A day that started with a quick taxi to Stowmarket and ended the same way with one home from it.
Originally I had planned to go on the train to March to watch one of my old players , Kalum Benham, perform for Leiston Res but after an injury he wasnt involved so we decided to check out the talented Stowmarket squad that are supposed favourites for the Premier division title.
However, you have to start these trips with food! We decided to try the Mill right by Stowmarket station and we were not disappointed, both our meals were fantastic. But……..then we saw the ‘other’ menu. Thats where the six shooters come in , not cowboy revolvers but six shooters for 12 quid. Of course, nobody in their right mind does these at lunch do they? Erm, a few B52s, squashed frogs and jam doughnuts later, we realised at least two people do!
After a quick heaven and hell, Baileys and black sambuca mixed, we decided to walk to the ground. Of course, the shooters love a walk in the sun. At least one of us stayed on the 6 foot pavement haha.
Arriving at the ground, I am delighted the prices are decent, think the 2 quid for 17/18 yo is brilliant. Most that age dont have jobs after all. I guessed theyd never believe i was eligible so I paid my 7 quid, wondering after if feeling like an OAP qualifies you for a concession.
Pitch looks massively better and I am instantly greeted by Stow boss Rick Andrews, a man I believe epitomises everything right about non league managers. A real gent with time for everybody no matter how old or relevant to the team. I told him I was on a mission to buy him a beer, in recognition for the hundreds he buys others every season. I also bump into Dan Snell, not having an easy time currently, but again despite that a pleasure to see again and talk to. We share a dislike of managers on MOTD blaming every defeat on referees but avoided the subject on this occasion.
Seeing two local football faces of course is never enough so I was delighted to then see the most famous non league fan around in James Beardwell, legendary for his Witham support and featured on BBC news, Sky and near every football twitter account there is! Look him up, hes literally off the scale fan wise.
Studied the team sheet and disappointed Charlie Hitch on bench for the visitors. Massive fan of this lad, thought he was as good as anyone I saw when I saw some Anglian Com games at Harleston. I predict huge future for this still very young player.
Anyway, Stow for me totally dominated the first half, creating plenty of chances. I thought no way could a team withstand that pressure for the whole game. I did feel Stows crosses were maybe too aimed at men not danger areas and also pull backs to the edge of the area may be better and that was proved when it lead to Stow scoring through Howell in exactly that way. As half time sounded, you just expected the second half to see more Stow goals.
As often before, I got that wrong! Stow came out somehow more reserved and Norwich had much more possession without creating much. Neither keeper was overly worked in the second half but several watching had that feeling that one is a dangerous lead and so it proved. Deep into added time , Applegate’s fine strike hit the bar and landed, in my opinion, behind the line. The referee thought so and gave the goal.
Heartbreaking for Stow with the whistle 2 touches later but as Rick rightly observed after, its about taking your chances when on top. Norwich showed spirit in the second half and for that probably feel deserving of the point, Stow I imagine feel like its 2 points dropped.
Those who read this nonsense of mine know I dont do match reports per se as those are available elsewhere, written much better than I could ever do. For me personally, I think among many good displays Phil Weavers was my man of the match , dealing with a lot of clearances in the second half and I felt talking and organising really well.
I stuck that pint in for Rick and walked at the speed of a shackled brontosaurus back to the station to get the cab home, yes I probably resembled one too.
I had a great day meeting so many people I like and respect, plenty of laughs were had, a decent game of football watched and some good food and drink absorbed.
Stow ground, as a place gets better every year. The better they do, the more fans watch and the cycle continues. More revenue generated, better players afforded, more wins so more fans etc. Stow have a lot of talented players, maybe not quite gelled yet but close go doing so and will be superb then. The management team is really good, even the physio knows his stuff. Norwich are in transition but have some good players and whatever their bosses said or did at HT was good, so you imagine they will also improve as the season goes on.
I miss managing teams a lot now but the welcome I get at these games and the people I know from my time on the line remind me why I love it. So to all I spent time with today but especially Kalum, Rick, Dan and James, my heartfelt thanks. Only downside was failing again on the raffle😭
Thanks for taking the time to read this and please share , retweet etc . I know its rubbish but its rubbish I enjoy writing.
