Win Wigan Athletic and Manchester City signed FA Cup Final balls


FA Cup with Budweiser logoThe Ball is Round has teamed up with the official FA Cup sponsors, Budweiser, to offer one lucky fan the chance to win a pair of footballs signed by this year’s FA Cup finalists, Wigan Athletic and Manchester City.

Wembley Stadium played host to one of the most dramatic finals in FA Cup history on Saturday as Ben Watson headed home a last minute goal to give Wigan Athletic their first major trophy in their 81-year history.

Before the match Budweiser premiered an epic Fan Film, embodying the magic of The FA Cup through the eyes of the fans who make it so special.

The film tells the story of this season’s FA Cup from the fan’s perspective and continues Budweiser’s commitment to bring The FA Cup closer to fans. Over the course of the competition thousands of photos have been submitted via Twitter using #tothedream. You can watch the film here

One image from Lewes FC, submitted by TBIR to #tothedream even made it onto Wembley Way as part of a display of images taken throughout the course of the FA Cup.

To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize simply email tbir@gmx.co.uk the answer to this question, along with your name, age and telephone number:

How many minutes of stoppage time does the Fourth Official indicate in the Budweiser Fan Film?

a) 3
b) 4
c) 5

Competition closes at 12pm (midday) on 22nd May 2013

Competition is open to 18+ and UK residents only. Terms and conditions apply.

Winning Participant will be informed via email by 3pm on 22nd May 2013. The Winning Participant must confirm acceptance of the prize via return email by no later than 3pm on 24th May 2013.

Please ensure you read full terms and conditions available at http://tsandcs.budweiser.co.uk/budweiser/tbir before entering the competition.

© 2013 AB InBev UK Limited, all rights reserved. Please drink Budweiser responsibly.

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Living the dream.


I was on the phone as I wandered down the steps of Wembley Park tube station and nearly missed it.  In fact I had to do a comedy double-take as my eye caught a glimpse of silver.  There on the wall was a picture.  Not just any picture.  But one that simply summed up the magic of the FA Cup.

8730131244_7aae835fe5_b (1)A silver foil FA Cup….but one not only featuring the badge of the mighty Rooks, but also one I had taken.  There, on the wall, about to be seen by 80,000 people.  The cup, made by Laura Brooks, wife of Club Sec Kev, was the property of young George when he took it along to Lewes’s game against Hendon, ironically played just a long throw-in away at Wembley FC.  A beaming smile spread all the way from Wembley to Brighton.

Manchester City 0 Wigan Athletic 1 – Wembley Stadium – Saturday 11th May 2013
I was here to take in the final, thanks to Budweiser.  Pre-match hospitality was top-notch and I wasn’t one of those fans whose seats are always empty 10 minutes after half time on the TV.  The match report has been read a million times by now but who didn’t cheer (apart from City fans) when Ben Watson’s header hit the back of the net.  Sitting among the City fans I allowed myself an “oooh” and then suppressed a smile, as too did the guests around me.  In one simple nod of the ball, the magic of the FA Cup returned to our hearts.  Yes, the FA have ripped the soul out of the tournament, but even as a neutral, fuelled with free food and beer, it was a day never to forget..

To the dream….


Tomorrow I will be attending my first ever FA Cup Final at Wembley stadium.  Even though I’m not a Wigan Athletic or a Manchester City fan, I am still very excited…oh, and those top chaps at Budweiser have only gone an included a couple of my pictures in the official promotional video, To the dream.  Happy days.

Wigan 1 Morecambe 0 – Football wins over the weather again


Spare a thought for those fans who embark on marathon journeys to the other end of the country to watch their side at this time of the year.  Who would be mad enough to make such a trip?  Step forward the Daggers Diary Team.

The last Saturday before Christmas is a busy day. Whether it’s the last few (or all) of the presents to be bought, meeting friends or delivering to those you won’t see over the festive period, the last few days can be a bit of a rush. All this helps to explain why, as we set out from a still dark Victoria Road, there are only two dozen fellow travelers on the long, long journey up to the north-west.

