Saturday, April 30, 2011

Last game of the season at the Unwin

In a list of the all time greatest games in the Eastern Counties is a match from 1960 where Ely City beat Great Yarmouth 9-5. I didn't expect this game to be a classic that would go down in the history books, but it was definitely a far better match than I had anticipated.

Around the step 5 clubs over the last few weeks there has definitely seemed to have been a feeling that the season was already finished and that it was time to play out the last few games before the summer break, well at least at the clubs where the teams weren't involved in promotion or relegation battles. However, today saw both teams put up a spirited display that made the match look like it mattered.

The Ely players turned up at the ground in fancy dress, but their good humour seemed to dispate somewhat once they entered the pitch. The opening encounters didn't create any real chances, but both teams were getting stuck in. After some bad tempered arguements between the players Ely were the first team to make the breakthrough. On 27 minutes the young Yarmouth goalkeeper, Jake Jessup did well to save a stinging shot from Nick Impey, but Josh Bridgeman was on hand to follow up and put the ball in the back of the net. This seemed to galvanise Ely into action and 4 minutes later the Robins had doubled their lead when Adam Murray headed the ball into the back of the Yarmouth net beating everybody else to the ball in a crowded six yard box.

Despite being two down after half an hour Yarmouth weren't about to lie down and although Ely had a couple of chances in the remaining quarter of an hour of the first half Yarmouth were starting to get on top, but some resolute defending by Adam Dalby and Adam Murray meant that Lee Pacey wasn't too busy in the Ely goal.

The second half started rather slowly with Yarmouth in the ascendancy. Unlike in the first half the Ely defence seemed to be a bit at sixes and sevens and Lee Pacey was made to be a bit busier, but he always looked like keeping the Bloaters at bay. Ely on the other hand didn't have a meaning ful shot in the second half until 63 minutes when Adam Murray left defence and looked like heading another goal in, however the keeper managed to keep it out again. Four minutes later Chadwick sent in a great cross for Bridgeman, but he was unable to connect with the chance. if he had it would have been 3-0 and game over. At least this seemed to wake Ely up though and both sides had a few chances, although none of them really worrying either of the goalkeepers, both of whom were on decent form. That was until 85 minutes when Chadwick was brought down in the box. It didn't look like he would have scored and for this reason the defender didn't even get a booking. To be honest it looked like a penalty, but a fairly soft one. Anyway, we weren't holding our breath that Ely would score because they have been woeful from the spot all season. This time it was Luke Parkinson who had a go from the spot and unlike his team mates over the past few months he remained composed and put the ball in the back of the net to make the score Ely 3 Yarmouth 0.

You might have expected Ely to play out the last 5 minutes and not take any risks, but this is Ely City and not Real Madrid, just two minutes after converting the penalty Yarmouth were given the chance to score from the spot. Ben Lawrence, who was on as a substitute was judged to have pulled down one of the Yarmouth forwards. Again it looked like a bit of a soft penalty, but he was the last man and was therefore given his marching orders. Yarmouth's Diego Forlan look-a-like remained composed and the score was now 3-1.

Luckily, there were no more slip ups and the game and season finished with Ely claiming a home victory. There was a really good team spirit today and hopefully they can take this over to the next season.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Club focus -- Great Yarmouth Town

Tomorrow is Ely's last game and despite eulogising over the performance against Brantham a couple of weeks back I'm half thinking thank God for that! All of the Step 5 issues in this region have been settled and the players are looking knackered.

Anyway time to be positive for once. Tomorrow the Robins take on Great Yarmouth Town at home. I went to the reverse fixture earlier in the season and I have to say I really like the Bloaters' set-up. They have a ground with the oldest stand still in use in the World, friendly fans and officials who run the club professionally and one of the best programmes at this level. Actually, I might be over-stating Yarmouth's programme, as since I visited the Wellesley last September they had to cut costs on the programme and the regular editor has been out of the country for a couple of months. Let's hope he comes back and carries on the good work next season.

