2018 William Hill Sports Book of the Year: Longlist

2018 marks the 30th year of the William Hill Sports Book Award. The longlist has been announced and is as follows:

The longlist in full (alphabetically by author’s surname):

  1. Fear and Loathing on the Oche by King Adz (Yellow Jersey, Penguin Random House)
  2. Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian (Simon & Schuster)
  3. Life to the Limit: My Autobiography by Jenson Button (Blink, Bonnier Books)
  4. State of Play: Under the Skin of the Modern Game by Michael Calvin (Century, Penguin Random House)
  5. This Girl Ran: Tales of a Party Girl Turned Triathlete by Helen Croydon (Summersdale Publishers)
  6. The Boy on the Shed by Paul Ferris (Hodder & Stoughton)
  7. The Lost Soul of Eamon Magee by Paul D. Gibson (Mercier Press)
  8. You’ll Never Walk by Andy Grant (deCoubertin Books)
  9. A Boy in the Water by Tom Gregory (Particular Books, Penguin Random House)
  10. The Card: Every Match, Every Mile by Steve Hill (Ockley Books)
  11. Berlin 1936 Sixteen Days in August by Oliver Hilmes (The Bodley Head, Penguin Random House)
  12. Chasing Points: A Season on the Pro Tennis Circuit by Gregory Howe (Pitch Publishing)
  13. The Test by Nathan Leamon (Constable, Little Brown)
  14. The Mountains Are Calling: Running in the High Places of Scotland by Jonny Muir (Sandstone Press)
  15. Bump, Bike & Baby: Mummy’s Gone Adventure Racing by Moire O’Sullivan (Sandstone Press)
  16. Sevens Heaven: The Beautiful Chaos of Fiji’s Olympic Dream by Ben Ryan (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, The Orion Publishing Group)
  17. Heads Up: My Life Story by Alan Smith (Constable, Little, Brown)


Football has four titles in the list, which are State of Play: Under the Skin of the Modern Game by Michael Calvin, The Boy on the Shed by Paul Ferris, The Card: Every Match, Every Mile by Steve Hill and Heads Up: My Life Story by Alan Smith.

The ‘Beautiful Game’ has had a number of winner’s down the years including Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby in 1992 and the latest in 2015, The Game of Our Lives: The Meaning and Making of English Football by David Goldblatt.

The judging panel for this year’s Award consists of: journalist and broadcaster Mark Lawson; retired professional footballer and former chairman of the Professional Footballer’s Association, Clarke Carlisle; broadcaster and writer John Inverdale; broadcaster Danny Kelly; award-winning journalist Hugh McIlvanney; and The Times columnist and author, Alyson Rudd. Chair of Judges is Graham Sharpe, co-creator of the Award alongside the late John Gaustad, founder of the Sportspages bookshop, who passed away in 2016.

The 2018 shortlist will be announced on 25th October 2018. The winner will be announced at an afternoon reception at BAFTA on Tuesday 27th November. As well as a £30,000 cash prize, this year’s winning author will receive a free £2,000 William Hill bet, and a day at the races.

2017 William Hill Sports Book of the Year: Longlist

The 16-strong Longlist for 29th William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award has been announced and is as follows:

  • Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig (Simon & Schuster)
  • Breaking Ground: Art, Archaeology and Mythology edited by Neville Gabie, Alan Ward and Jason Wood (Axis Projects)
  • Centaur by Declan Murphy and Ami Rao (Doubleday, Transworld)
  • Connie: The Marvellous Life of Learie Constantine by Harry Pearson (Little, Brown)
  • Feeling is the Thing that Happens in 1000th of a Second: A Season of Cricket Photographer Patrick Eager by Christian Ryan (riverrun, Quercus Books)
  • Four Mums in a Boat by Helen Butters, Niki Doeg, Frances Davies and Janette Benaddi (HQ, HarperCollins)
  • Gambling for Life by Harry Findlay (Trinity Mirror Sport Media)
  • Knowing the Score: My Family and Our Tennis Story by Judy Murray (Chatto & Windus, Penguin Random House)
  • On Form by Mark Brearley (Little, Brown)
  • Quiet Genius: Bob Paisley, British Football’s Greatest Manager by Ian Herbert (Bloomsbury Sport, Bloomsbury)
  • Redemption: From Iron Bars to Iron Man by John McAvoy and Mark Turley (Pitch Publishing)
  • Swell: A Waterbiography by Jenny Landreth (Bloomsbury Sport, Bloomsbury)
  • The Greatest Comeback: From Genocide to Football Glory by David Bolchover (Biteback Publishing)
  • The Talent Lab: The secrets of creating and sustaining success by Owen Slot (Ebury Press, Penguin Random House)
  • Tom Simpson: Bird on the Wire by Andy McGrath (Rapha Editions)
  • When Lions Roared: The Lions, the All Blacks & the Legendary Tour of 1971 by Tom English and Peter Burns (Polaris Publishing)


