Chelsea Transfer Target
Jun 17, 2019, 4:26 PM
Location: exiled in Aberdeenshire
Team(s): Leeds + groundhopping
Post #1 of 2
Inverness & District AFA, First Division Cup Final
IRN Security 3-2 Tomatin
3pm at Culloden, top pitch – ALL THAT REMAINS !!!
f&n, h/c 61
Earlier in the week, my target for today had been to do one of the two NW Sutherland fixtures that I still need, both up on the north coast. But both Melvich’s and Tongue United’s fixtures were changed – Melvich’s reversed to be a home game for Golspie Stafford as part of the town’s Gala Day attractions (so on 3rd of August Golspie Stafford v Melvich will correspondingly be switched to be Melvich’s home game) and Tongue v Kinlochbervie was shifted to 29th June, Highland Amateur Cup R3 day, since both are already out of that.
So the attention switched to which Skye & Lochalsh remaining tick I should do. ‘Wasteful’ to do one of their Saturday 6pms without having firstly got in an earlier KO. Nothing combineable with Portree Juniors which I still need, but this fixture was a ‘might as well’ aperitif, ahead of an evening at Gairloch, even though I wouldn’t normally bother with a neutral-venue cup final.
Last time I did Culloden, I had been simultaneously watching two Highland Amateur Cup games – one on the middle pitch, one on the top pitch. Tram had been there that day (watching just one-at-once – on the middle pitch), he assuring me that on a previous visit he had seen footy on a bottom pitch, despite there being no evidence of it that day (probably out of use, resting, for that season).
Turning up today though, what a shock! The vast majority of the parkland is now one massive fenced-off site of earthworks. Very probably yet more housing (in addition to the new houses going up between the main road and the village). All that remains now is the single upper pitch. SIGH. Players still get changed in the primary school buildings at the bottom, so it’s now a fair walk up the road to then cut in at the top.
Evidently a sought-after residential area. From within the trees at the very top, barbeque smoke was rising, and family-friendly music was blaring, interspersed with blasts from a lone bagpiper. I went to have a nose at HT – it was the residents’ association family fun day of stalls, under the banner of PARCS – Preserve And Revamp Culloden and Smithton “Bringing Community To Life”. OK, I don’t mind ‘community’, but not when it means building yet more houses on two out of three football pitches when I hadn’t yet seen a game on the bottom one. GRRR!
With a 6pm to get to 71 miles away, what I didn’t need here was the dreaded ET. IRN going 1 up on 26 with a pen and then 2-0 on 33 calmed my nerves that it’d be done in regulation time, surely?
A pen on 67 bringing it back to 2-1 had me worried. Especially since IRN then just tried to protect their lead rather than to extend it. The league official set up his trestle table and got the trophy out of a Tesco carrier bag. A silly foul was given away outside the box. The Tomatin player struck it low, just inside the post. An easy one for the IRN keeper to go down and smother …but he didn’t get his body behind it, and fluffed it – through his fingers and in. Oh you bldy idiot! Six minutes to go and I’m facing ET and therefore giving up the main tick of the day. SIGH. The league official put the cup bag in his Tesco bag. Surely both sides will now just go through the motions and see what the extra 30 brings, rather than risk over-committing themselves in the closing stages? But no! A rallying cry from one of the captains to his team-mates summed it up : “The sooner we get this done, the sooner we can get to the pub!”. What motivation! It worked! Both sides went for it. I was cheering on any attack – at this stage I didn’t care which team won, as long as one of them did so before the end of normal time. My prayers were answered – on 90+3 one of IRN’s subs made it 3-2. Halleluia!! I think I cheered more loudly than any of their own supporters did!
No time to hang around to see the presentation. With several numpty dawdling tourists in the way, the satnav was showing me I was falling behind schedule. But once a bit further west, they thinned out and the roads through the stunning lochs and mountains scenery are good, allowing a bit of catch-up.
Gairloch & Aultbea United 7-0 Glenelg
Skye & Lochalsh Amateur FA, league fixture
“6pm” at Gairloch
f&n, h/c 20
5:59pm when I parked up right at the gate. Hooray. Made it. …but the action was already underway. B*gger. Stopwatch on. The time on the watch when the ref blew for HT indicated that it had started at 5:53 – seven minutes early. During the first half, the ball had gone out (so should have been a throw) just in front of me before an away player carried on running with it. His sub pal holding the flag ‘didn’t notice’ (ahem) it crossing the line. The home players shouted for it and berated the ref – “this bloke here must have seen it go out!”, pointing to me. I had. And waved my hanky as a pseudo flag. But the ref played on. He came over to me at the break and apologized “I’m sure you had a better view of it than me, but I can’t take decisions from a spectator. Sorry.” I took the opportunity to comment to him that it seemed that he had kicked off a bit early. “Everybody was ready at ten-to, so I just got going.” Although I had not missed a goal, to be a purist, I should make a revisit. That would be no hardship at all – what a superb location, seriously challenging Kinlochbervie (at Scourie) for the most scenically-set pitch in Scotland that I have seen a game at ...although the pilgrimage to Eriskay remains! Perched a little way up the hillside, there are wonderful views in all directions. Across to the rugged mountains that I had just driven through, occasional clouds in an otherwise blue sky atmospherically skirting their peaks. A rain shower in the distance bore a rainbow. Immediately behind, the hill climbs further, with sheep grazing in boulder-speckled rough pasture. And looking along the length of the pitch has the sea loch in the foreground with the peaks of the Isle Of Skye out to sea beyond the mouth of the loch. Absolutely stunning wherever you look. There’s also a small wooden shelter of cover with a plank bench for rainy days. Today the two decaying park benches + a pile of tyres provided adequate seating spots from which to soak up the rays and drink in the magnificence. Immediate rough beyond the mown edge meant that several balls were seen disappearing into it, but were never found. And wild shots over the bar landing on the road below soon sped downhill to the waterfront. Subs are adequately warmed-up going off chasing after them! As ever though, the major downside in this otherwise idyllic part of the world are the blasted midges. My forehead and earlobes being their primary munching targets today. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! You just couldn’t live out here.