Yarmouth's Wellesley Road ground was opened on 6th August 1888 and the grandstand that I mentioned before was built in 1891. Great Yarmouth Town football club was formed in 1897. The side was made up of players from two of the succesful teams who had previously played at the Wellesley; Yarmouth Fearnoughts and Yarmouth RoyaL Artillery.

Yarmouth were founder members of the Norfolk and Suffolk League and won the championship in 1914, 1927 and 1928. In 1935 the Bloaters became founder members of the Eastern Counties League and are the only club who have been ever present in the league. A record that was shared with Lowestoft until they started on their upward trajectory when they were promoted in 2008-9. They have never won the Eastern Counties League, but they have won the League Cup three times, in 1938, 1975 and 1981. The second two of these victories coming under ex-Norwich, Newcastle and Sheffield United player and Yarmouth legend Bill Punton who took over as manager in 1968-9 and stayed at the helm for 25 years.

The most lucrative period for Yarmouth didn't come under the helmsmanship of Punton though, but in the post-war years when the Bloaters really excelled in the FA Cup. In 1947 they reached the second round before going out to Shrewsbury. They reached the same point in the competition in 1952 before again losing at home this time to Wrexham by 4 goals to 1. However, their greatest moment in the cup and arguably in the history of the club came in 1953 when a record crowd of 8,944 ( an attendance that beat the previous records set at the games against Shrewsbury and Wrexham) saw Yarmouth beat Crystal Palace in the first round of the FA Cup. The club didn't get past the second round though as they went out away to Barrow, who at the time were a league club.

After that period and the period that Punton was in charge Yarmouth hit the rocks a bit and nothing of much note happened as they bobbed between the 2 divisions of the Eastern Counties League. Things got from bad to worse and by 2008 the Bloaters were starring bankrupcy in the face. However, local businessman Stephen Brierly came in to save the club and Dale Gordon of Norwich, Rangers and West Hame fame was brought in as Director of Football. Since then the ship has been steadied and last season Yarmouth were promoted from the first division. This season they have finished in a respectable mid-table position.

Not really a walkover at the Walks

I might be alone amongst fans of other non-league football fans in East Anglia, but you've got to feel a bit sorry for King's Lynn Town. The pheonix club playing their first season at step 5 reached the semi-finals of the FA Vase and last night saw them reach 100 points and a goal difference of +93 with one game left and they still won't get promoted. They have also achieved an average crowd of over 600 and yesterday, which was their 3rd home game of four in the space of a week they got well over 500 turning out. However, they won't be playing a step higher next season, mainly due to the fact that they lost last month to St.Neot's who will be the promoted side.

I went to the Walks expecting a goal fest, as apart from the fine record Lynn have, with 3 players all scoring over 30 goals in all competitions, Rothwell were and will finish bottom of the league. It didn't quite transpire in that way, as there was definitely an end of season feel to the game with both sides looking a bit weary. It must be remembered that over the last 3 months Lynn have been playing 9 or 10 games a month, so when you hear Premier League managers moaning about too many games spare a thought for those poor sods who have to hold down full-time jobs as well as playing two or three games a week.

Kings Lynn started well enough with some impressive play, but a number of wasted chances and some chronic show-boating by Steve Spriggs, as well as an inspired performance by the Corinthian's goalkeeper saw the two teams go into the break at 0-0. Despite this Rothwell replaced their dynamic goalkeeper at half time. Strangely, late on in the second half Lynn also replaced their keeper and I think this is the first time that I have seen both goalkeepers substituted in any game, nevermind a league game of any sort.

The second half progressed in much the same way as the first half and Bacon brought it home on the hour mark by blasting the Linnets into the league on the hour mark. The old bloke in front of me then started complaining that he had to leave to get a bus back to Peterborough and that they always scored when he left. A few of the home fans around me must have been aware of the fact, as they had been asking him when he had to catch a bus as early as the first 10 minutes of the first half! His prophecy came to fruition as Jack Defty scored on 86 minutes with a close range header and then Bexfield scored in stoppage time to secure a 3-0 win for Lynn.

