WORKINGTON (Borough Park)

Sometimes, in this wonderful hobby of mine you stumble across a ground which can only be described as an 'absolute gem' Borough Park, the home of Workington FC is one such ground. The place where a certain Bill Shankly started his management career (before moving on to a more down-market club) and a Football League team until as recently as 1976, the ground does indeed look like a relic from a bygone age and you get the sense of nostalgia as soon as you walk through the turnstiles. Walking through the crowd there was even a supporter, of a certain age, whirling a rattle above his head.

The main purpose of my visit today, for what is effectively a dead rubber of a game, is to complete my visits to all members of the Conference North and, ground wise, i'd certainly saved the best until last. The match itself was, as expected, pretty average end-of-season stuff, with both teams looking like they would be rather anywhere else but here, especially when the heavens opened 10 minutes before kick off leaving the pitch rather sodden.
Stalybridge won the game 2-0, but, to my embarrassment I happened to miss both of the goals. The first goal, a header scored after 30 minutes by Terry Barwick, I was reading a text someone had sent me and the second goal was scored 30 seconds from the start of the second half, by Steve Torpey, whilst I was still in the clubhouse having my half time brew. C'est la vie, I suppose!

Celtic also missed a penalty inside the first 10 minutes, Adam collin saving well from Lee Ellington. Celtic also had the better of what chances were created and Workington in truth barely troubled Paul Phillips in the Stalybridge goal. The game may have been a tepid affair but to see Borough Park made the long trip north well worth it.

Saturday 25th April 2009
Conference North
Workington 0-2 Stalybridge Celtic
Attendance: 389


Sunday 19th April
Manchester United 0-0 Everton
(Everton win 4-2 on Penalties)
Attendance: 88,141

My first chance to see my beloved Everton play at the new Wembley. Whether you agree with the semi finals being played at Wembley or not (I personally do not) it still turned out to be a great day.

The game itself was pretty poor as Everton, expecting to underdogs, suddenly found themselves favourites with Fergie's team selection. The blues just couldn't get going and it turned out to be a war of attrition. There was a sense of inevitability it would go to penalties, but given our record I didn't expect to win!

It was Jags who netted the all important spot kick and It means the blue boys will be back for the final in 4 weeks time, but there is no chance of me getting a ticket for that. I will be there in spirit though, quite literally! Hic...

Obviously a Marouane Fellaini fan!

1950's star striker Dave Hickson

1970's fancy dan Duncan McKenzie

There's only one Tony Hibbert!

Joleon Lescott salutes the fans


Well the moment of truth had arrived for AFC Wimbledon. Could they complete their rise to the pinnacle of non-league football just seven years after their formation, when the Football League disgracefully allowed the original Wimbledon to be shifted 80 miles up the road to M***** K*****

The scene was set...a win today for Wimbledon would seal the Championship and promotion. A draw would mean, mathematically, it would go to the last day (Hampton would have to swing round a goal difference of 13, which is highly unlikely). So you can also see it was a big game for Hampton. They were the only team that could realistically stop The Dons but to do that they had to win.

The sense of occasion was not lost on any of the crowd. The game was an all-ticket sell-out, 3,325 which was easily The Beveree's record attendance. The crowd were queuing long before the gates opened at 1.30pm, all eager to get their speck and witness history in the making. For me, as the sun was shining, it was a chance to nip off to the local pub and sample some wares, especially as there were four real ales on draft. For me history can wait...hic!

I eventually made my way into the ground at around 2.15pm and it was absolutely chocca! Found a half decent speck in the corner, but couldn't see the goal nearest to me. I just hoped that the goals went in at the other end! The Beveree is a quaint little stadium but I'm not sure if it is equipped to handle big crowds. Maybe I'm being a little harsh, as Hampton's rise through the leagues has almost been as rapid as Wimbledon's, but the ground feels like it has been left behind a little, it is not a Conference Premier (which is where they are aiming for) ground by any stretch of the imagination.

The game was a cagey affair but gripping all the same. The first half ended goalless, but Wimbledon must have been wondering how after dominating proceedings and having the better of the few chances there were. As is the case when a team has been out-played, they usually come up with a sucker punch and that is indeed what Hampton did, Francis Quarm tucking home from a quick corner on 52 minutes (at the end where I could see!).

The game was nip and tuck but it wasn't until the 88th minute that Wimbledon grabbed their equaliser when Jon Main rose to head home his 33rd goal of the season and effectively seal promotion. This leveller wasn't without controversy, as a Hampton player lay prostrate as the ball was crossed into the box, but the referee was happy to let play continue. This goal however came at the end I couldn't see. I managed to catch a glimpse of Main heading the ball, but wasn't sure it had nestled in the net until the crowd around me went berserk!

There was the inevitable pitch invasion at the end, in celebration I hasten to add, and the vast majority of the crowd went away singing and dancing into the evening...


The Wimbledon fans celebrate their teams promotion

 Saturday 18th April 2009
Conference South
Hampton & Richmond Borough 1
AFC Wimbledon 1
Attendance: 3,225