Thornton Hibs v Brechin Victoria

2.30pm  27 May 2017

SJFA East Region, North Division
Thornton Hibs 6 Brechin Victoria 0 (att 60)

As expected an easy win for Thornton Hibs, who were rounding off a successful season which has seen them win promotion back to the East Region Premier Division, a year after they were relegated.

They took a while to get going. The visitors provided stubborn resistance in the first half and it was only 1-0 by the break. In the second half Thornton stepped up a gear or two, while Brechin seemed to finish their season 45 minutes early, at least defensively.

Although they were helped by lacklustre defending, Thornton played some good football and scored some quality goals.

Thornton is a Fife village sandwiched between Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes. Hibs are based  at Memorial Park, a pleasant tree-lined public park which requires some effort by the club to take a gate.

There's a small covered area, including a snack bar, in front of the changing rooms, and a larger section of cover next to it. The pitch itself is railed off, but otherwise open to the rest of the park.

It's worth mentioning that not only are Thornton Hibs one of the few Scottish Junior clubs to produce regular matchday programmes, but it's an excellent read. The issue for this game was printed for the original fixture postponed in March, but included a free up-to-date insert that was packed so full of information they could have sold it as a programme in its own right.











Blairdardie United v Blantyre at Benburb FC

11am  27 May 2017

Glasgow and District Saturday Morning League, League Cup Final at Benburb FC
Blairdardie United 6 Blantyre 0 (att 65)

This seemed rather low key for a cup final. Just before kick off there was only a handful of people inside the ground, but the numbers swelled as the game got underway, and my rough head count was a bigger crowd than the last time I watched this final.

Three years ago, when I saw Invac win the trophy, it was staged at Colville Park. This time the venue was Govan-based junior club Benburb's new home, New Tinto Park, built immediately adjacent to 'old' Tinto Park, that's now covered by housing.

The old ground was one of the most atmospheric in non League football, dominated by a huge covered terrace. The new ground suffers from inevitable comparisons to its predecessor, but does at least have plenty of seats, something the old ground lacked, even if they're open to the elements.

Luckily for the cup final crowd the threatened rain didn't arrive, and we watched as Blairdardie comfortably added to the league cup to the premier division title they'd already won, against division one Blantyre.

The underdogs started the game well, coming close to scoring and hitting the crossbar, but their failure to take any of their chances cost them when Blairdardie went ahead before half time.

The second half was one-way traffic. Blairdardie scored twice in two minutes right at the start of the half, and from then on it was just a matter of how many more they'd get. They finished with six, but could easily have scored three or four more.










Wesham v Treales

6.50pm  24 May 2017

Catforth and District Summer League, Division Two
Wesham 5 Treales 5 (att 12)

Ticking off each year's new venues in the Catforth Summer League has become something of a ritual since I first watched football in this competition over 20 years ago.

Back in the 1990s it was an unofficial league, which the county FA presumably turned a blind eye to, and featured village teams based broadly between Preston and Lancaster. These days it's officially sanctioned, and has become a way for local sides to keep fit over the summer months.

A downside of the change has been the proliferation of unenticing school and park pitches in Preston, many of them 3G, but at least Wesham Recreation Ground is more like the sort of summer league ground that I enjoyed visiting in the past.

It's in the shadow of AFC Fylde's new stadium, seemingly bound for the Football League. AFC Fylde were once Kirkham and Wesham FC, and the Wesham half of the club played their pre-merger football here.

It's just a pitch in a public park, but a pleasant place to be on a warm and sunny evening, especially when you get to see a 5-5 draw.

Wesham were awful for much of the first half, and trailed Treales 1-4 at half time. They scored the opening goal of the second period, but had let in a fifth before they began a remarkable late comeback. Having got to 5-5 they even had chances to win it.









Waterloo GSOB v Lower Breck

1.30pm  20 May 2017

Liverpool County Premier League, Premier Division
Waterloo Grammar School Old Boys 2 Lower Breck 11 (att 10)

Another goal glut, making it two in a row, and 29 goals, since Tuesday evening's nil nil draw at County Hall in Leicester.

This game had an end-of-season feel about it, although it was nowhere near the farcical second half I watched in the Wakefield League on Wednesday. Lower Breck, runners up in the league, were in command from the off, scoring twice in the first two minutes.

It took a little longer for the third goal to come, but by half time they had a 5-1 advantage. More goals followed in the second half, and the visitors even had the luxury of missing a late penalty.

They did score an earlier spot kick, and too much complaining about the decision earned a Waterloo player a sending off. A crazy way to pick up a red card, and most likely a fine, as his side were already well beaten by that stage, and in any case had nothing to play for.

