Friday, December 30, 2011

End of year round up - stuff that happened

January - a bumper month with failing floodlights
The year got off to a fine start with plenty of games coming in thick and fast after a November and December that had seen a number of cancellations due to snow and rain. Ely got off to a good start with a win over Newmarket. I went to Fulham v Peterborough in the cup which saw Fulham win 6-2, we were sat near Barry Fry and George Boyd in the stand and just behind Posh manager Gary Johnson in the dug out. At the time we didn't know it but a few days later Johnson was on his way out and Darren Ferguson was on his way back to London Road. In January I also made my first trip to Thetford Town where they drew 2-2 with Ipswich Wanderers in a game that went on for ages thanks to the floodlights packing in.

February - Wind and rain
The bad weather was back in February with yet more cancellations happening. The highlight of the month was a fine win for Ely City over CRC, where the wind assisted the team more than a little bit.

March - FA Vase and a lack of goals
The highlight of the month was definitely seeing King's Lynn beat Rye in the FA Vase with Robbie Harris providing the heroics with a brace in extra time that finally sunk the plucky visitors. I also saw Rocester put three past the now defunct Friar's Lane and Epworth. It wasn't all fun at the Unwin though as Ely followed up a 0-0 draw with Wroxham at the end of February with a 0-0 draw with Norwich United at the start of March.

April - Ely bonanza and the right royal skive
April saw Ely play 4 home games as the bad weather earlier in the season led to a number of rearranged games. It was that time of the season when the teams like Ely in mid-table were looking knackered. However, Ely put in some great performances at the Unwin and started off the month with a 4-1 win over Brantham and ended it with a 3-1 win over Great Yarmouth. Sandwiched between this was a couple of draws, but it meant that the Robins finished the season on a high and Josh Bridgeman showed us what he was capable of after breaking into the team. The only thing that spoilt it for Ely was some ridiculous refereeing in the Yarmouth game that saw Ben Lawrence get sent off. Apart from all the Ely games the Royal wedding allowed me to go to a Thursday night game in Lynn where the Linnets beat Rothwell Corinthians 3-0 despite not really getting out of first gear.

May - Play off excitement and the double headed weekend
The month started off with Villa v Wigan in what was my first trip to Villa Park of the year. The game ended in a disappointing 1-1 draw and saw Charles N'Zogbia score for Wigan. Despite signing for Villa in the summer that was the last time that he scored at Villa Park! The day after I completed a double header of a weekend by going to Ebbsfleet V Chelmsford on a 'work' trip and saw the Fleet clinch a place in the Blue Square South Play-off final. It was a great day out and a great weekend as double headers are a thing of rare beauty (apart from in Ukraine where we had them all the time). The play off atmosphere at Ebbsfleet was to be outdone on a noisy night out in Peterborough where Posh booked their place in the League one final after beating MK Dons. The story seems to have a happy ending too, as both teams seem to be holding their own in the Conference and Championship respectively.

June - No football
There wasn't any football in June.

July - Pre-season in Ely
The performances were encouraging, but the 1-1 draw with King's Lynn was probably the pick of the pre-season action in July. It was good to see Brady Stone back, but it has since become apparent that he won't be featuring much. The signs though were encouraging, but perhaps didn't hint at how good Ely were going to be this season.

August - The Emirates, Palace's panto villains and Diss get destroyed
August started with a trip to the Emirates in the pre-season Emirates tournament where we saw Boca Juniors take on PSG and Arsenal play New York Red Bulls. PSG looked fantastic and destroyed Boca. Although they were already there it was before the Arab money had turned the club into another media circus, and with Kevin Gameiro and Neeskens Kebano it looked like they had a good enough squad without buying the big names they are now being linked with. In the other game Arsenal looked like they were going to struggle, which they did at the start of the season before Van Persie started working his magic. A week later the real football kicked off and Posh beat Palace in a game where Glenn Murray and Darren Ambrose seemed to be playing the role of panto villains. Elsewhere I went with Beer Can to Cambridge v Telford and saw an Ely reserves game as well as two first team games that saw the Robins beat Diss 4-0 and then 2-0.

September - Cup goals galore
The month started off with a 2-0 win for Thetford in FA Vase and was then followed by a league game between Ely and Newmarket, which Ely won 2-1, but weren't that convincing in, but after that the Robins have hardly looked back. A few days after the Newmarket game the Robins drew 1-1 away to Needham Market of the Ryman League when Austen Diaper scored a last gasp equaliser. Ely gave the Market men a run for their money in the replay, but finally lost 4-3 in extra time with the post saving the visitors twice in the closing seconds of stoppage time. A week later Ely were away to March in the league cup. This time the game went to extra time, but Taz Chisonga saved the day and Ely won 4-2. It went to extra time again, but at least neither of the games went to penalties.