Steve Spriggs' show-boating obviously impressed the local school kids though, as they named him man of the match, which was greeted by derisory cheers from the fans above the age of 12.

Anyway, a trip to Lynn for a midweek game was a real bonus, as it isn't recommended on a school night, so cheers Willy and Kate for that. Not a bad night out, but a weird place all the same, especially after meeting Leo from Kyiv before the game and then having to spend the train journey back with a geezer who decided to befriend me who was basically a Danny Dyer documentary waiting to happen.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Club focus - Rothwell Corinthians

On Thursday I have a bit of a bonus game to go to as King's Lynn take on Rothwell Corinthians in the United Counties League Premier Division. It really is a bit of a David and Goliath contest. King's Lynn lie in second place with a record that would see them gaining promotion with a title win this year, but it won't as money bags St.Neots have already pipped them to it. Rothwell Corinthians on the other hand are bottom of the league. King's Lynn didn't have to play in a competition as low as the FA Vase until this season, and they reached the semis. Rothwell Corinthians couldn't play in the Vase until 1999 when they installed fllodlights. When the clubs met earlier in the season at Rothwell's ground Lynn tanked them 5-1, so I'm hoping for goals.

Rothwell Corinthians were formed in 1932 and played in the Kettering Amateur League, which later became part of the East Midlands Alliance. If you are wondering why I keep calling them by their full name it's because Rothwell also have a team called Rothwell Town. Town now play in the division below, but for a long time Corinthians lived in the shadows of their older neighbours. Corinthians were basically a park side until they started a ground share with Town at their Cricket Ground. In 1986 Corinthians purchased the land where their Desborough Road ground is now situated.

As things got better off the pitch, things also got better on it. In 1990 the club won the East Midlands Alliance and then again won it in 1995. This championship saw them join the United Counties League. In 2008 they were promoted to the Premier Division, but since then haven't really looked like progressing from the bottom half. Last season they finished in 21st place and this year it looks like they will finish bottom, which happens to be 21st again. It looks like they will be playing Town in a local Derby next season.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wind, sun and a bouncey pitch

... And not much goalmouth action were the order of the day at the local derby between Ely and Mildenhall today, which ended in a 0-0 draw. The wind, sun and bounce of the hard pitch made it hard for the teams to settle in the first half and get the run of the game. In the second half the end of a long season, with both teams no longer having anything meaningful to play for seemed to be the main factor.

It didn't always look like the game was heading for a 0-0 draw though, especially when after 6 minutes the Hall had the ball in the back of the net. It was given as offside though, but it was very marginal. In fact for the first time in a long while Ely were back to living dangerously by employing an offside trap that past experience can tell us can often end in tears. Anyway, 4 minutes later Ely had a chance to go into the lead, but Luke Parkinson put the ball into orbit rather than into the back of the net. On 22 minutes Luke Parkinson had another chance to put Ely in the lead when an Ely corner went past most of the Mildenhall defence, but unfortunately for the Robins Mildenhall's excellent young keeper Josh Pope got on the end of it. Mildenhall also had a decent chance 5 minutes later, but this time the header by the Hall forward went just over the bar. The best chance and perhaps only realistic chance of the half fell to Mildenhall on 41 minutes when the Ely defence were well beaten. The forward could have probably put the ball in the back of the net, but instead thought that Ely keeper Lee Pacey was committed and thought that a cross to the far post was a better option, however Pacey recovered and managed to just clear the ball off the line.

