Dark Lane

Gate : 0
Admin : 0
Ground : eerie , empty , and reeking of bygone days and 113 years of history.
Match Enjoyment : no match , just  rusty turnstiles , decaying stands and remains of vandals visits.


Saturday 16th July 2011
Colne 2 v Salford City 4

Pre Season Friendly
Gate : £2 - superb value ! 10/10 (other clubs take note !)
Atten : 50
Ground : Superb ground , set high up in the East Lancashire  hills. Excellent views. Lovely old rickety stands with bags of charm ... a must tick and a groundhoppers dream 10 /10
Match Enjoyment : very enjoyable game by two energetic teams . First goal after 10 seconds !!! 8/10
View all photos (47)

Despite the awful weather i was determined to get a game in today and i had a choice of three matches but as it later turned out , Colne was definately the correct choice.

On arrival in East Lancashire i was greeted by rain storms , i was due to meet up with a fellow groundhopping buddy , who himself had put in decent mileage to be here today. His excellent blog can be found here .
When i arrived Reynard was already snapping away at this gem of a ground. The groundstaff were friendly and very amused at the distances we had travelled for todays event. The sun was now shining and the game was definately on !

Reynard suggested we went in to town for a lunch but the cheap skate 'suggested' the £2.99 all you can eat special at a local pub was his preference. The Onion Bag opted for a more discerning eating establishment and off we went. We returned to the ground just in time to watch the teams warm up ....
Colne warming up
 The entrance was only £2 - superb value in my book but the cheap skate Reynard suggested we asked for the £1 concessions option !!!  deep down i like to feel he was only kidding !

The game started and within 10 seconds Salford had scored !!! the quickest goal i had ever seen. But to be fair to Colne they fought back well and the game was a very decent affair.
I walked around all parts of the ground and the more nooks and crannies i found the more enjoyable this ground became. The locals were very friendly and interesting to talk to.

I loved my day in Colne and the ground and location makes this place a gem and is in my top ten grounds of all time - that alone will make me return when the chance is given.


Ebbsfleet 3 v Leyton Orient 0

Pre season Friendly
14th July 2011
Gate : £10
Atten : 432
Ground : superb ground , 3 decent stands , lots of old world charm about the place 9/10
Match Enjoyment : Really enjoyable match , Ebbsfleet were very impressive and were very lively. 8/10

View all Pics (28)

The Princess needed some therapy ....... retail therapy !  She 'needed' to abuse the plastic and the little minx had her eyes firmly set on Bluewater Shopping Centre. I had noticed Ebbsfleet were playing later that same day and was only a few miles away and immediately predatory ground hopper instincts said we had to go on a day out with Linda and Big 'A'.
The retail therapy idea was an expensive mistake by me as the Princess will never accept second best in the fashion department but atleast i was able to tick another ground off the list.

Stonebridge Road - home of Ebbsfleet (conf prem) was an excellent ground full of yester year charm and is well worth a visit.

 I had decided to play "guess the crowd size" game with The Princess and Big A - and promised if they got it exactly correct they would win £1 per person .... Princess said 423 ... Big A said 703 ... and i said 535 !
Moments later over the tannoy the answer came .... 432 !!!!  the Princess leapt out of her seat to claim the £432 in prize money in fits of laughter. But fortunatley for myself and my wallet , minutes earlier i had written the guesses down on paper and the evidence was concrete ! she had said 423 and not 432 !!! i nearly fell off my seat in sheer elation !

