Monday, 18 June 2018

ELECTRICITY SPORTS CHASE DOWN REVISED TARGET TO WIN CLOSE MATCH

LEICESTER ELECTRICITY SPORTS 289 FOR V LOUGHBOROUGH TOWN 2nd Xl 329 FOR 4
LEICESTERSHIRE AND RUTLAND CL LG 1 AT NEW BRIDGE ST
16 JUNE 2018 --- 1PM
LEICESTER ELECTRICITY SPORTS WITH TIGERS WELFORD RD IN THE BACKGROUND
Electricity Sports chased down a revised target to gain the victory that must have left visitors Loughborough Town deflated after they had set a massive 329 for 4 in their allotted 45 overs.  In a batters paradise there was a stunning effort from Neel Gandhi who went on from securing his century to reach 137 and also secure 2 for 48 with the ball.  But with the home side five down and still requiring 105 from 15 overs the rain break of around 25 minutes set up an achievable total that thanks to big hitting from Tim Phillips [34] [who also took 3 for 74] and the rock that the innings was built on Andy Deacon [118] Sports got home with two overs to spare.
NEEL GANDHI TOP SCORE FOR LOUGHBOROUGH TOWN WITH 137
Quite by chance a few years ago I discovered this little gem of a ground while walking round some of the sporting sites of Leicester while covering a game at St Andrews FC in the city in the latters promotion year, at that point the marker was set to cover a game of cricket at New Bridge St.  Sadly dodgy weather last year and then a few weeks ago put this on the back burner until today with the hope of a nearly full days play the 45 minute journey from base station was made and after a walk through Nelson Mandela Park and by the Welford Rd site of Leicester Tigers, a memory jerker took place with a look at the old Filbert St site of Leicester City sadly now much a weed strewn rubble save for a third of the site housing a student accommodation tower block.  A  brief meander along to take a look at the new home of The Foxes found the cricketers warming up with 1230 approaching it was then that I realised the start time was 1pm so a visit to the nearby Morrison's over the Aylestone Rd on the site of the former cattle market provided pre match provisions.
LEICESTER CITY'S KINGPOWER STADIUM OVERSEES PROCEEDINGS
Although the ground is now listed as New Bridge St it was formerly more recognised as new Ayestone Rd especially around 1901 when it was the main county ground for Leicestershire who took it as home until around 1946 when they moved back to their current base at Grace Rd.  With the era of cricket played here there was many a famous name gracing the ground including WG Grace, Herbert Sutcliffe, Don Bradman, Wally Hammond, Douglas Jardine, Len Hutton the list goes on so an esteemed who's who of cricket.  Leicester played 399 first class games here and it was once described as one of the biggest grounds in the country.
ELECTRICITY SPORTS WOULD SOON BE JUMPING FOR JOY
Today then the playing surface as been reduced by a triple set of mini apartment blocks which overlook the ground on the Aylestone Rd side and from what historically I guess would have been fields on the edge of the city we now have an expanse of industrial and factory units alongside the two other sporting stadia.  Although railed off with small park fence type barriers there appears to be a public walkway around most of the site.  Very much like Throncliffe CC from Chapeltown which also sits in a busy town centre this ground offers a haven of peace amongst the nearby hustle and bustle of a major route into the city centre around 3/4 of a mile away.
The star of the show is the double deck pavilion which is rather difficult to describe with its many features needless to say the windows on the top deck have been replaced from the former mini slatted variety.
LOUGHBOROUGH OPENER GANDHI KEEPS HIS EYES ON THE BALL
The visitors won the toss and elected to bat but it was looking dubious when the first wicket fell with just one on the scoreboard, Greg Hollins [68] joined opener Gandhi and they proceeded to put on 160 for the second wicket before Hollins lost his stumps to Tim Phillips.  Stuart Fielding partnered his opener for a swift 58 before the third wicket at 277 saw Gandhi dismissed but during this time he had been striking out and sending the ball to all corners of the outfield and when it did finally end the Loughborough opener had amassed a remarkable 137 which at this stage looked to have set up a match wining total of 329 for 4 which was ably added to by Ben Wooldridge [31] in the latter stages.
Tea break and off to said store again this time to sample their wonderfully exotic salad bar, yes you've heard it right SALAD, in the mixed up lyrics of The Proclaimers song 'fish and chips no moooore'!
ANDY DEACON LAUNCHES HIMSELF INTO ANOTHER BIG HIT
As ever the day was matched by some boundary conversations including a Loughborough fan who it was a pleasure to speak to, David who was with his son in the nets and we had a brief discussion about the club and a few things football and latterly Loughborough's injured opener who was out trying his arm at photography while on the side lines, as ever great to meet you thanks!
DEACON STRIKES ONE THROUGH THE OFFSIDE
The first innings proved hard word for the bowlers in finding a length that would contain the scoring and the fielding was proving difficult on this fast outfield.  Your choice of winners at this stage looked to be with the visitors but a blistering start from Electricity Sports saw them get to 50 in 5 overs thanks to Oliver Gratix [30] and Luke Clark [39] but they soon fell to 99 for 3 in the 13th over it was case of wickets being available to see the task through.  By this stage Andy Deacon had come to the crease and was slowly amassing the runs in a measured manner along the way he was joined by Jacob Humphries [20] who was bowled by Alfie Gurney brother of Notts and England international Harry.   When the a rain stoppage intervened at 225 for 5 in 30 overs it was looking a difficult ask certainly one which needed a preservation of wickets while moving the total along at the same time.  The revised target after the short delay saw eight overs lost and from the now remaining 7 a further 62 runs were needed.
Electricity Sports were more than up for this and showed their intent when Deacon hit the first ball after the restart for 4 and with Phillips bludgeoning the ball around the ground they found themselves grabbing victory.  The final ball of the 35th over saw Phillips launch it well beyond the ropes to set off some joyous scenes at the front of the clubhouse with a victory that had been set up by the superbly measured century from Deacon of 118.
SPORTS OVER THE LINE WITH A BIT MOR BIG HITTING
This must have felt like a big disappointment for the visitors but they were part of a superbly entertaining game for the neutral spectator and one that if the full total had been required who knows what would have happened, mind you with the ferocity of hitting by Phillips and Deacon at the end even that may have not been beyond Electricity Sports.
A sharp bit of movement allowed departure on the 8.05 from Leicester to base and an enjoyable day was backed up by over hearing a young child on the train discussing with his grandma about their pets he was telling her he had two pets one he bought and one he found, to which she enquired 'what's the one you found'?  He promptly replied 'a caterpillar'!