Shortlisted authors will receive £3,000 cash, a leather-bound copy of their book, and a free £1,000 bet. Longlisted authors will receive a free £500 bet and a certificate.

The 2016 prize was won by Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

2016 William Hill Sports Book of the Year – Longlist

Now in its 28th year, the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award is the world’s longest established and most valuable literary sports-writing prize.

The award is dedicated to rewarding excellence in sports writing and was first awarded in 1989. This year, 2016, the prize for winning the award is £28,000.

Below are the seventeen titles on the longlist for 2016, which will then be reduced to a shortlist of seven b.efore the awarding of the winner.

  • Today We Die a Little: The Rise & Fall of Emil Zátopek, Olympic Legend by Richard Askwith (Yellow Jersey Press)
  • No Nonsense: The Autobiography by Joey Barton, with Michael Calvin (Simon & Schuster)
  • Endurance: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Emil Zátopek by Rick Broadbent (Wisden)
  • Football’s Coming Out: Life as a Gay Fan and Player by Neil Beasley with Seth Burkett (Floodlit Dreams)
  • ‘How’s Your Dad?’: Embracing Failure in the Shadow of Success by Mick Channon Jr (Racing Post Books)
  • Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan (Corsair)
  • For the Glory: The Life of Eric Liddell by Duncan Hamilton (Doubleday)
  • Watching the Wheels: My Autobiography by Damon Hill, with Maurice Hamilton (Macmillan)
  • Forever Young: The Story of Adrian Doherty, Football’s Lost Genius by Oliver Kay (Quercus)
  • Eat Sweat Play: How Sport Can Change Our Lives by Anna Kessel (Macmillan)
  • Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight (Simon & Schuster)
  • Chasing Shadows: The Life & Death of Peter Roebuck by Tim Lane and Elliot Cartledge (Hardie Grant Books)
  • The Belt Boy by Kevin Lueshing and Mike Dunn (Austin Macauley Publishers)
  • Mr Darley’s Arabian: High Life, Low Life, Sporting Life – A History of Racing in 25 Horses by Christopher McGrath (John Murray)
  • Find a Way: One Untamed and Courageous Life by Diana Nyad (Macmillan)
  • Mister: The Men Who Taught the World How to Beat England at Their Own Game by Rory Smith (Simon & Schuster)
  • We Had Some Laughs: My Dad, The Darts and Me by Dan Waddell (Bantam Press)

2015/16: Sky Bet League One – Chesterfield v Bradford City

004Having suffered five consecutive league defeats coming into this fixture, there was little Festive cheer at the Procat Stadium on a squally afternoon for the visit of Bradford City. The Bantams arrived in Derbyshire having lost their first league game in eleven outings, after a 2-1 defeat to Walsall.

The Spireites started the day in 17th place in League One with their opponents Bradford City eight points ahead in 10th place.

Before the action started there was a minute’s applause for former Chesterfield Chairman Barrie Hubbard who recently passed away.

Chesterfield kicked-off and within two minutes Sylvan Ebanks-Blake won a free-kick in a good position, but it was easily cleared by the City defence. James Hanson was prominent for Bradford in the opening minutes as was Tony McMahon who found himself clear on the right but mis-controlled the ball allowing it to go out of play.

The visitors were dominating early on with Hanson and Kyle Reid looking to get behind the Chesterfield back four in a direct manner, although this was not always successful as the wind was taking some of the passes straight through to Tommy Lee in the Chesterfield goal.

The home team’s first opportunity came on ten minutes. Jay O’Shea got down the left and his partly cleared cross fell to Ebanks-Blake, but his shot lacked power and was easily save by Ben Williams. This was the only brief opportunity for Chesterfield in an opening fifteen minutes that City dominated.

