Sunday, 21 April 2013


The Victoria Ground (home of Bromsgrove Sporting) in Bromsgrove is my destination today as I am going to watch the Final of the Worcestershire Junior (Saturday) Cup. It's between the north Worcestershire rivals of the village teams, Fairfield Villa and Feckenham, who both also play in the 1st Division of the Midland Combination. I figure that Fairfield should be the favourites as they are placed in the top half of the league while Feckenham are in the bottom half.

It's a pleasant, mainly sunny day when I venture out at 9:30 this morning to buy the daily newspapers. When I get to the main road I see a minibus sporting a Newport County logo go past. Later I find out that they must be on there way to Grimsby to play against their play-off rivals.

I later make my way to Bromsgrove by bus and when I arrive there about 30 minutes later I have a look round the regular Saturday street market.

At about 1:30pm I walk up to the ground as it is a 2:00pm kick-off probably to enable spectators to watch this game and then travel the short distance to watch the later match at Kidderminster where the Harriers are taking on Stockport County.

Ten minutes later I arrive at the ground and although it's only a £2 entrance fee today, this is waived aside as I have said I will supply photos to the Worcestershire FA website. This is because I emailed a cousin of mine called Chris, who works for the FA, inform him I will be going to Bromsgrove and as he can't make it there himself, would like some pictures taken for them.

After buying my usual pre-match cup of tea, I'm a bit dismayed as there only seems to be about 20  fellow spectators in the ground. Eventually though around 100-150 people turn up.

Both teams are playing in their usual strips, Fairfield in yellow & blue and Feckenham in their green & white.

Fairfield press strongly for the first 10 minutes but Feckenham are the first to score! This encourages the underdogs and play is pretty even until Feckenham score again later in the half. This certainly wasn't in the script.

Feckenham dominate the rest of play before half-time and the Fairfield manager must be a worried man.

10 minutes into the second-half and things get even worse for the favourites. A cross from the right of their defence is met by the head of the Fairfield No.5 and he steers it beautifully in to the corner of his own net, instead of the intended destination of past the post for a corner. Surely that must be game over by the look on his face.

However, Fairfield do come back fighting and although they find it tough to get the better of their opponents defence, their No.7 does go close with a free-kick. 2 minutes later and the same player scores the best goal of the match with a dipping volley from just outside the penalty area. Fairfield are now putting on pressure in the last minutes of the game and right near the end they are awarded a penalty. It is not going to be their day though as the Feckenham keeper makes a good save to his left to deny Villa any chance of a remarkable comeback.

                      (The victorious Feckenham team with the Cup)

Feckenham deserve their triumph as they took their chances well while Fairfield look as if they had an off-day today. That's cup competitions for you!

Sunday, 14 April 2013


This Saturday I am making my way to the Northern Premier League top 5 clash between Rushall Olympic and AFC Fylde from Lancashire. Both teams are looking to make the League play-offs in a few weeks time.

This will be the second time I have visited this ground, as near the end of last season I saw Rushall's tenants, Continental Star, beat Pershore prior to clinching the Midland Combination Premier League title. Also it was a happy occasion for me as one of my photos from that game was selected as the cover photo for the current edition of 'The Non-League Club Directory'.

Both of these clubs have made very good progress up 'The Pyramid' over the last 12 years, especially Fylde as only 5 years ago they were lifting the FA Vase, in their previous incarnation of 'Kirkham & Wesham FC'.

When I arrive in Walsall, an already cloudy day becomes greyer and it starts to drizzle. Not good photography weather, well certainly not for my camera/lens set up.I board the No.997 bus from Walsall Bus Station and soon am getting off the bus at the stop opposite the ground.

It's an entrance fee of £7:50p, cheaper than expected and the programme £2. I must say the Rushall programme is very good value, packed with information about the Evo-Stik Northern leagues and various cup competitions like the Staffordshire Senior, Birmingham Senior and Doodson League Cup. Well done to the editor Darren Stockall!

Fylde have brought down about 50-70 fans with them and I park myself under the cover of the stand at the southern end of the ground where they congregate when they see that their team are kicking towards that goal. Rushall are in their gold and black kit while Fylde are resplendent in all white.

The game is played at quite a pace with both teams anxious to get forward as quickly as possible. A bit too Route One for me at times but there is no disputing that they both mean business.

(Here the Rushall No.2 is given a helping hand by physio, Emma Archer)

It's a pretty even first-half with not many clear-cut chances. The Fylde fans are sure that their team should be awarded a penalty when their player, Harry Winter is brought down after a rash challenge but it's deemed to be outside the area and Fylde shoot over the bar from the free-kick. However Rushall take the lead 5 minutes before the interval when Obeng fires in a well taken goal.

During half-time I venture in to the Club Shop and find a very good selection of Football League and Non-League programmes. When talking to the guy who runs the shop I find that we both attended the same Sutton United (Sutton Coldfield) game the previous Saturday. It's a small world!