Friday, 15 June 2018

WORRYING TIME FOR THE EAGLES

SHEFFIELD EAGLES 18 SWINTON LIONS 29
CHAMPIONSHIP @ OLYMPIC LEGACY PARK
10 JUNE 2018 --- 3PM
These are worrying times for Sheffield Eagles following on a week in which Director of Rugby and 'Mr Sheffield Eagles' Mark Aston warned of ever rising costs since their return to the city the club have won just once at their new base and have now suffered a disappointing loss against bottom side Swinton.
SHEFFIELD EAGLES V SWINTON LIONS
This game was the classic 'four pointer' and with Sheffield having secured a19-18 win at the Lions at the start of April this was their chance to put a little bit of space between the two sides as the bottom clubs already find themselves in a dog fight to avoid relegation to League 1.
Relegation looks a real non starter for Eagles as a club, but clearly on the cards performance wise and Mark Aston has this week declared how costs have rose three fold since their return to The OLP and a drop may not be sustainable.  Of course like any club whether that be football or any other sport the chicken and egg situation applies again Eagles need more supporters through the gate, something they probably expected when they returned home, but often the floating fans won't come to watch a side who have won at home just once this season.  Lets make it clear the club have a loyal band of around 700 fans but even with the visiting supporters today they still returned the lowest gate in the Championship.  This is the blogs fourth game out of seven at home this season to see Sheffield and without a win in that batch it does get a struggle but of course with two of those games being against big spending Centurions and Broncos it was with anticipation of a win against Swinton today that three of us paid with programmes and other add on's around £55.  The cost is probably about right for the league but there is a need to attract back the old fans who probably left the club during their recent nomadic times it is too be hoped that some wins on the board will soon come and attract back their investment.  Maybe the club can look at a one of £10 admission for a select game that is well promoted to encourage old and new fans to attend a game of rugby league now it is back in Sheffield.
Sadly Eagles are not unique as an array of sporting sides are going through the same frantic need for investment indeed in rugby league this last week as seen Whitehaven working with their fans and community to find enough financial input to get them through the remainder of the season and with Bradford Bulls now residing in League 1 there is of course no club safe.
I hope the Eagles can find that investment required or the appeal for a more understanding cost base at The OLP can be found but more than anything in a sport that I have developed a interest in over the last few seasons its is to be hoped the Eagles can find a sequence of wins that staves of the threat of relegation, brings back the missing spectators and rewards their loyal base of current fans in what is a magnificent game.
The game then just a minor mention Eagles lost!  A dozen each at half time by the end of a poor second half they had lost 18-29 and Swinton had secured the 2 points that cancelled out the same hard earned number of points two months earlier at Heywood Rd.
The friendly side of the game was further supported today both sets of fans mingling together during the 80 minutes and the blog was pleased to catch up with referee John McMullen, for a quick chat, who as we mentioned in the Keighley blog a few weeks ago we had first seen in his National Conference League days.

