2013/14 Newcastle United (Home Shirt)

Shirt front

Manufacturer: Puma

Sponsor: Wonga

This was the fifth season that Puma had produced the United kit, and the first that it controversially carried the Wonga logo, with the deal with the loans company continuing until the 2016/17 campaign. Indeed, certain players initially refused to wear the shirt, but were persuaded otherwise before the league campaign got underway.

In terms of design, the famous black and white Newcastle stripes were added to by light blue and gold trim, worn with black shorts and black socks.

Shirt back

Pulling on the shirt that season for The Magpies were:

Adam Armstrong, Adam Campbell, Cheick Tioté, Conor Newton, Curtis Good, Dan Gosling, Davide Santon, Fabricio Coloccini, Gabriel Obertan, Gaël Bigirimana, Haris Vuckic, Hatem Ben Arfa, Jak Alnwick, James Tavernier, Jonás Gutiérrez, Loïc Rémy, Luuk de Jong, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Massadio Haïdara, Mathieu Debuchy, Mike Williamson, Moussa Sissoko, Papiss Cissé, Paul Dummett, Remie Streete, Rob Elliot, Romain Amalfitano, Ryan Taylor, Sammy Ameobi, Shola Ameobi, Steven Taylor, Sylvain Marveaux, Tim Krul, Vurnon Anita, Yoan Gouffran, Yohan Cabaye.

Behind the scenes, the reign of owner Mike Ashley was again subject to protests during the season, as was the appointment of Joe Kinnear as director of football. Kinnear though didn’t last the season as he resigned from the post in February 2014.

This was to be United’s fourth season back in the Premier League since winning promotion and one which saw them finish in tenth position, with 49 points from their 38 league games. Their best run in the league saw them collect four successive wins in November, beating Chelsea 2-0 at home, 1-0 at Tottenham Hotspur, and two 2-1 victories over Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion. This pushed Newcastle up to fifth in the table, their highest position during the campaign and saw manager Alan Pardew win Manager of the Month. Any chance of making it into the top-six faltered badly in the New Year as from their last nineteen games they only won five games.

In the League Cup (sponsored that season by Capital One), Newcastle were drawn away to League Two Morecambe, with the Premier League side leaving it very late to secure the win. Shola Ameobi put The Magpies in front with just six minutes remaining, with his brother Sammy getting United’s second, four minutes into added-time. The Third Round brought Leeds United, then in the Championship to St James’ Park, with The Magpies again securing a similar 2-0 score-line as in the previous round. Papiss Cissé gave the home side a 1-0 lead after thirty-one minutes, with Yoan Gouffran sealing the win with a goal on sixty-seven minutes. Into the last 16, United were once again given a home draw, with fellow Premier League opponents, Manchester City the visitors to the north-east. It was a tie that ended 0-0 after ninety minutes, with City progressing to the Fifth Round after two goals in extra-time through, Álvaro Negredo (98’) and Edin Džeko (105’). City went on to win the League Cup against Newcastle’s rivals Sunderland at Wembley with a  3-1 victory.

There was no great run in the FA Cup (sponsored by Budweiser), this season, as Newcastle exited the competition in the Third Round, losing at home to Cardiff City (programme left), who were then in the Premier League. The Magpies looked to have been going into the draw for the Fourth Round draw after Papiss Cissé had put a much changed Newcastle team 1-0 up after sixty-two minutes. However, the visiting Bluebirds had other ideas as Craig Noone levelled on seventy-three minutes, and then struck a winner ten minutes from time through Fraizer Campbell, giving Cardiff passage with a 2-1 come from behind victory.

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2019/20: An Incredible Journey. Match Day 24 (Part 2) – Saturday 22 February 2020: AFC Wimbledon v Blackpool

As mentioned in Part 1 of this Match Day adventure, we left Griffin Park with about fifteen minutes to go. I’ve never been a fan of leaving games early, but time was of the essence. So with the Brentford game still in progress we walked to the car through relatively empty streets, along with a few others who had also left early, possibly heading to the local pubs to avoid the queues. Fortunately, we didn’t miss any goals, however with Brentford having levelled with a penalty as we left, they had the momentum and it wouldn’t have been a surprise if they had come up with a late winner.

Kingsmeadow – The Cherry Red Records Stadium

So onward to Kingsmeadow for AFC Wimbledon versus Blackpool game in the Sky Bet League One. It was a fairly uneventful journey other than the masses of people in Richmond Park exercising and taking their dogs for a walk which immediately brought to mind the YouTube sensation “BENTON! BENTON!” especially when we saw a few herds of deer scattered around the park. Being uneventful traffic wise gave us the opportunity to chat about the two most important things in life, football, and music. We’d both started watching ‘the beautiful game’ around the same time and in a similar part of London, although my early days were primarily Stamford Bridge, whilst Paul’s were just down the road at Craven Cottage. It also turns out we also have a very similar music taste too; a bit of rock, a bit of indie, a bit of prog, plus there was a similarity to our gig history too, so a very enjoyable jaunt over to Kingston upon Thames, home of AFC Wimbledon, Kingstonian and Chelsea Ladies up until 2017. We parked up just in front of a car we saw park on an off road area very close to the ground, looking back on it, all a little too easy given how close it was to kick-off. More of that later.