Reid earned City’s first corner on the quarter-hour mark, which Billy Clarke headed against the post and the resulting Gary Liddle shot was easily gathered by Lee. Minutes later Hanson was at full stretch for The Bantams, but he could only put his effort wide of the left post.

Chesterfield gradually started to work their way back into the game and after twenty three minutes Ebanks-Blake had a header on target for the home-side. However, The Bantams continued to press and Lee had to be alert to turn Reid’s effort away for a corner.

It was thirty minutes before Chesterfield had their first corner of the game. The effort was punched away but the resultant Dion Donohue effort to keep the attack alive was wayward.

As the last ten minutes of the half approached Lee needed attention after taking a goal kick, although it proved to be nothing serious.

Ebanks-Blake was continuing to work hard for Chesterfield as was O’Neil down the right, who also had an excellent drive which went not too far over the bar.

With the interval approaching, the visitors picked up the pace as Hanson had a shot deflected for a corner and minutes later Reece Burke had a header on target. However, Chesterfield almost snatched the lead before half-time in the minute of time added one, when from Talbot’s cross, Ebanks-Blake headed over.

Chesterfield made a change at the break with the injured Drew Talbot replaced by Ritchie Humphreys.

As with the opening half, Bradford started the better of the teams and four minutes in a teasing cross from Burke evaded the City forwards. The visitors then had a double chance to take the lead after fifty two minutes. First, Reid had a shot saved by Lee and from the corner the Chesterfield keeper was again in action to brilliantly save from Hanson’s header.

There was a brief scare on fifty four minutes as Chesterfield captain Ian Evatt went down with a head injury, but was thankfully soon up on his feet.

Just before the hour mark Gboly Ariyibi dragged an effort wide for Chesterfield and it was his last significant action as two minutes later he was replaced by Dan Gardner.

A minute later the first booking of the afternoon arrived as substitute Ritchie Humpheys was cautioned.

With sixty five minutes gone Ollie Banks had an effort deflected for a corner, but before it was taken there was a goal-mouth altercation which led to Ebanks-Banks and McArdle being booked. It was an incident that seemed to spark the crowd into action as the volume from both sets of fans increased.

Bradford were starting to warm to the task and on sixty nine minutes Hanson’s flicked header had Clarke through on goal, but his first touch was poor and the chance was gone. Clarke had a chance to redeem himself just minutes later when he bore down on goal, but his shot was deflected for a corner.

Then on seventy two minutes the breakthrough came, Clarke again caused problems for Chesterfield down the left and his cutback was swept in by McMahon for a deserved lead for The Bantams.

With fifteen minutes remaining, the home-side made their last change with O’Neil departing for Rai Simons. Five minutes later Bradford made a change with Clarke making way for Devante Cole.

The final ten minutes saw Bradford come under little real pressure from Chesterfield who looked bereft of any real idea as to where an equaliser might come from and could only produce a couple of long range efforts from Donohue and a header from Ebanks-Blake.

With four minutes of time added-on Reid gave way to James Meredith as The Bantams looked to wind-down the clock.

At the whistle the fifteen hundred plus City fans celebrated what was a deserved three points.

2015/16: Capital One Cup Fifth Round – Manchester City v Hull City

Manchester City moved into what was, pre-sponsorship by Etihad, the City of Manchester Stadium for the start of the 2003/04 season. City had spent 80 years at Maine Road prior to that and fans down the years would have had their pre and post-match rituals down to an art, a tradition passed down the generations – same place, same time, same friends and family.

In moving ground losing those rituals for some City fans would have been unbearable and for those businesses that relied on match-day trade in Moss Side, financially catastrophic.

Those days getting to the ground amongst the back-to-backs in south Manchester have been replaced with a journey whether on foot, tram or car to a vast expanse called Sportscity, which includes City’s ground, a velodrome, an athletics stadium, the National Squash Centre and a link to the Etihad Campus (housing City’s Academy Facility).

It is an impressive site, yet what has this meant for the fan experience? With City drawn at home to Hull City in the Capital One Cup Fifth Round, it was an ideal opportunity to see for myself.