Monday, 11 June 2018

SHEFFIELD COLLEGIATE HELPED TO VICTORY BY ELDRED AND VARLEY

SHEFFIELD COLLEGIATE 232 FOR 7 V BARNSLEY WOOLLEY MINERS 168 FOR 5
YORKSHIRE PREMIER SOUTH @ ABBEYDALE PARK
9 JUNE 2018 --- 12 NOON
ABBEYDALE PARK ON A SUNNY DAY
An eight wicket stand of 74 from Henry Eldred [48] and Josh Varley [30] helped Collegiate to 232 for 7 in 50 overs after they had been in danger of not batting out their overs when the seventh wicket fell at 158.  The total was always looking testing for Barnsley who never really got near to passing the home sides score finishing on 168 for 7 with Azeem Rafiq taking 4 for 52 to add to his 55 in the Sheffield total.
Day two then of the extended sporting weekend and after International Polo yesterday, see previous blog, it was back to the, often, more relaxing game of cricket.  A small journey sees the train fly past Dore and Totley station before changing in Sheffield to come back to our destination by once again a rammed to overloaded Northern Rail train on the all stopping Peak District route, thankfully within a few minutes it was time to decamp and soon seeking out the local Tesco which is just five minutes past the ground always handy for the hopping fraternity and non more so than in a full 'dayer' at the cricket.
CRICKET TO THE FORE WITH SHEFFIELD RUFC IN THE BACKGROUND
The Abbeydale Park complex is an excitable variety of sporting sweet shop for the sports fan with Sheffield RUFC siding onto the cricket ground, a racquets and fitness centre, badminton hall, tennis club, hockey all weather pitch and of course cricket ground too.  The hockey pitch is a re-lay from the 2012 Olympics and looks resplendent in aqua blue and pink and receives constant water dousing during the day of which there is a charity football game plus an English Universities hockey game taking place.
MATCH ACTION WITH COLLEGIATE BATTING
The cricket ground is interesting in its own right in that it has the unique tag of having had two county sides use it as their home before a boundary change in the 1930s the site was in Derbyshire and then strangely after the amendments Derbyshire played there in 1946 and 47 all be it for just two games.  Yorkshire used the ground from 74-96 and some 2nd Xl games around the turn of the century.  There is talk of changing room improvements which may see Yorkshire return in some format soon and that will be good because although not a stunning ground it is a lovely setting surrounded by the tree lined hills and rich suburbia that is Dore.
BARNSLEY CAPTAIN HAIDER JAHANGIR APPEALS FOR LBW
Having seen some pictures of the ground it was sad to see, although positive for the ground, the pavilion under development with much boarding up and building work going on around the site.  Thankfully the rugby club and bar area were open for varying snacks and non alcoholic liquid refreshments during a steaming hot afternoon.  The pavilion reminds me of a version of the 1970s Headingley build with the players changing upstairs with a viewing balcony, moving around the far side is met by a raised bank which offers a good vantage point with behind this a further rugby pitch. The scoreboard end is backed off by trees and in the far corner the tennis club as we come around back to the pavilion the boundary crosses over to the rugby union pitch and behind it the small seated stand and terrace for the oval ball spectators.  The only disappointing aspect was the lack of spectator seating around the ground this would have added to the general feel of the ground and many Yorkshire grounds are made up by the stop of points around the boundary edge.
COLLEGIATE LOOK TO SWEEP BARNSLEY AWAY
Its always quite amazing the amount of people who are known to you that greet you at sporting events where you least expect them and Mr Kingham [sorry don't know your first name] from the local non league football circuit was in situ for the afternoon and it was good to talk sport currently and swap a few stories.  I must also thank you for a kind gesture in your lift back to base which was very much appreciated.
A WELL EARNED DRINKS BREAK FOR COLLEGIATE DURING THE BARNSLEY REPLY
Collegiate were without Billy Root, brother of England captain Joe, who was away on Nottinghamshire duty which was a  shame because on the previous occasion I saw them he was also away on first class business.
With Sheffield winning the toss and batting first they lost wickets at steady intervals although the scoreboard was ticking along and by the time Rafiq had fallen at 158 for 7 there looked a danger of being dismissed for a manageable score with overs not fully used up.  Up stepped Eldred and Varley who added 74 undefeated that saw Collegiate reach 232 for 7 that even before Barnsley batted looked a good ask.  For the visitors Ali Jahangir was the pick of the bowlers with 4 for 65 in 14 overs.
With the tea time dash to the commercial enterprise previously mentioned for a refrigerated sandwich and a few other bits and bobs arrival back at Abbeydale was just in time for the Barnsley reply.
BARNSLEY MOUNT THEIR REPLY
A steady fall of wickets found Barnsley at 44 for 4 and when top scorer Boeta Beukes was caught by Eldred off Rafiq with the score at 99 for 5 things looked ominous for the visitors.  Stephen Walters [38] and Haider Jahangir steadied the ship with the latter not out on 33 when Barnsley innings came to a close on 168 for 7 in their allotted overs.
SHEFFIELD CONTINUE THEIR DEFENCE
An enjoyable afternoon once again backed up with some good boundary conversations one of which was with a gentleman, who once again sorry I forgot to get your name, were we discussed all things sporting and especially cricket.  He even convinced me to try some Sheffield RUFC next season and told me about the hockey that is played there on site, thanks a pleasure as always.
With a swift lift back as previously mentioned base was arrived at by 7.30pm from an enjoyable day 2 of 3 in this sporting bonanza moving on to Sunday and Sheffield Eagles and The Olympic Legacy Park.

