Monday, 11 October 2010

Happy with a 2-2 from Cambridge

Hopperational details
Sunday 10/10/10 (what a splendid date that is) at Highbury Stadium, Fleetwood Town 2 Cambridge United 2 (Conference, Step 1) in the first live TV broadcast of a match from the ground.
This match in one sentence
Cambridge gifted an early goal to Magno Viera but came back straight away, and Robbie Wilmott’s late penalty levelled the score for the second time and earned a point for a fighting performance against higher-placed Fleetwood.
Robbie Willmott smashes in the late equaliser from the penalty spot

So what?
No change in league positions – Fleetwood and Cambridge are in playoff and relegation places respectively – so Cambridge will be much the happier with this result.  This hopper's "116" (current Premiership, Championship, One, Two and Conference grounds) is restored to completeness.  Fleetwood Town were promoted from Step 2 last season.
Who caught the eye on the pitch?
I was unashamedly in the visitors’ end this time, in a nostalgic nod towards my student days and several enjoyable evenings supporting Cambridge United (without my college scarf, of course) at the Abbey Stadium back in the late 70s.  Their striker Danny Wright was my man of the match.  Although not personally on the scoresheet he was involved in all of the best moments for the visitors.  He worked both as a conventional target man but was also able to run at the defence with the ball at his feet.
This match had the same effect on my pulse rate as …
… producing a batch of beef stirfry for a hundred guests using a modified cattle prod and a tin bath (don’t try this at home).
A snippet from the programme
Two programmes today!  A free copy of the last Cambridge programme was given to the 165 diehards, each personally signed by Us manager Martin Ling.

From Ian Hodge of radiowave 96.5FM in the Fleetwood programme: “I was at Fleetwood High School a week ago as Micky Mellon gave his pre-match press conference to 80 school kids.  It was great to see a football club really engaging with a community in a move I’d never seen before.  Micky told me he hoped it would inspire the new generation of supporters.”
What I learned today

Fleetwood is the home of the Fisherman’s Friend lozenge, invented by local pharmacist James Lofthouse and comprising menthol and eucalyptus oil. If laid end on end all of the Fisherman's Friend lozenges eaten in one year would stretch around the world four times!”, according to their splendid website
Modus Hopper Random Talking Point
Fleetwood manager Micky Mellon is a former West Brom player.  As I recall, he was a fans’ favourite for his no-nonsense approach to central midfield play and his willingness to tackle.  Chatting before the game to a few of the locals, it is clear that he his held in high regard and is working well in partnership with the owners.  Fleetwood is a relatively rich club at this level, and therefore unpopular beyond its boundaries in footballing tradition.  Behind the dugouts, a new stand is taking shape.  Announcer Rod Allsworth kindly invited me to step on to his gantry for some pre-match photographs and said that I should come back in six months to see the final result.  The supporters have created a Cod Army identity for themselves and expectations are high with over 2000 here today despite the live TV coverage being shown in the pub 800m up the road.  Although this is their first season in the Conference in its present form, it is evident that they are looking for Football League status sooner rather than later.

What Next?
It’s FA Cup 3rd Round Qualifying replay week, with possibilities for me on both Tuesday and Wednesday.  Not sure whether there is scope for randomness yet, but watch this space!

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