Category Archives: Sport

End of the food queue, half time

Saturday 7th October 2017, 4.00pm (day 2,235)

Bamber Bridge, half time, 7/10/17

The tour of English football competitions continues: number 8, the FA Trophy, at Bamber Bridge FC v Brighouse Town FC, Bamber Bridge lying just south of Preston in Lancashire. A grim day of weather, which this picture encapsulates — but, I must also add, an excellent day out, entertaining game of almost wholly non-cynical football, welcoming stadium… a fine cocktail to celebrate Non-League Day and all the roots that keep the sport I love going in this country.  4-2 to Bamber Bridge in the end. Maybe some of these fans got their food before the second half, too.

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The Tromsø IL fans arrive for the match

Sunday 1st October 2017, 5.35pm (day 2,229)

TIL fans, 1/10/17

More football; in case you hadn’t realised I am going for it this season when it comes to experiencing different competitions. Seventh match of the season, seventh competition — today, the Norwegian Eliteserien (top division) and the world’s northernmost top-flight football club, Tromsø IL. Although there is a danger they will not be top-flight next year as they are struggling against relegation; however, today’s 2-1 win over southern softies Lillestrøm cannot have harmed their chances. Here, the ultras arrive for the game. The woman in front is sort of in the way of the shot, but she’s carrying her scarf so what the hell.

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Bower Fold, Stalybridge

Tuesday 12th September 2017, 8.50pm (day 2,210)

Stalybridge Celtic, 12/9/17

Yes, it’s raining again — it’s rained seemingly constantly since I got back from America, it feels like. And yes, it’s football again, though several levels below what I saw on Saturday — tonight, I was on assignment at Stalybridge Celtic v Buxton in the Northern Premier League. On a night like this, it was not a glamour posting. I doubt the linesman would think it was, either.

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Saturday 9th September 2017, 4.20pm (day 2,207)

Three-nil, 9/9/17

Brighton and Hove Albion’s players celebrate the third goal in today’s 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion, their first win of the season and first in the top division of English football since 1983. And Joe and I were there to see it. Much fun was had by all.

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The magic of the Cup

Saturday 5th August 2017, 4.25pm (day 2,172)

Rain storm, Wellingborough, 5/8/17

The FA Cup — the world’s oldest and still one of its largest football competitions. 737 teams this season, these take a lot of winnowing down so things start early in the season, namely this weekend, with 185 games in the Extra Preliminary round including this one — Wellingborough Whitworth (in that salmon-pink gear) v. Desborough Town. Yes, I picked the game to go to because of the name of the club, but hey, surely all Whitworths should feel obliged to give them some support. They needed it today anyway — losing 4-0. Desborough win thirteen more Cup ties this season they will be at Wembley…

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Seventh-Day Advent-Hoppists, Whitehaven

Sunday 30th July 2017, 4.10pm (day 2,166)

7th day Advent-hoppists, 30/7/17

Dialogue from Red Dwarf, season 3, episode “The Last Day”… I may paraphrase slightly:

Rimmer: I didn’t agree with my parents’ religion. But I wouldn’t have dreamed of knocking it.

Lister: What were they then?

Rimmer: Seventh-Day Advent-Hoppists. They believed that every Sunday should be spent hopping. They would hop to church, hop through the ceremony, and hop home again.

Lister: What’s that all about then?

Rimmer: Well, they took the Bible literally. Took it word-for-word. Only their version had a misprint. It all stemmed from 1. Corinthians 13, where it said “Faith, Hop and Charity; and the greatest of these is Hop.” So that’s what they did. Every seventh day.

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The press box, Annan Athletic FC

Saturday 29th July 2017, 4.50pm (day 2,165)

Annan press box, 29/7/17

With no desire to go out tramping on the fells again today, it was time to turn to the other thing I have started collecting lately, obscure football grounds: we looked at the map to see what games were being played and the selection was Annan Athletic FC v Ayr United in the Scottish League Cup. It paid off in terms of goals, with the visitors winning 6-1 (not that it seemed that Annan, or their fans, were particularly bothered by this). The local radio commentators were the most excited people in the ground it seemed, perhaps explained by the fact that the guy third from the left must be all of about sixteen years old. But I guess this isn’t a bad job to have: hanging around obscure football grounds on Saturday afternoons is increasingly appealing to me, so this may well be me in a few more years’ time, at least in some form.

Cumberland wrestling

Thursday 27th July 2017, 3.35pm (day 2,163)

Cumberland wrestlers, 27/7/17

No walking today. Instead we made our way up to Rydal Park for the annual Ambleside Sports, an event where you can watch runners yomp up the fellsides, hounds follow tracks of aniseed around the same terrain, cycling, running and Cumberland wrestling, where strapping lads (and women, too) lock their hands round each other and attempt to get their opponent onto the floor first — best of three. While wearing natty velvet shorts, if you’re doing it in the full traditional manner.

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Catering facilities, Salford City FC

Saturday 15th July 2017, 1.50pm (day 2,151)

Silcocks cafe, 15/7/17

My 2017-18 football season opened at Salford City FC and a pre-season warm-up game against local rivals FC United of Manchester. The hosts won 2-1. You can read what I thought about the game, and see photographs of the day taken by someone much better at that kind of thing than me, if you purchase the next issue of When Saturday Comes (advt.). Salford City have big plans but their stadium, for all its recent renovations, is still pleasingly non-league in many ways. I like this catering van, its garish and gratuitously sexist decoration, and the worshipful posture of the customer.

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Blue flare

Saturday 13th May 2017, 4.35pm (day 2,088)

Halifax flare, 13/5/17

After last weekend’s semi-final victory over Salford, Halifax Town duly beat Chorley 2-1 (after extra time) to get promoted back to the fifth tier of English professional football. 7,920 people were there to see it, an amazing crowd for the level of football (and a record for the National League North apparently). Sam Johnson, Halifax keeper, here clears a flare off the pitch. I’m telling you it was all happening at The Shay this afternoon….

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