Wednesday, 30 March 2016


I have inadvertently come to a new ground today. Originally I had agreed to take some photos for Droitwich Spa in their away match at Paget Rangers. I had travelled as far as New Street rail station in Birmingham, was waiting for my train to Chester Road station, when I noticed an email on my phone from Ben Lloyd, the Spa Media Officer, telling me the match had fallen foul of the overnight bad weather.

At first I thought of going to a match at the 4G surface at Sutton Coldfield's ground, in Coles Lane but to my dismay find that both Sutton Coldfield and their tenants Romulus are both playing away today. Maybe Lichfield Town? Then I suddenly remember seeing on a previous rail trip, the ground of Boldmere Sports & Social Falcons lying close to the rail line just after Chester Road station. A quick check on the MFL website shows me that indeed they are at home today (playing the splendidly named Shipston Excelsior) and the match looks to be still on!

I got off at Chester Road and with the help of my map soon fInd the entrance to the ground.

Then I walked down the drive to the Sports Club where there is a club house on the left. Just before getting there I saw a guy getting out of a car and asked him if the game was definitely on? He assured me it was and said that he and his friend were ground hoppers who had originally been going to a game in North Wales. He also let me take a photo of the team line-ups that he'd borrowed off a club official.

There are changing rooms with toilets along the side and then next two 4G 5-a-side pitches before the 3 football pitches the other side of some wire fencing. The main railed pitch is directly in front of me and the other 2 are located at the bottom of this. The railway line is on the other side of the ground. There is no shelter at the ground so it's good that the weather forecast is for a mainly sunny afternoon.

When the teams troop out, Boldmere are in their home strip of red & black striped shirts, black shorts and socks while today's visitors are in white shirts, orange shorts and white socks, their away strip I think.

Shipston are in the mid-table position of 8th but Boldmere are struggling near the bottom of the 3rd Division.

Their is a strong breeze going across the pitch and the pitch itself slopes a bit from top to bottom. It's Boldmere who are attacking down the pitch in this half and they do most of the pressing in the early stages.

Indeed after just 8 minutes, they should have taken the lead when their No.8, Jordan Lengthorne, is presented with a great headed knock-down from a free kick but shoots just wide of the left hand post (as shown below).

Shipston hit back after 14 minutes when they have a close range shot blocked by the Boldmere keeper, Ryan Lewis.

The visitors take the lead after 24 minutes when the ball is played down the left and a player scores from close range and a few minutes later they double the lead. They are awarded a free kick on the right, which is knocked over to the left of the goal where a Shipston player heads it back for a team mate to loop a header in to the far corner.

Boldmere have not played badly but have a mountain to climb to get back in to the match.

They go very close after 35 minutes when an attack is launched down the right and their live wire No.7, Lewis Gorle, sees his attempted cross deflect off a defender, on to the bar and out of play.

In their next attack a loose ball is struck firmly by Gorle but is saved well by Ireland the Excelsior keeper. 

Gorle is scythed down near the end of the first half by Matt Partridge the Shipston No.3 who is then booked for his efforts.

It's Shipston Excelsior in the driving seat at half-time but Boldmere can count themselves unlucky not to be on the score sheet at least.

During the interval, a Boldmere supporter asks me who I am taking photos for and I tell him it's for my Blog. He then tells me that his 17 year old son is playing in goal for Boldmere.

In Boldmere's very first attack in the second period they score when Gorle crosses for striker, Rob Tydlacka to head home.

Their good fortune does not last though when a few minutes later their keeper makes a hash of clearing the ball and it falls to an oncoming Shipston player. In a panic Ryan Lewis grabs the guy in possession and wrestles him to the ground. Of course he is sent off and another Boldmere player takes his jersey to go in goal for the penalty, which he duly saves by diving to his right.

Shipston have one of their players sent off but for some reason I manage to miss this happening. I find out later that it's their No.3 Matt Partridge.

It's certainly at times been a committed feisty encounter today and Boldmere's No.4, Reiss Johnson can count himself lucky not to be shown a straight red card rather than a yellow for this foul.

He even has the cheek to wag a finger in the ref's face after his offence, to make the point that it wasn't a foul?

Mr.Johnson goes on a run in to the Shipston penalty area in injury time only to see his shot deflected.

