Tuesday, May 28, 2013

2012-2013 the highlight and lowlight of each month

The pre-season got off to a start with a mouthwatering Derby between King's Lynn and Wisbech at the Walks. The bumper crowd probably couldn't believe it when Wisbech ran out 4-1 winners. I was a bit worried about how they were going to do, being in the same league as Ely. I needn't have worried though, they finished near the top, but have now cleared off to the United Counties in the hope of having an easier chance of promotion. King's Lynn in the regular season got into the groove though and won their second promotion in a row.
The lowlight was probably the 3 Ely friendlies in July that I went to and didn't offer great hope for the season ahead - losing 2 and drawing 1.

August got off to a great start with Villa again having a friendly at Peterborough that the Villa won comfortably 2-0. In the FA Cup Ely absolutely smashed Rothwell Corinthians beating them 7-1 with a surprise Richard Gammon hat-trick being the highlight. I also saw my first women's game ever with Cambridge beating Crystal Palace 3-0.
It wasn't all good news at the Unwin though, Ely completely fell apart in defence to lose 3-2 against newly promoted Godmanchester and after the fine performance against Rothwell Corinthians they were up against lowly Bugbrooke St.Michael in the next round. After drawing away they lost 3-1 to at home in the FA Cup to crash out.

September was a very busy month with me going to 7 games in total. Ely managed some impressive wins beating Wivenhoe 4-1 in the cup and Downham Town 6-0 in the league cup. The most impressive result though was probably a 2-0 win against eventual runners-up Gorleston. Even the reserves managed a rare win beating Chatteris 2-1 while we were in attendance.
We also witnessed the Robins lose 2-1 to the much fancied Brantham and also at the Unwin Cambridge Women lost 3-2 to Norwich City. We also see Peterborough lose 2-0 against Wolves, who at the end of the season were also to be relegated with them.

With work and crap weather at weekends back on the agenda the only game that I got to was Villa's 1-1 draw with Norwich. I am just hoping that Villa can provide him with a win on his birthday game next season.

Only 3 games in a cold and wet November, which again saw quite a few games being cancelled, but they were all worth the admission fee. Birkin was down to see Ely beat CRC 2-1. The week before we had been at a very entertaining game where King's Lynn ran out 3-2 winners against Halesowen Town. The main attraction though was a Vase match at the end of the month where Ely beat Hatfield 7-3. The Robins had been 1-0 down at one point. The only criticism could be that they shouldn't have let 2 in at the end of the game, although they were clearly out of sight by then.

December was crap. Game after game after game was off. We had planned to go to Bethnal Green for the next round of the Vase, but it got called off. They played it the week later, when the weather was in fact worse and I couldn't go. The only decent thing was that Ely eventually won. The only game that survived the weather on a day I could go was the Boxing Day draw at Mildenhall.

The weather was still a problem in January, but at least I managed to get to 3 matches, thanks to cup competitions. We saw Villa win 2-1 against Ipswich in the FA Cup. Ely knocked out Histon in the Cambs Cup to reach the semi-finals, eventually beating a strong visiting team on penalties. After several attempts Ely finally got their 4th round Vase game against Spalding on, but despite playing well they were to lose 2-1

February started off with us seeing King's Lynn beat my old friends Rainworth Miner's Welfare in another good match at the Walks. The month got off to a great end as well, with Ely claiming a place in the final of the Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup and a chance to defend their trophy when they comprehensively beat Cambridge University Press 2-0.
In between these 2 games Ely lost at home to Wisbech, but it was clear that it wasn't going to be our year in the league and at least we still had one more cup final to look forward to.

The weather was still poor, but at least not bad enough to knock too many games out. Ely were still having mixed results in the league, but despite losing to Mildenhall a win against Stanway and a draw against Walsham more or less made them safe, even if they weren't the most entertaining games ever.
The real highlights though were probably a trip to Leyton Orient, which saw the home team win 4-1 against Carlisle and another trip to the Walks to see King's Lynn. The Linnets this time beat Mickleover Sports 7-0, in what was probably the best performance I have ever seen by a non league team.

