Sunday, 30 January 2011

North Ferribeaten at Home

"... yet stands the church clock at 4.03, and is there any sugar for t'tea, love?"


Halifax won the flags-and-banners contest too
James Dean (9) prepares to be a nuisance in the box again

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 29 January 2011 at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium
Result
North Ferriby United 0 Halifax Town 3
Competition
Northern Premier League (step 3)
Hopping
Venue #369, I am here because of a lucky roll of two dice, lucky because many of the other fixtures on the shortlist were postponed.  This is the second time I have seen Halifax Town win without conceding this season.
This match in one sentence
Halifax scored at the right times to secure a very impressive and straightforward result in a potentially tricky fixture.
This match summed up in the alleged style of:
Baron Prescott of Kingston-upon-Hull
The locals received a ranning, er, I mean a right tanning … and I would like to congratulate the honourable gentlemen from Hollyfox on their victory.
So what?
Halifax Town take another purposeful step towards this title and the Conference North on their road to recovery.  Their 15-point lead looks unassailable, especially with a game in hand over Colwyn Bay and many more goals in the “For” column than anyone else.  North Ferriby remain in the play-off zone in fourth position and they still have plenty to play for this season.
The drama unfolds
After a delayed kickoff to allow the long queues of spectators to get in, Halifax took the lead in the first minute.  A cross from James Dean was put away by Jamie Vardy.  0-1.  They went on to dominate most of the first half, in the manner of this first clip.

North Ferriby had a couple of half-chances but Halifax’s Lee Gregory was also very close to scoring.  James Dean was a thorough nuisance to the home defence throughout the half.

The second goal also came at a vital moment.  In first-half stoppage time, Gregory was able to turn and shoot for a deserved goal.  0-2 at half time.
The second goal is celebrated in the traditional manner
The goal of the day came from Vardy in the 56th minute as he finished superbly at the end of a great run.  0-3.  North Ferriby’s Ben Morley picked up a second yellow for an attempted tackle on Vardy and the game petered out with the visitors in the ascendancy.  Plaintive despairing calls of "Deano, set .. set" were heard periodically as the otherwise impressive #9 sometimes tried harder things when he had teammates in space.  Vardy was man-of-the-match - again.  Final score 0-3.
Alternative activity of equal excitement for tourists in North Ferriby
Trainspotting …


Halifax supporters won’t agree, of course – they turned up in large numbers and were delighted with their team’s dominant performance.  For me as a passing neutral, this was an anti-climax of a match, and the result was never in doubt.  North Ferriby had been by all accounts the best team seen at The Shay and the only ones to leave Halifax with the points.  They had won their last home fixture 4-0.  The early goal killed the gameplan and the 46th minute goal ripped up the half-time team talk, I guess.

By the way, the train is an oldish DMU (diesel multiple unit) of some description, but I am resisting the temptation to find out exactly which sort in case I get terminally interested.
A snippet from the programme
Good job I arrived early – they ran out!  The home fans definitely needed the “Half Time Humour” page.  It included an alleged quote from Bill Shankly which is always worth repeating:
“Of course I didn’t take my wife to see Rochdale as an anniversary present.  It was her birthday and would I have got married during the football season?  Anyway, it was Rochdale reserves.”
What I learned today
From “You are the Referee” in the programme:
“It’s a last minute penalty to the away side who are 3-0 down but none of their players are prepared to take it as they say you have been so biased there is no point.  What do you do? – Call the side’s captain to you and ask him to tell you who will be taking the penalty kick.  If he refuses to do this, show him a yellow card for delaying the restart.  If he still refuses, show him a second yellow, followed by a red.  Abandon the game and report the full facts to the authorities.”
Something random
The name Ferriby derives from a Danish word, ferja, meaning what we now call a ferry.  The ferry in question went to, wait for it, South Ferriby, on the other bank of the Humber estuary.
What Next?
Something on Tuesday night, but too early to say.

Friday, 28 January 2011

A 2D6 Decision

Let's do the math (old habits etc etc) ...


When two traditional 6-sided dice are rolled and totalled, there are 36 (6x6) possible combinations adding up to totals from 2 to 12.  However, 2 and 12 are the least likely totals because there is only one way of getting there … 1+1 or 6+6.  The most likely total is 7 because there are six possible ways of making it.  6 out of 36 is a probability of 16.7% (to the nearest 0.1).  The colours in the chart show why this is, and the eleven possible outcomes are matched to eleven chosen fixtures below.


This is where groundhopping comes into its own – it is always possible to choose a game that means something in the context of the season.  I’ve put games where both teams are involved in promotion or relegation fights for the most likely outcomes, or the mid-table or lower level games as least likely.  I really do want to go to Workington soon, but not necessarily for this particular fixture!