When you have not been to a live game this season, you are not going to turn down a mate offering to take you to the game he is playing in, especially at a ground you have not been to. So a trip to Mulbarton it was!!
This was defo one for the sat nav, including some roads more suited for one way traffic only but in about an hour we arrived in Mulbarton. Have to say what a great village, all the old school things like a village green, pond, lovely old houses but also a chemist, deli, supermarket, chippy and what seemed an amazing bus service.
However, we were headed to the Worlds End, not literally, it is a very old pub in the village! I indulged in a fantastic steak burger with bacon and cheese, loved it but soooo big even I struggled to finish , lovely coleslaw too. Gutted I left no room for the amazing dessert menu, but lovely pub overall with friendly helpful staff.
Time to go the game! Arriving at the ground to see an old double decker in the car park acting as a cafe. However, I checked out the away dressing room whilst empty to see what facilities were like. Not too bad I thought and seen a lot worse. Onto the ground and sadly nowhere to sit yet. No stands or shelter but it is in hand judging by foundations and steel frame, but who cares on a scorching day . Lovely people at Mulbarton made me very welcome and had a great chat with their club photographer , a very interesting gent whose work on facebook is very good and used below!
Seeing my old mate Stuart putting the Leiston boys through their warm up took me back to happy days when we worked at DLC together. 2 of my ex players in Leiston squad as well, so felt at home.
The game itself wasnt bad but both teams seemed a bit in panic mode when the ball was near. Some good players on show on both sides, both no11s starring early on.
Leiston had the better of the first half but it finished scoreless. I tempted fate mentioning the crazy number of wasps to the Mulbarton bench, only for one to sting the managers finger and leave its sting in. He needed tweasers and of course I carry everything ! Shortly after his team got stung, ironically in their best spell when Leiston broke to scire via Cheetham.
The Leiston defence looked solid with Canham and Gregory both in good form, but one tiny lapse saw Sutcliffe evade Canham to power in a close range equaliser with just 6 minutes left. Just two minutes later substitute Smith scored to put Mulbarton ahead. It proved to be the winner of a close game that I felt Leiston deserved something from.
I had to zoom off at the final whistle so never saw the clubhouse sadly, but a quick shop stop on the way home stocked up supplies for the Derby v Leeds tv game once home. Overall, a great day out, not a bad game and I found a place I would not mind living in to be honest. Last word though to referee Reg Barker, consistent, fair and I felt always in charge but in a pleasant way, treating adults as adults. Good to see the third team adding to the game.
Below is the winner going in!
Always remember, if you are looking for a match report, this is not a blog for you. This is just the ramblings of an old ex-manager about his days out watching non league football.
This week I decided to watch my first Anglian Combination Prem Division match. Careful planning suggested Acle looked a good place to visit, the bonus being seeing my old mate Lee Hackleton, now managing The Crabs , that is Cromer’s nickname, not Lee’s progress with a sexual ailment I should add.
I decided on a really early start so I could spend time in Acle itself. Buying a train ticket was crazy as usual, buying 2 separate tickets I had worked out saved me £4 on a standard return crazily, but ticketman told me there was an even cheaper combo involving a ticket to Ipswich then a Rover type ticket, another £3 on top saved. I waited on the deserted platform to be stalked by a bloke who decided to stand inches away from me when there was a whole platford free. To worsen it, he gets on a completely empty carriage with me but has to sit right in front of me. This being a quiet coach , i was then told off for being on the phone and disturbing stalker’s peace by the guard. Thankfully, my weird shadow alighted at Ipswich and I had a lovely trip into Norwich. Straight onto the Yarmouth train and a little over 15 mins later Im off at Acle station, which it turns out is a platform and a holiday let cottage! The train guide said there was a toilet there, and having drank a litre of water on route, finding this to be a lie was perturbing.