I go back to the southern end of the ground as it is still drizzling and soon Rushall Olympic are on the attack. Although I was not greatly impressed by the standard of play in the first-half, I begin to admire Rushall's efforts in the second period. With their combative midfield, the pace of Ahmed Obeng plus the guile and work-rate of top scorer, Dave Walker, Rushall are stringing together some probing attacks. Although Rushall dominate most of this half Fylde are still dangerous on the break.

 (Here the dangerous Obeng whips in a shot that grazes the Fylde cross-bar)

Rushall's efforts are well appreciated by their fans and they duly get their reward a few minutes before the end when Lindon Dovey scores their second and decisive goal.

So a great result for 'The Pics' which pushes them up from sixth to fifth and sees AFC Fylde drop from fourth to sixth but with 2 games in hand over Rushall with 2 points separating them. They could be playing each other in the play-offs soon!

In the end I was impressed by Rushall Olympic and today's performance was a great improvement to when I saw them lose 1-3 in the FA Cup to Bridgnorth Town earlier in the season.

Monday, 8 April 2013


I am visiting a new ground today, that of Sutton United of the 2nd Division of the Midland Combination. I have thought about going there for the last 2 or 3 months. They are a new team to this League after many years of success, competing in the Birmingham AFA.

I set out from Worcester on the train, with blue skies but still a bit chilly. It feels almost like Spring. After having something to eat in Sutton Coldfield, I walk from the town centre and soon I am walking along Rectory Road, past the Good Hope Hospital and see that Rectory Park, where the ground is situated is on my right. At the next crossroads I turn right in to Hollyfield Road and a few minutes later see St Chads Church on the right. I remember seeing in the Mid Comb website that the ground is to be found at the back of this church. It is certainly looks a nice area to live in and must be a pretty affluent area judging by the quality of the housing. Through a small car park  and I have found a path that takes me to the club house/changing room complex. After the exertions of my walk I go in to the club house and pay for a cup of tea and soon I am sat at a table watching the last few minutes of the Reading-Southampton relegation dog-fight. It ends up 2-0 to the Saints and should mean relegation for Nigel Adkins's new team. Poor bloke, I thought he had been doing OK at Southampton.  

So ten minutes before kick-off I wander outside. There is already another game taking place on an adjacent pitch which I find out later is where the Sutton 3rd team are playing in a top of the table clash in the Birmingham AFA League.

Soon the teams are walking on to the pitch, Sutton in their green & black kit and their opponents, Rugeley Rangers, in an all navy blue ensemble. Rugeley are next to bottom of this division and face a very stiff task against Sutton who have the best goal difference. There is a good crowd too, officially 78 and in some previous matches this season they have had 100+ crowds! The pitch is basically a park pitch with a metal railing surrounding it. 

After the game starts Sutton are soon on the attack. The pitch is hard and dry and it takes a few minutes for the players to get used to the high bounce of the ball. However, a Sutton player breaks down the left and soon the ball is bundled in to the net from close range after 7 minutes.

This sets the pattern for the rest of the first period as Sutton United show off their attacking prowess, their speedy forwards causing the overworked Rugeley defence many problems.

As well as the action on the pitch I am entertained by a scenario off it when a wayward shot from a Sutton player ends up stuck high in the branches of a tree a few feet behind the Rugeley goal. A Sutton fan, a man who looks to be in his fifties bravely climbs up the tree and after shaking the branches for a few minutes manages to get the ball down.
Unfortunately, about 15 minutes later, the same thing happens again and the ball is almost in exactly the same place. The same man who is reluctant to go climbing again is told by one of the Sutton coaching staff that he has seen a long metal pole a few yards away. Soon they are to be seen carrying the pole and within a few minutes have dislodged the ball. What tasks club officials have to do! 

Back to the match and Sutton score 2 more goals before half-time. The second goal is a particularly good one with the Sutton player smashing in a volley before the goalkeeper can move.  

At half-time I see on my phone that Villa are 1-0 up at Stoke. I know this area is Villa fan territory so know that there will be many happy spectators coming out for the second half.

For a good 30 minutes, Rugeley manage not to concede any more goals. Their midfield seem to manage to make more of a game of it but they don't threaten the Sutton goal greatly.

I speak to another photographer who I had seen earlier taking pictures at the the other game and find out that he is from the local Sutton Coldfield paper.

In the final 15 minutes Rugeley crack and concede another 2 goals.

  (Here the Sutton players congratulate each other after the last goal)

So the game ends with the expected easy win for Sutton United which strengthens their position in 4th place with games in hand on the teams above them, while Rugeley sink to bottom place due to previous bottom team, Coventry Spires (sounds like their players are probably all over 6 feet tall! ) winning 4-0 away.
Also later I find out that title favourites, Alcester Town have lost 4-1 at home to current leaders, Perrywood.

