Thursday, 30 April 2009

The Job is Half Done

Really enjoyed the the play off semi final on Tuesday evening - although there were a few "hold yer breath" moments towards the end of the game.

Belper had scored the opening goal on 69 minutes through Ryan Hindley and were "clinging on" a bit as Rushall threw everything at them in an attempt to at least take it to extra time.

The backing from the crowd for the Belper side was the best I've seen in 4 years or so of visiting The Meadow. Flags, horns and the drum plus some "lung-power" created a smashing atmosphere. The game was a tense affair with some good football from both sides but an equal amount of "anxiety-generated" errors! Even so, it was another night to remember down at Christchurch Meadow! Tim Harrison's other pictures are here:

In the other semi-final, Stocksbridge Park Steels went through with a 5-2 win over Carlton so it's Belper v Stocksbridge in the final on Saturday. Fingers firmly crossed!

And I am delighted to say that my worries about "afters" in the clubhouse at the end of the game never materialised. The complete opposite was the case in fact with congratulatory comments and "Good Luck!" messages exchanged between their fans, officials and players and ours. A great way to end an exciting evening.

Now here's to Saturday!
(And the Supporters Evening on Friday too of course!)

Monday, 27 April 2009

To bring you up to date....

It's been a week since my last serious post so I'll tell you briefly what occurred and I should start I guess by elaborating on my closing comment on Saturday's post.

On Tuesday 21st April, Belper played Rushall at Christchurch Meadow. Belper needed all 3 points to hang on to a faint hope of the title but a single point would guarantee 2nd place and home advantage in the play off semi. Rushall wanted a win to keep up their play off challenge.

Richard Haigh's header just missed the target.

The game wasn't the greatest contest we've seen this season - some of the Belper players looked a bit tired and tense - but it was spoiled by the antics of some of the Rushall players who between them, got more medical attention than you see in an episode of Casualty. The goalkeeper being the main culprit.

In the first 5 minutes, Ant Wilson chased a long ball toward the corner flag. The keeper came rushing out of his area and the two players collided, the keeper actually handling the ball outside the box. He then went down like he had been poleaxed and demanded treatment to whatever part of his body he was alleged to have hurt. Ant Wilson got booked for challenging for the ball. (Thought that was a part of the game?).

This wasn't the only time the keeper was "hurt" and he must have spent a good 15 minutes of the 90 getting attention but the most bizarre piece of play acting happened in midfield. A 50-50 challenge between the Rushall No.7 and Kris Kotylo left both players on the ground as the ball spun away. Kots got up and got on with it whilst the No. 7 lay in the centre circle doing a passable impression of a corpse. He stayed there for a good 30 seconds before the ball passed within 20ft of him again and he made a remarkable, treatment free recovery, jumped up and chased after it at pace.

The second half, and in particular the last 20 minutes, saw a much better performance from Belper who came from 2 - 0 down to make it 2 -2 at the final whistle. Mr 'Arrisons pictures are here:

On Wednesday, we decided, since it was a nice evening, that we'd have a drive down to Bakewell, have fish & chips by the river, (is there a prettier town in the Peak District on a sunny evening?) then meander down to Belper to watch the reserves.

The reserves put on a great show - winning 5 - 0 against an older, more experienced Radford Reserves team which apparently included some of their first team squad. I took some shots before the light went. They are here if you wanna look:

Final comments for tonight - as I said it's Rushall at home in the play off semi tomorrow night. I'm looking forward to the football but a bit anxious about meeting Rushall again after so short a time. Their keeper left the field last week to loud chants of "Cheat" (we found out afterwards that he's just returned from a six-week ban imposed by the FA allegedly for playing under a false name in a Sunday League - hence David Clarke, our keeper who was displaced by Leigh Walker - joining Rushall a few weeks ago.)

But we also learned on Wednesday at the reserve game that there were one or two threats and accusations made in the clubhouse after the presentation of the Man of the Match to Ant Wilson. There was, according to our Secretary, an "atmosphere" and a lot of tension with bad language from both sides. It allegedly began with the Rushall Secretary accusing Belper of "taking the p*ss" by awarding the MoM to Willo! Some of his team mates reacted and the tension grew very quickly apparently. I'm glad me and The Duchess left immediately after the presentation!

I just hope the 'afters' don't 'kick-off' again tomorrow!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

So - It's Belper v Rushall on Tuesday evening.

