Sunday, 5 October 2014

Fylde Under Par But They Win Again


Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 4 October 2014 at Kellamergh Park
Result
AFC Fylde 1 North Ferriby United 0
Competition
Conference North (Step 2)
Hopping
Ground 550, and one of the two grounds I need to visit of teams promoted to Step 2 last season.  Chorley is the other, and I will be there soonish to re-complete “The 160” grounds from Premiership to Step 2 inclusive, except that it is 158 at the moment because of groundsharing by Worcester City and Gloucester City.  I am here rather than Chorley today because of a randomish event at Bamber Bridge, which is roughly midway between Chorley and Fylde.  Preston Ladies were playing Blackburn Ladies.  If they had scored an odd number of goals I would have been going to Chorley.  As it is, they scored nil, which is not an odd number, even though you might argue whether it is a number at all.  On balance, mathematically speaking, it’s even, so Fylde it is.

The ground has an unusual entrance – you drive through the car park of the Birley Arms to get there.
Pre-match preparation
Both teams have an eye on promotion.  AFC Fylde lead the division by two points although Barrow have a game in hand.  North Ferriby United are only three points outside the playoff spots, but it is still relatively early in the season.  Fylde have won six league games in a row and most recently have beaten Bradford PA in a replay to stay in the FA Cup.  North Ferriby are also still in the Cup, a win over Cleethorpes ending a winless league streak lasting the whole of September. They are eighth in the league table.

Like near neighbours Fleetwood, now of League Two, Fylde have shaken up the local pecking order with their ambitions of full Football League status.  Blackpool, after a difficult managerial and administrative start to their season, played Cardiff on Friday night and Fylde are offering reduced price entry to their season ticket holders today.  Competition on and off the field round here, then.
This match in one sentence
Fylde nicked a goal in a tight but uninspiring game, while North Ferriby did nothing much wrong except for missing their chances.
So what?
AFC Fylde stay top of the division. North Ferriby remain mid-table.
The drama unfolds
Much of the first half was interesting and impressive rather than exciting and inspirational.  Some would say dull.  Two well-organised teams largely cancelled each other out in midfield and there were few clear chances.  Here’s the traditional scene-setter clip.  Fylde are in white.



The only goal of the game came from a break from halfway by Richie Allen down the left wing.  North Ferriby keeper Adam Nicklin got a hand to the low cross-shot but could only push it out for a tap-in for Danny Rowe.  1-0 after 36 mins and at half-time

North Ferriby’s striker Tom Denton featured heavily in the visitors’ second-half attempts to draw level.  He used his height to good advantage.  First, he saw Ben Hinchcliffe leap superbly to push away his header in the first minute after the restart.  With sunshine and showers and one of the best rainbows for several seasons, North Ferriby kept up the pressure.  Here’s a clip.



Fylde nearly added a second through Hinchcliffe and Allen from the proverbial route one.  Tom Hannigan caught the eye in the home defence with a couple of timely interventions and blocks.  Denton headed just wide at the far post from a corner with ten minutes to go, and then another header hit the post with a minute of normal time left.  It so nearly went in off Hinchcliffe.  To be honest, a draw would have been a fair result – there was actually very little to choose between these two teams, and the second half had been more entertaining for the passing neutral.  Final score 1-0
Ground Pix





Trophy on display in the directors' box
Match Pix







Something You Don’t Get in the Premier League
Simultaneous sheep and double rainbows.  There were cows in the next field too, but they declined to have their picture taken.



Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
THIS orange-and-grey monstrosity from North Ferriby's Adam Nicklin has messed up my spreadsheet.  It’s not orange.  It’s not grey.  Plus, it lost.  Whereas the nice safe traditional green of Fylde won the points and gained a clean sheet.  Updated and adapted table to follow before the end of the month.


