Saturday 29 November 2014

Coventry Sphinx - Sphinx Drive

Coventry Sphinx FC
Sphinx Drive
Siddley Avenue
Stoke Aldemoor

02476 451361
Official Website

Ground Number: 440
Saturday 29th November 2014

Coventry Sphinx 3-1 Continental Star
Midland Football League - Premier Division


Coventry Sphinx FC was formed in 1946 just after the end of World War 2. They were originally a works team known as 'Armstrong Siddeley Motors' and later changing their name to Sphinx, before adopting their present monicker in 1995. Up until 1993 they played in the Coventry Alliance and did very well. As a result of their success, they joined the Midland Combination in 1993. Winning its 2nd Division at the first attempt, they were promoted again the following season to it's Premier Division. They had a long stay here until 2007 when they were promoted again, this time to the Midland Alliance. They had a best-ever finish of 3rd in 2012 but at the start of the game, they were sitting in the lower reaches of the table in 14th place. Though with a good home record winning 5 of their games and losing just once, they would be in with a good chance of victory.

The club had a great run to the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round in the 2009-10 season. Victories over Bromyard Town, Stourport Swifts, Rushall Olympic and Stafford Rangers saw them paired with nearby Bedworth United. They lost a close game 1-0 but gave a good account of themselves. 2007-08 saw them reach the FA Vase Semi-Finals, where they lost to Kirkham and Wesham on their own patch after gaining a 3-3 draw up in Lancashire. The club won the Midland Alliance League Cup in 2010, beating Hereford based Westfields in a final played at Walsall's Bescot Stadium, as well as lifting a number of other trophies.


As Wycombe were up at Hartlepool, neither I or Anwar fancied going up there. So we started looking at alternatives. He fancied going to Coventry, and with him bringing his mate Carl, who also went to Mickleover with us a couple of months ago, I would have pretty much all of my fuel paid for me. I had a look at the choice of games, and there was not much I fancied, so I just went for the nearest in the only one of Coventry's non-league clubs that were at home. Alvis Sporting Club and Coventry Copsewood were on the road and Coventry United not on my list due to being below step 6. I woke early on the day of the game, just before 6am. After watching TV, having some breakfast and starting today's blog, I had a bath. With games being called off due to waterlogged pitches all over the country, I was glad to hear that my game was unaffected, having confirmed this with the club over Twitter. I did some more browsing on the internet and Facebook before getting my stuff together and leaving at 11. I picked Anwar, Carl and some other lads up at 11.30. The roads were poor as usual, it was slow getting out of Aylesbury, multiple drivers had a pile-up on the M40 causing further delay and then Coventry was slow. After dropping Anwar and co at The Ricoh Arena at 1.15.  I was at Coventry Sphinx 15 minutes later. I had planned to stop for a takeaway on the way but saw nothing, but in the end, I was glad that my search drew a blank. I got a Chinese Curry, chips and a pint of Strongbow for £6.70 and the food was delicious. I watched Ipswich score a last-minute winner to win at Charlton before going back to my car for 10 minutes and going in the ground at 2.30.

I paid £8 for entry and 2 programmes as Carl wanted one and was made to feel nice and welcome. I spent the last half hour before kick off taking photos, typing some of my blog and checking Facebook. To be honest I'd not expected anything special from the day but it had already been really good. Continental Star had the better of the opening 5 Minutes but it was Ashley Wilks who opened the scoring for Coventry Sphinx after he capitalised on lax defending to put the hosts ahead after 7 minutes. The game was pretty equal with periods of pressure for either side but no real clear-cut chances. Just before halftime, the Continental Star keeper was injured in a collision and had to go off, with the injury causing around 10 minutes of added time. The second half started as the first did with the visitors being well on top. They were level 15 minutes in with a great goal - a fantastic dipping volley by Denico Johnson. Coventry Sphinx went ahead on 76 minutes, a neat ball through saw David Blenkinsopp slide past the keeper. It was harsh on Continental Star who had played really well. Coventry added a third in injury time through Luke Downs to complete what seemed on paper a routine victory and this totally knocked the stuffing out of the visitors and sent the majority of the 75 strong crowd home happy. After the game, the roads were actually decent for once. I got to the Ricoh Arena at 5.25, due to the late ending of my game. From then on, apart from a small amount of traffic coming out of Coventry, it was plain sailing. I dropped everyone off in Aylesbury at 6.50, getting home myself at 7.15. I had a nice Chilli Con Carne for dinner, and spent the rest of the evening on Facebook, typing my blog, and watching TV, my favourite bit being the weekly ritual of Match Of The Day.


