26 April 2015

Awaiting The Verdict

Saturday 25th April 2015
Ryman League Premier Division
Enfield Town 2-0 Witham Town
Queen Elizabeth II Stadium
Attendance: 763

So Enfield Town did all they could.

Bradley Quinton's team cruised to a 2-0 win against already-relegated Witham Town in front of Donkey Lane's biggest crowd of the season.  That result sees the Towners finish in 5th place - the final play-off place.

But Enfield Town still faces the threat of a three-point deduction for fielding an ineligible player back in January.  The issue only resurfaced last week after the club had been informed on 17th February that no further action would be taken.

At time of writing, the Football Association's final decision, and therefore the status of the Ryman Premier play-offs, is still unknown.

Many fans were in defiant mood as they arrived at the ground on this warm and sunny afternoon.  From the balcony of the listed building which houses the club bar came chants telling the FA where to stick its ruling.

A red card protest also took place just before kick-off, immediately after the crowd had impeccably observed a minute's silence to mark the 30th anniversary of the Bradford fire disaster.

To lighten the mood, North London Brass provided musical entertainment pre-match and at half time.

On the pitch, a goal in each half from Tyler Campbell, the first a memorable 30-yard volley, saw the Towners end the regular season with a win, their eighth in the last 11 league games.

According to the final league table, Enfield Town should have an away fixture against second-placed Hendon in the play-off semi-final next Thursday evening.

But the Towners' fate is now in the hands of the FA.

My match report from the Queen Elizabeth II Stadium is here...


16 April 2015

Herts Pride

Tuesday 14th April 2015
Hertfordshire Senior Cup Final
Hemel Hempstead Town 1-0 Boreham Wood
The County Ground, Letchworth
Attendance: 382
HERTFORDSHIRE neighbours Boreham Wood and Hemel Hempstead Town made the short trip up the A1(M) to their county FA's headquarters on Tuesday evening.

The last two winners of the Herts Senior Challenge Cup went head-to-head, both clubs looking to lift the trophy for the sixth time in their history.

Fans arrived in Letchworth on a bright and sunny evening.  The one chap serving at the burger bar soon found himself overworked, and had run out of hot food - except for egg rolls - by half-time.

In this season's Conference South fixtures, Boreham Wood have emerged as undisputed champions of Hertfordshire, doing the double over Hemel, St Albans City and Bishop's Stortford.

In the end, this county cup final was decided by one moment of brilliance.

My report for Real Footy Talk is here, and also on the Borehamwood & Elstree Times website here.

13 April 2015

Match preview: Herts Senior Cup Final - Hemel Hempstead Town v Boreham Wood

The Herts Senior Cup, or to give it its full title, the Hertfordshire County Football Association Senior Challenge Cup, reaches its climax on Tuesday evening.

Holders Boreham Wood meet 2012/13 winners Hemel Hempstead Town at the County Ground in Letchworth, with both teams looking to lift the trophy for the sixth time in their history.

England’s oldest county-based cup competition was first held in 1886/87 when the winners were Hoddesdon Town.  Since then, it has taken place every year, apart from a five-season interruption from 1914 to 1919 due to the First World War.

Surprisingly, the Second World War did not stop the competition taking place.  This was during a golden era for Barnet, who won the cup seven times in 11 seasons between 1940 and 1950.  The Bees remain the Herts Senior Cup’s most successful team to date, having triumphed 21 times in total, and been runners-up five times.

The modern-day competition is open to all Hertfordshire’s football clubs from the Football League and steps 1-5 of the non-league pyramid.  The final has usually taken place at a neutral venue within the county.

For the past 11 seasons, the venue has been the Hertfordshire Football Association’s headquarters at the County Ground in Letchworth, apart from season 2010/11, when Barnet and Stevenage reached the final.  With two Football League clubs in opposition, the final was moved to Underhill, Barnet’s home ground at that time, to accommodate the larger crowd.

In last season’s final Boreham Wood overcame Bishop’s Stortford after a penalty shoot-out.  Lee Angol’s early opener for Wood was cancelled out by an equaliser from Michael Richens, taking the tie to extra-time.  After the additional 30 minutes failed to produce a winner, Wood keeper James Russell became the hero, saving three penalty kicks and securing a 3-1 triumph for Ian Allinson’s team.

Hemel Hempstead Town’s faint promotion hopes ended last Saturday, while Wood are still in with an outside chance of winning the Conference South title, and are certain of at least a play-off place.

But both teams will put their league campaigns aside tomorrow as they bid to win a piece of silverware.

Hemel Hempstead Town v Boreham Wood
Herts Senior Challenge Cup Final
The County Ground, Letchworth Garden City, Herts SG6 2EN

Tuesday 14th April 2015
Kick-off: 7:45pm 

12 April 2015

In Enfield We Trust

Saturday 11th April 2015
Ryman League Premier Division
Enfield Town 3-2 AFC Hornchurch
Queen Elizabeth II Stadium
Attendance: 430

"Enjoy your day, sir".

The typically friendly welcome on arrival at a sunny Queen Elizabeth II Stadium set the scene for what turned out to be another successful day for Enfield Town FC.

After two seasons of struggle in the Ryman Premier, finishing 16th and 19th, the 2014/15 campaign has taken a different course for the Towners.

Today's win against relegation-threatened AFC Hornchurch, combined with Grays Athletic's defeat at champions-elect Maidstone United, lifted Bradley Quinton's team back up into the last play-off place.

Martin Toohey gave the visitors a surprise 18th-minute lead which was cancelled out by Ryan Doyle’s penalty before the break.  Two second-half goals from top-scorer Corey Whiteley seemed to have made the game safe for the Towners, before George Purcell’s sublime late free-kick left home fans sweating a little during four minutes of stoppage time.

Fittingly, given Enfield Town's history as English football's first supporter-owned club, today also marked the start of Supporter Ownership Week.  Supporters Direct, who help set up supporters' trusts to influence the running of football clubs, are staging a series of events in the coming week to show how the supporter-ownership model can work, and were present at the ground this afternoon holding a bucket collection to support their other fund-raising initiatives.

It was good to be back at the ground known locally as the Donkey Dome, and to see Enfield Town continue their play-off challenge.

The home fans may be surprised to see their team so high up the league table this season.  But the Towners have already done the double over potential play-off opponents Hendon and Margate, so there may be an even greater achievement still to enjoy.

My match report for Real Footy Talk is here.

4 April 2015

At The Great British Seaside

Friday 3rd April 2015
Sky Bet League 2 
Southend United 2-0 Mansfield Town
Roots Hall
Attendance: 5925 (away support 188)

THE start of the Easter weekend brought a trip to the Great British Seaside.

Following delicious takeway fish & chips on Southend seafront, directly opposite the world's longest pleasure pier, Stag of Herts headed back up to Roots Hall, more in hope than expectation of seeing Mansfield Town collect any points against the promotion-chasing Shrimpers.

It was a pleasure to meet Brian Jeeves for a pre-match chat.  Brian is a local journalist who covers Southend United, West Ham, Dagenham & Redbridge and occasionally Colchester United, for the local media.

His match reports and analysis can also be found on Real Footy Talk.

Speaking of which, my match report from Roots Hall is here.