Saturday, 19 November 2011

Normal Service Will Be Resumed as Soon as Possible

Having been fighting off a viral infection this week, it wouldn't be safe for me to get behind the wheel today for a hop, so discretion takes the better part of valour.

Here's what is happening or imminent:

The Faroe Podcast very kindly thought that my experiences last Easter in the Faroe Islands were worth an interview, and here's the link....

Those two weeks were a highlight of my life, let alone my groundhopping, and the day-by-day story can be tracked starting from the concluding post here ...

... or in chronological order starting with the visit to EB Streymur here ...

I also offered my FB friends a chance to tell me where to go (so to speak) and my hop today would have been to watch Willesden Constantine in the Middlesex League.  This is the choice of Rob Summerfield, who has some ancestral links to the area, and hopefully I will be well enough to pick up this particular thread next week!  (She also plays a mean game of Words with Friends, as I am finding out to my cost at the moment!)

This week's modushopperrandom post is brought to you through the magic of paracetamol.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Frome our Correspondent in Barwell

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 12 November 2011 at Kirkby Road
Barwell 3 Frome Town 1
Southern Premier League (Step 3)
I am visiting Tamworth for family reasons and this is the nearest step 3 game for me today.  #435 on the lifetime list.
This match in one sentence
Great first-half finishing from Barwell won them this match between two otherwise well-matched sides.
So what?
Barwell leapfrog Frome in mid-table on goal difference, but the latter still have a game in hand.
The drama unfolds
Barwell’s Liam Daly clearly had not read the programme editoral (see below) and unleashed a tirade of abuse at the lino within the first minute.  My scene-setter clip is taken from behind the Barwell goalmouth as Frome had the better of the early exchanges.  They used their long-throw weapon courtesy of full-back Josh Brigham.  At the end of the match they could reflect that they used it about 20 times and it got them nothing today.  However, Barwell’s management were not happy with their early defending.  Barwell are in the yellow-and-green.

Liam Castle of Barwell had been the busier keeper at this point.  His opposite number Darren Chitty had merely had to watch a Jamie Towers cross-shot flash wide.  After 13 minutes, and somewhat against the run of play, Barwell took the lead.  A tackle was won in midfield (possibly Scott Hadland?) and the ball tenaciously prodded from a prone position to Jai Stanley.  He contrived a neat pass to Nigel Julien who lashed in a left-foot strike off the right-hand post.  1-0

They added a second on the break two minutes later.  Luke Barlone’s pass to Towers gave him time to finish with a low placed shot.  2-0

Frome were still in the game, and threatening to score themselves, but this was not their day.  On the half-hour mark, Julien and Barlone combined down the right flank, and a magnificent ball across arrived in the penalty area perfectly for Towers, arriving at speed, and he buried a first-time shot into the top corner for the goal of the day.  3-0

The visitors did get one back before the interval as Luke Ballinger smashed a swerving shot into the net after the ball reached him in plenty of space.  3-1 at half-time

Frome may have been wondering whether the footballing gods (if any) had deserted them – and any doubts were removed by the events of the 51st minute.  Liam Daly brought down Matt Smith but Castle blocked the resulting penalty, taken by Brigham.  The rebound fell to Frome’s Ricky Hulbert but it seemed to hit him rather than him hitting it, and it went wide.  That moment could have changed the game.

Liam Castle saves Josh Brigham's penalty kick.
On the hour mark, Frome’s Ben Thomson shot over from a good chance and thoughts of what-might-have-been went through our collective consciousness.  Well, mine, anyway.  After 72 minutes, a tussle between Frome’s Smith and Barwell’s Barlone led to a yellow card for the former.  One can only assume that the ref did not see or chose to ignore the slight kick of retaliation.  It was no more than the sort of thing that has got Beckham and Rooney into trouble in the past, but Barlone was lucky today in my opinion.

The visitors continued to bombard the home penalty area with throws and corners, as shown in these late clips.  Liam Daly had plenty to do defensively.  The home side could not keep the ball and Julien in particular came in for stick from the home supporters, many of whom were receiving incoming messages about the late drama in the Hinckley v Tamworth FA cup tie a few miles down the road.  However, Barwell clung on for a good win. Final Score 3-1

Jamie Towers (Barwell) and an honourable mention for his captain Scott Hadland, whose presence and leadership set the tone for Barwell today.
A snippet from the programme
Ooops - mud spattering of programme in contravention of Hopper Regulations.  Sorry.
From the editorial … I think someone is either mixing up condone and condemn or couldn’t bear to type not in the opening sentence!  Barwell had lost 4-2 at Ossett Town last week in the FA Trophy, finishing the game with eight men (one straight red and two pairs of yellows) plus a red card for the coach.

