Monday, 29 January 2018

28/01/18 Review: Yorkshire vs Ellan Vannin

Yorkshire 1-1 Ellan Vannin (CONIFA International Friendly)
Yorkshire NuBuilds Stadium

It's not every day that your home county forms its own National Football Team and with CONIFA's decision to add Yorkshire as the newest member of the independent football associations group, which includes the likes of Africa's Matabeleland, the French-Canadians of Québéc and even Northern Cyprus, it was finally the day of their first ever fixture and they would welcome nearby Isle of Man based side Ellan Vannin over to God's own county for some international football at Hemsworth Miners Welfare's ground, the Yorkshire NuBuilds Stadium.

Home of a Step 5 Non-League side and, for today, an international side too
For the side travelling over to mainland England today, this friendly match was an important piece of preparation for the squad as they prepare for the upcoming CONIFA World Cup, in which the Celtic nation outfit will come across Barawa, from Southwestern Somalia, Tamil Eelam, another island side based in Asia, and Cascadia, one of the small villages from Game of Thrones. Although this was Yorkshire's debut on the world stage, the aim for the newbies will of course to be a successful qualifier for the next World Cup and in playing the 4th ranked side it would be a good gauge on how they are likely to get on in their future endeavours. So far the game had been given plenty of pre-match build-up within the local and global news channels, with radio interest coming alongside many clips on ITV Calendar and the likes to try and get people to come out in their droves to cheer the team on. The average attendance for one of the Hemsworth League games is just 127 so when I arrived at the ground to see lots of people flocking towards the turnstile I was pretty excited to see the turn out. Coming over from Stoke-on-Trent myself, this would have been a bit of a damp squib in front of just a couple of the old regulars in 1990's Leeds United tops.
A rammed bar is a promising start to any afternoon of football
Proudly donning my national shirt, cheers again to my Nan for this particular crimbo present, I entered the ground with my not-so-Yorkshire girlfriend Sophie and we were instantly approached by a BBC Sport Radio team who were after a chat with me about what it's like to be a Yorkshireman. I give a couple of minutes of fairly awkward interview chat, nothing to rival my 45 minute encounter with "The Rev" at Park Hall, before heading into the smart little clubhouse bar for an early pint and a chance to have a bit of a natter with a few lads who'd come from Beverley and other parts of the county for the game- one lad also told me he'd drove 3 hours to be here, but didn't specify where from exactly. We then wedged ourselves back outside for a bit of fresh air and a chance to walk around the pitch to see what both the ground and two sides had to offer us on this mild but drizzly afternoon in Fitzwilliam. The ground was fairly identical to the Lancer Scott Stadium in South West Bristol, and with just a hundred or so seats on location the ground mainly relied, for today at least, on fans being able to lean upon the white metal surrounding the pitch. One side of the pitch housed the bar, the other was the location of the seating, and there was nothing aside from a few overlooking conifers behind one of the goals. Basic, but it does the job. As for the pitch, I think it would be fair and not too unkind to say that it was in a "mid-season" state that would see the surface looking okay and the goal-areas seemingly more muddy from the efforts of Northern Counties East Premier sides over the season.

There was also a chap with his own beer garden brolly and wooden desk
With the ground given the old once over, we started to observe the two sides warming-up and both seemed in fine fettle before the game. In the Yorkshire starting XI we would be treated to the likes of a National League North man between the sticks, in the form of Ed Hall of Bradford Park Avenue, and routing through the team there were many Evo-Stik Northern standard players from Ossett Town and Ossett Albion in the Northern division and then from the Southern division Frickley Athletic and Stocksbridge Park Steels lads lined up- Jamie Vardy, Danny Rose and James Milner were all snubbed on this occasion. For Ellan Vannin, the manager Chris Bass had made his squad from the top five teams in the current Isle of Man Senior League season and although I knew of none of their players, I picked out Sean Doyle as my pre-match danger man for the island side- mainly because he was the only lad there who was representing the side who sat top of the league. The number 16 forward from Corinthians AFC was to partner the IOM League's top scorer Ciaran McNulty and incredibly the two combined have 45 league goals with only 14 league games played so far over there. Kick-off loomed by this point and as Sophie and I took our seat in the busy, albeit limited, seating area we were soon ready to be joined by the 22 players and over 600 fans for the moment we've all waited for.

"YORKSHIRE! YORKSHIRE! YORKSHIRE!" chants echoed around the NuBuilds Stadium 
As the match got cracking, Yorkshire started on the front-foot and with some good attacking movements forming amongst the side who'd only trained together once before today, the only thing missing was the killer ball. With 10 minutes played the first big call of the day was made and after consultation with his linesman, Steve Lynch awarded the home side a penalty and it would be Sean Ripley who stepped up to take it. With the weight of the world on his shoulders and the chance to write his name into the history books, the number 9 placed a poor penalty into the corner and on this occasion part-time giant goalie Dean Kearns got across to save it. Yorkshire continued to play well though and after a couple of set-pieces went close, Andy McManus headed just wide and Richard Collier shot across goal from out wide. Over by the sideline, the raffle tickets were being sold and despite the prizes including a pack of John Smith's and a box of Yorkshire Tea, I resisted the temptation and firmly kept my attention on the field as Ellan Vannin went close on the 20th minute. Shortly after this a resurgent Isle of Man side came very close and when a 35-yard bullet strike from midfield whistled towards goal, it took a great stop from Hall to keep the game level for now. Just before the break we edged our way around to the bar in preparation for a thirsty half-time and at this point we saw McNulty go through for the visiting side in red only to see his lob effort caught out by Hall again as Yorkshire rode their luck a little bit in defence. The Ref called for the end of the first half and on reflection everyone seemed pretty happy with the game so far- for us the best play was being made from the wings and as the full-backs supported with pacey attacks we looked likely to grab a goal at some point. In the centre we seemed a bit disjointed but captain Pat McGuire and Adam Hayton both had potential to pull the strings if the mood was right. There had been some tasty tackles too and despite lacking in size against a very tall Ellan Vannin squad, we certainly weren't being out-muscled.

