Tuesday 26 September 2023

Sporting Club Inkberrow - Sands Road

Sporting Club Inkberrow FC
Sands Road

Ground Number: 1231
Tuesday 26th September 2023
Sporting Club Inkberrow 6-1 Moreton Rangers
Hellenic D1


Sporting Club Inkberrow was established in 2016, the club entered the Stratford Alliance League under the name of Inkberrow Colts. They were originally part of Inkberrow FC which competed in the Midland League Division 3 at the time. The coaching team of Neil Guy, Carl Stenton and Tom Harris remain in charge to this day. A 3rd place finish in Division 2 was a solid start and then they lifted the title the following year in 2018. Another title saw them win Division 1 in 2019 and they were accepted into the Midland League Division 3. The pandemic halted things with the team placed well but they were not promoted. They switched to the Hellenic Division 2 West for the 2020/21 season but again the season was not completed. Season 2021/22 saw them win the title, but they were not picked for promotion. They won the title last season and this time they were accepted into the Hellenic Division 1 for this season.

At some point, as the club progressed higher than the original Inkberrow, they assumed their history, hence the 1978 date on the club badge. They played local football up until 2002 when they joined the Midland Combination Division 3 for a few seasons. A return to the Stratford Alliance followed before they came back to the Midland Combination in 2009. A 4th place finish in 2011 was good enough for promotion to Division 2. They finished bottom of the league in 2014 after which the league was disbanded. Inkberrow were placed in the Midland League Division 3. Their performance over the two pandemic seasons was good enough for promotion to Midland D2 where they still compete to this day. Local cup wins include the Alun Rees Trophy in 2018, the Evesham Hospital Cup and RM Smith trophies in 2019 and the Worcestershire Minor Cup in 2021. Inkberrow is a village in Worcestershire, often thought to be the model for Ambridge, the setting of BBC Radio 4's long-running series The Archers. In particular, The Bull, the fictional Ambridge pub, is supposed to be based on The Old Bull in Inkberrow. The population is around 1,800.


This game was decided upon on Sunday whilst looking at the option on a coach journey from Tallinn to Riga. I presented fellow hoppers Anwar & Colin with four options. They chose Sporting Club Inkberrow above Hanley Town, Uttoxeter Town and Wolverhampton Casuals. That suited me as I could spend more time at home after a hectic weekend. I was still in Riga on Monday, having a disappointing lukewarm breakfast from their buffet, at least it was included in the price of the room. The juice was especially important as I was parched. I spent until just before 12 in my room as I had a lot of time to kill. I then went to a pub called  Two More Beers having a local cider and a Belgian Kriek beer. After that, it was onto another pub, Paddy Whelans for another Kriek beer and a lunch of Buffalo chicken wings. That was it drink-wise as I had to drive later. The wings could have been hotter, they weren't as good as the ones in Wetherspoons. From there, it was a convenience store for drinks and snacks.