Haven't posted for a week and there's a fair bit to update you on but for now... Belper won today and so miss out on the Unibond One South title on goal difference because Retford lost to Stocksbridge.

The last twist of a fasciniating season sees Glapwell, in 4th position for several weeks, miss out because they lost today and Rushall and Carlton both won. Glapwell miss the last play-off place on goal difference - by one goal!

So Belper v Rushall is on at the Meadow on Tuesday night. We played Rushall last Tuesday and drew 2 - 2. I'll tell you more about that later. Let's just say for now that I hope that Rushall have a different keeper from the cheating *%$!** they had this week!

Monday, 20 April 2009

A Better Weekend..

Saturday afternooon, April 18th - and we were back at Christchurch Meadow to see Belper Town v Stocksbridge Park Steels - 2nd v 3rd in the league.

It was an excellent result for Belper who won 4 - 2 and will almost certainly guarantee 2nd place in the league which means a home tie in the play off semi and final (if we win the semi of course!)

A fine day - a good crowd - a great atmosphere - that's what Saturdays should be about!!

There were at least 5 photographers there and you can find pictures from 3 of them here:-

(Snapper Tim Harrison - "The Gaffer")
(Mossley Smiffy - "Have Camera Will Travel")
(Nortoner - "You're 'avin' a larf intcha!?")

Next up is Rushall Olympic at the Meadow tomorrow night. That won't be easy because they still have an outside chance of the play-offs so will be "up for it."

Looking forward to it!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Bad Memories.... RIP

I didn't think the memorial on the 20th Anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster would bother me as much as it did.

We were there that day (my son, myself and a work colleague) having got tickets through one of our suppliers at work.

My colleague's son was a massive Liverpool fan (he even went to Liverpool University so he could see the Reds regularly) and he was one of those hauled out of the lower tier to the upper tier of the Leppings Lane end, although we didn't know that the lad was OK until we were eventually let out of the stadium.

Fortunately, I had shown the Duchess where we were sitting in the South Stand on a map of the stadium before the game so whilst she was sitting at home watching on TV, she knew we were probably OK. (No mobile phones in those days!)

My son seemed to feel it most. He was 15 at the time and later that evening, I found him sitting on his bed staring at the floor. I asked if he was OK and he replied "It was just a football match Dad. Why did people have to die?"

It was a long, long time before either of us went to a professional game again.

I don't profess to know the reasons why this happened and that topic has been debated long and hard enough over the years but so long as we remember those who lost their lives and make sure future generations never forget it either - that is the priority in my mind.

Oh and re photos of the Carlton game on Monday..... I know I promised to post some but I simply haven't felt like it to be honest.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

I Don't Like Mondays....

.. not even Bank Holiday Mondays and yesterday really was one to forget.

We ventured south to watch Belper Town FC at Carlton, near Nottingham and came home very disappointed as our team suffered a 5 - 1 bashing.

More follows when I got time and I'll post a couple of my pics but for now.... DAMMITT!!!!!!

Saturday, 11 April 2009

A VERY Good Friday!

Despite the rain!

Another good win for Belper Town who beat play-off rivals Glapwell FC 3 - 1 to guarantee at least a play off place this season.

Man of the Match Ant Wilson bursts through the Glapwell defence (only a cracking save stopped him scoring!) Picture courtesy of Tim H, as ever - and here's the rest!

An important win this - Belper have possibly the hardest run in of all the teams in the play off positions with games against the teams in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th! This was the first of that sequence and we move on to Carlton, away, on Easter Monday followed by one of the biggest games of the season on Saturday 18th April when the visitors to Christchurch Meadow are Stocksbridge Park Steels, currently in 3rd place.

The performance on Friday was an excellent one with everybody contributing to the result. Glapwell are no pushovers and that makes the win all the more satisfying. Read "Scoop" Oldrini's match report on the Belper Town web site (link on the right).

Whatever happens now - this has been a brilliant season. My mate Joey Winson commented after the game that this is the first time in as long as he can remember when a Belper Management team has made a pre-season promise ("We will at least get to the play-offs") and has then delivered on the promise. Well Done indeed Andy & Danny!!

The Chamionship is still a possibility and the best thing of all is that it is in Belper's own hands.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Belper Win Again!!!!

