Monday, December 30, 2013

Countdown to 2014

Here are the 50 most listened to bands of 2013:

Countdown to 2014 by jim_bomb on Grooveshark

The Stone Roses


Happy Mondays

The Courteeners






Воплі Відоплясова

Ляпис Трубецкой

The Charlatans

Aphex Twin

808 State

Reinhard Voigt

Мумий Тролль

Cage the Elephant

The Bodines

Inspiral Carpets

Boards of Canada

New Order

Arctic Monkeys


Nathan Fake

Tokyo Police Club


Ellen Allien

Echo & the Bunnymen



The Thermals

The Jesus and Mary Chain


The Twang


The Wedding Present



Kapten Röd

The Orb

Stanton Warriors


The Orwells

Blood Red Shoes

The Fall

The Wonder Stuff

...И Друг Мой Грузовик

A Guy Called Gerald

I Am Kloot


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Highs and Lows of 2013

The year started off with a trip to Villa Park to see Villa beat Ipswich in the FA Cup, which was probably the highlight of the month. Ely also provided a highlight by beating Histon on penalties in the quarter final of the Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup. Unfortunately, the impressive FA vase run also came to an end when the Robins went down to Spalding once the game eventually went ahead.

We saw King's Lynn defeat Rainworth Miners Welfare at the Walks and Ely continued their run in the Invitation Cup. They booked themselves a place in the final after beating Cambridge University Press 2-0 in the semifinal. The other game we saw in February was when the Robins lost at home to Wisbech in freezing conditions.

Ely had a well balanced month in the games I attended winning one, losing one and drawing one. Elsewhere goals were flooding in as we saw Leyton Orient win 4-1 against Carlisle and King's Lynn beat Mickleover Sports 7-0 on their way to winning promotion.

April was a mental month with 9 games popping up after the hard winter saw a lot of rescheduled games being played around now. The highlight was definitely Ely winning the Invitation Cup for the second year in a row when they won 3-0 against Cambridge City in what was a shock result. One of the more bizarre incidents came in Ely's defeat against champions elect Dereham where a punch up led to the referee taking the players off. He should have technically abandoned the game, but he finally brought the players back on. The biggest win of the month was Ely's 4-1 win over Thetford.

May saw me go to two Ely reserves games. They were on their way to relegation and went down 3-2 againsy Lakenheath and 6-0 against Fulbourn Institute.

There was no football in June

The pre-season started off with Peterborough beating QPR 1-0 on the hottest day of the year. The real highlight though was a trip to Lowestoft to a beer festival where we also saw Lowestoft beat Kirkley & Pakefield 4-1.

The month started with a trip back to the Emirates where we saw Galatasary beat Porto and Arsenal draw with Napoli. In between these games and going to Ukraine we saw St.Ives beat Ely 2-0 in a match which underlined the shortcomings Ely have been fighting against for most of this season. Over in Ukraine we saw Dynamo beat Tavriya and lose to Chornomorets in the new look Olympiskiy. We were also there in a thunderstorm to see Ukraine beat Israel. Elsewhere we saw the recently formed Obolon Brovary win 4-2 against Kremin. We also had a laugh at Dynamo Stadium when Dynamo Under 21s beat Tavriya's young side 2-0 in a fairly one sided match. I even got to show the kids my old seat that I had a season ticket for! My one regret was missing out on going to Arsenal Kyiv, especially as since then they have gone bankrupt. Unfortunately, I was back in England in time to see Ely lose to Midenhall and Diss.

In September I went to King's Lynn twice, we saw them beat Droylsden and lose 3-2 to Marine in a very entertaining game. Ely also lost to Clacton in a fairly forgettable game.

As usual Sean's birthday game didn't go as planned with Villa losing 2-0 to Everton and Benteke missing a penalty when it was 0-0. Ely flattered to deceive after beating Haverhill Borough 5-1 in the League Cup we hoped they may have turned the corner. They then followed it up by losing 4-1 to lowly Foxton in the Invitation Cup meaning there was to be 3 in a row.

The month started with a trip with a load of kids to Thetford where Ely beat the home team 3-2 in a much improved performance. The month ended with Ely losing 1-0 to lowly Wivenhoe, so things hadn't improved. In between this Swansea won at Fulham with Shelvey scoring a spectacular winner to round off the Happy Mondays weekend.

After missing games because of IELTS I had a double headed weekend where Ely reserved drew 0-0 with Great Paxton and then Swansea reared their heads again in a 1-1 draw with Norwich at Carrow Road. People in the press seem to admire Swansea's passing game, but I find it a tad bit boring. Then the year ended with Burton beating Northampton in one of the most one sided 1-0 wins of all time.

Football in 2013

In 2013 I saw 139 goals in 46 different games, which is an average of just over 3 goals a game. The biggest home win was 30 March when King's Lynn beat Mickleover Sports 7-0, which was also the most goals in a game. The biggest away win came on 4 May when Ely Reserves went down 6-0 at home to Fulbourn Institute.

