Friday, December 31, 2010

End of year football round up

The year started how it finished with bad weather leading to most games being cancelled. Highlight of the month was therefore the only game I got to, which would have been highlight of the month anyway, as Villa beat Fulham 2-0 at Craven Cottage. I enjoyed it, although my celebrating in the home end led to Macca banning me from the fixture this season.
one game two goals

I had a lot of work on in February, but thanks to the cancellations in December and January I managed to get to three games. The highlight being Ely's victory in a rearranged game against local rivals Mildenhall. The Hall had wanted the game cancelled and would have been really glad if it had been, as Ely totally outplayed them nad won 2-0. Lowlight of the month was undoubtedly Villa losing in the League Cup final. Villa went one up, Vidic should have been sent off and it was probably the last time that Rooney had a good game.
three games five goals

March saw the arrival of some much needed sunny weather and also saw me visit two new grounds. On the first day of sunshine I got to Histon who took on Gateshead. The game finished 0-0, but it wasn't that bad as a specatcle and I was impressed by the friendliness of the staff. The week later I went to Portman Road to see Ipswich take on Scunthorpe with the whole family. It was a good game and teenage sensation Connor Wicken scored in the last minute to send the Ipswich fans home happy. The other game I got to in the month saw Ely beat Debenham LC 2-0
three games three goals

April saw us go to Ukraine for a couple of weeks, but thanks to volcanic ash the holiday turned into a month long affair. The lowlights were probably the pathetic state of Arsenal Kyiv, propped up by and ageing Shatskhi and Vorebei and an ancient Reva and playing their home games outside of Kyiv in front of an apathetic crowd. I started the holiday seeing them win against Metalurh Zapporizhya in Boryspyl and then saw them lose at Dynamo. This brings me to another lowpoint of the month as the owner of Arsenal and his moaning about the advantages Shakhtar and Dynamo get from referees grated a bit. Mind you the amount of advantages Dynamo got in the game I saw them win against Dnipro would suggest that he may have had a point. One of the best points about the trip from a footballing point of view were the terrific atmosphere at Obolon Arena when Obolon took on Dynamo, the fantastic performance in that game by Andriy Shevchenko (who could have imagined him playing at Obolon in a competitive match when he was in his pomp at Milan and Obolon were in the regional divisions?)and sitting next to Artem Milevskiy and also the amount of cheap beer on offer. The other lasting football impression was actually going to see a game at Bannikov, which is situated near the flat, I skived off work for a few hours to watch the Ukraine Under 19s take on Dynamo's young players (it would have been Slovakia if not for the volcano). It made up for the game that we trudged up to Chapaevka that was called off when the Polish leader croaked it.
six games 20 goals

I didn't get to any games in May as most of the local stuff finished at the end of April

June was the World Cup. It wasn't great. My neutral team were Uruguay, but when they cheated Ghana I got sick of them. In fact it was probably one of the worst world cup's ever if you aren't Spanish.

Ironically, as the month of July is out of season I saw a shed load of games in preseason. Highlights were some fine performances by Ely in preseason, particularly in a game against a strong Hadley team, and despite draws against Swaffham and Stowmarket there were some really good individual performances. Other highlights included a good night out at Histon where they took on a strong Ipswich team and lost 6-0, but the weather was good and it was an entertaining game out. Villa also repeated their favour of the previous year by organising a friendly at Peterbrough just before my birthday. They also helped make it a good birthday by winning 3-2
five games 21 goals

August saw the end of the preseason and the start of the serious stuff, and it was another good month for getting to games. The month started with Ely thumping local rivals Soham Town Rangers 4-1 in the Unwin memorial cup, which was only spoilt by Soham leaving the cup at their ground. Ely also registered a fine 4-2 win against Histon Reserves and beat Stanway 2-1. In the FA Cup they could only draw with Wroxham after extra time, however they disposed of them in the subsequent penalty shoot out. Other games included a brilliant performance by Peterborough as they crushed Bristol Rovers 3-0, unfortunatley since then while the Posh forwards have continued to perform well, the defence has been found out and they have started to slip down the table a bit. I also too Matt to the Shabby Abbey where Cambridge ran out 2-0 winners against Eastbourne Borough on the bank holiday Monday.
six games 19 goals

