When Wool Was King (Salts FC)

If ever there was a truly inspiring industrialist and philanthropist it has to be Sir Titus Salt. He had become a partner in his father’s small textile firm which essentially outgrew their Bradford premises. Salt had been keen to clear up the smog and pollution caused by Bradford’s clattering wool mills but his use of a contraption called the Rodda Smoke Burner floundered. Wishing to improve the health and welfare of his employees and at the same time grow his business he acquired three acres of land west of Shipley adjacent to both the Leeds and Liverpool canal and the fast flowing River Aire. He had been one of the first textile merchants to identify the high quality yarn produced from the wool of the alpaca. His fortune boomed at an unprecedented rate and as well as becoming Mayor of Shipley, Salt opened a “model village” in 1851 for his employees to live in. From cottages to bathhouses and from churches to a hospital, Salt built and funded the entire project. And thus Saltaire (a corruption of his surname and the river that powered his mill) was born. By December 2001 the village and architecture was deemed so important that Saltaire was granted World Heritage Site status by UNESCO. The architecture of Bradford firm Lockwood an Mawson is considered so historically vital that many of the buildings also have listed status.

Pleasingly Bradford City Council have regenerated Roberts Park (named after James Roberts, a Salt employee and subsequently a trustee) on the north side of the Aire after it had become a target for local vandals. An impressive statue of Salt holding a piece of fabric looms large over Saltaire Cricket Club and the appearance of the park has been augmented by a modern bronze statue of two alpacas.

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On the south side of the river sandwiched between the mill, the river, the sedate waters of the canal and its lock at Hirst Wood lies Salts Sports Club. The lock is the start of the Five Rise Locks that move the water level up some 35 metres.

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The magnificent Sports Club houses a bowling club, tennis club, Shipley Providence Cricket Club and a much loved football ground, home to Salts (Saltaire) FC.

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The precise formation of the football club has been lost over time but the Hirst Lane ground dates from the 1920’s when Salts (Saltaire) Ltd acquired the playing fields back from Shipley Town Council. The magnificent clubhouse was opened in 1937 and is a focal point for all the sports clubs. The football club has a long association with the West Riding County Amateur League, and currently compete in the Premier Division. The Hirst Lane ground has modest changing facilities and two sizeable covered terrace, the symmetry of which has been tarnished somewhat in recent years by the incongruous positioning of two blue metal containers next to one of the stands. The Salts club has enjoyed something of an upturn in fortunes in recent seasons following a 2009 absorption of Shipley Juniors FC.

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A piece on Salts and its football ground would not be complete without mentioning its place in television history as the home of fictional football club Barnstoneworth United. The team featured in an episode of Michael Palin and Terry Jones’ short lived “Ripping Yarns” series shown on BBC2 between 1976 and 1979. Palin plays a United fan, Gordon Ottershaw, in the episode called “Golden Gordon” and despairs as his team, once successful in the Yorkshire Premier League, continue to lose every single game. He famously moans “8-1, 8 bloody 1 and that were an own goal” to a wife who is trying to tell him she is unexpectedly pregnant. The owner of the club has decided to fold the club and sell the ground for scrap. In what was scheduled to be their final match against bitter rivals, Denley Moor, Gordon decides to reassemble Barnstoneworth’s magnificent 1922 team and it is they who turn up at the last minute to play the final match. Instead of yet another defeat its Barnstoneworth who triumph by eight goals to one. It’s a great piece of storytelling of a downtrodden football fan who has just had enough.

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Should you decide to visit Salts (Saltaire) FC you ought to consider dedicating a whole day to the area, it has everything, scenery, history, architecture and not mention a micro brewery. Saltaire is a really wonderful place, hugely interesting and beguilingly evocative of a time when wool truly was king.

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Geordie Sure

The second of the season’s Northern League groundhops in celebration of that great competitions 125th anniversary took place in a three mile square radius in a corner of the great gateway city of Newcastle. It was a four game feast of football for visitors from all corners of the land and indeed beyond these waters. Here is a review of what happened in another fantastic day with our friends in the north.

