BO'NESS UNITED (Newtown Park)

Today it was another journey north of the border and a visit to Newtown Park, the home of Bo'ness United. I have never dipped into the Scottish Junior League before but with it being...

a)the bank holiday weekend
b)a chance to visit on the train with a cheapo ticket
c)a massive game

I thought why not give it a go.

In fact the phrase massive game is a little of an understatement. Bo'ness United were not only playing Linlithgow Rose, their fiercest rivals from 3 miles down the road where there is generally no love lost, but these two teams are the only ones that can win the Super League title. BU's task is a little more simpler than Rose's as they have only one game left, which is today's. Win that and they are champions. Rose on the other hand, because of a fixture pile up and their cup exploits (they won the Scottish Junior Cup last weekend), still have seven games to play and, starting with this game, win them all and they would be crowned champions.

With plenty riding on this game it certainly drew a crowd, which I'd estimate at anything between 2,500 and 3,000. This also included a few other hoppers whose faces I recognised. Today there was even a "Brucey Bonus" of a programme, as Bo'ness usually don't bother.

Bo'ness took the game to Linlithgow from the off and some of the large crowd were still entering the ground when Fraser Forrest gave BU the lead after just three minutes. A corner was not cleared properly and the defender prodded home from 8 yards. Bo'ness dominated the first half and Rose, looking a little jaded, had no answers. It was no shock when Bo'ness doubled their advantage on 36 minutes, a superb header from Steven Ballatine and that was a cue the party to begin as the chants of "champione, champione" started to be heard.

The second half was a more even affair as Rose tried, and failed, to claw themselves back into the game and Bo'ness seemed contented with their lot, having done the job in the first half. Bo'ness did have a third goal ruled out towards the end but that couldn't take the shine of their performance which saw them crowned "top league" champions for the first time since 1969.

The final whistle sparked a massive pitch invasion as the local hordes celebrated their clubs achievement and I'm pretty sure the partying would've continued long into the night.


BU players inspect the pitch prior to the game
The Main "condemned" Stand. Extreme close up!!!!
Due to health and safety issues this is currently out of use.
The "new" Enclosure.
Bo'ness players enter the arena
The first Bo'ness attack of the game, which led to the goal
Linlithgow on a rare attack at goal
The Bo'ness faithful
Saturday 29th May 2010
East Region Super League
Bo'ness United 2-0 Linlithgow Rose
Attendance: 3,000



As the season 2009-2010 draws to its conclusion, it is a time for reflection and there are reasons to be thankful for the appalling winter that has just gone...fixture backlogs! This meant that as we reached the penultimate weekend of May there are still competitive fixtures around and today in South Wales they were in abundance. Combine this with Cardiff City reaching the play-off final and we have lots of early kick-offs and the opportunity of "double headers" Result!

I was not the only 'groundhopper' to spot the double(s) and it was indeed no shock when at least 40 hoppers descended on Gwent with exactly the same idea as me...

12pm Saturday 22nd May 2010
Welsh League Division Three
Abertillery Bluebirds v Garw SBGC 
Attendance: 126 (h/c)

The home of Abertillery Bluebirds, Cwmnantygroes Field, is yet another ground in Wales which offers a quite stunning vista. The ground is basic, just a railed off pitch and a small covered terrace, and it is also bloody hard to find (even with a Sat-Nav). This led to the first 'panic' of the day when it seemed that today's opposition weren't going to show.

As the clocked ticked towards the midday kick off there was still no sign of Garw and, with them cut off at the bottom of the table and doomed to relegation, the majority of the assembled 125 crowd assumed they'd said "stuff it" and stayed at home to watch the Cardiff City game. It turned out they had got lost on their first (and, for the foreseeable, last) visit to the Bluebirds.

After a quick turn around by Garw the game kicked off at around 12.10 and a very one sided affair it turned out to be. A youthful Garw team, showing ten changes from when I visited Blandy Park two weeks ago, found themselves two goals down at the interval and were fortunate it was only two. Some heroic goalkeeping from Anthony Hogg and some poor finishing meant that the damage was limited to a Luke Lewis goal after 17 minutes and a Lewis Davies Own Goal after 32 minutes.