SPORT OF KINGS AND THE COMMON MAN

LAURENT PERRIER 11 V VDOCS 1
ARBUTHNOT LATHAM 7 V LDF 3
LDF INTERNATIONAL POLO SEMI FINALS  @ THE ROODEE, CHESTER RACECOURSE
8 JUNE 2018 --- 2.30PM
Life as well as sport if often guided and decided by pre conceived ideas and so I guess it is with the sport of polo that of course bills itself as 'the sport of kings' but often you have to go and sample the book to find out what's beneath the cover, or at least a flute or two of champers.
ACTION FROM THE LDF INTERNATIONAL POLO EVENT
A first visit to polo was secured quite by accident while checking out end of season travels that would mean avoiding busy trains around Chester it was then that the LDF sponsored international polo tournament was spotted for both today and the Saturday and a note was made that there was a chance to widen the sporting horizon.
CHESTER RACECOURSE A FINE VIEW
So with a departure just before 9am the vagaries of a busy public transport system were encompassed full on, no arriving by Range Rover et all here, with an arrival in the delightful city of Chester just after mid-day.  On a warm day the racecourse at Chester, otherwise known as The Roodee, was arrived at after a short amble with plenty of time to familiarise myself with the surroundings.  The racecourse is the oldest still in use in England and at 1 mile and 1 furlong one of the smallest, however it is so well appointed sitting on the banks of the river Dee with the properties on the south bank overlooking the course and back to the walled city which sits majestically above the main stand.
Interestingly the day had started with a conversation with the proprietor of the base station newsagents when I mentioned I was off to the polo she informed me that her granddaughter played horse ball, a form of horse basketball, another one to look up!
HOW FAR AWAY ARE THE GOALS
Guided towards the centre of the racecourse where the expanse that is the pitch with at either end two posts to form the goals made up of black and white hoops, the length is 300 yards by width of 160 yards and you certainly need a trained eye to follow the ball during play.  The goals are 8 yards apart and a chukka is of 7 minutes in time with today 4 chukka's being played in a match.  Interestingly, but of course for safety reasons, no left handers are allowed they were banned in the 1930's but when you observe the speed and swiftness of the mallets safety has to be of paramount.
There were by now a fair few spectators gathering pitch side but overall it appeared very much a corporate event with today being semi final day a lot of the outlets were not open or stocked but HR Owen luxury cars where in attendance with 3 Maserati's totalling just shy of 1/4 of a million pounds.  The star player being the Gran Turismo all coming in at a very reasonable price with the bargain priced Levante Gran Sport at £77,000 you can guess where the formers price range is.  The other side players in attendance today where a quality fish and chip outlet with bar adjacent.
GO ON THEN THE MASERATI GRAN TURISMO
With hospitality the order of the day the pre match meals and drinks were well underway while the blog wandered off to take a look at the ponies and their carriages all being prepared and kept in shape.  Chester Polo Club had their own little VIP area along side four tents for todays teams.
JAMES FIELDING SIGNS THE VDOCS SHIRT
The whole event was sponsored by the LDF group who took up one of the four teams the others where sponsored by bankers Arbuthnot Latham, VDOCS and Laurent Perrier and with prize money of £10,000 the event was not to be taken lightly.
LAURENT PERRIER TEAM COOLY GATHER TO MEET THEIR SPONSORS
Before proceedings got underway there was a chance to observe the teams in their mini tents and get a quick picture of James Fielding signing his VDOCS shirt for some lucky winner later.  The event thanks to the LDF group had produced what appeared an excellent programme that was available to hospitality it was just a shame that it never made the rounds of the general spectator, although many were of course left on the tables in hospitality afterwards.
VDOCS TEAM WITH A FORMAL TOGETHER TEAM LINE UP
The first match would see Laurent Perrier ahead 4-0 after the first chukka and by the end of proceedings they had stolen an 11-1 march on VDOCS with Michael Henderson scoring 9 of their goals.
Half time in each match saw a silver champagne stopper placed under a divot on the pitch and with members of the crowd invited on to 'stomp' down the lifted up turf the person to find the silver today were awarded with a bottle of Laurent Perrier for their troubles.
CLOSE UP ACTION FROM LAURENT PERRIER V VDOCS
Interestingly the winner followed out one of the organisers of the day and was immediately in for the winnings but the second match saw nobody locate the stopper and who knows its probably still their now.
MORE ACTION FROM MATCH ONE
The second match pitted Arbuthnot Latham against LDF and it proved a slightly less one sided affair with the bankers running out 7-4 winners to secure a place in the final against Laurent Perrier on the Saturday, a final that they won the following day in the presence of Sir King Kenny Dalglish.
Todays proceedings received an overview commentary throughout to guide spectators around the matches and alongside a post lunch introduction to polo this was very well applied by the man on the mic.
GOOD JOB FROM THE MAN ON THE MICROPHONE KEEPING ALL UP TO SPEED WITH GOINGS ON
Live sport is live sport much like live music and just needs to be sampled to see if your taste buds are whetted and today was an enjoyable afternoon watching the speed and undoubted skill of the players, bring it a bit closer to base and I would definitely attend again.  If you want to look for the stereotypes then they are there just as in any sport but along with quite a few other people sampling it for the first time I had an educational and enjoyable day in the company of Chester Polo Club.
The sport of train cramming and delays was endured back to Stockport before changing onto a further crowded train back to Sheffield and finally a seat for the return to base station around 9pm.

