FC DEN BOSCH (Stadion De Vliert)

The first day of the European jaunt began in The Netherlands and the city of 's-Hertogenbosch, which is about 80km south of Amsterdam (which was the base for the first few days) and took around 58 minutes to reach by train.

The Stadion De Vliert, the home of FC Den Bosch was the destination for the first game of the week. The team are currently mid table in the Eerste Divisie, having been relegated in 2005, and the opposition tonight, FC Emmen, are near the foot of the table.

There is usually a club card policy to buy tickets in Holland but, after e-mailing the club, the tickets were reserved and waiting at the club's reception. There was a promotion on tonight where all tickets were €5 in an attempt to get more fans through the gate. I don't think it worked as the crowd was only 3,788 which seemed pretty sparse in a ground that holds 9,000. Emmen only brought 21 fans, I know that because I counted them!

Pre-match was spent in a great little bar called Le Duc (which is the French translation of Den Bosch) where all the 'Kolleke' beers on draft were brewed on site. This meant details of the match were pretty sketchy!

Seriously though, even through glazed eyes it was fairly obvious that Emmen were a poor side and the homesters ran out comfortable winners. At least 3 of the goals were wholly preventable.

Paco van Moorsel tapped home after 25 minutes to give 'The Blue White Dragons' the lead. A defensive mix up led to Danny Verbeek scoring right on half-time and the game was over within 6 minutes of the re-start.

Tom van Weert  bagged a brace inside two minutes. The first after 49 minutes was another defensive mix up and his goal after 51 minutes effectively put the game to bed.

Verbeek added his second on 87 minutes firing home after a great run and cut in before Randy Wolters grabbed a consolation for the visitors a minute later. Emmen's misery was completed in stoppage time when John de Vries was sent off.

It was a very routine win for Den Bosch, but this was actually only their first home win of the season. Maybe that explains the reason for the stay away fans but they missed an enjoyable goal-fest.

The Emmen fans...all 21 of them.

Monday 31st October 2011
Eerste Divisie
FC Den Bosch 5-1 FC Emmen
Attendance: 3,788

Here is a link to the Jupiler league website where you can view the goals, how long this will remain I don't know...


As I was in Liverpool for the Everton v United game, which kicked off at midday (the blues lost 1-0) the options for a second game in the afternoon were rather limited.

Therefore a dip into the West Cheshire League (step 7) was the only real choice available to me.

Mossley Hill Athletic were hosting Christleton, in a first division clash, at their Mossley Hill Road ground, which was only a 20 minute drive from Goodison Park.

The ground was exactly what I expected, being just a railed off pitch, however the pitch did have a very pronounced slope! 

There was no admission charged, but there was a bonus of a programme. They had a fine clubhouse, which was delightfully decorated in readiness for a halloween party, and there were 2 hand pulls of ale, Brains SA and Timothy Taylor Landlord, which were most welcome indeed.

This was only the 3rd time I'd seen a West Cheshire (first) team game, the others being Heswall and Ashville, and, to be honest, it wasn't a bad game. 

The homesters secured all the points with two goals in the opening twelve minutes. After just 5 minutes Barry Coventry picked the ball up on the edge of the box and drove a low shot into the bottom corner.

Then on 12 minutes a defensive mix up between the Christleton defender and goalkeeper resulted in Bryan Little lobbing the ball into an empty net.

Christleton dominated the play after the goals went in but, despite plenty of pressure, they could not find a way through to goal.

The mix up that led to the second Mossley goal

The referee was happy with the apparent 'colour clash' Mossley Hill
playing in Maroon, Christleton in Red.

Saturday 29th October 2011
West Cheshire League Division One
Mossley Hill Athletic 2-0 Christleton
Attendance: 26 (h/c)


The cover of the programme
shows Pistyll Rhaeadr, the highest
waterfall in Wales
It was a chance to re-complete the Cymru Alliance today with a visit to league newcomers Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant, who are making their debut in the second tier of Welsh football, after winning the Mid Wales League last season. 

After a nightmare journey, due to accidents on the A483 and gasworks, which meant a unsigned diversion down country lanes, the Recreation Ground in Llanrhaeadr, which is 5 miles from Oswestry, was eventually reached.

The ground is basically a railed off pitch with a small 52 seater stand and the only other cover is the overhang of the clubhouse. I'm glad it was a sunny afternoon as there wouldn't have been much protection from the elements if the weather from the previous few days had continued into the weekend.

The game was low on quality but high in entertainment, Flint losing out by the odd goal in 7 as Llanrhaeadr secured only their second win of the season.

Tomos Evans opened the scoring for the homesters after 4 minutes with a neat lob over Leon Bimpson in the Flint goal. The Silkmen were 2 down after 15 minutes when Danny Dobbins attempted to head a long ball back to Bimpson and misjudged the bounce, allowing Alun Evans to slot home.