The Etihad Stadium sits to the east of the city centre and is easily reached by tram; tonight a £3 ticket provided a return ticket from Manchester Piccadilly to the Etihad Campus. It was then a short walk up a flight of stairs up to the exterior perimeter of the ground.

Given the space available, Manchester City have created various buildings and areas allocated with certain functions. So for instance, fans have the choice of the club shop, food and drinks outlets as well as City Square around the ground. This last space has a stage and is dedicated to providing pre-match entertainment, with interviews, competitions and live bands, which are beamed out on big screens around the stadium.

With the game being played on 01 December, it was a chance for the club to start the countdown to Christmas and had even installed an ice-rink outside the Etihad. Having arrived early it was a chance to experience the entertainment and facilities on offer. It was evident that City have put a great deal of time and effort into making sure that those arriving early are engaged, whilst of course ensuring they are spending money.

It may be a very different pre-match routine to that which many City supporters from the Maine Road era remember, but the reality is that for a new generation of fans, this is the norm – something the West ham faithful will have to come to terms with once they move to the Olympic Stadium next season.

Once inside the ground, you are struck by the fact that the concourses are bright and roomy with plenty of food and drink outlets and various television screens to continue the countdown to kick-off. As you would expect in a modern stadium, the seats are comfortable with plenty of legroom and a view free from any obstruction. They are facilities that are a lifetime away from those encountered in my early years of watching football around the country. However, there still remains a question as to whether these fine amenities in our fleet of all-seater stadiums have lessened the atmosphere in the game today.

On the pitch, it was Manchester City who triumphed 4-1 over Hull City in a score line which flattered them. When Wilfred Bony slotted home after twelve minutes, one wondered if the game was going to be killed off by the Premier League side quickly. However, despite David Silva making his first start since early October and Belgian international Kevin de Bruyne being in the side, chances were few and far between in a low-key game.

With just ten minutes remaining The Citizens were still ahead by a single goal as a few people started to head for the exits. Those leaving early missed four goals – on eighty minutes substitute Kelechi Iheanacho finished Raheem Sterling’s cross for City’s second and a third goal followed just two minutes later from De Bruyne. The Belgian added his second of the night on eighty seven minutes from a free-kick, which just left time for Andrew Robertson to score a consolation for The Tigers in time added-on.

At the whistle the 38,246 crowd dispersed into the cold December Manchester night, satisfied with a City win and progress into the Semi-Final. Whatever grounds have in terms of experience and facilities for fans in the future, some things they want will never change – a winning team.

2015 William Hill Sports Book of the Year – winner

The Game of Our Lives: The Meaning and Making of English Football by David Goldblatt has been announced as the winner of the 2015 William Hill Sports Book of the Year.

David Goldblatt was born in London in 1965 and is a supporter of Tottenham Hotspurs and Bristol Rovers. He teaches sociology at Bristol University, reviews sports books for the TLS, and for some years wrote the Sporting Life column in Prospect magazine.

His other books include, The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football and Futebol Nation: A Footballing History of Brazil.


Brilliantly incisive. Goldblatt is not merely the best football historian writing today, he is possibly the best there has ever been. Goldblatt’s book could hardly be more impressive (Dominic Sandbrook Sunday Times)

Offers an enlightening, enriching experience. It is based on a formidable range of sources, personal observation and a pleasingly sardonic turn of phrase. Not all football writers know their stuff, let alone the socio-economic context, but Goldblatt does. Altogether this is an exceptional book (David Kynaston Guardian)

Not just the best soccer book in many years but an exemplary account of the changing character of British society in the post-Thatcher era (David Runciman Wall Street Journal)

David Goldblatt examines [English football] peerlessly … A superb history of a sport and of a nation (Evening Standard)

Goldblatt is a trusted guide…Rich with statistics, this is an admirably balanced account of the beautiful game (Daily Mail)

Prodigious research and a fluent writing style … this is a fine book which should have an appeal much beyond the game (Mihir Bose Independent)

An encyclopaedic portrait of English football stripped of all the non-stop hype. The beautiful game is, after all, a dirty business (Financial Times: Life & Arts)

An intensely readable socioeconomic study of English football in the age of globalisation (New Statesman)

A book that informs and inspires, a truly great piece of writing (Philosophy Football)

The best pub talker of a book for years (Sunday Sport)

Goldblatt has a gift for exploring the way the game holds a mirror up to our lives…His deconstruction of the modern game could hardly be bettered (Observer)

A bold analysis of Britain’s economic and social change refracted through football (The Times)

A salient overview of the past quarter-century (Times Literary Supplement)


2015/16: Capital One Cup Fourth Round – Sheffield Wednesday v Arsenal

For my last Capital One Cup game at Fulham talk was of how it felt unlike a match-day with a trek across London during rush-hour to witness a game in a ground less than half full.