Northern League Division 2 (26/10/2013 10.30am)

Heaton Stannington (2) 3 (Wright pen 20,89,Smith 32)

Birtley Town (0) 0

Attendance: 412 (at Grounsell Park)

Heaton Stannington can date their formation to 1910 when two local sides in the Stannington Grove area merged, given the new club their suffix. They played in those days at Newton Park in High Heaton and competed in the Tyneside and Northern Amateur Leagues. The pre-War years were good to the Stan, in 1934 they moved into Grounsell Park, their present home. This seemed to catalyse the club as they won the Northumberland Amateur Cup in 1937 and were runners up in the Tyneside League. They gained election to the Northern League for the 1939/40 season becoming the club allied to the Northumberland FA to participate in the league since 1906. After just once season the club found their ground requisitioned by the Army to aid the war effort. They retained their place in the Northern League having been elected as non playing members for a season. By 1952 the lack of success saw the club resign and join the Northern Alliance.

Grounsell Park lies on a former quarry and was left to the club and a board of trustees in the will of Lord Armstrong. This would be the pre-cursor to a lengthy legal battle over the ground which effectively lasted from 1968 to 1983. A move to another holding company allowing the sale of alcohol at the ground let to the club saddled with huge rental debts. The rent continued to climb and eventually a developer applied to build a supermarket on the site. This was overcome but debts mounted ever higher. In an act of desperation the club decided to challenge the legality of the holding company’s ownership. Little Heaton Stannington had their day in court and won. Ownership was rewritten and a covenant drawn up prohibiting anyone to profit from the redevelopment of the ground. Lord Armstrong would have been rightly proud.

The Stan have dominated the Northern Alliance in recent seasons winning the title for the last two seasons and the magnificent League trophy resides in their clubhouse. One does wonder if its unprotected state is prudent considering Carlisle City managed to lose the Northern Alliance League Cup trophy for three days in 1976 when it was stolen during their celebrations in the Hedgefield County Hotel. Heaton were promoted to the Northern League for the current campaign on the proviso they installed floodlights by the end of September. Once again, however, Grounsell Park provides the Stan with a headache. Having been built over a quarry there is nowhere for foundations for pylons to go and if a grant is not forthcoming the club will not be able to proceed with illumination. This would be a great shame as they currently lead Division 2 and cantered through this encounter with Birtley Town, playing some very attractive football. The game will forever be overshadowed by an incident in the 64th minute where a mindless act of violence saw a Stan played left with a suspected broken jaw. Suffice to say for a heinous and cowardly act I truly hope the assailant is banned from the game permanently. Let’s hope this go-ahead and friendly club can overcome their latest obstacle and get lit up very soon, for they certainly have form for overcoming adversity.

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Northern League Division 2 (26/10/2013 13.15pm)

West Allotment Celtic (0) 0 North Shields (0) 0

Attendance: 429 (at Whitley Park)

Celtic were formed in 1928 again from a merger of two smaller clubs, West Allotment Primitive Methodists and West Allotment Juniors. The new club initially competed in the Tynemouth and District League. By 1938 Celtic were playing in the Northern Amateur League at ground known as the Farm Ground. It was so basic in fact, that the players would change in a disused cow shed. The club had a golden era in the 1950’s annexing the Northern Amateur League title four times in a row. The club left the soggy wasteland that was the Farm Ground for the Backworth Welfare ground in 1968 and the move seemed to galvanise the club after a period of decline.

The 1980’s and 90’s saw Celtic dominate the Northern Alliance a competition they had joined in 1983. After an incredible eight title wins between 1986 and 2004, they gained election to the Northern League. Off the field the club had been groundsharing at Whitley Bay’s Hillheads Park between 1995 and 2001, but then the progressive club gained the tenancy of Whitley Park, the Northumbrian FA Ground. The club now have a very smart facility which boasts a truly immaculate pitch. The raised banking affording a surprisingly clear view of the distant Penshaw Monument which features on the badge of Sunderland AFC.

Having won the Second Division of the Northern League in 2004/5 the Celts enjoyed five seasons in the top division before slipping back down. Visitors can’t have failed to be impressed by the set up which extended to a top rate glossy programme as well as “Three Miles West” a monthly club magazine covering all aspects of Celtic life.

