Monday 31 May 2021

Mortimer - Alfred Palmer Park

Mortimer FC
Alfred Palmer Park
West End Road

07786 631027

Ground Number: 960
Monday 31st May 2021
Mortimer 1-1 Berks County
Thames Valley Premier


The club was established in 1934 but there is very little information about the club's early years online. The club was a founder member of the Reading League in 1989 and they won the Division 1 Kennet title in their first season here. They then went on to finish as runners-up to Broadmoor Staff in the Premier Division in 1991 and since then have been continuous members of the top tier Senior Division. The league was renamed the Thames Valley League Premier Division in 2014 and the league sits at step 7 of the non-league pyramid. The club's most successful period was in the mid-1990s and they were champions in 1994, 1995, 1997 and 2002. The club also has a reserve team, a ladies team and a number of kids teams. 

The village of Mortimer or Mortimer Common is situated seven miles southwest of Reading. The population is just under 4,000 and the village got its name from the Mortimer family. The family were given the manor, along with Wigmore Castle by William I shortly after the Norman Conquest and held it throughout the Middle Ages, as recorded in the Domesday Book. Roger de Mortimer, 1st Earl of March was for three years de facto ruler of England after leading a successful rebellion against Edward II, before being overthrown and executed in 1330 by Edward III, with his lands (including Mortimer) seized by the crown. There are also cricket and tennis clubs in the town as well as a decent range of other amenities. The most famous person to come from Mortimer is the footballer David Tuttle. He played in the football league, most notably for Sheffield United and Crystal Palace. He has also managed Millwall and a host of non-league teams.


With me keen to see a game on every day of the year, these times were the ideal opportunity to get some of the missing dates filled. Due to work, I'd been unable to find a game on May 30th as it was a Sunday. I thought I was out of luck on Monday too, as I was working until 4 and it was a Bank Holiday.  But the Thames Valley League had scheduled fixtures and Mortimer fitted the bill. I'd actually seen Mortimer on Saturday as they played in a drab 0-0 at Reading City. They battled hard for their point, the hosts having a lot of possession, but no serious attempts at goal. It was my first 0-0 for two years and both teams first of the season, so maybe it was just bad luck. I was supposed to be going to Hurst v Wargrave in the first place, but the hosts pulled out the day before the game. It was a good day otherwise, going to see my brother and his family for my nephew's first birthday. It was a good day, but not the healthiest. I sank a fair few drinks and was glad to be taking my usual midweek abstinence. I also watched the Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City. This wasn't much better than my afternoon game as Chelsea won a dull contest 1-0.

On the day of the game, I awoke at 5 am, two hours before I needed to. I tried to get back to sleep before giving up at 7 and getting ready for work. Bank Holidays are never pleasant in retail and although this is far from the worst, it was still packed and with the usual irritants that you wouldn't get on a normal Monday. I got good news when Anwar text me to say that he was going to come. As well as helping out with costs, it would also give me some company and also kill some of the hour spare that I had before the game. I finished at 4, grabbing a drink and leaving to meet Anwar at the station. It was an excellent journey and we were there by 5. With time to kill, we went and sat in the shade and relaxed. I'd noted on Twitter that a team called Kulture Klub were using the Henry Barrass Stadium for a game. As this one rarely comes up as an option, we were both keen to tick it. Normally, it would be a nailed on day out in London but it wasn't the best of journeys on the train, taking over two hours.

