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

Has anyone seen Grays?

Last weekend was a busy one for the FA. Not only did we have the whole Lord Treason affair but in one of the backrooms at Wembley Stadium sat a man who decided the fate of literally hundreds of non-league clubs as he worked out the league allocations for the coming season.

Last season saw three high profile clubs go to the wall mid-season in Chester City, Farsley Celtic and Kings Lynn. Add to this a number of clubs who had breached league rules and some relegation/promotion enforced geographical anomalies and you can see what a difficult job was on the cards. So what was decided?
Last weekend was a busy one for the FA. Not only did we have the whole Lord Treason affair but in one of the backrooms at Wembley Stadium sat a man who decided the fate of literally hundreds of non-league clubs as he worked out the league allocations for the coming season. Continue reading

Welcome back to the dark days of football

It's all about the ball

Saturday 1st May 2010 should go down as the most memorable date in the history for Boreham Wood FC for the reason they finally won promotion to step 2 of the non-league football pyramid.  Unfortunately it wont, or at least by the vast majority of the 1,100 fans who were in the neat and tidy Meadow Park ground on Saturday.  It will be remembered for an assault on the Kingstonian captain, Francis Duku after a fan ran onto the pitch in the 50th minute (also see an excellent piece by Two Footed Tackle here)

The good old days - minge and a blow up doll

I do not know what is worse.  The fact that this individual felt he could and should take such action, or that the club have so far simply glossed over the fact.  A look on their home page simply mentions the win that elevates the club to their highest league position in their 62 year history, yet nothing about the incident, or the number of fans who continued to encroach onto the pitch before the final whistle.  It is also quite a while since  I have heard songs such as “No Surrender” sung at a domestic game in this country, quite what the group of “fans” were trying to achieve was beyond me.  One can only hope for the sake of the club that the crowd yesterday, swelled by nearly four fold, contained the elements that wont be returning next year. It was interesting to see that the club had used segregation in the ground and the police presence was high for a club of this size, as if they expected some incident. Continue reading