Saturday, 20 August 2016



The next step on the road to Wembley once again took me south as I headed to "the oldest club in Dorset" as Western League Gillingham Town hosted Southern League AFC Totton.

The football club were founded in 1879 and the trip gave me a chance to visit the current set up at their Hardings Lane home. In the very near future the club are due to move off this site to a pitch further down the lane. The timescale is still a bit up in the air but the pitch has been laid and the hard standing is in place, but funds still need be secured to complete the project, so it is unlikely they will moving this season.

The chap I spoke to about the project was keen to point out the it's not a ground move as such but an expansion of the clubs' facilities. The current pitch is the only pitch in the town and once the move happens it will still get used by other teams. 

I liked the set up at Hardings Lane, there is small seated stand on the half way line (which proved a godsend when there was a torrential downpour in the second half) and a pre-fab stand near the top corner of the pitch. The busy social club also served up an Exmoor ale, which was an added bonus, and a sly half of 'Fox' went down a treat.

After scoffing a delicious pasty it was time for the main event as step 5 Gillingham went into battle with step 4 Totton and it was the lower ranked visitors who got off to a fantastic start.

In the second minute a long ball found it's way to Aiden Chainey who lobbed the advancing Steve Mowthorpe to give the home side the lead. The game settled down and both teams played some good football, despite the strong blustery wind blowing across the pitch. Chances were few and far between but Gillingham deserved their interval lead.

I was fully expecting Totton to come out all guns blazing after a half time talking to, but it was Gillingham who attacked from the off and they were rewarded with a second goal after 57 minutes, when Will Agbo fired home.

The Gills had chances to extend their lead, and could have been left to rue those missed opportunities as Totton finally applied some pressure in the closing stages, but Gillingham held on and will now meet Cirencester Town in the 1st Qualifying Round

The AFC Totton dreams are dashed in the downpour.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

FAWLEY AFC (Waterside Sports & Social Club)


After a tremendous evening sampling the delights Salisbury had to offer, I made my way down the A36 and A326 to Holbury, where the Waterside Sports and Social Club is located.

The Waterside is the home of AFC Fawley and that is where I would be completing my Wessex League FA Cup double this weekend. The game was taking place today as the facility is shared with Fawley Cricket Club, and they had a fixture on Saturday so the football game was moved to this afternoon. This was the first ever competitive first team fixture Fawley had played on a Sunday, so it was a small piece of history today.

The ground is enclosed with a seated stand on one side of the ground and a couple of covered stands on the other side of the ground. They look like they were built by members of the football club, which adds character to the ground.

Fawley is famous for the Esso refinery, which is one of the largest in Great Britain. The complex dominates the landscape and you can see the towers from the football ground.

The football club was formed in 1923 as AGWI United and they joined the Hampshire League in 1930. The club changed their name to Esso Fawley in 1949 and competed in the Hampshire league until 2010 when they won promtion to the Wessex League.

By this time the club was now known as Fawley AFC, having changed their name once again in 2002.

This afternoon was an all Wessex Premier League cup tie as Fawley hosted Porchester, who are managed by former Arsenal and England player Graham Rix (pictured right). The sunday fixture brought out a few other groundhoppers and I spent the afternoon in the company of a well known 'hopper from Shropshire.

The game was entertaining enough but Porchester always seemed to be in control. There were plenty of chances but no goals in the opening 45 minutes.

The second half was a different story as goals from Steve Ramsey, Tom Froggatt and Joe Bye ensured Porchester's passage into the next round, where they will be home to Mangotsfield United.

Saturday, 6 August 2016



Today 368 teams set out on the road to Wembley as the FA Cup got under way with the Extra Preliminary Round. 

With plenty of tasty looking ties to choose from, I headed to Salisbury for the Wessex v Western League tie between Bemerton Heath Harlequins and Keynsham.

The Club was formed in 1989 as an amalgamation of Bemerton Athletic, Moon FC and Bemerton Boys, with the aim of achieving Wessex League football. Having successfully achieved this target the club have been mainstays of the top division, including two successive runners up spots in 2011 and 2012.

The club play their home games at Western Way in Bermerton, which is a couple of miles west of Salisbury city centre. The ground is fully enclosed by trees and there is a seated stand and a small terrace. I never bothered going in the clubhouse today as there was a kids party taking place. I did sample the snack bar though and I have to say the hot dogs were excellent!

The game was a tight affair with little to choose between the teams. The match was settled just before half time when a superb free kick from Jake Rawkins found the top corner of the Keynsham net (pictured below).

The visitors from Bristol pushed forward in the second half, which made them vulnerable on the break, but they could not find an equaliser, nor Bemerton a second goal, and the tie ended 1-0.