No Yorkshire ground is complete without a Leeds United flag

Back outside with a fresh pint, the match soon restarted and as the cold settled in I was forced to pull out a jacket as the darkness grew around us. Ellan Vannin had made a half-time change and 17 goal striker Furo Davies, club partner of McNulty, joined the game as an additional man-mountain target man to try and rattle the defence. Just two minutes into the half and the plan of Chris Bass had worked, as a cross came in from the left to Davies, who used his forceful way to shrug off the opposition, control the ball and then half-volley a well hit drive onto the underside of the bar and into the net for the game's opening goal. Yorkshire 0-1 Ellan Vannin. This wake-up call seemed to be just what we'd needed after a slackening off in pressure and we soon found ourselves going forward for the first time in a while. With 53 minutes now gone the ball was at McGuire's feet and the skipper looked up before clipping over an excellent defence-beating pass to a pacey run from Jordan Coduri. The Penistone Church striker managed to get on to the ball well before applying a perfectly placed left-footed strike which beat Kearns and went into the net- a moment that the Halifax lad will never forget for the rest of his life.
Yorkshire 1-1 Ellan Vannin. From then on the game would remain a stalemate and despite Furo Davies looking very threatening for Ellan Vannin, he could not double his tally and ruin the big day for Yorkshire. Joey Quayle also went close at the death fro the visitors but ultimately the game ended all-square and on the basis of both sides having prolonged spells of dominance I'd say it was a fair result.

Close, but not close enough for the away side
As far as I'm aware there are no firm fixtures booked in for the Yorkshire boys going forward, so it is probably more likely that my next CONIFA match will in fact be when I travel down to London for the World Cup in June. After today's bout I'll definitely be supporting Ellan Vannin and after they brought a true battle of the vikings to Yorkshire, all that's left to say is that I am proud of both sides for putting on an entertaining and historic game of football. Cheers lads!

Monday, 22 January 2018

20/01/18 Review: AFC Fylde vs Macclesfield Town

AFC Fylde 6-0 Macclesfield Town (National League Premier)
Mill Farm

You know how the top team isn't necessarily always the best team in a division? Well, today was certainly one of those days. Following on from my morning match in Stoke, I had high expectations of continuing my Saturday by seeing one of the National League's candidates for the title and current leaders, Macclesfield Town, pick up an away victory on their first visit to Mill Farm in Wesham, a small village just a stone throw in-land from Blackpool. AFC Fylde are of course the recently famed side whom the Silkmen were visiting today and with big dreams of reaching the Football League by 2022, the Coasters side, including the league's top-scorer Danny Rowe, are on a rise that has rivalled and surpassed the likes of fellow North-Westerners FC United and Salford City, seeing them go from playing the likes of Atherton Laburnum Rovers and Squires Gate in the 2008-09 edition of the North West Counties League to being drawn against local big boys and former Premier League outfit Wigan Athletic in this year's FA Cup proper.

I couldn't imagine Runcorn Linnets showing up here these days
True enough that there have been some very charitable donations along the way and the investment in this club has been staggering, but nevertheless AFC Fylde have done very well and have made a sound structural progression that doesn't involve having your own TV series and using the names of Paul Scholes and Gary Neville to try and bring new fans in. Since opening Mill Farm a couple of seasons ago, the Coasters have continued their rise and last season their 109 haul- including an outstanding 47 in 42 for Rowe- saw them win the National League North by 6 points and secure them a debut season in the Non-League's highest division. The debut season has been decent too and although the first-timers have lingered in mid-table for the majority, they have pulled out some cracking results including a 5-2 victory over Tranmere Rovers on New Years Day.

And today's visitors could prove to be another big scalp 
As a Macc fan I have been enjoying a thrilling season so far and with Cheshire's finest being at the top of the pile since Christmas, having not lost a league game since the end of October, and with new recruits in the form of Adam Dugdale, Callum Evans and League One striker Nate Blissett surely the sky was the limit for the rest of the campaign- and with confidence high, I predicted a 3-1 away win. So with the scene set, I arrived at Mill Farm with 30 minutes to spare and headed straight into the away area to see where I'd be basing myself for the match- it is rare for me to choose to stand behind the goal, but I thought I'd give it a go and live out the real "away fan experience" as opposed to sitting near the corner flag with the older fans like I usually do. As I entered the ground from said corner, I was impressed by the fancy main stand directly to my left but my first thoughts when I stood admiring the West Stand was if we'd see the modern seating area filled- the average attendance this season has been a couple of hundred higher than the Silkmen's and I expected the home fans to bring vast support today against the leaders. Amongst the 200 or so travelling fans I made my way into the food and drink area under the main stand and I thought I'd sample an infamously fair priced Non-League pre-match beer as I awaited the sides entering the field... or not! In what was the most disgusting part of the trip, even more so than the result, I was absolutely flabbergasted by the near £5 a pint price placed on the pint of lager I was served- thankfully I'd brought a packed lunch, or I'd have had to take out a loan for lunch. In fairness, I suppose the extortionate prices may well be for visiting fans to stop them getting too drunk and when one fan smacked a burger out of his mate's hand and on to the floor I could kind of understand why this may be the case. As some of our fans became more animalistic, the security team became more annoyed- with the events culminating in the world's most angry looking steward standing away from the incident and solidly scowling at everybody whilst muttering under her breath.

Genuine hatred, the staple diet for any away steward
Pre-match nonsense taken in, it was kick-off time and so I made my way over to the terracing ready to welcome the Silkmen boys. We'd decided to line-up with just one up front today and this had come as a bit of a surprise, with Nate Blissett's addition seemingly made to bolster our attacking options even though he started on the bench today. Perhaps he wasn't ready to play 90 minutes yet. Additionally, with the absence of an injured Jared Hodgkiss, we were playing our oldest defender, George Pilkington, at right-back and this also seemed to be a slightly tenuous decision by John Askey. Having said that, he's so often got our tactics spot on this season so I resisting questioning the choice until the game had started to play out. The 90's dance tracks died down on the tannoy system and the sides were read out, with the Fylde announcer calling out left-back David Fitzpatrick as the goalkeeper, and shortly after that we were up and running with the hosts kicking towards the South Terrace in the first-half. Both sides forged an early chance as Elliott Durrell hit well wide in the 2nd minute for Macc, before Jonny Smith tested Sam Ramsbottom right in front of me. This early chance for Fylde wasn't the last though and when the Coasters won a corner in the 6th minute they would soon see themselves celebrating the first of many goals as Lewis Montrose jumped highest in the 6-yard box and glanced the ball into the net ahead of a flailing Silkmen keeper. Fylde 1-0 Macc. Once the goal celebrations died down the Silkmen fans decided to get the noise levels going around the ground and in doing so they sparked a fairly lenghty exchange of humorous chants between the two sets of fans. Opening with "you're just a pub team with money, pub team with monnnney", we were then met by a response of "you're getting beat by a pub team, beat by a pubbbbb team", which raised a round of applause from the travelling brigade. Shortly after, we chimed in with "you know what you are, you know what you areeee. Pub team with money, you know what you are" which instantly turned into a home chorus of "top of the league, you're having a laugh!"