However, a short walk into the village yielded the cleanest public loos ive ever seen, they even smelt nice and had no graffitti ! Important task done, I had a look around the ancient church with its 14 th century font ( yes, I like history, so what? ). My mum had informed me she was evacuated near Acle in ww2 so it felt interesting to see the sights and get a few photos. I decided it was food time so i found the pub but it was locked up! I remembered the tiny cafe i saw over the road so turned only to see a dozen plus scooters ridden by aging mods had beaten me to it and filled the place! By now angry, i bought a co op sandwich and cake and eased to the ground. Sat in car park, scoffed the food so now full, i decide to see if bar open as was now mid day. Yes it was and what a fabulous bar it was, however to my horror the place had a menu full of my favourite dishes !! My full self was gutted I had Missed out.
Bit of Arsenal on sky and before i knew it Lee was there and players were warming up. The pitch was superb and the weather fantastic. I cannot speak highly enough of the facilities, no stand or lights but clubhouse and pitch best Ive been to this season by far. The game began at fast pace with Acle pushing but Cromer keeping them at bay with great defending. After Twelve minutes, Sanders put Acle one up with a good finish after a deflection wrong footed the visiting defence. Both sides attacked well but lacked a final ball. An enjoyable half saw no more goals though.
The second half saw Cromer go close before Sanders netted an overhead kick, a good goal indeed. The home keeper produced a stunning save to prevent a Cromer volley breaking the net. It was cruel to see Cromer concede a third when what looked like a mis control was seized on by Curran. Wiley added a fourth with a fine strike from the edge of the box in the last minute. The real insult was what looked a great tackle being deemed a penalty by a linesman who had had a bit of a ‘weston’ all game and this being converted by the classy Sanders for his hat trick.
How Cromer lost this game five nil, I will never know. They worked hard all ninety, played good football all game and were making a real game of it until the third goal.
Acle had some very good players,sadly I didnt have all the names, and played some neat football . Most of their lads look as if they could play higher or already have and great to see they use their youngsters, a couple of whom were very impressive. I can see why they win the title so often. Its a wonderful place and set up, please give it a visit and dont eat first like I did! As for Cromer, I felt for them massively, to play so well but look on paper like it was a slaughter was cruel indeed. They too have some good players, a great manager and a real spirit that I feel will see things turn soon. Enjoyed a few beers after with Lee and his Cromer lads, at £2.85 a pint how can you not?
All afternoon, I had money spiders on me so decided a scratchcard in order on way home, good choice as won a tenner! Back home before 730 in Essex, having had a great day at a lovely place with a nice football club and as Arnie said, i’ll be back!!
Having not seen a game Saturday, I was determined to do a midweeker and this one on my doorstep ticked every box. Short journey, great facilities and a chance to see the team flying high at the top of the Ryman Prem.
Having tucked away a rather tasty pork roast dinner on arriving home, I realised I would not be able to sample the fayre on offer at the game but nonetheless my partner in crime for the evening, DLC legend Stuart Reavell , was determined to check out the catering. He wasnt disappointed, arriving on a plate was a gorgeous looking burger and proper chips covered in freshly melted real cheese. He assured me it was as good as it looked and it honestly wouldnt have looked out of place in a restaurant. The smell was amazing and i have to say from prior experience personally, the food here is different level to normal football clubs.
The clubhouse is so different to when I did my 3 different stints managing there, good quality TVs, high end fruit machines and a smart bar. However, its all about the football and seeing Matt Blake at the bar was disappointing as we obviously knew he was not playing due to injury and I had been looking forward to seeing the Leiston top scorer in action as he is a płayer I love watching. Joe Francis is another top player though and gave the visitors the lead before we had even got to our preferred vantage point. The lead was short lived as the Leiston keeper inexplicably passed to Brantham striker Ben Newson who wasted no time equalising. Brantham enjoyed a few good attacks at this point although Leiston still oozed quality on the ball. Patrick Brothers added a second for the visitors, before Joe Francis again and Joe Jefford made it 4 just before the interval.
A warm visit to the clubhouse and seeing several of my old players and a man I respect massively in former Stanway man Kevin Reakes coupled with a quick bit of Inca Gold on the fruit machine meant the break flew by.
