Shirebrook Town

FA Vase 1st Round
Shirebrook Town 2 
Sporting Khalsa 0
atten 119

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Eyam FC

Hope Valley League - 'B' Division
Eyam 2 
Bakewell Manners 3

atten 8

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Eyam is most famous for the plague that hit the village in the 17th century.The lives of the Eyam villagers changed dramatically after one innocent bundle of cloth arrived from London to Eyam. The village fate was sealed. Fearing the plague would spread to the outside world the villagers of Eyam remained within the village boundaries to ensure the death wouldn't spread to others. 
The Village retains its wooden stocks on a grass verge outside Eyam Hall. Miscreants would be held in the stocks by their legs,arms and heads and pelted with stones,clods of earth or more smelly missiles such as offal and dung. By the early 19th century the stocks were used very often due to the rise in crime.So much so they formed and Eyam Society for the Prosecution of Felons. The same society still meets today albeit with different personnel !.The stocks were last used in the late 19th century but more in the form of public humiliation than anything else. Rumour has it that the well known nursery rhyme came as a result of the Eyam plague. Ring-a-ring was because of the marks on the necks of the plague sufferers. "Atishoo, Atishoo, we all fall down" refers to the death of those who caught the plague.  
Eyam is a lovely village to walk around and brunch was taken in the local church which was purveying morning coffee and snacks, both delicious. The local convenience store was selling 'Blackjacks & Fruits Salad' sweets, a throwback to the 70's.

Players change in the sports pavilion about a 3 minute walk from the pitch. One lady from Eyam warned me that a 'big crowd” was expected for today's game. She then added “it could reach 15”.

The game was a topsy turvy one played in good spirit. Although not the best standard I have ever seen, it still retained the attention as the out come was always in question.Both teams hit the post twice and both made plenty of unforced errors. The ref had a decent game and let the game flow at every opportunity. Quote of the day came from an Eyam supporter as he reacted to a debatable offside decision from a Bakewell sub who was running the line “well if ya gonna cheat , cheat fairly” !!

Eyam were “plagued” (if you will pardon the pun !) with poor defending as the game went on and with minutes left , a mis-hit here and an untimely bobble there , gifted Bakewell with the winning goal to secure their first win of the season. The Eyam goalie was entertaining as he came up in to the Bakewell penalty area for every corner from the 70th minute onwards. On virtually every occasion it would cause chaos and turn into a 'keystone cops' moment as he rushed back towards his goal area often with hilarious results.

There was no admission charge asked for, there were no programmes produced, there were no refreshments offered, there were no stands to shelter under. Infact there was nothing here, except for good honest entertainment and beautiful views.But that was enough for me, because in the Hope Valley less is so much more.

Oadby Town

FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round
Oadby Town 1 
Borrowash Victoria 4
Atten 130ish

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 Ground/Game/Day Enjoyment 9/10

Freeway Park is a smashing little set up and like me you will receive a warm welcome .
Impressive clubhouse, decent catering facilities and well stocked club shop. I liked the ground as it had a homely feel about it. It was also FA Vase day which made the visit more enjoyable as it is my favourite cup competion of them all. There is something special about a Vase match. I dont think the Poachers expected such a tough battle from lower league opposition and in the end their Wembley dreams were already ended for another season.

The exact year of formation is unsure but it is believed to be either 1937 or 1939 under the guise of Oadby Imperial.
The Poachers have won the Leicestershire Senior League eight times and been runners-up seven times. In the 1999–2000 season they joined the Midland Football Alliance, and in their first season in this league they were crowned champions.In the 2002–03 season Oadby Town were FA Vase semi-finalists, losing out to Brigg Town 3–1 on aggregate.

 The 2004–05 season saw the club win their first Leicestershire Challenge Cup crown for over 30 years and 3rd in total, beating fellow Midland Alliance side Barwell 2–1 at the Walkers Stadium in Leicester. The 2006–07 season saw Oadby enter the Rolleston Charity Cup for the first time in nine years and winning the competition for a ninth time beating Barwell 2–1 in the final at Holmes Park. The following season saw Oadby retain the Rolleston Charity Cup beating favourites Hinckley United 4–1 in the final. On top of that they won the Leicestershire Challenge Cup for the fourth time beating Friar Lane & Epworth 3–0 at the Walkers Stadium.
In 2010–11 Oadby Town finished 22nd in the Midland Football Alliance and were relegated to the East Midlands Counties League. Lee Harriman, former Coalville Town chief, was appointed manager for the 2011–12 season. Oadby managed a successful season with a decent run in the FA Vase, being the only team from below Step 5 to reach the 5th Round, losing to Staveley Miners Welfare.
Oadby Town moved across to the United Counties League Division One (Step 6) for the 2012–13 season