Also their substitute keeper goes up for a corner and sees his header skim the bar (as shown below).That would have been a great way to end this exciting match if he had scored!

I'm glad I came to this match today which more than made up for my earlier disappointment as regards the Paget match. I also met Adam 'Adji the Groundhopper' at last, whose blog I have been reading for the last 4 years. I didn't recognise him at first as he was wearing specs and a beanie hat.

We have a good chat for the last 15 minutes of the match and he then gives me a lift back to the station. Thanks Adam!

Match attendance: 25
Match entrance fee: free
Match programme: none available
Match entertainment: 8/10 

Wednesday, 16 March 2016


I am making a belated visit to a Vanarama National League game today. I did watch Worcester City game a few months ago but did not take my camera that day.

I have been looking at seeing Solihull Moors for a few weeks as they have been at the top of their division for a while now. They are playing the 'Trawler Boys' of Lowestoft Town, a team who I have never watched before and as they are in danger of relegation, will have everything to play for.

The forecast is good today with sunny spells predicted, although still cold.

My train journey was problem free and when I get to Solihull, it's sunny and the town centre is busy as usual. I have time to get a meal and a quick mooch around the shops, then hop on the bus which takes me to within half a mile of the ground. It lies behind the Jaguar-Daimler motor works and not far from Birmingham Airport, with planes taking off near by on a regular basis.

After entering the ground and buying a programme, I make for the far end of the ground to take my photos. I notice a big guy decked out in Lowestoft hat and scarf and who had been talking to a female photographer. I guess she must be the Lowestoft photographer, Shirley Whitlow, whose work I'd seen this morning on the club website. I talk to him and it's her husband Paul. He is full of information about the club and tells me that Solihull is one of the nearest clubs to them in this division.

Soon it's kick-off time and Solihull are in their usual strip of blue and yellow while Lowestoft are in their change strip of all white. I'm surprised to read that Solihull have yet to win against Lowestoft in the few games they have played against each other so far.

   (Solihull's Akwabi Assante, closely marked by 2 Lowestoft defenders)

The early exchanges see the home side on top although Henderson of Lowestoft hits a great shot which is turned around for a corner by the Solihull custodian, Lewis.

Solihull do take the lead they had been threatening to do in the 17th minute. Their right back Nottingham crosses for Liam Daly to power home a header (as shown below).

They have other chances to further their advantage, with Nottingham firing over the bar and Byrne's volley well saved by the Town keeper, Killip.

So 'The Moors' are on top and Lowestoft will have to up their game after the interval to get anything from this match.

During half-time, a number of Lowestoft fans come down to this end as their team will be attacking this goal in the next 45 minutes. Some are resplendent in colourful curly wigs and they have certainly been partaking of alcoholic refreshments today, judging by their cheery banter.

After the break, Solihull soon increase their lead, when Nottingham goes on a great run down the right and his cross from the right is met by the oncoming Assante who beats the keeper with his shot.

It's looking like an easy stroll for the league leaders but Lowestoft are thrown a lifeline when an attempted header back to their keeper by a defender is intercepted by Crowe who makes no mistake in despatching the ball in to the Solihull net. 

The goal greatly encourages the Trawler Boys and the rest of the half sees them largely on top.

 Despite their pressure though, they cannot produce an equaliser. They have their appeals for a penalty, close to full time, waived aside by the referee when a Lowestoft shot hits a defender's arm. Lowestoft's captain, Rossi Jarvis, complains loudly to the ref but is only rewarded with a yellow card for his efforts.

This win sees The Moors extend their lead at the top to 9 points over AFC Fylde in second place. They will have to hit better form though if they want to become league champions. Lowestoft on the other hand see Brackley and Telford draw away from them down the other end of the table after they have gained a draw and an away win respectively. 

Match admission: £10
Match programme: £2.50
Match attendance: 522
Match entertainment value: 6.5/10

Wednesday, 9 March 2016


A top of the table clash beckons me today as I head east of Birmingham to watch Chelmsley Town host Droitwich Spa at their ground in the village of Marston Green. It's in the Midlands Football League, 2nd Division. It will be another new ground for me.

The weather is promising,cold but with no rain likely to fall for a change.