With an early goal, it was the hosts that were having a laugh though
The match continued with Macc looking poor in every department. The passing from usually capable Danny Whitehead was being cut out on a too familiar basis, Tyrone Marsh looked lonely up front on his own and AFC Fylde continued to play some good football of their own to really take the game to Macc and when Jack Muldoon cut in from the left-hand side to unleash a near 30-yard curler towards goal, all that could be done was watch and admire as the ball rippled the back of the net from a brilliant goal. Fylde 2-0 Macc. Somehow the Silkmen looked shell-shocked and with less than a third of the game gone I started to wonder how many we'd concede, rather than if we could get back into it. Coasters captain Sam Finley was next to try a long-range drive and as he hit a pretty straight forward 20-yarder towards Ramsbottom, who'd been playing in place of a recently returned from suspension Shwan Jalal, the ball unfortunately bobbled out of the keeper's arms and desperately into the net in one of those moments where you wish for the ground to open up. Fylde 3-0 Macc. With 10 minutes to go until half-time, the Macc fans kept up the spirit by chanting "we're gonna win 4-3" as Fylde kept up their dominance and looked to grab yet another before the break. Even the introduction of a second forward in the shape of Scott Wilson for Macc didn't really alter things and just before half-time Smith would go through on goal, round a down and out Ramsbottom, before tapping home another goal in what had been the perfect half for the Lancashire side. Fylde 4-0 Macc. From my humble opinion, it seemed as though the Macc players had been too focused on keeping usual threat Danny Rowe out of the game, but in doing so had completely lost focus on the other attacking players in the side and at half-time I hoped that a change of tactic (and goalkeeper!) would spark some sort of second-half revival. If we could leave with a 4-2 defeat at this point I'd have been happy on my drive home to Staffordshire.

Away days, who'd bother?
At 0-4 down, there's not much you can say positively about your team's display and after maintaining such a good run for the past few months I was one of many who was taking the opinion that it was always bound to happen at some point. When City lost to Liverpool the other weekend, I said the same thing. Regardless of this, I still couldn't hide my depressed face and feel of concern with still another 45 minutes left and so I popped back into the servery to grab another pint, which seemed to go down oh too well. Shortly after this I returned back out to the pitch and as I did so I noticed us making our second change of the day and as if to compound his day any more, it was the leaky keeper Ramsbottom who would be replaced by Iraqi veteran stopper Jalal. As the match kicked off for the sixth time already, the unusually noisy away support began the "we're gonna win 5-4" chants and I settled down in hope of a couple of goals for our troubles. With not a huge amount going on near our end, I started to think about the way clubs like Forest Green Rovers had developed and whether AFC Fylde would eclipse their efforts to become a League Two club. The clubs have a lot of similarities, with the main difference being the lack of vegan options here at Mill Farm. Back on the pitch and Jalal had already saved a couple of decent strikes and as Fylde continued to pepper the goal, it would eventually be down to cap'n Finley to add his side's fifth goal on the hour-mark. Fylde 5-0 Macc. The hosts just weren't letting up and even when the Silkmen had possession it didn't last for long, so it was understandable that when 36-year old temporary right-back had our first shot on goal, in the 68th minute, we got a little too excited that Jay Lynch had actually had his palms stung. The main bit of encouragement for me was in the last 20 minutes when new boy Nate Blissett took to the field and the 6 foot 5 inch target man seemed to at least show a bit of a change in the tone of the game as he gave Macc a bit of hope for things to come during his spell for the rest of the season. Unfortunately his efforts didn't help with the goals at the away end though, and AFC Fylde weren't done with scoring them neither as Andy Bond helped himself to a volley in the box in the final 10 minutes. Fylde 6-0 Macc. At the Ref's final blow of the whistle, Silkmen captain Danny Whitaker ran straight over to us in the away end to give a heartfelt apology and following that it was home time.

Still top of the league, but it didn't feel like it on the drive home!

Sunday, 21 January 2018

20/01/18 Review: Stoke City U18 vs Manchester United U18

Stoke City U18 2-4 Manchester United U18 (Under 18 Premier League)
Clayton Wood

An Under 18 Premier League match on a Saturday morning in Stoke is the perfect way to get an early football fix and on this occasion it proved to be a happy memory during a 2-game day that also included a visit to AFC Fylde's Mill Farm to see the team I support lose 0-6. But, enough about that for now, let's talk about this 6th vs 3rd placed battle at Clayton Wood. I arrived at Stoke City's first class training facility, conveniently located just off the A500, at around 10:30am and after being shown to the over-spill car park I was ready to check out the venue where Darren Fletcher, Peter Crouch and the rest of the gang spend their time training with new manager Paul Lambert. Having been to see the Young Lions at St. George's Park last year during EURO Under 19 Qualifying, I am pretty familiar with the subdued and often awkward setup of these games in which the spectators are 99% made up of coaches and parents of the players, so when I, the 1%, turned up and parked up I was instantly approached by a man in a hi-viz jacket and asked if I was a scout. Donning my Macc Town top, I simply replied with "no", but in my head I was thinking of giving a sarcastic answer about how I was here to steal all of their Premier League youth players and take them down to my National League side, but at fear of being told to leave I thought better of it.

Kids game, suppose the Ice Cream van is apt
With the rain now drizzling down and the usual sodden Stokey climate being maintained I began my wander around the facility, taking in the sights of football pitches, football pitches and more football pitches. This was, of course, no surprise being at a Premier League training complex and I soon made my way over to the main pitch where the subs were warming-up as the camera crew climbed the ladders on to the overlooking metal structure which sat between two miniature covered stands, ready to keep mum and dad sheltered. The one stand was pretty well-filled with Potters fans and so I decided to take sanctuary in the other as the teams came out ready for kick-off, at which point a few additional travelling followers joined me for this clash which could see the Red Devil juniors go top of the league, ahead of Liverpool and Manchester City- as if they didn't already have enough motivation. Despite this, I'd predicted a 2-2 draw today and I had faith in the mid-table young Potters to give it a good go.