SPHINX DRIVE is a great little set up about a mile or so outside Coventry. The ground itself is standard step 5 stuff, with just the one covered area which is a mixture of seating and standing. The stand is named in the memory of Willie Knibbs, a former Sphinx manager who sadly lost his life in a car accident whilst on the way back from the game. By far the best part is the bar which does delicious food and the standard range of drinks at great prices. There is no club shop as you would expect, but there is a further tea bar in the ground which offers a decent range.

Thursday 27 November 2014

Burgess Hill Town - Leylands Park.

Burgess Hill Town FC
The Green Elephants Stadium
Leylands Park
Maple Hill
Burgess Hill
RH15 8DL

Ground Number: 439
Wednesday 26th November 2014
Burgess Hill Town 5-1 Horsham
Robert Dyas League Cup


BURGESS HILL TOWN FC was formed in 1882 and were a founder member of the Sussex Country Football Association. They were originally called Burgess Hill FC and after several successful seasons joined the Sussex County League in the '50s. They merged with Worlds End FC in 1969 and at the start of the '70s moved to their current home at Leylands Park. From 1996 to 2003 they had a great period of success in the Sussex County League, never finishing outside of the top 2 of Division 1. Finally, in 2003 they were able to take promotion up to Step 4. For the 2003-04 season, they joined the Southern League - Eastern Division and finished an excellent 9th. They transferred to the Isthmian League the following season, and last season they finished in a best-ever placing of 6th in the Isthmian Division 1 South, just missing out on the playoffs. They were doing even better this season, being in 2nd place, 4 points behind leaders Faversham, but with 4 games in hand.

This big backlog of fixtures was due to them matching their best ever FA Cup run, reaching the 4th Qualifying Round, just as they had done in 1999 and 2008. This time out they beat Eastbourne Town, Croydon, Fleet Town and Conference South side who reside 2 levels above them. Sadly for the club, Conference side Dartford proved too strong a challenge as they won 3-1 in Kent, at Dartford's smart Princes Park Ground. The club had not had much success in the FA Trophy, only ever reaching the 2nd Round, and both of those occasions occurred in their first 2 seasons as a step 4 club. They got pretty close to a Wembley appearance in the FA Vase though - in 2002 they got all the way to the Quarter Final before losing to Tiptree United. Their record attendance came in April 2005 as over 2000 fans turned up to see them play AFC Wimbledon in a league game.


Originally I had no plans to go to a game on this day, as I would have had little sleep the night before and usually caught up a bit on Wednesday. But I had been looking to buy a TV for ages, a small one for next to my computer, but without much luck. I'd been trying on eBay and Gumtree for a while but without much luck. Maybe this was due to my ultra-low budget of £30 for a cheap brand or £40 for a branded one, but I promised myself that if I found one cheaper that was a fair way away, I would try and go to a football match at the same time and knock any saving off my desired price and put it towards my fuel costs for the trip. I saw a Celcius 19" LCD TV advertised for £25, managed to knock them down to £20 and arranged to pick it up tonight at 6PM. It was located in Knaphill in Surrey, so I looked for games around there. There wasn't much to be honest - the main 2 being Littlehampton Town v Abingdon United in the FA Vase and Burgess Hill Town v Horsham in the Isthmian League Cup. Weighing up the 2 options the former had the advantage of being the more attractive game in my mind - the 2 sides having drawn 4-4 in the original game up in Oxfordshire. While Burgess Hill had the advantage of being a quicker journey, both there from where I was buying the TV, and also home afterwards. My decision was sealed on the afternoon of the game, as Littlehampton had been called off. There were postponements galore due to the rain, my third choice at Fawley also biting the dust. I'd be sure to check that the game was on before I left Knaphill, that was for sure.

