Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Fame is the Thirst of Youth, says Byron

Well, I noticed this (one of several) ... not sure whether the home faithful have yet


Newby's first penalty makes the score 1-0 ...
... and his second makes it 3-2 to set up a frantic final few minutes

Hopperational details
Tuesday 28 September 2010, Carshalton Athletic 3  East Thurrock United 2 in an FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round Replay at the War Memorial Sports Ground, Colston Avenue.  I am here because a local pigeon was late for tea, thus depriving Chipstead of my custom this time.  (Here's the proof, which will only make sense if you have read the previous post!  Only eight seconds, I promise!)

video

This match in one sentence
Byron Harrison’s hat-trick beats Kris Newby’s brace of penalties as the home side make the most of their replay opportunity.
So what?
Carshalton (of Step 3) have been drawn at home to another Essex side, Braintree Town (of Step 2) in the 3rd Qualifying Round on Saturday 9 October.
Who caught the eye on the pitch?
Harrison had three clear chances before he scored his first goal to equalise after the early penalty.  He completed his hat-trick before the golden-booted Newby scored from the spot again.  Both Harrison and Newby were the biggest threats for their respective sides.  However, the home fans were not really anxious about the result until the last few minutes, when visiting keeper Richard Wray joined the attack in great cup-tie style.

However, the match might have developed differently if not for Carshalton ‘keeper Craig Ross.  East Thurrock could so easily have had a second goal from dangerous Newby set-pieces before the hosts settled and equalised.  The programme editor admits in his notes that Ross had been man-of-the-match in the first game.  Ross did more than anyone over the two matches to earn the place in the next round.
Carshalton 'keeper Craig Ross is happy to be #13

This match had the same effect on my pulse rate as …
… being admonished at a branch of Subway when I asked if I could use two tetrahedral dice to decide from white, offwhite, wholemeal, rye, wholemeal with rye, wholerye with meal, wholebranbreadmeal and Italian fibreloaf for the superstructure of a chicken sandwich.
A snippet from the programme
Carshalton manager Mark Butler’s previous posts are at Ashford Town (Mdx) and Margate.  Seven of the sixteen names listed in the Carshalton squad page have recent connections with one or other of those clubs.  It reminds me of the time when Alan Buckley became West Brom manager and there followed several signings of current or previous Grimsby Town players.  Many of them had difficulty establishing themselves with fans and became fringe players at best.  The same page also states that Byron Harrison “has been looked at by several professional clubs and has a big future in front of him”.  Hmmm … Carshalton is his sixth club already!
What I learned today
Uploading videos takes a long time and I should plan further in advance!

Where Was I?






Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Midweek FA Cup Replays - Decision Time

The candidates for a random hop on Tuesday 28 September are as follows.  They are at the seven grounds that I have not been to*, listed in order of distance away from here.  I have decided that distance is an allowable factor for midweek evening jaunts, especially in replays when there may be extra time and penalties.

*  Not counting a groundsharer – Thames United’s tie is at landlords Wallingford, and this would compromise my idiosyncratic ‘hopping rules!

Distance
Cup Tie
52 miles
Carshalton Athletic v East Thurrock United
62 miles
Fleet Town v Bashley
64 miles
Chipstead v Needham Market
104 miles
Felixstowe & Walton v North Greenford United
120 miles
Leiston v Folkestone Invicta
148 miles
Cinderford Town v Alton Town
170 miles
Warrington Town v Bamber Bridge

Now … I need a way of choosing randomly, but with a bias towards the nearest.  OK … lights, camera … ACTION!


The learning process continues for this blogger... it is taking so long to upload a 5-minute video that I will need to keep you in suspense a while longer, possibly even until after the match!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Keep Your Eye on the Round Ball



Hopperational details
Sunday 26 September, Neath 3  Bala Town 1 at The Gnoll in the Welsh Premier League, after a walk in gorgeous morning sunshine around the Gnoll Estate.
Mosshouse Wood Reservoir on The Gnoll Estate

This match in one sentence
The result of this disappointing game was never in doubt, but Neath look better going forward than in defence.


