Stick a fork in I’m done with 2012/13

Here is a review of my itinerant football watching during the 2012/13 campaign.

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Total Matches Attended: 205

New Grounds Visited: 125

Total Goals Scored: 735 (Average of 3.58 goals per game)

Biggest Win: Barkingside 9 Bowers & Pitsea 1

Biggest Crowd: 76,927  – South Korea v Gabon (at Wembley)

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BEST GROUNDS VISITED IN 2012/13

1. DJURGÅRDENS IF – Stockholms Stadion

Djurgarden IF (15)

2. GLENTORAN – THE OVAL

Glentoran (16)

3. AIK – RÅSUNDA STADION

Rasunda Stadion (68)

4. ATHLETIC BILBAO – SAN MAMES

San Mames (48)

5. FK CRVENA ZVEZDA – STADION CRVENA ZVEZDA “MARAKANA”

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BEST NON-LEAGUE GROUNDS VISITED IN 2012/13

1. MARLOW – ALFRED DAVIS MEMORIAL GROUND

Marlow FC (2)

2. BRIMSCOMBE & THRUPP – THE MEADOW

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3. KINGSTON LACY – PAMPHILL GREEN

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4. PENYBONT – RACECOURSE GROUND

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5. STALYBRIDGE CELTIC – BOWER FOLD

Stalybridge Celtic Dec 29 2012 (19)

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BEST PROGRAMME

Based on standing/resources of the club, cost, content and effort.

1. ABERDEEN

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2. GLENTORAN

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3. NORTHWOOD

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4. FROME TOWN

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5. CANVEY ISLAND

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It was also a dream come true for me seeing my beloved Southend United’s name on the front of a Wembley cup final programme after 37 years of support. The less said about the game the better however.

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BEST FOOD

1. PICKERING TOWN – SHEPHERD’S PIE

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2. TYWYN/BRYNCRUG – BARA BRITH

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3. PONTEFRACT COLLIERIES – CHILLI

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Stockholm Syndrome

Rarely can a major city have been divested of its three major stadia in a twelve month period. Here I appraise the three stadiums and look to the future for Stockholm football.

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Thursday November 22nd 2012 saw the gates close on the historic 75 year old Råsunda Stadion for the final time. A raucous and big crowd of 28,552 saw the final match which was a Europa League Group game against Napoli.

Rasunda Stadion (68)

The Råsunda was opened in April 1937 when AIK took on Malmö FF in the opening encounter. The stadium replaced a much smaller stadium on the same site that had been opened in 1910. The new ground was upgraded for the 1958 World Cup and its record attendance came in September 1965 when 52,943 watched Sweden take on West Germany.

Rasunda Stadion (89)

The capacity was reduced to 36,000 when it went all seater in the mid 1980’s and the old main stand was also replaced. The Råsunda also served as a host venue in the 1992 European Championships although the final was held at the Nya Ullevi in Gothenburg. The mid 90’s saw both ends replaced with some of the seats in the South Stand being acquired from the old Wembley Stadium. As the final whistle sounded against Napoli, cranes and diggers sat outside this lovely old stadium ready to pounce with seemingly indecent haste.

Rasunda Stadion (102)

From the new Allsvenskan season which started in April 2013, AIK have played at the new Friends Arena, their supporters having declined in a ballot to share the Stockholm Arena with Hammarby.

Work on the new Stockholm Arena (to be called the Tele 2 Arena) began in 2011 but progress has been relatively slow so Hammarby playing at the Söderstadion and Djurgården’s tenure at the legendary Stockholms Stadion have been extended to July 2013.

Stockholm Arena Nov 12 (2)

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The Söderstadion is the more modest of the three venues at a capacity of 16,197, but is famous for generating an incredible atmosphere. The current stadium was opened in 1966 on the site of an older stadium of the same name. The original Söderstadion itself was built on another former venue called the Johanneshovs Idrottsplats. The mainly wooden Söderstadion will be consigned to the history books when Hammarby move to the other side of the Globen Arena in July.

The Bajen will say goodbye to the Söderstadion on June 23rd against Ängelholm.

