They're Called West 'Am United .... The 'Ammers !

May 2nd 1964 The date of my first game, only I wasn't supposed to be going. The old man had come home from work that week with tickets for himself and my older brother, at that time football to me was a kick about in the back garden a mess around activity between us all with lots of fun and laughter. A couple of days before the match my brother was feeling unwell and much to his disappointment it was decided he would be better off staying at home, so out rolled the substitute, yours truly.
There was a bit of discussion about whether I should go as well, after all I was still 2 months short of my 4th birthday, but the old man convinced my mum that it would be ok, after all I was big for my age and could easily pass for a 5 or 6 yr old. My recollections of what happened that day are a bit hazy, most of what I write will be from conversations that took place some years later.

I'll start off by saying my old man is a Gooner, always was, always will be. So as far as I knew we were going to watch a football match between a team from London and a team from up north (where ever that was), who were playing for some sort of prize. Now the London team had in a previous match, vanquished a much vaunted team also from up north called United. But the London team was also called United which to my mind caused much confusion, how did we know which United had won I asked. My dad explained that the united part was a bit like a surname, lots of clubs had it but had a different first name and the one from Up North that lost was called Manchester. This, of course, made eminent sense to me we were supporting London United!

We arrived at Wembley where my Dad met up with some friends from work and started to make our way to the stadium I had never seen so many people all in one place. On the way in a chap wearing a dark red and light blue scarf asked who we were supporting (as we had no scarfs ourselves). "London United" I said in my loudest most grown up voice.
He laughed and said Nah mate! They're call West 'am United , The 'Ammers, this scarf is their colours Claret n Blue, mate, and off he ran into the crowd still laughing and shaking his head.

We got into the stadium and found places near the front, close enough for me to get a good view and far enough back that we were not right at the front. Most of the match passed me by in a frenzy of noise and colour, we didn't start off too well and they scored after about 10 minutes, then we got one back almost straight away (much to the relief of those around me). The game started to get quite exciting and I started to join in the shouted support for West Ham. Then we started to play not so good again and they scored, a short time later the whistle blew. Did we lose? I asked my Dad disappointingly, Not yet son, its half time there's still another 45 minutes left.

The second half started and we were looking good, but the game kept too-ing and fro-ing. Then from a corner we scored again and it was 2 all. The game could have gone either way, both teams having scoring chances, it was starting to look like it would be a draw at full time, but suddenly, in the dying minutes we scored again. The Whistle blew for the final time and West Ham United had won the FA Cup.

We stayed long enough to see the cup lifted then made our way home. For weeks afterwards my brother kept telling me how lucky I was to have been at the match. Of course at the time I did not know what he was on about .it was only a football match after all.

I had flirtations with other clubs for a few years after that (as most kids at my primary school did depending on their favourite player at the time), as I said before I was big for my age (I was about 4-5 taller than most of my peers and was of a stocky build) so I always got picked to be in goal or as a Centre Back because of that I (as any school kid would) styled myself on my favourite player at that time. Bobby Moore was my hero.

As you can imagine it was a raucous in my household at that time, the old man being a Gooner, me a Hammer, my older sister was into Chelsea (I think that was more due to the two Peters, Osgood and Bonetti rather than the football) and my younger brother was into Leeds United (he liked Peter Lorimer - he of the hard shot).

As for my older brother, a few months after the match we moved house and he had a little accident. Nothing serious, but he had a few problems getting over it. After some investigations at the hospital it was found that he had Leukemia. Back in those days Radiotherapy was in its infancy, Chemotherapy was not even being tested and Bone Marrow transplants were not even thought of. He died not long after at the age of six. I now appreciate how lucky I was to go to that game, the one he should have gone to. I am sure if we had known how ill he really was, then he would have gone and he would have been a Hammer as well.

Farewell Boleyn

The Onion Bag Awards 2015-16

6th Annual

Onion Bag Awards

2015-16 Season

Favourite Non League Ground Visited

Conwy Borough

Y Morfa Stadium, home of Conwy Borough was a fantastic way to start the new season. Well maintained , spacious modern club house and facilities and surrounded by glorious countryside , i loved it !

View all photos from Conwy Borough

 Strongly Recommended
Northern Premier League 

 Lanelian Road in Old Colwyn is a little beauty. If you have the energy, climb to the top of the hill which overlooks the ground. You will rewarded with stunning views as far as the eye can see. The main stand which almost stretches the length of the pitch is an impressive feature. Excellent little Club Shop and great catering on offer. Combined with some Welsh sunshine it makes for a fantastic day out.


