Irvine Meadow

West of Scotland  1st Division
Irvine Meadow 0 Girvan 0
Gate £6
Atten 250+

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Formed in 1897 'Medda' are one of the more successful junior clubs still playing today and at one stage they were invited to become a Scottish senior team but declined preferring to stay as they were. Irvine Meadow were the first junior club in Scotland to have a home game televised when the 1958 Scottish junior cup tie against Fauldhouse United was shown on Scottish TV. 
The mention of junior football in Irvine conjures up thoughts of Irvine Meadow XI, Irvine Victoria, cross-river rivalries and annual Marymass derbies. But in the days before the Meadow and the Vics were founded there was a varied bunch of junior clubs in the town. Irvine Eglinton, Irvine Roslin, Irvine Caledonia, Vale of Clyde and Irvine Celtic all had relatively short life spans of just a few years. Irvine Celtic, incidentally, were the inhabitants of Meadow Park and it was there that a newly formed juvenile club began playing, taking on the ground name as the club name. The fledgling Irvine Meadow XI, sometimes mistakenly called Irvine Celtic Meadow XI in the local press at the time, began to make a name for them selves, but it was to be another two years before they moved up to the junior grade in 1897. 

Where there was an Irvine Celtic, it was perhaps inevitable that there should be an Irvine Rangers, too. Irvine Rangers had originally formed in 1890 as a juvenile club, but later became juniors. The club had a nomadic existence, playing home matches on Irvine Moor then, as juniors, moving to Quarry Road, then moving again to a pitch just behind Bank Street, which later became a greyhound racing track. The club’s most successful season was 1892-93 when they became the first Irvine junior club to win the Ayrshire Cup. They also won the Irvine & District Cup that season. But it was hard to keep the club going due to the heavy unemployment in the area and eventually they closed down due to dwindling support in 1895.

That same year, some young lads from the Quarry Road area of the town formed Meadow XI as a juvenile club. They successfully asked Irvine Celtic for the use of Meadow Park and its pavilion when Irvine Celtic were not playing at home. The new club’s first ever game was a 2-1 defeat at home against Overton Thistle 2nd XI and after a few more disappointing results, they finally settled into a better organised manner of playing and began to win matches regularly. Then in December 1895, Irvine Celtic, who had been struggling for some time, decided to close down, leaving Meadow XI as sole occupants, though not owners, of Meadow Park.

Meadow Park is a lovely little ground and is dominated by the impressive main stand painted in team colours.The rest of the ground is open terracing.

Decent tea bar purveying the usual goodies found north of the border. All at sensible prices.
The game itself was a cagey affair with few clear cut chances. The blustery wind and spells of precipitation made it awkward for both teams.
Both teams are within touching distance from the leaders with games in hand. So both have all to play for. 

 A friendly welcome from the locals made this a most enjoyable visit despite the lack of goals.


Radcliffe Borough

Northern Premier League - Division North
Radcliffe Borough 0 

Lancaster City 3
atten 186 

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Fantastic day spent with the very friendly folks at Radcliffe Borough. The welcome from the Radcliffe Chairman was a warm as the spring sunshine. Interesting chap who is full of great enthusiasm in moving the club forward. Being a local lad his enthusiasm is infectious and good luck to him.
Great vibe around the ground with lots of families and youngsters.

League leaders the Dolly Blues were in town and in truth they gave Radcliffe a good run around and the result was never in doubt. But to be fair to Radcliffe they tried to play the game the right way but due to some inexperience and a bobble here and there, they came unstuck as the Dolly's didn't dilly dally !

Champagne job for yours truly to complete the Northern Premier League ! 

Railway FC

Hope Valley League - Division 'A'
Railway FC 3 Youlgrave United 2
atten 12

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The village of Peak Dale is located a couple of miles north of Buxton, between two limestone quarries. The village used to house quarry workers and their families. The sight of the pitch and the quarries in the distance whilst descending into the village is a sight to behold. The Hope Valley never disappoints in that department. 