There's one game that really sticks out in April and that has to be Ely's 3-0 demolition of Cambridge City in the cup final. Last season Ely beat Soham, but it was a close match. This time the Robins completely dominated their more illustrious opponents. It was really a great end to a hard season.
It came at a great time as Ely had started the month off losing 2-0 to Woodbridge at home in a game that saw Adam Murray get sent off and lose his place in the final. In the next home match they lost 2-1 to Champions Dereham in a bad tempered game that after a 20 man brawl almost got abandoned by the referee. Luckily, going into the big game Ely picked up some form and sanity and followed up a 4-1 win, in which Sean was the mascot, against Thetford with a 2-1 win against Diss.
In April I also saw Chesham win the South Eastern Alliance when they beat the women from Cambridge in the league and Soham blow their play-off hopes after losing at home to Ware.

In the last week of April I saw Ely's reserves lose 3-2 to Lakenheath in a game full of errors, which the linesman told me had been the worse he had seen at this level. I don't learn though as the week after they were again at home, this time to Fulbourn. They lost 6-0 and if the linesman thought the Lakenheath game was bad, he should have seen that.

Anyway, now for a few weeks off apart from Crusaders' tournaments and then we'll be back with a few friendlies.

The highs and the lows of 2012-2013

First of all it was a mixed season for Villa, which with time and money at a premium I only managed to get to twice. The team seemed to turn a corner when beating Liverpool at Anfield then fell apart over Christmas after that game with Chelsea. Then some brilliant performances towards the end of the season saw them stay up and the future looking bright at last, if Lambert keeps hold of the good players, gets the dead wood off the books and signs a goal scoring midfielder and a couple of solid defenders. Ironically the two games I got to at Villa Park were against teams from East Anglia. First up was a league match against Norwich, which Villa drew and would have probably won if Joe Bennett hadn't got sent off. Secondly was an FA Cup match against Ipswich, at a time when Villa were short on confidence. Villa made heavy work to win 2-1 with Darren Bent, who will hopefully be going scoring first and Andi Weimann, who will hopefully be staying getting the second. The other Villa game we went to was a pre-season friendly which Villa won 2-0 at Peterborough.

Meanwhile at the Unwin, Ely brought in a few players at the start of the season who seemed to upset the balance of the team who had finished second. They were soon sent packing, although Coe and Curry stayed and improved as the season went on and Claydon has added a few goals, although perhaps not as many as we would have liked him to. In the end it was inevitable that a mid-table season was on the cards. There was the excitement of the cups though with Ely going further in the Vase than they had ever before only to be halted by bad weather and eventually Spalding United. The highlight though was the retention of the Cambridgeshire Senior Cup, with another heroic performance in the final this time seeing off the obnoxious Cambridge City.

Things didn't go great for Peterborough United, who after a disastrous start were cut adrift at the bottom of the Championship. They did improve greatly, but it wasn't enough and they were finally relegated on the last day of the season. Unfortunately, with the scheduling of Sean's games we only got up to London Road twice, and didn't see them win.

It was also a disappointing season for Thetford, who finished in the relegation places after their heroic promotion from the first division the previous season. They lost a few key players and it was always a struggle. We didn't get to see them until the tail end of the season when they played at Ely and Sean was the mascot. The reason for this was the fact that the Eastern Counties fixture computer somehow managed to have them and Ely always at home on the same day.

King's Lynn were magnificent and gained another promotion. They'll be playing in the top division of the Northern Premier next season. They were the winners of the fixture computer, as it was easier for us to get to games there and the results were a fortunate coincidence.

Elsewhere, well back at the Unwin, Cambridge Women moved in, and although it doesn't look like they will be back at Ely next season, it was quite a good way to spend sunny Sundays and a good introduction to the women's game. With being stuck in and around Ely more often the Robins' reserves also provided some diversions on Saturday afternoon.

