Tuesday 28 March 2023

Hamble Club - The Abbey

Hamble Club FC
The Abbey
SO31 4BU

Ground Number: 1167
Tuesday 28th March 2023
Hamble Club 1-0 Moneyfields
Wessex Premier


The club was established in 1969, originally as a youth team. They later became members of the Southampton Saturday League, where they played until joining Division Three of the Hampshire League in 1993. The club were Division Three champions in 1997, earning promotion to Division Two. In 2004 the Hampshire League merged into the Wessex League, with Hamble becoming members of the new Division Three. In 2006 the division was renamed Division Two, but the following year, the division was disbanded and the club became founder members of the Hampshire Premier League. Hamble generally struggled here and would resign from the league midway through the 2012/13 season. The following season saw them drop down a league but win promotion back following a runners-up spot behind Bush Hill. The next season they were champions of the top tier but would have to wait a season to be admitted to the Wessex League due to lack of facilities. They took to the higher level with aplomb, winning the Wessex D1 at the first attempt. Since then, they have been in the Wessex Premier, their best finish of 7th coming in 2019 when they finished 7th.

Hamble Club have entered the FA Cup on five occasions, reaching the Preliminary Round in two of those campaigns. The club made their FA Vase debut in 2017 and to date, this is by far their best run. They beat Bemerton Heath Harlequins, Petersfield Town, Romsey Town, Brockenhurst, Horndean and Westfields prior to a 2-0 defeat at Windsor in the 5th Round. The club is based in the village of Hamble-Le-Rice. Situated seven miles from Southampton, it has a population of around 4,700. The village takes its name from the River Hamble; Rice is the Old English word meaning 'brushwood' or perhaps by extension 'scrubland'. It is best known for being an aircraft training centre during the Second World War and is a popular yachting location. The village and the River Hamble also featured in the 1980s BBC television series Howards' Way. They share the village with Wessex League rivals Folland Sports who have connections to the local aircraft industry. A number of well-known people have lived in the village, including Reggie & Ronnie Kray who owned a cottage there.


This choice of game was only decided on the day before. With both of my regular hoppers - Anwar & Colin declaring themselves unavailable, I wanted to go somewhere as close to home as possible. With my options at steps 1-6 very limited, I turned to step 7. However, the 'silly season' where clubs with no floodlights play early evening had not kicked in fully yet. Therefore, I used Furbology to find my nearest 'unticked' ground which happened to be Hamble Club v Moneyfields. It later transpired that Coln & Martin's intended game at Biggleswade United was off and so they decided to come with me.
Following my return to the UK from a weekend away, I decided to get home the cheap way from Luton Airport, Buses to Dunstable and Aylesbury, plus a lift from there meant that I got home for £4. A few pints at a couple of new Wetherspoons were ticked, although that will be the end of my drinking until Saturday as it's been an unhealthy time off work. The day of the game came and it was another rainy one, thwarting my walk down town. Lots of games were cancelled due to the deluge, but Hamble were confident their game would be on. I left home at 4.50 and the tyre pressure warning light came on. When I got to Colin's, I tried pumping my tyre up but it was taking ages. Luckily, Martin was able to drive and so we decided not to risk my car on the journey. We left at 5.15 with a good journey predicted. However, as well as a small slowdown on the M25 which is not unusual, there was also a big delay on the M3. It was around 25 minutes even after we avoided the worst of it by coming off and going through Winchester. It was frustrating that I'd left my bag in my boot, although I was able to get by with my phone. We were tight for time but still needed to stop off for food and cash. I got an excellent chicken curry and chips for £6.10 from a place called Ming Wah right by Folland Sports FC.

Hamble Club were in 7th whilst Moneyfields were in 4th. The hosts' form had been mixed in recent times. They had thumped Andover New Street 7-1 in their last game and had also won 5-0 at Hythe & Dibden. However, they'd drawn 1-1 against Alresford Town and lost 3-2 to Laverstock & Ford, 4-2 at AFC Porchester and 2-0 at tonight's opponents in the reverse fixture.  The visitors had also beaten Bemerton Heath Harlequins 2-1, won 3-2 at AFC Portchester and beaten Brockenhurst 6-2. Only the flip side, they'd drawn 1-1 with Shaftesbury and lost 3-1 against AFC Stoneham. We were at the ground at 7.43 to find the game kicking off early. Luckily, we could see through the fence as Hamble took a very early lead, Mac Gange with a low shot from just inside the area. Hamble continued to have the upper hand but couldn't add to their lead. Moneyfields had some chances second half but couldn't get the ball in the net. It was quite a physical game and the whistle-happy referee sent Clayd Roach off for a second booking. The late tackle probably deserved a red, to be honest, but the game was broken up by the referee's meddling.
The game finished and we were away by 9.40. It had been a decent night out and not too pricey as there were three of us in the car. I was grateful for Martin for driving as I'd have likely not risked it with my tyre. We were back around 11.20 and I was home 15 minutes later. Funnily enough, the tyre light had now gone out on my car. I've had to top up that tyre every few weeks or so anyway, so it's just something I'll keep an eye on. It was a return for work to me in the morning, not something that I was hugely excited about. However, for health and discipline reasons, it was good for me as it had been an indulgent 12 days off. Next up for me will be a revisit to Holmer Green on Thursday, then maybe a new ground at Ledbury Town or elsewhere on Friday.