The Railway FC manager aka 'Porky pig' should really be known as the local 'Roman Abramovich' as not so long a go the club were on their knees after the old management left with a few thousand pounds worth of debts. Porky didnt want the club to die to he paid the debt himself which means they are still around today.Having spent most of his life in the area he said he just had to do something.
I had a great chat with Porky and he asked “ have you visited FC Trunk yet ?” …. “well, we beat them 9-0 and we are shit !” 

The game itself was enjoyable with both teams giving it their best shot. The ref did fine and the game flowed accordingly. As always in this league the goals were not in short supply.That makes the six matches I have seen in this league this season has produced 35 goals, I am certainly not complaining.
The scenery was as usual eye catching and another enjoyable afternoon was had in a league that never disappoints.


Northern Premier League
Marine 3 Frickley 3
atten 338

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Forget the saying a 'game of two halves' because this was a game of two-thirds & one-third ! For 70 minutes Frickley dominated the match from the start.
17 minutes later they were 2-0 up with two excellent goals. The second was a 20 yard blockbuster volley.

When Frickley made it 3-0 they were in cruise control.  But within 18 minutes it was 3-3. The tipping point was when the Frickley goalie caught the ball just outside the box, he was sent off and they had no reserve goalie on the bench. He was instead enjoying his matchday refreshments in the crowd. 

Frickley decided to have no sub goalie on the bench for the first time today.   Big mistake because it came back to haunt them in a must win again.

Loads of shirt pulling by Marine players but the ref said he never saw anything all afternoon. The ref also 'missed' the nasty elbow smashed against a Frickley defender's nose , blood everywhere, and his nose ended up like a corkscrew. The ref also 'missed' the WWE wrestling body slam on the Frickley player. Very poor ref who definitely needs to visit an optometrist on Monday morning.

The last 15 mins was fantastic end to end nervous tension as both sides pressed for the winner.

The 'Scouse House' was purveying food and beverages in the usual fashion. Very good club shop. All in all an enjoyable re-visit after a 7 year gap.


Cleethorpes Town

FA Vase 5th Round
Cleethorpes Town 3
Atherton Colleries 2
atten 588

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This is what the Vase is all about. Two teams flying high in different leagues, both with good wining records to protect and both half decent. Once again the traveling Colls 'barmy army' made a massive contribution to the occasion. Lots of inflatable instruments on show , fancy dress costumes, green wigs and 'Marcal Marceau' look-a-likes and plenty of noise. 

Colls took an early leave via a headed own goal after superb in-swinging free kick was delivered perfectly with power and pace. Colls pushed forward and could/should of have at least two more before making it 0-2 as a result of a quick break. But the tipping point of the match came moments before HT as Cleethorpes grabbed an unlikely goal. Then within ten minutes of the restart it they well level at 2-2. 
But as the second half unfolded Cleethorpes were first to virtually every ball and Atherton produced very little. Colls captain missed a sitter , mainly through fatigue. As extra time beckoned Cleethorpes got a corner and somehow the ball trickled in the net for the winner. But Colls had one last throw of the dice and very nearly scored an unlikely equaliser. 
The Colls bench were devastated but in truth based on the second half alone Cleethorpes deserved the victory and a place in the QF
I suspect it didn't help matters that they could hear the celebrations in the adjoining changing rooms.

Classy touch from a young Cleethorpes ball boy who gave an Atherton Collieries young lad a big 'hard luck' hug at the end - lovely gesture. 

Atherton players devastated after conceding a last gasp goal

Deflated ...

Linlithgow Rose

Scottish Junior Cup 4th Round

Linlithgow Rose 4 
Blantrye Victoria 0 
atten ca350
Pies £1.25p (delicious, best of season) 

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After an easy train journey up , arrived in Scotland to find Edinburgh in thick fog. Linlithgow itself lies halfway to Falkirk in West Lothian.
It seems like it would be a busy place in summer with visitors and Linithgow Palace birthplace of Mar Queen of Scots being the highlight.
It is fantastic
ancient architecture and is well worth a visit. 

