On the ninth day of TBIR Christmas – The best Non-League Tales

Professional football is as dull as dishwater if you are familiar with the Non-League game. We don’t just have player injured with a calf strain, we have players missing after falling asleep in a bin on a stag do in Marbella and missing their flight home.  What about when the game has to be delayed because there are no more balls available? Weekly occurrences in the grass-roots game.  So here are three stories from this year that made us chuckle.

3rd Place – Hands up who wants to go in goal?
gattsOn the 27th December, Peacehaven & Telscombe faced a bit of a dilemma.  Their regular keeper, Tony di Bernando had decided to head to Canada for his Christmas holidays, and without any junior sides, they went into the game against high-flying Maidstone United without a keeper.  Step forward midfielder, and former Sussex County cricketer, Joe Gatting (nephew of Mike) to go between the sticks.  Not only did free-scoring Maidstone only beat Gatting once but then in the last-minute when The Magpies were awarded a penalty, Joe stepped up as the regular penalty taker to slam the ball home without any fuss.

2nd Place – Oops…
stream_imgGuernsey are at a slight disadvantage when it comes to playing away, having to rely on the elements more than any other team when they need to fly to the main land.  There have been a few times when flights have been cancelled or severely delayed due to the weather but back in October their game at Carshalton Athletic had to be cancelled after the Green Lions turned up for the wrong flight.

It hasn’t been the best of seasons so far away from the island as the team struggle to get all of their players available due to work commitments to travel.  Cue heavy defeats at Merstham (8-0) and Hythe Town (6-0) but they never got the chance to take the field in Surrey after a misunderstanding made by secretary Mark Le Tissier saw them turn up at the airport for a 8.30am flight, some 90 minutes after their actual booking had left the tarmac.  Oops.

1st Place – The team of the season so far?
In the 2014/15 season, which English team had the longest unbeaten run?  Of course it’s Chelsea! Wrong…look a bit further down the league.  Past Crewe and Hartlepool at the foot of League Ones and Two respectively.  Down past the Vanarama and even underneath the Ryman Premier League to the South Division.  Here among the likes of Three Bridges, South Park and of course, Walton Casuals is Burgess Hill Town.  They finished 2014 in third place in the league – nothing so special about that really, but they still haven’t lost a league game.  In fact, in all competitions, Dartford are the only team to have beaten the Hillians.  Still in the League Cup, the County Cup and of course, The FA Trophy after a stunning win away at Aldershot Town, three leagues above.  Their talisman, Greg Luer signed off his time at the club in the last game of 2014 away at Worthing with a hatrick before he heads for a dream move to Hull City.

Tomorrow – Day ten and we look forward to where we want to go in 2015


Magnus Invictus

I have found myself occupied quite a lot when the Daggers have been away this season, meaning that I have only attended a handful of away games this season. I think my last trip with the Daggers was the FA Cup defeat at Bristol City, back at the start of November. Before that, I think attended both Scunthorpe and Morecambe, which means that it has only been three away trips this campaign. Which all meant that it was a bit of a shock to the system, when the alarm went off at 6am this morning for our trip to Newport county.

The signs were not good when Dagenham Dan sent a text message on Friday afternoon informing me of a pitch inspection. This resulted in hasty checking of both clubs websites, as well as the Newport message boards, to gauge opinion as to whether the game would be on. A read through of the threads gave the impression that the game would be off, so it was more in hope than anticipation that we made our journey to Victoria Road.

Arriving at the club about forty five minutes before our departure time, there were a few standing in the car park, while the rest were in the bar. With two coaches travelling, we were able to board the transport, and most had double seats to themselves.

Unfortunately, that is as far as we got. The pitch inspection was scheduled for 9am, and as we sat around waiting for the seemingly inevitable postponement, the alternatives were already being discussed. About ten past nine, the news came through on twitter that the game was off, and suddenly the coaches were emptying and people were leaving. Continue reading