“Firstly as a club we must condone the actions of various personnel at last weekend’s FA Trophy fixture at Ossett Town.  If we are to progress as a club/team we must endeavour in making sure we give ourselves the best opportunity in achieving that especially on the field of play with 11 men starting and finishing the game.  I along with all the others who watched the game are fully aware that various decisions made were at times not in our favour but most of us have experienced this before and should know how to deal with it!  A player and management meeting took place on Tuesday evening where the above had been discussed.”
What I learned today
Frome Town goalscorer Luke Ballinger is the current England Futsal captain and all-time leading English goalscorer in that form of the game.  Futsal is an indoor five-a-side version of the game but with touchlines rather than boards.  It is played with a smaller ball and the emphasis is on skill and passing.  The –sal in the name comes from the same linguistic roots as salon (and saloon), i.e. room or hall.
What Next?
Watch the @GrahamYapp Twitter feed for announcements!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Harrogate Town on a Slippery Slope

A comfy seat in the back row of the stand for a first-time hopper

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 5 November 2011 at the CNG Stadium, Wetherby Road, Harrogate
Harrogate Town 0 Nuneaton Town 2
Conference North (step 2)
I am here because of a Facebook post in which I invited friends to choose my destination, randomishly.  Yorkshire stalwarts Julie & Alan were the first to respond, and although Ossett Town would have been closer, they decided that the civilised surroundings of Harrogate would be the better bet.  Alan is a rugby man (an ex-player to be more accurate) but he has lots of programmes (albeit still in a box) and knows his stuff.  Julie is now a groundhopper – everyone has to start somewhere.  I predict that she will show up at Ossett eventually :)
This match in one sentence
Nuneaton Town  scored a stoppage-time goal in each half from a hatful of chances for a good on-the-road victory.
So what?
Harrogate Town and Nuneaton sit fourteenth and seventh in the table respectively.  On the hopping front, this leaves me three to go to complete all of step 2 – Colwyn Bay & Workington in the North and Truro City in the South.
Something random
The latest non-league sunset of the season.

The drama unfolds
This was a tricky surface after recent rain and credit to both teams that they tried to play a passing game and there were few dubious challenges.

Nuneaton looked somewhat more dangerous in the final third, but Harrogate were still in the game as half-time approached.  Here’s a scene-setter clip followed by a bit of early goalmouth action.  Both teams were forced into an early substitution, and Harrogate’s loss of #5 Richard Pell proved the more significant.

I settled in the main stand with my native guides for the rest of the half.  With 40 minutes on the clock, Nuneaton had had three chances in fairly quick succession.  Graham Ward had rattled the post with a shot.  Harrogate’s debutant keeper Ben Wilson turned a Danny Glover shot wide and then watched a header deflected narrowly over.  A miscued Glover shot spun to a colleague who fired wide and then the man himself shot tamely into Wilson’s midriff at short range. It began to look as though the Harrogate goal had a charmed life, especially after this run by Simon Forsdick.

Harrogate themselves wasted a good chance on the break to get into the Nuneaton box before Nuneaton took the lead in first-half stoppage time.  It seemed an age before the ball ricocheted to Guy Hadland who shot low into the corner.  0-1 at half-time

The hinge point of the game came about ten minutes after the break.  Harrogate striker Paul Brayson hit the post and that was as close as they came.  The second half settled into the same pattern as the first.  Harrogate were never out of contention but seemed to lack the cutting edge, and a second Nuneaton goal looked just as likely.  It would have come from Adam Walker if Justin Marden had been less selfish when shooting, as a pass would have been the better option.

Here’s a second-half clip.

After 88 minutes the peril of the one-goal lead was nearly proven but Brayson’s shot was superbly blocked, and then the same player had a chance from this direct freekick.

As I put the camera away in my pocket – this was well into stoppage time – debutant Nuneaton sub Wes York played Glover through into acres of space and he finished calmly.  On the basis of possession and territory, harsh, but on the basis of clear chances created, absolutely fair enough.  Final score 0-2
Nuneaton’s marauding fullbacks Simon Forsdick and (apart from one sliced clearance!) Graham Ward who managed to combine attack and defence duties to good effect.
A snippet from the programme
Top quality name-dropping from chairman Bill Fotherby:

“My old friend Sir Alex Ferguson was not a happy man after City gave his United side a beating but what is important is how a team bounces back.  United beat Everton in their following game and the ethos is the same for us.  We have been knocked down but we will get back up and prove ourselves.”

Well, Bill, the next chance is at Gloucester City next week.  Harrogate Town have now lost four in a row in the league.
What I learned today
That there is a bewildering network of back roads from Dewsbury to Harrogate known only to Alan and perhaps a few other Yorkshire cognoscenti.  I assume these have developed from the secret marks and signs left by prehistoric tykes in the lumps of limestone.

Also, this ground has one of the more pronounced slopes at this level (do you see what I did there?), and gradually over time players are affected by gravity and settle in the lowest corner.

What Next?
Another FB friend and occasional twitterer, Rob S (you know who you are!) will have the chance to choose for me.