Saturday, 11 November 2017



When the draw for the second round of the Vase was made, this was the tie that immediately leaped off the page as far as I was concerned - a clash between two teams from two of my favourite leagues as Northern League Ryhope Colliery Welfare were drawn at home to North West Counties League City of Liverpool FC.

Ryhope is a village that forms part of the city of Sunderland. Like most places in the area, the village was a mining village until the 1960's, when the pit was closed, and the football club was founded in 1892 by miners from the local colliery.

The football club has spent most of its history playing in the Wearside League but in 2012, after winning four competitions the Wearside League Title, Sunderland Shipowners Cup, Monkwearmouth Charity Cup and League Cup, a repeat of the previous season no less, the club accepted promotion to the Northern League.

Ryhope's fine form continued and the club finished runners up in Division Two, behind Crook Town, but instead of promotion to division one the club were relegated back to the Wearside League due to ground grading rules.

After bringing their Recreation Park up to the necessary requirements, including the extension of  the club’s changing rooms and separate referee facilities and public toilets, club returned to the Northern League in 2014 and won promotion to the top flight in 2016.

The official attendance for the game was 245 and I would say at least three quarters of the crowd had travelled up from Merseyside. They certainly made their presence felt with plenty of noise and colour. It certainly helped create an atmosphere in the ground. As well as getting behind their team there were some very interesting songs about a former British Prime Minister of the 1980's!

It was the Purps who dominated the opening stages as they launched wave after wave of attacks, but in truth they never truly tested Jonathan Ball in the Ryhope goal. The closest City of Liverpool came to breaking the deadlock was through a header from Daniel Dalton which came back off the underside of the crossbar.

Ryhope played themselves into the game and were finally getting forward however after 42 minutes City of Liverpool scored. After good work down the right, the ball was played into Joseph Camozzi in the area and with quick feet he managed to control the ball with his left foot and prod it past the 'keeper with his right. On the balance of the first half it was no more than The Purps deserved.

The second half was just six minutes old when a long ball was played into the path of Karl Noon and, after the ball was allowed to bounce, the midfielder struck a superb volley into the bottom corner of the net from around 20 yards out. A tremendous finish.

That wasn't the end of the quality goals though as Ryhope got themselves back in the game after 62 minutes thanks to a volley from Thomas Bott, which from a similar range out swerved and dipped over Karl Wills in the Purps goal.

This strike came after City of Liverpool had two glorious chances to wrap the tie up. The first when Elliott Nevitt burst through one-on-one but his effort was saved by the advancing Ball. Then soon after Nevitt burst through again but opted to square the ball to Noon rather than shoot and the chance was missed by the midfielder.

The game was more open in the latter stages of the second half as fatigue set in and it became end-to-end as a result. Ryhope piled on the pressure as the game drew to it's conclusion but despite six minutes of stoppage time they could not find an equaliser. It was City of Liverpool who won through and they will face another journey to the North East in December when they travel to Stockton Town in the 3rd round.

Saturday, 21 October 2017



When the draw for the first round of the Vase was made, this was the tie that immediately leaped off the page as far as I was concerned - a clash between two teams from two of my favourite leagues.

Northern League Bedlington Terriers were drawn at home to North West Counties League Charnock Richard.

For me, this meant a 200 mile journey up the A1 and A19 to Northumberland. Fortunately the journey was broken up by a visit to the Ritz for not that Ritz, the Ritz Wetherspoons in Wallsend! Their prices were a little more within my budget!

Like most places in the North East, Bedlington was a former industrial town with iron works and coal mines prevalent but by the middle of the 20th century these had disappeared. The Doctor Pit ceased production in 1967 but the name lives on in the local recreation park, the Doctor Pit Welfare Park. This has also been home to the football club since 1965.

Bedlington Terriers were founded in 1949 as Bedlington Mechanics and joined the Northern Combination. The club won the League in 1955 and then joined the Northern Alliance. The club folded in 1963 but reformed in 1965 as Bedlington Colliery Welfare, rejoining the Northern Combination. In 1982 they were founder members of the Northern League Division Two but by then they were known as Bedlington Terriers, named after the breed of small dog bred locally, originally to hunt vermin in mines.

By 1993 the club faced the real prospect of going out of business, bottom of division two and having their fixtures suspended for a month. Bedlington stalwart Billy Ward, with almost 40 years at the helm, approached local businessmen Dave and Keith Perry and asked them to mount a rescue operation. The club won the 2nd Division title the very next season and began an amazing period of success.