AFC Wimbledon are another club founded by disgruntled supporters following the relocation of Wimbledon FC 60 miles up the road to Milton Keynes. My last house in London was in Wimbledon Park, so Plough Lane was about 20 minute walk from where I lived and I attended a few games as they rose through the top four tiers, primarily following Grimsby Town with my friend Nigel. I was at the “Harry the Haddock” FA Cup tie in 1988 and also a game in the “old” Second Division where around 16 Grimsby Town supporters turned up and me and Nige had a chat with Nigel Hatch the Grimsby ‘keeper whilst the ball was up the other end. The Wimbledon team that day was managed by Harry Bassett and included players who had seen them promoted the previous season and would see them promoted to the First Division in time, including Dave Beasant (who would move to Chelsea in the future), Alan Cork, Wally Downes, John Fashanu, Glynn Hodges, Ian Holloway, Lawrie Sanchez, Andy Thorn, Nigel Winterburn and a future Chelsea favourite, Dennis Wise. It was shortly before my old school football team member Dave Gilbert, joined the Mariners in 1989 where he spent seven seasons, playing 259 games, and scoring 41 goals before following manager Alan Buckley to West Brom.

Matchday programme and ticket

Wimbledon were formed in 1889 as an Old Boys Team from Old Central School on Wimbledon Common, Wimbledon Old Centrals and moved to Plough Lane in 1912.  They plied their trade in the Amateur Leagues lifting the FA Amateur Cup in the 1962/63 season, the season I was born. At the same time they dominated the Isthmian League winning it three years in succession before turning professional and joining the Southern League. An extraordinary FA Cup run in the 1974/75 season which saw them make their way through to an away game at Turf Moor against Burnley, a First Division side. They’d entered at the First Qualifying Round and had seen off Brackley Town, Maidenhead United, Wokingham Town, Guildford & Dorking United, Bath City and Kettering Town to book a date at Turf Moor in the Third Round. They became the first non-league team that century that had beaten a team from the top-flight courtesy of a single goal from Mick Mahon. Their next game was against the First Division Champions Leeds United and incredibly they drew 0-0 at Elland Road, with Dickie Guy saving a Peter Lorimer penalty. The replay was switched to Selhurst Park, home of Crystal Palace with the Dons narrowly losing 1-0 in front of 40,000 fans through an own goal. They won the Southern League twice out of the following three seasons and gained election to the Football League, replacing Workington in the 1977/78 season. I saw Lincoln beat Wimbledon 5-1 in 1981 at Sincil Bank, but this was before their dramatic progress through the divisions which saw them rise to the First Division with three promotions in four seasons. Their crowning glory was a 1-0 FA Cup Final victory over Liverpool in 1988, when as BBC commentator John Motson famously put it, “the Crazy Gang have beaten the Culture Club”. With the ruling on all-seater stadium for all top-flight clubs in England, the Club were forced into moving to away from Plough Lane to Selhurst Park. Following relegation from the Premier League there were attempts to relocate the Club and it was a dark day for football when a move to Milton Keynes was sanctioned by the football authorities. In 2002/03 AFC Wimbledon started life in the Combined Counties League Premier Division. Five promotions in nine years, saw the Dons once again grace the Football League and plan to return to Plough Lane on the site of the Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium for the 2020/21 season. 2015/16 also saw another promotion for the Club as they won the League Two Play-Off Final and have been in League One since.

Their current home, Kingsmeadow is a compact ground, with a capacity of less than 5,000 and today you can see why they need to move, with cramped conditions in the Rygas Stand where we found ourselves standing.

Break in play.

The Dons started brightly and forced an early save from Blackpool ‘keeper Chris Maxwell from Anthony Hartigan’s shot. They also had the first corner of the match with Kwesi Appiah’s header just wide. The positive opening fifteen minutes also included a good chance for Appiah, as from a Luke O’Neil cross the resultant header was just over the bar. Blackpool though responded with former Aston Villa striker Nathan Delfouneso through on goal, only for Joe Day to make an excellent save. The Tangerines in fact went on to dominate the rest of the half with Delfouneso and Matty Virtue the main threats. However, with defences on top it was not s surprise that the teams went in at the break level at 0-0.

Blackpool started the second-half on the front foot, with Day the busier of the ‘keepers, having to tip an early corner over the bar. However, he was a spectator just before the hour when from a cross, Taylor Moore just ten yards out, managed to blaze over the bar. The Dons were struggling to get any foot in the game and midway through the second period, the visitors had another great chance as Delfouneso was clean through, but he delayed his shot and the ball was eventually scrambled clear by Mads Sorensen. Wimbledon though ended the match on top, and in the final fifteen minutes substitute Adam Roscrow, forced Maxwell into a decent save. Then in the final minutes fellow sub Daniel McLoughlin, popped up at the back post but his shot was superbly saved by Maxwell. The home side had started and ended well, with the visitors dominating during the middle part of the game and in the end a draw was probably just about the right result.

Au revoir Kingsmeadow

As you may remember from my visit to Blackpool for the Lincoln City game, the traffic was a nightmare and I missed a large part of the opening half. Well the curse of cars and Blackpool struck again. At the whistle we made our way out of the ground to return to the car, sadly what we didn’t notice when we had initially parked up, was the ‘No Parking’ sign and therefore came back to a parking-ticket plonked on the windscreen. However, we had made it to two games in a day and even this could not dampen what had been a cracking Saturday in the capital. Whilst Paul returned to the North on the train that evening, Sunday was to provide another Match Day opportunity for me!