The stadiums - the number of games in brackets

1 The Unwin Ground, Ely, Cambridgeshire (23)
2 The Walks, King's Lynn, Norfolk (4)
3 NCK Olympiskiy, Kyiv, Ukraine (3)
4 Villa Park, Birmingham (2)
5 The Emirates Stadium, London (2)
6 Brisbane Road, London (1)
7 Julius Martin Lane, Soham, Cambridgeshire (1)
8 The Abbey Stadium, Cambridge (1)
9 London Road, Peterborough (1)
10 Westwood Road, St.Ives, Cambridgeshire (1)
11 Crown Meadow, Lowestoft, Suffolk (1)
12 Dynamo Stadium, Kyiv, Ukraine (1)
13 Obolon Arena. Kyiv, Ukraine (1)
14 Recreation Ground, Thetford, Norfolk (1)
15 Craven Cottage, London (1)
16 Carrow Road, Norwich (1)
17 The Pirelli Stadium, Burton-on-Trent (1)

The competitions
1 Eastern Counties League Premier (13)
2 Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup (4)
3 Friendly matches (4)
4 English Premier League (3)
5 Northern Premier League Division 1 South (2)
6 South East Combination League (2)
7 Cambridgeshire Senior League Premier (2)
8 Emirates Cup (2)
9 Ukrainian Premier League (2)
10 Northern Premier League Premier (2)
11 FA Cup (1)
12 FA Vase (1)
13 English League 1 (1)
14 Isthmian League Division 1 North (1)
15 International Friendly (1)
16 Ukrainian Under 21 Premier League (1)
17 Ukrainian League 2 (1)
18 Eastern Counties League Cup (1)
19 Cambridgeshire Senior League A (1)
20 English League 2 (1)

A few photos from the Pirelli on Boxing Day

Burton Albion 1 Northampton Town 0

Well, I sank a brewery load on Christmas Day and talked a load of cobblers, so going to watch the Brewers v the Cobblers on Boxing Day was the natural choice.

I hadn't been to the Pirelli for a while, so I was looking forward to the trip and the game was well worth the visit. The Brewers are currently in the top 4 of League 2 while Northampton are languishing near the foot of the league. Last season both clubs made it to the play-offs and whereas the Brewers have taken off from where they finished last season the Cobblers have struggled. They sacked Aidy Boothroyd just before Christmas, so Burton were always favourites going into this game.

Neither of the teams started all that well, but it was clear that Northampton were going to sit back and hope to hit their opponents on the break, but at least they seemed to have ditched the hoof up the pitch that they were famous for last season - which actually might have encountered for their undoing. Hussey, Kee and McGurk all came close for the Brewers in the first half and Jimmy Phillips was attacking them down the wing with the support of Phil Edwards. When Northampton attacked Ian Sharps seemed to block them from worrying the goalkeeper too much. However, at the break it was still 0-0 and the Brewers could feel aggrieved not to have gone in with the lead.

The second half saw more of the same from the Brewers and Phillips continued to hassle the Northampton defence, but the shooting was a little wayward. Burton had more than 20 shots during the game, but Matt Duke in the Northampton goal wasn't especially bothered and towards the end it looked like the Brewers might pay for their finishing when Northampton had a couple of break away attacks. However, we didn't need to worry as Sharps with just 4 minutes remaining thundered a header into the back of the net to give the Brewers a much deserved win.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Norwich V Swansea programme and ticket

Pictures from Carrow Road

Norwich City 1 Swansea City 1

It had been a long time since I last went to Carrow Road, in fact it was that long ago most of the ground was standing when I last went. Then it was turn up on the day, but nowadays getting in the ground is a bit more complicated, so when I saw an offer for the Swansea game I thought that I would give it a go. I was quite impressed with the ground and the game was entertaining enough.

Most people probably thought that Swansea would be groggy after their exertions in Europe on Thursday, but it was Norwich who looked more sleepy at the start. On 12 minutes Sebastian Bassong was caught napping by Nathan Dyer who lashed on to a half chance to put the visitors 1-0 up. 2 minutes later Norwich could have got on to level terms if the referee had been more sympathetic when Leroy Fer's header hit Angel Rangel on the arm, but the official wasn't interested.

Up until the half hour mark Norwich continued to push for the equaliser, and Gary Hooper seemed to be in most of the thick of the action. Swansea with the exception of Dyer who continued to harass the Norwich defence seemed happy to pass it around and Michel Vorm was time wasting with only 20 minutes on the clock.

On 41 minutes disaster struck for Swansea when Bassong fell on Dyer and Dyer was taken off with a nasty ankle injury. In the time that was added to the half after the injury Stephen Whittaker and Bassong came close before Hooper levelled up matters with a wonderful strike from 25 yards out.

The second half, for the most part, saw Norwich pinning Swansea into their own half. The best chances fell for Michael Turner who saw Jordi Amat head his shot onto his own crossbar on 68 minutes; and on 76 a great one handed save by Vorm denied Hooper. Swansea, although they seemed content with a draw also had a couple of chances in the closing moments with Wilfred Bony and Jonjo Shelvey coming close.

Norwich probably deserved the win and Swansea were probably happier with the draw.

Ely City Reserves 0 Great Paxton 0

There are times when you feel like football god owes you one and Saturday was one of those occasions. After Sean's game in the morning we decided to go down the road and see what the reserves were up to. Brady Stone has now taken over at the reserves and they seem to have a few more decent players than they did last season, even though they are now in Senior A of the Cambridgeshire League, a division below where they were last season. On Saturday they were taking on Great Paxton who are currently second in the table. Ely had been on a decent run of late having one their 3 previous games including a 6-2 win over leaders Gaminglay.