Hammarby IF - Soderstadion Nov 2012 (17)

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The future of football at Torben Grut’s iconic 1912 Olympic Stadium, known as the Stockholms Stadion, remains unclear. Djurgårdens IF will join their cross city rivals Hammarby at the Tele 2 Arena leaving the Stockholms without a resident club. While it does not have a huge capacity (these days 14,500) the Stadion is one of the most beautiful sporting venues in the world. Its carved wooden superstructure and tented royal box are beyond compare. Its record attendance for football came in august 1946 when 21,995 crammed in for the derby match between Djurgårdens and AIK. However, 13 years later 28,848 watched a bandy match in the arena. AIK called the Stockholms Stadion home before moving to the Råsunda in 1937, Djurgårdens moved into the venue from their previous ground at the Tranebergs Idrottsplats. While the Stockholms Stadion will of course remain as an athletics venue from July 2013 no football will be played there.

Djurgårdens play their last game at the Stockholms Stadion on June 30th against Öster.

Djurgarden IF (15)

Djurgarden - Stockholms Stadion (40)

Djurgarden IF (6)

(A version of this article first appeared in Groundtastic Magazine (Issue 72, Spring 2013)

God Bless Mitch

Mitchell Cole was signed by Southend United in July 2005 for £45,000 from Grays Athletic. He fitted into Steve Tilson’s promising side from the start as a fleet footed left winger. In August scored his first Southend goal against local rivals Colchester United in a 3-1 triumph at Roots Hall. He played in 32 League One games that season which culminated in a last day title clinching victory over BristolCity.

The following season was less successful for Mitchell managing only five appearances. His lack of first team opportunities saw him loaned out to NorthamptonTown. He left Roots Hall at the end of the season joining then Conference side Stevenage Borough. He was to be a huge success at Broadhall Way, during his stay Boro would win the FA Trophy twice and gain promotion to the Football League. He was also capped 14 times for the England C international team.

He signed for League Two side Oxford United for the 2010/11 season but after just a handful of games he was tragically diagnosed with the heart muscle disease Cardiomyopathy. Mitchell retired from professional football in February 2011 but still turned out for a variety of non-league clubs including Stotfold, HitchinTown, BiggleswadeTown and ArleseyTown.

When the world watched in horror at Fabrice Muamba’s on pitch heart attack, the shocking incident resonated loudly for Cole and he decided to turn his back on football for good for the sake of his health.

Waking up on December 1st 2012 came with the terrible news that 27 year old Mitchell Cole had died overnight just weeks before becoming a father for the third time with his wife Charly.

While a number of his former clubs and team mates paid their own tributes, I remember clearly what a sombre mood enveloped Roots Hall at the next home game after his death. In the 14th minute (his shirt number at Southend) of the game against Bradford City, the home support struck up a song in memory of Mitchell Cole. His name was chanted for a full fourteen minutes. It was truly emotive stuff.

Fast forward six months and a benefit match arranged for Mitchell Cole was announced by Stevenage. Attending the match just seemed like the decent thing to do, gate money to be split in support of his young family and the Cardiomyopathy charity. I am glad I went, it was a privilege to attend and remember this talented young player who had lit up Roots Hall in that championship winning season. Stevenage hosted the game with great dignity and class and credit must also be given to the West Ham United players who played the first half despite still being “in season” in the Premier League.

The match itself was a feast of goals, the West Ham contingent dominating the first half with some classy play and terrific goals. The home crowd were in good humour welcoming back some old favourites. For me it was great to see a number of ex Shrimpers on the field including Kevin Maher, Mark Beard, Stuart Thurgood and particularly Alan McCormack. The Swindon captain putting the disappointment of a play-off defeat the previous day to turn out for his former team mate. It was somehow symbolic of a classy occasion.

There could be an argument had in some quarters over some of his former clubs failing to organise a memorial game, but I guess having to arrange a game such as this at all is just such a terrible shame. God Bless you Mitch.

Mitchell Cole Benefit Match

Tuesday May 7th 2013

Stevenage XI (2) 4 (Beardsley 5, Wilson 22, Hayles 55, Griffin 79)

Mitchell Cole XI (6) 7 (Noble 15, Jarvis 20,39, Nolan 21, Collins 24, Carroll 38, Battersby 71)

Attendance: 2,306 (at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage F.C.)

Stevenage XI:

1.Ashley Bayes; 2. Mark Beard; 3. John Nutter; 4. Joel Byron; 5. Peter Vincenti; 6. Mark Roberts ©; 7.Lawrie Wilson; 8. Dino Maamria; 9. Jack Midson; 10. Chris Beardsley; 11. Stacy Long.