Spennymoor Town

FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round
Spennymoor Town 2
Blyth Spartans 1
atten 840

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Colwyn Bay

Northern Premier League
Colwyn Bay 0 
Frickley Athletic 2
atten 264

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Fully deserved victory for Frickley and they were rarely troubled by a disappointing Colwyn Bay performance. Frickley could had already been 2 up before they scored a superb near post header from a corner.
The game was sealed by a quite delicious 20 yard curling shot into the top corner by the Frickley left back. It looked in all the way and the goalie had no chance. When 2-0 up, Frickley had their best spell of pressure of the game and were unlucky not to add to their goal tally.

Llanelian Road is a great venue in a lovely setting and it looked a picture today bathed in sunshine. Decent catering, comfy lounge bar, and an excellent club shop made this a another enjoyable day out in beautiful North Wales

Marske United

FA Cup Preliminary Round
Markse United 1 
Lancaster City 1
atten 416

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Just thirty minutes prior to kick off all seemed serene and peaceful in the sleepy Teeside village of Marske-by-the Sea. Only seconds later panic set in as it was realised that both teams were intending to play in yellow as the visitors had arrived with the wrong kit. Fortunately the hosts had their away strip of red and white hoops freshly laundered and minutes later the Lancaster players were 'proudly' wearing them.

Despite Lancaster playing in a higher league the casual visitor would be hard noticed to tell the difference between the two sides. Both defenses were on top for most of the game. Marske's left back was outstanding all game and it was befitting that he should pop up at the back post to score what they thought was the winner . Sadly a few minutes later they lost control of the ball on the halfway line and seconds later soft defending gifted the Dolly Blues a late equaliser.

Moments after the final whistle in the car park the Marske Manager 'Mr Mourinho' was busy checking how many of his squad could make Tuesday's replay in Lancashire. But the biggest problem is for the person who has to wash the two sets of kits as a result of the earlier kit kerfuffle !

They seem a hard working and loyal bunch at Marske and their dedication is to be admired. The friendly welcome given by the Marske Officials was as warm as the August sunshine and only added to what was, another enjoyable day out in the North East. #Sea ...Sea...Seasiders !


Conwy Borough

Huws Gray Alliance Football League
Conwy Borough 2 
Flint Town United 1
Atten 124

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What a lovely way to start the new season off.The only downside being the hold ups on the notorious A55. But the extended delays were all forgotten upon arrival at this smashing ground. The whole place looked fantastic in the sunshine. It is already a contender for 'Favourite Ground of the Season' in the Annual Onion Bag Awards every May.

Following the demise of Borough United  in 1967, Welsh representatives in the European Cup Winners Cup in 1963/64, there was a void of Welsh League clubs in the Conwy area. Historically there has always been football in the area, and especially a Conwy team, stretching back to the 1870s. Then in 1977 Conwy Town and Conwy Royal British Legion, both of whom played in the Vale of Conwy League, amalgamated to form Conwy United.

Then in 1992 the club became founder members of the  Welsh League The club finished a creditable 7th place in its first season and in 1995/96 finished in 3rd place under the guidance of John Hulse, with Kenny McKenna setting a club scoring record of 49 goals in a season. The club qualified for the1996 Intertoto Cup and played Charloi (Belgium) and SV Reid (Austria) at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham, and travelled to Lubin (Poland) and Silkeborg (Denmark). Despite not progressing past the group stage, the club gave a good account of itself especially with a 0-0 draw against Charleroi and losing to a late goal against SV Ried.

In the following three seasons the club reached the semi-finals of the Welsh Cup twice, and also qualified for the Welsh Premier Cup twice, most notably holding Swansea City to 0-0 draw at the Vetch Field. However the financial burden had begun to take its toll on the club and in 2000 were relegated. In April 2012 the Football Association of Wales domestic committee approved a name change request that from the 2012/13 season the club was to be renamed Conwy Borough F.C.

 Fantastic setting and ground to start the season. My advice is to go when you can.