Both teams looked knackered in the second half and the first real action in either of the teams' penalty areas came on 64 minutes when Ely defender Ben Lawrence put the ball in the goal, but he was judged to have fouled an opponent before the ball had crossed the line. Mildenhall tried to freshen things up on 68 minutes with a double substitution, but it was Ely who came closer to making a break through again. On 70 minutes Nick Impey managed to force his way past the Mildenhall defence, but Pope came rushing off his line almost as far as the half way line to successfully tackle Impey. Things were starting to look a bit desperate for both sides and when on 73 minutes when Adam Murray had a very speculative shot from distance it more or less summed up the way the game was growing and it looked like nobody was going to grab the winner. From the goalkick that resulted from Minty's shot Mildenhall managed to get a corner thanks to a miss kick from Ben Lawrence, but nothing resulted from it to bother Lee Pacey. What did worry the Robins was when a Mildenhall player was breethed on in the penalty area with 5 minutes left and went down like a sack of potatoes. The referee had a a good hard look, but decided nothing was amiss and the last 5 minutes were played out without much else happening.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Preview of Monday's game against the old enemy

Tomorrow is Easter Monday and Ely take on Mildenhall in the traditional bank holiday fixture. That said, although the Easter Monday game usually goes off without a hitch the Christmas / New Year game is usually a rearranged fixture. Over the three seasons that I have lived in Ely, the two teams have been quite equally balanced. This season sees Mildenhall in the ascendancy though. With just two games to go they currently lie in fourth place in the league and have just won the Cambs Invitation Cup for the second year in a row. Earlier in the season they applied to go to the next level, but they seem to have put that idea on hold. Not least I expect because their ground is a little bit crap.

It will be the fourth time I have visited this fixture. The first one was on the Easter Bank Holiday of 2009 when Ely lost 4-2 after some almighty whingeing and mad, mad refereeing. Then last season the game at the Unwin was a rescheduled game from Boxing Day that was held on an awful night in February. The conditions were atrocious and the Mildenhall players did some almighty whingeing (I think we can see a pattern emerging here) to get the game called off. The referee didn't oblige and Ely went on to win 2-0. Funnily enough there was a hell of a lot of stoppage time and the Hall didn't seem to want the game to finish after they had done their upmost to have it called off. Then earlier this season I made the trip to Mildenhall for another game that had been rescheduled from the Christmas period. Ely managed to snatch defeat from the draws of victory and went down 2-1.

If the past is anything to go by there will be some strange decisions by the officials a lot of moaning from the Mildenhall contingency and some diabolical defending by Ely. Well, I think the first two of those predictions will come true. Ely seem to have put their defensive shockers behind them (I'm not sure how many times I've said that in hope though). Anyway, I'm going to stick my neck on the line and predict that Ely will win the game tomorrow (probably have cursed that now).

Sunny Stalemate

Yesterday Ely took on Walsham-le-Willows on a day when it was hotter in Ely than in Cairo. Not surprisingly the two teams who were more or less well balanced in terms of performances over the season cancelled each other out with the second half being probably dominated by tiredness and thirstiness, which ultimately saw the two teams cancelling each other out.

Ely started off brightly enough with Goodge, Chadwick and Impey creating a few chances, but it was Walsham who made the breakthrough on 21 minutes when an uncharacteristic slip by the person I have voted for as player of the season, Adam Murray let Walsham have a clear shot in the six yard box. The shot was miraculously saved by Lee Pacey, but Pacey brought the forward down as the ball rebounded back. The Walsham player sent a decent penalty in slightly to Pacey's left and they were one up. On 29 minutes Walsham had a chance to double their lead, but another fine save by Pacey denied them. However, Ely weren't out of it yet and 5 minutes later a cross from Goodge was met in space at the far post by Chadwick, but he failed to capitalise on the chance. Fortunately, Ely didn't have to wait long to get back in the game though as just 2 minutes later a cleverly worked ball from defence ended in Nick Impey scoring the equaliser for the Robins. The remaining 10 (or 15 according to the ref) of the first half were played out with both sides attacking and counter attacking, but with neither goalkeeper really having much to worry about.

Ely started off the second half brightly enough with early in the ascendancy early on, but Walsham also having a few speculative chances. The first meaningful chance came on 53 minutes when Ely's Ben Lawrence went on a rare forrage into the opposing half and nearly steered the ball into the Walsham net. On 67 Ely had another decent chance when Nick Impey cleverly saw the goalkeeper off his line and attempted to chip him, but unfortunately the ball went just wide of the Walsham keeper's right post.