Faversham Town

Saturday 9th July 2011

Faversham Town 3 v Dover Athletic 1
Pre Season Friendly
Gate: £8 (ouch !! £4 too much ! i felt Fagin had pick pocketed me at the turnstile !)
Atten: TBC plenty of beer swilling guys from Dover
Food & Drink: had a delicious lunch in town
Ground: was only 2 sided today as stadium still not ready for new season 2/10
Match Enjoyment: had to wait one minute of new season for first goal ! but overall a non descript match 2/10

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I needed to get out for the day whatever sacrifices needed to be made and after having to cancel a few days in the lakes due to ill health a day on the Kent Coast was what the Doctor had ordered. My previous visits down there had all been successful ones. My choice was Faversham a market town , which to my deleight was better than i had imagined. The market place was a hive of activity in glorious sunshine. Getting here was problematic due to my arguments with 'Linda' - she had insisted we were to 'turn left here' i disagreed and saved us ten miles - even after three attempts to "make a U-Turn immediatly !!" Linda was not happy.

already a serious contender for "most delicious pre match meal" of the season.

Lunch was taken in the town centre market place and already has a vote for 'most delicious pre match meal of the season' ... Bubble and Squeek with the most moist a tasty ham carved off the bone and mango sauce and perfect freid egg. All washed down with coffee and a door wedge of home made Victoria sponge .. mmmm !

The ground was easy to find and for some reason i 'needed' to visit on a few occasions last season without success. But today i was here ! I was welcomed by club officials as the car park was full a bigger than average gate was due. I was ushered to the turnstile to pay only to learn it was £8 to get in   Ouch ! for a freindly i was suprised but then when i lowered my head to speak to the chap on the gate  in my head i saw .... Fagin !  trying to pick my pockets for the £8 ! ,
Fagin comes from Faversham !!!
So as i paid and entered i heard him rubbing his hands and laughing. I then imagined him singing "cheerio but be back soon ... you know we are gonna miss ya ....!" whilst playing his fiddle !.

I actually felt a bit cheated as Dover only came with academy players - not to inform the public in advance was naughty to say the least !. We only had to wait a minute for the first goal of the new season - a penalty a Dover player chopped in half an opponent , no disputes from anyone.
before the game started Faversham got in a  celtic style huddle !!! i have never seen that at a pre season friendly !!

The rest of the game was very average at best - but the day out was a good one as i had an excellent lunch , met Bob Geldorf , visited a lovely market town with great antique shops etc to browse around.
I had also learned that Fagin lives in Faversham !!!  the actual day was spoilt by a football match getting in the way !!

Farewell .... but not goodbye !

Wembley was a great way to end the season after 50+ games.
Time for a summer break -

My Match of the Season :
4th Rd FA Vase - Herne Bay v Whitley Bay 
a cracking game , great atmosphere, gem of a ground.

My Ground of the Season :
Joint WinnersBacup Borough & Clitheroe
both grounds are gems, both set in scenic locations and oozing charachter.

Most Friendly Club :
New Mills FC
super friendly welcome upon arrival until departure.
if only every clubs commitee was like this !

Fav photo taken
taken at West View - home of Bacup Borough

Have a great summer and i will see you all around !

The Onion Bag


Sunday 8th May 2011 - FA Vase Final  - Wembley
Coalville Town 2 v Whitley Bay 3

Gate: £25
Atten: 8,778
Food & Drink: just a coffee at £2 decent cuppa
Ground: Its Wembley ! .. say no more !  10/10
Match Enjoyment: Cracking open game - from the first whistle it was end to end. Coalville were excellent and deserved more than they got but somehow you knew Whitley's name was on the cup ! 9/10 !

Pics (126) from Wembley Final here
my vase journey started in september in the small Yorkshire pit village of Emley and ended at Wembley - home of football and what a cracking journey it has been to all points of the country.

pics , vids and report to follow

Poole Town

Saturday 26th March - FA Vase Semi Final 1st Leg
Poole 1 Whitley Bay 2

Gate: £8
Atten: 1,652
Food & Drink: just a coffee & kit kat £1.40
Ground: Excellent pitch ,warm welcome, very basic facilities. Looks like an old school playing field,  good job a new fence was erected this week otherwise much worse 2/10 (1 for the ground and 1 for the new fencing)
Match Enjoyment: Enjoyable game and Whitley Bay were in the deep end at Poole ! - Poole played really well and fully deserved to even win the game until Whitley were thrown a life jacket with two late late goals. This really was a smash and grab raid - 8/10

View all Photos (29)
View all Vids (5) 
Includes Whitley's late late winner !

