Stalybridge Celtic

 Tuesday 24th August - Conf North

Stalybridge 1 v Vauxhall 4
Attendance: 390  
Admission: £10
Ground : 8/10 Nice surroundings
Food/Drink: Coffee £1 - Choc bar 70p
Conditions : Windy wet and cold

Bower Fold , home of Stalybridge Celtic had always been high up on my list of grounds to visit. I had actually passed the chance over to go there on more than one occasion, but finally decided tonight was the night.
I met a nice chap outside the ground a die hard Celtic fan and season ticket holder Andrew he had arrived on his moped from Huddesfield. He was expecting a win tonight and wasn't settling for anything less.

Whilst waiting to go in the ground i noticed a waft of indian cuisine passing under my nose and being so hungry i couldn't pass this opportunity for some korma, and a side order of sag aloo - but i was later to find out i should of resisted the temptation as it proved very disappointing.
Celtic are just coming of a bad result at Hinckley from being 2-0 up to within a few minutes 5-2 down so they were determined to bag the three points tonight against Vauxhall Motors from Merseyside.
The fist 45 mins were a drab affair and then in injury time Celtic got a penalty which was saved , then less than a minute later were awarded another penalty , they scored but it had to be retaken , then they scored again so at H-T it was 1-0 .
Within three minutes of the restart it was 1-1 a cruelly deflected goal from a Vauxhall attack and  from then on it was all Vauxhall three times they caught Celtic on the counter attack and scored and they could of had a couple more to be honest. Final Score - 1-4

Curzon Ashton

Monday 23rd August - Evo Stick North
Curzon Ashton 2 v Chorley 6
Attendance: 230  Admission: £7
Ground:Only 2 sides very open and windy
Conditions: Very wet, pitch looked excellent and despite the amount of rain was still hard on top !
Food/Drink: Coffee £1 - Worst Pie so far this season £1.60  1/10
Total Mileage:44
Match Entertainment : 9/10 Cracking game, end to end, loads of goals.

I arrived in East Manchester earlier than expected and duly ended up killing time in of all places Ikea. Before you pass judgement, my reason for  going in there was due to the strong rain storms and there was no where to keep cover except in my car. I was not certain the game would go ahead , such was the strength of the rain. But on arrival at the ground i noticed the pitch was an excellent one and drainage would be a problem.

I spent quite a bit of time whilst waiting for the gates to open chatting with this guy who had millions of opinions about other teams, players and football in general. He was so upbeat about Curzon i asked who he was, his answer was .. "I am the Manager" ! took me by suprise considering the length of time we had been talking for.. "watch us win tonight" he said with incurable optimism. I liked the chap and could of chatted with him for longer.
I liked this modern ground and it seemed quite a relaxed atmosphere within the set up , after taking my usual photos i went for some food , which later i wish i hadn't. Curzon already get my vote as worst pie of the season , it was awful. Whilst i was washing down the awful pie with my coffee an old boy from Chorley informed me that this was the best side he had seen in 40 years of following them , some accolade i thought. He also said "watch the number 9, hes not bad" and then after 15 seconds ! of the match start he had already had the ball in the Onion Bag ... Curzon 0 Chorley 1 and then less than a minute later the Curzon defender slipped on the wet pitch and conceded a penalty 0-2 after 1 minute !! it was a bizarre start to an important game. Then by the 5th minute Curzon pulled a goal back 1-2 ! what a great start !. Walking around the ground i noticed quite a few hoppers, mainly due to no other games on in the area and they had to get their "footy fix" , even in the cold wind and rain , what silly people i thought but then realised i was one of them !
Chorley got another penalty just before half time to make it 3-1.
Curzon apply 2nd half pressure
The second half was the best of the season so far , 4 more goals, yet another penalty, great end to end attacking football and some crunching tackles by both teams ... what a cracking match it has been Chorley in the end ripped Curzon apart and looked very impressive. The Chorley fans gave their players and very well deserved standing ovation whilst a shell shocked Curzon team disappeared down the tunnel.
FULL TIME : Curzon 2 v Chorley 6

Marine FC

Sunday 22nd August - Evo Stick North
Marine 0 v FCUM 2
Attendance:  933  Admission: £9
Ground: One main stand and rest of ground backs onto people back gardens
Food/Drink: Coffee £1  
Total Mileage:84

View all Photos from Marine

The game today was built up as Scouse v Mancs and all what goes with it. A bumper crowd was expected and a police presence was clearly evident. The ground itself is situated on the main road in Crosby, Liverpool set amongst local housing , infact the ground on 3 sides backs on to peoples homes and back gardens. During the game i counted 7 balls lost in peoples gardens !
Entrance to gound on Main Road
Scouse House ! ... the tea hut !