My football in September was constrained to Ely City games in what proved to be poor run for the club and culminated in Dennis Lightning quitting from the post of manager. Ely are cash strapped and could have done with a decent cup run. However, they started the month by being dumped out of the FA Vase in a replay at the Unwin by Gorleston from the division below after extra time. Just four days later they were out of the only other cup with any potential for boosting the budget when they lost 1-0 at home to Stewarts & Lloyds, and Dennis was on his bike. This was followed by a 2-1 defeat at home to an impressive Dereham side. The month finished with us going on a day trip to Great Yarmouth, which was a good day out despite some appalling weather. I also always love going to a different ground and Yarmouth was both intersting and welcoming. Luckily Ely also played well and came away with a 1-1 draw.
four games seven goals

This was another disappointing month for the Robins with the best performance coming in a 0-0 draw against a strong Kirkley & Pakefield side. The lowlight of the games I was present at for the Robins was definitely when they lost 5-2 after extra time against Fulbourn Institute in the Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup. It might not be a prestigious competition, but I think the decent run the club went on in it a couple of seasons ago really helped boost the squad and provided us with a lot of entertainment. I also went to Soham Town Rangers against Daventry Town in a game that ended in a disappointing 0-0 draw. However, it perhaps wasn't too disappointing as my dad was down and he had the golden goal with no goal scorer on it, so we had a free day out. If the public transport was a bit better and cheaper I'd be tempted to go their more often. I also had a bargain trip to Craven Cottage where I saw Fulham beat Wigan 2-0 for a fiver.
five games 14 goals

Work and bad weather meant that November was a bit of a wash-out as far as football was concerned. Dad came down for a clash between Peterborough and Charlton in the middle of the month. Peterborough had the worst defence and the best strike rate in the league and the Addicks were coming into form, so we expected to see goals. We saw six, but unfortunately five of them were in the back of the posh net.
one game six goals.

The weather was the worst for December on record and games all over the country were cancelled. Ely only managede to get one game on and it was the Saturday that I had to go to work. We finally got to a game with Jake and Tony on the 28th. Again the home side, who had done so much to make sure the game went ahead lost 5-1. This time it was Cambridge who lost 5-1 against a buoyant Mansfield side, at least a good time was had by all.
one game six goals

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

3-4-3 is not a winning formation

Yesterday I got to a game for the first time in over a month and like the last game I went to the away team won 5-1. Volunteers had helped clear the pitch of snow at the Abbey. They probably wished they hadn't bothered. Due to having to make changes Cambridge manager Martin Ling decided to change the formation to 3-4-3, which might have worked if the forwards weren't firing blanks, although it was always going to leave the team exposed at the back.

The match didn't start off too badly for Cambridge and both Wayne Gray and Danny Wright had chances that they squandered. However, in this period Cambridge were a bit guilty of trying to walk the ball into the net and Mansfield looked dangerous on the break. They showed just how dangerous they could be when on 33 minutes Adam Murray (not to be mixed up with his namesake at Ely City) blasted the ball into the back of the onion bag. Just 4 minutes later Adam Smith doubled the visitors lead with a wicked strike that on December 28th was probably the best goal I have seen all year. The first half finished with Mansfield 2 up, but Cambridge didn't look out of the contest just yet.

Cambridge came out firing in the second half and at this point it looked like they would be happy to travel back to Nottinghamshire with a 2-0 away win. Cambridge finally got back in the game on 66 minutes with a goal from Robbie Willmott that even surpassed the blast from Adam Smith for the Stags in the first half. After beating the whole of the Mansfield defence he blasted the ball from about 30 yards out at quite an accute angle and it went flying past the keeper to make it 2-1 and it looked like it was game on.

It wasn't though and Mansfield woke up and on 73 minutes Rob Duffy put the Stags 3-1 up. Cambridge then fell apart and in the last minute the slippy pitch saw Josh Coulson knock the ball into the back of his own goal. They hadn't finished yet though and in stoppage time with the Cambridge defence at sixes and sevens Danny Mitchley made it 5-1 to the visitors inflicting Cambridge's heaviest defeat since 2007.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Club focus -- Mansfield Town

Mansfield Town like a lot of British clubs in the nineteenth century came into being due to local God botherers wanting the local folk to keep away from the demon drink by embracing sport. From these values Mansfield Town were born as Mansfield Wesleyans in 1897. They later shortened the name to Mansfield Wesley in 1906, by the way. They finally became Mansfield Town in 1910 in a move that didn't go down well with their more successful local rivals of the time, Mansfield Mechanics.

To celebrate their change of name Mansfield left the Mansfield & District Alliance behind and joined the Central Alliance League. They also found a new ground called 'The Prairie', which had all the facilities you'd expect to find on a prairie (i.e. none) and the surface would have more aptly been called 'The Quagmire'.