So what?
The big spenders of Neath go third, ten points behind Bangor City but with a game in hand.  Bala Town are bottom of the table.
Who caught the eye on the pitch?
Some eyebrows were raised when former Swansea City fans’ favourite Lee Trundle joined Neath in the close season, but it is by no means his first experience outside the English Football League.  He did not enter League football until signing for Brian Flynn at Wrexham at the age of 24.  A move to Swansea under the same manager followed, and I remember when he was said to be the first footballer outside the Premiership with an “image rights” deal.  He is now 33, and his goals-to-games ratio was very impressive up to 2006-7.  Neath’s opening league game of the season had a record crowd of over 800, and his contributions today were warmly received by the home crowd.  I guess that this could be a win-win arrangement for player and club if the Neath management have done their sums correctly.  The Bentley with the personalised number plate was tucked away discreetly at the top of the car park, and he delivered a man-of-the-match performance.

Lee Trundle scores from the spot to make it 2-0 to Neath
The first goal (from another ex-Swan Kristian O’Leary) came as a result of a Trundle corner, and the third (a spectacular shot by Chris Jones) was served up on a plate by his clever flick, and much enjoyed by those spectators still awake.  Trundle himself was tripped for the penalty that he converted for the second.  He did most of his best work with his back to goal, receiving the ball to feet and holding it up before bringing a runner into play with a clever flick or layoff.  He occasionally showed frustration with his team-mates’ lack of vision or execution, and one display of petulance was taken as dissent by the referee who yellow-carded him.  He was indeed the star of a poor game.

A swan from the Gnoll Estate
An ex-Swan from The Gnoll
This match had the same effect on my pulse rate as …
… sitting in front of a tank of freshwater tropical fish with a mug of cocoa.
A snippet from the programme
I was aware that the Welsh Premier League had restructured (see my earlier post from Airbus UK v TNS) but I noticed that three of Neath’s first five competitive games have been against Haverfordwest County.  A premier league victory was followed by an aggregate defeat over two legs in the Loosemores League Cup.  English clubs and fans have very mixed feelings about their Carling Cup, which has just had a resurgent week after giant-killing by Brentford and Northampton.  The competition format has had several tweaks over recent seasons, with sides in Europe being exempt until R3.  Lower league Scottish teams will play at least one match in the CIS Insurance Cup and the Alba Challenge Cup before their league programme starts.  It seems to me as a casual observer that three games out of five against the same opposition is not a structure that will spark the interest of fans in this rugby union stronghold.  The Welsh authorities have taken a brave step with the 6:6 split in January, and perhaps their league cup now needs a remodelling too.
What I learned today
Neath is undoubtedly a rugby town.  Six hundred spectators were herded into the shade of the main stand for today’s game.  However, several thousand will no doubt be here on all sides for reigning national champions Neath RFC’s upcoming game against Pontypridd.  Neath FC’s move to The Gnoll will hopefully have spin-off benefits for both clubs, and arguably they are showing ambition through the signings of Trundle and O’Leary.  The sharing arrangements at Vicarage Road (Watford/Saracens), Adams Park (Wycombe Wanderers/Wasps) and the Madejski Stadium (Reading/London Irish) have all lasted for several seasons and seem to prove that co-existence can be beneficial.  I am sure there are others that I have missed.  As a Hertfordshire resident, I know that there are occasional mutterings about the pitch at Watford, but many realistic fans are said to be anxious that Saracens have been looking elsewhere.
Modus Hopper Random Talking Point
Don’t get me started about the colours of the football boots worn by the youngsters who took part in the half-time entertainment.  I blame the parents, and in the meantime will send the incriminating evidence once again to @BeatTheFirstMan for his Fancy Dan blog at http://fancydanboots.tumblr.com/

... and finally, a blurred nuthatch (I hope) from The Gnoll as a tribute to my equally but differently obsessed brother Martyn who, as @BlurredBirding on Twitter and through his blog http://yapp2607.blogspot.com/ keeps us up to date with feathered friends.  He taught me everything I know about gulls.


Saturday, 25 September 2010

Watching a Western with a Late Twist











Hopperational details
Saturday 25 September 2010, Paulton Rovers 0 Didcot Town 1 at Winterfield Road in the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Cup.  I am here, rather than at one of 35 other ties, because of a 6/1 combination thrown on two dice.

This match in one sentence
Paulton Rovers had three goals disallowed in the first half, but lost a closely-fought contest to a scrambled 90th minute goal.

So what?
This is sweet revenge for Didcot Town who lost to Paulton last year on the latter’s route to a lucrative televised defeat by Norwich City in the First Round Proper.  They will be in Monday’s draw, while Paulton are back in league action that evening.