Ely started off the game promisingly. They had one shot just wide in the opening encounters and hit the woodwork. However, the game sort of petered out into a pre-Christmas snooze and it was a game that was small on action and chances. Even the referee seemed non-plussed by it all. He started the game 7 minutes early, had a shorter than normal half-time, and blew up on 88 minutes despite there being a few lengthy stoppages. It was that kind of game, but that's the way it goes sometimes.

A double headed weekend

December usually turns into a barren month for me in terms of football, even though there seems to be loads of it on. So the chance of a double header at the weekend was too much to pass up on. The weekend started off with a trip to see Ely City Reserves take on Great Paxton and then it was up to the dizzy heights of the Premier League on Sunday when we went to see Norwich take on Swansea.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ely City 0 Wivenhoe Town 1

Yesterday Ely had a good chance to get their first home points of the season. Wivenhoe are struggling even more than the Robins and after a decent draw away to Newmarket and beating Mildenhall in the league cup it looked like a decent chance for the home team to turn their season around. It didn't work out like that though.

The first half was a scrappy affair and Ely seemed to be labouring a bit, they definitely had more of the ball, but Wivenhoe looked a bit more convincing on the odd occasion when they did threaten the Robins. The teams went in at 0-0 at the break in what was a fairly uneventful half.

Ely started the second half off a lot stronger and soon had Wivenhoe pinned in their own half. Stuart Walker had the ball in the Wivenhoe net on 50 minutes, but it was ruled offside. This set the tone for most of the half with Ely pressuring, but not having much luck with the decisions. The Robins were given the chance to take the lead on 59 minutes when they were awarded a penalty after a foul on Claydon in the box. MacDonald stepped up to take the penalty, if it had been rugby he would have got 3 points, but you don't get anything in football for blasting it over the bar.

The Robins continued to be determined and Wivenhoe didn't have a chance until 80th minute when they too were awarded a penalty. They managed to put it away though and went back to Essex with the points.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Club focus - Swansea City

Although I worked for a short time in Swansea, it was summer and there was no football on. Up until last week when I saw Swansea beat Fulham in the Premier League I had only been to 2 games that they had played in. Once was against Fulham and once was against Brentford, both games were in London, in the fourth tier and yielded zero goals. Now it seems that I can't avoid them, as I was visiting London last week I saw them beat Fulham, in a couple of weeks I have cheap tickets for their visit to Norwich and I'll hopefully see them at Villa over Christmas.

Swansea Town, as they were called; they didn't become City until Swansea became a city in 1970 were formed in 1912 in what was a predominately rugby playing area. They adopted an all white kit, which was the same as the rugby team and have kept the colours ever since apart from in the odd seasons when they wore black shorts.

Swansea from their inception took up a residency at the Vetch which had been football pitches for the local league and had previously been used for growing cow food, known as vetch for cattle. They moved to their current ground, the Liberty Stadium in 2005 which heralded a period that has been one of the most successful in the club's history.

After starting out life in the Southern League, Swansea became founder members of Division 3 when football was resumed after World War 1 in 1920. They stayed here until 1925 when they won promotion to the second division. Some of the highlights for the club in the 1930's included a Welsh Cup win over Wrexham in 1932 and Wilfe Milne getting his first goal in 501 games in 1934. Someone in the league definitely didn't like them though, as in 1936 they played Plymouth away on Good Friday and Newcastle away on Easter Saturday, and to Mourinho thinks he has it bad with the fixtures.

For most of the next 20 years Swansea were in the second division with a few bad seasons in the third. Things went from bad to worse when they were relegated from Division 2 in 1965, which came as no surprise as they had been flirting with relegation for years. In 1967 relegation to Division 4 followed. However, despite the poor showing the first season saw a record crowd of nearly 33,000 crowd into the Vetch for a game in the FA Cup against Arsenal.

The change of the name from Town to City in 1970 saw the Swans clinch promotion and they hung around in the third tier until 1974. The season later the club were in real dire straits with poor crowds and had to seek re-election to the league.

The next period in the club's history was one of turbulent change for the Swans. Consecutive promotions between 1978 to 1981 saw them climb from the bottom tier to the top tier. By 1985 though they were back where they started in the bottom tier.

The period up until the move to the Liberty Stadium saw Swansea confined to the lower divisions. In the first season at the Liberty, which was also their first season back in League 1, saw them miss out on promotion after losing on penalties in the play off final to Barnsley.

In 2008 the Swans got back into the second tier after amassing an impressive 92 points. They managed to hold their own in the division and only missed out on the play offs by one point. In 2011 Swansea were finally back in the top division and last season they won their first major silverware by beating Bradford in the League Cup final and are at the moment still in Europe.

This season's home shirt:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fulham 1 Swansea City 2

On Friday night I was in London for the Happy Mondays and I made a weekend of it with the Fulham v Swansea match coming in between an evening out for Paul's birthday. I haven't actually seen Swansea since they played Fulham in the old division 4, some time in the mid-90s. However, as I am also going to be at the Norwich game in a couple of weeks and am hoping to go to Villa v Swansea at Christmas they could become quite a familiar site.

Neither of the teams looked really effective although the game was entertaining enough. Fulham seemed to let Swansea come at them a bit too much and only Scott Parker and Derek Boateng looked interested in stopping them. Up front Berbatov and Bent don't exactly look like the dream team, as having 2 players who have such an adversity to tracking back means that Fulham were effectively down to 9 players when Swansea were on the attack. Swansea seemed to be guilty of messing around with the ball a bit too much when they could have had the game wrapped up a lot earlier than they actually did.