The heat was obviously getting to the players at this point though and the referee called for a water break on 73 minutes. It seemed to revitalise Ely, who like Walsham were looking a bit jaded by now, but unfortunatley the Walsham goalkeeper was also revitalised. A brilliant shot by substitute Andy Pettit was spectacularly saved by Walsham's Duncan McNally. Just 2 minutes later the action was down in the other half and it was Lee Pacey's turn to make a spectacular save. For the next 10 minutes Ely continued to pressurise Walsham, but with just 4 minutes remaining Walsham nearly knicked, but a goalmouth clearance by Adam Murray made up for his earlier misdemeanor and the game ended 1-1.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Club focus Walsham-le-Willows

It's perhaps not the most inspiring of fixtures today when Ely City take on Walsham at the Unwin. Both clubs are in mid-table just above the relegation zone with little chance of being relegated (thankfully) and the brilliant weather will probably not inspire a big crowd to turn out as most people will head for the coast, beer gardens, barbecue stores.

I don't know why I missed the fixture last season, I was probably working, but the season before the game was played in dreadful weather and the game ended in an uninspiring 1-1 draw with Lee Dixon, who followed ex-manager Dennis Lightning to Sawston, scoring Ely's goal.

Anyway, this is supposed to be about Walsham, but as you have probably guessed there isn't a great deal to say about to them.

Walsham-le-Willows is situated to the East of Bury St.Edmunds in a part of Suffolk where it seems every town and village has a poncey name. The village is most famouf for being quite a pretty place and starred in a book on the plague by historian John Hatcher (which is worth reading if you ever have the chance).

The club were formed in 1890 and play at Summer Road Sports Ground, which was famous for having a pavilion with a thatched roof. The ground had been used since 1800 for various sports, but was more famous for cricket up to that point. The club vacated the ground during World War II as the pitch was needed in the 'dig for victory' campaign and was used to grow vegetables. They didn't return to the ground until 1951.

Most of their early years were spent in the junior leagues around Ipswich and they were founder members of the St.Edmundsbury Football League in 1907. They didn't manage to gain entry to the Suffolk & Ipswich league until 1989, but once they were there they didn't hang around for relatively that long. They won the league in 2002 and 2003 and were promoted to the first division of the Eastern Counties League. In their first season in the league they managed a very credible 4th place and narrowly lost to Needham Market in the final of the Suffolk Senior Cup. The following year, 2005, they went one better by beating Capel Plough in the final. In 2007 they won promotion to the Premier Division, where they have settled for mid-table obscurity since.

Ely, after their mini revival will hope to again get back to winning ways after a couple of hiccups away after the fine win against Brantham.

With the finish line in site

There's just one week of Step 5 action left and Ely have 3 home games in the space of a week, with Walsham-le-Willows today, a local derby against Mildenhall on Monday and then Great Yarmouth next Saturday, then it'll be a trip a bit higher up the leagues when Villa take on Wigan in the Premier, and that will probably be the end of the season for me, but let's see. Other chances might present themselves with the play-offs.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

75 Minutes of the Red Brazil

Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but today Ely put in the best performance I have seen at the Unwin and with the sun shining down it was a perfect day for watching football.

Ely started off brightly against Brantham, who at the start of the day were just above them in the league and went into the game with a decent striking record, but an equally poor defence. It looked like it was going to be Ely's day from the start when Andy Pettit put the ball in the back of the net on 5 minutes, although he was unfortunately off-side. Just 2 minutes later Josh Bridgeman was unlucky not to put the home side one up. Ely continued to pile on the pressure and on 26 minutes a corner from David Wilson on the left looked to be curling in and Richard Chadwick made sure that the ball went over the line to put the Robins in the lead.