On the field it’s a match that pitches the fourth placed hosts against North Shields who reside in third. There follows 90 minutes of competitive football which ultimately fails to yield a goal for either side. Happily for this well organised club they gain the biggest crowd of the day to Whitley Park.

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Northern League Division 1 (26/10/2013 16.00pm)

Team Northumbria (2) 3 (Luke 8, Riley 22, Watling 55)

Whitley Bay (3) 4 (Chow 16, pen 26, 54, 66)

Attendance: 396 (at Coach Lane)

The hosts were formed as recently as 1999 as Northumbria University gaining immediate election to the Northern Alliance. By 2003 they had risen to the Premier Division and celebrated with a change of name to Team Northumbria. The team is made up entirely of students although sports scholarships are offered to attract talented athletes to the University. The club were promoted as Northern Alliance champions to the Northern League Division Two for the 2006/07 season. They won Division Two in 2011/12, and the quality of their team was underlined in the same season when they took Newcastle United reserves to a penalty shoot out in the Northumberland Senior Cup final.

The club play at the Coach Lane campus adjacent to Newcastle United’s academy ground. It is new and functional however the club fell short of the minimum capacity when their inspection for promotion to Division One of the Northern League. Despite the presence of several of the Football Association sanctioned Arena Seating modular stands, the provision of seats were a dozen short of the covered capacity needed. So delightfully the club built a very small stand with raised steps to accommodate exactly twelve people. It’s either a wonderful testament to the famed belligerence so often attributed to northern folk or a ridiculous folly to the absurdity of ground grading.

The match itself is the game of the day, the well supported visitors, Whitley Bay triumph by the odd goal in seven. The Bay are very much Northern League mainstays, and having tried the higher level of the Northern Premier League between 1989 and 2001 seem content with the more local competition the Northern League has to offer. Any club that has a fan with a blue and white china bell rung vigorously at the appropriate time ticks all the boxes for me.

Whitley Bay have won the FA Vase three times, their most recent final appearance seeing Paul Chow open the scoring after just 21 seconds. It is Chow that epitomises what the Northern League really stands for. Clearly more than capable of playing at a higher level he would rather service a local club playing against local opposition.

Some have said the Northern League is an insular competition, but people who know better would say it looks after its own. Why overstretch yourself when keen competition lies on your doorstep? Chow scores all four Whitley Bay goals today, a master class of centre forward play and clinical finishing undoes the plucky students. They show enough though to suggest they will compete well at this exalted level.

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Northern League Division 2 (26/10/2013 19.00pm)

Newcastle Benfield (2) 2 (Stephenson 30, Brayson 32)

Morpeth Town (1) 1 (Chilton 35)

Attendance: 328 (at Sam Smith’s Sports Ground)

Another relatively modern club Benfield can trace their lineage back to 1988 when they were called Brunswick Village. Subsequent name changes have seen them compete as Heaton Corner House and then as Benfield Park. The club have played at Sam Smith’s Sports Ground since 1990 having moved from Walker Park. The club had a relatively unsuccessful spell during that decade but in 2000 the club amalgamated with North Shields St. Columba’s becoming Newcastle Benfield Saints. The name changing continued with a sponsorship deal between 2005 and 2007 saw the club play as Newcastle Benfield Bay Plastics. The club won the Northern Alliance in 2002/03 and were promoted to Division Two of the Northern League. They were runners up in their first season and have been First Division stalwarts ever since, winning the League and Cup double in 2008/09. They gained major headlines in 2012 when Norberto Solano briefly joined the club as coach.

The Sam Smith’s Sports Ground is the best ground of the day, two sizeable stands with copious seating face each other and there is also an impressive stretch of covered standing. The game against combative visitors Morpeth Town is high quality, all three goals strangely coming within five minutes of each other during a first half. It’s the visitors who probably have the best of the second half but the hosts rearguard remain steadfast and secure all three points in a decent encounter.