This certainly couldn’t be levelled at the fixture I attended tonight as I took my place amongst a full to bursting Hillsborough for Sheffield Wednesday against Arsenal.

The Owls had reached this stage after a First Round 4-1 win over Mansfield Town, a Second Round 1-0 victory Oxford United and a giant-killing 2-1 win away at Newcastle United. Given their European commitments Arsenal only entered the competition in the Third Round and had beaten North London rivals Tottenham 2-1 at White Hart Lane.

Sheffield station was buzzing, with fans arriving from London mingling with the Wednesday faithful into the damp South Yorkshire night and as a result the trams making the short journey out to the ground were packed.

Wednesday fans were in a confident mood as their team had made a good start to their Championship campaign and “Hi Ho Sheffield Wednesday” rang out loudly as the trams rattled their way to the Leppings Lane stop.

There was a hint of fog in the night sky which swirled in the Hillsborough floodlights and added to the feeling that it might be a night to remember. A quick beer was had and then it was into the Kop, with the crowd, noise and anticipation levels building nicely.

The Owls made just two changes from their last outing at Rotherham, with goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith replacing Keiren Westwood and winger Jeremy Helan coming in for the ineligible Fernando Forestieri. Arsenal had some familiar names in their 18 man squad for the evening, but had six players who didn’t appear in the programme team listings – Glen Kamara, Alex Iwobi, Ismael Bennacer, Krystian Bielik, Matt Macey and Ben Sheaf.

By kick-off the crowd was pumped and ready to give the Londoners a loud and intimidating South Yorkshire welcome.

Arsenal had plenty of possession from the off but were forced into a change after five minutes when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was substituted for Theo Walcott. The Gunners were then hit with another injury blow on nineteen minutes when Walcott had to depart, to be replaced by 17 year old Ismael Bennacer.

Despite seeing plenty of the ball, Olivier Giroud was not troubling the Wednesday defence and the home side took heart from this.

Then on twenty seven minutes the ground erupted as The Owls went ahead. Barry Bannan played the ball to Daniel Pudil on the left and the Czech full back squared the ball to Ross Wallace. The Scot running onto the cross struck his shot into the bottom corner with Petr Cech rooted to the spot.

With the crowd behind them Wednesday started to rampage forward and were unlucky not double their advantage when Wallace curled a free-kick just over. However, the home team weren’t to be denied long and five minutes before the break had a second goal.

Lucas Joao ran at the Arsenal left flank before cutting in and forcing a save from Cech. From the resulting corner an unmarked Joao cleanly headed in with Cech once again flat-footed.

008Hillsborough was delirious at the half-time whistle with discussions at the break centring on the fact that surely this was a lead that Wednesday couldn’t throw away.

They needn’t have worried as with six minutes of the restart Wednesday had a third goal. From a free-kick, Bannan fired it to the right where Tom Lees volleyed in a centre which Sam Hutchinson bundled over the line from close range.

The game was up for the Gunners and they should have been 4-0 down when an unmarked Joao headed wide from just eight yards out. As Wednesday eased off, Arsenal for the first time in the evening created a couple of chances. First Per Mertesacker headed against the bar from inside the six yard box and then Joel Campbell volleyed just wide from the right, but it was not to be for the Gunners.

It had indeed been a night to remember for the Wednesday faithful and it was a noisy journey back into the city centre with the jubilant Owl hordes. This had been an evening of atmosphere and passion and even the defeated Arsenal fans must have felt they had been part of something special.

Postscript: It was only after reflecting on the games that I’ve attended so far that a strange link became apparent. The four games so far all have a link to Fulham’s journey to the 1974/75 FA Cup Final.

First Round: Carlisle United v Chesterfield. Carlisle were beaten 1-0 by Fulham in the FA Cup Sixth Round at Brunton Park.

