Two down, ten to go

So after the excitement of Lincoln Moorlands Railways FC in the extra preliminary round which was a rip roaring match we headed off to Grantham Town where a jet lagged induced snooze during their game with Dunkirk is best not mentioned.  The “third round” of the FA Cup is actually called the First Round Qualifying and features 232 teams, some of which entering the competition for the first time.

Well, 232 is actually 231 this year as due to the fall out of the Pakistani cricket team match fixing incident, Croydon Athletic’s future had been brought into question and so their tie with Kingstonians was awarded to the home team.  Obviously, we paid a great deal of attention to the draw when it was made in late August, trying to find the perfect tie.  With two little Fullers to look after as CMF was basically going out on the piss all day with her friends (I ask you – if I suggested something similar there would be a riot!) I had to balance football interest with child friendly activities. Continue reading

See Urchins

”And so the end is near”…with just a few days left until the start of the Premier League and Non-league seasons there was still time to fit in one more friendly.  And could we have found a better one that just across the water in the heart of the Essex commuter land.  Hornchurch has some interesting memories for me.  A few years before the beautiful CMF came into my life I dated an Essex girl.  Well, dated was stretching it a bit.  Culture was not high on her agenda, but she knew every lay by in and around Upminster and Hornchurch.  Her Dad worked next to Hornchurch Stadium and threatened me on a number of occasions to “take me daarn the Urchins”.  Somehow I managed to avoid that treat as by all accounts the place was a “right dump”.  Before I incur the wrath of any Hornchurch fans this was in 1992 – some time before the club hit the highs and then the lows of the mid-2000’s. Continue reading

Some unfinished business…

One year ago to the day EFW’s Danny Last rang me up.  “Stu” he said “I’ve got a plan.  Let’s sponsor a couple of players, make it into a competition and have some fun.”  Never one to turn down a challenge nor missing an opportunity to put something back into the grass roots of the game, we came up with the EFW/TBIR Challenge and picked two players at Lewes who we would both sponsor, and like a real life fantasy football, would award them points for their contributions.  You can read about the rules here.

As we know the season was a tough one for Lewes and both Sam Crabb and Ryan Storrie found themselves squeezed out of the first team and both deciding to seek their chances elsewhere.  So we put the cup back in the trophy cabinet, and the champagne on ice, trying to work out a way to award it to the winner. Continue reading

The school of hard knocks

First week of the summer holidays and the weather is crap.  Of course it is.  Just as we prepare to that the TBIR roadshow down to Wales we get dull grey skies and rain.  So we delayed heading off until later in the day, and as we were heading west it would be rude not to take in a game on the way.  The old TBIR crystal ball came out (far more accurate than that Paul the Octopus fellow) and the name Wealdstone floated up through the mist.

It is hard to imagine that just thirty years ago Wealdstone were probably the most feared team in the non-leagues (and in the lower reaches of the Football League as well).  In those days the Football League was a closed shop, with the 92 clubs all trying to keep the status quo and young upstarts like Wealdstone out of their top table.  Despite winning every trophy going in the non-leagues including the Gola League (the forerunner of today’s Blue Square Premier), Wealdstone were kept out. Continue reading

A new beginning…

It may have escaped your attention but a revolution has been going on down on the south coast.  Last week, amongst all of the noise coming out of South Africa, a long drawn out story eventually had a happy ending.  Lewes FC became a Community club.  This move from private ownership to a Community Benefit Society had been under negotiation for some time, coming off the back of a turbulent few years for the Rooks which resulted in some last gasps saves from winding up orders in the past 6 months.

This was no “Glazer Out” take over, nor did the fans turn up at the ground in strange coloured scarves wanting their heritage back.  As with most things relating to Lewes it was done in a dignified manner, with scarmongering kept to a minimum.  Nor will the vast majority of the fans be saying good riddance to the old directors.  On the contrary they were responsible for the clubs rise up the non-leagues in the past few years.  They invested their own money in the club to help get Lewes on the map, and to a large extend achieved this very means.  Ten years ago when Martin Elliott and Kevin Powell stepped in, the club were in the old Ryman Division Three with basic facilities.  Today the ground, in my opinion, is one of the nicest to watch a non-league game at and has real character, mixed with some half decent facilities, and of course has witnessed non-league football at the highest level. Continue reading