Higher Ince v AFC Tyldesley

6.15pm  24 April 2017

Wigan and District Amateur League, Division One
Higher Ince 6 AFC Tyldesley 3 (att 25)

This wasn't my first choice game tonight, in fact it was plan C, but it turned out to be great entertainment that was almost good enough to take my mind off the bitterly cold wind blowing across Leyland Park in Hindley.

The win takes Higher Ince top of the table and into pole position to win it. They had to do it the hard way though, staging a thrilling second half fightback to recover from a 3-1 deficit.

The visitors were 2-1 ahead after a first half when they had the conditions in their favour, but it looked as if they'd have too much for Higher Ince when they added a third early in the second period.

But Higher Ince showed the sort of battling qualities needed to win leagues, even at this level. Their first goal back was a controversial penalty - it looked a dive to me - but not long later another penalty, no doubts this time, made it 3-3.

From then on there was only going to be one winner, and with their tails up Higher Ince scored quality goals, the sixth and last in stoppage time.

Leyland Park is a public park in Hindley. There's two full size pitches, with Higher Ince using the one closest to Park Road, which runs parallel. No facilities, other than changing rooms behind one goal, but a great game to watch.








Copmanthorpe v Malton and Norton

2pm  22 April 2017

York League, Premier Division
Copmanthorpe 3 Malton and Norton 0 (att 33)

It's very close at the bottom of the York League Premier Division, but Copmanthorpe gave themselves a great chance of avoiding relegation with a well-deserved win against a Malton and Norton side with very little to play for.

The hosts were on top from the start, nearly going ahead in the opening seconds, but they had to wait 20 minutes before opening the scoring. They had other chances, and it looked as if they might pay for not taking them when they gave a penalty just before half time, but it was well saved.

Two second half goals made the points safe for Copmanthorpe, and Malton and Norton played their part in what was a very good game to watch.

Copmanthorpe is a pleasant commuter village on the very outskirts of York. The football club play the local sports ground which also provides a home for Copmanthorpe's cricketers, bowlers and tennis players.

It's a nice venue, with a decent clubhouse behind the goal and a roped off pitch with dugouts on the far side. At the opposite end to the clubhouse is a busy railway line, so trainspotting groundhoppers have an extra reason to visit.









AFC Colne v Bradley

6.15pm  19 April 2017

Craven and District League, Division One
AFC Colne 4 Bradley 3 (att 6)

A match like this is just the sort of thing I like about end of season early kick offs in midweek. For once a trouble free journey, followed by a highly entertaining game at a ground I probably wouldn't go to on a Saturday.

The Holt House Playing Fields, high on a hill above Colne, is a basic venue, but the views over the town below are quite impressive. There was a good deal to see on the pitch as well, as AFC Colne and Bradley managed seven goals in what was little more than a dead rubber.

The home side's win, in their final game of the season, actually propelled them several places up the league, although they're likely to drop a place or two as other clubs complete their fixtures.

They scored early, led 2-1 and half time, then extended their lead to 4-1 before Bradley, who couldn't change league position regardless of the outcome, threatened a comeback.

Many groundhoppers will have visited Holt House to watch a game at the stadium that was once home to big-spending Colne Dynamoes, who folded over 25 years ago, or present residents Colne FC. The surrounding playing fields include four football pitches, with tonight's game on 'pitch three', which has a steep side to side slope that the players did well to cope with.









Old Wulfrunians v Worcester Raiders

3pm  17 April 2017

West Midlands Regional League, Division One
Old Wulfrunians 3 Worcester Raiders 0 (att 20)

Having already been to Devon and Norfolk over the Easter weekend I settled on a simpler trip for Bank Holiday Monday, although the M6 did its worst to frustrate me as I headed south to Wolverhampton.

Old Wulfrunians have a sports ground in Castlecroft Road, a leafy part of Wolverhampton and just yards from the stadium used by AFC Wulfrunians, who were Old Wulfs' first team before they split (amicably I'm sure) to step up into senior football a few years ago.

The Memorial Ground is a nice venue to watch a game. The main pitch is railed off on both sides, and there's a small amount of cover at the top of a grass bank along one side, which I guess may once have been the dugouts.

