Thurrock FC

Isthmian League - Premier Division
Thurrock 0
Leiston 0
atten 139

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Thurrock's ground is virtually situated on the inside lane of the M25 for it is that close. I thought Ship Lane looked fantastic & very well maintained despite the club deciding to fold at the end of the season. Had a lovely chat with the Chairman/Owner who shared his real reasons as to why he has decided to call it a day after 33 years. Its a big shame because its a lovely set up.

Despite no goals it was a very enjoyable game between two fully committed teams. It never let up as both teams went full power for the victory.
Leiston even managed to miss a late penalty but i feel Thurrock definitely deserved something from the game for effort alone.

Lovely big main stand painted in the club's colours. Plenty of covered standing and a ground with a very spacious feel about it.
Full marks to the group of Thurrock fans who made plenty of noise throughout. But sadly their visits to Ship Lane are numbered as their Ship will soon be sailing. Unless they are thrown a 'life-jacket' and a buyer comes in to buy the club ,the club will fold forever. A big shame for it is a lovely club.

Malone RFC

All Ireland Rugby - Division 2A
Malone 22  Cashel 17
Gibson Park Avenue - East Belfast

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Malone Football Club was founded in 1892 by residents of Malone Park, Belfast. In 1896 Malone obtained senior status after two victories in the junior league. Malone first played a non-Irish sidewhen it hosted Furness in 1903. The current name Malone Rugby Football Club was adopted in1932. Malone moved to its present location in Gibson Park, Belfast in 1935, eventually purchasing it in1953.The present clubhouse dates from 1967.

Malone's nickname is 'The Cregagh Red Sox' and the club is based around the Cregagh Road area in South-East Belfast . Just off the Cregagh Road are two locally well-known sporting venues,Cregagh Cricket Club and Malone Rugby Club.While having separate facilities, they are situated onthe same road, namely Gibson Park Avenue. Cregagh Cricket Club celebrated its centenary in 2006.
The cricket ground is also used by Northern Amateur Football League club Orangefield Old Boys' Association F.C. and is part of Cregagh Sports Club, effectively a merger of the cricket and association football clubs, with both sharing the same Gibson Park Avenue facilities.This alliancewas concluded in the early 1980s, with the two clubs being previously unconnected.Ravenhill Stadium, the home of Ulster Rugby,lies a short distance away, about halfway between the Cregagh Road and the Ravenhill Road to the east.

The famous Cregagh Estate is located off the Cregagh Road.The estate is characterised by its uncommon flat roofs and staggered house fronts. The  in the Cregagh Estate are named afterthe rivers and streams of the island of Ireland. Although predominantly Protestant from itsinception, Cregagh had a significant Catholic minority for a number of years and at the start of the
Troubles, Catholics even joined in local vigilante patrols under the auspices of the Cregagh Tenants Association.

The late footballer George Best grew up in the Cregagh Estate, and as a boy played football on the open playing fields at the centre of the estate and today you can find his life commemorated by amural in the Cregagh estate. Before the roaring crowds and showstopping goals, you could have found a young George Best on Cregagh Green. Stepping back to in time to the 1950s, Cregagh Green Estate’s local football pitch was where it all began. It was here that the raw, undiscovered talent of the Belfast Boy began to blossom. One of the locals told me “They actually want top reserve the field so that in future years we might find another George Best”. The space is legally protected “in perpetuity” after a legal deed of dedication between Belfast City Council and Fields inTrust.           It seems only fitting that the mural overlooks budding stars and Belfast boys with the same passion for football as George Best himself showed all those years ago.

 Todays opponents Cashel are based in Tipperary across the border in the south around 250 miles away. They looked a very well drilled team and played a strong game and they pushed the league leaders all the way to the final whistle. Many a team would have buckled under the Malone pressurebut Cashel stood strong and went toe-to-toe.

The intensity and speed of the match was fantastic as both teams smashed in to each other. It was a fantastic match. The locals turned out in force and both bars were doing brisk trade. Whilst the 1s tteam were in action there were two other matches on the other pitches and as usual they were all competative.   The sportsmanship from every one was excellent.

When I arrived,I was immediately welcomed by a club official who also knowing how far I had travelled immediately invited me to the pre-match luncheon which was just about to be served tothe 300+ strong club members. It was delicious and the company was excellent including my new photographer friend John Coffrey who produces excellent photography .

The final whistle blew to cheers from the Malone supporters after Cashel had finished the match strongly.It was followed by hugs and handshakes between everyone involved.It was an afternoon in the East Belfast sunshine of non stop pulsating entertainment, which i thoroughly enjoyed.This was my first experience of All Ireland Rugby and I was very impressed.I will certainly be back for more in the future.

Despite their defeat the Cashel players were fantastic and they can hold their heads high as they head back South to Tipperary because ….. its a long way !


Danske Irish Premiership
Glentoran 1 Ballymena United 2
The Oval - East Belfast

Quite simply a visit to The Oval , home of Glentoran FC is as good as it gets. The place just wreeks of history . From the moment you turn into Parkgate Drive and the 'Old Lady' comes into view you are immediately spellbound. It feels like you are making a pilgrimage to football mecca.  The massive main stand overpowers you and you can literally smell the bygone European night matches as the history simply overpowers you into submission , even when the stand is empty.

As i was just standing in awe , i heard a voice from high above from a small window welcolming me "I'll be down in a second OB" . It was the Club Secretary Ricky Rea. What a fantastic man Ricky is. His passion and love for the club is just amazing. His stories of supporting the Glens as boy and man are just fascinating. He fondly recalls the European nights in the 60's v Benfica , Juventus etc and how the atmosphere in the packed  ground is something he will never forget.

Ricky told me that Glentoran were the first club to go out of a European competition on the 'away goals rule'  when they drew 1-1 at home to Benfica and in the 2nd leg drew 0-0 in Portugal. They were the first club to prevent Benfica from scoring on their own pitch in Europe. The Boardroom is just magnificent with all the trophies and memorabilia on display, including the solid silver eagle that Benfica presented them taht famous night. Also proudly on display is the Vienna Cup won in 1914 and according to Ricky Glentoran were the first ever British club to win a competition in Europe.

Tonights match v Ballymena United was an important one for both sides as the winners would make the last place for the end of season playoffs and possible european qualification.

The condition were damp and the rain was intermittent. But it was the visitors who scored a late winner to send the loyal locals home frustrated to the poor end to the season and the failure to make the play-offs.

The vast open terraces , the large covered stands , the location backing on to the ship building dock yards, the aeroplanes flying scarily close over the main stand to and from the nearby George Best Airport – Photos of George Best playing for Glentoran hang proudly in the boardroom , along with many others including Danny Blancflower , Billy Bingham etc , a visit to theclub's famous 'Milk Bar' , meeting the locals all make visitng The Oval a very special place to visit , very special indeed.