War was around the corner and like many clubs Mansfield packed in for the duration. However, after the war in 1919 Mansfield Mechanics, who were having money problems, invited Mansfield Town to join them at Field Mill. The Stags seized the opportunity moved to Field Mill, changed their colours to Amber and Blue and have been there and wearing those colours ever since. The Mecahnics on the other hand have disappeared into the mists of time (as far as I know).

In 1921 Mansfield won the Central Allinace and moved to the Midland Counties League. In 1924 they adopted the stag emblem, which was part of the town's coat of arms, which in turn came from the close proximity of Sherwood Forest.

1926 saw the Stags apply for a place in the League, however they were turned down and instead joined the Midland Combination, which at the time was mainly made up of reserve teams of the region's league clubs.

If the Stags were out to impress the league officials they certainly did in 1927-28 when they beat Wolves in the FA Cup and took Arsenal to the wire at Highbury only to lose out to 2 late goals. Nevertheless, Mansfield still couldn't get a place in the league, so in 1931 they changed their tactics. After years of applying for the 3rd Division North they thought they might be better of applying for the 3rd Division South. The tactic worked immediately, much to the chagrin of Newport County, who were the team who lost out.

Since entering the league Mansfield have played the typical role of a relatively small town club close to a couple of cities; both Nottingham and Derby have taken fans away from Field Mill over the years, and now the sky generation probably all support Chelsea or Man City, or whoever has the most cash this season. Mansfield have yo-yoed between the top 2 divisions and between the North and South of Division 3 when it was still regional. Their most consistant stay in a division was for 5 seasons from 1986 when they managed to stay in the 3rd division, as it was called more logically then.

In 2008 Mansfield were relegated from the League to the Conference and have been their since. Their biggest local rivals are Chesterfield who were refer to them as the scabs. Chesterfield being from Derbyshire who went on strike during the miner's strike and Mansfield being from Nottinghamshire, who didn't.

End of the barren spell?

It looks like Aslan has finally defeated the evil snow queen, instead of snow today we have rain, so here's hoping the pitch isn't flooded now. It looks like it could be my first game since mid-November, something will probably happen to piss on my chips though.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Club focus -- Arminia Bielefeld

According to some internet japesters, the town of Bielefeld does not exist and it's just a conspracy by the German equivalent of 'The Man' who has perpetuated the lie of the town with a population of 330,000. The reason is that if you ask most Germans the following three questions they will answer no in all three cases:
1 Do you know anybody from Bielefeld?
2 Have you ever been to Bielefeld?
3 Do you know anybody who has been to Bielefeld?

In my case I can answer yes to all three questions, so I thought it would be a good idea to have a look at the local club, Arminia Bielefeld. I haven't been to a game there and have only had a couple of pints in the supporters' club and seen trams done out in the club colours, so maybe the club doesn't exist and it all is a figment of my imagination. However, their record would suggest that they are a real club.

Arminia currently play in 2Bundesliga and are one of the biggest yo-yo clubs in Germany and one of their biggest claims to fame seems to be actively bribing their opposition to stay up in 1971.

Arminia were formed in 1905 by 14 of the local bourgeoise and were admitted in to the Westphalia league in the same year. In 1913 they won their first Westphalia Championship after beating BV 04 Dortmund. In 1919 they almost merged with another Bielefeld club, but it never happened.

In 1922 Arminia won the West German Championship for the first time, but it was a bitter-sweet victory, as they were only awarded the trophy because their opponents Kolner BC 01 fielded an illegible player. The following year they were back to reclaim the championship in impressive style when they came from being 3-1 down at half time to beat TuRU Dusseldorf 4-3.

The next pieces of silverware to follow were the Westphalian title in 1924 and the Westphalian cup in 1932. Arminia then decided to join the new Gaulagia Westfalen in 1933. This wasn't a great success, and in 1943 they merged with VfB03 Bielefeld. The merger lasted one year and saw the club finish bottom of the pile.

The next notable period in Arminia's history came in 1966 when they won the West German Cup for the first time beating Alemannia Aachen. In 1970 they got in to the Bundesliga for the first time by beating Tennis Borussia Berlin in the play-offs. They obviously thought that they were going to struggle at this level though, but they managed to stave off relegation, however it later transpired that they had fixed their matches against Shalke, Hertha and VfB Stuttgart and they were relegated to the regional leagues.

Their chance to get back in the Bundesliga big time came in 1977, however they finally finished 2nd behing St.Pauli, but there was still the play-offs. They must have thought their luck was in when they beat 1860 Munich 4-0 at home. They then went to Munich for the 2nd leg full of confidence only to lose 4-0. There was then a third game organised in the neutral city of Frankfurt, which Arminia lost 2-0.