Saturday 22 February 2020

Sky Bet League One

AFC Wimbledon 0 Blackpool 0

Venue: Kingsmeadow

Attendance: 4,593

AFC Wimbledon: Day, O’Neill, Thomas (Rod McDonald 88’), Wagstaff, Hartigan, Appiah (Roscrow 66’), Rudoni, Sorensen, Reilly (McLoughlin 77’), Osew, Pigott.

Unused Substitutes: Trott, Pinnock, Lammy, Guinness-Walker

Blackpool: Maxwell, Feeney, Turton, Moore, Husband, Calum Macdonald, Virtue, Ronan, Dewsbury-Hall, Delfouneso, Madine (Nuttall, 81’).

Unused Substitutes: Sims, Howe, Bola, Edwards, Spearing, Ward


Steve Blighton

2019/20: An Incredible Journey. Match Day 22 – Saturday 08 February 2020: AFC Darwen v Daisy Hill

Matchday programme cover

A trip back in time and over to Lancashire to the Anchor Ground in Darwen.

The original Darwen club featured in the drama The English Game which looked at the rise of professionalism in football as the working class teams challenged the elite of the old boys sides that dominated the FA Cup such as the Old Etonians. The story is partly based on fact but is dramatized and well worth a watch, as is A Captains Tale about West Auckland FC winning what is seen by some people as the first World Cup, the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy in 1909 and 1911.

In terms of the inaccuracies of The English Game, a significant one is that the show features only one Blackburn team whereas the reality was that there were two, Blackburn Olympic (FA Cup winners 1882/83) and Blackburn Rovers (who won their first FA Cup in 1883/84). However, one of the central characters is Fergus Suter (who did exist), who went onto win the FA Cup in 1883/84, 1884/85 and 1885/86 with Blackburn Rovers but these victories took place after the timeline of the series. Suter was a Scottish footballer who caught the eye when Partick FC toured Lancashire and played against Darwen and Blackburn Rovers in 1878. He later joined Darwen where his friend Jimmy Love was already playing. Suter gave up his trade as a stone mason as he was paid to play football, unheard of at that time and is therefore regarded as one of the forerunners of the professional game. In 1880 he caused further controversy by moving to close rivals Blackburn Rovers where he would win the FA Cup three years in succession and was also a runner up against Old Etonians in 1881/82.

Darwen were one of the more successful northern working class football teams in the FA Cup which at that time was dominated by teams consisting of the gentry and public school boys. They reached the quarter finals of the FA Cup in 1879 when they had to travel to the Oval to play Old Etonians on three occasions drawing 5 – 5, 2 – 2 and finally losing 6 – 2. In 1881 they went one better and reached the semi-finals where they were beaten by eventual winners Old Carthusians 4 – 1. They joined the Football League in 1891 when it was expanded to 14 teams, but finished bottom of the table and relegated to the newly formed Second Division. They spent a further season in the top-flight in the 1893/94 season only to be relegated once again. In their final league season they suffered a record 18 successive defeats and conceded 141 goals in the campaign, their final statistics for the 1898/99 season were:

Played Won Drawn Lost Goals For Goals Against Points
Home 2 4 11 16 32 8
Away 0 1 16 6 109 1
TOTAL 2 5 27 22 141 9


Gates at Anchor Road

Following relegation to the Lancashire League they moved to the Anchor Ground where they play today. The club never hit the heights of its Football League days, plying its trade for the majority of its existence in the Lancashire Combination League and latterly, the Cheshire County League and were founder members of the North West Counties Football League in 1982/83. They created another FA Cup memory in 1931/32 when in front of 10,000 at Anchor Road, in the Second Round they beat Chester (then a League Club) 2-1. Darwen then travelled to Arsenal in the Third Round and were beaten 11-1, with The Gunners going onto the Final only to lose 2-1 to Newcastle United. Sadly in May 2009, Darwen FC were wound-up due to significant financial debt, only for AFC Darwen to form, the name the club carries today.

Darwen artefacts

Despite that, in the clubhouse there are many pictures from their history at the end of the 19th Century and their most famous years, and the ‘new’ club is seen very much as connecting to the original Salmoners (the nickname due to the fact that during their first two seasons in the Football League (1891 to 99) they played in salmon and pink shirts.

On a typically grey February afternoon, the visitors to the Anchor Ground today were Daisy Hill, a club based in Westhoughton near Bolton. The game got off to a slow start with both teams testing each other out spreading long balls down the wings. In the opening quarter hour the referee whistled for a penalty to Darwen, the crowd were just as flummoxed as the players as to the reason for the decision, it appeared to be a simple cross in from the left and easily cleared by the Daisy Hill defence. No VAR at this level to confer regarding the decision. Up stepped Nyle Ellis to take the spot kick which he put to the keepers right and the Hill keeper, Dean Williams, pulled off a brilliant save. Unfortunately for Williams, Ellis was there to follow up and put the ball into an empty net.

Game underway

Ten minutes later there was more fun with the referee when he broke down trying to keep up with play. The game was paused for around five minutes and a member of the Darwen coaching staff came on to run the line. Shortly after Daisy Hill got a free kick on the right side of the field. Sam Howell put the ball in, and Tyler Rufus’ half volley was blocked and ran to Jacob Ridings who put the ball in at the far post. Darwen started to pressurise the Daisy Hill defence and were rewarded with two quick goals towards the end of the half. The first came from the right hand side when the Darwen full back Kallum Banks curled in a cross and Ellis nipped in front of Williams to head Darwen into the lead. The second was also a Banks/Ellis double act. This time Banks crossing to the far post where Ellis was unmarked and placed his header inside the near post. 3-1 to Darwin at half-time.