Second Round: Hull City v Rochdale. Fulham played Hull in the Third Round and went through 1-0 in the 2nd Replay at Filbert Street.

Third Round: Fulham v Stoke City. The link is about Fulham and the Cup run.

Fourth Round: Sheffield Wednesday v Arsenal. Wednesday’s ground, Hillsborough, was the venue for the Semi-Final game between Fulham and Birmingham City.

2015/16: Capital One Cup Third Round – Fulham v Stoke City

My League Cup adventure had taken me to two new grounds in the previous rounds – Carlisle United and Hull City – but today it was a return to much more familiar territory, that of my own team Fulham for their Third Round tie with Stoke City.

Stoke had come through the Second Round after beating Luton Town 8-7 on penalties, whilst Fulham had reached this stage of the competition after a First Round 1-0 win at Wycombe Wanderers and a Second Round 3-0 victory over Sheffield United.

With the League Cup games played in midweek it was a dash after work to catch the train from Leeds down to London. Attending games ‘suited and booted’ always has a strange feeling and this sensation was reinforced arriving at Kings Cross in rush-hour and blending in with the other ‘suits’ in travelling on the tube to  Putney Bridge.

It really didn’t feel like a match-day as I emerged into Bishops Park for the walk to the ground with very few others making their way to Craven Cottage. Indeed it was a very subdued atmosphere in the stadium as I grabbed a beer and watched the sunset over The Thames.

By kick-off time just over 9,000 fans had congregated for this game with the travelling contingent from Stoke making themselves heard from the first whistle.

As is the trend these days in the cup competitions, Premier League Stoke made wholesale changes to their line-up with experienced squad players Shay Given, Steve Sidwell, Peter Odemwingie and Peter Crouch getting a rare first-team start.

The opening half-hour produced very little in terms of real opportunities for either side. Fulham were neat in possession but had no cutting-edge in the last third, whilst Stoke were reduced to an effort that Odemwingie dragged well wide of the Fulham goal.

On thirty three minutes Stoke made the breakthrough although there was a touch of fortune about it. Crouch collected the ball and looked to play a one-two with Odemwingie, as the Stoke player looked to make the return pass, Fulham’s Ben Pringle made the challenge and diverted the ball back into the path of Crouch who coolly finished past Lewis.

The goal provoked a response from the Whites and the crowd rallied as Pringle had an effort on goal and Burn hit the post from a header, although it was flagged offside.

Stoke led 1-0 at the break in what had been a pretty tight opening forty five minutes.

During the interval there was time to wander back out to the riverside amongst those queuing for half-time refreshments and take in the sights, sounds and smells. Reassuringly, these never seem to change, with optimistic talk of a second-half comeback floating in the air, mingling with the steam of hot drinks and the smell of fried onions.

Soon though it was time to return to our seats with a chilly wind following us from the Thames.

Fulham started brightly in the second period with an early effort from Pringle whistling over the bar. As the half continued, Stoke continued to be resolute at the back, but began to concede a number of free-kicks in and around their penalty box. However, McCormack could not make them count, with his efforts striking the visitors wall.

Just past the hour mark Fulham looked to ring the changes with a double substitution as Kacaniklic and Woodrow were replaced with Tunnicliffe and Dembele. Still they continued to press and create chances with McCormack unable to convert a Pringle cross and Dembele volleying over.

As the game entered the last fifteen minutes, Stoke were still clinging onto their slender lead and should have sealed the victory as Odemwingie was played into the box after Affelay had broken down the left, but the Nigerian international contrived to fire over the bar.

Fulham made their last substitution with eight minutes remaining in what was to prove a dramatic finale. First Christensen produced a long range lobbed effort from a poor clearance from Given, which ultimately dropped wide. Then with ninety minutes on the clock, Fulham were unable to clear and Stoke substitute Arnautovic with plenty of time and space curled his effort wide.

The fourth official indicated five minutes time added on and the Stoke faithful howled derisively. Fulham threw everything at the Potters, with Given making a great save from Christensen. Then with barely seconds left a header from Burn caused havoc in the Stoke defence and after a ricochet eventually came back to him, this time he crashed a shot against the bar. It had been a grandstand finish from Fulham, but Stoke had survived to progress 1-0.