Soapbox Section
AFC Fylde would like to build a new ground but there is nothing definite as yet.  I may have to go back there one day!  Everything about this club makes an impact from the moment you arrive.  The banners, the signage, the tidiness, the quality of the programme production, the self-service “gourmet coffee machine”.  All are among the best I have seen in non-league.  Everything points to high standards both corporately and for individuals, and to attention to detail.  Having spent many years as the head of various teams or institutions myself, I applaud all of that.  They are big on hospitality and sponsorship-seeking, and even have a mascot.  I do not applaud mascots, ever, (except Junior Baggie Bird doing the pecking dance to Jump Up by House of Pain, but that is pure art).

AFC Fylde's ambitions are explicit.


Of course, all these things also exude the message that “Money is no Object”, and this has meant that Fylde receive a step 2 version of some of the negative feelings expressed towards Chelsea, Manchester City and maybe QPR.  Plus Fleetwood locally in more recent times.  As things stand, Blackpool exist in the Championship (but are “troubled” off the pitch at the time of writing), Fleetwood are in League Two, and Fylde are in Step Two with plans to be in the main Football League by 2022.  I can’t help thinking their biggest barrier would be to build their support base, and if they manage it then one or both of the others will have to take some damage.  The question, as ever, is whether it will all be sustainable, or whether someone’s dreams will have to crash-and-burn.  It will be interesting to watch – after today’s visit I would not bet against them.
What Next?
Watch @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details!



Saturday, 27 September 2014

Oxford Underestimate the Haddock Price Double


Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 27 September 2014 at Meadowbank
Result
Shortwood United 2 Oxford City 1
Competition
FA Cup Second Qualifying Round
Hopping
Ground 549, and I am here because a substitute scored the last (and winning) West Bromwich Albion goal in the 3-2 midweek League Cup win over Hull City.  All the details are in the previous post.  Thank you to Saido Berahino for sending me here.
Pre-match preparation
Shortwood are unbeaten (albeit with two draws) in all competitions in September and sit in a mid-table league position.  They play in step 4 in the Southern League’s Division One S&W.  They got to this stage with a big win at Shrivenham followed by an away replay win over Cirencester Town.

Oxford City, these days of Step 2 and the Conference North (yes, North, and 5th place as I write), enter the competition at this stage.  They have had an interesting month with two big wins, another win and two heavy defeats from their September fixtures.  They will start as favourites simply because of the difference in levels.  The other interesting feature of the pre-match prep has been the website warning to expect a very narrow lane on the final approach to the ground!


The rest of the pre-match prep consisted of a delightful scenic drive down some narrow lanes, a gentle walk around those closest to the ground, and a pint of Moles best bitter.  All chemistry teachers will understand why that had to be done.


This match in one sentence
Oxford City took a first half lead, gradually lost control of the game due to a spirited performance by the lower-ranked hosts, and were denied a replay by some late defensive heroics.
So what?
Shortwood’s loyal supporters will have a midweek league trip to Merthyr instead of a replay at Oxford City, and of course they win some valuable prize money and a place in the draw for the next round.
The drama unfolds
Both defences were on top during the early sparring.  I took a scene-setter clip of this little gem of a ground midway through the first half.  Shortwood are in red & white stripes.



Gradually Oxford City grew to dominate with a calm and unruffled performance, though their debutant Bermudan keeper Freddy Hall almost gifted a goal to Lewis Sommers with a fluffed clearance.  Fortunately a defender shepherded Sommers away for long enough to allow Hall to get back into position.  Home keeper Tom King had already made one decent save, but he could not do anything about the opening goal, which came after Adi Yussuf was allowed to use his strength and presence to turn and shoot from the edge of the box.  0-1 after 34 mins

Just before the break, Kynan Isaac might have added a second.  He did the hard trickery to create the space but then rolled a tame shot wide so Shortwood remained in the game.  0-1 at half-time

Shortwood started the second half well.  Target man Sommers lumbered around up front to good effect (and was to be of great defensive help later on).  Wearing 9, he laid the ball back to number 10 Adam Price who then found number 11 Ross Langworthy with a neat and numerically consecutive move.  Langworthy’s shot was, however, easily saved.  The equaliser came after Oxford lost the ball in a dangerous central spot.  Hall got his hand to Price’s shot, but there was no defensive cover in place and the scores were levelled. This would prove to be a generous gift.  1-1 after 59 mins