The second half was domînated by Leiston but they only added one more goal via Tom Winter , although it finished off a lovely passing move from the visitors that would of graced any level. On the line we had intersting chats with suspended Brantham defender Jack Sibbons and Leiston goalmachine Matt Blake who told us all about the weekends FA cup tie, followed by a great conversation with home chairman Pete Crowhurst , the man responsible for so much of the improvement to facilities there and always both interesting and entertaining company.
The game ended 5 1, in truth it could have been more but that is not a criticism in the slightest of Brantham who are a good side with some great players but they were up against the leaders of a division two higher than their own. The style Leiston play under the Glen Driver/ Tony Kinselła duo is every bit as good as the hype, what a fantastic job they are doing. Winning and in style. My only worry was the exact matching get-ups, even down to same boots and same socks rolled to same height. Howard and Hilda were the couple sprang to mind ! 😂😂 Only joking chaps!!!
With so many superb players with big ñames on show, picking my man of the match was tough but I have to say a young lad called Byron Lawrence would be my choice, not a name i knew but one I will remember for tireless workrate and involvement in many good things.
Getting home to find I has won 85 quid on my Champions league bet iced the cake of a good evening. Yes, I was freezing but it was worth it! To any groundhoppers or football fans in general, I say this. The facilities, welcome and quality of team at Brantham is worthy of higher and great value for a lovely trip out. You can eat, drink, watch a game in comfort of good standard for the fraction of a pro game cost. I would also add if you get chance to watch this Leiston team, you will not be disappointed. It has so much quality and the football is really pleasurable to see. I can only see them getting better too which is scary for their rivals.
Up next a Vase game at Felixstowe saturday v Haverhill Borough, two good sdes and clubs.
After a couple of weeks without going to a game due to various reasons, it was with great excitement I plotted my visit to the New Croft to see my first ever competitive game on a 3g surface, visit a new ground and see two old mates in Boro boss Martin Westcott and my former Melford player Errol Durrell. A Senior cup tie between Boro, high flying in Thurlow one and Wenhaston near bottom and winless in the league below looked on paper a formality, but Ive done enough of these ties from both spectrums to know the reality never transpires that way with the higher teams struggling to play their normal game due to over confidence and the lower sides raising their game to take a scalp and make the headlines.
I caught my usual train from Manningtree , stopping to try the new platform lifts from a purely fun point of view, many of you know my love of trying new lifts, weird eh? A quick trip to Stowmarket for Errol to pick me up and drive to the Westy mansion in Bury. From there it was the Westymobile to Haverhill via several places Ive never heard of. Arriving at the New Croft, Westy showed me the new pitch and stands that make up the new ground there, sharing dressing rooms with the other pitch that is grass and used by Premier Division Haverhill Rovers. Suitably impressed I disappeared to try a committee room cuppa and meet a few of the home club stalwarts. I have to say they were fantastic people who made me really welcome beyond my expectations and I also enjoyed chats with the 3 match officials and a pleasant and knowledgeable man who was covering the game for Radio Suffolk.
So out to the game it was, and what a half I saw! Boro twice took the lead only for Wenhaston to equalise quickly both times. None of the goals were special but it made for a really entertaing 45 minutes. Boro as expected edged the half, but Wenhaston played really really well, especially going forward, and I went in for a ht tea wondering how they are not way higher up their own league table.
Some very pleasant sandwiches, cake and great chats with various people including the Wenhaston secretary, a veritable non league guru, made for a great 15 mins. Soon it was time to brave the cold wind again , via some of the cleanest toilets ive seen in local football, to watch another enjoyable half of football , with boro again on top but the visitors foraging dangerously throughout and never being outplayed. Boro’s third lead was again cancelled out by a fast decisive Wenhaston attack. No more scoring meant another 30 mins action. This time the home side , after scoring a fourth, finally held a lead and duly won the tie 4 3. It had been a great game to watch as a neutral though I am sure both managers were stressed by it!!!
