Monday 27 February 2012

Welton Prison Blues

Cadbury Heath 2-1 Welton Rovers
Saturday 25th February 2012
Toolstation League Division One
Springfield, Cadbury Heath, Bristol
Attendance: 80(ish)

"The ground is probably the worst in the league. It slopes both ways and resembles a prison camp more than a football stadium – It has a huge fence round the perimeter.”

That, dear reader, is an assessment of Cadbury Heath FC I received prior to the match from an ex-tinpot playing friend of a friend. You can imagine how delighted I was.

The latest in our ongoing series of non league clubhouse carpets. If you missed part one it's available here.

Even before it was compared to a mountainside Gulag I liked Cadbury Heath. Match reports are accompanied by pictures of people hurling chips into their face, double thumbs down pictures, greet news of postponed matches, their Twitter feed is entertaining (unless it's tweeting pictures of a fat naked Phil Jupitus lookalike trapped in a small box**) that is and OK, they once did call me a "fenny fecker" on the Twitter. Which, I think is a compliment. #humblebrag

Bert Cribbins' slideshow on the ornithological wonders of south Gloucestershire had the crowd gasping in wonderment.

So, this prison camp analogy then. Well, actually it's probably easier to find Abu Gharib than it is to find Springfield, home of Cadbury Heath. Springfield? I know what you're thinking, AiT is going to make a series of weak references to The Simpsons now isn't he. Well I'm not. And I'm not going to apologise. I never apologize, Lisa. I'm sorry, but that's just the way I am. We found the club by walking down an unmarked path. Low key Cadbury Heath eh? I like your style.

AiT: Black Box Recorder.

Well, if the clubhouse is like prison than sign me up for a life sentence in it's cramped cell. Why? Well, let me tell you and, like any good incarcerated Mexican gangster, I'm going to liberally use bullets to make my misunderstood point:

  • There are three blurry mirrors on the wall that murkily reflect things. It's like a Torture Hall of Mirrors for the obscenely vain criminal,

  • Club pennants are kept frustratingly out of reach of the ground hopper on suicide watch.

  • In the middle of an exterior wall is a glass fronted cabinet, containing mushy peas, rice and tomato sauce. Suspiciously out of place I believe that it is being used to cover a hole being used to smuggle in narcotics from the outside world. I could be wrong.

  • In the gents toilets there is a washing machine. Probably used for illegal money laundering. (sorry)

I can only apologise again.

  • The prison food of choice is pickled eggs! Pickled eggs are available at the bar! *punches air*. Further research reveals these are made by the assistant manager. I imagine David Platt and Pat Rice spend weekends together on a barge adding boiled eggs to vinegar.

  • A tantalising glimpse on the outside world is offered by a framed aerial photo of Stamford Bridge (Note to Admira Prague: Not with team photoshopped in front of it.)

  • Best of all, there's a painting of a WW2 battle scene. The painting not doubt used to commemorate those who fought for our freedom which prisoners now enj....oh.

*doffs cap to fallen painters*

Cadbury Heath start the match attacking furiously, like Bea Smith on return to cell block H. The good natured "Green Army" fans of Welton Rovers bellow across the pitch to each other, while the home sub's break out the "ole's" as their team mates guard the ball like something that has to be guarded very closely in prison.....

Goalkeeper in hat!

The match is competitive, the sun shining. In tinpot land no one ever gets too excited about bad challenges, except one Heath fan who greets a yellow card with a superb, "that is sad referee." As the half progresses two Welton players go off injured, a home official walks around offering a "free and easy" (*shrugs shoulders*,) and a man delicately pirouettes a tray of orange squash into the dressing rooms. Admit it, this is an idyllic scene isn't it. Oh yeah, Welton equalised.

Holy smoke, that orange juice is luminous. I thought they banned Sunny Delight after those kids went blind?

For the second half we pitched up next to the dugouts, usually a scene of comedy witticisms and revolutionary tactical schooling's from some of the game's finest minds. For example, "You've not got a fucking chance of coming off so get up" from the Welton manager to one of his stricken players. He then displays tactical acumen after his team are down to ten men with "you've got to fucking help." Oh yeah. Welton had a player sent off. I forgot to mention. I'm normally very precise in my reporting of games. How strange.

Yeah, pretty self explanatory this one.

The Welton manager continues to get more and more irate, increasingly irritated, incandescent with rage and all directed at the ref.

Token match shot match shot.

There's ten minutes left, it's 1-1, your best striker lines up a free kick. And then shanks it massively. You can relive it in it's full horror, complete with hilarious comment at the end.

Heath take the lead and then it all kicks off, with bizarre and, in reflection, hilarious scenes. The Welton manager decides to detonate the C-Bomb, "just head the cunt". The cunt in this instance being the ball. That's a football. A football being used in a game of 9th division football with eighty people watching. But this outrages the linesman. By weekday a mild mannered, under worked accounts clerk for a remote, and rarely visited, National Trust property but this afternoon a hero, a protector of innocent ears and defender of the Respect campaign. He steps up to the manager, like a deranged Drederick Tatum released an unjust incarceration, "REMEMBER WHERE YOU ARE....NOW GET BACK IN YOUR BOX" are two highlights of his intense ticking off.

Token one man and his dog shot.

Manager man is not happy, “do you know who you're talking to?” and “we're going to have a word”sees him equalise in this competition of who can be most pompous and ridiculous. In the end the fine folk of Cadbury Heath were the winners, stretching their lead at the top of the league to four points and look set for early release to the Toolstation Premier league.

Cadbury Heath have full highlights and photos up on their website.