After the break Daisy Hill came out looking to make a mark on the game. Jamie Ramwell hit the post following a corner being flicked on at the near post.  Daisy Hill brought on two fresh attackers on the hour mark, Jordan Hussey and Matty Knowles. With quarter of an hour to go Daisy Hill went on the attack through Sam Howell down the right wing, his cross was met on the volley by Jamie Ramwell who gave the Darwen keeper Lewis McPartlan no chance.  Shortly afterwards Daisy Hill attacked down the right again and Ridings met the far post cross and headed past the Darwen keeper for his second of the game. Daisy Hill tried hard for the winner in the final ten minutes but the closest they came was a Jordan Hussey volley that was fired high above the bar. So in very much a ‘game of two-halves’ it finished 3-3 – value for money indeed!


Saturday 08 February 2020

North West Counties First Division North

AFC Darwen 3 (Ellis 14’, 32’, 33’) Daisy Hill 3 (Ramwell 24’, Ridings 75’, 81’)

Venue: The Anchor Ground

Attendance: 139

AFC Darwen (Squad as per programme): McPartlan, Johnson, Lonsdale, Ashburner, Edwards, Langford, Mason, Jones, Bond, Knowles, Banks, Creech, Holt, Gibson, Prince, Bannister, Jarrold, Hamilton, Williams, Ogundaisi, Greenhalgh.

Daisy Hill: Williams, Riddings, Fairhurst, Worrall, Singleton, Critchley, O’Brien, Howell, Ramwell, Rufus, Mills.

Substitutes: Mullarkey, Calaky, Knowles, Kilasa, Hussey


Steve Blighton

2019/20: An Incredible Journey. Match Day 9 – Tuesday 03 September 2019: Glossop North End v Eccleshill United

Matchday programme cover

I have a friend who loves his non-league football, he’s an Emley fan and also follows West Ham as a result of the FA Cup tie between the two sides in January 1998. Although the Hammers won through, it was Emley who stole all the headlines. Anyhow, he had mentioned that he had always wanted to go and see Glossop North End which as it turns out is only a short trip from Huddersfield.

Glossop North End hold the record for being the smallest town to have had a top flight league club, when back at the turn of the 20th Century the club were bankrolled by Sir Samuel Hill-Wood, who later became chairman of Arsenal and the Hillmen still have connections to the Gunners to this day.

They were elected to the Football League in the Second Division for the 1898/99 season eventually finishing second and gaining promotion to the top-flight. The 1899/1900 season was their only season in the First Division and unfortunately, they finished bottom of the pile.

GNE 1899/1900 Season

They remained in the Second Division through to the start of the First World War, but Glossop were perennial strugglers. Just before the war in the 1913/14 season they a had club record attendance of 10,736 for an FA Cup Second Round match against Preston North End. At the end of the war Glossop applied for re-election to the Football League but failed and had to drop into the Lancashire Combination League.

They now ply their trade in the Northern Premier League and have been relatively successful in recent years winning a North West Counties League and cup ‘double’ in 2014/15. They also have made it to two FA Vase Final’s, in 2008/09 and 2014/15, where they were beaten by Whitley Bay 2 – 0 and North Shields 2 – 1, respectively.

This visit to the AMDEC Forklift Truck Stadium on a wet and windy evening was for an FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replay, after the initial tie at Eccleshill United had ended 1-1. First impressions were of a hotchpotch stadium with the clubhouse behind one of the goals, with a covered terrace alongside, some covered terrace along the north side of the pitch and a seated stand on the south side.

The Hillmen kicked off into the wind and rain and Touhy hit a free-kick just over the bar in the early stages of the match which ebbed and flowed with entertainment at both ends of the pitch. The North End left back, Coulibaly looked particularly impressive with a number of strong runs down the wing but unfortunately lacked a final delivery that would count. Eccleshill hit the crossbar on the half hour but the keepers weren’t troubled throughout the first-half with Glossop looking the stronger side and the sides went in at the break 0-0.

The reality of the early FA Cup rounds

Despite looking the better side and having more of the ball the Hillmen were on the receiving end of the first goal. A free kick was swung in from the left and Irving had a free header to put it in the back of the net for the visitors. This sparked a reaction from Glossop. A long ball down the left was latched on to by the lively Mills who cut inside and sent a right foot curler into the top corner from just outside the corner of the area to level just after the hour mark. This lifted the urgency in the home team to go and search out a winner. A bit of pinball just outside the box finally saw the ball come to Limpishi who fired the ball in, a miss-hit from Maeico saw the ball roll to Tuohy who fired the ball into the roof of the net from six yards past the wrong footed keeper. Heads went down in the Eccleshill side, they had defended well for seventy-two minutes but were now on the back foot and 2-1 behind. North End upped the pressure for the final fifteen minutes, with Maeico hitting a rising shot just over the bar from twenty yards. In the dying minutes, the ball found its way to Limpishi on the right wing, he sat the defender down on his arse and sent the ball in to the near post to be flicked in by the substitute Fitto with virtually his first touch of the game.

A great competitive match in difficult conditions, but the small wet crowd were thoroughly entertained throughout the game.


Tuesday 03 September 2019

Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round Replay

Glossop North End 3 (Mills 63’, Tuohy 72’, Fitto 89’) Eccleshill United 1 (Irving 51’)

Venue: AMDEC Forklift Truck Stadium

Attendance: 147

Glossop North End: Latham, Wilshaw, Coulibaly, Vinten, Hibbert, Holt (Limpiski 61’), Ekpolo, Tuohy, Coppin, Maeico (Mason 85’), Mills (Fitto 88’)

Unused Substitutes: Ellis, McClenaghan.

