On the second day of TBIR Christmas – The worst game in 2012

For every six goal cracker we have seen there have been a number of games that were immediately forgettable. Whilst we have traveled hundreds, even thousands of miles to watch the beautiful game, you cannot guarantee the match will be decent. So let’s celebrate those games which gave football a bad name in 2012.

3rd worst game in 2012 – Aveley 0 Lewes 0
7054392011_6a5b1b20cf_zLewes were dead and buried in the hunt for a play off spot until mid March, and then all of a sudden the squad discovered their mojo and went on an amazing run that saw them move into the play off spots with just a few games to go. Despite other teams having games in hand, the Rooks could almost touch end of season glory with a win in deepest, darkest Essex. Aveley’s Mill Road ground has seen better days. In fact it is one of the most desolate grounds in the Non League, held together with sticking tape and hard to love. Anything less than a win for the home side and they would be relegated. Banker away win, surely? Alas no. It was one of those games that you want to create a time machine and go back two hours and visit Lakeside instead.

2nd worst game in 2012 – New York Red Bulls 0 Sporting Club Kansas 2
8006064292_8089eb5917_bNothing demonstrates American’s love of sport more than a scheduled midweek game in the MLS on the same night the Yankees are playing. With a few minutes to kick off you could count the crowd in the Red Bull Arena with your hands and toes. Whilst the club have build a brand new stadium (albeit in the middle of nowhere), and have marketed themselves well in the Tri-State area, the fans don’t really appreciate them enough to make a mid-week game at 7pm when the Yankees are also playing. But this game was bad, not just because of the lack of atmosphere but because the home side, with talented players such as Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill simply couldn’t be bothered to raise themselves to play. It was a torrid game, punctuated by two goals from the away team that gave them all three points.

Worst game in 2012 – Ilford 0 Thamesmead Town 0
8060623821_af061df1c4_zIt is incredibly hard for Non League clubs in the area around west Essex/London borders to build a supporters base. Within a ten minute drive of Ilford there is a Premier League side, two nPower clubs and over a dozen Non League teams. Consequently clubs like Ilford have to fight for every fan. This game paired the two of the worst supported teams in the Ryman League North, with average attendances of 54 and 49 respectively. I’m sure the fact that they play at a municipal athletics ground hardly encourages floating fans, but games like this don’t help either. I watched for 45 minutes before I had to depart but in that time I didn’t see one chance on goal from either side. One half is not a reflection of a season, and I appreciate the predicament they are both in, but there has to be a loser for every winner and this year it is Ilford and Thamesmead Town. Sorry chaps.

The Bourne Identity

After three and a half hours of watching horses (and riders) jumping over the same fences I needed some excitement.  It is tough spending so much time around “horsey” types.  They tend think they are better than us footballing types, with their jodphurs on and sitting a glass of champagne, whilst we were tucking into our pork pies and it is not a world I ever want to have to socialise in.  So when our Olympic session ended at 2pm I eyed up a return to normality with a trip to a Non League Pre-Season friendly.  One had my name all over it – a “new” ground for me and also an opportunity to do some Ryman League scouting – Sittingbourne.

Just over an hour later I was pulling up outside Bourne Park, part of the Central Park complex in Sittingbourne.  Alas, it shares nothing but the name with the famous “lungs” of New York City.  Central Park, Sittingbourne is a Greyhound stadium, surrounded by industrial units, where as Central Park, New York is surrounded by world-famous museums.  However, as all good Kent Non League aficionados will know, Sittingbourne FC no longer play at the Greyhound Stadium – they play in the idylically named “lower field”. Continue reading

It’s not a results business is it?

“Well I want you to understand somethin’. To me, being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It’s not about winning. It’s about you and your relationship to yourself and your family and your friends”

So much pressure is put on sports players to perform. Win at all cost seems to be the motto at all levels of the game we should love. And why should we love it? Because it at the end of the day it is supposed to be a past time, something to enjoy, to relieve our stress of an ever increasing hard life. But there is more to life than the pursuit of winning. There is enjoyment.

Relevance? Well ask any of the 600 or so Lewes fans how much they enjoyed the second half of the game versus Hendon last week. Whilst the last few minutes were nervous to say the least, the outstanding display from the team in the opening period of the half was scintillating. Attacking football, played with heart, passion and belief is all that our fans can hope for.

I have been brought up watching West Ham. The Academy. Brooking, Devonshire, Di Canio. Happy to be losing 4-3 than grinding out a 1-0 win. That is why so many people used to consider the Hammers their second team. But all of that has changed now – money has become more important than enjoyment and so it is all about the result and not the performance. And that is why I get my kicks at the likes of Aveley’s Mill Field, one of the least aesthetically pleasing grounds we will come across on our tour of the Ryman Premier League this season. Continue reading

Derby Day part 4 – A double helping of Essex United

What a day this promised to be.  Three (well two and a half) fiercely contested local derbies, either side of the River Thames, which thanks to some fortuitous scheduling, that I could go to, as well as still putting in some “Fuller Festive Family Fun”.  Christmas is all about spending time with your loved ones, catching up on the events of the year and generally being around those nearest and dearest to you.  But when the words “Let’s go to the sales” are mentioned, all love goes out the window and football becomes a viable option.  Hence, when the three Fuller girls all expressed a wish to go shopping, I played the football get out of jail free card and planned my day of hot and spicy local derbies.

First up was a trip under the Thames to Essex for the “Battle of the M25 junction 28” as they call it in these parts. Billericay Town sat proudly on top of the table before a ball was kicked.  Despite their nearest rivals all winning yesterday, their amble goal difference of plus 27 saw them safely sit in first place.  Visitors AFC Hornchurch lay in fourth with a game in hand and just four points below.  So a win for either side today could be pivotal in the final shake up. Continue reading

Back of the NaNetti

My bwin betting account is looking a bit low these days. After being taken to the cleaners in the various sports in the past few weeks, including backing Arsenal to win at Old Trafford a few weeks ago I rose early this morning for the Rugby World Cup.  The Little Fuller’s were still asleep so their pocket money went on France to win by 50 points versus Japan.  I broke the news to them at 9am that there wouldn’t be any cash in their pocket this week, due to “Extenuating circumstances”.  I quickly scraped together a few more pounds and put it on Argentina to win with an eleven point start.  Phew! I was redeemed..the children could have sweets once more.  Or should I just put the lot on a healthy Lewes win?

Of course I shouldn’t put these damn iPhone Apps mean that just a few seconds later I had Lolly’s weekly wage on a Lewes HT/FT and Littlest Fuller’s on a 4-0 win. Ninety minutes we could all be dining on ambrosia…or gruel.

It is fair to say that this week hasn’t been one of my finest.  A few little “stresses” at work have resulted in some early mornings and long nights.  Then I had an Intellectual Property issue, and finally someone nicked by car.  Or so I was led to believe.  Landing from Denners on Thursday I turned on my phone to have a dozen missed calls.  I got hold of CMF to see what the issue was.  “Be prepared for some bad news.”  I put down my pint glass. “Someone has nicked your car”. Stinker.  Sitting in the boot was a new pair of football socks. Continue reading