One of the linesmen is told by a spectator with a radio that Villa have won 3-1 and he has a big smile on his face as he troops off the pitch at the final whistle.

I can recommend a visit to Rectory Park but it's best to pick a dry day as there is only cover under some trees on the one side of the ground.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013


Today I have travelled to the Triplex Sports Association ground of Pilkington XXX, which is located close to the Kings Norton railway station, in Eckersall Road, Birmingham.

I had texted the Pilkington Chairman, Saul Gray, the previous day asking if he thought the game would would be played, as I had noticed that on Saturday, many games in the Birmingham area had been postponed. He said that he would text me as soon as possible the next day about this.

So today just after 10am he texts me affirming that it will go ahead. I have taken photos here on 2 previous occasions and the club have used my photos to illustrate their programmes and I get free admission!

Pilkington XXX unfortunately are having a bad season and find themselves just 2 places off the bottom of the Premier Division table, while today's opponents, Bromsgrove Sporting find themselves in a creditable 3rd place after their promotion from last season.

About 70 Bromsgrove fans,have boosted the attendance to a healthy 102 after making the short trip north for this game.

I station myself at the Club House end of the ground to photograph potential Pilkington attacks. After the game starts, Pilkington certainly do attack for most of the first 20 minutes.

                         ( The Pilkington number 9 has a shot blocked)

However, with only their 2nd or 3rd attack of the match, Bromsgrove break away quickly down the left after the breakdown of a Pilkington corner and score the first goal!

          ( Pilkington forward, Dan Carter, manages to fire in a shot )

Unfortunately for the home side, Bromsgrove repeat this feat 3 more times before half-time to kill the game as a contest. Of course this pleases their supporters and they applaud their players off the pitch at the interval.

The second-half sees Bromsgrove in good control of the game and Pilkington have to defend desperately at times.

Sporting however only manage to score one more goal and achieve the double over Pilkington with an identical scoreline from their first match.

So Bromsgrove will be looking to finish the season with a top 5 finish considering some teams below them have games in hand but Pilkington will have to fight hard to make sure they don't finish at the bottom after they lost to Racing Club Warwick 2 days previously. 


Today I travelled to the scenic town of Malvern, which is just about 6 miles from where I live in Worcester. Mid-table Malvern Town's opponents are the table topping Lye Town, no less.

Apologies to anyone who visits this site that this latest entry is so late. It would have been published on Monday but I decided that day to go to another game and I was out most of Tuesday as well.

Anyhow, after alighting at the delightful Great Malvern railway station, replete with Victorian era ironwork and tea rooms, I walk up to the town centre for a wander round as it has been awhile since my last visit. I notice a new record shop just off the main road called 'Carnival Records' where they actually sell vinyl as well as CD's. Good selection of old artists like Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison etc as well as more contemporary ones. There is even a guy in the courtyard outside playing old soul records on a turntable creating a funky ambience for all us visitors. After having a quick look round while making a mental note for a return visit next month, I go up to the top of Church Street and come across an Arts & Food market. I give in to temptation and indulge myself with a piece of chocolate fudge cake!

Soon after I am walking back down hill and 20 minutes later enter the Langland Stadium. I see in the programme that Malvern Town are hoping to persuade the council by petition that the club need to find a better site for their team.

Kick-off time arrives and Lye Town are playing in their alternative strip of all-white and after just six minutes their No.11, Ben Jevons, has planted a firm header in to the Malvern net.

Although Malvern try to hit back they make little head way against the Lye defence. Its certainly a well contested match and although the referee looks to keep the contest moving along as much as possible, it backfires as he is far too lenient, letting too many late tackles go unpunished. This culminates with the Malvern Town No.5 and Lye forward, Chris 'Billy' Russell clashing near the touchline. From what I see it looks as if Russell left his leg up while going in to the challenge and unfortunately for him he gets injured and has to hobble off with no further action for him today. This encounter sees both sets of players getting involved with eye ball to eye ball confrontations with the attendant pushing and shoving. bookings, just a Lye Town throw-in!


However, Lye are the first team to recover their composure and soon after a great quickly delivered left wing cross is dispatched with great aplomb via another Ben Jevons header. Half time arrives soon after and Lye Town find themselves in a great position but I am fearful that the match will turn really ugly.

I take a shot of the ground at the start of the 2nd-half  to try and do justice of the lovely back-drop of the nearby snow clad Malvern Hills. It looks more like a game taking place in Switzerland or Austria!

Thankfully the 2nd-half has none of the drama of the first as both sets of players are acting more sensibly even though it's still a tough physical game. The ref even books a few players! 

Malvern Town try desperately to get back in to the game but Lye have the greater goal threat and should score at least one more goal. A fairly comfortable win in the end for Lye Town but Malvern certainly gave them a fight.

 So I have enjoyed my little trip to Malvern and the West Midland Premiership contest is hotting up nicely between Lye, AFC Wulfrunians and Shawbury. It looks as if it will go all the way to the end of the season.