A view of the stands in all of their tiny glory
The sides were both fairly unrecognisable to me as kick-off loomed, with only former Le Havre academy starlet Abdoulaye Toure standing out for the Potters- and there was no sign of United's stand out player Angel Gomes for the visitors today. As one lady turned to her husband to exclaim "there's nout better than a wet Saturday morning in Stoke", we got the game started with the noise from the dual-carriageway providing the substitute for the usual sound of fans cheering their teams on. The opening 20 minutes were pretty much a stalemate in possession play and a battle to try and break each other down in front of a mass of watching coaches looking to find the next first-team prodigies. A hungry Kris Szerto had looked the best player for me so far, with the hosts winger operating well on both flanks periodically and showing that he can knock the ball about, meanwhile it was Dylan Levitt who was the centre of attention- and the pitch- for United. The young Welshman first tried to lob Mitchell Allen in the Potters goal from 25-yards, before registering a tame shot on target shortly after. Stoke also had their first chance just before the half-hour mark as the towering Nathan Collins jumped up to a header from a corner, but this effort was again easy for the keeper to gather. Although there were few highlights so far, the game had at the very least been pacey and end-to-end, so when Ethan Stanton went in the book for a typically Stokey slide tackle, the game was allowed a moment to breather just before the next big chance. Millen Baars, who'd been quiet thus far over in the United attack, picked up the ball over on the left and when he made a darting run straight for goal it seemed that none of the Stoke defenders could keep up- and when he got deep into the box, the Dutch youngster prodded the ball into the net confidently and opened the game's scoring account. Stoke 0-1 Man U. From then on it was all United in the remainder of the first-half and the Potters seemed intent on just getting to the break at one down, but this wasn't to be the case as Swiss forward Nishan Burkart found himself a bit of space in the box and lashed home with an unstoppable left-footed drive just before the half-time whistle. Stoke 0-2 Man U.

Half-time and United well in control so far
As opposed to my usual dash to the bar for a half-time beer, I spent the majority of the break stood waiting to use the only toilet available to the crowd whilst holding the door open for people to enter the Parents Lounge. Following this excitement, I popped over to grab some brunch from the burger van in an attempt to warm myself up from the dastardly conditions on-site and it was during this point that the match recommenced. Just four minutes into the second 45 and the third goal of the day had gone in, which I'd missed because I was busy staring at the griddle that was cooking my bacon and sausages. Stoke 1-2 Man U. Apparently the goal had been scored by the lad that had impressed me in the first-half, Szerto, and either way it meant that it was game on again with still 40 minutes of football to be played. Stoke remained a clever unit despite chasing the game and as they absorbed the United attacks at one end, they broke well at the other and when Toure went through in the 71st minute I stood up in anticipation of an equaliser- and he would have got it too if weren't for those meddling Man United kids, but the defender tracked back very well to concede a corner rather than a goal. The constant back and forth attacking displays had been a really great feature of today's match and the excitement from the breakfast butty came only second to the action on the pitch. Within seconds of each other, United hit the post over on my left and then Stoke won another corner from a lightning quick counter. Excellent football!

Into the last 10 minutes, still anybody's game
As the clock wound down I had one eye on a prompt exit, knowing that an 80-mile journey up to Lancashire was in store for the 3pm kick-off at Mill Farm, but I couldn't bring myself to leave early as the match was just that good. Man United had made a couple of changes on the attacking front and these fresh lads seemed eager to impress, with Belgian Largie Ramazani seeking out a chance and applying a finish in the 85th minute that looked to end the competition and secure the points for the boys in black. Stoke 1-3 Man U. The sleet started to fall as Allen lined-up a kick for the Potters and with a poor clearance the door was open for another sub, Mason Greenwood, to fire home a fourth which would have been a harsh end to an evenly-fought game between the two sides. Stoke 1-4 Man U. The final five minutes had now provided us with two goals and in injury time we were yet to see another as this time Stoke were given a big chance from a push by a Man U defender on a home team forward. Up stepped Szerto again and he applied a good finish to end the first of two six-goal games for me on the day. Stoke 2-4 Man U. The whistle blew shortly after and that was my cue to jump in my car, warm my numb toes up and head up to the North-West with hope of seeing a big away win for my beloved table-topping Silkmen.... yup.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

16/01/18 Review: Mansfield Town vs Cardiff City

Mansfield Town 1-4 Cardiff City (FA Cup Third Round Replay)
One Call Stadium

A welcome to 2018 for Pint of Football saw me make a return to Nottinghamshire and after a ride through Staffordshire and Derbyshire I was taken back to the part of the country where I saw my last FA Cup bout. Although there were similarities in the chilly conditions, passionate fans and goals flying in, this trip to Mansfield Town's One Call Stadium offered a much different experience to November's First Round match at Meadow Lane with Notts County and Bristol Rovers. Unlike the previously mentioned tie, this encounter was likely to offer a clear favourite and despite their poor goalless draw at home to the evening's League Two promotion hopefuls they would go into this one feeling confident after notching four at the weekend against free-falling Sunderland- but nobody obviously told the hosts, as they seemed well up for this match which could have seen them rewarded with a mouth-watering home draw with Manchester City, who awaited the winners of this match. My pre-match prediction today was for a 0-2 win to the Welsh visitors from two divisions above.
Here we go again- new year, new ground
Despite enduring a fairly laborious drive to Mansfield, I soon forgot my woes when I parked up and followed a group of rowdy supporters towards the ground with plenty of time to grab my ticket from the office before entering. With queues in every direction from the burger van, ticket office, turnstile, bars and toilets, you instantly got the feel that the FA Cup tie was in full-swing and although it was bordering on freezing outside, nobody cared because they were all wrapped up and ready for the big game. When I managed to get into the Ian Greaves Upper Stand, I made my way straight over to grab a pukka pie and beer meal deal and savagely demolished the two before taking the walk out into the seating area with just moments before kick-off. First impression of the ground was very good, with the three-stand stadium looking pretty jammed. Over to my right was the Quarry Lane End looking pretty full with well over a thousand of the home faithful, meanwhile in the North Stand on the left, Welsh flags were waving and an intimidating posse of Cardiff fans sang aloud as their team entered the field- and directly across from me was a wall of advertising boards and the metal shed on top, housing the film crew and presumably some other media reps. Although this particular feature was a bit of an eye-sore for the few thousand of us in the Main Stand, the noise from my left and also around me meant we were in for a proper battle and this was put into perspective when the seemingly subdued pensions I was sat with decided to start joining in with many of the anti-Welsh chants. Cardiff absorbed the first couple of rounds which included the English national anthem and a few of the usual references to what the Bluebirds fans may or may not get up to with sheep, but once a solid chant of "England, England, Englaaaaaand" was in full-swing, the vocally capable North Stand responded with "are shit, are shit, are shiiiiiiiiiit!" and with that, pleasantries had been exchanged for the time being and it was time to focus on the action on the pitch.