The hosts were in 9th place in the league prior to the game. They'd been in mixed form lately with wins against Newbury (1-0) and Windlesham & Chobham (2-0). They'd drawn 0-0 with Reading City, 2-2 with Richings Park and 1-1 with Marlow United. They'd also suffered defeats to Wraysbury Village (1-2) and today's opponents Berks County (1-4) in the reverse fixture. The visitors were sitting in second place. Thry were also in mixed form having won 3-1 at Burghfield on Saturday and also 2-0 against Windlesham & Chobham. They'd drawn 1-1 with the same opponent in the reverse game and also 2-2 against Newbury. They'd had a disappointing start to the month, losing 2-1 to Westwood Wanderers, 4-1 to Finchampstead and 3-2 to Reading City. Mortimer had the first real chance of the game, their #7 shooting narrowly wide from out on the left. High-flying Berks County took the lead on 16 minutes. Their number 20 might have been a big lad, but he was the best player on the pitch and his free-kick beat the Mortimer keeper with ease. Just before halftime, the hosts had a real chance, cleverly beating the offside trap but shooting tamely into the goalkeeper's arms. The referee was consistent, but he was quite fussy, booking a Mortimer man for kicking the corner flag in frustration. He also sin-binned another of their players for something he said to him, which depending on what was said, was the right decision. Referees shouldn't be beyond question, but any dialogue should be in a respectful manner. The hosts improved greatly in the second half but they didn't seem to be testing the keeper. That was until around 10 minutes from time when their #14 did brilliantly down the right, put a cross in and set up his teammate who drilled home from the edge of the area. It was a deserved equaliser and a decent game for the 91 people in attendance. We left just before 8, dropping Anwar at the station at 8.40 and getting in ten minutes later.


ALFRED PALMER MEMORIAL FIELD is a decent venue for step 7. It has railings of sorts on three sides and a couple of dugouts. At the ground is a small bar selling snacks and drinks. There is a car park although this gets full pretty quickly with players cars. However, there's plenty of street parking whilst the village with its various amenities is a short walk away. 

Wednesday 26 May 2021

Little Oakley - Memorial Ground

Little Oakley FC
The Memorial Ground
Harwich Road
Little Oakley
CO12 5ED

Ground Number: 959
Tuesday 25th May 2021
Dunmow Town 8-1 Stanway Rovers Res
Covid Cup Final


The club was established in 1947 as Little Oakley War Memorial, changing its name in 1974 to its present guise. They started out in local leagues at first, playing in the Harwich & District, Tendring Hundred & Colchester & East Essex. In 1963, they joined the Essex & Suffolk League and stayed there for 54 years, winning its top division on five occasions, as well as Division 1 in 1986. After the last of those titles in 2017, they joined the Eastern Counties League. Starting in Division 1, they finished 14th in 2018 and 7th the following year. The last two seasons were cut short due to the pandemic, but with LIttle Oakley sitting in 3rd and 5th, they have earned a place in the Essex Senior League for next season.

Little Oakley played in the FA Cup for the first time this season but ended up losing 4-2 at Saffron Walden Town. Their FA Vase debut in 2017 was one to forget as they lost 10-1 at Tower Hamlets in the 2nd Qualifying Round. Their best season came the following year when they beat Hadleigh United before losing to Enfield in a 1st Round Replay. Local cup honours include the Essex Intermediate Cup (1990), the Essex & Suffolk Border League Knockout Cup (1964, 2015 & 2017) the Tommy Thompson Cup (1984) and the A V Lee Service Memorial Cup (1994). The small village of Little Oakley is located near Harwich in Essex and has a population of just under 1,200. It was made famous in an episode of 'I'm Alan Partridge' when the DJ came out with the line 'I have someone on the line who fears he may be a gay. He's married so wishes to remain anonymous...I'm talking to Domingo in Little Oakley.'. As a result, there is a tapas bar named in Domingo's honour in the village.


Games were starting to thin out, what with most leagues opting to end their seasons by now. I was determined to see a game on this day - the 25th of May is the first day of the year that I'd not seen a game on. My first thoughts were AFC Coventry Rangers v Welland, but it was a bit far for a very basic venue. I'd just about resigned myself to settling for a charity game at Wycombe Wanderers but then I spotted the Covid Cup Final at Little Oakley. This was between Dunmow Town and Stanway Rovers Reserves with both clubs eagerly advertising it on their Twitter. I'd been considering Little Oakley last Friday, but after offering it to two hoppers, they didn't even have the courtesy to get back to me. It was a shame as I'd have saved 20 miles each way going via them. Despite the extra mileage, I was glad when more reliable and communicative hopper Anwar agreed to come with me, as I'd only spotted it the afternoon before. I'd been considering going to Rotherfield United v Wargrave on Monday, but decided against it due to the inclement weather. It was a wise decision as it was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. As it happens, I might go and see the visitors at Hurst on Saturday, as it looks like a reasonable venue, Also, it's near family which I might be visiting on that day, thus killing two birds with one stone.