The dugouts are now on the opposite side, and with plenty of car parking and a nice clubhouse, serving hot drinks as well as alcohol, I liked the set up.

It was an enjoyable game too, with both sides giving their all even though there was little riding on the result. Old Wulfrunians were good value for their win, they scored once in the first half, doubled their lead right at the start of the second, and netted a penalty to complete the scoring.












Waveney v Norwich CEYMS

2.30pm  15 April 2017

Anglian Combination, Premier Division
Waveney 1 Norwich CEYMS 3 (att 20)

Waveney have had the cliched meteoric rise through the Anglian Combination's many division since joining the league, winning six promotions in just eight years.

Now they've reached the Premier Division they've probably got as high as they can go, unless the relocate or build a football ground from close to scratch. Their Saturn Close ground, in Lowestoft, just about ticks the boxes for this level of football, but it's a long way from being suitable for anything higher.

The pitch is roped off along one side, where there's a pair of dugouts. The opposite touchline was probably roped off for home games earlier in the season, but for this game the line of plastic posts weren't connected.

It's perfectly good enough for the Anglian Combination though, and a snack bar behind the goal, selling programmes as well as food and drink, was a welcome facility.

On the pitch there was little to play for really. Waveney have done well in their first season in the top flight, and are destined to finish in the top half of the table, despite this defeat to Norwich CEYMS.

All the goals were scored in the opening half hour or so. The visitors going 2-0 ahead before Waveney pulled one back, but having got back into the game they quickly conceded a third. The second half didn't live up to the first, with Waveney unable to reduce the arrears despite a spirited effort.









Torridgeside v Appledore

3pm  14 April 2017

South West Peninsula League, Division One East
Torridgeside 1 Appledore 0 (att 227)

The second half of my Good Friday double took me to Torrington in North Devon, for a derby match which showed that local football still matters to people in this part of the world.

A problem with the non-League pyramid, at the higher steps, is that teams who win promotion often find themselves playing opposition from many miles away. It's not just the extra travelling, it also means supporters with no knowledge about visiting teams have less interest in turning up to watch.

A crowd of well over 200 is impressive for a 'step seven' game, and the home fans were delighted at Torridgeside's win, and the damage it did to rivals Appledore's title hopes.

In truth it wasn't the greatest of games. A nil nil draw looked likely until the home side were awarded a penalty with about 10 minutes left. The spot kick was saved, but Torridgeside got their winner from the rebound.

Torridgeside used to play second fiddle in the town to Torrington FC, but the one-time Western Leaguers are now in the North Devon League. Torridgeside are enjoying their first season since stepping up from the North Devon League to the South West Peninsula League.

Their Donnacroft Sports Ground is being developed, with a covered standing area nearing completion on the near side of a pitch that has dugouts and is railed off along the touchlines.











AFC Camel v Templecombe Rovers at Somerton Town FC

10.30am  14 April 2017

Yeovil and District League, Charity Cup Final at Somerton Town FC
AFC Camel 4 Templecombe Rovers 1 (att 130)

The number of non-League games played on Good Friday seems to diminish each year, so the opportunity to get two games, on two new grounds, was one I didn't want to miss, even though it meant an early departure from Manchester.

Leaving at dawn at least meant I missed the worst of the south west-bound Easter holiday traffic. With only a small hold-up just south of Bristol to contend with, I arrived at the home ground of Somerset County League Somerton in time for a very welcome pre-match coffee.

The cup final pitted Premier Division leaders Templecombe and Division One's second placed team AFC Camel. The latter are one of two clubs well clear in the division, and seem destined to join the top flight next season.

Camel - from the village of Queen Camel - were ruthless in front of goal. They seized the opportunities a generous Templecombe defence presented them with to lead 2-0 early on.

Templecombe pulled a goal back before half time, but they couldn't equalise, and two second half goals gave the cup to the first division side.

Somerton Town stepped up from the Yeovil League to the Somerset County League a few years ago. Their Gassons Lane ground is a sort of sports hub for the town, with several football and rugby pitches. The main pitch, used for the cup final, is roped off and has a pair of dugouts on the far side.