesful finish in the Cecchi Gori era.

In 2002-2003 Fiorentina didn't start the season after going bankrupt. A new club known as 2002 Associazione Calcio Fiorentina Viola was formed and competed in C2, where they climbed back from to now be regular performers in Serie A again.

It is rumoured that their Viola shirts came from a mistake in the washing of their original red and white shirts. However, surely they would be Rosa rather than Viola.

A friendly with more than a few goals

Yesterday I actually had the day off and I had nothing planned so I decided to go and watch the reserves. They were playing Northwold, who I can't find any information about whatsoever. the only player I recognised from Ely was Steve Bell, who I thought would be the best player on the pitch and duly responded by putting Ely 1-0 up. However, he wasn't the best player for Ely. They put on a mystery player after 20 minutes and substitiuted him with 20 minutes left, but in that time he had a huge impact and Ely scored 6 of the 8 goals that they would eventually win by.

I have know idea who this player was but he was clearly playing below his level and I have a sneaking suspicion that he may have played for Histon and Cambridge City in the past. I'm just hoping they have enough sense to put him in the first team.

I'm glad I went down for this game, as it makes a nice change to see Ely on the right side of a hammering for once.