Saturday 31st December 2022 14.00 Central Wales League North (step four) Abermule 3 Kerry 1 HT: 2-1 Att: 198 Pryce 30, 68 Humphreys 37, : Mumford 29
from Abermule Community Field
I’m normally quite meticulous in my preparation to visit a new ground, leaving plenty of time to get there, enough for a look round and a pint in a decent pub. Uncharacteristically today, I was incredibly laissez-faire in my preparations. On sticking my phone on its magnetic holder in my car, Google Maps told me I’d get to Abermule at 14.12, 12 minutes after kick off. I had two back-ups, Forden United and Bishops Castle Town, both in the same direction. Forden United had postponed (waterlogged pitch) and Bishop’s Castle had the slightly more favourable ETA of 14.05. It was a rookie error on my part; it wasn’t as if I was doing anything important before. I was poring over my parkrun stats, having ran Conkers (near Burton-on-Trent) at 9.00 that morning.
Jupp (pen) 1, 11, Hansley 90 Hayes so : Hutchins 38, Sutton 62
from Culcheth Sports Club
Daten is not a place in Cheshire, despite sounding like one. It stands for the Department of ATomic ENergy, originally a works side from the Culcheth branch of the government department, that at the time were called British Nuclear Fuels.
In 1998, the Culcheth Sports Ground was bought out from the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) for £203,000 and is now an independent self-sustaining body, with no ties to the atomic energy industry now. The impressive site boasts a large clubhouse with table tennis, snooker and games room. Outside are a cricket pavillion, tennis courts, bowling green and two football pitches.
Thankfully, the ties to the atomic energy back story are still evident in Daten’s nickname, the Atoms, and the club badge, which is the old fashioned representation of an atomic nucleus, from the days of Ernest Rutherford, when they depicted the electrons as like planets orbiting the sun. I love the two footballs as electrons in their logo – nice touch.
We now know this depiction of the atom to be misleading, as it is more like a central nucleus, surrounded by a probabilistic cloud of electrons, that behave more as a wave than a particle, until they’re measured. Scientifically incorrect as it may be, it has to be one of the best football badges in England.
Sunday 21st November 2020 15.00 Superliga (Danish top flight) FC København 1 AGF 1 HT: 1-0 Att: 25,814
Lerager 45+1 : Mortensen 90+5 (pen)
In November my mate and I went on a scandinavian football adventure. The cities of Copenhagen, in Denmark, and Malmö, in Sweden are separated by the Øresund Bridge, which is the one in the Scandi drama of the same name, you know, the female detective with a penchant for woolly jumpers?
I had always thought that it would be a great hop to do Malmö and Copenhagen over a weekend, fixtures allowing, with the bonus of ticking off two countries. I must’ve expressed this dream to my mate, who came back to me, unexpectedly, with dates in November for just such a double, with Malmö playing on the 20th and Copenhagen on the 21st.
Adding extra spice and incentive, both teams were vying for their respective championships; Malmö looking favourites to win the Allvenskan, sitting just above Djurgärden and Copenhagen trying to close the small gap on leaders Midtjylland in the Superliga
That wasn’t all though. In the last 18 months I’d taken on another groundhopping style hobby, called parkrun tourism. Parkruns take place in about 20 countries worldwide, mainly in Europe. They are a 5k run, every Saturday morning at 9am. They’re open to everybody and tend to take place in parks and trails, often old railway lines. They started in Bushy Park in 2004. Since then, around 700 new venues have popped up, in the UK alone. I have two within 5 miles of me. There is a free app simply called 5k, (like futbology), that has all the stats for your parkruns and various geeky challenges and badges. The most popular challenge is to run a parkrun starting with every letter of the alphabet, save X (of which there are none). Others include the stopwatch challenge, where you try to finish in a time where the seconds part is every number between 00 and 59. The most obscure is the fibonacci challenge. At each parkrun the events are numbered, and in the fibonacci challenge you must run at an event number corresponding to all the fibonacci numbers from 1 to 610. I just love the stats. I think the only reason I took up running is for these stats. Anyway, as a result of this newfound hobby, I thought I’d see if Denmark did parkruns (or Sweden for that matter). It turns out both do, and in fact Denmark was the second country to take them up. There are six Danish ones in total, with four in the Copenhagen area. I was spoilt for choice!
Wednesday 9th June 2021 19.00 Westmorland County Junior Cup Final
Greystoke 2 Kendal United Reserves 1 HT: 0-0 Att: c150 Ent: £3 (inc programme) og 65, Peile 90 : 55
from Vale of Lune Rugby Club (Powder House Lane)
This game was from the back end of last season.