Subs:

12. Gary Mills (for 2, 46 mins); Jon Nurse (for 8, 46 mins); 15. Barry Hayles (for 11, 46 mins); 16. Tim Sills (for 9, 46 mins); 17. Charlie Griffin (for 10, 46 mins); 28. Chris Day (for 1, 46 mins)

Mitchell Cole XI

1. Alan Julien; 2. Barry Fuller; 3. Adam Miller; 4. Kevin Nolan; 5. James Collins; 6. Kevin Maher; 7. Matt Jarvis; 8. Mark Noble; 9. Andy Carroll; 10. Joe Cole ©; 11. John Martin.

Subs:

12. Alan McCormack (for 6, 46 mins); 14. Stuart Lewis (for 7, 46 mins); 15. Stuart Thurgood (for 4, 46 mins); 16. Martin Carthy (for 3, 68 mins); 17. Leroy Griffiths (for 5, 46 mins); 18. Gary Hooper (for 9, 46 mins); 19. Paul Hakim (for 11, 68 mins); 20. Mark Arber (for 2, 68 mins); 22. Craig Dobson (for 8, 46 mins); 25. Tony Battersby (for 10, 46 mins); 28. Danny Potter (for 1, 46 mins).

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Be Here (Ker)Now

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Visiting Cornwall for a week in the latter stages of a football season throws up a plethora of possible matches to attend. The senior league in the region is of course the South Western Peninsula League where the likes of St.Blazey and Bodmin Town do battle. Further down mid and west Cornwall are covered by the Cornwall Combination while the Eastern reaches are catered for by the East Cornwall Premier League. The Duchy League feeds in to the latter while the relatively new Trelawny League (a 2011 merger of the historic Cornish Mining League and the Falmouth and Helston League) feeds the Combination.

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On this occasion I managed to take in four matches which are reviewed first. Following this is a reminder of some of the magical grounds to found in this corner of the country.

St.Buryan 9 Carharrack 2 (Trelawny League)

Lying just 6 miles from Land’s End the small village of St.Buryan has a modest home called somewhat anonymously Community House. In a foggy early evening the visitors had the temerity to take a third minute lead before six goals from Wade Brown and three from Josh Findlay, the two best players on view, saw the visitors well and truly put to the sword.

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Goonhavern Athletic 0 St.Agnes 1 (Cornwall Combination)

With these two clubs barely five miles apart this was something of a local derby. However the remote location of Reen Manor Parc meant only 24 people witnessed this fiercely contested battle, won by an opportunist goal from Sam Connolly. The ground has a homely clubhouse that separates the football pitch from the Perranporth CC cricket pitch. There is seating under the overhang which includes “Fred’s Corner” set aside for a deceased regular.

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Bude Town 3 Launceston Reserves 1 (East Cornwall Premier League)

Broadclose is a lovely little venue on the edge of this seaside town. A smart turnstile block asks for £2 entry for this local derby and immediately to the left is a small but photogenic stand built at a raffish angle to the pitch. The clubhouse has a big overhanging cover and is set off with nice touches of club badges and memorial plaques. A decent crowd of 86 gathered to see the home side come from behind to win 3-1 with some well taken goals.

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Mawnan 2 Gwinear Churchtown 1 (Trelawny League)

Mawnan play at the Carwinion Road Playing Field which lies off a narrow road out of the village of Mawnan Smith, behind the Red Lion inn which itself dates from 1500. A flower strewn entrance leads to a modest pavilion, with the pitch set up the other side of the cricket square. However, this game took place at Falmouth Town’s Bickland Park as the cricket club take priority in the closing weeks of the season. Two second half goals won it for Mawnan after falling behind just before the break.

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The Cream of Cornish Grounds

Bodmin Town – Priory Park

Bodmin Town - Priory Park (3)

Falmouth Town – Bickland Park

Falmouth

Foxhole Stars – Goverseth Park

Foxhole

Illogan – Oxland Parc

Ilogan

Lizard Argyle – Beacon Terrace

(England’s most southerly mainland ground, the clubhouse overlooks Lizard Point Lighthouse)

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Nanpean Rovers – Victoria Bottoms

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Perranporth – Ponsmere Valley

Perranporth

Roche – Trezaise Road

Roche

Sennen – School Field

(England’s most westerly mainland football ground)

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St.Austell – Poltair Park

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St.Blazey – Blaise Park

St.Blazey

St.Just – Lafrowda

St.Just

St.Keverne – Playing Field

St.Keverne

St.Stephens – Recreation Ground

St.Stephen

St.Teath – North Road

St.Teath (1)

Sticker – Burngullow Park

Sticker

Tintagel – Playing Field

Tintagel

Torpoint Athletic – The Mill

Torpoint

Truro City – Treyew Road

Truro City

Wendron United – Underlane

Wendron United