The second half was equally one sided but The Bluebirds added just the two more goals (64 & 80) Owen Goodenough proving he was just that by bagging himself a brace. For both sides this was their last game in Division Three as they both leave in opposite directions, Garw to the South Wales Amateur league and Abertillery, by virtue of finishing runners up in their debut season, to Division Two.


It was then the groundhopping version of wacky races as the convoy of cars headed down the valleys to...
2.30pm, Saturday 22nd May 2010
Welsh League Division Three
Newport Civil Service v Pontyclun
Attendance: 96 (h/c)

I arrived in good time to make the kick off after the delayed start at Abertillery (yay!) but not early enough to bag a programme (boo!) despite reserving a copy (double boo!). Newport Civil Service play in the heart of the delightful Bettws estate and the ground is simply a railed of pitch, with the only cover being a converted storage container which has been fashioned into a stand...ingenious! This said stand was today packed full of locals cheering on their team and imbibing various substances and liquids.

It was a big game today as due to re-structuring there is to be mass relegation from Division Three, so despite it being, on paper, a mid table clash there was everything to play for. Having said this even if either side won it could be still out of their hands if other results went against them.

This meant the game was a very tight affair with both sides giving no quarter in the blazing sunshine. There were very few genuine goalscoring chances and the game seemed to have 0-0 written all over it. However, a solitary goal settled the game for the home side after 67 minutes when Matthew Palmer prodded home after the ball had ricocheted around the Pontyclun penalty area. At the end of the game the Ponyclun players looked absolutely devastated as they were most certainly down, whilst the Newport players celebrated like they had won the Champions League. Whether those celebrations are premature remains to be seen as there is still a chance they could go too.

Such is the wacky nature of Welsh Football Re-structuring that it is still not certain how many teams will go down. It was originally the bottom 8, but there are stories that it might only be the bottom 7. South Gower won today, which placed them above Newport in the final table, and put Civil Service into the 8th and final relegation spot...but if only 7 go down then that will be enough for them. An anxious summer awaits!

One thing I can say for certain, it was another great day out in South Wales.
An old storage container now being used as...

...a main stand. That's what I call re-cycling!


With most of the leagues now at an end, it was a struggle to find a game that actually had something riding on it. However there was one game that stood out like a beacon...this one! At the start of play, Ellesmere Rangers were top of the table in the West Midlands Regional League and the task was, ahem, very today and they would be crowned champions. Lose or draw and they could be caught by Bloxwich, depending on their result.

This caught the imagination of the locals and around 300 crammed into the (basic) Beech Grove ground to see if Rangers could do it. The opponents today were AFC Wulfrunians, who regardless of today's outcome, were going to finish third in the final table.

The game could not have got off to a better start for the Homesters when Dan Barton gave them the lead after just 5 minutes, courtesy of a penalty kick. After that they became very nervous and gradually Wulfrunians got themselves back into the game. It was no surprise when they drew level, Richard Anslow scoring after 32 minutes. At the interval Rangers title dreams were hanging by a thread, especially as Bloxwich were winning 2-0.

The second half was very cagey as Ellesmere tried to break down the stubborn resistance of the Wulfrunians, who clearly intended to play the role of party poopers. Chances were at a premium and it looked as it Rangers were going to fall at the final hurdle. With just 15 minutes remaining, Rangers got a throw in on the left and the ball was hurled Delap-esque in the penalty area and Gary Meredith rose highest to head home what proved to be the winning goal. This sealed the championship for Rangers and at the end of the game it was the cue for mass celebrations. This means next season Ellesmere Rangers will be playing in the Midland Alliance, step 5 of the English pyramid.


Dan Barton scores from the spot


Saturday 8th May 2010
West Midlands Regional League Premier Division
Ellesmere Rangers 2-1 AFC Wulfrunians
Attendance: 250