THE ABBEY is a nice stadium for the level. It had plenty of character and colour. There is one main area of cover, a low but long stand with bench seating which could hold around 200. There's a small area of additional cover in the corner by the turnstile called Coxy's Corner in memory of a fan. The tea bar looked very decent, the bar pleasant but restricted to cans and bottles. Parking is fairly plentiful if you include the overflow on the training pitch. Hamble train station is nearby. There's a parade of shops nearby with takeaways and a cash machine. This is around half a mile away, near Folland Sports FC.

Slovakia - Tehelne Pole Stadion

Slovakia National Stadium
Tehlene Pole 
Viktora Tegelhoffa 4
 831 04 Nové Mesto

Ground Number: 1166
Sunday 26th March 2023
Slovakia 2-0 Bosnia Herzegovina 
Euros Qualifier


The Slovakia nation football team was established in 1993 following the breakup of Czechoslovakia.Whereas their former partners Czech Republic saw immediate success by being Euro 96 runners-up, Slovakia would have to wait a little longer for their turn. The first tournament they would qualify for was the 2010 South Africa World Cup, progressing out of the group in second place after a 1-1 draw against New Zealand, a 2-0 defeat to Paraguay and a sensational 3-2 win over Italy. They narrowly lost 2-1 to the Netherlands in the Round Of 16. They made their European Championships in 2016 in France. Paired with England, Wales and Russia, they progressed in third place thanks to a win over Russia and a draw against England. The Round of 16 saw a 3-0 loss to Germany. Their campaign in the delayed and fragmented Euro 2020 got off to an encouraging start as they beat Poland 2-1 in Seville. However, they lost 2-1 to Sweden and 5-0 to Spain to exit at the group stage.

Other competitions saw them make their competition debut at the 2000 Summer Olympics. They are currently at Group C level in the Nations League having been relegated from Group B in 2020/21. A number of minor tournaments have also been won. The record holder for appearances and goals is the recently retired Martin Hamsik. He got 26 goals and 136 caps. English based players in the squad include Martin Dubrava and Marek Rodak from Newcastle United and Fulham respectively. The national side tends to play its games at Tehelne Pole in Bratislava but has also played recent games in Trnava and Zilina.


When planning my tip away for these dates, I wanted to make sure I got as much value for my travel costs as possibly. Normally, that would mean a TV game at an odd time in the top division but with it being International week it made things trickier. I looked around at the various options and decided that the best option would be Vienna and Bratislava. Flights, transfers and hotels were duly booked, all coming in at a very reasonable cost. When I looked into Slovakia tickets, I knew I'd have to wait but it turned out to be a little more complicated than I thought. Due to the behaviour of a minority of Bosnia fans, their supporters had faced sanctions and therefore the tickets were geo-restricted. I thought that I was going to have to wait and chance it on the day, but while social media has some rotters, it also, like the real world, has some diamonds.  Thanos who runs the Slovakian Football account on Twitter ordered my ticket for me without question and paid up front with me sending the money later. He also helped me with finding other games to make the most of my time in Bratislava.
From my game at Kosmos, I had a bit of time to spare. I went to Lidl to get some drinks and snacks, surprised at how many shops were still open at 5.15 on a Sunday evening. I'd missed out on a couple of bars as they were closed, but whatever was open was busy. This included the packed tram. I dropped my stuff back at my hotel and picked up my match ticket. From there, some drink was in order, so I headed to the Vycap U Ernőho for a pint of Castler, my first Slovakian cider. It was good, but I needed food so I headed to the Dubliner Irish Pub. Upon discovering it was cash only, I stuck with a pint of Strongbow. I was going to head for another bar, but unusually for me, I didn't fancy it. I wanted food but was rapidly running out of cash. The ATM I tried wanted a 5 Euros commission, so I rejected it and headed for McDonald's. Four nuggets, a wrap and some chips were purchased for under a fiver. Whilst not the best, they filled a hole. After getting a drink at a shop I got the tram to near the ground. I thought Google Maps had done me dirty again as there was little sign of life or a ground. But suddenly it appeared, though there still weren't big crowds. Getting in was nice and easy. There was a nice friendly atmosphere, even though there was a Bosnia flag in our block. I later met Spud off our groundhopping group and he gave me a programme. Graeme, the Everton fan was in attendance and was also great to talk to. They'd managed four games today, dipping back into Austria for one.
The start to Euro 2024 Qualification had started in disappointment for Slovakia as they could only manage a 0-0 draw against Luxembourg in the opening game in Trnava. Bosnia had made a good start beating Iceland 3-0. Portugal and Lichtenstein made up the other teams in the group. Bosnia started brightly, but Slovakia soon took control. Robert Mak opened the scoring on 13 minutes with a low shot from outside the area. They could have had more but had to wait until 40 minutes when Lukás Haraslín scored with a shot into the bottom corner from around the penalty spot.
The attendance had been just 6,052 and even with them making it difficult to get tickets for non-nationals, plenty still got in. Such a decent stadium and pricing structure deserve more support, as does the team. Those that were there though really got behind the team. It was time to head back to my hotel and for the sixth time that day, I took the number 4 tram. I was back in my room by 11. The tram line was right outside my room and very noisy so I watched YouTube until they packed up. I must have got around four hours of sleep as they started up again at just after 5. I got up just before 6, the usual shower and getting dressed. I was out of the hotel at 6.40 and at the airport by 7.10. Just 4 Euros got me 7 tram rides and an airport transfer. The airport check-in was swift, but then it was a very small airport with few flights. Everything went well and I was back in England just before midday.