Eccleshill United: Emmerson, Marsh, Kaba, Sugden, Omolokum, Basi, Stor, Woodward Irving, Staunton Buchanan

Unused Substitutes: Stimpson, Moorhouse, Hargreaves, Kroma, Ndlovu, Lever, Taylor.


Steve Blighton


2019/20: An Incredible Journey. Match Day 5 – Saturday 17 August 2019: Blackburn Rovers v Middlesbrough

Matchday programme cover

Running through the fixture list this particular Saturday there wasn’t much catching the eye but opted for Middlesbrough’s visit to Blackburn Rovers in the end. Both teams had got off to a slow start and neither were known for scoring lots of goals. I suspected that this may turn out to be a goalless draw, so arranged to meet my friends Frank and Michelle after the game for a curry.

Blackburn Rovers have long history in football and are featured in the recent Netflix show, The English Game. The programme centres on the period prior to the formation of the Football League in 1888 with the FA Cup exploits of Darwen and Old Etonians part of the story line. Rovers have won the league on three occasions, the last being the Premier League in 1994/95 and six FA Cups. Along with Wanderers they are the only two teams to have won the FA Cup three years in succession from 1883 through to 1886 and were awarded a commemorative shield to mark the event. They then won the Cup again in 1889/90 and 1890/91.

Jack Walker statue

Blackburn’s more recent success came under their benefactor Sir Jack Walker who invested heavily in the club to earn promotion to the new Premier League for its inaugural season in 1992/93. After finishing fourth and then runners-up, Rovers went on to winning the league in 1994/95 with a dramatic last day of the season defeat to Liverpool with Manchester United also losing that day. Sadly, Sir Jack has since passed away in 2000, but he is fondly remembered by many football fans, not just those at Ewood Park and he is commemorated with a fine bronze statue outside the ground.

Rovers winning penalty

It wasn’t a bad game and not as dull as I had feared. For Blackburn Sam Gallagher ran his heart out up and down the left wing. The old stager, Stewart Downing (all left foot) showed a few touches of class with his control and passing. At the whistle, Blackburn picked up their first Championship win of the season while extending Middlesbrough’s winless start under new boss Jonathan Woodgate. The points were settled by Danny Graham’s first-half penalty for Rovers, who had lost their first two league matches. The 34-year-old won the spot-kick when his shirt was pulled by Anfernee Dijksteel (boyish humour means I must always giggle when mentioning this name) and he stepped up to send goalkeeper Darren Randolph the wrong way. Substitute Marcus Browne struck the woodwork for Boro’ their best effort in the second half, leaving them with one point from their opening three league games. Rovers winger Stewart Downing almost scored against his old club after the break but curled a decent effort narrowly beyond the far post.


Saturday 17 August 2019

Sky Bet Championship

Blackburn Rovers 1 (Graham 25’ [pen]) Middlesbrough 0

Venue: Ewood Park

Attendance: 14,012

Blackburn Rovers: Walton, Bennett, Lenihan, Williams, Cunningham, Travis, B. Johnson, Dack (Buckley 76’), Gallagher, Downing (Rothwell 76’), Graham (Armstrong 71’)

Unused substitutes: Nyambe, Leutwiler, Bell, Evans

Middlesbrough: Randolph, Dijksteel (Tavernier 61’), Ayala, Shotten, Friend (Walker 83’), MacNair, Wing, M Johnson (Browne 70’), Howson, Fletcher, Assombalonga

Unused substitutes: Clayton, Saville, Bola, Pears


Steve Blighton

Book Review: Cup Football An Exploration by Neil Cotton

Author Neil Cotton is a self-confessed Cup-fanatic, which came about from the first ever football match he attended, which was a 1994 Coca-Cola League Cup at The Dell between Southampton and Huddersfield Town.

Cotton’s proof of this love affair opens his book, Cup Football An Exploration:

“Alone on Platform One of a deserted Fratton Station isn’t a place I’d ordinarily choose to be at 10pm on a weekday night. It’s cold…and salvation in the form of my train home is forty minutes away. Why am I here? The blame lies squarely at my love of cup football in all forms. This was the impulse which brought me to Portsmouth’s Fratton Park to see Gosport Borough taking on Sholing in the Final of the (2014/15) Hampshire Senior Cup, an occasion few football fans – even of the clubs concerned – would cross for.”

This authors dedication and fascination with the cup format comes across in this informative, well researched and thought provoking book. Whilst there will other books which offer definitive guides and records to cup competitions, this is an interesting view across the cup spectrum whether that be County Cups or World Cup Finals.

In the early parts of this book, Cotton talks about the significance of the early County Football Associations and the importance of the County Cups and the World’s most famous competition, the FA Cup, before the formation of the Football League. He also interestingly highlights the social importance of the numerous Hospital Cups that took place, some of which have survived to this day.

As well as detailing the introduction of the League Cup, Cotton also touches on competitions from the 70s and 80s which saw companies such as Texaco and Watney’s become early sponsors of new cups. There are also looks at formats such as the Anglo-Italian Cup (in both its professional and non-league guise), and the Anglo-Scottish Cup, which will be remembered by fans of a certain age.

The study though isn’t confined to these shores, as the author looks at the significance of a post-war Europe and the introduction of the various club competitions, the European Cup, European Cup Winners Cup and Inter-City Fairs Cup and how these have changed in the modern era.