Glenelg scored 6 minutes after my arrival (so on 12 minutes). Very little celebration had me worried that they were already several up, or even worse had it perhaps been a FIVE pm KO not a six? As the further goals rattled in, it was clear that that lack of jubilation was more out of respect for the opposition than anything else. Glenelg is a wee place, relatively inaccessible, and their football side regularly get thumpings. But good on them for keeping on trying. The first goal I saw had indeed been the game’s opener. It had got to 5-0 ten minutes into the second half, when the hosts perhaps eased off a bit - the 6th and 7th only came in the closing five minutes.
Two of the crowd were the parents of one of the visitors’ subs. An incredibly young-looking lad, who “has just turned 15” his Mum told me. Half the height of (and half the girth of) many of the ‘grown men’, but when he came on he proved that he could certainly play a bit, and wasn’t afraid to get stuck in. He even tried to jump for headers alongside six-footer centre halves – aw! Bless!
A real reluctance to leave, I had to tear myself away. But I didn’t go far – Gairloch has a brewpub. I’ve been coming to the Old Inn since it first started brewing in 2011, having had several different ones of theirs over the years. But, in common with many things along this route, it now produces a “North Coast 500”-branded ale, which is the only thing tourists now want to buy (I was the only Brit in the pub) so it has discontinued production of all others. A nice drop, shame to have a vehicle to point home, so just the one before a much-less-hurried drive back through the lochs and mountains, Loch Maree and the peaks behind being particularly gorgeous in the variable lighting of passing cloud cover. Shame to get home, just before midnight. Great day out.
(This post was edited by LeedsPhil on Jun 17, 2019, 4:37 PM)
Man City Transfer Target!
Aug 9, 2019, 3:39 PM
Location: North London
Team(s): Oxford United / Groundhopper
Post #2 of 2
Czech Republic, 3.Liga CFL, 10.15 am
FC Olympia Radotin 1 FC Slavoj Vysehrad 1 (H/T 0-0) Vysehrad won penalty shootout 5-3
Entry – all games in the Czech Republic I attended were either 40 or 50 koruna.
Programme – 1 sheet folded to make 6 pages (professionally printed) free
Crowd – c. 100
The first of the two matches I attended this day was at Radotin, an outer suburb of Prague. (In fact, it could be called a separate town were it not for the fact that the local station is called Praha-Radotin) The ground is only around 10 minutes walk from the station and is adjacent to the main Prague-Plzen railway line. On arrival I was pleased to be able to pick up a programme, which was an unusual narrow size, in the style of traditional Dutch programmes, but disappointed with the stadium. It is undergoing a lot of rebuilding work with a new stand and clubhouse complex about halfway through construction on the railway side. Because of the work, spectators had to watch from the far side which consists of a bank of overgrown and crumbling terracing that would certainly not be allowed for viewing purposes in the UK. Behind this side is a sports centre, and with a simple wire fence forming the ground’s perimeter, it would probably be relatively easy for me to take a photo of the new stand once it is completed, even if the ground was locked up at the time.
The match wasn’t very good and the deadlock was only broken well into the second half when the visitors converted a clear-cut penalty (the home keeper having injured himself when bringing down a striker) The equalizer came when a defender headed a cross into his own net. Despite the game being decided on penalties (due to Czech League rules which say that all drawn games must be settled in this way) and delays on the train journey back into Prague, I still managed to get back in good time for the train to my second match of the day.
Czech Republic, 4.Liga (Group A) 5 pm
MFK Dobris 2 TJ Sokol Cizova 1 (H/T 0-0)
Programme – 8 pages, A5 size, free with entry
Crowd – c.150
There were several afternoon games for me to choose from, but I opted for this one because Dobris had already been relegated to the regional league and as I do not go that far down the pyramid in the Czech Republic, I would not have another chance to tick it until 2020-21 at the earliest. Also, I liked the idea of ticking off more of the Czech rail network because this town is at the terminus of a long branch line from the capital. I arrived in the town with not much more than an hour to spare before kick-off (as the railway line is mostly single-track, the train service is not as frequent as anyone would like) and having checked the map on the internet, I thought it would be a relatively simple task to find the ground. However, a lack of street signs made the task much more difficult than I had expected, particularly as the ground is hidden away behind a housing estate rather than being on an easily accessible road. I eventually got there with just five minutes to spare before the kick-off. The ground is an athletics venue with a low grass bank along one side, with a small covered stand (seating no more than a hundred or so) on top of the bank. The rest of the ground is mainly flat standing.
As with the earlier match, the first half saw little of interest but the second was much better and the home side won surprisingly, to the delight of their loyal fans who had turned up in decent numbers despite already being relegated. I travelled back on the last train of the day back to Prague (at 20.23) and was amused to see a sign on the platform pointing in the direction of Prague despite the fact that the line is a dead end in the other direction! There is also a regular bus service to Prague, with the last service on Saturdays being at around 8pm. I was tempted to catch it instead of the train but I did not know whereabouts in Prague the bus station was and did not want to risk getting lost in the capital. I did watch the bus depart when it passed the railway station and interestingly it was one of those grey single-deck Arriva buses that you often see in the UK. Anyway, I got back to Prague’s main railway station in good time before travelling on the overnight train from there to Kosice.