Monday, 31 March 2014


As I was not able to visit any games on Saturday, I decided to dip my toes in to Sunday League football for the first time. My destination is the Langland Stadium home of Malvern Town, where Malvern Victoria from the Worcester Sunday League, Division 2 play. Their opponents today in the Southam Cup competition are Brewers Athletic, who are carrying all before them in Division 3 of the same league. Their league record so far, 16 games played and 16 won! 

Because I have not attended a Worcester Sunday game before, I don't know much at all about the 2 teams today.

I take the train to Great Malvern in hazy sunshine. After breakfast at the local Caffe Nero I walk down to the Langland Stadium. I like Malvern as it's very scenic with the hills nearby and the great architecture in the main part of the town itself.

I arrive just a few minutes before kick-off, which is at 10:30am and there looks to be a crowd of around 30 spectators today. Luckily, I hear one of the goalkeepers shouting, 'Come on the Brewers!', so can work out that Brewers Athletic are playing in the old gold & black shirts while Malvern Victoria are in florescent light yellow & green shirts, which at first I had mistakenly taken to be tracksuit tops.

The game starts and it turns out to be an open end to end one. This is great for a neutral spectator like me. Although there are several chances for both teams, neither can take them.

I can see that Brewers Athletic have the large presence of Chris Cornes playing for them in midfield. He is a very experienced player who has had spells at most of the bigger Non-League clubs in the area, like Evesham Utd, Worcester City etc. He is also wearing a shirt with the eye catching squad number of 99!

                                    ( Chris Cornes, keeping possession )

At one point the referee stops the game to have a word with the Brewers Athletic No.5 (shown below, 2nd from the left) who has been getting stroppy at times with some of the Malvern players.

The referee has been having a good game as he lets the play flow as much as possible, which is always good to see.

His actions have the desired effect and the player concerned concentrates on his play. Indeed, after 43 minutes he scores the first goal of the game!
Athletic had twice gone close to scoring in the previous 5 minutes, hitting the bar and post on those occasions.

It's a relief that someone has scored and soon the whistle is blown for half-time. The players don't get much of a rest though as both teams come back on the pitch just 5 minutes later.


After another five minutes of play, Brewers Athletic score another goal, this time courtesy of their No.11 (shown below on the left.) I think he looks a bit like John Terry in this photo.

     So 0-2 down and Malvern Victoria come back strongly. Their best chance falls to their No.9 but with just the goalkeeper to beat he manages to shoot the wrong side of the post.

Brewers Athletic are awarded a penalty later on when Malvern's goalkeeper brings down one of their forwards in a one on one situation.
However the player who was brought down, takes the penalty kick but crashes his shot against the bar (as shown below).

They do manage to see out the rest of the game without any further goals being scored. Although Malvern Victoria did have plenty of the play at times, Brewers Athletic seemed to be the more dangerous attacking team. Also the Brewers had the influence of Cornes in midfield and their goalie had a good game too.

They should prove to be a force in the 2nd Division next season when they get promoted and they will now be playing Northside, also from the 2nd Division in the final of this cup, with a date to be yet confirmed. I find out later that it will take place on the 4th May at the ground of Pershore Town at 6pm.

Malvern Town should have an artificial surface put in place in the summer, which will benefit them and Malvern Victoria too if they are playing here again next season, as the playing surface today was difficult for both teams, being hard and bumpy.

Monday, 24 March 2014


Hello again to anyone who visits my Blog on a regular basis and apologies for the prolonged absence of activity over the last few weeks. Due to the bad weather and then other commitments I have not been able to see any games. However I managed to visit the Under 21 game at Heath Hayes this last Saturday to watch the academy side of Worcester City who run a side in conjunction with the Worcester College of Technology.

I thought about going to this game as I was meeting friends later on in Birmingham and after watching the Romulus team in the same division a few weeks previously, thought it would be a good opportunity to see a another game at this level and also see what the Worcester team was like after seeing in the Worcester press recently that the manager, Carl Heeley had been introducing players from the academy in to the first team squad, due to injuries and loan players departing. Indeed in the last game at Redditch United in the Worcs Senior Cup tie, the team had comprised of 7-8 players from the academy in the starting line up, which they subsequently lost 0-2 but had put up a good showing by all accounts.

As it was a 10:30am kick-off time I caught the 7:35am train from Worcester to New Street, Birmingham, then catching the train to Cannock and finally getting the No.32 bus from the local bus station which got me to the ground with 15 minutes to spare. It's a fine sunny morning but with a cold wind. Showers are expected this afternoon, so it's good that it's an early kick-off.

The Coppice Colliery Ground is to be found off Newlands Avenue. There is a drive which takes you down to the car park and a training pitch is located in front. You walk along the side of this to get to the ground itself. At the end nearest the entrance is raised piece of ground dividing the 2 pitches. On the side nearest the entrance are 3 small stands (2 with seats) and the changing room complex & toilets. The other 2 sides are bordered closely by woodland.

This is the first time I have visited this ground. I saw the floodlights from when I was travelling to a game at Chasetown a few weeks ago. It's also the first time I have seen both of the teams at Under 21 level too. 

Before the game started I had a chat with one of the club staff, who told me that several of their Under-21 players were now appearing regularly in the first team. Since promotion to the Midland Alliance 2 seasons ago Heath Hayes have struggled to achieve stability in that League. So they are building the club's future with these young players.

Both Worcester & Heath Hayes are right next to each other in the league table (3rd and 4th respectively), so it promises to be a tight game.

When the teams come out on to the pitch, Heath Hayes are in their usual blue & white kit while Worcester are in their change strip of red & black.

Heath Hayes take an early lead in the 3rd minute when one of their players is played in down the left and deftly lobs the keeper for the first goal. I can hear Mark Owen, the Worcester coach barking out orders for his side to not be caught out again like that. A few minutes later though an almost identical move sees another lob coming in from the left but this time Worcester ride their luck and the ball hits the cross bar and out (as seen below).


Worcester begin to settle down after their let off and ten minutes later draw level. They win a free kick on the left and when the ball comes over, their centre-forward, James Lemon, flicks the ball in to the far corner with a great header. I have been impressed with his play so far and can see why he's knocking on the door of first team selection.

For the rest of the 1st half, Worcester just about shade it and it looks as if the game could go either way.

The attendance for today, I find out later on the league website is officially 25, although in the first half I make a quick head count and make it to be 15, so some extra people must have come in at half time I suppose. 

The second half sees Worcester bossing the game and 10 minutes later, after a particularly slick move, their No.11, Joao Sousa, volleys in spectacularly in to the corner of the net. One of the best goals Iv'e seen this season.

(An ecstatic Joao Sousa, 2nd left, receives his team mates congratulations)

It's not until the last 20 minutes that Heath Hayes start to come back in to the game. One of their best moves sees their No.9 make a good run down the right but his low cross is not converted by their incoming players.

At the start of injury time I have to make my way out of the ground, to ensure I catch the next bus to Cannock.

It has been an entertaining game today with some well taken goals. Mark Owen can be pleased with his young players progress this season and Heath Hayes look to have some promising players coming through too.