In the first half there were a few chances for both teams, but both Bent and Berbatov were wasteful in front of goal. The best chance for Fulham coming from Darren Bent who hit the post. Swansea probably had the best chance of the half though when Kieran Dyer came close , but Stekelenburg pulled off a fantastic save.

Swansea started off the second half as the better of the two teams and it was no surprise when they took the lead through an Aaron Hughes own goal after a mix up in the 6 yard box on 56 minutes. If anyone had the spirit to get the Whites back it was probably Scott Parker. On 64 minutes he had a shot at distance that went flying into the top corner of the goal. We'll say it was a shot, as we thought he meant it at the time, but people in another stand think he may have been trying to cross it in.

Swansea were probably the stronger of the two teams though and although at times after the equaliser they looked like they may have been happy to get a draw it came as no surprise when they got a winner. With 10 minutes left Jonjo Shelvey, on as a substitute, scored a stunning goal to send the Jacks back home to South Wales with smiles on their faces. To be honest he should have had another one in stoppage time, but I don't think any of the away fans would have been too bothered about that. I doubt that the Fulham fans were as misgiving though, especially when it came to some naive technical choices by Martin Jol.

Monday, November 4, 2013

What kind of football fan are you?

Here's a little quiz that I came up with so that you can find out what kind of football fan you are. Answer the questions and then look in the comments to find out what type of fan sums you up.

1 Watching habits - Which one of these best describes your viewing habits?
A I go to a few of my teams' games each season and often watch them down the pub
B I always watch the major European leagues on TV
C You can find me at the local club every week

2 Football clobber - Which of these are you most likely to wear?
A I have a Premier League / Barcelona / Real Madrid shirt
B I have a Toffs / Score Draw retro shirt
C I have an enamel badge on my sensible coat

3 Pundits - Who would you rather see on TV?
A Gary Lineker
B James Richardson
C Mark Clemmit

4 Players - Who do you think is the best?
A Messi
B Zlatan
C Any centre half who tackles like a man

5 Coaches - Who do you prefer?
A Pep Guardiola
C Dario Gradi

6 Reading habits - Which are you most likely to read?
A The sports pages of the Sun
B Gazzetta dello Sport on your I-pad, even if you don't speak Italian
C A fanzine

7 Presents - Which of these books would you prefer to receive?
A Fergie's latest autobiography
B Something by Simon Kuper or Jonathan Wilson
C Copy of the Essex Olympian League handbook

8 On holiday - which of these is the most appealing?
A A beach holiday somewhere hot with a pub that shows the Premiership / La liga
B A trip on Eurostar with some sightseeing and maybe catch a Brugges game
C The Devon or Norfolk hop where you see 6 games in 3 days

9 Drinks - which of these are you most likely to have in a pub before a game?
A Carling
B Expensive imported lager in a bottle
C Real ale

10 ... and the barman serving it should be?
A A fan of the same team as me
B Smart but casual
C knowledgeable on the Paget Rangers' squads of the 80s

11 Which of these best describes your team?
A should hopefully qualify for Europe
B Not the biggest, but with a youngish fan base / I don't follow one club
C Hopefully will not get clobbered with a big electricity bill for the floodlights

12 How will you be spending next Sunday?
A Down the pub watching sky
B Glued to the European action on BT
C Going through my programme collection

Now check your results in the comments

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Some random pictures from Ely's away victory over Thetford

The team sheet posted on a whiteboard on the side of the shed selling chips at Thetford.

The view of the pitch from the stand, as from the picture that appears on the front of the programme (see the previous post).

Kenny Smith and Matt Morris in Ely's change strip of blue keep an eye on Thetford's Elliot Smith.

Thetford Town 2 Ely City 3 - Something to cheer about at last

It's been tough following Ely City recently, so much so I put a tweet out yesterday to try and get some opinion on if I should go to Thetford V Ely; King's Lynn v Ashton or Soham v Chorley. King's Lynn was my first choice, but I found out that Sean's gang were all going up to Thetford, so that made the decision for me. On the face of it, it was the least appealing game and I always feel a bit conflicted when I go up there, as they were a team that I frequently watched before they got promotion to the same division as Ely and then had home games on the same week. Both teams are also languishing towards the bottom of the Eastern Counties League Premier Division, so I went there somewhat less than optimistic. That said, Ely had just come off a fine 4-2 win over Saffron Walden in the League Cup, which had been inspired by Tom Meecham, who is on (unfortunately only) a 1 month loan from St.Ives.

The first half was a bit of a scrappy affair and the ball was bobbling about on what appeared to be a strangely fast playing surface. Sean O'Donnell was commanding things in the centre of the park and Bruno Tavares and Matt Dixon were creating chances for the home team, although Kenny Smith was playing well for Ely to keep them at bay in the centre of defence. It was all end to end stuff in the first 45 minutes and for the visitors Josh Townsend and Tom Meecham were making most of the running and Adam Murray, who is really growing in to the centre forward role was causing the home side all sort of problems. Nevertheless neither of the teams was able to break down the other and they went into the break at 0-0. One negative thing that came from the first half was a nasty looking injury to Ely's Lewis McDonald, who had to be stretchered off after going for what can only be described as a hospital pass. It looked like a nasty hamstring injury, but hopefully he won't be out for too long.