October - More goals
Ely made up for the blip in the previous season where there were very few goals with a flurry of goals this season and October really saw the goals begin to flow. The month started off with a 4-3 win over Haverhill and the next game I went to was a 3-3 draw at CRC. A few days later the Robins only beat Wivenhoe 1-0 and we felt hard done by. They made up for it a couple of days later by beating Over Sports 3-2. Elsewhere we saw Villa lose to West Brom in a game where Roy Hodgson moaned about everything after despite his horrible team getting the result. I finished off the month with a trip to Thetford where the home team beat Halstead 5-0 in a very one sided affair.

November - Winding down a bit
In November I had to miss some of the action as I was in Croatia and was also aware that I had to work a few Saturday's in December. My last Ely home game was a 4-2 win over Gorleston on bonfire night and my last trip to the Unwin of the year was a reserves game a week later where they lost 1-0 to Leverington Sport. That was a bad tempered game where the ref didn't even get his card out for GBH. The other game I went to in November was a 1-1 draw in the Championship between Peterborough and Middlesbrough.

December - the one game wonder
In December, as I said I have had a load of work on, so the only game I got to was Posh's victory over Coventry that you can read about in a few posts previously.

The rest of the season?
A year ago or even at the start of the season it would have been difficult to predict such a good season for Ely or Thetford. At present Ely are in third and the hope is that they can finish in this position or even higher. After a fantastic start to the season Thetford must be favourites to go up. Elsewhere King's Lynn will be looking to put the disappointment of coming second despite getting 100 points last season and to push forward with a promotion and Peterborough will hopefully finish mid-table and push on from there.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

End of year round up - the teams

Here is a record of the top ten teams on results of games I was at in 2011.

1 Ely City
P 23 W 12 D 8 L 3 F 48 A 30 Pts 44

2 Thetford Town
P 4 W 3 D 1 L 0 F 10 A 2 Pts 10

3 Peterborough United
P 5 W 3 D 1 L 1 F 8 A 9 Pts 10

4 King's Lynn Town
P 3 W 2 D 1 L 0 F 7 A 2 Pts 7

5 Needham Market
P 2 W 1 D 1 L 0 F 5 A 4 Pts 4

6 Mildenhall Town
P 2 W 1 D 1 L 0 F 5 A 4 Pts 4

7 Fulham
P 1 W 1 D 0 L 0 F 6 A 2 Pts 3

8 Paris Saint-Germain
P 1 W 1 D 0 L 0 F 3 A 0 Pts 3

9 Rocester
P 1 W 1 D 0 L 0 F 3 A 0 Pts 3

10 Biggleswade Town
P 1 W 1 D 0 L 0 F 2 A 0 Pts 3

Most goals in a match = 8 on 8 January Fulham 6 Peterborough United 2 (FA Cup Round 3)

Biggest home win = Thetford Town 5 Halstead Town 0 on 29 October (Eastern Counties League Division 1)

Biggest away win = March Town United 2 Ely City 4 on 27 September (Eastern Counties League Cup Preliminary Round)

End of year round up - the stadiums

Well after a couple of quiet months, I still managed to get to 43 games and see 133 goals in 2011. The most notable thing about the year is perhaps that it is the first year since 1994 that I haven't visited a foreign stadium.

I'll get on with a full review of the year after looking at the stadiums and the teams performances of the year.

1 The Unwin Ground, Ely (Ely City) 21 games
2 Mundford Road, Thetford (Thetford Town) 4 games
3 London Road, Peterborough (Peterborough United) 4 games
4 The Walks, Kings Lynn (Kings Lynn Town) 2 games
5 Villa Park, Birmingham (Aston Villa) 2 games
6 The Emirates Stadium, London (Arsenal) 2 games
7 The Abbey Stadium, Cambridge (Cambridge United and CRC) 2 games
8 Craven Cottage, London (Fulham) 1 game
9 Recreation Way, Mildenhall (Mildenhall Town) 1 game
10 Hillsfield, Rocester (Rocester) 1 game
11 Stonebridge Road, Northfleet (Ebbsfleet United) 1 game
12 Bloomfields, Needham Market (Needham Market) 1 game
13 GER Ground, March (March Town United) 1 game

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Posh grind out a win

Yesterday Peterborough took on bottom side Coventry City in the Championship and got their first clean sheet of the season, it wasn't all good news though, although after a run of bad results it was pretty critical that Posh got the three points.

The first 20 minutes were not a typical performance by Posh with both sides looking reluctant to go forward and a Lee Tomlin shot that went wide being the only chance either side got in this period of play.

For the rest of the first half the better chances went to Coventry, who despite having the chances never really looked like scoring. Lukas Jutkiewicz and Cyrus Christie both had good chances for the Sky Blues, but they definitely lacked a bit of bite at the end and the target man Clive Platt looked like a poor man's Emile Heskey, he really was that bad. Peterborough meanwhile lacked a creative spark and with the absence of Grant McCann, who is injured, Emile Sinclair failed to get much service and when he did he showed a poor first touch.