This match has been on my radar and I have been encouraged to go as 1/ it will be a new ground for me 2/ Droitwich are a local team to me and have been doing well this season and 3/ the Communications Manager of Droitwich Spa, Ben Lloyd, has been in touch with me, as he has come across this Blog and has said he has enjoyed reading about my travels. He also said that it would be good if I could take photos for the club at this match.

I journey to Birmingham on the train and after a spot of shopping and some lunch, take the London Euston bound train from New Street station to get to Marston Green. When we are approaching the platform I can see the tower blocks of Chelmsley Wood in the near distance gleaming in the sunshine. 

Although Marston Green is classed as a village, it does boast a population of 5,000 and is basically part of the commuter belt for Birmingham, Solihull and probably London. While making the 20 minute walk to the ground, I can see several houses that have a cottage like look and gives an impression of a village atmosphere. There is countryside close by as well and with the sunshine and daffodils  in bloom by the roadside there is definitely a hint of Spring in the air.

I soon find the ground just to the left on the Coleshill Road, make my way through the small car park and turn right towards the club house, which is behind one end of the pitch.

This end has an entrance door, through the netting, (see above) through which the players go on to the pitch from the changing rooms. 

I find several Droitwich supporters in the club house and chat to Ben Lloyd before heading out to view the proceedings. It looks like that at least half of the spectators are from Droitwich today. The club have experienced an upturn in fortunes this season under the guidance of joint managers, Wayne Oliver and (ex-Worcester City player) Mark Owen.There has been talk of promotion in the Worcester News and the possibility of ground sharing with another local club, as Droitwich don't have the right facilities in place if they do finish in the top two.

Chelmsley Town club have been going since 1927 and are just behind Droitwich in the table, in 3rd place, while Rostance Edwards sit in top spot. Droitwich have also been unbeaten in their last 21 matches!

The players troop on to the pitch, with Chelmsley in light blue shirts and black shorts and shirts. Droitwich Spa are in their away strip today of white shirts, red shorts and socks.

      (Chelmsley captain, Ross Casey, tries to get a grip on his opponent)

It's a game with not much quality football on show to be honest, competitive though with both sides not giving each other an inch, which you expect in a match of this nature.

Droitwich Spa go close after 23 minutes when a free-kick is dinked in and their No.9, James Lemon, is just wide with his effort.

Chelmsley go even closer on the half hour when they have a shot from the right that clips the cross bar.

It's still goalless at the interval and it's a difficult call to predict who the likely winners might be today.

At half time I go in to the club house for a much needed cup of tea. It's a pretty good facility for a club of this size and both the bar and tea bar are doing a good trade.

Also apart from the main pitch, there is another at the back of it and a smaller one on the right side of it. On the other side the ground is bordered by housing.

So the second-half gets under way and it's the home team who come to the fore.

After 56 minutes Chelmsley are awarded a penalty when they have a player brought down in the area. Their No.11 , Mitchell Thompson, duly dispatches a shot to the Droitwich's keepers left and they quickly proceed to press home their advantage in the very next minute.

Their No.9, the burly Kieron Fitzgerald, attacks down the left of the visitor's area, draws the tackle from the Droitwich captain , Mike Seeley (as shown below) and skips past on his right before bearing down on goal and squeezes in the ball through the narrow angle and in to the net, despite the keeper being in close proximity. Very good goal!

For a big guy, Fitzgerald is very nimble on his feet. So now the Saltmen have a mountain to climb to get back in this match.

Despite stepping up their efforts Chelmsley hold firm, well marshalled in defence by the silver haired Ross Casey.

Near the end of full time, Chelmsley nearly add to their tally when their top scorer, Chris Lloyd first blazes over the bar and then has another shot saved at the near post.

In injury time though, Droitwich's top scorer, James Lemon scores with a shot from the left but it's come too late to save their unbeaten record.

I think the best team has definitely won today but I am sure that Droitwich can play better than this. This win sees Chelmsley hop over Droitwich in to 2nd place. It's going to be an interesting last few weeks of the season, with Chelmsley, Droitwich, Rostance Edwards and Alvis Sporting all in the running to win the Division 2 title. Alvis have several games in hand and an unbeaten league record but have the pressure of playing at least twice every week before the finish.

                       (Scene near the Marston Green village centre)

Match entertainment: 5/10
Match attendance: 75
Match entrance fee: Free
Match programme: None available