Given that it was a small attendance tonight the exit was swift from the ground and within minutes walking back through the park along by the river the crowd had thinned and once again the feeling that it didn’t feel like a match-day returned. Across the river, the bright lights of the Star and Garter dazzled and voices enjoying an evening drink echoed over the water.

Back on the underground I was just another a weary looking commuter, although this one still had the delights of the last train North and arrival in the early hours in Leeds to navigate.

2015/16: Capital One Cup Second Round – Hull City v Rochdale

Following a first visit to Brunton Park in the Capital Cup First Round, the Second Round also afforded the chance to tick another venue off the list of grounds attended, with a trip to the KC Stadium, the home of Hull City.

Both City and their opponents tonight, Rochdale, only made it into the Second Round after winning through on penalties. Hull emerged victors 4-3 away at Accrington Stanley, whilst Rochdale beat fellow League One side Coventry City 5-3 at Spotland.

Hull City manager Steve Bruce made nine changes to his starting line-up from the weekend loss at Charlton Athletic with only David Meyler and Andrew Robertson retained. The most significant change saw the return from a long-term injury of Mohamed Diame.

Dale manager Keith Hill made only two changes from the squad that drew 0-0 at Chesterfield with Andy Cannon and Reuben Noble-Lazarus coming in.

Despite the number of changes the home team settled quickest and had the first real opportunity of the game when Ryan Taylor fired a free-kick over the bar. However, it wasn’t long before the City faithful had a goal to cheer. On nine minutes Abel Hernandez played in Greg Luer who expertly slotted home past Rochdale keeper Lillis.

Hull though didn’t capitalise on their bright start and despite the energy of Diame in midfield, weren’t able to punish the visitors. Indeed it was Rochdale who looked more composed as the first-half continued with neat possession football that saw chances created for Ian Henderson, Cannon and Noble-Lazarus.

The lethargy from the home-side seemed to affect the majority of the 10,430 crowd who were muted in their response as the players left the pitch at half-time with the Tigers holding onto their 1-0 advantage.

Hull started the better at the beginning of the second-half and Hernandez had an early chance, but put it over the bar. However, as with the opening forty five minutes, it was the visitors who came stronger into the game dominating possession.

Despite seeing plenty of the balls, Rochdale didn’t create any clear-cut opportunities, although there were half-chances for Calvin Andrew, Lewis Alessandra and Cannon. Hull though had a glorious chance to kill off the game late-on, but Hernandez managed to fire wide after a tantalising cross from substitute Ahmed Elmohamady.

At the whistle, Hull had managed to maintain their 1-0 lead and progress to the Third Round and a home tie with Swansea City. Rochdale though will have considered themselves unlucky not to have taken the game to extra-time based on their possession.

* * * * * * * *

In terms of my impression of the KC Stadium, it was unspectacular from the outside, as most new-builds are, but it was good to see that had an attempt had been made to break up the plain exterior with a series of fresco’s featuring greats from Hull City and the rugby league legends of Hull FC (who also play at the KC Stadium).

Internally, the layout reminded me of Rotherham United’s New York Stadium, with a larger main stand sweeping down and round to the remaining three stands.

With the ground less than half-full it was difficult to assess the atmosphere and intensity that a packed KC Stadium would generate.

2015/16: Capital One Cup First Round – Carlisle United v Chesterfield

League Two Carlisle United beat League One Chesterfield 3-1 in extra time at Brunton Park in the Capital One Cup first round.

Jabo Ibehre was the hero for United scoring twice. The first came from a header with just 15 minutes remaining. However, Emmanuel Dieseruvwe levelled for the Spireites to take the game into extra time.

Dieseruvwe though was sent off seconds into extra time for an elbow before Ibehre put the Cumbrians ahead with a right-footed volley.

With time almost up and as Chesterfield pushed for an equaliser, Kevin Osei confirmed victory in injury time with a curling effort

Chesterfield came out of the blocks fastest with Gboly Ariyibi an early threat which resulted in a Spireites corner in the opening minute.

This bright start continued in the opening six minutes as Chesterfield created three great opportunities to take the lead. First, Armand Gnanduillet fired against the post and moments later a second chance fell to captain Sam Morsy who forced Carlisle keeper Mark Gillespie into an excellent save to his left. The last of the trio of efforts on goal for the Spireites saw Gnanduillet round the keeper only to see his goal-bound effort blocked.