My Man of the match was an easy choice, despite several good performances on both teams. A young man I had never seen play before, or even heard of to be honest, really impressed me as much as any player ive seen for a first time in ages. Young Jarid Robson in the Boro midfield for me was the best player on the field on the day. He coupled fantastic workrate with an ability to create himself time and Space to play great passes, run comfortably with the ball or strike it powerfully at goal. Scoring two goals, a player whose name i will watch out for in future.
A pleasant car journey back to Stow, purchasing yet another winning scratchcard once there, followed by the train home to Manningtree completed a great day out. The people running Haverhill Borough are as nice a bunch as Ive met locally, the players really put shifts in despite not being given money to do so. In short, a fantastic day out with great people at a nice new ground, a club that deserves success. Definitely a place for groundhoppers to try. As for artificial pitches? Yeah, why not, seemed fine to me!
When I told a good friend of mine I was going to watch this one, he questioned if there was any point as it was the ‘haves’ v ‘the have nots’. Although it never put me off, it did make me realise that many of the games I watch would fall into this heading!
Yes, Stowmarket have invested heavily in their squad this year, but so have others, and indeed I think a lot of it is fuelled by rumour and exaggeration.
This game was certainly a contrast, Stow led by experienced Rick Andrews (a manager I respect massively) and full of well known local names against Whitton, a team full of youngsters managed by the very talented and innovative Duncan Wheeler, a man I had twice tried to get at clubs I was at previously.
I had wondered if the sheer workrate of a young side would unsettle the Stow side and so it proved, several pacy runs caused real problems for the home defence and it took the crossbar and a couple of good saves to stop Stow going behind. Sadly, the game was ruined by a red card midway through the first half for a young Whitton lad for two yellows. The first had been unlucky in a way, although I think the ref did the right thing issuing a booking each side to calm down a period of silly square ups. The second was a late tackle , again probably correct but I did feel the lad had took the first one for the game overall so was unlucky. That said, although the visitors had ten it never really showed. Stow had a lot of possession but didnt really create whereas Whitton contered at speed. The goalless interval score was in my view fair, and I tucked into one of Stows lovely burgers, despite the cod goujons really tempting me. The Stow food has always been a favourite of mine, as the people cook it in front of you in a lovely clean kitchen and serve with a smile. If you do visit, make sure you try the fayre on offer. No beers this time as work was an early start Weds.
Anyway the second half saw Stow’s numerical advantage begin to tell and they started having a lot of possession near the visiting penalty area without creating huge numbers of chances. A dubious free kick was awarded and Bradlaugh bent the ball into the net to relieve home nerves. It was a goal that you wondered if it would ever arrive but Whitton had a sitter too , only for the home goalie to make a brilliant save. The game continued to be end to end before at the death, a very offside Coddrington (i was dead in line as was a Stow parent who agreed) hit the post before Wright fired into an empty net to complete a two nil win though by then it was all over anyway.
I think the Stow manager tweeting later 3 points was all that matters was a fair summary in many ways. Stow are spending big to get promotion and in that circumstance all that matters are the points, with their league position suggesting the investment is worthwhile. As for Whitton, I am sure they felt they deserved a point even with ten for an hour and as a neutral I would agree, certainly on workrate and chances at least. I think the addition of Lee Wilcox in midfield and the return of Gavin Flurrie at the back will give them the old heads the boys need with them and a good season could be in store and a very bright future.
This had been for me a very very close game that was decided by the taking of chances. Stow did and Whitton didnt. I would have liked a draw anyway as I felt it would have been fair and both managers whom I think a lot of would have gone home happy. Looking ahead, I think Whitton will start getting better results soon esp if they can find a goalscorer, Stow look like a real promotion contender. Why do I say that when they were nothing special on the night? Thats exactly why! The good sides win when not playing very well , the Stow of last year I feel would have dropped points here. Theres tons more to come from the huge array of big names in the home team and ironically I envisage they will be more comfortable against the top sides who will not work as hard as the Whitton youngsters did.
I hope my words do not upset people but I have to write what .I feel I see myself, regardless of friendships or affinities to clubs etc. Besides, does anyone care what I think anyway? Lol
I may watch a lot of football but I realised its probably 20 years since I watched a game with anyone under 14 playing in it! Things had certainly changed, with girls alongside the boys and 9 a side being a new format to me. I had to ask the gaffers what formations are used when there are 9 even.
