After notching up 90 games in 2013 we have seen a fair few crackers, a lot of average matches and then there is the pot that you want to immediately erase from your brain. I could take the category as the worst for my teams (West Ham or Lewes) but that would be unfair – the three “losers” here are those games that the neutral would have been itching to leave from well before the hour mark. These are not necessarily representative of the clubs themselves, just the fayre they served up on the particular day.
3rd Place – East Thurrock United 1 Lewes 0 – 23rd February 2013
I only actually saw the last half hour of this torrid affair in Essex but by all accounts I saw the best bits of the game. I’d elected to watch Witham Town instead of Lewes, knowing full well the type of team and performance I would see. At half-time in the Witham Town game I felt The Rooks needed my support so I drove down only to find a depressed group of fans behind the goal who had been frozen with boredom. Neither side created a chance, it was freezing cold and by the time I arrived they had run out of any food. Lewes had lost their previous two visits to Corringham 1-0 so it was no surprise that they obliged the Essex side once more.
2nd Place – Dartford 1 Ebbsfleet United 0 – 29th October 2013
Having grown up equidistant between the two towns, separated by the A2 I knew of the bitter rivalry between them. There was no love lost from Gravesend when Dartford went pop twenty years ago, having to start again in the County Leagues, meaning opportunities to play each other have been few and far between in the last two decades. But drawn against each other in the FA Cup, there was sure to be a great atmosphere when they played at Stonebridge Road. Nearly 3,000 fans watched a decent 1-1 draw, over three times the average attendance, and I couldn’t be happier with a draw as it meant I could go to the replay at Princes Park. Alas, it wasn’t anything like I was expecting. Apart from two penalties, one scored, one saved, it was a game lacking in any passion that you would associate with a) the FA Cup and b) a local derby. Talk on the forums was of a bumper 3-4,000 crowd but just under 2,000 attended, with the atmosphere quite muted. The home fans talked of dull and negative tactics and that the club didn’t want to move forward (since this game they have drawn one and lost twelve!). You have to admire what has happened at Dartford in the last ten years but for this night it was a visit to forget.
1st Place – Valeciennes 0 Lille 1 – 30th November 2013
There was no debate about the worst game of the year. Perhaps it was because we eventually arrived at the Stade du Hainaut with high expectations of a cracking atmosphere and a decent game between two local rivals. Perhaps it was the fact that we were in the holiday mood or perhaps it was the four pints of Leffe pre-match. But this was as flat as an ironed pancake. Many of Lille’s fans had thrown a strop and decided not to travel, pissed off that this was a Combi game. Add in the French rule about no alcohol allowed in the stadium at all and then the incessant rain and it was a heady mixture of dullness. The stadium is just a few years old, but it adored with headache-inducing red everywhere and has a real soul less feel once inside. Add in some officious stewards, a freezing wind and a home side who would have struggled to score if Lille would have left the pitch and it was hands down the worst game we saw in 2013.