Then a bus to the airport which was absolutely packed and I had my ticket checked for the first time. £1.30 was remarkable value for 90 minutes of travel. Compared to the £42 someone had paid in Stockholm for a return journey. I was at the airport in good time and at my gate nearly two hours in advance. I noticed that the 11.30 Wizz Air plane to Luton was delayed until 5.20. When I went with them, they were great, but I've heard lots of horror stories about them. We got off on time but the flight really dragged. 2 hours 45 minutes later, we were at Stansted though we'd gone back two hours due to the different time zones. It was fairly quick getting out of Stansted and after a decent drive home, I was back by 8.30. I had six blogs to complete and so I stayed up past midnight to do them. I was glad to get home even though it meant a return to work. It was a boozy couple of weekends so I'll not be having another drink until I get to the pub before the Wycombe game on Saturday.
The day of the game came and it was the final day of my twelve days off. I did my usual walk down Wycombe, getting some chicken for lunch. There wasn't much near the ground in terms of takeaways so I decided upon going straight there. I spent the afternoon at home, adding the Wiltshire and Kent Leagues to my blog. At long last, Futbology had added step 7 leagues to their app and it opened up a whole new world. Before I left at 4.30, I had my chicken which was really nice. I was with Colin pretty quickly but it took 45 minutes as opposed to 25 to get to Anwar thanks to multiple sets of roadworks. We had a pretty good journey to Inkberrow with us getting there at 7.10. It was £5 to get in, great value.
Out of the 19 teams in the Hellenic League D1, Sporting Club Inkberrow were 6th whilst Moreton Rangers were 18th. Both had played 9 games, the hosts winning 5, drawing 2 and losing 2. The visitors had won once, drawn once and lost seven times. Inkberrow were unbeaten in five games. They'd triumphed 4-0 at Southam United on Saturday and had also won 3-1 at Calne and 4-0 against Cheltenham Saracens. They'd also drawn 3-3 against Tytherington Rocks and 0-0 against Clanfield 85. Moreton Rangers had gained a morale-boosting draw on Saturday, 1-1 against Kidlington Reserves. They'd lost 6-0 to Shortwood United recently, their only victory coming on the opening day of the season as they beat tonight's hosts 1`-0. Inkberrow started brightly and they took the lead on five minutes. It was a shot by Green from the edge of the area that found the bottom right corner. Moreton didn't offer much and it took a couple of good saves to keep them in it. Inkberrow also smashed the post as they piled on the pressure. Moreton Rangers equalised with their first chance, 28 minutes in, they rifled into the net from just inside the area. The visitors could only hold on for so long and after pinball in the area, Green scored his and his side's second on 38 minutes. A run down the left and a square ball found Coughlin to slot home from six yards on 59 minutes, Green the provider this time. Green completed his hat trick on 62 minutes with a great free kick. Inkberrow continued attacking and hit the post once more. It was 5-1 on 69 minutes, Alcock netting a rebound. On 83 minutes, it was 6-1, Smith finishing off a well-worked move. 

The visiting defenders had started to argue amongst themselves over whose fault the goals were as the evening progressed. If it wasn't for their keeper, it could have been double figures. There were a number of hoppers there and we had a good chat with Kiz. The linesman on our side was also very chatty. I was left with just one to do in this league, Devizes Town. They were actually at home tomorrow but I wanted more notice to get prepared. Instead, I pencilled it in for Tuesday 24th. We left around 9.40, dropping Anwar off just after 11. I needed petrol so I filled up on the way to dropping Colin off. It was then a short drive home with me getting in just before midnight.

SANDS ROAD is a brand new setup in terms of the first-team pitch. It is fully railed and has hard standing on two sides. There are two small stands, one seated, one standing holding around 50 each. There's plenty of parking. There's also a bar and kitchen which offers a reasonable range. I didn't see much else nearby. There are many other pitches, one of which is decent in its own right with dugouts.

Monday 25 September 2023

Skanstes SK - Hanzas Vidusskolas Stadions

Skanstes SK 
Hanzas vidusskolas stadions
Grostonas iela 5
Vidzemes priekšpilsēta

Ground Number: 1929
Sunday 24th September 2023
Skanstes SK 9-0 Rezekne FA
1. Liga


The club is one of the youngest in Latvia, having been formed in Riga in 2021. There is not much information on the club but they appear to have started in 2. Liga (Latvian 3rd tier) the previous season but leagues were declared null and void. They regrouped despite leading the league when results were cancelled. The next season saw them carry on the good form and they were promoted to the 1. Liga for last season where they finished 7th. The club is part of a wider sports club that plays several types of sports. The club plays at Hanzas Vidusskolas Laukums which translates as Hansa High School Field or stadium.