Game on!
Cardiff's line-up looked strong and was full of international experience with the likes Jazz Richards, Wales player who featured at the impressive EURO's campaign in 2016, starting alongside Scottish international Callum Paterson and Danish former U21 striker Kenneth Zohore- with additional inspiration on the bench from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Omar Bogle if needed. There was also a place for Canadian speed demon Junior Hoilett too, who I have admired since his time as a Premier League goal-getter with Blackburn Rovers and more recently at QPR. For Mansfield it was an expected first eleven which included former Rochdale lads Conrad Logan and Rhys Bennett, as well as lone-striker Danny Rose and former Scotland U21 Alex MacDonald. Paul Anderson, who years ago my Dad touted to be the next big England player after following his progress at Liverpool's youth team, was also taking up his place on the right-wing. The game kicked-off dot on 7:45pm and although this game wouldn't prove to be as famous as the tie against Liverpool back in 2013, when the then National League side lost out 1-2 after goals from a debuting Daniel Sturridge and a Luis Suarez strike, it would sure to be one to treasure if they could knock out the 3rd placed team in England's second tier and secure a home-tie with the soon-to-be crowned Champions of the Premier League. The match started fairly evenly and as I joined in with all possible MTFC chants (which are great to be involved with as a Macc Town fan!) the home side actually seemed likely to try and grab an early initiative, and following 10 minutes without a chance, it would be Joel Byrom who had a pop first.

The lime green Cardiff side certainly weren't going to get a walkover
With 52 places separating the sides domestically, Cardiff City eventually carved their own attacking move and in the 15th minute it could have been 0-1 but for Zohore's inability on this occasion to find his feet- in the end Logan calmly gathered it from the Dane's toes. This near-chance wasn't going to be a one-off for the visitors and aside from a characteristically wound-up looking Neil Warnock sauntering about, the away fans seemed to sense the goals would eventually come- and at the other end Mansfield had a chance of their own when Malvind Benning saw a clever set-piece cut across to him, only for him to just set his effort just off target. This chance would prove to be a costly miss and as the Bluebirds surged forward again they this time won a corner that would lead to the opening goal. Some dreadful and lifeless defending culminated in Logan flapping the ball haphazardly, meaning that Bruno Ecuele Manga could stab the ball home. Mansfield 0-1 Cardiff. With 34 minutes gone it was now the time to see what the hosts were made of and I think the next 60 seconds answered that for me. Danny Rose, who had been invisible so far, soon saw the chance to draw the leveller after a good cross evaded everyone but the poacher, who confidently slotted home his 13th of the season. Mansfield 1-1 Cardiff. As you were, lads. 1-1 at Half-Time.

2 Degrees by this point- a bit nippy!
With the crowds flooding to the limited beer supplies, I spent the break having a wander around the Ian Greaves Stand and taking in the mass of yellow and blue painted concrete- it is true that the One Call wasn't quite as pretty as some of the grounds I'd been to this season and it certainly didn't have the views that Darby Way in Bishop's Lydeard offered, but to be fair what Football League ground does? Anyway, enough reminiscing, it was time to get back out there for some more goals.
Half of the home fans were still waiting for their pies by the looks of it
With the crowds flooding to the limited beer supplies, I spent the break having a wander around the Ian Greaves Stand and taking in the mass of yellow and blue painted concrete- it is true that the One Call wasn't quite as pretty as some of the grounds I'd been to this season and it certainly didn't have the views that Darby Way in Bishop's Lydeard offered, but to be fair what Football League ground does? Anyway, enough reminiscing, it was time to get back out there for some more goals at my 18th of the 92. As with the first-half, Mansfield showed glances of looking like a side capable of holding their own, but unfortunately this would not remain the case as time elapsed. The side began to tire and as some would have predicted the floodgates would soon open for Cardiff City's pacey outfit. Junior Hoilett had ran the show on both wings throughout and when Patterson gave him the chance from close-range, he finished with ease to restore the away side's lead and give the Welsh travellers a big reason to roar from the away end. Mansfield 1-2 Cardiff. "Two-one, to the sheep shaggers" was the chosen chant from the visiting section, who didn't have to wait too long for the security goal and fourth of the evening. My main critique of the home side was a lack of movement at the back and it seemed as though this, mixed with a resistance to clearing the ball quickly, had been picked up by Warnock and crew as this time Republic of Ireland International Anthony Pilkington prodded home and killed off the Cup dreams of the Stags. Mansfield 1-3 Cardiff. At this stage in proceedings I saw a man dressed in vast amounts of winter-wear assisted by security guards leave the ground and I remember thinking to myself at the time, it's cold, but not that cold. Turns out the cold-fearing patron for the evening was in fact the one and only Mr Guardiola, scouting out his next FA Cup opponents, and not just your average fan who can't hack the weather.

It's a shame he didn't stick a round, I'd bought him a pie and a pint
With Pep now gone the match came towards the end and with that we saw the likes of Greg Halford and Omar Bogle brought on to see things through, but this didn't stop the boisterous old gits around me giving out verbal encouragement to the lads and as they pushed for a goal at one end, they soon fell flat-footed at the other- more statuesque defending watched as Bogle brought the ball down for Hoilett who scored goal of the game with his second, a well-hit half-volley from just outside the box. Mansfield 1-4 Cardiff. Five would have been harsh on the League Two outfit but with a couple of counter-attacks been launched it could have been the case, but in the end enough was enough and Referee Mr Eltringham ended the game with the Bluebirds taking the leap into the next round. It is unlikely that the Cardiff lads will replicate the success of the Cup Final run in 2008, but with a glamour tie against Man City they will at least look forward to testing their credentials against a side who they will hope to join in the Premier League next season. As for Mansfield, the aim will be to get back to winning ways as they host 16th place Cheltenham Town in a League Two fixture that could see them rise as high as 3rd or as low as 10th. And finally, for me, the fixtures are hopefully to come thick and fast after a quiet couple of months- I aim to do an U18 match between Stoke and Man United on Saturday morning, before crawling up the M6 to Fylde in search of an away day with my beloved Silkmen.... aka the real MTFC.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