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Russians (AD Alcorćon)

After dealing with the throbbing masses at the Bernabeu I was looking for a soothing antidote and some thing well…a little less taxing. Looking down the Tercera and Preferente fixtures in the build up to my trip a number had caught my eye. The military style planning that has become my modus operandi had lead me to the conclusion that the circular Metro Sur (Line 12) to the south of the city is something of a football enthusiasts dream. My internet perusing had determined the line offered at least five decent looking football ground of varying playing standard, so Sunday’s match would be one of them. The metro line has relatively easy access to Getafe CF of the Primera, AD Alcorcón of the Liga Adelante , Segunda B clubs CD Leganés and CF Fuenlabrada as well as Tercera Leaguers CD Móstoles who play at an impressive looking 14,000 seater stadium called the El Soto.

Eyeing AD Alcorcón’s website it indicated that their B team’s Tercera Division game against Royal CD Carabachel would be played at the main Santo Domingo stadium. With the visitors being the 13th oldest club in Spain and junior in age to only Real and Atlético in Madrid, the decision was made.

Agrupación Deportiva Alcorcón have a relatively short history having only been formed in 1971. The club spent its first thirty years bouncing in between the fourth tier of Spanish football and the regional leagues. As recently as 2000/1 the club made its bow in the third tier. After losing in the third tier play offs in 2008/9, the following campaign was by far the best of the Potters (Alfareros) brief existence. Not only did the club achieve promotion to the second tier it also beat a Primera Division club in the Copa del Rey, in their first ever match against top flight opponents. Unbelievably a sold out Santo Domingo witnessed little Alcorcón humble mighty Real Madrid by four goals to nil. A quick perusal of the visitors line ups confirms it was no weakened team, Raúl, Van Nistelrooy, Van der Vaart, Marcelo, Guti and Benzema were some of the names that were embarrassed that night. In the last two seasons the Potters have finished in fourth and fifth places in the Segunda meaning their humble Santo Domingo stadium has been close to staging Primera Liga football.

The Santo Domingo was opened in 1999 and has a modest capacity of 5,880. It has a sizeable main stand but the rest of the stadium is uncovered seating.

Upon arrival to the ground there was a game underway on the 3G pitch in front of the main stadium which also had a stand. To the right of the main stadium is an athletics track with a big main stand and a football pitch in the middle. It soon became clear that the B teams game was not going to be in the main stadium but in yet another smaller venue behind the stadium, Anexo 3. A reasonable amount of people were going into the ground which was equipped with a decent stand and a 3G pitch. The princely sum of €10 gained admission to the match and a full colour teamsheet was readily available. Alcorcón sported a smart yellow and blue kit but the visitors excelled themselves in the sartorial elegance stakes with their white shirts having a large version of their attractive dagger shaped badge as its focal point.

The match itself was a very decent and competitive encounter with a high level of skill on display. With the first half looking like it would remain goalless, the home captain, Rober, rifled home a cracking half volley on the stroke of halftime to separate the sides at the break. The referee was a busy man, theatrically brandishing yellow cards at seemingly every foul. It was a hotly disputed decision midway through the second half that turned the game on its head. With Alcorcón now dominating play the visitors were penalised for a free kick which they vehemently contested. The referee booked three Carabanchel players, the third being a second yellow for Gallardo which, of course, was swiftly followed by a red one. The perceived injustice seemed to galvanise the visitors who piled the pressure on the home defence. The only way they could stop the ten men of Carabanchel was by fouling and they quickly rattled up six yellow cards themselves. Some desperate clearances meant Alcorcón kept their slender advantage intact. That was until the 81st minute when the one cross in they failed to deal with was bundled home by the visitors lanky front man Gazapo. It was just rewards for their sterling efforts with a numerical disadvantage and a point each was a fair reflection of the proceedings.

I will return to see a game at the main stadium one day and before I forget why is this piece called Russians? Well the Alcorcón gateman, who spoke a little English, asked me if I was Russian. Having been mistaken for many nationalities on my travels, mostly for being German, this was indeed a first. After we laughed at the misunderstanding he was most welcoming although I do wish they wouldn’t tear the corners off tickets!