Things went from bad to worse for Flint on the half hour mark when Bimpson had to leave the field injured and, with no goalkeeper on the bench, Richard Walker went between the sticks. Then after 44 minutes Evans netted his second to give the homesters a seemingly unassailable 3-0 interval lead.

The Flint players must have had the hair-dryer treatment at half time as they rallied in the second period. Simon Thelwall reduced the arrears after 51 minutes with a superb 25 yard free kick and he headed home a second on 75 minutes.

As Flint chased the equaliser though, they got stung on the counter as Jones bagged his second goal after 83 minutes. Game over, or so we all thought. Richard Hughes (86) set up a tense finish, when he controlled neatly in the area to poke home but, despite late pressure, Llanrhaeadr held on.

An excellent day was completed by a superb evening at the Chester Beer Festival...hic!

The cheery club officials on the gate, giving a warm welcome to
the Recreation Ground

Simon Thelwell's free kick hits the back of the net to
bring Flint back into the game

Jonathan Rush, son of former Welsh international striker Ian Rush.
They say football genes run in the family, well he must have inherited his skills from his mam!

Saturday 22nd October 2011
Cymru Alliance
Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant 4-3 Flint Town United
Attendance: 104

SUTTON UNITED (Gander Green Lane)

Once again, it was back on the road to Wembley and a visit to the scene of one of the greatest FA Cup upsets of all time.  The date was January 1989 and the venue was Sutton United's Borough Sports ground, on Gander Green Lane. Sutton were in the Conference at the time and they were hosting First Division (now the Premier League) Coventry City, who had lifted the cup less than 2 years previously.

They secured a famous 2-1 victory with goals from Tony Rains and Matt Hanlon, which was the last time a non-league side beat a team from the top division of English football.  Maybe after watching that game on Match of the Day it had seeped into my subconscious that I must visit that ground one day and watch a game. It has taken me 22 years, but I eventually made it today!


As there were no GBG listed pubs in Sutton itself, the pre-match pleasantries had to be undertaken in nearby Carshalton, where The Hope offered 6 real ales, the pick of the bunch being (North London based) Redemption Brewery's Hopspur.

Gander Green Lane has not altered much since that day in 1989 (and having had a look at the footage on You Tube, as far as I can see) the only difference is a there is now a new covered terrace behind the goal. The main stand, built in 1951, looks the same as it did in '89. The ground was originally used as a race track, and that is why it has a bowl shape to it. A ground of real character.  The clubhouse under the stand was also worth the visit and there was a bonus of St Austell Tribute on draft.

Sutton now find themselves in the second tier of non-league football, the Conference South, having won the Isthmian Premier League last season. Their opponents today were Bognor Regis Town, who are, somehow, in the Isthmian League Division One South. I say somehow as last season they finished level on points with the Metropolitan Police, at the top of the table, but they missed out on the title on a goal difference of 1. That meant they went into the lottery of the play offs and promptly lost to Dulwich Hamlet, a team that finished 31 points behind them in the final table!

Today though there was no chance of an upset as  the U's completely outclassed Bognor and were three goals up by the interval. This though was after a fairly even opening 20 minutes in which neither side did anything of note but, once Craig Dundas had given the homesters the lead after 22 minutes, United never really looked back. Ironically Bognor's best chance of the half led to Sutton's second goal. After 30 minutes, a rasping Terry Dodd drive was tipped over by Sutton goalkeeper Kevin Scriven, who caught the resulting corner, released the ball quickly and Sutton broke on the counter and, after an exchange of passes, Tony Taggart had the ball in the Bognor net for 2-0.

After this, it was virtually one-way traffic as Sutton carved open Bognor at will, creating numerous chances. The third goal arrived just before the break when ex-Premier League player Paul Telfer crossed for Taggart to head home his second goal of the game.

The second period was pretty much a like a training session for Sutton as, having obviously won the game, they had all the possession and Bognor never looked like getting a foothold back into the match. The U's did have plenty more chances, but the only goal scored in the half came through man-of-the-last-round (after bagging four goals v Dulwich Hamlet) Leroy Griffiths, when he shot home after 74 minutes.

A very good game in the glorious sunshine and, yes, the trip was well worth that 22 year wait!


The customary pre-match handshakes

Sam Page crosses into the Bognor box, but this time there was
nobody attacking the ball.

Ex Luton, Coventry, Southampton & Celtic player Paul Telfer

The excellent club shop, where I was offered a 1989 Coventry FA Cup
programme for a mere £15...I had to politely decline!

Bognor's Stuart Axten attempts to close down Sutton's Fola Orilonishe

Goalscorer Craig Dundas on the attack

Saturday 15th October 2011
FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round
Sutton United 4-0 Bognor Regis Town
Attendance: 622