The following year Arminia went up and despite a record win of 11-0 over Arminia Hannover and a 4-0 win over Bayern Munich Arminia were relegated. 5 years later Arminia bounced back again and have basically been bouncing since.

Weather watch, another blow

Well, it looks like the football drought for me is going to continue, as I have just been on the Ridgeons League forum and it looks like Mildenhall v Ely is definitely off. I must say everything is still frozen, so it doesn't come as a shock especially as the games at Histon and Peterborough are off today. The question is am I ever going to see a game again?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Top played tracks in 2010 (sort of)

I've been putting together a Spotify playlist of the artists that were number 1 in my weekly Last FM charts over the year. Here are the tracks:
The Wolfe Tones – A Nation once again
The Farm – Hearts and Minds
Bad Lieutenant – Sink Or Swim
Ty Segall – The Drag
The Brian Jonestown Massacre – The Devil May Care (Mom & Dad Don't)
Tokyo Police Club – Nature Of The Experiment
Los Campesinos! – Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks
The Essex Green – Rabbit
Tokyo Police Club – Wait Up (Boots Of Danger)
Stereolab – French Disko - 2006 Remastered Single Version
Tokyo Police Club – Bambi
The Dubliners – Seven Drunken Nights
The La's – Timeless Melody
Slowdive – Alison
The Apples In Stereo – Dance Floor
Jesus And Mary Chain – Happy When It Rains
Talco – Bella ciao
Beastie Boys – Sabotage
Johnny Foreigner – Criminals
James – Come Home - Flood Mix
Johnny Foreigner – Sometimes in the Bullring
65daysofstatic – Dance Dance Dance
The Rakes – Strasbourg
Teenage Fanclub – Star Sign
Spiritualized – Soul On Fire
Editors – Munich
Altern 8 – Activ-8
Spiritualized – You Lie You Cheat
John Dahlb├Ąck – Bobobear
Broken Social Scene – 7/4 (Shoreline)
Tokyo Police Club – Tessellate
Film School – Heart Full of Pentagons
The Stone Roses – Love Spreads
The Charlatans – One To Another
Best Coast – Summer Mood
The Wedding Present – Brassneck
The Merton Parkas – Face In The Crowd
Caribou – Odessa
Bear In Heaven – Lovesick Teenagers
MC Solaar – Les Colonies
The Coral – Pass It On
Mogwai – I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead
The Airfields – Quiet Nights
Caribou – Bowls
The Twang – Encouraging Sign
Pavement – Gold Soundz
LCD Soundsystem – Us V Them (London Session)
Ride – Twisterella
Gold Panda – You
Sleigh Bells – Infinity Guitars

And here are the links:


Club focus -- Bohemian Football Club

Bohemian Football Club are often known as Bohemians and shouldn't be mixed up with the several clubs in the Czech Republic who lay claim to the legacy of the Czech team Bohemians. Apart from anything else the Czech team wore green and white, which is the colour of Shamrock Rovers who are the Bohs' fiercest rivals.

Bohs wear red and black stripes and are based in the North Side of Dublin, where as Shamrock are based in the South of the City. However, Bohs have fans all over the city and indeed all over the country. Mind you they've moved grounds that many times it's no wonder they have a fan base all over Ireland and it could account for their other nickname of the Gypsies.

Bohemian FC are the 3rd most successful club in Ireland with an impressive 7 Football Association of Ireland cup wins, 6 League of Ireland titles and 3 League of Ireland cup victories. They are also the most succesful Irish team in terms of victories in Europe, although this season they went out in the 2nd round of the Champions League Qualifiers against Welsh outfit The New Saints. On a more local basis they also hold the record for most Leinster Cup wins (31).

With regards to the fans the club is owned by the fans, which due to some shrewd buisness dealings put them in a good position a couple of years back. However, like many clubs the ground developers let them down and now like many clubs worldwide and especially in Ireland the future isn't looking too rosy.

Cabin Fever

The festive period is upon us now, which should be a bumper time for football, however last year the weather scuppered my plans quite badly. The last month has seen me go to bugger all matches, the only week when there wasn't any bad weather I was working, so here's hoping that the weather is going to improve. 27th December should see a trip to Mildenhall for the Ely game, although that one is still looking doubtful and then the day after Cambridge United take on Mansfield. According to the Mansfield site the staff at the Shabby Abbey are confident that the game will go ahead, so hopefully they have a direct line to the weather and the game will go ahead. I'm going out of my mind with no football for ages.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bad weather continues

Still no football as the bad weather continues and there's work to be done this weekend.