Bemerton will now travel to play Amesbury Town in the next round.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

1.FC LOKOMOTIVE LEIPZIG (Bruno Plache Stadion)


For the final game of my latest weekend in Germany, I headed back east to Leipzig. The seeds for this visit were planted last year when I visited the city and took a tram (number 15 in the direction of Meusdorf) out of the centre to visit the Brauhaus Napoleon.

I noticed the Lokomotive Leipzig fanshop (which was no longer there but there is a stall inside the stadium) so I figured the ground must be nearby. It was. I went and had a little peek before resolving to come back and watch a game. I didn't think it would be this soon!

Lokomotive Leipzig play at the fabulous Bruno Plache Stadion. The ground has been home since the club was reformed in 2004. The ground was first opened in 1922 and the wooden stand, which was packed to the rafters today, was built in 1932. It is a truly fantastic sight. The rest of the ground is terracing and has a capacity 15,000 but for safety reasons the capacity is reduced to just under 7,000.

Lokomotive Leipzig are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year having been founded in 1966 when the club adopted the name. In 1963 a merger of two of Leipzig's most important clubs, SC Rotation and SC Lokomotive Leipzig, lead to two new sides being founded, SC Leipzig and BSG Chemie Leipzig. In 1966 SC Leipzig became 1.FC Lokomotive Leipzig.

However the origins of the club can be traced back to VfB Leipzig, who were founder members of the German Football Association in 1900 and the very first national champions in 1903. The club also won the title in 1906 and 1913 before the club was dissolved in the aftermath of the second world war.

After German reunification in 1990 Lokomotive Leipzig were placed in the 2.Bundesliga and changed their name back to VfB Leipzig. The club reached the Bundesliga in 1993 but they finished bottom and began a slide back down the leagues.

VfB Leipzig went as low as the Oberliga Sud before they went bust in 2004 and were reformed as a fan owned club under the name Lokomotive Leipzig. They had to began again in the lowest level (11) of German football, the Kreisklasse.

After a series of promotions, the club are now back in the Regionalliga (level 4) for this season and today were hosting Energie Cottbus, who are currently experiencing their own slide down the leagues, having suffered two successive relegation's from 2.Bundesliga and Liga 3, having been in the top flight Bundesliga as recently as 2009.

It was Cottbus that had the better of the opening exchanges and it was no surprise when they took the lead after 12 minutes, though there was an element of fortune to the goal when a deflected cross was diverted into the path of Marc Stein, who headed home from close range.

Lokomotive were level after 39 minutes when a cross from the right was slotted home by Djamal Ziane to send the home crowd wild.

The second half was pretty even with both teams having chances but unable to find the winning goal. Cottbus finished the game with 10 men Benjamin Förster was shown a second yellow cards in the final minute.


A visit to this ground was my highlight of the weekend and if you have not visited the Bruno Plache Stadion I urge you to do so, I promise you will not be disappointed!

Saturday, 30 July 2016

ROT WEIß ERFURT (Steigerwaldstadion)


The third tier of German football kicked off today so I decided to leave Dresden behind and take the 2 hour train journey across to Erfurt.

Rot Weiß Erfurt (RWE) are a mainstay of the 3.Liga, having been founder members in 2008. Today they were hosting Hallescher FC in the season opener, as they looked to improve on last season's 8th place finish.

Like a majority of old East German clubs, RWE are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year having been founded in 1966 when, like a host of other clubs, the football department became a separate from the more general sports clubs. The origins of the club though can be traced back to the 1880's and in 1900 Sport Club Erfurt were founder members of the German Football Association. The club won their league title in 1909, advancing to the national semi-finals before losing 9-1 to eventual winners Phönix Karlsruhe.

The two clubs of SC Turbine Erfurt and BSG Optima Erfurt were merged in 1966 to form RWE and competed in the old East German Oberliga until reunification in 1991 when a 3rd placed finish meant they were placed in Bundesliga 2 and also qualified for the UEFA Cup, where they eventually lost to Ajax in round two. This meant they were the last team to represent East Germany on a European stage.

The Steigerwaldstadion, which was opened in 1931, has undergone extensive redevelopment in the past year or so with the old terracing replaced by a modern seated stand, with blocks of terracing at each end for the home and away fans. Walking around the ground there is still evidence of construction work. The "new" stadium is due to be officially inaugurated with a friendly against Mainz in two weeks time.

This afternoon's game turned out to be a routine away win for Hallescher. Once RWE fell behind to an early Benjamin Pintol goal, who tapped in from close range after three minutes, they were always struggling to get back in the game as the vistors were happy to play the counter attacking game.

Hallescher almost doubled their lead before the break but a Martin Röser free kick crashed against the bar. RWE came out fired up in the second half but, despite their possession, they did not trouble the visitors goal.

Hallescher made it 2-0 after 66 minutes through Toni Lindenhahn before substitute André Wallenborn wrapped up the three points with seven minutes left.