I awoke after a decent nights sleep on the day of the game at about 6.30 am. I read the Daily Star on my tablet and a couple of other magazines before getting up at 8. After lazing about some more, I had a shower and went out for a walk down Wycombe. I didn't really need anything, but the exercise would be good for me. Before I went, I did the planning for tonight's travelling and also changed my Twitter list for keeping up with game news. I was hoping that Bemerton Heath Harlequins would triumph at Brockenhurst, as that meant that there would be a cup final at Ringwood on Friday night. This would mean a new ground for me - if Brockenhurst won, the final would be played there, which I've already visited. I went up the cash and carry with my Dad before coming back and spending the afternoon at home, researching history for tonight's blog. I left at 3.40, picking Anwar up in Aylesbury at 4 and Thomas up in Aston Clinton at 4.15. It was a good journey over but with us unsure of food options, we stopped at the Lucky City Chinese Takeaway in Galleywood near Chelmsford at 5.30. After an excellent portion of salt and pepper chips for £3, we made our way to Little Oakley getting there at 7. We spoke to some friendly locals about random football stuff before going in. Entry was £5 which included a programme.

Dunmow Town play in Division 1 of the Essex & Suffolk Border League, which sits at step 8 of the non-league pyramid. They finished 8th this season and play their games at Braintree Town. To get this far, they had beaten Great Bentley 9-1, Belle Vue Social Club 2-0 and won 4-0 at Silver End United. Stanway Rovers Reserves play in Stanway, near Colchester. They'd been in 13th when the season was abandoned. They'd beaten Cressing United 4-0 as well was winning 6-1 at Alresford Colne Rangers and 2-0 at Gosfield United. Dunmow started on top and they took the lead with a spectacular 30-yard lob from George Purcell after four minutes. Stanway Rovers came close, shooting narrowly wide of the left-hand post soon after. It was 2-0 on 20 minutes, a ball was put in and Harry Hope controlled the ball went before turning and putting home a composed finish. Five minutes later it was 3-0, again a cross did the damage. This time the keeper could only parry a header and Kyran Clements was on hand to follow up. The game was as good as over on 37 minutes, again a cross and this time it was Purcell on the volley to complete his brace. It was 5-0 just before halftime, a pass back was lobbed back to the keeper and he could only chest it into the path of Dwade James who had an easy finish. Five minutes into the second half it was 6-0, a great corner put in and a firm header by Kirtys McKenzie. Stanway Rovers finally had something to smile about, a tidy chipped finish reduced the scores to 6-1 but Dunmow came close to restoring the six-goal cushion with a shot that hit the post and rolled across the line. It was 7-1 on 78 minutes, a neat run and finish by Mack Miskin. It was 8-1 on 86 minutes, James with his second and the same player hit the post soon after.

We had chatted to a friendly official who said that Dunmow had six players dual registered with Braintree which might have explained the gap in class. George Purcell was also Hornchurch's top scorer of all time and he looked a cut above. Stanway Rovers improved in the second half and their number 6 looked like a really tidy player. For Dunmow, George Purcell stood out. We left the ground at 9.25 and had a good journey home apart from a small closure on the A12. I dropped Thomas off at 11.20, Anwar off five minutes later and got in myself at 11.50. I was disappointed to discover that Brockenhurst had beaten Bemerton Heath Harlequins. As a result, my potential game at Ringwood on Friday wasn't happening. I spent around 20 minutes up before getting into bed, but couldn't get to sleep for over an hour. I was glad that I wasn't up until the fairly civilised time of 6.45, though I'd be hoping to catch up on sleep the following night.


THE MEMORIAL GROUND is a beautifully kept venue. It's very pleasant to spend a warm evening but as it is quite open, might get a bit chilly in winter. There are two small stands, one seated, one standing. The rest of the ground is flat standing. One side is really strange as people's back gardens back directly onto the pitch. There's also a decent amount of parking around.

At the ground is a bar which does food and drink. Further afield, a few minutes walk away is a decent looking pub called the Ye Olde Cherry Tree which does food and also a decent range of real ales and ciders. Next door is Domingo's Tapas Bar - which comes highly recommended by Alan Partridge.