At this stage Chesterfield totally dominated the home side and Dan Jones and Ariyibi were combining to great effect.

With ten minutes on the clock Carlisle made their first real threat on the Chesterfield half with Patrick Brough and Steven Rigg combining. Indeed it was this pair who fashioned United’s first chance with Rigg’s header going wide and marked a change in momentum.

Just three minutes later Tommy Lee had to be at his best to save from Rigg and then almost immediately stop an Alexander McQueen attempt on goal.

As the game entered the midway point of the first-half the pace settled with Gnanduillet and Ariyibi continuing to work hard upfront, prompted by Gardner and Jones.

Carlisle though grew in confidence as the half progressed and Chesterfield were grateful to their keeper Lee to keeper out a curling effort from Angelo Balanta on thirty six minutes and from a Grainger free-kick seven minutes later, as the Chesterfield custodian leapt high to palm over the strike.

Even as half-time approached Lee was called into action once more, having to punch away a stinging free-kick from Grainger with Spireites skipper Ian Evatt booked for the initial challenge which conceded the foul.

As in the first-half, Chesterfield started strongly in the second period and Gillespie had to be quickly out to stop Ariyibi as he bore down on goal. Gardner also caused the home team problems from midfield in the opening exchanges.

However, in a repeat of the opening half, Carlisle came into the game and gained in confidence. With McQueen dangerous from the wing, Chesterfield were grateful to see a header from Charlie Raglan drift wide of their own goal.

As the hour mark passed, Carlisle made a double substitution. Charlie Wyke was replaced by Jabo Ibehre and Patrick Brough made way for Kevin Osei. The change proved to be inspired for Carlisle.

Chesterfield continued to press without creating any real opportunities although Jay O’Shea worked hard to drive the Spireites forward at every opportunity.

With twenty minutes to go the pace dropped and Chesterfield made their first change with Gnanduilet replaced by Mani Dieseruvwe.

The deadlock in an entertaining gamed was broken on seventy five minutes as a cross whipped in from the right-hand side was flicked home by Carlisle substitute Ibhere inside Lee’s left-hand post.

With ten minutes left Chesterfield made a change with Ariyibi taken off and Jake Orrell introduced to the action. And it was a case of the substitutes who combined to get the Spireites back in the game with six minutes left.

Orrell worked hard to retain possession and his intelligent ball to his right was swept home by Dieseruvwe for his first senior goal.

Chesterfield finished in the ascendancy but couldn’t fashion a chance as ninety minutes passed or indeed during the four minutes of time added on

Extra-time commenced in explosive fashion as Spireites goal-scorer Dieseruvwe was sent-off with twelve seconds for what appeared to be an elbow.

Carlisle looked to take advantage of the numerical advantage, as two minutes into extra-time Hery drove at the Chesterfield back four before his shot which went high and wide.

In order to provide some fresh legs, Chesterfield made their last change five minutes into extra-time when Banks was replaced by Michael Onovwigun.

However, chances proved to be at a premium in the remainder of the half with Osei having a strike for Carlisle straight at Lee, whilst Jake Orrell worked hard up front on his own for the Spireites.

Two minutes were added on at the end of the first period of extra-time and Osei had the only effort which was easily gathered by Lee during that period for United.

Substitute Osei proved to be a threat at the start of the second period of extra-time with an early shot from within the box which went comfortably wide and also latched onto a through ball which Lee saved bravely at the feet of the Carlisle striker.

This early pressure was the precursor to the Carlisle taking a 2-1 lead as within three minutes of the restart Grainger crossed and Ibehre hooked in his second of the night.

The Spireites responded almost immediately as O’Shea had a shot for Chesterfield which was deflected for a corner just a minute later.  Shortly after Gardner had a free-kick opportunity but it was high and wide.

Lee, who was Chesterfield’s man of the match, was in the wars when he dived at the feet of Rigg who earned a booking for his late lunge at the keeper.

Despite being a man down, the Spireites continued to create half-chances as Gardner miskicked from a good position and Morsey had a curling effort just wide.

However, Osei continued to be a threat for United and with the last two minutes of time added on nearly up, he broke down the left and curled into the top corner past the unfortunate Lee and condemn to Chesterfield to a 3-1 defeat.