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.