The biggest problem this season was the weather with every month more or less having a game off. Including on a rare visit to the Abbey in September when the game between CRC and Midenhall was abandoned. Winter was really rough and I am hoping for a milder one this time out. Either that or a bigger coat!

2012-2013 in numbers

During the season I went to 44 games and saw a massive 160 goals, thanks to some big wins and momentous games. I usually like to produce a league table, but with so many games involving Ely City it seems to be a bit counterproductive to do so this season, so here are some other figures:

Most goals in a game = 10
17/11/12 Hatfield Town 3 Ely City 7

Biggest home win
30/3/13 King's Lynn Town 7 Mickleover Sports 3

Biggest away win
4/5/13 Ely City Reserves 0 Fulbourn Institute 6

Despite the whopping number of games, I wasn't exactly groundhopping. With Sean playing on Saturday mornings, it has been a bit harder to get to different grounds. In fact all 44 of the games were seen in just 9 grounds

1 The Unwin Ground, Ely (30 games)
2 The Walks, King's Lynn (4 games)
3 London Road, Peterborough (2 games)
4 The Abbey stadium, Cambridge (2 games)
5 Villa Park, Birmingham (2 games)
6 Gosling Sports Ground, Welwyn Garden City (1 game)
7 Recreation Way, Mildenhall (1 game)
8 Brisbane Road, London (1 game)
9 Julius Martin Lane, Soham (1 game)

Coming soon.....

I'm off work this week and as there no longer seems to be any football life left in the season I'll get on with the end of season review shortly. I'll have to start off a new notebook next season as the one I've had since 1995 seems to be falling apart. I also need to wrestle it off Sean who seems to be quite attached to it to see the games that he has been to too.

Another football tournament

I'm a bit behind with this, but the weekend before the one just gone Sean's team, Ely Crusaders took part in the Iselham Football Tournament. It was a bit of a long day, especially following on from a day of IELTS on the Saturday, but at least the weather was nice.

There were again 2 Crusaders' teams playing with old and new players being mixed up. Both teams got off to a shaky start, which wasn't surprising as they weren't used to playing with each other. I think Sean's team seemed to be a bit better off with fewer new players. Fortunately, by the end of the tournament both teams seemed to have improved and got a bit more used to each other. It wasn't competitive, but I think with the players who had played all season together in one team they would have done really well. Sean's team at least rounded off the day by beating Littleport Rangers 3-2, which wasn't bad as they had drawn 4-4 at home with them in the league and lost 5-3.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cambridge United Tournament

Last Monday was a bank holiday and what better way to spend a glorious sunny day than at a football stadium. Sean was playing for Ely Crusaders Blue in the Cambridge United Under 8's tournament. They won 2 and lost 2 and he got 3 goals, which isn't bad for a defender.

Here is the cover of the programme:

Here's the page with Sean's matches covered:

And here he is in action:

Catching up on the most pointless match I have ever been to

It's over a week since last Saturday, when I went to see Ely Reserves take on Fulbourn Institute. That's quite a long time to catch up, but to be honest it wasn't great and then last Sunday I went to Yarmouth and on bank holiday Monday I was at a tournament at Cambridge United. I didn't go to a game yesterday, well if you don't include Littleport Rangers v Ely Crusaders in the under 8's league, but I watched Villa v Chelsea and Wigan beat Man City on the TV.

Anyway, back to that pointless game last Saturday. The weather was nice, the beer was nice, the football from Ely wasn't. Ian Walters who has been playing for and doing well for the first team was present as was Taz, who came on as sub. The rest may as well not have turned up. In fact if they had been playing in a kick around on the park they may well have been told to do one by the other players.

