Archive for August, 2021

Marske United v Pickering Town, Saturday 21st August 2021, 3pm

August 30, 2021

After seeing an Extra Preliminary tie, I thought I’d keep my FA Cup streak going with a trip to a game in the Preliminary Round. It’s still thirteen steps from the Final, so I doubt that anyone will be thinking of Wembley yet.

I’ve been planning on seeing a game at Marske for a while but not managed it yet so the Marske United fixture against fellow Northern Premier League Division One East side Pickering Town at Mount Pleasant seemed like a good choice.

It was a tenner in with another two quid for a programme. As is the way I was then relieved of more coins for golden goal and raffle tickets. A mince pie and can of coke followed before I made my way to the far side of the pitch and took up a position on the rail.

There was a covered and seated stand opposite and a small raised standing platform a little further along. That one looked to be occupied by a group of regulars. To their right was a covered area with an ultras flag in front of it. The ultras consisted of four young lads who spent most of the game on their phones

Marske took an early lead that was created by a long throw from defender ‘Leabo’. His long flat trajectory was as good as a corner and hurling it into the box was a tactic that Marske used whenever they won a throw-in in the Pickering half.

The hosts doubled their lead inside the opening ten minutes when a cleverly weighted through ball from Matty Tymon was hit strongly enough to tempt the keeper to come for it. The pass didn’t carry sufficiently for him to reach the ball and fellow striker Adam Boyes was able to nip around him and make it two.

It’s the first time I’d seen Matty Tymon play since he was on the same under nines team as my son Tom twenty-two years ago. Matty was streets ahead of the rest of his team in those days, laying the ball off to players who would all then just run with it until dispossessed. He even made off the ball runs in an attempt to draw defenders who were not aware enough at that age to do anything other than move toward the ball.

Matty still looked a class act all these years on, with clever flicks and headers coupled with an ability to draw a foul if nothing was on. He added a third goal after twenty-odd minutes when it was his turn to receive the long throw, directing his header across the keeper and into the far corner.

Second half I moved around a bit and watched from the other side and then from behind the goal. It was more of the same on the pitch with Marske totting up the goals as the half went on. They got to seven without reply by the final whistle with their big striker Adam Boyes scoring five of them. One step fewer to Wembley.

Bootle v Millom Reserves, Wednesday 18th August 2021, 6pm

August 28, 2021

Jen and I recently spent a few days in the southern lake district with my daughter, the grandkids and the beagle. We stayed in glamping pods in Corney which were closer to an apartment than a tent. There were horses on the site and so my granddaughter was kept busy riding and brushing them whilst I played a bit of one-on-one football with the grandson. It turns out we each have the same trick of feinting to go one way with a drop of the shoulder and then treading on the ball and ending up on our arses. Maybe it’s hereditary.

Corney was handy for the beach at Silecroft, which was quiet enough for us to sometimes have it entirely to ourselves.

A highlight was finding a dead seal washed up. More for us than the seal I suppose.  As I’d previously had no idea what a seal’s teeth looked like it was interesting to see quantity and size of them. The beagle has a decent pair of jaws but I’d rather take a nip from him than a seal.

I’d noticed a football pitch when driving between the campsite and beach and on passing it one evening there were cars lining the road. That’s always a good sign of lion sightings in places like Kruger and it works just the same for lower league football in the middle of nowhere.

I parked up and had a wander over. There was indeed a game going on and after quizzing a fella on the railing I discovered that it was Bootle against Millom Reserves in the Furness Premier League. Millom is only a few miles up the road and a little digging around revealed that the league was tier fourteen in the pyramid.

At that level it can be difficult to get officials and this game had a couple of blokes running the line who looked as if they has been drawn from the crowd.

I stayed just long enough for the brief chat and a few photos as I had other stuff planned. If I’d hung around I’d have seen a few goals as it finished up five-two to Millom. I might have to check out their fixtures next time I’m over that way.

Ryhope Colliery Welfare v Goole, Wednesday 11th August 2021, 7.45pm

August 27, 2021

After being in quarantine for ten days my first opportunity for a game fell on day eleven after our return from Russia. There was an FA Cup Extra Preliminary tie replay going on just up the road at Ryhope and so I thought I’d go along to that. It’s strange, I have very little interest in the latter stages of the Cup these days, unless of course the Boro are involved, but I thought that getting along to the very first round of this year’s competition was much better than watching, say, a semi-final between the reserve sides of two Premier League teams on the telly.

The winners in this Extra Preliminary round will need to successfully negotiate a further five ties before reaching the First Round where the likes of Sunderland will enter the competition and seven more before the big clubs such as the Boro come in.  The losers of this game would take home little more than they would on Bullseye or Blankety-Blank with £375 for their trouble, with the winners picking up £1,125.

The fixture was at the Ryhope Recreation Ground. I’d passed through Ryhope on numerous occasions, mainly fifty years ago when visiting my grandparents in Sunderland, but I hadn’t been to the part of town with the ground. To get in you have to walk past a cricket pitch. Ryhope Cricket Club had a fixture the same evening and I passed to watch a couple of deliveries in a light that made sighting the ball difficult.