Northern League 

A lovely visit to the east coast. Brilliant welcome by the clubs officials which was as warm as the summer sunshine. 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. Perhaps not the best ground but the friendly welcome more than made up for it. Lovely day in every way.

View Full Photo Set from Marske 



Barnsley & District League
Lundwood 4 Wombwell 4

 I arrived about fifteen minutes after the 6pm kick off time. By then Lundwood were 3-0 up and it seemed a forgone conclusion. But as usual games in this league are very competitive to say the least, always played at pace with bone crunching tackles guaranteed. It certainly is not a league for the feeble or one legged.

Slowly but surely Wombwell clawed their way back into the game and grabbed a goal with about ten minutes left to play.But then they grabbed a second and things became interesting.Then they equalised to make it 3-3 with a clever looping shot over the goalies head. Then with minutes left another attack they won a penalty and the Lundwood camp went beserk. Goalie got sent off and an outfield player took over between the posts. They scored to make it 4-3 and complete the astonishing comeback ....

... But then with seconds left Lundwood won a free kick just outside the box. The 'stand in' goalie rushed up field to take it. Even with the 6 man wall only about 7 yards away he then proceeded to smash the ball over the wall into the top corner. Within seconds the mayhem occurred with players, coaches, subs, fans, friends, parents, Aunts & Uncles and Grannies all ran on to the pitch and celebrated in a giant pile of bodies. Just seconds later the ref blew the final whistle of this fantastic, entertaining, thrilling , unforgettable finale. It was football at its very best. 

Northern Premier League
Frickley 2 Stourbridge 1

What a night up Westfield Lane as Frickley staged a dramatic last gasp fightback with two penalties in the 87th & 93rd Minutes to deny play off chasing Stourbridge.
The game had been a cagey affair with both defences dominating. As the match wore on Stourbridge looked the more likely to score the first goal, which is exactly what happened. The Glassboys midfield seem to get a stranglehold on the game as they looked fresher and Frickley players perhaps feeling the effects from 4 matches in 8 days.
The Stourbridge camp seemed to think they had won the game until the lino flagged for a penalty (87th min) much to the frustration of the Stourbridge players. Frickley International No9 Hazel smashed the ball home and the celebrated in style.

Then with seconds left the Frickley crowd roared the players on and another penalty was awarded for a clear foul in the box. Step forward Tom Davie who calmly slotted home the winner and jumped into the crowd followed by every Frickley player. The place went bonkers and moments later the final whistle went and the noise got even louder. Fair to say the Stourbridge Coaches were not happy with the ref and approached the officials as they came off much to the enjoyment of the vociferous Frickley crowd who are never shy to share their thoughts !. … What a night ! 

View Full Photo Set from this match

 FA Vase 2nd Round  
Hemsworth Miners Welfare 1
Sunderland RCA 5

This was my third visit here this season and the entertainment has been top notch with scorelines of 7-2, 6-1 & 1-5 and today was no different.
After only 14 seconds Sunderland RCA had already taken the lead with a simple yet clinical piece of finishing. Hemsworth attacked in waves with plenty of chances but sadly the RCA goalie was in superb form all afternoon, which included one world class save. Infact RCA had only 8 shots on target all game , they scored with 5 of them , hit the bar (which is probably still shaking) and forced a decent save with the other. They were clinical in attack. Hemsworth always provide an entertaining display and with every attack they get at least 4/5 players in the box which is to be applauded. But against a more than decent outfit like RCA it proved their downfall as the gaps they leave at the back get exploited.

The final scoreline of 1-5 is a bit misleading as this was non-stop entertainment from first to last whistle and could easily have ended up 5-8 ! 


  Mr Paul Armstrong – Workington AFC
Paul does a brilliant job with the club's match day updates and media duties.
You will find Paul as professional as ever, even on a wet windy Wednesday in Whitby. His loyalty seems to have no boundaries .Another volunteer who gives up his time for love , not money.

Full Photo Set from Workington

Mr Stuart Tree

The 'Lens Magician' has consistently produced match day photo sets of the highest order. His recent Play Off sets have been simply outstanding. 
Stuart's attention to detail is second to none and his ability to portray the atmosphere is of such quality its makes you feel as though you were actually there ! The images speak for themselves. All photo sets can be viewed HERE

Be prepared for spending more time that you intend to, for they are that good !.


