26th August 2013

Northern Premier League
Buxton 1 Ilkeston 2
Atten: 414

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“The Bucks” have been playing at Silverlands since 1884 when in their first match they defeated near neighbours Bakewell 2-0. Situated over 1000 feet above sea level, the Silverlands is the highest ground within the pyramid of football . If the game is on and more importantly the Pass is open on a crisp winters day make sure you bring your thermals and a flask !.

Whatever the weather, it is a great place to come and watch some decent football. I had visited here a few times but never with a camera and have always watched an enjoyable game unfold and today was no exception. Today was a Derbyshire Derby with local rivals Ilkeston . A big crowd was expected on a glorious summer's afternoon.

Ground: 9/10
Silverlands is Golden in my eyes , what proper non league grounds should really be like. Non of this flat pack style stands. But today more than ever before it looked well "tarted up" a bit like an Essex Girl getting ready for a Saturday night in Basildon !.  A superb , imposing main stand with excellent views across the countryside and covered area on two other sides. A smashing bar and social area and a decent tea hut. The Pies,Peas and gravy were delicious as usual. All served with a friendly smile.
The Staff were super friendly and helpful, I can not speak more highly of the Club.

Match Enjoyment: 9/10
Best game of new season so far,very enjoyable from start to finish. The first half was excellent, finger tip saves, well taken goal, woodwork hit, and a most fantastic double save by Bucks keeper. On a par with Montgomery's for Sunderland in '73 Cup Final it was that good.
Then it really got feisty and spicy. Bucks had two players sent off, Ilson pressed forward, Bucks stood firm until the 94th minute, then seconds later Ilkeston scored a winner. The bucks lost with nine players so the sendings off affected them , those players should "Buck" their ideas up !.Unbeliveable end to a cracking match. The Away fans could not believe they had won and to be honest neither could I ! 

The drive back through the sun drenched Hope Valley was spectacular and if you go via Bakewell make sure you stop off , for some of their famous tarts, you wont regret it. Until you get on the bathroom scales that is .

Crook Town

Northern League Div One
Crook Town 3 
Whitley Bay 0

Gate: £6
Atten: 178

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View Official Crook Town Website

Ground: 8/10
Some grounds just reek history , and Millfields, home of Crook Town is one one of them. In fact it hit me in the face as soon as I reached the top of the steps and the two iconic stands first came into view. You could just feel what it had been like when 17,000+ crowd crammed in to watch a cup tie.
Crook won the Amateur Cup in the 1953 - 54 season playing in the longest cup final ever v Bishop Auckland with 200,000 in attendance over the three games. The final scores for the three games were 2 - 2 A.E.T. at Wembley, 2 - 2 A.E.T. at St. James Park and 1 - 0 to Crook at Ayresome Park. In fact, the black and golds are fives times FA Amateur Cup Winners

But the biggest gate to watch them play came in 1976 when Crook became the first English club to tour India playing six games. A gate of 100,000 watched them play the Indian national side, but they were beaten 1 - 0 in 90 degree temperatures.

In 1913 Crook toured Barcelona to help establish football as the main sport in the region of Catalonia instead of bullfighting. Feeling was so high against this that King Alfonso of Spain who had hoped to attend the three games but couldn't do so because of the attempts on his life. Crook man Jack Greenwell organised the tour and went on to become the first English manager of Barcelona until the mid thirties when he took over the Spanish national side until the civil war. He managed Peru in 1938 which capped off a remarkable life for the son of a miner!

 The place is superb albeit a little frayed at the edges. There is talk of them moving very soon, let us hope it is just that ..... talk, as the place is a historic gem and a must visit for any football lover.

Match Enjoyment: 8/10
They do say "Feed The Chow and he will score", but today this goal machine was firing blanks his suprising miss early in the game became the turning point. Shortly after Crook took over and were never in doubt once the first goal had gone in.

Whitley Bay were not at their best today , maybe as a result of their 'sticky' start to the new season.
It was a decent game and the Black and Golds were the more impressive. They were what the motto in the dressing room said ... "Solid Gold".

Delicious food was served at sensible prices all freshly made and very tasty - highly recommended.
The welcome by the Clubs Staff was very friendly and genuine. They deserve all the success they get as a reward for all the hard work they have had to do, to get to where they are.

The weather forecast showed heavy showers all afternoon, but they do get things wrong from time to time.
I had waited to go to Crook for over four years, there was no way i was not going to go.
Despite what barriers were put before me, i was  going to go  come what may , by hook or by CROOK !

Bacup & Rossendale Borough

17th August 2013

FA Cup Extra Prelim Rd
Bacup 1  Formby 4
Gate: £6
Atten: c40

For me to consider a re-visit to a ground it must be somewhere a bit special and a trip up Cowtoot Lane the home of Bacup & Rossendale FC is one of those places. My first visit was back in 2010 for an evening match and i vowed that one day i would return for a day match , well that day has come and i cant wait. They now play under the name Bacup & Rossendale FC changing it from Bacup Borough in June of this year. Bacup Borough officially adopted the title of Rossendale, this came about following the sad demise of Rossendale United FC thus leaving Bacup Borough as the Rossendale Valley’s most senior football club.