The winning goal came from a left-wing cross which evaded Sommers, Hall and everyone else to fall for Tom Haddock steaming in late at the back post to head home.  2-1 after 79 mins

My second clip is of the final five, and captures the defensive heroics needed to keep Oxford out.  King will be especially pleased with that save.  Even Hall is up at the attacking end in the final seconds.  There was much celebration at the final whistle, and fair play to the travelling support who took the defeat with general good humour.  Final score 2-1


The combination of a randomish choice of game, an interesting, scenic journey, a quirky ground with good food and a good clubhouse, followed by a decent game whose result was in doubt until the end, makes this one of the best hops for many months.  If you have not been here, sort it out – but do your route research first. En route today, Doris the Satnav (who is as up to date as anyone) tried to take me through a herd of cows, up a farm track, through a street market and up a one-way street the wrong way.  Allow enough time for U-turns and to enjoy the view.

Ground and Near the Ground Pix














To be fair, this was full of visiting fans in the second half.

Match Pix









Something You Don’t Get in the Premier League
Near the ground there is a “decommissioned” church, just SOLD by an estate agent by the name of Bishop.  There is a horse with one eye, hedgerows full of flowers, berries, spiders and snails.  There is home-made cottage pie and a clubhouse where you mingle with visiting fans.  There was a banner for the Oxford Brookes University Non-League Football Society, meaning that as far as I am concerned they move into second place in the university hierarchy (behind Cambridge, ahem, and ahead of that other one in their city) and I will recommend them to all my students immediately.
Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
Grey beats green today, enough to drop green just below red in this updated league table.  The Cech theory was that orange is best.  He knows nothing.  Face the numbers, Petr.

The story so far:
3pts for a win, 1pt for a draw, -1pt for a goal conceded and +5pts for a clean sheet

P
W
D
L
GC
CS
Pts
PPG
Purple
5
3
1
1
9
2
11
2.20
Grey
20
9
5
6
27
6
35
1.75
Red
4
2
0
2
5
1
6
1.50
Green
19
9
2
8
26
5
28
1.47
Blue
8
3
2
3
14
2
7
0.88
Orange
5
2
1
2
9
1
3
0.60
Yellow
10
2
4
4
19
2
1
0.10
Radioactive Bile
6
2
0
4
12
0
-6
-1.00
Maroon
2
1
0
1
5
0
-2
-1.00
Pink
7
1
3
3
16
0
-10
-1.43
Soapbox Section
Let’s take this opportunity to list the Gloucestershire links on my family tree in case any as yet undiscovered cousins read this!  My great-grandmother (Yapp side) was born Martha Saul and her father George had settled in the industrial West Midlands (maybe working at the phosphorous factory in Oldbury) after a spell of military service that had ended in Madras in the late 19th century.

His father was Jasper Alder Saul and he was the first Glos connection that I discovered.  Jasper was a boatman, born in Ashleworth in 1825, who later married a girl from the West Midlands and lived alongside the canal in Oldbury.  It is likely that prospects were better in the cities and towns of the industrial revolution at that time.  He had probably worked on the canals.

Jasper’s parents were Josiah (or Sier) Saul who was born in Oddington in 1778 and Elizabeth Alder of Ashleworth.  The marriage took place in Hartpury, and certainly Elizabeth is recorded as still working as an agricultural worker at the age of 73 in Condicote in the 1851 census.

The previous generations are Caleb Saul and Anne Phipps (associated with Bourton-on-the-Water and Oddington, and Jasper Alder and Sarah Phillips, associated with Ashleworth.  These would have been around in the second half of the eighteenth century.

If any of these family names or places feature in your history, do get in touch so we can work out our common ancestor.  If you have never tried tracing your family tree, I can wholeheartedly recommend it, but you need to be prepared to spend some time and maybe some money too.  It can be painstaking and occasionally frustrating, but I am very glad that I made the effort a few years ago.  There is plenty of help out there and you can get a fair way from your computer keyboard.  It is something that I return to from time to time.
What Next?
Watch @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details!