Monday, 4 June 2018

MOSELEY BOWLED OVER BY KNOWLE & DORRIDGE IN QUICK TIME

MOSELEY 64 ALL OUT V KNOWLE & DORRIDGE 65 FOR 2
BIRMINGHAM & DISTRICT PREMIER CRICKET LEAGUE PRMIER DIVISION
@ STREETSBROOK RD 2 JUNE 2018 --- 12PM
Knowle and Dorridge [KD] made short work of securing victory in this top of the table derby clash first dismissing the home side cheaply before knocking off the required runs with 8 wickets to spare.  The fixture looked encouraging with third v fourth in table position and a north and south of Solihull derby game to boot however by 3.20pm it was all over and strangely it had taken me as long to travel to the ground as I had witnessed play.
MOSELEY CC THE BUSINESS END
With weather watch in play again following some torrential downpours in the week, these were now encircling base, the late decision was made to travel to Birmingham to avoid any loss of fixtures or overs to the wet stuff.  Midnight oil was burning and with two games selected both in the Birmingham Premier League the final decision after the usual train planning plumped for an attractive looking ground on Streetsbrook Rd the home of Moseley Cricket Club, although the ground is just over the border in Solihull.  Formed over 50 years ago the club were one of the founder members of the league and with the club supporting a wide selection of teams cricket appears very much alive and well in this corner of the West Midlands.
RETRO RAIL AT MOOR ST WITH HOUSE OF FRASER AND THE ICONIC ROTUNDA
Journey down was generally summed up by 'late', base station departure behind and then after a quick hour to Birmingham a change to Moor St the retro station in the city which has all its signings and paint work in a bygone era, contrasted by the bubbled exterior of the House of Fraser beyond platform four.  Late departure to Yardley Wood saw us arrive to light drizzle and with murky clouds above there was the ultimate fear of not seeing to much cricket, how ironic that turned out to be.  A sprightly 30 minute walk saw us arrive at our destination and the smart ground of Moseley CC about ten minutes after the start.
THE SCOREBOARD AT STREETSBROOK RD AS KD BATSMAN WILLIAM RIGG IS TRAPPED LBW
As ever a quick ground descriptor and by the time I had completed the circuit it was nearly all over to the right a selection of boundary seats and benches and behind the bowlers arm a further cricket ground plus some bowling for the slower paced but no less competitive!  The pitch slopes away to the far side with the scoreboard of an old large construction offering up all information required and well maintained during the play which is always a help.  The far side again has a small selection of boundary seats with most of the ground offering a driveway around it to gain access to the other facilities.  The star of the ground is a smart whitewashed pavilion with spectator viewing area offering the best place to observe the proceedings here, the changing rooms to the lower side with grounds mans 'office' underneath.
ETHAN BROOKS 1-14 FOR KD
The main bar area is to the rear of the tea and function room area, there was no food visible for spectators today apart from the usual hoppers crisps and chocolate although there was evidence of a snack bar probably in the not too distant past.
To the play then and after a steady start by the home side who were invited to bat by KD in the overcast condition they soon fell away to 23 for 3 in the tenth and from here it the Moseley innings just fell away with little resistance except for top scorer Jugdip Singh Nandra who contributed 15 the only other player to reach double figures was opener Jake Sammons with 14.
DEFENDING REQUIRED FOR MOSELEY
With a low total secured in 30 overs unless this was a terror track it seemed a foregone conclusion.  Quick mention to Ethan Brooks who looked sharp for KD he finished with 1 for 14 in seven overs, the damage was done though by Jack Grundy who took 6 for 18 in thirteen overs.
Sport, but cricket in general, always brings together a social side and it was great to catch up with photographer Manjit Narotra who had a superb bit of kit putting my camera to shame.  Capturing action shots for the Solihull observer and his own website, msn images - take a look there are some superb sports portfolios on there.  We also discussed the may sports he had taken action pictures from and it was a very interesting chat that took place on the boundary edge, thanks for taking the time to chat with the blog.
MOSELEY NOW IN THE FIELD
After a short break for change of innings KD set off with there reply and with the first wicket falling at 5 and the second wicket own at 10 when Yadvinder Singh bowled Alex Phillips it looked like we may have a game on our hands.  Sadly from a neutral point of view this wasn't to be the case as the ship was steadied by Ben Griffin [18] and captain Sam Reddish [32] who safely got the visitors over the line with eight wickets to spare with just short of 14 overs bowled.
Once again the second innings was punctuated with an informal and interesting boundary conversation with Gary and after we had sorted out all sports and decided how the game should be played now a days KD were striking the winning runs, once again a pleasure to meet you.
With the pavilion clock proudly declaring 3.20pm and the bright sunshine bathing the outfield what was to be done now!  Of course a further hospitable beverage, non alcoholic of course, and some eats were taken in the seated enclosure while the players consumed tea.  It was a great shame that on a glorious afternoon we were now sat watching the grounds man water the square when we should have been watching some cricket, although I guess KD would not agree.
THEY THINK ITS ALL OVER......IT IS NOW
Having spotted to the right hand side boundary upon our entry a further cricket ground and the distance a floodlit rugby union ground we decided to take a look as the two teams were out from tea.  Once again here the social side of the game came to the fore with a conversation with a much travelled West Brom fan who like his international based ground hopping much like my travelling partner today Dan.
While watching this game and listening it appeared to be a close finish in prospect in a Warwickshire South League 2 game.  With the home side Old Edwardians, also the name of the rugby union club, posting 119 all out Bronze CC from Great Barr were moving along steadily but losing wickets at regular intervals they arrived into the 80's with eight down.  The last three wickets had fallen to ambitious shots when singles were the order of the day with plenty of overs in the bag and so a tense finish saw Gerald Cunningham [12] and Owen Stephenson [13] take the visitors over the line to 123 for 8 in 40 overs, all set up by some tip top bowling for Bronze from Jamie Palmer 6-25 something I had not witnessed of course while watching the proceedings next door.
OLD EDWARDIANS OFFER UP A GOOD APPEAL IN GAME 2
One and a half cricket matches in a day and still 25 minutes before 7pm with a brisk walk back to the station there was even time for a visit to Highfield fish and chip shop for a portion of the delicacy, very nice they were too backing up their external advertising that declared in top 10 of Birmingham chippy's.
Exiting Yardley Wood on time we experienced a delay of just short of half an hour for the return journey back to base where we arrived at around 9.30pm.
Overall a day were we tried to avoid a short or abandoned game saw our game played to a conclusion before tea but thankfully some more cricket was forthcoming next door and what an excellent finish it provided for a enjoyable sporting day out in the West Midlands.