 They were now the sole flag bearers of the Rossendale Valley and as for the commercial side it did make sense to implement the name of Rossendale and with this comes Bacup & Rossendale Borough FC. This also brings with it a newly designed crest to form its very own identity, with a plan for progression in place are the words , ‘Prosperity Through Endeavour’. When the  club was founded in 1875 it was called  Bacup Baldies, a name that proved to be prophetic in late decades.

Match Enjoyment: 6/10
Both teams battled away in what was at times difficult conditions. But in truth Formby were in control for most of the game. Soon after Bacup got back in the game , Formby scored again. It was never going to be Bacup's day.

Formby celebrate 4th goal

Ground: 10/10
West View is one of my all time favourite grounds and yesterday's visit only enhanced that feeling.
Serving the Bacup Pie .. mmmmm !
Upon arrival i just felt back home immediately , and then i smelt the homemade Bacup Pie wafting from the kitchen and my resistance was minimal and i dived in for a portion of this delicious feast , i even went back for seconds !

The setting is one of the best. Set amongst the Southern Lancashire Pennine hills , the place was calm as anything can be with the only interruptions coming from the sheep meandering in the lush green fields, surrounded by dry stone walling as far as the human eye can see.

 The weather was usual for this high up , unpredictable at best. Its mid August still in British Summer Time but the conditions were more arctic than summer. The monsoon rainstorms , rapier like winds only added to the attraction of this ground as i stood shivering and wet under the leaking roof of a ramshackle stand it was ground hopping 'porn', basically as good as it gets.

Formby's most well known resident is George , The Ukelele Man
But despite the lovely surroundings Formby came to town to win an FA Cup tie  , and that they did , by dispatching of  Bacup very  readily. Despite the long journey, strong winds , monsoon rain storms etc  as George would say ... "it's turned our nice again"

Other Reading:
Well respected FA Cup Hopper Paul Kirkwood's blog Up For The Cup is a very enjoyable read. He was also at Bacup and his report is excellent. take a look here

Athersley Recreation

North East Counties Premier Division

Athersley Recreation 3 
Heanor Town 2

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Ground 6/10
An impressively maintained ground, tendered with care and enthusiasm.
A good club house , busy tea bar, lots of port-a-cabins, a large dog waste disposal bin , fresh hanging baskets in full bloom and a trampoline.
Friendly management with bags of passion for the boys in black and white.

A surprisingly enjoyable visit.

Match Enjoyment: 8/10
A most enjoyable and very noisy match from start to final whistle. Chances galore and from end to end. 'Rec should have scored early doors but Heanor took control for long periods and went 2-0 up. A superb 'Rec goal made the second half interesting and the fightback materialized with two goals 'Rec went in front and from then on it was too and fro like a basketball match.
A most exciting and enjoyable game. It could have been any score really !


Northern League Division 1
Penrith 2
Newton Aycliffe 4

Gate: £5
Atten: 380

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Ground: 6/10
Just a shame i never got to the old Penrith ground as i believe it was quite a gem. As far as new builds go i quite liked the place. I am not a big fan of Ikea Flat Pack style set ups as the teams usually then play a "flat pack four" system !! Just a shame it is a fair hike from the town thus ensuring minimal passing footfall.

I think the reason i liked it hear was more because of the setting and surroundings. Overlooked by green undulating hills populated by the Bovine brigade. Despite the large crowd the ground had quite a serene feel about it as the evening summer sun was setting.

Hoppers and bovine all enjoying the game

Match Enjoyment: 8/10
This was a super match, high on energy and skill and chances and goals galore.  The vociferous Newton Aycliffe fans added to the party atmosphere. They full deserved their win with some well taking goals of good quality.
But it takes both teams to make an enjoyable match and Penrith were also good value. It was a most enjoyable finale to a great day in Cumbria.

Wath Brow Hornets

RL Conf Challenge Cup Semi Final
Wath Brow 8 
Wigan St Patricks 22
Gate: £2
Atten: 250ish 

Wath Brow Hornets are based in Cleator, a village in the county of Cumbria and within the boundaries of the traditional county of Cumberland.
On Thursday 19 November 2009, rainfall of over 300 mm was recorded in Cumbria. The surge of water off the fells of the Lake District flowed back to the Irish Sea down the rivers of West Cumbria, including the River Derwent which caused flooding and damage at Keswick, Cockermouth and Workington. The River Ehen burst its banks at Cleator, near to the Kangol factory, flooding fields and a number of residential properties. But they seem tough folk around here and bouncing back was the only option.