There are probably several factors that can be attributed to the lack of people making the journey. For a start, the leaving time from Victoria Road is 6am, which means that we’ll be around ninety minutes into the journey before we see the sunrise. Another possibility is that, with a coach cost of £25 per person and money tight at this time of year, it’s just proved to be too an expensive a day out. Plus if people still need to do shopping, then this is a day that probably could be spent doing that instead. I have no idea what people used to do when we didn’t have shops open on a Sunday.

Last weekends win over Barnet pushed us up to twelfth place in the division, our highest of the season so far, and stretched our unbeaten home run to seven games. Away from home it has been a bit more difficult, but a win at Bristol Rovers a fortnight ago pushed them closer to sacking their manager (which was done after their defeat at York last weekend), and we have also collected impressive victories at both Chesterfield and Oxford in the last two months. While this can be offset with defeats at Torquay, York and Torquay, it still represents a fairly successful first half of the season. While Christmas is always seen as a time for looking back, the first half of 2012/13 is ending quite nicely for us, and so we can look forward to the rest of the season with a bit of optimism. Continue reading

Gone and Forgotten – Part 3 – Wigan Borough


The end of season form of Roberto Martinez’s Wigan Athletic ensured their Premier League survival was assured long before the final kicks of the season took place in May.  If he can build on that squad then the prospects of a brighter season next year are high.  It is easy to mock the vanity of owner Dave Whelan, especially with the decision last year to rename the stadium after himself, but if it wasn’t for him Athletic may have gone the same way as AFC, Central, County, United, Town and finally Borough.

Football has struggled to break the ice in Wigan since Wigan County were formed back in 1897, playing in the Lancashire Leagues at a recreation ground known locally as Springfield Gardens (later renames as Springfield Park).  They applied for election to the league in 1898 but failed.  County soon fell by the wayslide and the baton was taken up by Wigan Town.  Ditto same story and then United were born.

The fourth attempt at making football work in a rugby league dominated town came in 1919 when Wigan United were found guilty of paying their players which even at this stage was deemed “not in the interest of the modern game”.  A new formed was created out of the ashes and called Wigan Association although they soon changed their name to Wigan Borough.

With a lease secured on Springfield Park they entered the Lancashire Combination League for the 1920/21 season.  They found the going tough, spending most of the season at the bottom of the league.  During the winter, the Football League announced that they would be creating a new league for the following season which would be known as the Third Division North.  The previous season they had created a Third Division but this was populated virtually completely by southern-based teams and they needed to balance the geographic imbalance. Continue reading

Swansea City back on the winning way


With all of the feelgood factor still washing through the streets of Wales at the moment, the Swans started on a long journey north on Saturday up to Wigan to clash with former manager Roberto Martinez.  Of course Abi Davies was at the front of the coach directing the traffic as if she was marshelling the midfield.

Thanks to wiganlatics.co.uk

Swansea City avoided a third successive defeat on Saturday by recording their third away win of the campaign and in doing so extended Wigan’s run of games without a victory to 12.  Having struggled in their previous two fixtures against two of the leagues most physically demanding sides in Norwich and Stoke, I felt that Swansea were far better equipped to claim victory at The DW against a Wigan side trying to play with a similar philosophy to that which Martinez helped create in South Wales.  Swansea were bolstered by the return of highly rated Dutch international Michel Vorm, after the keeper missed last weekends defeat at the Britannia through illness.

Swansea got the game underway and despite the home side looking the more likely to create an instant impact with Di Santo and Alcaraz enjoying a lot of time on the ball in the opening exchanges, the Swans soon settled into their rhythm, stringing together some great passing movements and advancing into dangerous positions.  Nathan Dyer provided the game’s first shot on target, however his timid strike was collected with ease by Al Habsi. Continue reading

The Swans are off and swimming


For the first time in her life, Abi Davies was going to see her side at the Liberty Stadium as a Premier League team.  She, along with 20,000+ other Swans fans hoped ex-boss Roberto Martinez wasn’t going to ruin the party.

Following their defeat at The Etihad Stadium 5 days ago, Swansea City played host to Roberto Martinez’ Wigan on Saturday in the first ever Premier League game to be played outside of England. Brendan Rodgers side would have been aware going into the game that they should be taking maximum points from sides such as Wigan, if they are to retain their Premier League status.

The last meeting between the two clubs came in the Carling Cup last October, where Roberto Martinez’ current side knocked his former club out of the competition. Continue reading