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Tercera División Group 7 – Sunday October 20th 2013

A.D.Alcorcón B (1) 1 (Rober 45)
R.C.D. Carabanchel (0) 1 (Gazapo 81)

Attendance: 255 (at Estadio Santo Domingo Anexa 3)

Alcorcón B:

1. Tito; 2. Marcos; 3. Fran; 4. Sergio; 5. Hamadi; 6. Adrián; 7. Antón; 8. Rober (c); 9. Chema; 10. Jesús; 11. Jaime.

Subs: 12. Pepe; 13. Alberto; 14. Fran Garçia (for 7,86 mins); 15. Alberto González (for 9,77 mins); 16. Mario (for 10,86 mins).

Carabanchel:

25. Rubio; 5. Sampa; 17. Cañas; 2. Olalla (c); 18. Viti; 22. Teto; 8. Álvaro; 24. Gallardo; 16. Cristian; 19. Charly; 26. Gazapo.

Subs: 1. Andres; 23. Alberto (for 16,60 mins); 27. Cuevas; 28. Butra; 29. Amine (for 26,90 mins).

Red Card: Gallardo (Carabanchel)

Yellow Cards: Marcos, Fran, Sergio, Adrián, Chema and Mario (all Alcorcón); Gallardo, Olalla, Teto (all Carabanchel).

Gallery

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The Madding Crowd (Real Madrid)

A trip to the Santiago Bernabeu is high on the list of any serious football fans “must do” stadiums. This classic stadium was inaugurated in 1947 with a match against Portuguese side Os Belenenses and had taken nearly three years to complete. The new Estadio Chamartin was built close to Real’s former Chamartin stadium had been designed by renowned architects Manuel Muñoz Monasterio and Luis Alemany Soler. Within five years the new stadium had been renamed to honour long term Real president Santiago Bernabeu. The new stadium initially held 75,000 but by 1954 had been expanded to a mind-boggling 125,000. Three years later floodlighting came to the Bernabeu and were switched on for the first time in a special match again Brazilian side Sporting Recife.

The stadium remained essentially unchanged until renovations were needed for Spain’s hosting of the 1982 World Cup tournament. In a pleasing symmetry and nod to history and continuity Real engaged the sons of the original architects, Rafael Luis Alemany and Manuel Salinas. Roofing for two thirds of the stadium was a major undertaking as well as the installation of more seating, thus reducing overall capacity to 90,800. The great stadium hosted that memorable final between Italy and West Germany.

In the 1990’s there was further major renovation which saw the now familiar corner towers completed and major works on the foundations to enable the near doubling of the height of the stadium with fourth and fifth tiers. The work was undertaken by Gines Navarro Construcciones and gave the Bernabeu a huge capacity of 110,000. The latter part of that decade saw the stadium move to an all seater arena and a reduced capacity once again of 75,000. Improvements and expansion throughout the 2000’s and even as recently as 2012 has seen the stadium settle at it’s current licensed capacity of 85,454.

The club itself had been formed in March 1902 as Madrid Football Club, the royal ascent was given by King Alfonso XIII in 1920 and the current name of Real Madrid Club de Futbol was adopted. Almost uniquely the club has been member (socio) owned since its inception. The club of course grew into a global phenomenon with a record nine European Cup/Champions League wins which included the first five competitions in a row. Three World Club Cups and no less than 32 Spanish League title gives you an idea of their incredible success particularly in the post World War II years.

From Di Stefano, Puskas, Hugo Sanchez, Butragueno, Juanito through to the Galacticos period of the likes of Raúl, Zidane, Ronaldo, Figo, Roberto Carlos and Cannavaro the club have always attracted the greatest players in the world. Of course the latest star signing Gareth Bale has joined a small group of British players to have worn the famous all white kit. David Beckham, Michael Owen and Steve McManaman all graced this particular stage but less well known is Scotland’s contribution to the long history of Real Madrid.

John Fox-Watson was one of the first British players to move to a high profile foreign club, joining Real Madrid as player/coach in 1948. His transfer from Fulham was many years before the likes of Jimmy Greaves, John Charles and Denis Law left the shores of Great Britain. His career had started modestly with Waterthistle and later on with Douglas Juniors. Via spells at Bury and Fulham he arrived at Real as the club was moving into their new stadium. Fox-Watson only stayed in Spain for a single season and only played one match for the All Whites, away to Celta Vigo, but remains the only Scot to have represented the Spanish giants. He returned to England in the summer of 1949, joining Crystal Palace.