Die 2

v






Die 1          >

1
2
3
4
5
6

1
2
3
4
5
6
7

2
3
4
5
6
7
8

3
4
5
6
7
8
9

4
5
6
7
8
9
10

5
6
7
8
9
10
11

6
7
8
9
10
11
12

Total on 2xd6
Chance
Game
2
2.8%
Workington v Worcester City
(mid table, Conference N)
3
5.6%
Ashton U v Nantwich T
(mid table, Northern Premier)
4
8.3%
Stocksbridge PS v Burscough
(17v12, Northern Premier)
5
11.1%
North Ferriby U v Halifax T
(4v1, Northern Premier)
6
13.9%
Colwyn Bay v Matlock T
(2v3, Northern Premier)
7
16.7%
Tonbridge A v Lowestoft
(6v4, Isthmian Premier)
8
13.9%
Stourbridge v Salisbury C
(5v2, Southern Premier)
9
11.1%
Croydon A v Bury T
(22v2, Isthmian Premier)
10
8.3%
Hastings U v Canvey I
(19v10, Isthmian Premier)
11
5.6%
Frickley v FC United
(20v13, Northern Premier)
12
2.8%
Bognor Regis T v Met Police
(3v1, step 4)

So where am I going?

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Enfield Runway Ends at Stansted

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Tuesday 25 January 2011 at Hargrave Park
Result
Stansted 2  Enfield 1
Competition
Essex Senior League (step 5)
Hopping
Venue #368, and here because I could get through by telephone to check that the game had not been postponed on a very wet evening.
This match in one sentence
All three goals came in the first half of a keenly-contested game which threatened to boil over at times, and Enfield will be annoyed to have dropped points here.
This match summed up in the style of:
most players, coaches and managers of both sides
Refffffffff!  Refffffffff!  Ref!  I got the ball! He got the ball! Refffffffff!  Help ‘im out, lino!  Reffffffffffffff!  Ref!  Handball!  Ref!  Reffffffffffff!  Didn’t you see that? You’re ‘avin’ a laff!  Ref!  Reffffffff!  You booking me for that???  I got the ball! He got the ball, ref!  Lino!!!!  How can I be offside?  He was on, lino! Ref! Reffffffffffffff! Lino! Reffff! etc etc
(ad nauseam for ninety minutes or so)
So what?
Current reigning league champions Stansted started the night in 4th place, 12 points behind their table-topping visitors but with 5 games in hand.  They of course still have the 5 games, and have reduced the deficit to 9 points.  The games in hand are because of an excellent run in the FA Vase, where they have a home tie coming up against Dunston UTS in the last sixteen.
The drama unfolds
All three goals came in the first quarter.  Stansted took their first real chance and went into the lead in the first ten minutes.  1-0.  Then this happened.  1-1.

However, in the first attack after the restart the ball broke to a Stansted player directly in front of goal and he smashed it in for the lead.  2-1.

Tackles started flying in on a very wet surface and the referee struggled to keep control, with one significant melee before the break.  Both teams argued with each other and among themselves and with the officials.  2-1 at half-time.

In the second half, Enfield threatened to carve the home defence open with slick one-touch approach play.  They hit the woodwork and the home keeper was a busy man, as in these examples.


However, Stansted’s direct breaks also created chances and they missed at least three good ones.  Although it felt as if they were hanging on at times, especially as Enfield’s substitutes reinforced the attack, Stansted could reasonably say that they had more clear chances over the 90 minutes and deserved the points. Enfield could reasonably say that they played the neater football, but Stansted would point to the scoreboard, so to speak.  A decent evening's entertainment for the passing neutral, even in the pouring rain.  2-1 at full-time.
Alternative activity of equal excitement for tourists in Stansted Mountfitchet
Go to The House on the Hill Toy Museum and find out if they have any early Subbuteo figures or the fabled streaker set.  The overall effect is even better if you can take some young people with you and explain to them in a repeating loop that toys of yesteryear are so much more educational and beneficial than first-person shootemups or TV tie-in exploitation games, and that you learned all you know about parabolas by playing Waddington’s Table Soccer (the one that was like tiddlywinks).
A snippet from the programme
I just have to give you two of them this time.

Karen Shoebridge is the lady on the cover of the programme.  She is the chairman’s daughter and she is warmly thanked for all that she does for the club.  This seems to include much paperwork and “manning the tea bar on her own” against Takeley.  I’m not sure what Messrs Gray and Keys would have to say about this but “Stansted FC is fully appreciative of what you do for us, Karen, although you ask no reward it sometimes needs to be made known countless hours spent on our behalf carry rich levels of importance”.

The chairman himself is not so lucky.  Terry Shoebridge is also thanked for “his unstinting support levels over such a lengthy period of time (down to the anal’s of folklore)”.  Indeed. A catapostrophe which will be added to the lists kept by the annal retentives, I reckon.
What I learned today
Enfield are one of four teams from this division (alongside Barkingside, Burnham Ramblers and Witham Town) who aspire to step 4 football.  The demise of Leyton and Ashford Town (Kent) this season may open the door a little wider for teams from this league.
What Next?
Probably some Saturday randomness because there is nothing close enough until then.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Points Taken Away from Adders




Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 23 January 2011 at Sheepy Road, Atherstone
Result
Atherstone Town 1  Hitchin Town 3
Competition
Southern League D1 Central (Step 4)
Hopping
Venue #367 after a hopping break of 11 days caused by an Ofsted inspection at my new place of work.  I rolled a 6 on a pentagonal trapezohedron to choose this from ten interesting fixtures.  I live in Hitchin so this is a rare chance for me to get off the fence of neutrality.
This match in one sentence
A straightforward win after an early fright for the league leaders, with more than a hint of slapstick because of the underfoot conditions.
This match summed up in the style of: an Ofsthop report
(The only reasonable choice for me this week – for my overseas readers, Ofsted is the government agency that inspects schools and childcare, so it seems only reasonable that I should invent Ofsthop for groundhoppers.)