Who caught the eye on the pitch?
There was a continuous physical battle between red-booted Didcot striker Michael Bartley and the Paulton centre-backs Lee Marshall and Ollie Price.  Bartley always looked strong and dangerous, but ended up with a deserved booking for leading with his elbow in a challenge.  Price also picked up a yellow card, rather more harshly in my view, for having the temerity to challenge the ‘keeper for a high ball.

This match had the same effect on my pulse rate as … 
… the sudden and noisy rust-induced disintegration of part of the front end of my beloved red 1972 VW Beetle at 50mph on the Harlow bypass in 1983. 

A snippet from the programme
“Today’s fixture once again has a feeling of de ja voux about it.”

Sorry, programme editors, but I can’t let that one go, even though the rest of your publication is pretty informative and well-produced.

What I learned today
The cut-and-paste of a table from MS Works on my netbook does not work in the same way as MS Word from my home PC.  Sorry about the change of layout, readers, I will have to learn some more html or tidy it up later!

Other than that, I learned that Paulton was once an important mining village (hence the club crest) and a notable nearby slagheap is called “The Batch”.

Modus Hopper Random Talking Point
Paulton’s FA Cup fixtures this season have drawn them against the same teams as last season for two consecutive rounds - Tiverton and Didcot.  The chances of this are low, but not as low as you might think because of the behind-closed-doors regionalisation of the early rounds of the Cup.  If all teams are equally likely to get through (which is clearly not true), I calculate on the back of an envelope that the odds of this happening would be something like 1 in 1500 at most.  (About 50 equally likely potential opponents in the first round, about 30 in the next for this region.)  In practice, the odds might be longer … say 1 in 3000, especially as teams may enter the competition at a different level in the next season if they have been promoted or relegated (or dissolved and re-formed) in the meantime.

Apparently, this is about the same as your individual chance of dying from forces of nature (earthquake, cold, heat, storm, tornado etc) if you live in America.

Meanwhile, in my preview post I picked out three potential giant-killers for this round… thanks to Norton & Stockton Ancients and Tipton Town for delivering the goods and improving my credibility.  Mangotsfield, what happened?

Where next?
Neath v Bala Town tomorrow in the Welsh Premier League and the impact of Lee Trundle for the home team, and seven FA Cup replays at unvisited grounds in the pipeline next week.


A4 goal thriller next to the A3



Stefan Joseph (10 in the red/white) celebrates the 2-0 scoreline early on


Hopperational details
Friday 24 September 2010, Colliers Wood United 2  Raynes Park Vale 2, a local derby in the Step 5 Combined Counties Premier League.  No randomness needed as it is the only accessible fixture for me tonight.
This match in one sentence
Colliers Wood failed to hold on to their early two-goal lead, and a late equaliser means the points are shared.
So what?
Colliers Wood are 4th but have played two more games than most teams in the top half of the table.  Raynes Park Vale will be pleased with this point against their local rivals, but are still looking for their first league win of the season.
Who caught the eye on the pitch?
Colliers Wood striker Stefan Joseph scored both of his team’s goals with powerful finishes, and were it not for brave goalkeeping he might have had at least a hat-trick.  His pacy team-mate Cornell McKoy appeared on both flanks, bright orange boots clashing horribly with the red kit.  Raynes Park’s Marc Skinner completed a lung-bursting run from full-back to get the cross in for the late equaliser. 
This match had the same effect on my pulse rate as …
… an unexpected SatNav malfunction which, instead of vital guidance for coping with the A205 South Circular Road, gives out step-by-step instructions for stuffing an ostrich in the voice of Nigella Lawson.
A snippet from the programme
Prophetic words from the editor: “… as is the norm, form goes out of the window on such occasions and we will need to play well to have a chance of claiming the three points on offer tonight.”
What I learned today
Do not miss the entrance to the Colliers Wood ground, which is accessible only from the southbound side of the A3 dual carriageway.  Otherwise you have to experience the double frustration of finding a safe turning place before you can pass the ground again by an equal distance heading north on the other side.  As the gateman said as he cheerfully allowed me to double-park, “You’re not the first to do that, and you won’t be the last!”
Coming up next
Paulton Rovers v Didcot Town in the FA Cup tomorrow (Sat 25 Sept).