Linlithgow Rose are one of the largest and best supported clubs in the juniors and won the Junior Cup three times between 2002-2010. Between the wars Linlithgow Rose played at Mains Park in the town; they have played at Prestonfield since 1949. They have a string of honours in the league and regional cups and have steadily built upon their success, developing a ground that is not only the envy of nearly every other club in the Juniors but some in the Scottish League, too.
The ground is immaculately maintained, dominated by a smart seated stand built above the original pavilion in 2001 along one side and with a neat, covered terrace along the opposite side. Under here is located a marvellous tea bar which purveys steak pies, bridies and the most satisfying lentil soup among other delicacies. The social club dominates the end nearest the town, its white-painted exterior walls. The other end is a grassed bank where local youngsters carried on a never-ending game of football throughout the afternoon. 

The Scottish Junior Cup has been held every year since its inception in 1896 and is an unseeded knockout competition. The final is always held at an SPL club.
The game itself was played out on a bright yet foggy and very chilly afternoon. The first half was mundane with few clear cut chances. But in the second half Rose dominated and ran out easy winners.

Long journey back to base which was only made worse by a train full of Newcastle & Rotherham supporters making plenty of unnecessary noise.
But it was still an enjoyable day and was well worth the effort. 

Bowers & Pitsea

Ryman League North
Bowers & Pitsea 1 
Witham Town 5
atten 217

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'ready to rumble'

 "I didnt see that coming ffs " was the comment made by a shell shocked Bowers supporter on hearing the final whistle. But in truth Witham fully deserved their emphatic victory. The 4th Witham goal was a top corner , 25 yard curler. But by then the game was won.

Witham's 3rd goal was a penalty (softish) but to decide who took it , two Witham players decided by a game of rock,paper,scissors. It was emphatically dispatched.
At the end of the game all Witham players went over to celebrate with the solitary Witham fan , who to his credit never stopped singing. He is in fact a TV star from Channel 4's The Undateables Programme !

Bowers had just rattled off 9 straight wins, so i suppose it had to end sooner rather than later. But they are a club on the up curve and i have no doubt they will be right up near the top come the end of the season. Bowers gaffer is a class act and i enjoyed meeting him. I enjoyed the ground as it was full of nooks and crannies but just a shame i caught Bowers on an off day. Excellent visit in every respect.

The club began life in an old wooden cricket pavilion in 1947 on the site of what is now Pitsea Market. A move to Gun Meadow, Pitsea saw the purchase of a prefabricated building which was used as changing rooms. The building of the new A13 from Canvey to the Five Bells roundabout saw the compulsory purchase of the ground and the club's move to its current home at Crown Avenue, Pitsea. The ground was purchased from Basildon Development Corporation along with a prefabricated building which still serves as the dressing rooms. After the war years, once stability had come to the nation, many new sporting clubs sprang up. One such club was Bowers United, started in 1946 by Bert Salmon, playing at Gun Meadow, Pitsea, in the Thurrock & Thameside Combination, he was to be joined a few years later by his brother Len Salmon, who passed away and is sorely missed by everyone within the club. The biggest tribute Bowers Sport & Social Club could give him was to name his beloved football stadium after him.

East Grinstead Town

Ryman League South
East Grinstead Town 0 

Greenwich Borough 5
Gate £9
Atten 151
Food Large hot dog & onions £2.50 

(over cooked & served by Mrs Grumpy)

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Late choice of game but very glad i made the effort to visit. The ground was much better than expected. Impressively maintained. Lovely modern clubhouse. Two stands both on raised banking offering excellent viewing positions. Greenwich stung the wasps with their clinical forward play and swatted them aside with the minimum of fuss. It could have easily been double figures such was the dominance. 
Nice touch from the East Grinstead players at the end of the game to go and thank the fans personally for their support despite being run ragged for the the last ninety minutes.

Very enjoyable day out in leafy West Sussex