They started off well enough, but Fulbnourn were clearly a stronger team and should have been awarded a penalty in the early exchanges. On 11 minutes Fulbourn hit the crossbar and on 14 the Fulbourn Centre Forward deservedly put his team ahead after slotting home from a long clearance. On 22 minutes Ely could have got back in the game, but they messed up a guilt edged chance to equalise. Then 2 minutes later the inevitable happened and the Fulbourn Centre Forward claimed his personal and his team's second. It could have got worse on 27 minutes when Ely cleared off the line. Thommo was gifted another chance on the half hour mark to get the Robins back in the game, but again they missed. It was almost a hat trick for the Fulbourn Centre Forward on 35 minutes, but the goal was judged to be off side. He did get his hat trick before half time though when the Ely defence failed to clear and he pulled off a fine finish to make it 3-0.

Ely looked a bit better in the first 10 minutes of the second half and things looked like they would get better when Taz came on. It was refreshing to see Ely have an attacking player on who actually understands the offside rule. However, shortly after the hour mark the pesky Fulborn Centre Forward was at it again and another fine finish saw him take his and Fulbourn's tally up to 4. He hadn't finished though, as 2 minutes later Fulborn were awarded a penalty and he made it five from the spot. You'd have thought Fulbourn would have had enough but with 5 minutes left the tubby Fulbourn right back tried his luck from the half way line. His luck was in and it was 6-0 to Fulbourn.

The game and probably the season came to a disappointing close and by then most of the Ely contingent were in the bar checking on the mathematics of the Premier League and Championship.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Playlist for April

If the jukebox below doesn't work the songs can be found here:http://grooveshark.com/playlist/April+2013/86095488

April 2013 by jim_bomb on Grooveshark
1 Рубль – Время водка
Rubl were a new find for me this month. A band fronted by Leningrad's Sergei Shurov making rude but witty songs about drinking that have got them banned from performing in several places in Moscow. To give you a flavour this one is called Vodka Time.

2 Wax Tailor – Where My Heart's At
A bit of French trip hop that has helped me keep my sanity at work recently

3 Ляпис Трубецкой – В платье белом
A band from Belarus who were popular, and who I saw live in Moscow when I lived there. This band really helped me to learn Russian. This is one of their songs from that time with quite simple lyrics. This one translates as In A White Dress.

4 Orbital - Stringy Acid
I got back into these techno pioneers from back in the day when they release their latest album, Wonky, last year. The single with the same name was a song I listened to a lot last year. I've been listening to some older stuff by them recently, but this track comes from that album.

5 Echo & the Bunnymen - The Killing Moon
I was up in Liverpool earlier in April and I had a great time, so I've been listening to a few Liverpool bands since then, this is the first one of a few in the monthly playlist.

6 Mogwai - George Square Thatcher Death Party
There was something to celebrate at the start of April. The clue to what it was is in the title to this song, which I had on almost continuously for a couple of days.

7 Ундервуд - Чехов это я
These 2 doctors from the Crimea have had a lot of plays over the last few months. Last time they appeared in a monthly playlist they were singing about Gagarin, this time it's Checkhov.

8 The Coral - In the Morning
One of those bands that I've been listening from time to time for a long time and the second Liverpool band to feature in the playlist this month,.

9 Ленинград – Без тебя пиздец
Sergei Shnurov's old band. A bit more ska and a bit more reggae than Rubl, but still as controversial. I should have probably chosen a different song than this one though!

10 Ocean Colour Scene - The Riverboat Song
Before they made it big(ish) me and Macca were once the only 2 people to turn up to one of their concerts when we were still at school. They are another one of those bands that I listen to now and again, but never really go overboard with.

11 Billy Bragg - An Accident Waiting to Happen
I've had quite a political month, so nice to see Billy get on the playlist.

12 Frankie Paul - Pass the Tu-sheng Peng
You have to have a bit of proper reggae now and again.

13 I'm from Barcelona - The Painter
Well, the sun has finally come out and there is no better band to listen to when the weather is good.