TEHELNE POLE is an excellent stadium for both Slovan Bratislava and the national team. The ground has a capacity of 30,000 and is fitted out really nicely. Inside there are a few bits of concrete that could do with brightening up but outside it looks great when lit up. There's a nearby shopping park or there are a range of food, snacks and drinks at the ground. 

FK Kosmos - Stadion FK The Dragons

FK Kosmos
Stadion FK The Dragons
Trnavská cesta 33
821 08 Bratislava

Ground Number: 1165
Sunday 26th March 2023
FK Kosmos 1-2 SK Igram
Seniori 6A Liga


We live and operate mainly from member contributions, merch sales and other club and community activities. Kozmos is owned directly by its fans. Anyone who undertakes to respect its statutes and manifesto and pays an annual membership fee can become a co-owner of Kozmos.

FK Kozmos does not mean "football club", but "football community". Its creation was as important to us as football itself. This is also why Kozmos openly opposes fascism, racism and homophobia, and supports the values ​​of feminism and equality, which means that we sometimes enjoy quite a lot of "out-of-the-bubble" experiences at some outdoor matches.

Despite this, we profess the principles of decency and insist that football can also be played in Slovakia without profanity, corruption, riots and hatred.

(Taken from the 'About Us' section from their website)


This game was chosen due to its proximity to my other two games. A guy who ran the Slovakian Football Twitter account had secured me tickets for the main game in Slovakia v Bosnia Herzegovina and I'd also sorted the morning game. The middle one was trickier though with the games listed on Futbology too far away by public transport. As it turned out, I could have shared an Uber with another hopper to another one, or possibly two games. However, the information was relayed by a third party and didn't explain fully what was on offer. With me having spoken to someone at Kosmos, I decided to stick with their game.

From my game at Slovan, I made my way back to town. The plan was to try some Slovakian ciders, but most were closed. I made my way to one place - Vycap u Ernőho to find them not open until 2. The other place that was supposed to do cider - Café Scherz no longer did and so I went in search of food instead. The Slovak Pub had been recommended to me by the hotel owner and so I made my way there. I had some Slovakian sausages and French fries as well as a Sprite with me not being a beer drinker. It was all very nice and just over 10 Euros. It was then a quick stop at a shop for a drink and then back on the tram to where I'd been earlier, more or less.
The ground was very tricky to get to. Google Maps assumed I could walk through buildings and it was frustrating being able to hear the fans but not see the pitch. I noticed several others wandering about looking lost. I referred to the Kosmos Facebook page and using Google translate, I found out that you had to go through a gate at the Pasienky Stadium. I passed the Arreal NMSK ground on the way in. Igram took the lead just as I arrived and then took a 2-0 lead, rifling a shot into the roof of the net. Just before half-time, Kosmos pulled a goal back when a low shot from just inside the area found the bottom right-hand corner. They also hit the bar soon after. Their chances were reduced when their #13 was sent off on a second yellow for a reckless tackle. The hosts sent their keeper up at the end but were unable to find the equaliser.
I'd been disappointed that I'd not gone elsewhere when I was having trouble finding the stadium. But once I was there, I was made to feel very welcome. I bought a scarf for 15 Euros and donated a few quid for an entrance fee. The fans reminded me of the Clapton CFC ones back home, noisy and colourful. They had a great repertoire of reworking famous songs to include the club's name in them. Overall, I was glad I'd come and headed off back into town in a good mood.


STADION FK THE DRAGONS is on the face of it, a very basic 3G cage built for players. However, it has the extra feature of an uncovered stand, albeit outside of the cage. This could seat around 150. Aside from that, it's flat standing. They have a decent range of souvenirs and other bits for sale.