2014-15 Onion Bag Awards

 5th Annual Onion Bags Awards  
2014-15 Season

Best Non League Ground Visited


Workington AFC

Northern Premier League

As soon as you step inside Borough Park you can just smell the history of bygone days, still hear the sounds of Bill Shankly giving his team talks wafting from the changing rooms and the aura of the Busby babes just before the Munich air disaster nearly fifty years earlier. 

Despite its location a journey to Borough Park is well worth the effort. It is almost like a piligrimage to Mecca for it is that special. Vast open terraces with a beautiful ecclectic mix of old world charm and modern facilities in equal measures. 
The journey alone is memorable. As you pass by the magnificent Bassenthwaite Lake you will marvel as to what Mother nature has produced,for it is simply stunning.

You are assured of a memorable welcome by the Clubs Officials and their hospitality is excellent.I was most impressed by the excellent martch coverage service no matter where the Reds are playing, even on a wet Wednesday in Whitby ! - Paul and his collegues do a fantastic job. It took me a long time to finally visit Borough Park after a few near misses,but the wait was worth it. Hopefully I will be returning at some point next season … as long as they call me “marra” !


West Midlands Premier League

What a cracking ground Queen Street is. Situated in the Black Country Wolverhampton.The Main Stand is obviously the focal point and it is fantastic. It just oozes charm, beauty and .... Orange. Even more Orange than David Dickinson, Dale Winton and the Tango guy. There was even some orange coloured soap in the toilets. Whilst walking round to the other side of the ground if you start to get 'Orange withdrawal symptons' dont worry because you will bump into Bilston's number one and loudest fan Mr Bilston who is clad from head to toe in ....... Orange !

The Club has had an eventful history and in the last few years has had over 130 break-ins from the local recidivists. But they keep bouncing back, for which i doff my cap to them. They are determined to be an integral part of the local community , forge partnerships with multi-agencies, and host fundraising events for the locals who are more needy than themselves. Another eye catching feature of the ground is the Orange hypercube style fencing which surrounds the periminter which you can see from the from the Black Country Route Road. I would strongly recommend a visit to Bilston Town. Because like David 'Orange' Dickinson would say "Its a Bobby Dazzler" !



Welsh Alliance League – Division 2

 Cae Clyd is not the easiest to find if following the Sat Nav and is found up a narrow road going south out of the town. There used to be a stand which straddled the half way line on the far side from the entrance.I heard they 'borrowed for a while, before the Railway Authorities wanted it back. But to be honest it makes no difference to the beauty of the place, except perhaps those without a brolly when the heavens open.

But once you do find Cae Clyd, life is good again. For when you enter it is like steppng into a magical kingdom reminiscent to something out of a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. For the sweeping views at every angle just leave you spellbound. For it is that beautiful. Except when the rain and fog appear it all disappears like a magic trick , only to reappear once it all lifts.

As you walked passed the changing rooms despite the rain bouncing of the windows you could hear happy celebrations from the home players . It was reminiscent of the famous incantations of a Welsh Male Voice Choir as if they just won the World Cup and 6 Nations ! It was fantastic.




Northern Premier League - Div 1 South

 A three person welcoming party greeted me warmly upon my arrival in Reception and the genuine warm welcome never faded throughout my stay. I was made King for the day given a personal tour and was asked on more than one occasion if there was anything I needed by the caring club's officials. They even informed the crowd that I was visiting the club, a classy gesture.
Just a shame that the match itself was one of the most uneventful of the season. As both teams were fighting for a playoff spot they cancelled each other out. The ground itself is fantastic and built for higher leagues. It was just a shame that they could not achieve promotion they desperately were seeking. But if promotions were awarded to Clubs based on their attitudes and 'fan care' then Rangers would be very worthy winners. A visit to Stafford Rangers comes very highly recommended.

Special Mention: Leek Town

Harrison Park and is one of my favourite non league grounds. Very friendly vibe around the club and the excellent staff could not be more friendly or helpful. It was a brilliant match in true FA Cup traditions where the 'underdog' came out on top. One of the best days out during the season. Such a big shame they were pipped for promotion but i am sure they will bounce back stronger next season especially under the guidance of manager Lee Casswell who does and brilliant job. Fantastic Visit.





Margate retain their trophy for the fourth season running. No other club came close to consideration. I have heard of a few visitors who have also experienced bad memories from their visit to 'Planet Thanet' during last season.