I'd had a restless nights sleep the night before, as I often do after footy. However, I felt fine in the morning. It was quite a busy day at work, and I didn't finish until 1.15. After getting some cash out and filling up with Diesel I made my way home and with only a few hours to spare, I had a bath and caught up on my blog as well as checking Facebook and other sites. I had a dinner of Chilli Con Carne before leaving home at 4.40. It was a pretty good journey for the rush hour, even the M25 was better than average, with delays caused by 3 separate people stopping in the road as opposed to the hard shoulder, so around 20 minutes delay all in all. I got to Knaphill bang on 6. After 5 minutes of exchanging TV and cash, I was on my way again and my sat nav took me cross country, possibly due to the rush hour traffic. It was very foggy and tight for time, but I managed to get to the ground and park up with 5 minutes to go before kick off. I paid £6 to get in, which was very sensible pricing. Sadly there were no programmes left, annoying, but understandable with a small scale cup game like this, where the print run is low.

The rain was light at the start of the game but got a lot heavier as the game went on, so I took cover in the stand. The pitch held up very well considering the rain, and there were lots of call-offs not so far away. At halftime, I got myself a pint of Symonds and a very nice bacon cheeseburger. The difference in league positions really showed, even if both were not at full strength. Burgess Hill were making all the early running and they took the lead on 15 minutes when a ball across the box was not cut out and Callum Saunders was left with an easy tap-in. The lead was nearly doubled 7 minutes later but the Horsham keeper made a good save, tipping the shot round the post. Horsham had a couple of chances of their own and on 30 minutes it was all level, Max Miller's excellent low drive from 20 yards levelling things up. 2 goals in 2 minutes around the 37-minute mark put Burgess Hill well in control and they added a 5th in the second half to make it a highly convincing victory, with Dan Perry (2) and Luc Doherty getting on the scoresheet. 

I made good time on the way home, getting back before 11. I tested the TV that I bought, it worked fine and I went to bed later pretty content. However, when I tested it the next day, it wouldn't switch on. Turning it off for a few hours did the trick but it seems a bit temperamental so I will have to keep an eye on it before deciding what to do. As I tidy up this blog in 2018, I can reveal that the TV went kaput a few weeks later, I cannot recall if I got my money back or not. But I did bag a brand new one for £60 which is still going strong to this day as my second monitor on my PC. The club also provided me with an electronic copy of the programme for me to look at, which was very decent of them.


LEYLANDS PARK is a neat and well-kept ground. There is just the one stand with cover, a seated one that holds 307, while the rest of the ground is open. The bar is nice, with Sky TV on a big screen and real ale for those who like that sort of thing. There is no club shop, but the tea bar is pretty good with nice burgers and a good range of other stuff. The one daytime photo came from when I visited the ground on the way to another game to get pictures.

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Wellingborough Whitworth - Victoria Mill

Wellingborough Whitworth FC
Victoria Mill
London Road

Ground Number: 438
Tuesday 25th November 2014
Wellingborough Whitworth 1-2 AFC Rushden & Diamonds
United Counties League KO Cup


WELLINGBOROUGH WHITWORTH FC was founded in 1973 as Whitworths FC, taking their name from the local flour factory, hence the nickname of the Flourmen. They had done well in the East Midlands Alliance and with the ground improvements needed in place, they moved up to the United Counties League Division 1 in 1985. They have remained there ever since, winning the league in 2007, but not taking promotion. In their only outing in the FA Cup, they lost 5-1 to Peterborough Northern Star and they have lost every single FA Vase game they have played in. Currently, former Blackpool & Rochdale defender Tommy Jaszczun is assistant manager and plays for the team. They had a record attendance of 1150 when they played local rivals (virtually next door) Wellingborough Town on Christmas Eve 2005, as the 2 met in a league clash. They had been around the top places in the United Counties League Division 1 all season and sat in 4th place.


Happily, I would have Anwar back in the passenger seat for tonight's game, after a few games absence due to various reasons. We were both looking for something local and fairly inexpensive due to spending quite a lot recently. Initially, we were split between 2 choices - Olney Town v Northampton Spencer or Northampton Sileby Rangers v Thurnby Nirvana. We agreed on the latter and were all set to go there. That was until I was checking Twitter to see the state of play regarding matches going ahead due to the rain that we had been having. Both of the clubs Twitter feeds had not been updated for a couple of days and so I checked the United Counties League Twitter account. That was where I spotted the very local derby between Wellingborough Whitworths and AFC Rushden & Diamonds, with the home sides ground being right next door to Wellingborough Town FC, where Rushden currently share. I had seen both teams play before - last season I saw AFC Rushden defeat Newport Pagnell Town at home, and earlier this season I saw Whitworths draw 0-0 away at Raunds.