The second half continued in much the same way as the first half had been played out, but it was Ely who made the breakthrough. A Kenny Smith shot from distance beat Matt Baker in Thetford's goal and Adam Murray made sure it went over the line to put them into the lead. As usual though Ely didn't keep hold of the lead for long and just two minutes later some trickery in the box by Bruno Tavares led to Matt Dixon levelling things up for the home team.

For once though Ely didn't let their heads drop and on 66 minutes another rocket by Kenny Smith was fumbled by Barker and Meecham was there to stab it home and increase the lead of the visitors. On 78 minutes Meecham made it look all too easy and scored again after sustained Ely pressure to make it 3-1. Ely were now cruising, but a last minute Penalty that was converted by Dixon made it 3-2 and set up a nervous stoppage time that fortunately Ely were able to deal with.

Friday, November 1, 2013


November is looking awful on the fixtures front for me. Tomorrow, I have to make the decision of whether to try and go to Thetford V Ely or King's Lynn v Ashton. After that I've got 2 consecutive Saturdays at work and then I'm away, so unless some mid-week fixtures come up then this might be the first and last game of the month, so let's hope whichever one I choose is a good one. After that, after all will be December when most of the pitches are just unplayable.

Most played bands in October

October 2013 by jim_bomb on Grooveshark
1 The Vaselines - I hate the '80s
Some Indie tunes from a band who were popular in the, erm, 80s. You have to agree with the sentiments of this song though.

2 Primal Scream - (I'm gonna) Cry myself blind
Not the most popular track on not the most popular album by Primal Scream, but they got so many plays this month because this song was going around in my head for some reason.

3 Bibio - Take off your shirt
Some nice chilled out and interesting tunes from the West Midlands IDM geezer have had a fair few plays this month. This one is a bit more upbeat and poppie than most of his stuff though.

4 Kraftwerk - Boing boom tschak
Kraftwerk have probably been one of the most influential electronic bands over the years. I also listened to them a lot this month, mainly when I had to work at home due to the storm and no trains running.

5 Nirvana - Lithium
I was at university during the grunge era and also saw Nirvana's last performance in Europe, however I was never a massive fan. I think, as I was having to deal with some slackers from (I thought) Seattle this month, I thought that I would get into their mindset by listening to their number 1 band.

6 The Thermals - Born to Kill
Listening to Nirvana reminded me of The Thermals, who are a bit more punky and a lot more contemporary. As it happens, the slackers of Seattle were actually from Portland, where The Thermals come from, which is just a coincidence.

7 Ляпис Трубецкой - Керчь-2
The only Russian language band to feature this month. This is a reworking of the Belarussians' track from their very first album. After 20 years they are still going strong. I am not sure if Kerch is still like it is in this song, but Yalta is, so it's probably accurate.

8 The Morning After Girls - Chasing us under
Most of this psychedelic type of rock tends to come from the States, but these lads are Australian and the lead singer has a Ukrainian name. I prefer them to a lot of the other bands of this ilk, like the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Still a stupid name for a band though.

9 Limonious - Frisco Burn
I like a bit of skweee, so here's this month's offering. I also like quite a few Swedish artists. There's a lot more to their music than ABBA, for you philistines out there.

10 Ellen Allien - Sleepless
Last month German techno topped the chart with Reinhard Voigt. This month my favourite German techno artist, Ellen Allien, got quite a few plays.

11 The Asteroid #4 - CIA took my dog away
More psychedelic rock from a band that I think are a bit underrated. I think that this track was originally a B-side, but what a great name for a song.

12 Superchunk - Never too young to smoke
Another grunge band that I saw live back in the day. I think that they are still going and are running a record label. They were great live.

13 Tijuana Panthers - Girls gone wild
The surfer dudes get in the chart for the second month running just ahead of the Orwells.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Heroes & Villains November 2013

On Saturday I picked up a copy of 'Heroes & Villains'. The cover shows the image of Andi Weimann when he scored the opportune winner against Man City and ran to the Holte End before the ball had even reached the back of the net.

Funnily enough, you can't tell if the mood of the fanzine is optimistic or pessimistic. After a fantastic home win against Man City, came a draw against Hull and then an abject defeat to Spurs. No wonder Villa fans are suffering from Schizophrenia.

As well as the usual Blues baiting there are some decent enough articles, some of the highlights are an interesting article on how technology has changed our relationship with football; more on the 'safe standing' campaign that Villa have been the most instrumental in pushing for; an article on when Villa signed a rugby league player in 1912; a look at the reasons for not following England and Di Canio's ill fated reign at Sunderland. There's also some stuff on tactics, philosophy and an interesting look at what might have been if Martin O'Neill hadn't cleared off.

A pretty decent read and not as negative as it sometimes can be.

A few Villa autographs

Sean was lucky enough to get Andi Weimann, Yacouba Sylla, Antonio Luna and Libor Kozak to sign the programme on Saturday. Sylla actually signed twice, going away to get a different pen when ours didn't work. Good lad, but as the song tells us 'he loves the Villa', or words to that effect.

The most played fixture in English football

As well as it being the 150th anniversary of the FA it was also a celebration of the most played football fixture in English football when Villa took on Everton for 215th time. There was the special programme (at the top of the page). Unfortunately, Everton won, so now they are just one behind Villa in the number of wins in the fixture.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Aston Villa 0 Everton 2

Weimann's had a few flat performances lately, but this is just a bit mad. We met the real one outside a few minutes later.