100 Grounds Down- The Pint of Football Story... SO FAR!

100 Grounds Down- The Pint of Football Story... SO FAR!

Now that I've made it to 100 grounds, I have decided to do an almighty review of the best bits to date. Within my opening century there have been a large variety of stadiums taken in from up and down the country, as well as in Ireland, Scotland and Spain. From checking out the country's top grounds such as Wembley and Old Trafford, to many a local non-league venture and plenty of away days as a Macclesfield Town fan, I really have been lucky in my love of groundhopping. Within this summary, I'm going to share the lowdown on my first ground visit at the start of the decade, before attempting to reveal a bit about my favourite ten trips to some really great places. This "Pint of Football Top Ten" list is based on many factors such as match day experience, match entertainment, the fans on display and of course the quality of the ground itself. So without further delay, I hope you enjoy reading the recap of how my love of the beautiful game has blossomed into a borderline obsession for standing in the elements looking at rickety pieces of terraced stands and dodgy pieces of footballing hilarity.

Let Me Tell You About My 1st Time

Back in 2010, before the groundhopping concept of 'Pint of Football' was even alive, I moved away from my hometown in East Yorkshire in pursuit of a degree in Stoke-on-Trent. It was during the first visit of fellow Flamborian Will that we decided we would make the most of being in the Midlands and so we headed on over to Stoke train station to see where the day would take us. Knowing that we had two options locally, Macc vs Burton or Crewe vs Vale, we took the advice of the ticket salesman who said that he wouldn't recommend Gresty Road- how different things could have been. To cut a long-story short, we made the trip to Moss Rose and it was on that fateful afternoon that we would fall in love with the Silkmen. A thrilling encounter saw Hamza Bencherif, now a sixth-tier defender with York City, score a brilliant double to give Macc the three points and on my first trip to a live game (excluding the many grounds I've played at back in Bridlington and surrounding area) I was well and truly hooked.

*Disclaimer- I have excluded Moss Rose from my 'PoF Top Ten', because it would obviously be number 1!

Let Me Tell You About My 5th Time

Skip forward to 2013 and as my time at Uni came to an end I was lucky enough to be offered free tickets to the FA Cup Semi-Final bout between Millwall and Wigan Athletic. Having been to only four Football League grounds over three years, in the shape of Moss Rose, Hull City's KC Stadium, Stoke City's Britannia Stadium and Roots Hall in Southend, it seems obvious that my first experience of our national stadium sits long in the memory and is a great way to start off my "PoF Top Ten". Then Premier League Wigan Athletic took down Millwall on this occasion but ultimately the thing that made the match special for me was the fact that I sat in the luxurious "Club Wembley" seats just behind the goal. True enough the other Semi-Final bout between Chelsea and Man City would have been a more thrilling encounter to behold, but just the feeling of walking out into the stadium was enough of a thrill for me and I have been lucky enough to be able to soak in that same atmosphere on three more occasions for a couple of Non-League Finals Days and also a Conference Playoff Final between Bristol Rovers and Grimsby Town. My latest visit to Wembley was the most emotionally draining, as I watched my own Silkmen lose a very tense game to York City in the FA Trophy Final- but that still won't stop it from sitting high in all my all-time faves list.

Let Me Tell You About My 13th Time
In 2015 I decided to follow in the footsteps of my good friend and fellow football fanatic Tom, aka 'Partizan Bristle', in writing a groundhopping Blog in an attempt to offer a humorous but fair view on my trips to grounds. I got the inspiration to start up Blogging whilst at my seventh ground, Estadi de Son Moix in Mallorca, and I often tell people about the thrills and spills of that day in Palma. Was it not for laziness I would have started up my 'Pint of Football' career at my eighth ground as I went to Crewe Alex's Gresty Road for a weird International Friendly fixture between Qatar and Northern Ireland, but after missing out on a write-up of this 1-1 draw, I finally decided to take the plunge and did my first entry at ground number 9- Palmerston Park. I started off the 2015/16 Season by checking off some local grounds such as Vale Park and the Wood Park Stadium in Alsager, but it wasn't until my debut trip to The Novus Stadium that I got into my real stride. To some folk this will seem like an odd inclusion to my "PoF Top Ten", but I think that most hoppers will agree that there is always that one local ground that you love for some unexplained reason. For me Kidsgrove Athletic's home is that ground for me and with the scene set for my first of many Evo-Stik First Division South venues, I still don't think I've come across a better one since. Hosting a friendly filling of fans, a cosy and atmospheric bar, I took in the Kidsgrove air and saw the hosts dominate their West Midlands opposition. On the field the Grove boasted big names at this level, with Ant Malbon and Nick Wellecomme playing very well, but for me the equally memorable Cliff and Bry sat beside me in the stand made the evening a thrilling one. It certainly isn't the best ground you'll see in England or even the Non-League pyramid, but this hidden gem has left me keeping an eye on the progress of the Northern Stoke outfit- UP THE GROVE!

Let Me Tell You About My 17th Time
One of the marvels of watching non-league football is that you may be lucky enough to dig up some ex-Premier League pros and this one truly brought out a couple of beasts from the vault. This game wasn't all about the legendary figures of Deon Burton and Marlon Harewood though and with 'Partizan Bristle' through for the weekend we followed-up our trip to Marston Road, a ground that just missed out on the top ten, by making the trip to Kidderminster for a National League North match between ground-sharing Worcester City and Nuneaton Town. For anyone who hasn't visited Aggborough before, I would certainly put this one in the category of "must see" before Kiddy move out. As well as being a stunning ground for this level, with an immaculate clubhouse and the best food you'll find served from a football ground food hatch, the pitch was also top notch and I'd go as far as to say that I'm amazed anybody would want to leave. Although it wasn't the Harriers in action on the Sunday of our visit, we were still looking forward to seeing how Worcester City would get on at what remains my only National League North fixture so far. The game itself was not the most exciting in terms of footballing mastery, but neither of us will ever forget the entertainment that the game brought thanks to refereeing super-villain Darren Strain. The match official for the day made several ludicrous calls throughout Nuneaton's 1-0 away win and for the only time I can ever recall as a neutral, I actually waited by the tunnel at the end to hurl abuse at the man with the whistle. As a complete match day experience, it is probably easy to get an impression of why Aggborough is in my "PoF Top Ten" and I think the only way I could've improved my opinion of the ground is if I'd sampled one of those luscious pies!