For my second game in Latvia, I was originally off to FK Beitar v AFA Olaine. However, this would mean me putting my faith in the last train. I was perfectly willing to do that to get a new ground but it was a bit of a risk. I was glad then when something closer came up, even though the ground was not as good. From my first game, time was quite limited. Going into Riga centre would leave me with very little time, so I headed to a bar on the outskirts. From the ground, it was 18 minutes walk to the tram stop. Only having 16 minutes to spare, I had to jog some of it and got there four minutes early. The tram turned up on time and I was on my way. 
Due to the rush, all I'd had is a bottle of vitamin water and a chocolate bar since getting up at 7. Though parched, I wasn't really hungry yet though I thought that would change after a drink. It was a matter of seeing what was nearby when I got there. Alas Muiza was an excellent place and the drink made me relax. A Brut IPA cider was next up and I checked in for tomorrow's app whilst having this. I then had another semi-sweet cider and this was good. All of this was great value for money too. From there, a kebab to eat on the way to the ground from the adjacent takeaway. I was quoted 20 minutes wait which wasn't ideal. It took longer than that in fact, my own fault for not allowing enough time. Had I known, I'd have ordered ahead. In the end, I got a Taxi via the useful Bolt app, for only 3 Euros.
Skanstes were 5th in the 1. Liga table. They were in good form having beaten Smiltene 3-0 in their last game. They'd also overcome Tukums 2-0 and won 4-1 at Dinamo Riga and 5-0 at Beitar. Their only defeat had come as they lost 2-0 at Saldus. Rezekne were in 13th, second bottom of the league. They were in poor form. They'd suffered a 9-0 defeat at Riga FC and lost 4-1 to Grobina, 3-1 at Valmiera II and 1-0 to Rigas FS II. They had managed a 1-1 draw at JFDS Alberts. I got there five minutes in but had a job to find the entrance. An absolute nightmare, it took me half an hour to find the totally illogical way in after a couple of circuits of the group. Skanste had taken the lead on 6 minutes, a volley. Then on 40 minutes, it was 2-0, sloppy defending allowed an easy chance with a low shot from just inside the area. Pakulis the scorer of the first two. It was 3-0 on 43 minutes, a well-worked move and shot from outside the area from Tatulashvilli. The second period did not change things, it was 4-0 on 47 minutes, a close-range finish by Pakulis for his hat trick. Another close-range finish on 52 minutes gave him his 4th and his side's 5th. An excellent corner gave Jesse the chance to finish from close range. A penalty gave the hosts the chance to make it 7-0 on 61 minutes but the effort was saved. On 76 minutes, it was 7-0, Krums finishing off a good move. On 83 minutes, it was 8-0, Sterninieks rounding the keeper before slotting home. Right on time, it was 9-0, sloppy defending and the last kick of the game.


Another Bolt taxi saved me half an hour. My first destination was a cider bar called Siderrija, this was closed Monday so it was now or never. A couple were had there from the local cidery. Then, it was to the Thirsty Bulldog Sports pub. A Latvian hopped cider was first up. Then due to miscommunication, I had a Leffe Brune which was OK considering I'd never choose it. Of course, I'm not one to complain face to face so I just got on with it. There were several screens. PSG v Marseille, American football and Australia v Wales Rugby reminded me of an Only Fools And Horses scene.  I was only a couple of minutes from my hotel but after all the lark in Nijmegen where I got locked out, I didn't wanna leave it too late. I was back just after 11, falling asleep pretty much right away.



HANSAS VIDUSSKOLAS LAUKUMS is very tricky to find your way in. So allow yourself plenty of time to be frustrated. Once in, the ground is not bad. An uncovered seated stand holds a few hundred fans and there are a couple of portable toilets. Entry was free but there isn't a huge amount nearby aside from a Lidl. The entrance is on Grostonas Iela, near Malpils Iela.

Riga II - Mezaparks Sports Village

Riga FC
Mezaparks Sports Village
Ezermalas iela 30
Ziemeļu Rajons
RÄ«ga, LV-1014

Ground Number: 1229
Sunday 24th September 2023
Riga FC II 3-0 JFDS Alberts
1. Liga


The club was established in 2014 but it was not until the following year when a merger of two Riga-based teams – FC Caramba and Dinamo RÄ«ga gave them a football side. In the 2015 season, the team played in the Latvian  (second tier) under the name of FC Caramba/Dinamo, since Caramba had won promotion to the 1. lÄ«ga after winning the 2. lÄ«ga in 2014. After winning the 1. lÄ«ga and promotion to the VirslÄ«ga, the club changed its name to Riga FC. They won three successive top-flight titles from 2018 to 2020. Last season they finished as runners-up to Valmiera. FC Riga also won the Latvian Cup in 2018 and have played 33 games in European competitions. They reached the playoff round of the Europa League in 2019 losing to FC Copenhagen and the same stage of the Conference League in 2022 where they lost to Gibraltar side Lincoln Red Imps. The club plays at Skonto Stadium, the former home of Skonto Riga most successful team in Latvia. They won 15 titles before going bust in 2016. Their second team play in the second tier of Latvian football at the Mezaparks Sports Village.