My groundhopping partner Dave should win the Investigative Groundhopper of the Year Award for finding this fixture. Even the most diligent full bearded hoppers on the Non league Matters forum had not found it. We were all set to go to Yorkshire and Lower Hopton (boasting a small stand), when Dave sniffed out this rare truffle on Facebook around 4pm. He couldn’t have timed it better, as Lower Hopton was a 18.30 ko and we would be pushing it for time. Vale of Lune was a similar distance but with a 7pm ko, giving us leeway, and a very high hen’s tooth tariff. This was the Westmorland Junior Cup Final between Westmorland League sides Greystoke and Kendal United Reserves, played at the rugby ground of Vale of Lune. (We did have to double check the Junior didn’t mean kids, as that could have been embarrassing.)
It was Tuesday and another midweek trip south-west to Wales, for some more very early league action, this time in the step four Mid Wales East League. Waterloo Rovers were the hosts, playing at the same site as Welshpool Town, but a proper ground nonetheless, despite having the unsatifisfactory name of Maes-y-Dre Extension (Maes-y-Dre being the name of Welshpool’s Ground). To access it is not easy, as you need to drive past Welshpool Town, to an unmarked road that says Private – Access Only with no indication of a football ground at the end of it.
Four Crosses 1 Llanfair United 4 HT: 1-2 Att: 40 hc Gregory (og) 37 : Astley 27,89 (p) Hughes 30, Mwamuka 87
from Foxen Manor
I continued my Welsh travels this Saturday, this time for the Welsh cup, with a trip to another team on the border of England and Wales. Churchstoke, where I went Wednesday, sits in a chode shaped Welsh protuberance into the Shropshire hills, whereas Four Crosses sits a bit higher up, on the site of Offa’s Dyke Path, a few miles south of Oswestry.
Churchstoke 3 Forden United 3 HT: 2-1 Marston 6,70 Williams 21 : O’Donnell 5, Smith 48, Henderson Smith 80 (p)
from Cae Camlad
After over 18 months without a visit to a Welsh Ground this was third in a row; I was fully taking advantage of the early starts in the new Welsh Pyramid, as opposed to the usual July friendlies. I’ve never been much for friendlies, so to see competitive football in July with the light evenings is a real bonus, especially when you throw in the typical Welsh backdrop.
Wednesday 14th July 2021 19.00 North Wales Coast League Premier
Nefyn United 5 Glantraeth 1 HT: 2-0 Att: 75hc
from Cae’r Delyn
I like Nefyn for its remoteness. It lies halfway down the Lleyn peninsula, which sticks out like a shrivelled arm from the head that is Anglesey, and its Menai Strait neck. With the Welsh f being pronounced v I always think of Pat Nevin, the 80’s Chelsea player, taker of the worst penalty I’ve ever seen – you can google it. Barry Davies’s comments after are hilarious. Driving past Portmadoc onto the Lleyn peninsula the scenery becomes flatter and brighter that the Snowdonia region, more windswept and desolate. It lies on the coast on the north side and is a small village of population 1,400, and lays claim to being where singer Duffy hails from.
Saturday 3rd July 2021 14.00 North East Wales League Premier
Halkyn & Flint Mountain 3 Castell Alun Colts 2 HT: 1-1 Reece 4, Davies 50, Williams 93
from Pant Newydd
Despite being early July this was actually the opening day of the season in the brand new step three North East Wales Premier League. It had been almost two years since my last venture to the Principality, largely due to Wales not allowing spectators during the two covid hiatuses (hiati?). It was great to be back, and for an actual league game. The early start I think was to ensure enough time for the season to finish given suspected postponements due to covid reasons.
Monday 24th May 2021 18.45 Hope Valley League Premier Fairfield 5 Baslow 2 HT: 2-2 Att:
from Buxton Rugby Club
This was one of my favourite trips of the season. I’m not quite sure why; I think it was the mixture of it being a rarity, close by, scenic and a great game to cap it off. Fairfield usually play at the Fairfields Centre, which is a multi-pitch sports facility in Buxton and didn’t tempt me in the slightest, which is why I’d left Fairfield as one of only two teams I’d not seen in the Hope Valley League top flight.
However, rumour had it that they were playing their final games of the season at Buxton Rugby Club, which did sound very tempting. The allure was short lived as I’d read on Non League matters forum an account of somebody going, where they played on a satellite pitch to the main rugby pitch. This no longer tempted me; where there are ‘complexes’ or multi-pitches it has to be the main pitch or nothing.