A view of the Holte end.

It's been a quiet October, but yesterday we went to Villa to see the most played fixture in English football, when they took on Everton. It was Sean's birthday game and we were hoping for a win for a change after the last few years had seen Villa draw twice and lose once on this occasion.

The day got off to a good enough start with Sean meeting Andi Weimann (the real one and not the one in the picture), Antonio Luna, Libor Kozak and Yakouba Sylla, which was a bit of a highlight and better than having to make do with the cardboard cut out in the club shop!

The game started off well enough and Villa had a great chance to take the lead in the 6th minute from the penalty spot, but unfortunately Benteke's shot was saved by Tim Howard, who was on fine form. Too good form if the truth be known. Villa had load of chances in the first half and Weimann and Agbonlahor should probably both have scored. Benteke on the other hand still looked injured and why he wasn't subbed at half time is a bit of a mystery. Villa dominated for the first hour of the match, but luck isn't something that Villa have had in recent times and particularly in front of their home fans.

After a really solid performance when they should have had the lead and Everton should have been down to 10 men after a horrific tackle on Westwood, things started to fall apart. On 68 minutes Lukaku had his first chance and put it away, it was a well taken goal from a superb striker, but you have to feel that Lambert was partly to blame. After Luna had limped off the pitch there was a need for a defensive reshuffle and the logical decision would have perhaps been to go 3-4-3. El Ahmadi has been showing great format of late, so it was probably time to introduce him. Another variant may have been to put Ciaran Clark at left back rather than bringing him on and moving him to left back. Clark was introduced, but Baker moved wide. Baker had had Lukaku in his pocket, but was pulled out of position and this allowed Lukaku to pounce.

After this, as is often the case Villa's confidence started to crumble. It wasn't helped by Gabby Agbonlahor putting a decent chance straight into the arms of Tim Howard a couple of minutes later. Then Osman came on for Everton and on 81 minutes he scored a great goal to make it 2-0 and Villa played out a dire final 10 minutes.

The positives to come out of the match were that Guzan was as solid as ever; Bacuna, who was man of the match, and Delph seem to be getting better all the time and Vlaar had a good first half; Tonev was given a rare start and his first touch was brilliant, he seems to have stopped shooting on sight and could be a good buy with more Premiership experience. The negatives were that Benteke is really not fit and should probably have been substituted if he should even have started. Teams seem also to be getting wise to Weimann and Agbonlahor, so it might even be time to try an unfashionable two up front and seeing how Helenius and Kozak get on together.

The result might not have gone our way, but it was a decent enough performance, apart from in front of goal, and as always we had a good laugh. The home journey was pretty arduous thanks to an almighty cock up at Stamford by the rail replacement people, but at least we had a laugh with some Villa, Everton and Sheffield United fans, although a 2 and a half hour journey taking 6 hours means we were glad to have an extra hour in bed this morning.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ely City 1 Foxton 4 - More problems at the Unwin

Ely have had a run of away games over the last 3 weeks, which it would seem is a blessing in disguise because what we witnessed last night was pretty terrible. It was perhaps fortunate that the crowd was lower than usual with England playing Poland in a must win game at the same time, as it meant not many people had to see the game. To be honest, the Cambridgeshire FA had a lot to answer for by refusing to put the games in the Cambs Invitation Cup on the Wednesday rather than on the Wednesday. I was one of the hardcore who turned up though in the hope that Ely could go one step further in winning the trophy 3 times in a row.

Foxton shouldn't have offered too much opposition, playing 2 leagues below the Robins, but league places can sometimes be misleading. The Robins got off to a magnificent start and Diaper put the home team into the lead after just 5 minutes after some tricky wing play from Mendes. As Ely had already had one cleared off the line it looked like they were going to disperse of the opposition in the same way they got rid of Haverhill Borough in the League Cup. Ely continued to pressure and although the final ball was never quite good enough Foxton weren't offering much opposition. Then on 26 minutes things took a turn for the worse.

Foxton were allowed to pass the ball around in Ely's half and a well worked goal let them get back on equal footing. After this Ely's heads dropped and Ely were suddenly defending for their lives, and not especially doing a good job about it. Foxton managed to take the lead before the break though when on 41 minutes Pacey misjudged the ball and Foxton took the lead.

The second half started in the same way that the first half finished and after 2 minutes Foxton were allowed to add to the tally. By now things were starting to fall apart and on 57 minutes when Whitehead was subbed and threw a fit about it and almost had a fight with Coe it just underlined how far the team seem to have fallen this season. It came as no surprise when Foxton scored another to make it 4-1 in stoppage time.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Most played bands in September

September 2013 by jim_bomb on Grooveshark
Here's the bands that I listened to the most in September and what weird mix of bands I had on.

1 Reinhard Voigt – In aller Freundschaft
A bit of German techno always goes down well especially from the Kompact label

2 Бумбокс – Хвилюватися немає причин
More Ukrainian and strangely more reggae than the tune that made the play list last month.

3 Рубль – Я хуярю на гитаре
I didn't even realise I'd listened to these Russian punk rockers that much over the month, but it would appear that I had.