On the third day of my trip, I would be in another new country, Latvia. I managed to secure a Flixbus for £9.99 to take me from Tallinn to Riga, hoping I'd actually get on it this time. I seemed to have been cursed when using their service, but it wasn't their fault. Firstly, I had a trip to Holland booked, seeing PSV Eindhoven via Belgium. But then the pandemic hit and all plans were put on hold. Then, another trip across Holland saw me get the stop wrong and I had to get a train instead. At least I'd only 'wasted' a voucher that time that I'd got due to my previous cancelled booking. Then, in January, I booked a coach to Nottingham for March, assuming that the weather would be OK. We had torrential snowfall and even games on 3G pitches were off. I was hoping it would be my fourth time lucky on this occasion, as I would be stuck otherwise.
After a reasonable night's sleep, I awoke around 7, well in advance of my alarm. This gave me plenty of time for a shower and to get dressed and get my stuff together before leaving. I was sure to get to the bus station well in advance of my scheduled departure time but 08:35 came and went with no sign of the coach. The platform full of fellow passengers was annoying at first as I'd have preferred a double seat but later on, it was reassuring. There was also no tracking available on the coach and it appeared as if my Flixbus curse was continuing. Eventually, it turned up 40 minutes late, and then the driver took an age to get everyone on. We finally departed 53 minutes late. It was quite comfortable and spacious though but a couple of people had already given up on it before the bus came.

The driver did his best to make up time but it was still a long journey. The trip gave me the chance to catch up and plan ahead for midweek. Tuesday will probably be a trip to Sporting Club Inkberrow which is the nearest new ground to me, at least on that night. A lot of the journey had patchy mobile data with that irritating exclamation mark next to the signal bar. We got to Riga at 1.40. I had just enough time to check in and dump my bag in my room before heading out. Google Maps was helpful but not perfect, navigating me to a closed tram stop first of all. It was the second time lucky for a bus. It turned up a few minutes late but the 9 to Mezaparks would just about get me there on time. The USB charging worked and the app for purchasing tickets was fairly easy to use. Running late, the last thing I needed was to go to the wrong pitch. There were two on site and I thought the game had been cancelled originally. But then I heard the noise of players and found the pretty much identical ground. Eight minutes in, it was happily still 0-0.
Riga FC II were 2nd in the league whilst JFDS Alberts were 6th. They had travelled around 14 miles, being based in the far north of Riga. The hosts had tumped Rezekne 9-0 in their last game and had also beaten Valmiera II 3-1 and won 2-1 at Rigas FS II. They'd also drawn 0-0 at JFK Ventspils and 1-1 at Grobina. Though they had recorded a 2-0 victory at Salsus SS / Leevon in their last game, it was the visitors' only win in 5. They'd lost 4-1 at Rigas FS in the cup, 4-0 to Dinamo Riga and 1-0- at Beitar. They'd also drawn 1-1 against Rezekne. Riga were the better side and took the lead on 21 minutes. A penalty awarded for a trip was slotted in the bottom right-hand corner. Alberts put a header narrowly wide before Riga extended their lead on 28 minutes. A ball from the left and a low shot from around ten yards out. A similar ball produced another goal on 33 minutes, this time a finish from just inside the six-yard box to make it 3-0. JDFS had a lot of chances and play in the second period but they lacked a cutting edge. Much as they tried, Riga threw bodies in blocking all manner of shots.

MEZAPARKS SPORTS PARK is a series of pitches and facilities for various sports. There is a nice cafe and a boating lake amongst other things. The football ground, one of two on site is one-sided for spectators. There is an uncovered stand for around 500 and that is it aside from a couple of portaloos. It is well-served by public transport.