So what is the whole match-day experience like at one of the sports most revered and historic amphitheatres? While many criticise Real Madrid for its juggernaut of commercial enterprises, what is abundantly clear is its embracing and idolatry of its past. I see as many “Juanito” shirts as I do those of current favourites like Isco. The hubbub around the stadium is fascinating to be part of, allsorts of souvenirs are being sold and the Spanish match staple of nuts, nuts and more nuts, are profusely available from stall after stall. Suddenly the chatter is broken by loud whistling, the clopping of horses hooves and the wailing of police sirens. Has trouble broken out? Have the Málaga fans gotten too boisterous? No, none of that it’s the Real team coach sweeping up the road. A sea of humanity parts amid a myriad of camera flashes.

The game itself starts and its high octane stuff from the hosts but they find visiting keeper Willy Caballero in scintillating form. Save after save denies the hosts in the first half with a Ronaldo shot that hit the bar the only one eluding his grasp. Immediately after the break though Málaga are caught cold and the Argentine Di Maria nips in to give Real the expected lead. And it is expected, the relief around the Bernabeu is palpable. They are of course expected to win by a landslide but it does happen, Caballero remains solid as a rock. Malaga fans greet the substitution of their former hero, the wonderfully talented Isco, by bowing en masse in the rafters of the fifth tier. It’s one of the visitors own substitutes that nearly causes an upset when their Ivorian striker Anderson burst clean through only to fire narrowly wide of the home goal. The game is settled in injury time when skipper Weligton upends a marauding Bale. As expected, Ronaldo dispatches the penalty with his customary swagger.

While a trip to the Bernabeu is indeed a wallet emptying experience, and a magnet for tourists from around the world, there is absolutely no denying that the Santiago Bernabeu is truly one of the games greatest stadiums.

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La Liga Primera Division – Saturday October 19th 2013

Real Madrid CF (0) 2 (Di Maria 46, Cristiano Ronaldo pen 90)

Málaga CF (0) 0

Attendance: 78,362 (at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu)

Real:

25. Diego Lopez; 15. Daniel Carvajal; 3.Pepe; 4. Sergio Ramos (c); 12. Marcelo; 6. Sami Khedira; 22. Angel Di Maria; 24. Asier Illaramendi; 23. Isco; 7. Cristiano Ronaldo; 21. Álvaro Morata.

Subs: 1. Iker Casillas; 11. Gareth Bale (for 21,76 mins); 16. Casemiro; 17. Álvaro Arbeloa; 18. Nacho Fernandez; 19. Luka Modrić (for 22,72 mins); 20. Jesé Rodriguez (for 22,81 mins).

Málaga:

1. Willy Caballero; 2. Jésus Gámez; 3. Weligton Oliveira (c); 5. Vitorino Antunes; 21. Sergio Sánchez; 18. Eliseu Pereira; 12. Fernando Tissone; 6. Ignacio Camacho; 7. Mounir El Hamdaoui; 8. Francisco Portillo; 24. Samu Garçia.

Subs: 1. Carlos Kameni; 9. Roque Santa Cruz (for 8,77 mins); 10. Bobley Anderson (for 24,70 mins); 14. Pedro Morales; 17. Duda; 23. Roberto Chen; 30. Sergi Darder (for 5,78 mins).

Yellow Cards: Carvajal (Real); Gamez, Weligton, Antunes, Sánchez, Eliseu (all Málaga).

Gallery

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The Townsend Generation

After breaking an England home game hiatus lasting some twenty years I pitched up at Wembley Stadium for England’s vital World Cup qualifying match with Montenegro. It promised to be a nervy encounter, as pretty much all England games have become in recent times. Meaning no disrespect, since when did England become scared of countries like Montenegro? Barely six years independent from Serbia and with a population that would fit snugly into a city the size of Sheffield, surely the collective might of the Premier League’s finest would prove too strong.