View all Photo Sets from Stuart - HERE


Glossop North End
The Pies at Glossop were excellent. I happily polished off the Steak & Ale pie, peas & gravy, swiftly followed by a return visit for the 'Winter Lamb' Pie. Both were duly dispatched with ease. Delicious ! I even returned without any shame to buy another to take away and it was waiting for me wrapped in silver foil as the final whistle blew. Now that's what i call service !
Glossop also play fantastic and enjoyable football. I saw them literally crush a decent Clitheroe outfit. Clinical display.
Oadby Town

Freshly cooked , thick tasty burger, topped with cheese made from Yak's milk from the hardest to reach regions of the Nepalese Himalayan Mountain range. Complimented with onions on top. Generous portion, very tasty and all for only £2 ! and served with a friendly smile.

View photo set from Oadby HERE 


Hope Valley League - Premier Division
Buxworth 1 Bakewell Town 4
atten 8

 View Photo set from Buxworth

A glorious afternoon in the beautiful,bucolic High Peaks of Derbyshire.
The village was originally called Bugsworth, but in the early 20th century some residents began to dislike the name of their village; their cause was championed by the local vicar and the village school headmaster. As a result of their efforts, Bugsworth officially became Buxworth in April 1930. 

The area was once an important centre for the Limestone industry. Situated in the Village centre the pitch is surrounded by dry-stone walling and glorious views as far as the eye can see. Adjacent the local cricket team were in action and sporadic 'Howzat' appeals could be heard loudly and clearly.

I really enjoy the Hope Valley League and it is fast becoming one of my favourite leagues. The standard of play may not be the highest but the effort and entertainment more than make up for any failings. The pitch was bobbly, the grass was too long and the whole pitch was covered in dandelions. There was no 'furniture' except for a changing hut for the players a hundred yards away. The changing hut it is fair to say is ramshackle and needs a lick of paint.

The match itself was compitetive with some hard tackles. As normal at this level player committment is not always predictable. Buxworth had been let down by three goalies so were forced to put an outfield player in goal for the whole game. He tried his best but using his hands would have been a better option on more than one occasion. After half an hour the Buxworth No6 after being booked removed himself from the field of play shouting "Better sub me because i will get sent off" . He then returned to the changing hut grabbed his bag , got in his car and went.

In the end the visitors ran out comfortable winners and their third goal was a lovely towering header from a corner. It proved to be the Cherry on top of Bakewell's Cake !

Bottesford Town

Northern Counties East 
Play Off Final
Bottesford Town 1 Emley 1
Bottesford win 4-3 on penalties
Atten 280

View all Photos from Bottesford Town

Today i finally arrived in paradise ... aka Scunthorpe ! This was Bottesford's biggest match ever and it was a shame that League One club Scunthrope United were also playing at Home and entry was only a fiver v Port Vale. As Glanford Park is situated only a 4 iron away it was bound to have an effect on the attendence. and so it proved. 

It was their loss as this was a most enjoyable game with a cruel late twist. First half was an even affair with both teams probing each other with little effect.
But the second half was excellent as both teams were going for the victory. But it was Emley who took the lead after a period of pressure. A decent corner to the back post was headed back across the goal which was duly dispatched. To much celebration the Emley players jumped on top of each other. They could/should have doubled the lead as few minutes later as their No9 who has scored 70+ goals this season , was left unmarked 15 yards out but rushed himself and proceeded to balloon the ball twenty feet over the bar. Emley should have also had a penalty for a blatant foul on the same No9 but the ref thought otherwise. It turned out to be a tipping point of the match. 

But then with only seconds to go, and while the Emley bench were all smiling, Bottesford pressed and pressed and in the very last second were awarded a penalty.
FT 1-1. Extra time was cagey with both teams having chances. 

Emley were 3-1 up in the Penalty shoot out but somehow they lost their nerve and missed the next two spot kicks. Bottesford Scored their penalty which started a pitch invasion and celebrations.The Emley players were understandably distraught and watching Bottesford celebrate hardly eased the pain.
Very good of the home crowd to applaud the Emley team off the pitch. It was a nail biting and pulsating finish to the game in sunny Scunny !