Ely were clearly playing the better football, although on 34 minutes our hearts were in our mouths when a defensive error by Adam Dalby almost let the Brants in, but the defence recovered well to put an end to the attack. Brantham's mini revival was short lived however, as on 37 minutes Chadwick almost made it 2-0 from another Wilson corner. On 40 minutes Ely did get their second goal when Nick Impey, who was on impressive form, scored a beautiful goal after impressive team work had seen a Chadwick cross dummied by Wilson blasted into the back of the onion bag.

It looked like Brantham might get back into the game before half time with a couple of good chances, however Ben Lawrence and Adam Murray were more than up to the task in central defence and instead Josh Bridgeman made the most of the sleek passing in the Ely midfield to put the Robins 3-0 up on the stroke of half time.

Ely had clearly dominated the first half and at 3-0 up they were definitely in control, however Brantham came out firing on all cylinders and made a good start to the second half. However, their mini revival was short lived and Andy Pettit put the Robins 4-0 up on 54 minutes after following up from a strike by Josh Bridgeman. A couple of minutes later Brantham had a chance to pull one back, but their effort was offside and this appeared to be a blip as for the next 15 minutes Ely were passing the ball around like Brazil and were clearly cruising. Obviously, with an away game at Stanway on Wednesday night it was time to think ahead to the next game and Ely started to introduce a few substitutes. The result was that the Robins started to lose their shape a bit and on 70 minutes Ollie Mann, who else? Scored a conciliatory goal for the visitors.

Ely clearly weren't happy with just the 4 though and on 74 minutes a brilliant strike by Nick Impey was well saved by the Brantham keeper. The Brantham keeper was called upon again on 78 minutes when Sam Goodge, who was on as a substitute, was up-ended in the box and David Wilson stepped up to take the penalty. Ely haven't had a great record from the penalty spot this season, and hats off to Wilson for stepping up when all of the other candidates were busy looking at the ground. However, Ely's luck from the spot didn't change and the Brantham keeper, Ryan Bedingfield saved what was a bit of a weak shot.

The Robins managed to play out the last 10 minutes of the game and did well, although they were not as impressive as they had been for the first 70 minutes. A nice day at last for football this year and Ely's biggest home win and best performance of the season saw the team win 4-1.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Songs from the first quarter 2011 (off topic)

Here is what I have been listening to over the first 3 months of 2011 on one nice Spotify play list. On some occasions I have listened to a band for an equal amount of times in a week (Fang Island and Squarepusher) and on others the first place band wasn’t available on Spotify, for example Clorofila Azul had more plays than Cruyff in the Bedroom in that week.

Here’s the play list with the links below:

1 Sigur Ros - Hoppipolla
The year started off with the Icelandic nutters, although I think that most of the plays were on the morning of New Year’s Eve.

2 Deer hunter - Basement Scene
Another band who are a bit off the wall. I think that the last time I listened to them on a regular basis had been when I was in Korea and had also been listening to Sigur Ros, so I think it was probably a bit of an association of ideas that led me to putting these on again.

3 Fang Island - Careful Crossers
I think this band came as a recommendation on Last Fm. They are alright, but are never going to be my favourite band.

4 Squarepusher - Duotone Moonbeams
You can’t beat a bit of Squarepusher now and again and this was probably my thinking when I shoved him on the stereo.

5 The Courteeners - Not Nineteen Forever
‘Not anything special ever’ would perhaps be apt. I think they have some nice tracks, but are pretty much a standard NME type band. OK, but not brilliant. I think I fell asleep with them on and that’s why they got so many plays one week in February.

6 Cruyff in the Bedroom - Ukiyogunjou
Japan’s favourite shoe gazing band and one of my favourite bands of all time.

7 The Vaselines - You think you’re a man
Kurt Cobain’s favourite band allegedly, well Nirvana did cover ‘Molly’s Lips’. I like them a lot, but they are definitely a Sunday afternoon band rather than a Friday evening band, which is where most of their plays came from.

