Wednesday, 16 December 2015
I am heading down south to the Cotswolds today as I really don't like the weather forecast for the West Midlands area. Instead I am popping off on the train to Moreton-in-Marsh to see Moreton Rangers play in the Hellenic League, Div 2 West.
Although it has been raining in Worcester this morning, by the time I set out for the train station it has relented. 20 minutes before my train is due to leave, I find out from the club that their pitch has passed 2 inspections this morning! The forecast for Moreton this afternoon is no rain and maybe some sunny intervals. When I do get to Moreton though at 11:50am there is thick cloud and a stiff wind.
Moreton is a pleasant small town of approximately 3,500 inhabitants, with many of the buildings built with the golden cotswold stone. The main road running through the town follows the line of the old Roman road of the Fosse Way, which was originally built to connect Lincoln and Exeter.
(Redesdale Market Hall in the centre of Moreton-in-Marsh)
I have to time to have a light lunch in a local cafe and visit one of the local art galleries. I also note the location of a nice looking cheese shop (for later investigation) before I head off for the short walk to the football ground situated on the London Road.
I find there are no programmes to be had when I get there and also hear that only 4 opposition players have arrived so far, as they probably think it's a 3:00 pm kick-off rather than 2:00 pm. I have visions of the game being called off, which will be disappointing after my efforts to find a game to visit today.
Moreton Rangers were formed in 1997 after the previous club, Moreton Town, had disbanded in the middle of the 1994-95 season. Indeed, they were the reigning League champions at the time, so heaven knows what happened to derail the club. The club badge above shows a phoenix rising (the new club) out of a white lilly (the old club, who were called 'the lillywhites' due to their all-white strip). The ground has a short drive leading to the main pitch, with a training pitch on your left with a small skate park between that and the back of the main stand. When I walk in I find that the stand is just for standing room only as it is an unfinished structure. The toilets, kitchen and changing rooms are at the back, while there is a small wall under construction at the front of the stand. There is a rail enclosing the pitch, with the dug-outs on the far side and there are floodlights. I'm informed though that they are not operational and it will cost about £10,000 to get them working again.
When the home team saunter on to the pitch they are followed at first by 4 players from today's visitors, Kidlington Reserves, a town situated just north of the city of Oxford. Then in dribs and drabs, the rest of the Kidlington players come on, even the substitutes too and they kick-off just 5 minutes late.
Moreton are in a red and blue strip, while Kidlington are in all green. Moreton are playing with the strong wind in this half and in the 6th minute have an effort cleared off the line.
Although Moreton are having more of the play, Kidlington are posing a threat to the home team. In the 18th minute, a break down the right wing sees a cross headed just wide by their No 10. Then just 2 minutes later, Kidlington's No.11 finds himself in a one on one situation with the home keeper,who rushes out to knock the ball away at his opponents feet (as shown below).
Kidlington experience a major setback soon after when their No.2 is shown a straight red card for what looks like an over the top tackle on Moreton's No.10, who needs treatment for a few minutes.
In the 30th minute, a mistake by Kidlington's No.5 lets in Moreton's No.10, Lee Brooks but he shoots wide. It's a brief respite for the visitors as the same player is put through 4 minutes later to shoot in by the near post.
In their next attack, the same player is put through again but this time looses his footing when he's about to shoot and the ball is cleared but he makes amends straight after when he shoots to beat the keeper for his and Moreton's second goal.
The first half finishes with no further score and with Moreton Rangers well on top. Although Kidlington have only 10 players maybe they can use the wind to their advantage to put pressure on the home team?
The weather conditions are still the same and the low light levels are proving to be very difficult for my photography. There are cups of tea and coffee for sale though which is very welcome.
Kidlington do have an effort cleared off the line after just 4 minutes of the second period after one of their players had got past the Moreton keeper.
The visitors though are struggling to get back in to the match and when Moreton make a couple of substitutes, one of them their No.14 is soon making some great surging runs in to the Kidlington half. After 23 minutes the Kidlington keeper makes a great save with his legs from this player and then Brooks completes his hat trick just 3 minutes later.
The home team are now playing with a great deal of confidence and in their next attack, their No.14 shoots just the wrong side of the right post.
The same player goes down the left after 34 minutes and rolls the ball across the penalty area for the No.4 to side foot in to the right hand corner of the net. Classy goal!
Just a few minutes later and a fifth goal is scored although I miss it, as I had been checking some of my photos. Oh well!