I have a growing admiration for England’s current manager, Roy Hodgson, well spoken, unflappable and seeming skeleton-in-the-closet free, the well travelled manager had steered a reasonable if unspectacular course through the choppy waters of the latest World Cup qualification campaign. Yet with two games left only a maximum of six points would ensure group victory and the golden ticket to Brazil 2014.

Even the most well informed experts, pundits and journalists must have had an opened mouth moment when the sly old fox Hodgson named uncapped, untried and untested Tottenham winger Andros Townsend in the starting eleven. Only the pre-season before the current one I had witnessed Townsend in the Tottenham developmental squad systematically dismantle my beloved Southend United in a painful 6-0 pre-season friendly defeat. Also in the team was the scandalously under-capped Leighton Baines in for the injured Ashley Cole.

The first half was a cagey affair, punctuated at times by some half chances that a less edgy team may have converted. The upbeat crowd quietened audibly upon the news that group rivals Ukraine had taken the lead against Poland. Yet again England seemed to be content at passing between each other and waiting for something to happen. Where did our creativity go?

The second half started in sterner fashion, the team palpably aware of scores elsewhere looked more energised. It was Townsend that broke forward at pace and after the visitors failed to clear, it was Wayne Rooney that settled the nerves. Ironically it was a Montenegrin player that settled the game beyond reasonable doubt, Branko Boskovic, needlessly turning an unthreatening ball past his own goalkeeper.

It seemed that the crown prince of Montenegrin football, Stefan Jovetic, was having an off night, barely noticeable in an injury ravaged visiting team. The man who was worshipped in Florence has really struggled to find his Premier League feet since his big money move to ManchesterCity. It was left to Korean based forward Dejan Damjanovic to momentarily give the large Wembley crowd renewed jitters.

The match was sealed with the definitive moment of the game, Townsend gilded a momentous debut with a goal of clinical quality and skill. Even off the ball his reading of the game and work rate was a real joy to watch. An injury time penalty gave the result a slightly flattering look when Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge picked himself up to score from the spot after being upended by Ivan Kecojevic.

So what could be gauged from the match? Nobody played badly, though better teams could have punished the occasional defensive absentmindedness. The stand out player, Townsend aside, was the majestic but still second choice left back. One does have to wonder how many more of the Andros Townsend generation are waiting to hit the ground running for their country. More pertinently maybe is how long the likes of Townsend can remain so brazenly fearless before they too become burdened by the weight of a nation’s expectation.

World Cup Qualifier – 11/10/2013

England (0) 4 (Rooney 49, Boskovic og 62, Townsend 78, Sturridge pen 90)

Montenegro (0) 1 (Damjanovic 71)

Attendance: 83,807 (at Wembley Stadium)

England:

1. Joe Hart; 2. Kyle Walker; 3. Leighton Baines; 4. Steve Gerrard; 5. Gary Cahill; 6. Phil Jagielka; 7. Andros Townsend; 8. Frank Lampard; 9. Daniel Sturridge; 10. Wayne Rooney; 11. Danny Welbeck.

Subs: 12. Chris Smalling; 13. John Ruddy; 14. Kieran Gibbs; 15. Phil Jones; 16. Michael Carrick (for 8,65 mins); 17. James Milner (for 4,87 mins); 18. Ross Barkley; 19. Jack Wilshere (for 7,80 mins); 20. Jermain Defoe; 21. Ricky Lambert; 22. Fraser Forster.

Montenegro:

1. Vukasin Poleskic; 2. Savo Pavicevic; 4. Milan Jovanovic; 18. Nikola Drincic; 6. Ivan Kecojevic; 21. Stefan Savic; 17. Elsad Zverotic; 23. Branko Boskovic; 8. Stefan Jovetic; 14. Dejan Damjanovic; 5. Vladimir Volkov.

Subs: 3. Marko Vesocic; 7. Simon Vukevic (for 5,72 mins); 10. Andrija Delibasic; 11. Fatos Beciraj (for 2,57 mins); 12. Srdan Blazic; 13. Mitar Novakovic; 15. Milos Krkotic; 16. Blazo Igumanovic; 19. Ivan Janjusevic; 22. Filip Kasalica (for 8,81 mins)

Yellow Cards: Walker (England); Pavicevic and Volkov (Montenegro).

Gallery

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