8 The Shop Assistants - Caledonian Road
An Indie band from the 80s and similar in ilk to the band they tied with on that week for number of plays, The Vaselines.

9 The Blue Aeroplanes - And Stones
Another trip down memory lane and another Sunday afternoon favourite. They probably bridged the gap between the melancholy Indie of the 1980s and the more upbeat Indie dance of the 90’s.

10 Japandroids - Wet Hair
A great rocking track from Canadian duo Japandroids.

11 Laub - Selten
Laub are a German band that have been going for years. I’ve listened to this band on several occasions in the past without them ever really resonating with me. However, when this song came on my stereo at work I knew that I should be listening to them more often.

12 Beach Fossils - Sometimes
A new band from Australia that sound like an 80s band. Not always my cup of tea, but I gave them a go on the recommendation of a friend. Good music to cook to.

13 65daysofstatic - Dance Dance Dance
Another band that I have a lot of time for. They are a bit like Mogwai on steroids, which can only be a good thing, right?

14 Sleigh Bells - Infinity Guitars
This seems to have become a bit of a teen anthem and features a lot on telly. I listened to them a lot at the tail-end of last year, but still shove them on on Friday evenings when the mood takes me.

15 Close Lobsters - Sewer Pipe Dreams
One of the C86 bands and another good band for Sunday afternoons when the weather is not good enough to spend a lot of time outside.

first 1/4 2011

Club focus - Brantham Athletic

Tomorrow Ely take on Brantham Athletic at the Unwin. It will be the first time I have seen Brantham, as they were promoted from the first division last season. Currently Brantham sit in 15th just above Ely in 16th. It should be a close match with Ely having finally found some form and Brantham having a secret weapon of their own is on fine form. Brantham's young striker Ollie Mann has hit 33 goals so far this season in a purple patch that has incluede him hitting 3 hat-tricks in the last 7 games; he also scored the only goal in the game between Ely and Brantham at Brantham's Social Club ground last month. Not surprisingly Mann has been linked to several clubs higher up the food chain including an unnamed Championship club (remember Brantham is in Suffolk, so perhaps the championship club in question can be guessed by the geographical location). However, it seems that in the short term he is more likely to join champions elect Leiston.

Brantham were formed in 1887, however their first game of note was an appearance in the Suffolk Senior Cup final in 1925 where they lost 1-0 to Kirkley. 2 years later they went one better by beating Lowestoft 3-0 in the final.

In 1979 the Brants joined the Eastern Counties League. In 1982-3 they finished fourth which is their highest ever finish and also coincided with their best run in the FA Vase where they reached the 5th round. In this round they lost 1-0 to VS Rugby, but it was certainly a superlative year, as the team also recorded their record crowd in this game when 1700 turned up to cheer on Brantham.

In 1988-9 the Eastern Counties League added its second tier and Brantham found themselves in the top division. Nevertheless, it was a bit of a false dawn as the 1990s saw Brantham stagnate. In 1993 they were relegated to the first division. This was followed by relegation to the Suffolk and Ipswich League in 1996 and in 2004 they found themselves in the second tier after another relegation battle.

It was to be a short stay in the first divison of the Suffolk and Ipswich league and Brantham were about to start their ascent up the leagues again. In 2005 they were promoted and in 2008 they finally got back into the Eastern Counties League before being promoted to the top tier at the end of last season.

Please note that the Brantham kit picture comes from the Brantham website:

A brief update

Well, it's that taile end of the season now which means that the games should be coming in thick and fast. However, due to a gammy leg and filming up in Nottingham I haven't been to a game since the trip to Rocester. Normal duty will be resumed at the Unwin tomorrow when Ely City take on Brantham Athletic, then I have to work next Saturday which will be followed by ba bumper Easter programme when the games come in thick and fast as step 5 winds itself up for the Summer break.

On the local football front Ely have won 2 away games and crawled or rather cruised to safety over the last couple of weeks and King's Lynn crashed out of the vase against Coalville amongst reported scenes of violence at the Walks.