Although Kidlington do go close to scoring in the closing stages, the score stays at 5-0 and Moreton have put on a great display of attacking football to cheer the home crowd.
I later find out that the Kidlington first team have gone through to the next round of the FA Vase after a fine away victory against fellow Hellenic team, Thame United.
So it's been a good new ground to visit today despite the weather . I make my way back to the town centre which is welcoming me back with it's Christmas lights and I go for a cup of coffee followed by a visit to that nice cheese shop before heading back to the train station.
Match attendance: 51 (official figure, although it seemed like 25-30 to me)
Match entrance fee: Free
Match programme: None available
Match entertainment: 7.5/10
Wednesday, 9 December 2015
I am venturing to the land of the 'Purple People'. No I'm not on an LSD trip but am referring to the colours of the Cadbury Athletic football team. Their reserve side are playing Birmingham AFA, Premier Division team, BT, who play in the district of Sheldon. It's a Quarter-Final tie of the Birmingham Saturday Amateur Cup, which used to be called the Minor Cup.
It's a cool, cloudy and very blustery day but with thankfully no rain. Due to the large amount of Christmas shoppers, I have had to stand up for all of my journey on the train today. After alighting at the University station I backtrack to Bournville station on the next Redditch bound train.
I have enough time to walk in to the centre of Bournville for a meal at a local Cafe. Bournville is a nice area with good architecture and a 'village' feel to it and independent shops.
It's only a ten minute walk to Cadbury's ground in Bournville Lane. The first team now ground share at Pilkington XXX's ground in nearby Kings Norton as they have floodlights, a requirement for First Division teams in the Midland Football League.
I have described the Cadbury Recreation Ground in an earlier post in November 2013. It's situated at the back of the companies factory, the pitch allegedly has the same turf that is used at Wembley and 'The Pavilion' which houses the changing rooms at the bottom, is a fine looking building.
Although Cadbury Athletic are a relatively new club (founded in 1984), I have found out on the internet that one Daniel Sturridge had started his early football career on this very ground, by playing in of the club's junior teams on Sundays some years ago.
With very few people around I talk to a guy who is standing by the dug-outs. He turns out to be a referee assessor, who is running the rule over today's man in the middle. Of course the assessor turns out to be an ex-referee himself.
The game starts at the early time of 1:30 pm and the 'chocolate men' of Cadbury are in their usual purple and white strip while BT are in yellow and black. It's the visitors who are dominant in the early stages of this game.
They force two early corners and after 15 minutes, their No.17 shoots wide when put through on goal. I reflect that he really should have scored.
After this Cadbury Athletic begin to get in to the game more and start to dominate possession, without really threatening their opponents goal but it's BT who take the lead in the 39th minute when under presure the Cadbury No.5 turns to chip back to his keeper,Fraser Oliver but unfortunately he has advanced to the edge of his area and the ball sails over his head and in to the net.
Cadbury do have a shot on goal in the fortieth minute but it goes well over the bar.
So it's 0-1 to the BT team at half-time and it's been a pretty unexciting game so far.
I go over to the Pavilion and along with another spectator and his wife, to find that the tea bar area is closed today, maybe because of the small amount of spectators. Shame, as I was looking forward to a nice hot cuppa.
After their sluggish start to the match, Cadbury Athletic are making up for it right from kick-off in the second half. Their sustained pressure pays off after 53 minutes, when No.9 Adrian Parkes bundles the ball home from a great in-swinging corner (as shown below)
In their very next attack, Cadbury's captain, Eddy Fogg puts through their No.7 to round the BT keeper and put his side in to the lead.
BT are still dangerous on the break and they have a shot turned on the post and out by keeper Oliver.
Cadbury score a third when their marauding No.2, Craig Brooks, is brought down for a penalty. The penalty is saved at the foot of the right hand post by the visitor's keeper but Brooks races in to hit the rebound home in to the left corner.
A few minutes later another Cadbury attack sees the BT keeper bring down an attacker but the ball runs loose for their No.11 to score in the unguarded net.
BT do reduce the arrears when their impressive No.10 shoots in off a post which rounds off a great run past some bemused defenders.
So Cadbury Athletic have won handsomely in the end after a great 2nd-half display and are now through to the semi-final in the new year, while BT have pushed them all the way today and will be looking to improve their league position in the lower half of the table.
Match entrance fee: free
Match programme: none available
Match attendance: 10-15 (estimated)
Match rating: 7.5/10