However, that is not the issue with this game, what is remarkable is how much I enjoyed it. The passion shown by every player for a friendly matched by the support from parents that was never anything but encouragement was genuinely inspiring.
Both sets of managers were great with the boys and even each others players.The heat was searing throughout the game and the long grass should have made good football difficult but these players found a way to play attractively. Even with rotating subs, the desperation of those taken off to get back on was remarkable. I had the pleasure of talking briefly to 3 of the lads at the Yarmouth game saturday, one of them being my good friend Lee’s lad. They made an effort to speak to me on the line too, even though I am doubtless a boring old man to them!
The scoreline was almost irrelevant, with it being a dead even game play wise, Caister edged it 4 3 but there was one real winner, the sport of football. I don’t know the names of the home team but their number 99 was a handful and I think scored a hat trick. Yarmouth goalscorers were George Cook, Seth Jones and a penalty from Jacob Smith who deserved a goal for a real hard working and impressive shift up top. Olivia Broughton was given player of match and wouldnt argue with that. I was pleased to see Lee’s lad in action after we spoke so often about him in conversation and there’s a lad can really run at players with trickery and pace. However, on a day every player impressed I am taking the rare step of naming all those I know from the Yarmouth team (apologies to Caister but happy to edit if somebody supplies them) .
Yarmouth : Harrison Rhodes, Seth Jones, Blake Barber, McKenzie Baily, George Cook, Taylor Harman, Jacob Smith, Charlie Liffen, Olivia Broughton, Chris Abbot, Lewis Harle, Vinny Shilito, Callum Hale.
So glad I sponsored these kids some footballs! However, after a great game it was the long trek home! Train to Yarmouth, bus replacement from Norwich to Ipswich, train to Manningtree and cab home. Been a long weekend with 3 games but how I loved it all. It had football, beers, fun galore and faith restored in youth football after all bad things you read. So thanks everyone made my weekend special and I am already planning a return!! Norfolk I love you!!!
Maybe I should have titled this man vs cocktails but more of that later! The day began innocently enough with a lovely breakfast in my superb B and B (the beach house in Wellesley Rd should you be heading there, highly recommend) and then off to buy the standard gifts like rock to take home. Thats sadly where normality ended! An ex player and friend , one Tommy Perry, happened to be in town and suggested a pint or two for lunch. So, we met in the pub on the pier and away we went on the lagers until we spotted jagerbombs were just £2.50 each, so that had to be done!
Time to head to the game and Tommy decides to join me. Lovely welcome from everyone at GYTFC as ever and nice to be greeted warmly by the chairman too, felt very VIP. The wonderful Anne Jones had sent out for Drambuie in her bar manager role as she knew depth chargers would appear at some point with me in Yarmouth. We found lovely park bench outside the bar and watched the game unfold. The home side dominated from the start and ran up a quick lead which was doubled by the break, interesting scorers were Roots and Hall, a real Southend link there! Bourne never gave up and never stopped playing good football though and I respected them massively for that. I am sure they will go on a good run soon and they wil deserve it gor sticking to doing it right way. Yarmouth were never going to falter on this one though and Forbes added a third at the death for a deserved win. By the final whistle I was in party mode and paul Squeaky Hubbard had agreed to do a DC after the game. My good friends Sarah and Kevin Cruickshank had by now arrived and soon joined by DC veteran Barbara Smith , 3 lovely people and a great honour they came to see us all on the night.
It wasnt long before Squeaky did his DC and suffered its horrific end but of course once he had, it was only right that managers Martyn Sinclair and a rightly reluctant Adam Mason followed. The hilarity watching the famous DC face had us all in fits of laughter, but then came the turning point! A top lad called Daniel Jones arrived with an array of cocktail ideas and that was that, we did loads… All sorts of combinations like malibu, archers, grenadine, blue curacao and vodka being a particular killer. The merriment spread and suddenly Anne Jones completed the DC challenge, I knew she would regret it the next day, but I may of neglected to say so at the time! Chairman Mike Guymer declined his but assured me he would do a DC next time I visit or strip! The DC seemed a clear leader in the polls after it has to be said! The legendary Sammy Robertson tried to lure me out in town with the lads but I stood strong and left at 845 for the curry house alone. One lively and lovely meal later, it was a walk back to the B and B for match of the day, still sober but feeling it. I didnt last the footy on TV but with a great game to head to early next day, discretion was the better part of valour and I tried a dehydrated sleep.