** you clicked it, not me.

Monday 20 February 2012

If I Could Turn Back Time

Hereford United 1-2 Swindon Town
Saturday 18th February 2012
Football League 2
Edgar Street, Hereford
Attendance: 3,068

Hereford United's Edgar Street is how all football grounds should be; in the middle of the town and next to a cattle market. It's been here since 1924, it's cramped, it's surrounded by muddy grass, it's got a huge terrace and is steeped in's no use. I'm going to have to mention Ronnie Radford. I had to. It's impossible not to. 4 lines in though, not bad.

Blog writers rulebook. Rule 12: Use a really captivating picture to draw people in and hold their attention.

This month is 40 years since Radford thwacked that goal in to help Southern League Hereford beat Division One Newcastle United. Hereford marked the occasion by holding a Gala dinner at their terrifically named “Starlite Rooms” (of course The Starlite Rooms). The event saw the players reunited, a sheepskin coated Motty putting in an appearance, some guitar strumming loon play “The Ballad of Ronnie Radford” and a hundred parka jacketed kids released from a sack to run manically across the pitch. If Hereford really want to know how to mark a goal it's not by having a bit of a chat in it's like these crazy Argentinians, who are clearly one rocky outcrop short of the full Malvinas.

Bla, bla, magic of the FA Cup, bla, bla giant killers, bla.

Wherever you look there's reminders of that day. The club shop stocks Radford era retro shirts. The Radford suite contains a huge mural of the post goal celebrations, along with a cupboard an sideboard that look strikingly out of place and seem to have been squired from the house clearance of a recently deceased pair of pensioners. In the, recently re-opened, Starlite Rooms, a club that sounds like it's part of Den Perry's evil empire, there are numerous photos from the game, large blurry mural versions of those photos, Motty's commentary from the game write large on the wall, a frame containing fibres from a parka jacket recently found on a Time Team dig of the ground and a display cabinet containing the big toenail Radford used to punt the ball in.

Dear Yvonne Halen, I'm sure your Cher impersonation is very good but surely with a name like that you'd be better off doing a one women tribute to Van Halen?

According to Stan Johns' YouTube he "continues to delight audiences worldwide on many of the
top cruise ships afloat." Those gigs on sunken cruise ships clearly didn't work out for you then northern Stan?

Both bars are packed before kick off. In The Radford Suite a local old couple sporting matching bright white comb over haircuts chat away while a Burberry clad yoof, from today's visitors, Swindon Town, organises his rabble. Swindon Town FC, Paolo Di Canio. Let's get that out the way straight away.

A well dressed man in sunglasses gets in the way of the judging of the "Best Side Profile Round" as the three finalist's in 2012's "Hereford Middle Aged Man Of the Year" competition line up.

The teams are accompanied onto the pitch by Motorhead's "The Game", what's wrong with a bit of Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves? Shortly after there is one, of many, announcements telling fans not to encroach on the playing surface. It's Hereford United! If we can't encroach on the pitch here where can we legally encroach on the pitch? Damn you The Man!

Hereford United Broadcasting Unit, coming in your ears.

Adidas clad Swindon are already looking at a future in a higher division, while Admiral sporting Hereford have gone 9 home games without a win and are contemplating a return to the Southern League. Swindon pass it around like a team that has been compared to Brazil for comedy effect but is, in a cruel twist,not actually Brazil, while Hereford focus on smacking long balls forward to textbook lower league behemoth target man, Nathan Elder, a man who had a bad touch even for a big man. Back-passes to the Swindon keeper are waltzed away from danger while any to the Hereford keeper, Adam Bartlett, are badly mishit by a player who started the game shakier than a rattle snake playing the maracas.

From left to right: Thing of architectural beauty, some castle, big pointy thing.

It's one of these mishit back-passes that leads to Hereford conceding a penalty, which Paul Caddis converts, just before half time. Hereford are booed off by the fans behind the goal, however the sound is largely drowned out by the sound of Thermos flasks opening on the Cargill terrace. I don't think I've ever witnessed a higher flask/miserable fan ratio. One family gathered round a huge backpack which held various packs of biscuits and a Thermos with similar proportions to a submarine. Amongst this old men tuned in their transistor radios and shouted scores to a disinterested crowd, kids play with toys on the terraces, whilst adults blamed "Jimmy Hill and his reprobates" from the sorry state of English football, all against a soundtrack of early 70's hit "Me and you and a dog named Boo" by Lobo. I imagine this is what watching football in 1971 was like. *doffs 1970's style feathered Fedora stetson hat*

Token match shot.

Swindon score again through Paul Benson on 62 minutes after some relaxed defending which suggests Hereford's defence have been spending a little too much time supporting their club's pitch side sponsor, Growmaster Hydroponics. *makes noise in style of Ali G*.

Oh the humanity! Won't somebody think of the stewards.

Token match shot II

However, Hereford respond quicker than a stoned student and Rob Purdie radfords in a goal. From then on it's all Hereford. The pitch cuts up badly, a howling gale causes polystyrene cups to swirl around the pitch, squalling rain lashes down and suddenly hoofing a ball up to a humongous immobile brute of a striker doesn't seem such like a bad idea. Fancy dan Swindon are forced to battle to hold on to their lead. Hereford force them into mistakes, corners causes chaos in the quagmire of a goalmouth and Byron Anthony slams a header against the bar. The Hereford fans simultaneously get right behind their team and on the backs of Swindon's "disgraceful, typical itie tactics" but the away team dig in and deny Hereford the goal they need to Cher the points, leaving Swindon's 1181 travelling fans to Believe in promotion.

For match highlights click your interweb mouse here. Not here.

Or here.