The second half was quite a different matter fortunately and Peterborough looked a lot more creative and domineering going forward. This was helped by Paul Talylor coming on for Lee Frecklington on 47 minutes. Everybody was wondering why Taylor hadn't started and his introduction really did make a huge difference. The team was transformed and Posh started to create chance after chance most of them being created by Taylor. Finally Peterborough made the break through on 66 minutes when Taylor squared the ball to Sinclair who fired home to put Posh one up. Sinclair could have been 2 up when Sinclair had another gilt edged chance but it wasn't to be. Posh continued to push for a second, but Coventry were far from out of the game and towards the end could have easily equalised Bell, Wood and Christie all came close in the last couple of minutes and in the last minute our hearts were well and truly in our mouths when Gary Gardner hit the post and on the 3rd minute of stoppage time Jutkiewicz was cleared off the line by Gabriel Zakuani.

Posh held on to get the points, but Lee Tomlin joined the injury list which includes Grant McCann and it could be a worry, as the midfield attacking positions have been what have helped Posh get goals this season. Despite a clean sheet and some great performances in defence by Gabriel Zakuani and Ryan Bennett; and Joe Lewis being back to top form in the Posh nets, they going to have to be more resilient against the better clubs in the division.

The picture at the top shows Sinclair scoring the winner for Posh.

Some bad pictures from a frozen London Road

Yesterday we went to Peterborough United V Coventry City. Here are some not very good pictures from the day, but it was that cold I have an excuse for freezing hands.

Here are a couple of pictures of Posh warming up:

The teams line up:

Some blurred match action:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Coventry City Shirt History

Next Saturday we are off to London Road again, this time Posh are taking on one of my least favourite teams of all time; Coventry City, who were strangely the first team I saw playing against Stoke at the old Victoria Ground in 1983.

Anyway, it's not looking good for the Sky Blues this season, as they currently sit at the bottom of the Championship and all doesn't seem well at the club, it hasn't always been like this though.

Coventry were formed as Singers after the factory that made bicycles in the City in 1883. Their original kit was thought to be pink like the colours of the factory, there is also evidence that the Sky Blues wore sky blue in this period too, but that may have been a change shirt. One of the earliest shirts on record was a number that mixed both blue and pink, which dates back to 1889.

From 1890 to 1891 Singers adopted a black strip with a pink 'S' on the breast to represent the factory.

During the next few years Singers donned a black and red number before settling on dark and light blue halves in 1898 when they changed their name to Coventry City.

They kept this shirt until 1904 and then experimented with kits that mixed dark blue, sky blue and white. In 1919 when the football league was expanded Coventry were admitted and at the time adopted sky blue and white stripes.

The first few years for Coventry were a struggle as they tried to hang on to league survival. However, they were clearly starting to feel like they were representing the city as between 1892 and 1894 they adopted the municipal colours of the city, a rather fetching red and green number.

From 1924 to 1962 Coventry didn't do much of note rather than kick around in the lower divisions of the league and during this period they wore blue and white stripes. Things were about to change for Coventry though. Jimmy 'Chinny' Hill was brought in as manager and things were transformed. Firstly, he introduced the sky
blue kit (and introduced the nickname) that has more or less become synonymous with the club, he also got the maximum wage abolished, introduced the version of the 'Eton Boat Song' that Coventry still thing, encouraged the players to mix with the fans and later was the driving force that saw Highfield Road become the first all seater stadium in the country.

In 1964 Coventry were promoted from the 3rd division on the last day of the season and in 1967 they reached the first division and for the first time they were in the top tier of English football. Hill left for a career in TV on their promotion but Coventry were to remain in the top division until 2001.

During this period they released a couple of interesting kits. There was the sky blue first and brown second shirts of 1975-1978 that have become cult classics.

And then there was also the controversial Talbot kit of 1981 to 1983, which used the Talbot logo as part of the 'design' in order to get round rules over the size of sponsors on shirts.

Shortly after this they changed to a more sensible if unoriginal sky blue number that like a lot of shirts of the mid 1980s had the same colour in two different shade. This shirt being the same one as the one they were wearing in the first game I ever went to.

Coventry's greatest achievement came in 1987 when they won the FA Cup beating Spurs 3-2 with a Keith Houchen diving header.

In 2001 Coventry were, after years of hanging on in the top division, relegated by their ex-player Dion Dublin in a game against Villa, a team that they always found it hard to get any result against. It was an impressive record, but they haven't looked like coming back at any point since dropping out.

In 2005 Coventry left their Highfield Road stadium for the Ricoh Stadium. Since then they haven't worried the play off places, and are looking in real trouble this season in this kit, which is a more or less carbon copy of the one Jimmy Hill introduced.

Quiet time

Well like the last couple of years November and December are proving to be a quiet period in the season. Unlike the last two years, it isn't because the weather is bad and that there are no matches on, but rather that after the last couple of years I decided to do some extra work on Saturdays in anticipation that most of the matches would be off.