Cotton finishes the book with a chapter titled, The End? It is an interesting conclusion to the book and this review won’t detail here his suppositions, and hope instead that readers will but the book to discover them for themselves. This is a recommended read for anyone interested in the game looking for an overview of the development of Cup Football.

Note: Self-publishing is a brave and sometimes costly enterprise. However, it can lead to some issues with respect to the amount of time attributed to things such as the area of proofreading. In the case of Cotton’s book, a more detailed proofread would have picked up on the typos and, from a personal perspective, the overuse of the semi-colon. In addition, the inclusion of a chapter index and a reference section would have been beneficial.


Book Review: Walking in a Welsh Wonderland by Holly Hunt

The 2016/17 FA Cup competition will begin on Saturday 06 August 2016, a fact that will come as a great surprise to those fans within the game who only acknowledge its existence come the Third Round in January.

However, the reality is that a week before a ball is kicked at the start of the new Premier League season, 184 ties will take place in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round. It will see teams with wondrous names such as Ashby Ivanhoe, Northampton Old Northamptonian Chenecks and Tadley Calleva, grace the oldest Cup competition in the world. They know that they won’t make it all the way to the Final at Wembley, but it is a competition that can provide tidy financial assistance from a ‘Cup Run’, as well as throw up some ‘Cup Magic’ and ‘Cup Upsets’ along the way.

In Walking in a Welsh Wonderland, Holly Hunt, Media Assistant at Gainsborough Trinity, details the FA Cup adventure of the club during the 2015/16 season. It is set over thirteen chapters, with a Foreword by Neil Warnock, who cut his managerial teeth at Trinity back in the early 1980s.

The opening chapter is an observational one on the 2015/16 FA Cup competition, highlighting the importance of the tournament to non-league and lower league professional clubs alike, and also details how a number of teams higher-up the food chain have come to devalue it.

Central to the book though are the chapters devoted to the round-by-round progress of Trinity. Here the reader is treated to details of the Lincolnshire ‘derby’ in the Second Qualifying Round at home against Boston United, a dramatic Third Qualifying Round tie away at Droylsden, the backs to the wall victory at Wrexham in the Fourth Qualifying Round (which is the inspiration for the book title) and the brave exit in the First Round at home to League One Shrewsbury Town.

Given that Hunt works in the media for the club, the familiarity with the club, its players and management translates easily in her writing. However, as with many self-published books, it would have benefited from some editing and proof-reading in places.

This though doesn’t detract from a book which has so much going for it. The match details are well supported by some excellent colour action shots and other chapters which reflect on the adventure Trinity enjoyed. One such looks at how the club invested the prize money from the ‘Cup Run’ and another on What could have been, in which Hunt nicely and neatly ties up Gainsborough’s part in the FA Cup with that of eventual winners Manchester United, the link being that Trinity’s First Round conquerors, Shrewsbury Town, were defeated by the Old Trafford club in the Fifth Round.

It is then all rounded off with a cracking facts and figures summary of the FA Cup games Trinity played, in which Hunt includes amongst other things, The Story told by Twitter, Players of the Competition and Goal of the Competition.

Of course this book is aimed at supporters of Gainsborough Trinity, but will be an interesting read for anyone wanting an insight into what the FA Cup can mean to non-league and lower league professional clubs.

Copies can be bought by contacting the club through its website: www.gainsboroughtrinity.com


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2013/14: Budweiser FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round – Frickley Athletic v Sheffield FC

Just another Saturday at the football? No. This was the last Saturday before my son went off to University. He’s been my footballing companion over the last few years, but now what I’ve taken for granted as our weekend chance to catch-up is about to disappear. Suddenly the reality of him moving on to his next phase of life hits me.  I know this won’t be the last time we get the chance to go to football together, but without being too sentimental, today was significant and I tried to take in more of the day than I normally would have.

facupGiven that he is about to study at the University of Sheffield it seemed appropriate that there was a connection to the game attended today. Therefore it was a short journey and first visit to Westfield Lane home of Frickley Athletic to take in their FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round game against Sheffield FC.  Frickley play in the Evo-Stik Premier Division with Sheffield a league lower plying their trade in the Evo-Stik Division One South. Prior to this Cup match, Frickley had lost in midweek at home 2-1 to FC United of Manchester which left Athletic third from bottom with only one victory from their opening eight league games. Sheffield sat in eighth in their division having ten points from six league encounters. These two sides had recent FA Cup history as in the 2010/11 season they met in the 3rd Qualifying Round. In the game at Sheffield, the tie ended 1-1; however Frickley couldn’t make home advantage count as Club won the replay 2-1.

I’ve no car and so travel to games is by train. Today was no different and it was a straightforward journey from Leeds to South Elmsall and half a mile walk to the ground in mid-September sunshine. As in recent weeks discussion centred on preparation for University as we made our way to the stadium. However, the topic of conversation changed as we neared the streets and surrounding area where the Frickley Colliery used to be. It was a strange sight to take in streets with pavements without buildings and with roads leading to dead-ends. Even twenty years on from the closure of the pit this was a very physical reminder of the scars still left on the community and area. The fact is that by the time my son was born in 1995, the British Coal Mining Industry had all been virtually wiped out. Where the Frickley Colliery once stood is now a country park with the football ground (of what was founded as Frickley Colliery FC) the remaining link to the mining heritage of the area.