Overall effectiveness: how good was the game? 3 (satisfactory)
Hitchin Town’s capacity for sustained improvement: 2 (good)

Main findings:
Hitchin Town is a good club.  This represents a continuation of the level of attainment from last season.  Written comments in the press and through fans’ forums confirm that observers are satisfied with recent progress.  Attendance is well above average.

What does the club need to do to improve further?
Ensure that automatic promotion is achieved this season at the expense of local rivals Arlesey Town.

Outcomes for individuals and groups
Three of the top five goalscoring individuals in the division are from the club.  This is because of an attacking style of play and a creative midfield team leading to a succession of chances that are finished well.  The defence, including the goalkeeper, is competent and has usually been effective enough to play its part in a number of handsome victories.

How effective is the provision?
Effective action was taken to secure the appointment of replacements for leavers at the end of last season, both in the playing and non-playing staff.  The teamwork is excellent and the level of banter both from players and spectators is good.  Players seem aware of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and there was no evidence of hangovers or excessive pie-eating during the inspection.

How effective are leadership and management?
The manager (Mr C Williams) has many years of service at the club although his promotion to the headship is recent.  His deputy (Mr M Burke) is similarly experienced and committed.  They make good use of opportunities to advise players on matters of positioning in language that they can understand.  Mr I Lewis will be further motivated by their thoughts on what will happen to him if he misses another gilt-edged heading opportunity.

Views of supporters
The club has met the needs of supporters by regularly banging in more goals than the opposition.  It is generally agreed that the club is better placed than at the same time last season, when a close race with Bury Town ended in disappointment.  Supporters, whilst enjoying the novelty of travel to new places in step 4, are now anxious to return to step 3 and a return to the Southern (or even Isthmian) Premier League.
So what?
Hitchin are 20 points clear of the team in third, and local rivals Arlesey are 13 points behind in second, but with two games in hand.  In some ways this was a meaningless fixture for Atherstone, who are voluntarily dropping to step 5 next season for financial reasons.  At the moment they sit just below mid-table.
The drama unfolds
Hitchin hit the sidenetting in the first minute and Ieuan Lewis missed what looked like an easy header.  However, Atherstone took the lead on 10 minutes with a neat finish from Simeon Smith, while defenders appealed for offside.  All I can say it that it must have been close.  0-1.

Hitchin’s keeper Martin Bennett then had to save well from Smith again before the equaliser.  Hitchin had already had a goal disallowed for offside before Zak Burke hit the back of the net after 25 minutes after good work by strike partner John Frendo.  1-1.

After 31 minutes, Howell’s neat through ball allowed man-of-the-match Burke in for a cool finish, and the rest of the half (as shown in the first two clips) comprised Hitchin attacks in the mud and sawdust.  1-2 at half-time.

After 55 minutes, with Atherstone under increasing pressure, a deft chip by Mark Smith allowed Louis Lee to crash a short-range volley into the top of the net.  Although Bennett was needed to make one more decent save, Hitchin came closest to scoring a fourth – Callum Donnelly hit the bar, for example – but they were probably guilty of over-elaborating in search of the hat-trick goal for Burke.  They played the last 15 minutes at training ground pace and were never seriously extended once they had the lead.  Final score 1-3.

The third and fourth clips, from later in the game, also capture the spectator telephone traffic between Atherstone and spies at Arlesey (who went behind to Barton Rovers before coming back for a win) and some banter with Atherstone’s giant goalkeeper, Courtney Belford.

Alternative activity of equal excitement for tourists in Atherstone
Find eleven overpaid Premier League prima donnas and invite them to a game of “historic significance” in the town on Shrove Tuesday.  Technically, you would not be lying to them.  Just before kick-off (well, actually, the heavy leather ball is thrown down from a window on to the High Street) explain to them that they are up against hundreds of locals, there are no rules or goals (other than they cannot kill an opponent) and it’s quite understandable that traffic has been diverted and all the shop windows boarded up.


A snippet from the programme
Simeon Smith, at 27, is the elder statesman in the Atherstone side in the present circumstances, with the rest of the team lining up in the 19-21 range.  The programme says that he is, “fans favourite and top scorer.  The talisman striker is a handful for any defence.  Works tirelessly for the team on the pitch and is a great character in the dressing room and around the club.  Has had plenty of interest from other clubs but continues to stay loyal to the Adders’ cause.”
What next?
Hopefully back to normal routine and a midweek hop on Tuesday.