Mossley FC

Saturday 22nd August - Evo Stick North
Mossley 0 v Bamber Bridge 1
Attendance:  183  Admission: £7
Ground: Loved this ground , typical non league, with great views over countryside, outstanding 10/10
Conditions: Perfect , slight breeze
Food/Drink:delicious pie peas and gravy £2 Tea 70p 9/10

For some reason i was really looking forward to visiting Seel Park , home of Mossely Fc .  It was a ground which had rave reviews from ground hoppers and it certainly did not disappoint. The town of Mossley is of around 10,000 inhabitants and is beautifully nestled in the hills west of the pennines.Whilst driving into the town down the winding hills i couldnt resist stopping off to take a panoramic photo.
Views over Mossley

 Football started here in 1919 but originally Rugby was the main sport. I would suggest a visit to the Mossley website which for this league is an excellent one. I believe its all been put together by 'the wizard' who also doubles up as the match day announcer.Mossley FC History.
The ground is actually a little tricky to find as like i found i got caught on the one way system and found myself on the road going out of town, the same one as i used to arrive only a few minutes earlier !. Once found its like a little gem hidden away and immediately you feel as though you have stepped back in history. 
 Once it was know that i was a ground hopper i was made very welcome indeed . After my journey i was offered a coffee in the social club and was able to meet the locals including Darren a great chap who has been coming since he was a kid with his Dad. Sad to say his father passed away in the summer so this was his first match without him. Just before the game started they gave him a minute silence in memory of his Dad , which was a wonderful gesture, so much so other locasl shed a tear or two as they to had stood with him for many years on those Mossley terraces.
 I took the opportunity to walk around the ground before the hordes (183 actually !) arrive. The team are now under a new manager whom i met and liked how keen he was to take this club forward.

The game itself was really enjoyable and it was visitors Bamber Bridge who made the better start and scored early from a good header. 0-1 ! . Earlier the locals had highly recommended i ate one of the pies, peas & gravy as it was one of the best around - i took the advice and was not disappointed in anyway , certainly in the top 3 pies this year !.
When i tick off a new ground i always like to walk around the ground during the first half and then sit in the stand for most of the second half.

 Second half was all Mossley but sad to say they were unable to break a determined Bamber defense so the game ended 0-1. My time at Mossley was most enjoyable i met many people who were all very friendly and full of information from Mark one of the Directors to the die hard fans who stood on those 'steeped in history' terraces at Seel Park. Infact leaving was quite hard to do ,but in the knowledge that i would return one day made departure from this lovely ground easier.
A visit to Seel park is a must for any football lover no matter who you support as its simply superb.

Dover Athletic

Tuesday 17th August - Conf South

Dover Athletic 2 v Welling United 2
Attendance:  1097  
Admission: £12
Ground: 8/10 Located at the top of a steep hill, set amongst lots of greenery with views over Dover
Conditions: 6/10 Light rain all game
Food/Drink:Cheese burger & onions £2.90  Coffee £1

Photos of Dover's ground (39)

 Visiting The Crabble home of Dover Athletic had long been on my 'grounds to do list' for a couple of seasons ever since they 'ran away' with the Rymans league. In hindsight i should of gone last season when they were giving free entry to anyone for a home match when they had three games at home in 6 days. The crowd that evening was 2,700 ! for a non league run of the mill match not a bad crowd !.
 According to 'Linda' (my sat nav !)i had arrived at my destination but i couldnt see the ground and not even the floodlights most strange ! When i quizzed a local as to where the ground was he pointed up a steep hill behind the trees. Yes the Crabble was hiding amongst lots of greenery at the top of a hill giving us lovely views all over Dover .

I arrived earlier than usual and took advantage of the walking around this lovely empty ground followed by .a drink in the most modern sports bar and biggest sky sport screens i had ever seen. The ground smelt of better days.

The home side started much the better and should of been several goals up after half an hour it was only 1-0.
Welling who are struggling off the pitch came back into it via the sloppy play from Dover  H-T 1-1
The 'Wings' started the second half better and went into a 2-1 lead and the home supporters were getting more restless as their team couldn't muster a single shot on Wellings goal until the equaliser in the 80th minute to make it 2-2 - the game ended with neither team on top and a draw was a fair result. But Dover will be the more disappointed of the two teams.

