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.

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