The history of Whitley Bay is an interesting one and can be read here

This was Whitley Bay's Away kit they wore today .... this really was a smash and grab job !

This really was a smash n grab job by Whitley Bay

Whitley's late equaliser

Poole defend a Whitley Corner

Feed the Chow !
The handball which led to winning goal

Kerr hits a belter into top corner

Carshalton Athletic

Saturday 19th March - Ryman Premier
Carshalton 2 v Aveley 2

Gate: £10
Atten: 310
Food & Drink: just a coffee & kit kat £1.70 but a good selection of hot/cold foods were available. The bar was lively with live match on big screen. 
Ground: Decent facilities, covered stands on all four sides, i quite liked the place 7/10
Match Enjoyment: I really enjoyed this game, the first half flew by and the second half was very enjoyable 7/10

View all photos (36)
View all vids (1)

Report to follow ...

The sun was shining so no better place to eat pre match meal !!

Hitchin Town

Saturday 12th March - Zamaretto Div 1 Central
Hitchin Town 1 v Biggleswade Town 2
Gate : £9

Atten: 628 (biggest of the season by far)
Ground: A cracking ground ! old rickety wooden stands full of charm 9/10
Food: Coffee £1 + Barbecue with Chicken , sausages and burgers -delicious.

Match Enjoyment: Very entertaining game. End to end top of the table local derby and the away team deserved all the points -8/10

View all Vids here (3)  includes Biggleswade's winning goal 
View all Photos here (55)

After seeing photos of this ground sometime ago and listening to the advice of a respected hopper, for a while i have been itchin' to get to Hitchin and the wait was very much worth it.


Saturday5th March - Conference South
Woking 1 v Farnborough 1
Gate : £12

Atten: 2132
Ground: A decent ground mixed with old and new. The new stand is superb
Food: Coffee £1.20p Kit Kat 60p
Match Enjoyment: A scrappy fiercely contested local derby . The Cards played it well  but were dealt a cruel blow and  it was Farnborough who came away with the Brucie bonus ! 5/10

The signs were there for a decent game !

Like last week Plan A was cancelled due to family things so my long awaited Vase trip to Poole v Torpoint was spoilt as most of the morning was taken up by someone else's errors. Never mind plan B was a decent one -  a trip to Kingfield to watch inform Woking (The Cards) play high flying Farnborough. They are first and second in the form table, The Cards had not conceded in 8 matches and the 'Boro defense was decent as well. Add in this is seen as a local derby as they are only 15 miles apart. This was the match of the day in the Conference South by far and i was going to be there !.

I liked Kingfield as it seemed a well run club and Woking's history is worth a read here.  
The ground has 2 quirky stands down one side and behind one goal a decent stand and behind the other a superb new stand which hold 2,200 people. Must be one of the best in the league by far.
The new stand

and a Quirky stand

Now the Cards got of to a flying start and scored a well worked goal in the 4th minute then the Farnborough manger Steve King a shrewd operator at this level went bananas as he felt his team should had a penalty. If truth be told his player fell over , it was no foul. He was clearly under pressure and he felt he had been dealt a bad hand ! The Cards were on top and Kingy was sent to the stands!
Were The Cards dealt  good  fortune or did  King's Farnborough get the 'Brucie Bonus' ?