Thursday, 23 September 2010

FA Cup Second Round Qualifying Preview & Decision

The FA Cup is probably my favourite competition, and this Saturday's second qualifying round provides an ideal opportunity for a modushopperrandom experience.  There are actually 37 ties at grounds that I have not yet visited, but I have arbitrarily removed Workington this time on the basis that I might struggle to get there in time for 3pm for practical reasons.


A random choice among 36 is perfect for two conventional cubic dice (or one die rolled twice).  In effect the ties are arranged in six groups of six.  The first die decides which group, the second decides which one within the group.  Of course, if using two dice it is essential to know which is the "first" and which is the "second", and having two different colours is an easy way to do this.


So here are my 36 possibilities, all having an equal chance to entertain me.
Note: other ties are available, but at grounds that I have already visited.







FIRST DIE
SECOND DIE
Original FA Tie #
HOME
v
AWAY
1
1
1
Frickley Athletic
v
Newcastle Benfield
1
2
2
Bamber Bridge
v
Warrington Town
1
3
3
Norton & Stockton Ancients
v
Leigh Genesis
1
4
4
New Mills
v
Harrogate Town
1
5
6
North Ferriby United
v
Stocksbridge Park Steels
1
6
7
Dunston UTS
v
Mossley AFC
2
1
8
Ashington
v
Thackley
2
2
9
Colwyn Bay
v
Guiseley AFC
2
3
13
Ashton United
v
FC Halifax Town
2
4
14
Stalybridge Celtic
v
Alfreton Town
2
5
15
Shildon
v
Skelmersdale United
2
6
16
Sheffield
v
Northwich Victoria
3
1
20
Tipton Town
v
Market Drayton Town
3
2
22
Brigg Town
v
Nuneaton Town
3
3
23
Coleshill Town
v
Lincoln United
3
4
25
Oadby Town
v
Radcliffe Olympic
3
5
26
Barwell
v
Coalville Town
3
6
27
Loughborough Dynamo
v
Redditch United
4
1
28
Stewarts & Lloyds Corby
v
Mickleover Sports
4
2
30
Carlton Town
v
Matlock Town
4
3
32
Newcastle Town
v
Wednesfield
4
4
35
Hythe Town
v
Erith & Belvedere
4
5
36
Erith Town
v
Dover Athletic
4
6
37
Bury Town
v
Grays Athletic
5
1
44
Folkestone Invicta
v
Leiston
5
2
50
North Greenford United
v
Felixstowe & Walton United
5
3
51
Needham Market
v
Chipstead
5
4
64
Hamble ASSC
v
Old Woodstock Town
5
5
66
Sholing
v
Salisbury City
5
6
69
Mangotsfield United
v
Dorchester Town
6
1
70
Paulton Rovers
v
Didcot Town
6
2
71
Bristol Manor Farm
v
Basingstoke Town
6
3
72
Sherborne Town
v
Hungerford Town
6
4
74
Poole Town
v
Thame United
6
5
76
Bishop's Cleeve
v
Woking
6
6
80
Alton Town
v
Cinderford Town







Stalybridge Celtic v Alfreton Town is the only Step 2 v Step 2 game in the list and will probably attract the biggest crowd.  Paulton Rovers of Step 4 have recent FA Cup giantkilling history and are at home to Step 3 opponents.  There is a 1 in 36 (2.8%) chance that I will be going to see Colwyn Bay continue their FA Cup run after their replay victory over Marine.  They are playing Guiseley from Step 2.  All three step 6 sides in the list have away ties, but other teams fancying their giantkilling chances will include Norton & Stockton Ancients, Tipton Town and Mangotsfield United.  They are all going well in their own leagues, with home ties against struggling sides from higher up the pyramid.


There is a 44.4% chance that I will be spending the afternoon at a Step 5 ground, and I have informed my mum that there is a 13.9% chance that I will be dropping by for tea at the ancestral home in West Bromwich.  (I'm sure that will help her to plan accordingly.)


Technology permitting, the rolling ceremony will be filmed and posted for your amusement.  In the meantime, I will savour the uncertainty.


UPDATE:



video

I am really looking forward to this game at a club with some recent FA Cup pedigree.  This outcome has also opened up the chance to take in Neath v Bala Town in the Welsh Premier League on Sunday afternoon.  (I must remember the 2pm kickoff!)  Weekend sorted!