Let Me Tell You About My 19th Time
There really is nothing better than an FA Cup away day. In any other circumstance, a 500-mile round trip for a 90 minute event would be an unacceptable concept to me, yet there I was on the coach from Moss Rose at 8am heading to Portsmouth in search of one of England's most famous grounds. To say that Pompey have seen it all is an understatement and having gone from Premier League and UEFA Cup highs to League Two lows very quickly, there are thousands of fans from around the country that have managed to tick this one off the grounds list. I remember watching Channel 5's coverage of Portsmouth vs AC Milan a few years ago and since starting my sight-seeing ventures around the grounds I knew I'd have to make it down to Hampshire at some point. Fratton Park may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I was clearly a big fan and there was a lot to admire at this old ground. Just like the city itself, Portsmouth's ground is an old-school blend of historic beauty with grubby undertones and if you add to that a busy crowd then you get the ultimate visiting supporter experience. As three bus loads of Macc fans piled out and made tracks for nearby pubs, I was very glad to eventually find myself in a feisty pub filled with both sets of fans sharing a pint with a full blue complement. As 3pm rolled around we made it in for the main event and although Macc couldn't quite cause the shock we'd hoped for, we couldn't argue with the effort of the lads. Super striker Kris Dennis scored a bit of a fluke for us and Adam McGurk managed 33% of his total goals for Pompey in one match, but ultimately the hosts did enough for a decent win which made the near 6-hour ride back to Macclesfield a disheartened one. Either way though, this ground does go down as a very highly-ranked one in the 'PoF Top Ten'. 

Let Me Tell You About My 28th Time
When it comes to Salford City there are two prevailing opinions that you are supposed to choose between. You are either a Man U mega fan who thinks the Class of '92 are the salt of the earth, or you are a footballing purest who thinks Giggsy and co. are ruining football at this level. All through my teens I grew up with a dislike of The Red Devils due to the overwhelming amount of "armchair fans" I went to school with, however I was now a grown-up who looks back at the era of Van Nistelrooy, Thierry Henry and Mario Melchiot quite fondly as what I would refer to as "the good old days" of the Premier League. Regardless of which side of the line you fall on, you will no doubt have come across the rise of Salford City and they have even had a TV Series made about their recent successes under the Class of '92. The time that I chose to see them was arguably their greatest and most important match to date, a Playoff Final against Workington, and I am really pleased that I made the effort to go up to see this sell-out game. Gary Neville and Paul Scholes were in attendance for what was my second match that day- with my first featuring Emile Heskey's Bolton Wanderers beating Hull City at the Macron- and although the first match of the day was a Championship tie, this was the real main event. As pictured above, the main stand of Salford's old ground, Moor Lane, was the greatest feature of an otherwise average stadium, but the reason that this one gets into my 'PoF Top Ten' is because of the magnitude of the match and of course the manor in which Salford stole promotion away from the visiting side. Salford valiantly fought-back from a goal down on two occasions, with their second equaliser coming in the 80th minute. Football is often cruel and for Workington it was more than that, with the Ammies grabbing an 89th minute winner and causing amazing scenes to follow. I have since got a bit fed-up with the progress of "the original Billericay" since everyone has joined the bandwagon, but at the time of this visit I was really pleased for the club and glad to have been there to witness what will be a moment in the history books that only those in attendance can claim to be a part of.

Let Me Tell You About My 38th Time
It is perhaps an obvious choice, but it would be a criminal offence to miss London's oldest ground off the list and with London Bari playing a "home" fixture in the ground that they were renting from the day's away side Clapton, this FA Cup Qualifier was another memorable day out for Pint of Football. For those who have kept up with recent events between the Essex Senior League sides you will know that a lot has changed for both since my August outing last season, with London Bari, formed in 1995, merging with Hackney Wick and Clapton coming under scrutiny for the deteriorating relationship that they have with their "Ultras" following. Thankfully on my trip the Clapton fanbase were in full-force and this added to the character of the Dog, with a 3-1 victory unfolding on the field for the ground owners against their tenants. The ground itself was very rugged, with old café benches behind the goal, only one proper seating area and of course the highlight was "the scaffold stand" which housed the Ultras who crammed into the area like tinned sardines- unlike nowadays where these loyal fans have boycotted the Dog after arguments with the board about their running of the club. The football truly was a secondary feature for me on this day and the thing that kept me entertained throughout was the rough and ready community feeling within the fenced-off surrounds within the ground. Amongst chatting with some of the locals, meeting a couple of club legends and lifelong fans, I also spoke to a few other groundhoppers and even a scout from Norwich United- not City! If people were to ask me why this one features in my top ten, I would struggle to summarise my answer in a way that gives it credit, so instead I would just encourage you to go there and see for yourself why London's oldest is one of its best.

Let Me Tell You About My 46th Time
When considering what makes a top ground, there are lots of elements to make the perfect trip. As well as the ground itself needing to be memorable, with decent facilities and passionate fans, the match I am overseeing needs to be a classic. So step forward Dundalk's Oriel Park to rise well up the rankings in my favourite ventures to date, as well as being the start of a mahoosive four ground trek for Partizan Bristle and I that featured Solitude, another entry in my top 10, as well as The New Saints' Park Hall and Keys Park in Staffordshire. Having never been to Ireland before, we touched down in Dublin after a drive to Birmingham Airport and then a coach ride to the small northern Republic of Ireland town, Dundalk, ready to see the last game of the Irish Premier League 2016 season as the champs-to-be faced Galway United. At this stage, Dundalk still boasted now Championship players Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle as well as David McMillan who now plies his trade in the SPL with St.Johnstone, so it's needless to say that we were both eager to see how the final day would pan out at Oriel Park. The highlights for the evening were plentiful and after a dominant display by the Lilywhites, who had also made Irish history with a proud effort in that season's Europa League competition, an injury-time fourth goal for the home team caused a pitch invasion with 4,000 jubilant supporters taking to the field and ending the match prematurely at 4-1. In an attempt to avoid the inevitable rush for the bar, we headed straight in so that I could taste my first ever Guinness before being joined by a mass of Dundalkians all looking to party into the early hours of the morning. The champagne was flowing and the folk we sat with were as crazy as they were friendly, and after lifting the league trophy it was a true night to remember. Oriel Park on the whole was a good ground too, with a rickety main stand that seeped character and had the feel of having seen many great things over the years. Granted, we did pick a particularly great time to visit, but even if you discount the result and the celebrations that followed it, I have to say that this one is a great day out to watch the beautiful game. Oh, and I never even mentioned the Full Irish Breakfast to come on the morning of our departure to Belfast- magnificent!