Having arrived about fifty minutes before kick-off we took in the clubhouse for a pint and with others watching the racing from the St Leger meeting at Doncaster on the television, my son and I read our programmes and talked about the game to come. With kick-off approaching, we made our way out to the pitch and eventually settled for a spot near the edge of the Frank Hill Stand. The main stand opposite is an impressive structure, but it is evident that the terraced ends within the ground have been reduced in size. Yes the stadium is a little rough round the edges, but it has bundles of character.

Just before kick-off we have our usual ‘guess the crowd’ competition, the closest earning ‘a doughnut’. On the day I was leading 11-0, mainly thanks to a spot-on prediction earlier in the season at Garforth Town which earned a six doughnut bonus. Looking round the ground I plumped for a figure of 275, with my son going for 220. He did well as we discovered post-game that the crowd figure was 222! The first-half turned out to be a corking forty five minutes with end to end action and three fantastic goals. Frickley could have been ahead as early as the first minute when from a Joe Fox cross, Gavin Allott’s header hit the post. However, it wasn’t long before the home side went ahead. On twelve minutes Jake Picton was afforded too much space by the Sheffield defence and he clinically finished from the edge of the box. Visitors Sheffield were quickly on level terms though when Ben Algar sent a long-range volley past Tom Woodhead on fourteen minutes. The status quo didn’t last long as four minutes later Frickley were back ahead again, this time another stunning volume flew in from Luke Hinsley with keeper Jamie Annerson rooted to the spot. Although there were no further goals in the first half, there were good chances for both teams before the break. Woodhead in the Frickley goal was called upon to make excellent saves from James Gregory and Jamie Hadfield, whilst Joe Fox and Gavin Allott had the best chances on the Sheffield goal. At the break it was 2-1 to the home team in what had been an entertaining half.

We opted for a change of view for the second half and walked round to the main stand, first purchasing a tasty burger and pie and peas. With the weather still fine, we took in the September sun, munched and idly discussed the game so far. Soon the teams were back out on the pitch, and it was another highly enjoyable half of football. Sheffield started the more positive of the teams, dominating the possession and creating the better chances, with Andy Gascoigne firing an excellent opportunity over the bar. Frickley were having to play on the break and on fifty seven minutes made the most of the chance. Luke Hinsley had time and space to run at the Sheffield defence and fired a shot on target which Annerson failed to hold, allowing an easy tap-in for Picton. Despite being 3-1 down the visitors continued to press, but it was just not their day as when Sheffield were able to get in on goal, Woodhead came to the rescue for Frickley. The visitors huffed and puffed, but Athletic continued to be dangerous and clinical on the break and progress to the next round was secured on seventy eight minutes. Allott was the outlet on the right for Frickley and his cross was poorly dealt with by Annerson who could only finger-tip the ball which fell to Picton, who had a simple finish to complete his hat-trick and seal a 4-1 win.

As we left the ground and walked back to the station my son and I agreed that Sheffield had more than contributed to the game and the final score was harsh on them. Soon though the conversation turned away from the football and returned to the subject of his new life in Sheffield. Men aren’t traditionally the best communicators but on that walk back I just wanted to reassure him that I was always there for him, that I was excited for him, that I was scared for him, that I proud of him, that I loved him. Just another Saturday at the football? No. A Saturday that will be remembered for more than just the football. Thanks son. Good luck and can’t wait for the next time we are at a game together.

Book Review: The Great English Final – 1953: Cup, Coronation & Stanley Matthews by David Tossell

David Tossell’s book about the 1953 FA Cup Final when Stanley Matthews’ Blackpool beat Bolton 4-3 makes a grandiose but puzzling claim. It says that the “…legendary game continues to occupy a prominent place in English football legend…” (sic) because it has, “…come to represent a Golden Age…” But it doesn’t even leave things at that. Not content with such a mighty claim about the game’s footballing pedigree, it makes wider claims for the match that cannot possibly be substantiated. The raw material for a really good story about football is there all right, but he nearly messes it up by trying to bring in too many different themes. Happily, he is saved by the fact that, finally, the Final delivered.

It is hard to work out exactly why people who want to read about a football match that has come to be known as ‘The Matthews Final’ have to wade through so much that is not actually about the game itself, nor indeed even about football. That is, until you realise that most of the match up to the climactic ending was rather dull. In searching for something more to say about it, Tossell greatly widens his remit to look at the “…merging of historical, cultural and personal narratives…”

Some of the things he says are pretty much beyond question; the game did take place in Coronation year, Mount Everest was conquered for the first time, it was watched by a much bigger television audience than any previous one, post-War food rationing did stretch out till that year, the Duke of Edinburgh apparently did say the Bolton kit made them look like a bunch of pansies. However he tries, particularly in the first half of the book, to make the 1953 FA Cup Final carry much more weight, culturally, than is fair for what was, after all, a football match. He makes a nod in this direction himself when he says, “…the threat of nuclear obliteration notwithstanding…”

A major problem with the book is its structure. Even before the account begins, we are given pen pictures of the players, curiously called the ‘Cast of Characters’, something that could surely have gone to the back of the book to ease the narrative flow. Except that there is no narrative flow. He repeatedly breaks away from his match report of the Final itself, gleaned from having studied the DVD, to explore his themes. Therefore, his first interlude arrives after a mere seven and a half minutes of uneventful football. He continues to encounter difficulties with this approach until the game itself takes over narrative duties. But before that, we are torn away from our match report yet again, this time to get, er, a match report of the Semi-Final.