Dartford FC

Saturday 14th August - Conf South

Dartford  2 v Havant & Waterlooville 2
Attendance:  1302  
Admission: £12
Ground: 8/10 Excellent ground, clearly preparing for higher leagues. Very Clean and well Organised
Conditions: 8/10 Fine but  also overcast with sporadic  spots of rain throughout the afternoon  
Food/Drink:Steak & Kidney Pie £2.50 delicious pastry/ filling Excellent strong Coffee £1 Choc 60p

View all Photos from Dartford

When the fixtures were released for some reason this fixture caught my eye. The reason being that both teams are expected to be in with a promotion shout this season, so a decent game was expected. I was looking forward to going.
Princes Park - home of Dartford FC
The ground itself is very modern being only three years old. Nevertheless it was very impressive. Three stands were only standing with limited seating in the main stand, limited mainly because of the restaurant and conference facilities. I must say its the cleanest ground i have visited for many years.
Teams Warming Up Pre Match
Despite the sporadic rain you could smell the optimism in the ground as it was there first ever game at this level and also because of the quality of the team.
The match started and The Darts were the better team for 25 mins missing at least 4 good chances. Great build up play and excellent defense gave them a fully deserved lead. Just before half time Havant got a stroke of luck by the way of a hand ball by a funny bounce. H-T 1-1

Great header from free kick make it 1-0 Dartford

One of the down side of the day was being unable to get some chips to go with the pie , hot food was limited in only parts of the ground. having said that the Steak & Kidney Pie was delicious.
 Excellent strong coffee made the lack of chips irrelevant.

Second half was dominated by Havant but due to the strong Darts defense no real chances came until a bit of magic from No 14 who curled a beauty into the top corner of the Onion Bag , 1-2 with only 2 mins left.
That was harsh on the home team and in the 96th minute got a deserved penalty and duly obliged as the rain poured down. Full Time 2-2 both teams were excellent and it made it an exciting conclusion to a great day and at great modern little ground, which is well worth a visit.

96th min penalty to make it 2-2

AFC Hornchurch

Tuesday 3rd August - Essex Senior Cup Final
AFC Hornchurch 1 v Colchester 2
Attendance:  800   Admission: £10 (£4 too much)
Ground: Not my favourite as had running track around the pitch. Atmosphere not brilliant as too far away from pitch. 3/10
Conditions: Fine but got chilly later on
Food/Drink:  I had a Cheeseburger & Onions with relish £3 which was a bit dry. Coffee £1 nice and strong with a  Mars bar to dunk  60p

View all Photos from Hornchurch

After a few days with bad toothache i was pottering around in the garden collection some leaves this afternoon and after missing a match last weekend my withdrawal symptoms were kicking in. So i decided to drive to see the Essex Cup Final at Hornchurch near Upminster.
Arriving in East London
The club's history dates back to 1923 when the team were formed as ‘Upminster Wanderers’. The home ground was the local recreation park in Upminster. The club were quickly elected to the Romford League and won the Second Division Championship in their first season.The game tonight was taking place as a result of a waterlogged pitch at the end of last season.

After a smooth Journey i arrived in plenty of time and was warmly welcomed by  car park attendent. As they were expecting a decent crowd tonight parking by the ground was just for VIP guests which i was not one of. I was directed to a nearby field, too far away for my liking. I left the ground and the old boy on the gate said i could park in front of his house , "where was that"? i asked . As he pointed he said "just there" ! ... it was literally 20 yards away ! Perfect and this was better than VIP !.

The ground itself is shared with an athletics club and therefor has a running track around the pitch. I am not a lover of grounds like this as it can have an effect on the atmosphere, which later my thoughts were confirmed.

The Clubhouse was one of the best i have  seen at a Ryman Ground, very spacious with great views of the pitch. Photos Everywhere even on the toilet doors ! Maldini Italian World Cup Winner was from the Hornchurch Youth Teams "according" to the bar steward !

I was talking to a guy who had 700 ground ticks and whilst i was talking to him this other chap who he knew came over and smiled at me - nice ... but he had no teeth ! not a single one ! It put me off my cheeseburger !

The game started and the first half was very even with only one real chance to Colchester. A deflected header was well saved by the Urchins Keeper. H-T 0-0

Second half the home side started well and after eight minutes scored a great little goal , the tricky left winger , for once lost his marker then delivered a great cross and bang in the Onion Bag it went !.
From then on it was all Colchester and two quick goals sealed the victory 2-1.

I must admit this hasn't been my favourite ground this season and the atmosphere was not great and the fact that fewer away fans came than expected didn't help.Its another ground ticked off and probably one i wouldn't return to but at least it was a night out !