Bedlington won five consecutive Northern League titles between 1998 and 2002. They also reached the first round of the FA Cup for the first time in 1998. They beat Second Division Colchester United 4-1 before losing 2-0 at Scunthorpe United in round two. The same season they also reached the final of the FA Vase at Wembley, but The Terriers lost 1-0 to Tiverton Town. Further semi-final appearances were made in 2001 and 2005 but the club unfortunately lost on both occasions.

Bedlington Terriers once again had financial problems in the late noughties but in 2010 the club received a lifeline in the form of sponsorship from an American billionaire, Robert E. Rich Jr. This occurred after Rich's wife discovered ancestral links to the town and purchased the title Lord Bedlington.

Rich's investment included purchasing a £30,000 electronic scoreboard, which is still in use today, and the laying of a new pitch. He also financed a Terriers club tour to the United States with a friendly match against FC Buffalo styled as the "Lord Bedlington Cup".This led to the BBC broadcasting a programme about the story in 2012 under the title Mr Rich and the Terriers

Maybe subconsciously all these events had a bearing on my decision to head north today. With the Terriers now in division two of the Northern League the game was Step 6 v Step 5 as Charnock Richard finished runners up in their debut season in the North West Counties League.

Thanks to storm Brian the pitch was very heavy and both teams had to battle hard this afternoon. In truth there was not a lot between the sides and chances were at a premium. The game was settled thanks to an over head effort from Paul Wardle after 68 minutes. The closest Charnock Richard came to a goal was a Mark Adams effort that hit the crossbar.

Tempers flared as the game drew to it's conclusion and Bedlington's Jack Foalle saw red when he threw himself into a reckless, and in truth needless, challenge to earn himself a second yellow card.

Bedlington progressed into the secnd round where they will now face another Northern League side Newcastle Benfield.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

WORTHING FC (Woodside Road)


After Everton's trip to Brighton and Hove Albion was moved to the Sunday in order to be part of the Premier League Live event in Bengaluru (India) where it was shown on big screens but, incidentally, it was not shown on UK television, I found myself on the South Coast and looking for a suitable game to make a perfect weekend. A trip to  Woodside Road certainly fitted the bill!

The journey down the motorways were uneventful, for a change, and I was able to spend an hour pre-match in the fabulous Brooksteed Alehouse, which is less than a 5 minute walk from the ground.

This was Worthing's first home game of the season back at Woodside after playing their opening five 'home' games at Bognor Regis Town. In 2015, with investment from new owner George Dowell, the club installed a 3G pitch but had issues with the surface, culminating in the postponement of a first team fixture with Billericay Town in January 2017 due to flooding.

The continual flooding then caused movement in the stone base underneath the surface which resulted in the pitch becoming uneven. FIFA stepped in to help after the pitch failed to pass the governing bodies' tests in the summer and, after remedial work was carried out, the club finally received the green light to return home earlier this week.

Woodside Road, currently known as the Bibby Financial Services Stadium under a sponsorship deal, has been home to Worthing since the early part of the 20th century. The club was formed as Worthing Association Football Club in 1886 and in 1896 the club became founding members of the West Sussex Football League. When the club resigned from the West Sussex League over a rule change, the club nickname of 'The Rebels' was born.

In May 1900 the club absorbed local rivals Worthing Athletic and a year later moved to Woodside Road, then known as the Sports Ground. I
n 1937 the Sports Ground closed and the site's northern portion which was developed into the football stadium. The southern portion of the Sports Ground became home to Worthing Pavilion Bowls Club.

The club joined the Isthmian League in 1977 and have remained members since, going up and down between the various divisions. The club are currently in the Premier Division after achieving promotion via the play offs in 2016. However this current season has been one of struggle as the club are rooted to the foot of the table without a win to their name. The hope is a return home will bring about a change in fortune.

The home side didn't get off to the brightest of starts and within seven minutes they were a goal behind when Lloyd Macklin fired home to give the Metropolitan Police the lead. The Rebels deservedly equalised after 27 minutes when Kieron Pammant shot home from inside the area. Worthing were now in the ascendancy and were unlucky not to go in the half time break in front.

The second half continued where the first half ended with Worthing pressing forward and around the hour mark Zack Newton gave them a deserved lead. There were chances to finish off the Met but they weren't taken and the homesters nearly paid the price.

In the 86th minute Macklin equalised from the penalty spot, after the referee spotted a handball in the area. Then the Met Police forward blasted home a superb strike in the 89th minute to make it 3-2, and complete his hat-trick. The Worthing supporter I was stood next to on the terrace looked absolutely crestfallen and he remarked when your luck is out, it is certainly out.

However his look of dejection soon turned to joy as five minutes into stoppage time Worthing themselves were awarded a penalty for handball and Pammant converted from 12 yards to snatch a deserved point. So Worthing's search for that elusive first league victory of the season goes on, but from what I saw today it won't be long in coming.