Friday, 1 June 2018

SAINTS LIFT THE FINAL CUP OF THE SEASON

BEESTON ST ANTHONY 3 V LEEDS CITY 1
WEST YORKSHIRE LEAGUE CUP FINAL @ W.RIDING COUNTY FA HQ
30 MAY 2018 --- 7.30PM
WEST RIDING COUNTY FA HQ
Beeston St Anthony lifted the West Yorkshire League Cup in a tight final at West Riding County FA Headquarters, with a final score line of 3-1 in favour of the Saints you would be forgiven for thinking an easy win.  This though was a game high on tempo and endeavour from both sides who served up a fantastic advert for The West Yorkshire League the difference at the end of the day was the finishing of Beeston and then in a second half that Leeds City dominated some resolute defending to protect their 3 goal advantage.
So with the final game of the season pulling the blog to the south of Leeds and the county FA ground that had been viewed many times from the speeding train and with some local knowledge of the area around Woodlesford having visited the neighbouring village of Oulton for a Raiders rugby league game the anticipation was high.
Arriving at Woodlesford station just after 5pm a sharp walk saw me arrive in around ten minutes at the ground just to clarify that if this game finished around 9.20pm the train twenty minutes later would be achievable for a connection in Sheffield to arrive in base station just before midnight.
FARNDALES COOKED THE PROPER YORKSHIRE WAY
Having circuited back to the main shopping area which contains an impressive Coop in its original building there was time for the final fish and chips of the 2017/18 football season and having tried Farndale's on the previous visit I was reasonably confident.  The establishment has a good reputation and fish and chip cost just £3.90 and are cooked in the good old Yorkshire way which probably gives the darkened look to the batter and chips.
PIT RAILWAY LINES STILL IN PLACE ON ESHALD LANE
Walking back to the ground along Eshald Lane the former colliery pit cottages stick out in an area that has now very much become a commuter belt and consequently more semis and detached houses proliferate.  One of the four pits in the area would be on the former miners houses views and indeed of interest further up the what appeared newly tarmac lane where the colliery rail tracks sealed for posterity into the road.
Arriving at West Riding County FA HQ which is based on the former collieries grounds to the right is a whole site for Rothwell Juniors before we turn into tonight's destination admission paid and programme gained there was time for a circuit.
TONIGHTS CUP FINAL PROGRAMME
The ground is over 20 years old now but in the last years has had a smart new 3g surface installed, to the immediate right is a pitch length stand of three rows offering a set back view which of course sadly has spectators who always want to stand to the front of it.  The stand continues past the end of the pitch much like Carlisle United's, but of course on a smaller scale.  Behind the far goal is grassed and netted and the opposite side is has smart moulded plastic blue dug outs, to the goal now where we gained entry and the changing rooms and toilets nestle alongside county FA offices and a selection of function rooms which tonight offer up a mini tea bar.  The site at Fleet lane is a smart set up but like many of these operations is a little off the beaten track unless you have a car although in this example Woodlesford station is reasonably accessible. Pre match amble complete and there was time to catch up with a few hoppers and bloggers with Mr Waite of the ultimate blog, The 66POW, and John McClure in attendance I had better be on my best behaviour!
THATS WHAT ITS ALL ABOUT
The trophy was on display at the turnstile entrance and is an excellent specimen one we mistook for the FA Cup its likeness is so much.  With Beeston finally finishing in third spot and Leeds runners up position this was sure, if my previous West Yorkshire League experiences anything to go by, to be a tight well fought game.
REFEREE DARIUS BRADLEY SORTS OUT THE FORMALATIES
Harshly for Leeds Beeston shocked them and the crowd with a  lead in the first minute when Stevie Crawford finishing from close range after good work from Matty Waller.  City were straight back at it as the game swung from end to end and the best opportunity fell to them when Sean Fitzpatrick at the back post fired right back across the face of goal with a touch just required to level the scores.  Just before the half hour mark though it was Beeston who took their chance when Waller did the setting up with some neat footwork and a clever inside heeled finish from Gareth Groves made it 2-0 and that's how we turned round.
The game was all but out to bed five minutes into the restart when Joe Wood raced through and calmed slotted home past Leeds keeper Declan Flowers.
BEESTON ON THE ATTACK
  Leeds must have wondered what had hit them they were never three goals poorer but they did receive a chance on 55 minutes when Beeston were reduced to ten men when Ryan Bailey was sent off for a late challenge on Joe Tasker.
By this time Beeston seemed to have mad the decision to get bodies behind the ball and defend what they had secured so far Leeds attacks came wave after wave bit the could not break down the resolute defending of the boys in green.   In the final ten minutes City sub James Hochstrasser saw his effort well saved by the excellent Beeston keeper Stevie Kerr he was though beaten by the same player on 82 minutes to pull a late goal back for Leeds City.  As  we entered the closing stages the security Beeston felt began to be tested when Adam Dutson crashed a 20 yard effort against the bar and then moments later Kerr pulled off a wonderful save to further deny Leeds City.
FERGIE TIME FOR BEESTON ST ANTHONYS MANAGER MARK HALMSHAW
Leeds City had certainly given their all but the cup winners were crowned and the finishing of Beeston St Anthony and resolute defending proved what an all round team effort they had put in to win the West Yorkshire League Cup and it was left for captain Stevie Kerr to lift to silverware for the men in green.
Season over there was still a matter of getting back via last train roulette and having arrived at Woodlesford to find the train would be 4 minutes later the frustration developed further when 15 minutes later we were still there some miscreant had apparently thrown an object at the drivers windscreen.  Moving off slowly to Castleford a cab end is required and over a very slow journey we arrived in Sheffield 8 minutes down and all was well as the end of the 17/18 season came about just shy of midnight at base station.
Thanks for checking the blog out this season hopefully you will follow the summer exploits around some other sports facilities cricket and rugby league are sure to feature and offer some excellent grounds and have history and many a tale to tell, look forward to seeing you along the way!