It was six quid to get in and I took up a position over on the far side facing the dugouts, tea-hut and the covered standing area. The pitch could best be described as undulating, with slopes and troughs in all directions. The grass had clearly been cut recently as the rakings were still littered across the surface, but the groundsman must have used a high setting on his mower as the grass was of a length to make pinging the ball along the ground at pace more difficult than it could have been.

Ryhope Colliery Welfare were in red stripes with visitors Goole in blue stripes, although for both of the teams the stripes only extended to the fronts of their shirts with the backs being a solid block of colour. At times this gave the impressions of there being four teams on the pitch.

Goole play in the nineth tier Northern Counties East Premier Division with Ryhope CW operating at the same level in the pyramid in Division One of the Northern League. Over recent years the Northern League had been considered to be one of the stronger leagues at that level but with promotions of the bigger clubs and the restructuring I’m not sure that it’s currently the case.

Goole opened the scoring after a one on one with the keeper. The striker didn’t connect as cleanly as he would have liked with his shot but then again neither did the keeper who got a hand to the ball but couldn’t prevent it from ending up in the net. That was the only goal of the first half and with rain in the air I switched sides at half-time for a view from inside the  covered standing area opposite.

Ryhope equalized in the second half and despite both teams going for it, the score stayed level at full time. In the first period of extra time the home side took the lead, only for Goole to peg it back in the second period.

With penalties looming Goole nicked a winner. In a strange quirk all five goals had been at the same end of the ground, in front of a small, covered stand that appeared to consist mainly of broken plastic sets. Maybe I should have braved the weather and stayed at that end.

Ural Yekaterinburg v Krasnador, Sunday 25th July 2021, 7.30pm

August 8, 2021

After last week’s Super Cup curtain-raiser the Russian Premier league has started its new season. I wanted to see a game that would tie in with a weekend away and that gave us options for fixtures at Rostov, Kazan or Yekaterinburg. The flight schedules made Yekaterinburg the most attractive destination and on that basis Jen and I headed nine hundred miles east into the Urals.

Yekaterinburg is probably best known as the place where the Russian royal family were done away with after the revolution. It a shame that we haven’t done the same. Whilst I wouldn’t advocate turning the machine guns on our own parasites I’d be happy to let each of them pick something out of the Argos catalogue and then send them into retirement.

The building where it happened was knocked down years ago with the site marked by a cross. There’s a big church near it but we were happy to view it from outside. I’m all churched out.

One of the more popular attractions in Yekaterinburg is a museum with tanks, planes and vintage cars. I’m not that taken with the military stuff as all tanks look the same to me but I was a little envious of the fellas who were rebuilding a large airplane from a pile of bits. I imagine that as it doesn’t have to be able to fly they could do what I used to do with Airfix models and just throw away any bits that were tricky to glue together.

The cars were better to look at. I’d guess that there were around a couple of hundred of them showing the evolution over the years. As someone who has no real knowledge about cars I was surprised how interesting I found them. The highlight was one with a snakehead horn. These should be standard for every vehicle.

Something else that struck me about Yekaterinburg was that there seemed to be a bit of street art around every corner. We were quite surprised to find a statue of Michael Jackson. You’d think that it would have been given the Romanov treatment. Mind you, it’s not as weird as Fulham having a statue of him outside of Craven Cottage. Although I think that has gone now with the change of ownership. Perhaps they should have doubled down with ten-foot-tall bronze likeness of Jimmy Savile outside the Cottage Pavilion.

Our hotel was only about half an hours walk away from the Centralny stadium. The route took us through a graveyard which was a bonus. I like the Russian practice of putting photos on the gravestones to show who is underneath. The section that we walked through was pretty well kept, at least near to the path where access was easy.

Krasnador were the visitors for the opening weekend fixture and I’d bought a couple of tickets for the match for a fiver a go earlier in the week. They were for the upper tier, along the side of the pitch. If I’d remembered the stadium layout from the World Cup I’d have opted for seats behind the goal as it’s the stadium with the temporary scaffolding seating. My recollection is that they were installed in order to meet tournament capacity rules with the intention of dismantling them once the World Cup was done.

We initially turned up at the wrong side of the stadium and had to do a half-circuit to sector C. There was a crowd outside of the entrance gates and upon trying to get in we were told by a steward that it was season tickets only due to covid. An online check revealed that earlier in the day the Yekaterinburg Mayor had issued a decree limiting admission to five hundred corporate tickets only.

As we’d travelled nine hundred miles I inquired about buying a couple of corporates but they were sold out. We had little choice but to retrace our steps and pop into a nearby Irish bar to watch the game in there. Or at least we would have done if the match had been on the telly. The clash with the Olympics meant that gymnastics was being shown instead.  Oh well. For what it’s worth Krasnador won three-nowt.

The failure to get inside the stadium means that the fixture joins that reasonably small tally of games that got a blog post but not a tick on the spreadsheet. It would have been ground number 372. I will therefore leave Russia having seen thirty-six matches in thirty-one different venues over the past twenty months. That’s not a bad effort considering there were two winter breaks and a lot of covid restrictions in that time.

Russia often gets a bad press in the media, but I’ve found it a great place to live and to watch football. I’ve not encountered any over-zealous policing, hooliganism or racial abuse of the players. I wish I could say the same for everywhere that I’ve gone along to a game.