Although a little credence can be given to the Final having had some degree of cultural impact since it was watched by so many, it is always dangerous when authors generalise, especially about things like the public attitude to Elizabeth II’s Coronation. People never did and never do act with one mind. Tossell seems much more comfortable and is on much safer and more interesting ground when he talks about the players and supporters. This is, in any case, what most readers of football books want all along. An over-generous helping of social enlightenment is not what they crave.

Isn’t it more real and interesting to read about Stanley Matthews having personalised boots made in Heckmondwike? Isn’t the reader more engaged by the many and varied attempts made by fans to get tickets for the Final? Isn’t everybody happier reading about Blackpool fans presenting a huge stick of rock to Number 10 Downing Street in the days when you could actually walk up to the door and knock?

Once the author has bravely trudged through the historical and cultural narratives, and most of the personal ones, he relaxes much more into what the match itself has to offer and it is amusing to note how he can barely tolerate the legendary commentator, Kenneth Wolstenholme’s commentary of the legendary game. And he teases the reader throughout, being unprepared to admit it was ‘The Matthews Final’. He does have a fair point since Mortensen and Perry made pretty important contributions, too, in actually scoring the goals. Yet the match, in an era when substitutes were not allowed, was turned on its head by Matthews in the final minutes as Bolton tired. They let a 3-1 lead slip and the nation’s most popular player, Matthews, won his medal aged 38. The book’s clanking title ‘The Great English Final’ obstinately launches a counter-claim, but its cover admits the reality. One picture of little Queen Elizabeth, no Everest, no Bolton pansies, but three shots of Stan. 2nd May, 1953 – The Matthews Final.


Review by Graeme Garvey


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2012/13: FA Cup Fourth Round – Huddersfield Town v Leicester City

LCFCFive months ago, the 2012/13 FA Cup opening weekend took place and I was amongst a crowd of 71 for the Preliminary Qualifying tie between Garforth Town and West Yorkshire neighbours Wakefield. On that overcast day on the last Saturday of August, Garforth made it through to the First Qualifying Round with a 1-0 win. Unlike previous years, this season I’ve not made a beeline for attending games in the ‘Oldest Cup competition in the World’.

However, on the last Saturday in January it is to the John Smith’s Stadium for the Fourth Round game between Huddersfield Town and Leicester City that I set off for. The reasons, well it’s easy to reach by train and the tickets are only priced at £10/£5. Indeed The Terriers have also priced their next Championship fixture in midweek against Crystal Palace at the same reduced rate. Chairman Dean Hoyle explains in his programme notes, this is to demonstrate the clubs, “…commitment to giving value to supporters…” making the game “…as affordable as possible…in the aftermath of Christmas…” With Leicester City taking up their full 4,000 allocation, the Huddersfield faithful hardly took up the chairman’s offer with gusto as only 7,945 added to The Foxes contingent. Now this could have been down to the weather conditions, although despite the snow the day before, Saturday was a bright winter’s day. It may have been down to the fact that Huddersfield had not won in the league for twelve games or a protest by some fans at the sacking of manager Simon Grayson. However, the clubs have to look at themselves and take some of the blame. Over recent years teams from all the four divisions have devalued the FA Cup be playing weakened sides. Indeed for this game Town made four changes to the team beaten 4-0 at Watford last week while City made five alterations to the eleven that beat Middlesbrough 1-0 last Friday. So even with the offer of a ticket for a tenner, fans appear not to want to watch what they perceive as second-string players turning out. Another interesting aspect of the game yesterday was that the usual 76 page programme was abandoned in favour of a 36 page offering. What does that say? And as for the chairman’s desire to produce value for money for supporters, let me do the maths for you. The usual Championship Huddersfield Town programme (Give Us An H [GUAH]), costs £3 and works out at 4p a page, the FA Cup offering worked out at 6p a page – interesting don’t you think.

On the pitch, the first-half was a pretty forgettable and disjointed; perhaps not surprising given the team changes on both sides. The only real chance came on twenty minutes, when an effort from Martyn Waghorn slid just past the left hand post of Alex Smithies in the Huddersfield goal. The only other entertainment was provided by The Terriers fans who ran through their repertoire of songs and chants, including “Smile A While” and “Town will tear you apart” (to the tune of New Order’s “love will tear us apart”). Thankfully, the second-half started more brightly as Huddersfield took charge with chances falling to Lee Novak and James Vaughan. In response, Leicester brought on Chris Wood and David Nugent on the hour mark, with Huddersfield introducing Sean Scannell shortly afterwards. The introduction of all the substitutes lifted the game and with both sets of supporters finding their voice, the game at last had the feel of a Cup-tie. Suddenly it was end-to-end stuff as Wood forced Smithies into a decent save, and was then followed by chances for Novak and Vaughan. Then on seventy three minutes, Town were awarded a penalty as Jack Hunt was fouled by Lloyd Dyer, which allowed Lee Novak the chance to calmly stroke home the spot-kick. Huddersfield were in control and shortly after Vaughan somehow contrived to miss from inside the six-yard box, whilst a Peter Clarke header was cleared off the line from a corner. However, on eighty two minutes, Leicester made Town pay for the missed opportunities. Ritchie De Laet received the ball wide out on the right, crossed and after a dummy from Lloyd Dyer, Chris Wood smartly finished; a clinical goal. That was the final decisive action of the game and both sides face doing it all again in a replay at The King Power Stadium. How will The Foxes price the tickets for the replay? What sort of attendance will the game draw? What sides will the clubs put out? Have the recent years meant the answers are already known or can the FA Cup turn the tide?