4 The Orwells - Mallrats
It sounds a bit like 60s US Garage meets 90s Subpop, they are American, but they are far too young for any of that.

5 Inspiral Carpets - Saturn 5
Were part of the Madchester scene, but looking back they sound quite different from the rest of the set, although a lot of bands around that time copied the Hammond organ sound.

6 ESG - Six Pack
Some funky girls from 80s New York, who seem to get lumped in with post-punk, probably because they were on Factory. Great stuff.

7 Arctic Monkeys - Teddy Picker
I really liked the first album, but then didn't listen to them much. Sean has now decided he likes them, so I've been listening to the other albums recently.

8 65daysofstatic - Weak4
My favourite post rock band. Mogwai are greater, but I prefer the rawer sounds of 65days.

9 Nathan Fake - The Curlew
IDM music from Norfolk's finest techno star.

10 Tijuana Panthers - Crew cut
A bit of contemporary stuff that sounds like the more underground surfer bands of the 60s.

11 Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine - Anytime Anyplace Anywhere
A band with a political conscience from a time when people just wanted to rave all night.

12 Times New Viking - Downtown Eastern Bloc
Just listen to them if you haven't before. They are pretty lo-fi, but no other label really works

13 Oregon Bike Trails - High School Lover
Some fairly inoffensive indie pop to finish off the play list with.

Ely City 5 Haverhill Borough 1

So far it's been a season to forget for Ely and more and more players seem to be jumping ship, so the league cup offered a chance to offer a diversion from the rigours of the league and also offered the chance for some of the new players to stake their place in the starting level.

The opposition was Haverhill Borough, who were only formed a couple of years ago and after promotion last year and a good run in the Vase are now sitting at the top of Division 1. It was difficult to know before the game what sort of opposition they would provide for Ely. They had knocked out some fairly decent sides in last year's Vase run, but at the same time the gulf between the Premier and Division 1 of the Eastern Counties League seems to have grown over the last few seasons.

The game got off to a brilliant start with Adam Murray starting up front instead of Central Defence. Striker Richard Chadwick has departed from Newmarket and Darren Coe was available again. Murray has always done well when he has been asked to play up front, so the decision was not a desperate one. The fact that it wasn't a strange decision was underlined when Murray latched on to a long clearance too steer the ball home with a header that was more powerful than a lot of players could have volleyed it. Murray had a second goal on 24 minutes when Austin Diaper and Stuart Walker combined well on the right before Diaper crossed for Murray to make it 2-0. The whole half was dominated by Ely, although on the odd occasion when Haverhill did threaten there were still question marks hanging over the defence that will need to be answered in the league. That said, Ely should have been out of sight by half time after a flurry of chances, the best one being Murray hitting the crossbar on 27 minutes. Murray and Ely though finished the half 2-0 up, but it could have been so much more.

The Robins and Muzza carried on the second half as they had finished the second half. Within two minutes Adam Murray had his hat trick after beating the offside trap and finishing with aplomb. As the game went on Ely grew in confidence and Josh Townsend on the left was particularly impressive and seems like a decent replacement for Luke Parkinson. Lewis MacDonald was also having a good game and stung the keeper's fingers on a couple of occasions. If there was one complaint though Coe and Pacey looked a bit shaky at the back and another club would have punished them.

The positives outweighed the negatives and the Robins hadn't finished. Andre Mendes came on as substitute and scored with his first touch of the game. The shine was taken off his goal a bit though, as the visitors went up the other end and scored from the restart. With five minutes to go though Mendes had his second and had restored Ely's 4 goal lead after hitting a sweet volley after a Sam Parkinson cross.

5-1 is a great result, and let's hope it has given Ely the confidence boost that they needed now that they have a run of tricky away games coming up throughout October.

Monday, September 30, 2013

King's Lynn 2 Marine 3

On Saturday King's Lynn took on Marine at the Walks in the Northern Premier League. Marine are a team that I remember from games against Matlock and Buxton when I was a kid. They were always sturdy opposition. Some things haven't changed. They were in mid-table before the match and a couple of points behind Lynn.

The game started off in typical King's Lynn fashion, with them looking robust going forward and vulnerable when hit on the break. Despite the somewhat frantic start the first real chance of the game came on 19 minutes when Dan Jacob came close with a header. However, Lynn's vulnerability on the counter attack was again highlighted when Andy Fowler went up to the other end and scored a well taken goal to put the visitors ahead.

After Marine had taken the lead Lynn pushed and pushed for an equaliser. The next real chance fell for Marine on 35 minutes, again for Fowler and again on a counter attack, but this time he was unable to convert. Lynn did get the equaliser that they deserved before the break when on 35 minutes a set piece was headed emphatically home by the towering centre-half and captain, Phil Gulliver. So, it was all square at the break, but the second half promised more goals.

On 51 minutes Gary Mills was tripped in the box and Robert Duffy stepped up to put the Linnets in the lead for the first time in the game. The Walks was now rocking and Lynn were looking to put Marine to the sword, just 2 minutes after the penalty Jake Jones was upended in similar fashion to Mills, but this time the referee didn't blow his whistle. In the next few minutes Lynn were on fire and a great run from Jones that was just put wide by Dan Jacob was the pick of the bunch of the chances.

It was poor defending by Lynn though, that led to Marine getting level, rather than Lynn extending their lead. On 61 minutes the defence crumbled while the whole of the midfield were committed to attack and Fowler had his and Marine's second.