Couldn't make it to Willenhall last night but was delighted to hear Belper came away with a 3 - 1 win.Rushy scores the third goal (courtesy of Tim Harrison Photography) - the rest of Tim's pictures are here:

Important win this - Belper used up one of the two games in hand on the leaders and the top of the table now shows Retford on 72 points from 34 games, Belper on 71 points from 33 games and Stocksbridge on 65 points from 33 games. Glapwell are fourth on 65 points from 34 games.

Belper play Glapwell on Friday (and we owe them one after they stuffed us 4 -0 at their place in December) and Stocksbridge a week Saturday, both at home and both vital games! Between these is an away game at Carlton who are also pushing for a play off place so it's all very exciting!

As I said, I couldn't make it last night so I was relying on updates on the Belper forum, until half-time when the "updater" went to the pub! The score was 1-1 at that point and I was desperately trying to find out what was happening second half with no joy whatsoever

Then - about 9:45 pm, my "mate?!" Joey called me to ask if I'd heard the news. With a note of doom and gloom in his voice and a deep sigh, he said "There's been two late goals at Willenhall." I was about to curse when he told me Stevo and Rushy had made it 3 - 1 to Belper! I'm giving Joey a lift to the game on Friday so he'll pay for winding me up then! Might make him ride in the boot or run behind the car!

Keep it going boys - it's in our own hands now!!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

A really good weekend!

On Saturday, we made a 160 mile round trip to watch Belper Town win at Stamford AFC. A goal down after about 35 minutes, Belper came out in the second half and after a combination of hard work and good football, eventually snatched the winner with a terrific Ben Walker header in the last 20 seconds of the game.

Here's Ant Wilson battling for the ball: (One of my pics this!)

The win was important because Retford, the league leaders, only managed a draw at Willenhall. This all leaves Belper 4 points behind Retford with 2 games in hand. As these things often work out in football, Belper use up one of those games in hand tonight.... at Willenhall!

More pictures from Snapper Harrison are here:

A good win was overshadowed in some respects by some disagreement and "frank exchanges of views" between some of the Stamford support and the Belper bench but that has already been debated long enough and loud enough on the Belper Forum. It's just a pity it has taken away from the football, a lot of which was very good (from both sides.)

Anyway - Sunday morning we were up early and off to watch the Sheffield Junior League Cup and Trophy finals in the Under-11 and under-14 age groups. The venue was the home ground of Middlewood Rovers who have a terrific set up, including a cafe where they serve the best bacon butties I have tasted in a long time. The Duchess is Registrar for the Under-11 age group which is why she was attending. Me? - I was only there cos I'd heard about those bacon butties!

There were 2 finals in each age group, on adjacent pitches so we got to see 4 games of football and on the whole, it wasn't a bad standard at all.

All in all a great weekend. Can't get to Willenhall to shout on the lads tonight - it's just that bit too far after a day at work - but we'll hopefully be there on Friday to see them play fellow promotion chasers Glapwell. Can't wait!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

But - back to Football..

Belper 3 - 1 Willenhall, Tuesday evening.

A good result, a battling performance and when you consider we'd used all three subsitutes before halftime due to 3 injuries, it was a very satisfying performance.

The picture shows their keeper dropping the ball at Ben Walkers feet for an easy tap-in to make it 3 - 1 and game over. The rest of Tim Harrisons photos are here:

We now start the run in. With 7 games left, we have to play 4 of the top 6 in the division so it won't be easy and we aren't helped by injuries to some of the key players in the squad.

Stamford away on Saturday - and we're thinking of going - a 2 hour drive but hey, this could be a memorable finish to the season and we want to see as much of it as we can!

I will defend anyone's right to protest....

... but can anyone tell me what is achieved by smashing the windows at the RBS in London and stealing computers? (Apart from some 30 seconds of fame as the media cameramen grab the images).

That is not and never can be legitimate protest. By all means sit in the street and cause obstruction, march and shout/sing your protest but what was seen on TV News last night was mindless vandalism caused by professional troublemakers whose only interest is in causing as much damage to property and policemen as possible.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

And A Good Time Was Had By All!

And I'll tell you more later when I have a bit more time.

Suffice to say The Duchess and I enjoyed the experience as guests of the Manager last night. Belper Town won 3 - 1, we got free admission, 3 free drinks in the bar and sandwiches and coffee at half time!

Fantastically well organised. They sure know how to look after people at Belper.

A major "Thanks Again" to Joint Manager Andy Carney - as I said to him last night - it is much appreciated!