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.