Let Me Tell You About My 47th Time
It's not often that you get to visit two of the best grounds you've ever been to in the space of 24 hours, yet that was exactly what we did as Pint of Football and Partizan Bristle continued north from Dundalk over the border to Belfast in search of Northern Ireland's oldest club- Cliftonville. With a fairly substantial hangover, the afternoon began with a bit of hair of the dog in Belfast centre- a much needed pick me up to get us in the spirit for a trip to the rough northern region of the capital. Knowing that this match wouldn't be nearly as well attended as the one we'd seen the night before, we thought it would be nice to head through to Solitude early so that we could take a look around this museum-style venue that has been a home of football since its opening in 1890. We had been given a couple of pre-match warnings about the overly-political nature of fans in this area and that looked to be backed-up by an early sign of heavy-duty armed vehicles patrolling the streets as we hopped off the bus. However, we decided to continue with our plan of mixing with the locals in the clubhouse beforehand and actually felt very welcomed as I'm sure all visitors do who come over to witness the ground. Half of Solitude remains condemned and out of action these days, so we were reduced to sitting in the new Cage End Stand and just had to settle with looking at the old relic of a stand from afar. In terms of football, the game was below average in parts and not too bad in others, as Cliftonville eventually swept past Glenavon with a 3-0 victory in which the Reds never really looked like losing. As with the Old Spotted Dog and a couple of other venues I've been to, it is not the prettiest of grounds and certainly isn't as monumental as the likes of Old Trafford and co, but as I've stated before it was much more of an interesting afternoon than you'd get at the Etihad and other generic looking Premier League grounds, so I was still pretty chuffed to have made the journey over to Ireland to absorb this golden oldie before it is inevitably knocked down.

Let Me Tell You About My 59th Time
From London, to Ireland and now back to London again for my next Top Ten Ground- Champion Hill, the home of Dulwich Hamlet. This end of February trawl down to the capital would prove to be an outstanding game between my beloved Silkmen and their Isthmian opposition as Hamlet came from two goals down to snatch a replay at the Moss. Although we overcame the Step 7 side and went on to reach the Wembley Final, the toughest part of the run to get there was at the hands of our gritty opponents here at Champion Hill. After driving through to the ground, I was delighted to be mixed in amongst a mass of home and away supporters on an afternoon which saw the ground creep into the top Non-League attendances that weekend, and whilst wandering around the facilities I also treated myself to the most almighty of mighty Bratwursts. Aside from the brilliant food, passion in the stands and amazing game, the ground wasn't half bad either. Deep in the heart of East Dulwich, the 1912 stadium lies opposite a Sainsbury's and in an overall delightfully tranquil part of the Borough of Southwark. Having been renovated in the early 90's, there are still a lot of worn features to the south side terrace and particular attention must be made to the vast amount of football fan stickers and Hamlet graffiti which is left as a stamp on the home that is also shared with Millwall's Ladies team. Since their impressive run last season all has not been well for Dulwich Hamlet off the field, with worries of financial struggles and talk of the ground being closed, but hopefully this hidden gem of non-league football will prevail through tough times and continue to draw one of the highest average attendances at their level. 

Let Me Tell You About My 70th Time
To complete my ultimate list of grounds so far, we take a look back at my time to the end of 2016/17 and my 70th ground- another Evo-Stik Premier Playoff match that rivalled the great game I'd seen at Salford the season before, which also included Workington! Yes the War Memorial Ground in Stourbridge is truly a great way to round off my list and this footballing and cricket venue is a true classic. Located in the West Midlands, a lot of great memories had been made that season and although everyone will remember Lincoln City and Sutton United's FA Cup runs in the greater scheme, the followers of the lower leagues will argue that the Glassboys had an equally as stunning run that eventually was halted by Adebayo Akinfenwa in a 1-2 defeat to Wycombe Wanderers in the 3rd Round. Just a few months on and the hosts for this match had continued to plough on in the Evo-Stik Premier League and they had been awarded a home-tie against their Cumbrian adversaries. The match seemed to be sewn up as the 90th minute approached with the hosts 2-1 up, but a late Wordsworth goal sent it to Extra Time- talk about tense. Like in the previous season, a game I'd also attended, the hearts of the Workington fans would be re-broken as another 3-2 defeat came in Extra Time and as a neutral it really did put the icing on a delightful slice of footballing cake. 

So... which one was the best?

Now that I've narrowed down my Top Grounds to Ten, it seems that the only thing left to do is rank them in order to complete my search for the best of my first 100. It has been a tough list to compile and I've swapped them about so much, but I feel that I have made the best decision in my ranking.

10. The Novus Stadium- Kidsgrove, Staffordshire.
Evo-Stik First Division South Ground, home of Kidsgrove Athletic
Ground Number 13

9. Aggborough- Kidderminster, Worcestershire.
National League North Ground, home of Kidderminster Harriers

Ground Number 17

8. War Memorial Ground- Stourbridge, West Midlands.
Evo-Stik Premier League Ground, home of Stourbridge

Ground Number 70

7. The Old Spotted Dog- Forest Gate, London.
Essex Senior League Ground, home of Clapton

Ground Number 38

6. Moor Lane- Salford, Greater Manchester.
National League North Ground, home of Salford City

Ground Number 28

5. Solitude- Cliftonville, Belfast (NI).
Northern Irish Premier League Ground, home of Cliftonville

Ground Number 47

4. Fratton Park- Portsmouth, Hampshire.
League One Ground, home of Portsmouth

Ground Number 19

3. Wembley Stadium- Wembley, London.
National Ground, home of England and Tottenham Hotspur

Ground Number 5

2. Champion Hill- East Dulwich, Greater London.
Isthmian Premier League Ground, home of Dulwich Hamlet

Ground Number 59

1. Oriel Park- Dulwich, County Louth (ROI).
Irish Premier League Ground, home of Dundalk

Ground Number 46