Monday, 28 May 2018

COUGARS COMEBACK AS COUGAR PARK WINS THE DAY

KEIGHLEY COUGARS 26 LONDON SKOLARS 18
BET FRED LEAGUE 1 @ COUGARS PARK
27 MAY 2018 --- 3PM
COUGAR PARK AND THE DANNY JONES STAND
A much encouraged comeback from the Cougars who were 14-6 down at the half time hooter saw the noisy home fans will their team over the line and even after Neil Thorman had popped a penalty over for London to make it 16 all Cougars found enough to run out winners.  If your not into your rugby league please read on because at Cougar Park you have a ground to wax lyrically about and with a football connection too, wow.
Yesterdays exertions to Cheshire saw a mid morning start from base station and a rather full train arrived in Leeds 1 and 1/4 hours later with a few bank holiday revellers already on the sauce.  A dash down to platform 4 for the Skipton train which departed in 5 minutes or so at least it should have done but there was a delay with the drivers arrival pending still saw me in Keighley at around 1250pm though.  With just one previous visit to the town, that was a short stop before re joining the train to take in a Silsden game in the NWCFL, a quick circuit of the streets saw me decamp to The Livery Rooms a Spoons establishment.  Having secured a seat a surprise in itself on a Sunday lunchtime and ordering straight away I was looking forward to a chill for half an hour only to be told 'afraid we are out of fish' in a fit of pique I opted for the golden arches which is situated by the ground on Hard Ings Rd.  Most people who visit Macs are there for one of two things if your a child who cares about the meal just give me the toy and if your an adult its a McFlurry, counter order placed the colleague adds 'anything else?' in anticipation I added 'dairy milk McFlurry'.  It was then I realised Keighley was out of most things I like 'sorry we have no Ice Cream'.  What hottest day of year, well nearly, and no ice cream.
With Keighley Cricket Club nestled up to the walls of Cougar Park it looked at good place to spend an hour but amazingly on a Sunday afternoon in Yorkshire no game was taking place.
COUGAR PARK AWAITS
Having consumed the fast food delicacies a stroll around to Royd Ings Ave for the main entrance, there are a few turnstiles tucked away by the cricket club, reveals a town very much like any other in this mills area of Yorkshire.  Light stone terrace back to backs are in abundance with washing across lines and kids playing in the streets the rolling hills were resplendent in todays sunshine with the trees brushing aside all before them in todays blustery wind.
For the footy fan then Steeton Fc newly promoted to the new NWCFL 1 North will move to ground share at Cougar Park I believe next season moving from their village ground that sits the opposite side of the Skipton Rail line to Silsden, it does appear a strange move and although sees them leave their village Keighley is very close by.
THE LADIES ARE IN CHARGE VONIE JANE AND ANNA A WARM WELCOME TO COUGAR PARK
With a little time to move off the watch the option to walk around to the main Royd Ings Ave entrance which takes you via an industrial estate, I remain unsure if this was previously houses, and to the main entrance that is looking bright and smart and clearly has had a successful lick of paint.  While taking a few pictures on a selection of equipment it was then that I attracted the attention from inside the gate of the lovely Anna who when I approached the turnstile was there to greet me and offer a warm welcome to the club as I might add was my turnstile operator Jane.  Once into Cougar Park we got into a quick conversation about where the blog was from and we are joined by Vonie who made up the all female team of Turnstile operators at this end of the ground.  Anna was going to come outside for a picture but now inside what better than to take a picture of all three of the lovely ladies who offered such a warm welcome to Keighley Cougars, thank you!
MATCH PROGRAMME V LONDON SKOLARS
The ever popular draw tickets were purchased and a short while later the programme at £3 some rugby league clubs match day literature disappoints but lets just add its not the case here this is a cracking effort for those who like their paperwork full of colour and articles to read well done.  Also of note is another plus point an excellent public address system well heard all around the ground.
Once inside the whole sweet shop opens up because this is ground visiting gold a stadium with history, emotion and Yorkshire grit seeping from every inch of it.  This ground descriptor cannot do it justice there is so much to describe and added to many characters who watch the games here it was one of those afternoons that I spent with a smile on my face for the whole time at Cougar Park.
Immediately to the left is a modern covered terrace standing on the terrace which is adorned with a flag in memory of Cougars player and Welshman Danny Jones who tragically died in 2015 at an away game against todays visitors.  I remember the time when this happened and the coverage on local TV it was a very sad period which the club did everything admirably possible to assist his family and clearly here with the main stand named after him and a memorial to him this guy is still remembered and much loved.