It had been a wonderful visit to the Wellesley, the oldest grandstand in the world always makes me feel I am at a real ground, the good quality fayre provided by a classy home side and the wonderful but usual welcome I receive there surpassed only by those hours after in the clubhouse. You simply have to go to this place if you love football. Its that simple! I literally cannot wait to return, though I wonder if a few may hope its not too soon after the way they felt Sunday!! Apologies if you wanted a detailed game report but for me this day was about much more than a football match and this blog is about my day and experiences! I should add the programme was superb and I even sponsored a player, the 4th at different clubs this season!
Firstly, before the ramblings begin of my weekend of football, I feel it right to remind everyone this is not a match report on any level technically but just a blog of my experience of the game and indeed the day around it!
Friday began for me with a train journey to Yarmouth via Norwich. Very pleasant trip to be honest and stunned there are so many windmills between Norwich and the coast. Arriving at Yarmouth station , I took the quick trip to my bed and breakfast that by pure chance was on Wellesley Road, handy for Saturday. Delighted with the room, I went straight back out to meet my lift to Cromer, my good mate and Cromer boss Lee Hackleton. A great journey chatting football and there I was at Cabbell Park, home of Cromer Town.
The pitch looked superb and it was a warm welcome from the gateman and indeed everyone. Both sides had lots of youngsters, which is always interesting as they are usually lads not seen before by myself. There were no published sides so apologies at my lack of knowledge re Kirkley , of course I got Cromer details on way back! Just before the game began, another highlight as one of my former players Tubbsy appeared to watch, as did former manager of many sides in the area Mike Derbyshire. Mike is one of the best people to watch football with that Ive ever met, a real gent but so much knowledge that it’s like a football lesson throughout. To have two such people alongside me was awesome and the first half literally flew by. That was in no small part down to the game being superb entertainment. The home side were very unlucky to concede the first goal , but it was a defensive mix up and these things happen. Cromer fought back and deservedly equalised via Casey Emblem before the interval. Highlight for me was the best pass I have seen this season by George Crane of Cromer, it wouldnt have been out of place in the Premiership. Level pegging at the break and to be honest, I personally felt the home side worthy of at least that.
A nice brew and more chatting football before the second half began in earnest. Cromer had 2 great chances at 1 all but the keeper from Kirkley saved well both times. You wondered if that would be costly and it proved exactly that. Kirkley had some very good players and scored twice quickly to kill the tie, before adding a fourth. The visitors visibly grew in confidence once ahead and were well organised throughout, showing great game management to keep their lead despite Cromer never stopping trying.
It finished 4 1 to the visitors who would probably admit the margin of victory on paper did not reflect what was a very good cup tie throughout, close for a very long time. For me, lots of positives for Cromer who had endured a tough start to the season, Edwin Bamfo looked a very good player and in Adam Buckenham I felt they had a lad who when he gets more confident and demands the ball more will be a top player, as he made great runs non stop, even if they were not always seen. Lee Hackleton is a proven good manager and will doubtless turn them round. Kirkley for me had some very good players, several very young and went about winning the game very professionally. Apoogies I dont know the Kirkley scorers which included a hat trick but if somebody tells me, I will edit accordingly.
A nice Fosters after and a chat with a few players and officials of both sides. Two really decent sets of lads provided a great game, no bookings by the way, and for 3 quid a total bargain. I would recommend a visit to anyone, sadly I missed non league guru Tony Incenzo being there, which was annoying , but I returned to the b and b a happy man and looking forward to the next day with Yarmouth v Bourne Town. Little did I know the carnage awaiting me the next day haha ….