The game of rugby of one sorts or another has been played in the Wath Brow area of Cleator Moor for many a long year, Prior to the great breakaway in 1895 there was a rugby union team with the name now associated to the rugby league club. The original club was disbanded in 1904 and it was not until 1920 that a Wath Brow Hornets Northern Union was formed and featured in its ranks the Famous Slasher Nolan a local Pugilist of some repute. This club however was only disbanded again on the outbreak of war in 1939 and from then until 1955 there was no rugby of any code played in the area


Season 2000/01 proved a momentous one again for the Hornets and ever better than the previous year when the club became the Cumberland Leagues most successful club ever in a single season - winning all five trophies on offer, the season was completed by the second team winning all three trophies available to them, a total of 7 trophies between them.They continue to strive forward and proudly sit high up in Division One of the NCL and who knows where they can reach in the pyramid.

Today's bill of fayre was the semi final of the RL Conference Challenge Cup against a tough Wigan St Patricks outfit. It was a highly entertaining match with the vocal locals happy with the way early events unfolded as the Hornets 'stung' into action with a try, conversion was missed. Wigan fought back and took control and took a 16-4 lead with some bruising tackles. Then Wath Brow fought back and it was a pulsating last 20 minutes until St Pats sealed the win to the delight of the Lancashire masses. The locals were disappointed to lose and even the scoreboard was too ashamed to put the final score up having 20-8 instead of 22-8 showing.

The ground is situated amongst glorious Cumbrian terrain with spectacular undulating views as far as the eye could see. Rugby League wise Cumbria seems in a time warp it is a special place with special people. The locals are warm and welcoming and forgiving especially when I asked a local Old Boy the question which was the bigger sport in this part of the world Rugby or Football ? He looked at me in complete shock as he shook his head he replied “never heard of hound trailing”? 

Hugs and handshakes all round

The journey home via Cockermouth and Keswick was simply sensational. I just gazed out of the car window totally hypnotised in the scenery that mother nature was presenting before my very eyes . The stunning Bassenthwaite Lake was as calm as a sleeping baby and did not have a ripple and all was serene and sunny, in the Lakes , quite simply majestic.

Backstreet in Cleator

Celtic Nation

Northern League Div 1
Celtic Nation 1
Bishop Auckland 1

Gate: £5
Atten: 409

View all Photos from Celtic Nation

Ground: 8/10
A lovely ground with some charming features. Originally named Gillford Park Spartans In 2012 the club adopted its current name. Green and White are the colours but behind the goals in the big stand are red and blue seats. Quite clearly serving as a reminder that the former ground owners were the Carlisle Border Raiders Rugby League Club. The present owners are throwing money at the club at the moment trying to buy promotions it could be said.
A cracking ground comes with my recommendations.

Match Enjoyment: 7/10 
You would have to point the finger ..... a Bishop's finger as the Sharks let slip a lead they were in control of. Bishop's "mitre" scored a few goals but could only manage one and the nippy Celtic sub stole in at the near post to glance home a late equaliser. The Cash it has taken to put the hosts squad together is by far the highest in the league but with results and performances like this it could turn out to be money misplaced.



This man is a non league football , lager drinking  with boy band looks :)
Last seen on the South Coast on Friday , next time he was seen was on Saturday in the Cumbria area.
Quite clearly this man is a serious ground hopper  and he must not be approached.....

Have you seen him ?  what is his name ?

If you do see him please buy him a pint !

Staveley Miners Welfare

Staveley MW 2
Stocksbridge Park Steels 0

 View all photos from Staveley Miners Welfare ......  HERE

Bradford Dudley Hill

National Conference League
Division 1

Bradford Dudley Hill 46
Saddleworth Rangers 10

Gate: £2
Atten: 150ish

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Originally formed after the First World War, the club was re-established in 1948, and since 2006 Dudley Hill has proudly played in the National Conference League ever since.
The 1973 season turned out to be a tipping point in Dudley Hill's history which saw them start their long climb to the very pinnacle of the amateur game. Hill’s ambition was realised in 1987 when Hill gained membership of the 12-team inaugural National Conference League. Along the way from 1979 until 1992 Dudley Hill won every trophy available to them at local level, Regional and National levels.

As I arrived I was welcomed to wonderful vistas across Yorkshire.
The name of the ground came as a result of a major tragedy, which affected the development of the club. It has to be said that this tragedy kick-started the club and inspired key members to accelerate development in the memory of Neil Hunt. December 1976 was the month and year that Neil Hunt was to lose his life as a result of an accident on the field of play. Neil suffered a broken neck in a one-on-one tackle, a freak accident that we hope we have never to experience again. Neil was 16 years old and was making his way in what was becoming a very promising career that was tragically terminated . His picture still hangs proudly in the Clubhouse today. In 1993 they were able to fulfil a long dream by being able to install floodlights and improve the club house facilities including the addition of new changing rooms as a result of a generous grant from the sports council.

I was given a warm welcome by the Club's Staff and was made to feel at home very quickly.

There was smiles all round by the loyal followers of Dudley Hill and they were only too pleased to help the visitor who ever they were. In the end the game became a bit one sided as the hosts took early control and a comfortable victory was already in the bag by half time.
It goes with out saying that a trip to Bradford Dudley Hill comes with my warmest recommendation.

Please do not be concerned about my recent rugby league trips as next week i am back to football in one of the most beautiful areas of our country , namely Cumbria.