Lynn were now deflated and despite them continuing to attack in droves and push for a winner it was Marine who were take advantage with Will Jones scoring on 73 minutes. Lynn continued to press, but Marine managed to close the game out. Shame about the result, but it was an entertaining match in unseasonably sunny weather.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Ely City 0 Clacton 1

On Saturday we were back down the Unwin for another lacklustre performance by the Robins, so apologies for another short match report.

Ely started off well enough, but both teams seemed prone to mistakes without creating many great chances. The first real chance was when the visitors had a shot cleared off the line on 31 minutes. However, Clacton did take the lead from a good through ball on 37 minutes to take Clacton in with the lead at the break.

in the second half Ely were pressing, but never really looked like breaching the Clacton goal. They managed to clear the ball off the line twice from 2 Clacton attacks, so the game finished 1-0 to the visitors and there wasn't much sign of improvement.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Photos from King's Lynn v Droylsden

King's Lynn 2 Droylsden 1

Yesterday was non-league day, so like almost every other Saturday we headed out to a non-league game. Fortunately, Ely were playing in Kirkley and as Crusaders had a match in the morning there was no way to make it there, so instead we travelled to King's Lynn to see the Linnets take on the bloods of Droylsden.

After a few years of having things their own way the Linnets are now in the Premier Division of the Northern Premier League and despite having the second biggest attendances in the league they are no longer having things their own way and can no longer be described as big fish in a small pond. Droylsden, mainly because of their proximity to a lot of other clubs in and around Manchester have the smallest support in the division, although they once spent some time in the Conference, much to the chagrin of WELFs (Whingeing Ex-league Fans) who never relished a journey there. Things have been going downhill for the Bloods though, who have recently found themselves on the wrong end of a few hammerings. However, if Lynn thought that they were going to have a return to recent seasons of comfortably beating all comers Droylsden were going to provide stiffer opposition. After losing 5-0 to Fylde last time out the Bloods had added several new players and on this day proved not to be pushovers.

King's Lynn looked the brightest from the start, but they seemed to be missing a target man in the middle. Spriggs as usual was carving through the defence, but it was always too easy for Enes Firmino who was having a great game as centre half for the visitors. When Droylsden did break Lynn looked a bit frail at the back and perhaps a bit more effective going forward. On 30 minutes Shane Tolley replaced Dan Mulready for the hosts and it didn't seem like he was injured, but rather to mix things up in attack. The main talking point of the half was on 33 minutes when Andy Langford clearly brought Stephen Spriggs down in the box, but the referee decided against giving the hosts a penalty. The remaining minutes of the half were fairly evenly balanced, but the best chance fell to Droylsden who had an effort cleared off the line.

Droylsden started off the brighter of the two teams in the second half and Lynn didn't seem to have made a wise move by substituting Stephen Spriggs for Daniel Jacob at half-time. That said, it soon paid dividends when on 55 minutes Phil Gulliver moved up from central defence to take the role of big target man and fire the Linnets into the lead.On 61 minutes Jacob had a chance to put Lynn further ahead, but he stepped on the ball when it would have been easier to score. Lynn by now were in the ascendancy, but Droylsden looked good on the counter attack. To prove the point on 68 minutes the home team hit the bar and then had an effort cleared off the line, but then Droylsden went up the other end Dylan Moloney equalised for the visitors.

It was to be a temporary reprieve for the Bloods though as just one minute substitute Rob Duffy scored with his first ever touch in a Lynn shirt to restore the lead. After this Lynn dug in and defended and managed to close the game out with a slender victory.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Most played bands of August 2013

August 2013 by jim_bomb on Grooveshark

It's taken me a while to get round to this and funnily enough there were a fe Ukrainian and Russian bands in this month's playlist.

1 Бумбокс – Звёзды не ездят в метро
This band have been going for a while, but seem to be flavour of the month in Kyiv with all age groups at the moment

2 ...И Друг Мой Грузовик – Del Piero
Another Ukrainian band. One that I saw live a few years ago about the ex-Juventus player.

3 Кино – Электричка
a bit of classic Russian rock here. Some people on the bridge were playing Kino songs and we also saw the mural for Victor Tsoi that has just opened up in Kyiv. This song more or less sums up my trip to work too.

4 Hladno Pivo – Šamar
A bit of Croatian punk here to spice things up a bit.

5 Воплі Відоплясова – День народження
Probably the most well known Ukrainian band of the last 20 years.

6 Talco - Bella Ciao
The Napoli fans were actually singing this at the Emirates, so I had a bit of a listen to Talco after a long break from the anarchic Italians.

7 Pop Will Eat Itself - Bulletproof
The first British band on the list this month funnily enough.

8 Агата Кристи – Дворник
Some more classic Russian rock. Not my favourites, but good when the mood takes you there.

9 Cage the Elephant - Ain't no rest for the wicked
Cage the Elephant make the list again this month

10 Рубль – В мире животных
The foul mouthed Russians are back on the monthly playlist

11 Paul Weller - Bring back the funk
A track from the mod father

12 Flunk - I love music
The Norwegians are back on the monthly playlist for a second month

13 The Stone Roses - She Bangs the Drums
The Roses are still on the list.

And finally from Ukraine

Unfortunately, my camera ran out of batteries on the day of the Obolon game, but luckily I have this one of me, Sean and Andriy.