Sunday, 17 March 2013


Today I plumped for the Southern League Premier clash between 2nd placed Stourbridge at home to 4th placed Weymouth. Stourbridge have been knocking on the door of promotion for the past 3 seasons now and are looking good for a play-off place at the end of this season.

The weather forecast did not look too bad (sunny with possible showers). Having been before to the War Memorial Ground I knew there is plenty of shelter with 2 sizeable stands.

I have another good meal at the Cafe Rimski (my favourite Stourbridge eaterie) on the corner of the High Street and Market Street in Stourbridge town centre and suitably refreshed take the 15 minute walk to the ground.

Stourbridge is one of those grounds that is shared with the cricket club, so the one side of the ground has moveable metal fencing. I don't know if this will affect the club's chances of promotion but they might be pushed to get in to the Blue Square Bet Premier in the future.

I have a bit of a shock as I find it's now £10 entry (I was thinking £8)...well, I hadn't visited here for a good 12 months.

I see that Stourbridge have splashed out on a new striker, Ben Mackey from St Neots Town, a proven goalscorer at this level. Well, I don't think anyone would have predicted how quickly Mr Mackey would score his first goal for the club. After just 22 seconds, he is played in by Ben Billingham and he duly slots the ball in, much to the delight of his new colleagues and fans!

               (Ben Mackey is to be seen on the right of this picture).

With the Weymouth defence looking very shaky, Billingham feeds Mackey with another pass......2-0 after 8 minutes!

Then Simon Evans, the Weymouth keeper, fumbles a shot from Stourbridge full-back, Drew Canavan, and the ball goes over the line for goal number 3 on 36 minutes.

During this hectic 45 minutes I also had the good fortune to meet a fellow photographer called Nigel Cliff, who is the snapper for AFC Wulfrunians of the West Midlands Premier League (currently in 2nd spot) who play in the western part of Wolverhampton. I have seen his website a few months back and he is a very good photographer. He gives me some good information for possible visits to other West Midland League clubs.

So the second-half is played at a more relaxed pace and Weymouth are able to establish themselves more in midfield. However things get worse for the visitors when their No.7 is sent off for an off the ball incident, which I did not see and then a few minutes later in the 78th minute, Billingham again sets up Mackey for his debut hat-trick.

        (View of the ground with the Holy Trinity church in the background)

For about 20 minutes during the second-half I have a chat with the Owner/Chairman/Secretary of Weymouth, Nigel Biddlecombe (must be a busy man). He tells me that the club have had some fraudulent financial problems in recent year and as a consequence Weymouth had gone through a bad time financially but he was glad to say that things were gradually turning around for the better and the aim was to establish long term stability. He also tells me that Weymouth are missing a couple of experienced players and thinks this is possibly affecting their performance today as they are basically a young side.
As I had lived in the south of England when I began my interest in non-league football, I pick his brains for the latest news on various clubs down there like Poole Town, Dorchester Town and Salisbury City etc. 

          (Stourbridge defenders surround this Weymouth striker)

Ben Billingham scores the 5th Stourbridge goal right near the end and although their team have taken a beating today the contingent of young Weymouth supporters are still in good voice and spirits at the final whistle.

The official attendance for today is 519, a good figure for this league!

I think Stourbridge could well get promotion this year while Weymouth will probably have to wait at least another year. Still, you never know in football and it will be interesting to see how things pan out at the end of next month.

Monday, 11 March 2013


Today I decided to travel west to the old cathedral city of Hereford. The main reason being that I thought the weather might be a bit better in that direction. I think I was right as the cloud was a lighter shade of grey than in Worcester!

Initially I had decided to take in the Herefordshire Premier League game at Hinton, who play in the Broomy Hill area of the city. I arrived at the ground OK, at 2:30 but it was eerily quiet. Hmm, another postponement! So I decided to leg it up the road to see Westfields game against Heath Hayes. I made it with 10 minutes to spare. I like visiting there, it's a friendly club and they always try to play good football.

Westfields, who finished 2nd in the Midland Football Alliance (Step 5) last season, have not been so consistent this time round (especially in the first half of the season) but are still doing well in 5th place. Their opponents on the other hand from Cannock, find themselves next to bottom of the table. 

Heath Hayes came out in their away strip of yellow & black and Westfields were in their familiar claret & blue. In the photo above, Westfields centre-forward, Aidan Thomas (who scored 2 goals) takes a tumble in front of the main stand. 

Westfields started very well (ably supported by a very generous visiting defence) and were in a 2-0 lead within just 9 minutes. Heath Hayes were really struggling to get out of their own half and their goalkeeper was certainly getting plenty of practice. After 28 minutes though Westfields scored again and I was thinking it might end up about 0-8. Above, the Westfields players celebrate their 3rd goal while the goalkeeper awaits to be read the last rites. 

Somehow Heath Hayes hung on till half-time with no more damage inflicted.

However, after the interval, Heath Hayes were a different team, they were more tenacious in midfield and had tightened up at the back, so it was certainly more of a contest!  

They did not carry much of a goal threat but ably led by their captain, David Waple they did carry the fight to the Hereford high-flyers. Westfields though still looked the more threatening team and should have scored 2 more goals before the end.

Considering there was not much at stake in this game, there was a good crowd of 90+. Westfields now play Boldmere St Michaels in a 2 legged League Cup semi-final and later play Ledbury Town in the Herefordshire County Cup final, so they can still have a very successful season.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013


Today's choice of game today was a bit of a no-brainer really. It had to be the Vase Quarter-Final encounter at Oak Park. Walsall Wood being the only Step 6 club left in this competition and I was curious to see their opponents from Guernsey, an island I have had been on holiday during the 1990 World Cup.

The weather was fine and I had a hassle free journey from Worcester to Walsall on the train. I then took the bus journey from Walsall and we soon picked up a number of Guernsey supporters in their green & white finery, being a bit noisy but very sociable.

I had gone all the way to Oak Park for the Wood's FA Vase, 3rd Rd match against Wigan Robin Park 2 months before only to find it postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, so I was looking forward to seeing them play at last on their home pitch.

I got to the ground in good time (about 2:10pm) as I wanted to make sure I got a programme. I did so and it was a special souvenir edition 
with pictures of old legendary Walsall Wood line-ups. Nice one!

There were plenty of Guernsey supporters (around 200) and there was a great atmosphere for the game. The official attendance count ending up at 660.

(View of the match with the Walsall Wood Colliery sculpture in the background)

Walsall immediately took the game to their opponents and looked the more dangerous side for long periods without creating many chances. Their best opportunity fell to their top scorer, Ahmet Bilmiger. He managed to dink the ball over the advancing Guernsey keeper (shown above) but his effort was kicked off the line by a defender. 

The second half was more even and both sides should have scored but the final pass or cross was usually lacking in quality. The longer the game went on the more the Guernsey striker, Ross Allen, looked more dangerous. He's shown in the above photo, looking to turn past his marker.

So the 90 minutes finished with the score still 0-0. Guernsey had their best chance 3 minutes in to extra time when they hit the bar and Ross Allen following in from from a few yards out hit the rebound well over.

Walsall Wood went close again right near the end through Bilgimer but it was not be....both sides resume their titanic struggle in Guernsey next week. All that was missing from this entertaining game was a goal. It was a very clean game played in the right spirit with a great crowd, a great advertisement for this level of football. I'm sure the replay will be a close game too.