The home side should have been 3 goals up by half time but just lacked the end product. The rest of the game was a very even affair and another clean sheet was on the Cards (excuse the pun !). Woking had the ball by the Farborough corner flag deep into injury time but instead of staying there the Woking forward tried to beat 3 players to score another goal but he lost the ball in the area and within ten seconds the ball was in the other net !! Farnborough had 'stolen' a goal in the 96th minute their only third chance in the whole game due to the excellent no nonsense defensive display from Woking. It was fitting the best player Number 11 scored the goal.
Farnborough celebrate late late goal

Within seconds the final whistle blew and the Away bench erupted with joy as they were relieved to have snatched a point and in the end it was them who got the 'Brucie Bonus'  but in reality it was a tactical game of few clear cut chances as both defenses were on top. The crowd of 2,132 was by far the biggest of the season and it was good to see many young families in the crowd today but this was no 'generation game'  and certainly was not a " good game good game" !

Welling United

Saturday 26th February - Conference South
Welling United 1 v Weston-Super-Mare 0
Gate : £11

Atten: 470
Ground: A ground mixed with old and new. The old stand was quirky
Food: Coffee 60p & Crunchie 50p
Match Enjoyment:An enjoyable game played at a decent pace , not too many clear cut chances 5/10

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It turned to be a funny old day from start to finish as i ended up at my 7th choice game Plan G the next plan was Plan H and that means Home !. My original choice was a trip to the Chasetown v Mansfield Trophy Quarter Final a ground and game is was really looking forward to. But due to the kindness from an individual from Chasetown they called me early to inform me that the game will be called off and not to travel. A really grand gesture that which will lead me to spending an extra 50p in the club shop when i do finally get there !.

Even on the M25 i was still not sure which game Linda was taking me to as on the result of frantic phone calls games were being called off every few minutes.All games were called off due to waterlogged pitches but despite me messing Linda around badly numerous times that morning , she never complained.Despite  the pouring rain and quick phone call confirmed it was game on at Park View Road - Home of Welling United FC.
Welling's history is an interesting one and can be found  here

The ground is very easy to find and i parked up without any problems and headed off for a well earned breakfast in the pouring rain. It was fortunate a cafe was not too far away so despite getting soaked everything was ok now. I ordered my Breakfast Special Number 3 and asked the server if usage of a toilet was available. As she eyed me up and down noticing how wet i was , she replied with a chuckle "you can also have a bath up there" ... i was still trying to workout her answer as i went upstairs to the flat above and then my answer was given immediately i opened the door and saw the bathroom ..... It was then i decided to decline her "kind" invertation.

The bathing opportunity i was offered , but reluctantly declined !
After polishing off my Special #3 with ease i made my way to the ground. Even after paying my entrance fee i learned that the game was still in doubt , there was no way i could return to the car to tell Linda , in order to seek another destination, so i would know for sure when the ref finally arrives but on hearing the groundsman's view it was touch and go still.

Welling actually share the ground with Erith & Belverdere who play in the Kent League and the two stands are a case of old (Welling) and new (Erith) but it seems to work well. The old stand was a quirky one with little hidden passages and tunnels everywhere. I did take the wrong passage on more than one occasion and ended up in the Presidents Suite by mistake.

The game finally got the go ahead and deservedly so after all the work put in that morning from the ground staff.  The first half was a very even affair played at a decent lick without many clear cut chances.
When you dont need a bus - 3 come along at once !
 One of the quirky features about the ground is that throughout the game double decker busses passed on the adjacent high street giving the passengers on the top deck and excellent view of the game , albiet very brief.

It reminded me of the old sit com On the Buses with Blakey and his "i 'ate you Butler" catchphrase. I believe was based not too far away in either South-east or East London

The second half was better with both teams going for it again with little openings but The Wings were flying now and they scored a decent goal from a headed corner.  But i must point out the loyalty of some fans for a team they follow as i counted the army of away supporters ....... 3 ! At the final whistle as the Weston players applauded their "traveling army" they had actually out numbered them !!
But was the performance from their team worthy of such support ? , not really as Weston produced nothing and were more Mare than Super !
But on the whole i had an enjoyable day despite the weather my trip to Park View Road was interesting in more ways than one and one that i shall remember.