EAST TERRACE JUST RIGHT FOR A WARM SUMMERS DAY
The far side terrace a stepped uncovered enclosure backed off with four floodlight poles of the rail/ pit yard variety and at the centre point two raised metal cabins with front viewing points which I guess were previously for video vantage points.  Sweeping around the corner a slightly shallower uncovered terrace which backs onto Hall Ings Rd and also offers an exit gate after the game leaving me nearer to the station.  Bringing us back to the business end  the main stand is very much of the old style with a deep set of seating, for which a transfer is payable on top of todays £15 ground entrance, this side this side also mirrors the four floodlights on the opposite side with two rising through the stand roof.  To the far side of the stand are the bars, hospitality area all topped off with that obscure green roof metal finish.
COUGAR ALERT
The descriptor doesn't do it justice you will find many wonderful areas of this ground including the cougar climbing half way up the one of the far side floodlights, the actual Cougar mascot himself pacing the ground, the old scoreboard with massive clock face that ticked away the 40 minutes of each half, sadly replaced now by a digital one.  While the mascot must have a massive shirt to get over his furry body the back of it is sponsored by a local butcher Herd's with the fantastic rhyming tag line Cougars Pies for Cougars tries. Todays referee added some interest for me with John McMullen an official who I'd seen a few times in his early days in The National Conference League latterly I remember a few years ago at East Leeds RLFC.
REFEREE MCMULLEN TAKES ON WATER
The game then and as rugby league is not my main sport apologies for the next few paragraphs of match coverage.  With Skolars in a lowly position in League 1 it was expected Cougars would win probably comfortably and there in lies the problem in any sport I guess.  The home side had a poor first half in a game which was littered with errors although in fairness the blustery swirling wind that was present all afternoon did not help the home sides kicking which were mainly from wide positions. 
Inside ten minutes Neil Thurman had gone over and added the extras before Cougars levelled it through Adam Ryder try and Matty Beharrell who converted.  The maximum adavantage was gained by Skolars again though when Ryan Burroughs popped over for Thurman to add the extra two points.  To add to Cougars difficulties that man Thurman converted a penalty at the front of the sticks right on the hooter.
PRE MATCH ROUTINES NOT MUCH WARMING UP NEEDED ON A HOT DAY
Within two minutes of the re start Thurman added too more with a penalty that made it 6-16 and it was looking like a difficult afternoon for the hoe side.  Step up Anthony Gabriel for the highlight moment gaining possession 90 metres away from the try line he set off moving into overdrive and outpaced all comers to go over in the corner, conversion wide in the left was missed but moments later Cougars were within two of the visitors.  Man of the match Brad Nicholson twisted out of Skolars grasp to go over the whitewash to make it 14-16,  it was Perry Whiteley who added a try that put Cougars into the lead before unbelievable the visitors levelled it up at 18 apiece through you know who thanks to a penalty kick. 
Vinny Finnigan was given 10 minutes with nearly that to go and with the reduction in numbers for Skolars it gave Cougars the push they needed to get over the line.
AT LAST I HEAR YOU SAY MATCH ACTION
Keighley were in the ascendancy and Gabriel went over for a second time even though there were terrace suspicions of a forward pass this time Beharell added the extras and at 24-18 there was light between the two sides in Cougars favour.  With moments to go Beharell chose to pop the penalty over for two point to make the game safe and secure a comeback that had looked far from certain at half time.
GROUND OF CHARACTER WITH A GROUND FULL OF CHARACTERS
Not only is this a ground of character but full of them too with many an old lad watching I guess many through their formative and latter years its also the women on the terrace that can be the most interesting for the people watchers amongst you.  Mr McMullen I guess with temporary hearing loss to any of these comments would not have been able to appreciate them but they like to give their considered thoughts and often with a fair few chosen descriptive words added, it all makes for the cracking watch that rugby league is.
Have I missed anything out on this?  I'm sure I have well your just going to have to go for a visit to this wonderful ground to see what there is to write home about and although Steeton will be there next season you really need to go for a Cougars game to experience it at full throttle, I don't think you will be disappointed.
Journey home was smooth enough if not packed, again, with added juiced up revellers in their mature years joining the train at Sheffield with thankfully a swift departure just after base station was arrived at just before 7.30pm.