I had the day off as usual as it was a Tuesday, but I still did a couple of bits of work. I had some casual jobs down town which netted me £15 for an hours work and I got a bit of shopping down there too. I caught up on my blog in the afternoon when I had time, and it was then that I noticed a problem. For a very long time now, I had used Facebook as my photo host, and that had worked like a charm up until now. It gave me that chance to show off photos to my friends, and also a convenient storage space for them. It had worked fine for ages until I looked today. I am guessing that Facebook must have changed the URL of some of my pictures, as checking on some of my old blogs, there were lots of dead links where pictures were meant to be. I guess I will sort the problem out for the existing blogs in future, but from now on I will be choosing a more reliable place to host my photos. Flickr seems favourite with its large amount of free storage space, but it sure as hell won't be as convenient as having them on Facebook, plus I am not really looking forward to having to recheck all my old blogs. In any case, that could wait for another time. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching TV and having a bit of dinner before leaving at 5PM. 
I got to Aylesbury later than expected at 5.45, thanks to slow traffic on the way. Luckily Anwar was there waiting for me and we were on our way. Though it was very slow getting out of Aylesbury we were soon on our way and we made good time once the road opened up. I have a brilliant free sat nav app called Waze and it redirected us cross country when there was heavy traffic on our normal route. By 7.10 we were there and after parking on the main road, we made our way in. It was most unusual not to see a barrage of double yellow lines and from the impression, I get Wellingborough is a pretty car-friendly place, unlike the rest of the UK.

We went into the ground, paying a very reasonable £4 for entry, plus £1 for a thick programme. As it was raining, we got some pictures of the ground before taking shelter along the side. I typed my blog and checked Facebook while I waited for the game to start. It started off with Whitworth having the best of the opening 5 minutes but the visitors soon took control. They missed a couple of easy chances and were well on top. They were made to pay when the home side opened the scoring on 20 minutes - a cool finish after an excellent run by Cavell Jarvis made this possible. It was end to end stuff from then on and on the half-hour mark, the Whitworth keeper was hurt when he made a brave save to deny Rushden an equaliser. Happily, he carried on but still looked like he was carrying an injury. The visitors got their equaliser on 40 minutes, a cracking header that smashed in off the bar. The only problem was that it was an own goal by Jonny Hazell. Whitworth hit the bar and had the ball in the net at the right end after a minute but the linesman flagged for offside. Rushden were ahead just before half-time as a corner was headed in by Adam Confue, the keeper looking to be hampered by the earlier injury as he missed the cross. Rushden started the second half the brightest and smacked the bar with a shot within the opening 5 minutes. They had one cleared off the line within a minute of that too as they really applied the pressure. They then missed a sitter, with the striker ballooning the ball over the bar from a simple shot. They were nearly made to pay when Whitworth broke, caused mayhem in the box and had one cleared off the line. The game was getting quite heated by now and punches were thrown. The referee only booked the offender and a Rushden player said he would 'see you after the game' to a Whitworth fan who gave him stick. Whitworth then had a man sent off as he bought down the last man. From the resulting free-kick the keeper was forced into a good save but an equaliser remained possible for the hosts. To be honest, Rushden should have had a hatful but they were exceptionally wasteful in front of goal. In the end, they had to settle for a 2-1 win in what was an entertaining and feisty local derby. After the game, I said my goodbyes to Jim, a fellow groundhopper and a couple of Rushden fans that we had been talking to. We got away fairly swiftly and had a quick journey home apart from a couple of slow drivers on the single carriageways. I dropped Anwar off in Aylesbury at 10.45, getting home myself at 11.10. I had a quick look on the internet before watching TV in bed and going to sleep shortly after midnight.


VICTORIA MILL is a great ground for step 6. Th
ere is a seated stand behind the goal as you come in, that holds around 100. There is over behind one goal, and along one side, these fairly small areas probably hold around 300. The rest of the ground is open. There is a smart new clubhouse that also houses the tea bar, that has only been recently built following an arson attack on the old one. This ground is well worth a visit and offered a great value night out for me.