Waterloo Grammar School Old Boys play on an enclosed 3G pitch at a school, not the one they take their name from but Archbishop Beck Catholic Sports College, in Long Lane in the Walton area of Liverpool.








Fox and Hounds (Batley) v West End Terriers

6.30pm  17 May 2017

Wakefield and District League, Division Two
Fox and Hounds (Batley) 6 West End Terriers 10 (att 8)

I guess it's fitting that I should get a rugby league scoreline when watching football in the league heartland of Dewsbury.

It wasn't my first choice game, that was a premier division fixture in the same league, but when I discovered champions Real Moor weren't using their usual home pitch I turned my attention to a game in the league's third tier.

To be fair I had been warned it might not be the usual type of game, even for this level. When I spoke to Fox and Hounds to check the game I was told they were surprised at the scheduling, as many of their players had only returned from a teammate's stag weekend in the early hours of the morning.

They'd already earned promotion, and so would be treating the game as something of a lighthearted celebration of the season.

I was tempted not to bother, but it's difficult to shake off the appeal of an evening standing in a rain watching a meaningless football match, and so I headed into West Yorkshire and to the Bywell Playing Fields.

The first half was okay, even though Fox and Hounds weren't so much playing in first gear as in neutral. They twice came from behind to be level at 2-2 by the break.

West End Terriers, in mid table with equally little to play for, began the second half as if determined to ensure victory, and soon pulled clear of their hosts. Both sides' lack of defending, coupled with some tidy finishing, ensured a final score that I've never seen before, and probably never will again.

Despite seemingly named after a pub in Batley, Fox and Hounds play in Dewsbury. Bywell Playing Fields, off Leeds Road, is a sports field next to a school. There's a rugby pitch (rugby league, presumably) that's railed on both sides, and two open football pitches.










County Hall v Hathern

6.30pm  16 May 2017

Leicestershire Senior League, Championship Division
County Hall 0 Hathern 0 (att 80)

After the weekend's Coventry Alliance title decider I headed back to the East Midlands, this time to see two Leicestershire Senior League teams complete their seasons in a game that was vital to both.

The resulting goalless draw gave Hathern the point they needed to overtake FC Khalsa and win the title on goal difference, and dashed County Hall's hopes of finishing in promotion position, which would have required them to win by two goals.

Despite the lack of goals - my first nil nil draw of the season - it was a good game to watch. Hathern were positive in the first half and had the better of the chances to break the deadlock. But as the match went on, and with a point enough for them, they defended more and had to withstand pressure from the hosts.

County Hall's efforts to get in front became increasingly frantic as the second half wore on, and several times they were vulnerable on the break. Neither team could score though, and so it was Hathern who were celebrating at the final whistle.

Given their name, it's not surprising that County Hall FC play on a sports field next to County Hall in Glenfield, Leicester.

There's just enough room to accommodate football, with a pitch roped off along the near side, and cricket, with the square behind the goal. I heard a rumour that County Hall might be on the move for next season, but whether that was dependent on winning promotion I don't know. The ground is certainly adequate for the level they're at.









AEI Rugby v Christ the King

2.15pm  13 May 2017

Coventry Alliance, Premier Division
AEI Rugby 1 Christ the King 1 (att 285)

I don't know if it's down to luck, or the skill of the Coventry Alliance fixtures secretary, but this was the second time in three seasons that I've been able to enjoy a winner-takes-all title decider in the final game of the season.

Last time a draw between Folly Lane and Whitnash meant neither won the league, and the title went instead to AEI Rugby. This time, once again, a draw was enough for AEI, who kicked off with a one point advantage over Christ the King.

With so much at stake, and a large crowd gathered to watch, it was a slightly disappointing game. AEI had the better of a goalless first half, but Christ the King began the second period in a more determined mood.

They couldn't create a clear chance though, and when the home side scored a well-worked goal with around 20 minutes remaining it seemed they'd done enough. The visitors hit back within a couple of minutes to keep things interesting, but they couldn't find a winner and title went to AEI Rugby.

They play a new-looking and very impressive facility that is home to Rugby Town Junior, predominantly a youth team outfit.

There's an enclosed all-weather pitch that will apparently be home to a newly-formed Rugby Borough FC next season, in the Midland League, but AEI play on an adjacent grass pitch that is enclosed by a sturdy plastic post and rail fence and has a pair of dugouts.

An enjoyable afternoon, and I await the next Coventry Alliance title decider with anticipation.