                      North Shields 4 Pheonix Sports 1 - FA Vase 5th
Leek Town 2 Boston Town 0 – FA Cup 3rd Q Round

Both matches were superb and very enjoyable. End to end excitement and fantastic atmospheres.


Kendal 0 Lancaster 0

Stafford Rangers 0 Spalding 0

Caenarforn Town 0 Holyhead Hotspur 0

Barnsley 0 Chester City 0

Hade Edge 0 Marsden 0

Only the Barnsley/Chester game lingers in the memory as the others were poor entertainment.




Mike interviewing one of his RL all time heroes

If you wish to find out anything about non league football, rugby league or cricket then no need to bother researching on Wikipedia , just ask Mike ! His subject knowledge seems to hold no boundries and is 'annoyingly impressive'.
Mike has written several fantastic books and his efforts in producing quality match day programmes is to be admired.
But what impresses me most about Mike is what type of person he is. He is always ready to help anybody , anytime. A fine quality by a fine man.




Warm Pork Pie with Mushy Peas & Mint Sauce

Simply delicious ! Home made by the local butcher , crisp pastry with very tasty contents complimented by delicious mushy peas and mint sauce. My visit to Railway was one of my favourite of the season. A damp late autumn afternoon , soggy pitch, two very decent teams who played great attacking football and possibly one of the best clubhouses in non league football. The Welcome by everybody was fantastic which capped off a most enjoyable visit and i will certainly return one day next season.

Total Matches and Grounds Visited - 75

Trafford FC

Northern Premier League
Trafford 2 Frickley 3
Atten  140

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Kendal Town

Northern Premier League - Div One North
Kendal Town 0 Lancaster City 0
Atten 340

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Conference North
Barrow 1 Stockport 0
Atten 1657

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Featherstone Rovers

Rugby League Championship
Featherstone Rovers 6
Leigh Centurions 40
Atten 2695

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Another pulsating day of high insensity, non stop action, and fantastic entertainment. It makes me wonder why i bother sometimes with football when RL offers so much more. Excellent atmosphere, no pathetic jobsworth club officials. 
Leigh scored first with an excellent try by the ever impressive Liam Kay (5) but Fev hit back strongly and had the better of things and took a HT 6-4 lead. Centurions start signing Mr Moimoi got pole-axed in the first half but that proved a huge mistake by Fev, because he came back on later even more fired up !. But then in the second half Leigh's power, strength and intensity proved too much. Leigh's Tom Armstrong also bagged a brace and was outstanding like most of the squad was. 

Fev huffed and puffed but couldnt break down a very solid Centurions team who are a Super League outfit in everything but name. Make no mistake they are that impressive. 

Featherstone as a town for some is a somewhat depressing place and has seen better days. But it hosts two decent rugby league teams and has loyal supporters who remember dearly their three challenge cup wins at Wembley. I remember watching them in the '73 final beating Bradford Northern 33-14. The whole of Fev seemed to have migrated South that day.

But they say every downside has an upside. Featherstone does have an upside .... it has a Lidl !!

Die hard Fev Fans
Fev Groundsman hard at work

Selfie Time ! - Leigh players interacting with the fans !

Stafford Rangers

Northern Premier League
Div 1 South
Stafford Rangers 0 
Spalding United 0
Atten 508

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Bromsgrove Sporting

Midland Football League - Division One
Bromsgrove Sporting 1 Cadbury Athletic 2
Programme £1 (decent)
Atten 322


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Fantastic Classic Main Stand at Bromsgrove Sporting
 An enjoyable day in the Midlands, not far from The Crossroads Motel Wink

The Victoria Ground is a superb step 6 venue and they have the highest average attendance of any team at this level in the country.
Once inside you can smell it has hosted much higher leagues. In 1993 the former tennants Bromsgrove Rovers reached the dizzy heights of Runners-Up in the Football Conference behind Wycombe Wanderers. You can still see reminders of the green team colours of Rovers around the ground,mostly on the big stand behind the top goal. The obvious focal point of the ground is the superb main stand which overlooks proceedings like a Head Master during Asembley !.

At the start of play it was 2nd v 6th and the game itself was an even affair with the opening goal by Sporting coming as a complete suprise. HT 1-0.
It only took a matter of seconds for Cadbury to equalise in the 2nd half and they continued to dominate as the game unfolded. They showed the greater desire and were well worth the win and the team of chocolate fame had more Quality (street) and they came up 'Roses' with plenty of 'celebrations' as they scored the winner and proved they were no soft centre !