Wembley Beckons

Not much more to say about Spennymoor’s 3-1 away win in 1st leg of FA Vase Semi- Final other than to post the goals courtesy of Hayley’s fantastic website Northern League Football Premiership Passion (http://www.northernleaguefootball.co.uk).

Excellent work from Hayley and equally excellent was the performance from Spennymoor in front of a partisan crowd in excess of 4000!

As well as the goals, watch the sending off at the end of the clip from 1:50 onwards. The Guernsey skipper loses his head and is sent off for a stupid and nasty elbowing. The referees reaction is very clear.

 

Can’t wait for the second leg next Saturday at  The Brewery Field and hopefully a trip to Wembley can be cemented.

 

Come on you Moors

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

No, before you start by jumping to the wrong conclusion this is not a reference to Michelle and I. The last week has revealed to me the good, and the bad in society. It is interesting to realise that all three are around us in many different guises.

Take politics, this week we have MP for Falkirk Eric Joyce getting arrested for the second time in just over a year for assaulting someone in a bar in the House of Commons. This is a person who is elected to represent the people of his constituency. Rather than setting a good example and improving society, this thug seems to believe violence is the way to sort things out. Remember that politicians are the people who decide what laws we are expected to live by. He is currently on police bail waiting for a decision to be made as to whether he is to be charged or not with another assault.

Contrast this with the actions on Friday night of Slough MP Fiona McTaggart who offered to pay £1 to Comic Relief for every retweet of her text making that offer. She ended up having to pay £14,268 which she has done with good grace.

What a contrast between Fiona McTaggart and Eric Joyce.

 

On the road, whilst cycling/ driving / walking you see similar examples of contrasting behaviour from for example the motorist who careers through a red light because he/ she is in a hurry and forces cars proceeding on a green light to stop for them; then you have the motorist who is patient enough to stop and allow someone who has been waiting patiently out from a side road, or the London Bus driver who slows down to allow a cyclist to complete their overtaking manoeuvre at or near a bus stop. You will all have seen examples of good and bad behaviour on the road. Sadly, we always remember the few bad road users and not the majority of good considerate road users.

 

I was at the Orient game today against Carlisle. The referee gave a penalty to Orient after an Orient player lost his balance. The referee decided wrongly  it was a foul by the Carlisle goalkeeper, and sent the goal keeper off. There were no complaints from any of the Orient fan’s around me at that decision, even though everyone around accepted it was a wrong decision.

Contrast this with the reaction of the same fans a few minutes later when the referee awarded a throw in to Carlisle, when it should have probably been an Orient throw in. Then the same fans called the referee a “cheat” and said he wasn’t fit to referee. I’ll let you imagine the actual words used.

 

 

Some things happen though that make you see the good in society.

Friday was as I have alluded to, Comic Relief Day and to raise funds, one member of staff in our office had baked some cakes for the day and was selling them to raise funds. She had paid for all the ingredients herself, and had obviously spent several hours baking, icing and decorating the cakes. Despite this, all the money raised went to the Comic Relief fund. A truly selfless gesture.

In the last few days, I have received several donations or promises of donations to my sponsorship target for the Police Unity Tour. I am grateful for every donation made, but I would just like to mention 3 donations in particular.

One extremely generous donation has come from the USA from a fellow rider and is a very sizeable total that has assisted me greatly to my target. Indeed this person has donate more than everyone else has donated or promised.

Another donation, again from the USA comes from a lady who will be completing the ride for the first time this year. She is a survivor whose father I rode in memory of last year. She has her own sponsorship to raise, but still made a sizeable donation to my sponsorship target. Truly a fantastic gesture and much appreciated.

Finally today at the Orient game, I was chatting to the gentleman who sits next to me about lots of things and I mentioned about the Police Unity Tour. He immediately asked if it was a sponsored ride and when I said it was, he got out his wallet and made a very generous donation. A gesture that makes one appreciate the good that is around us and that we often over look.

I have had other offers of sponsorship from people in the last few days, which comes as a pleasant surprise. Sometimes people make offers of sponsorship that you do not expect. This makes me realise that despite what we think at times, there is so much good around us.

 

You may recall that in my last blog post I recounted that I had been asked to ride in memory of  Jeffrey James Davies (known as Jim), an Englishman who was a police officer in Lakewood, Colorado and who was killed in a tragic friendly fire incident on 9th November 2012. Well this week, I finally prepared and sent an email to Jim’s father, explaining who I was and that I had been asked to ride in memory of his son. I received a telephone call the next evening from Jim’s father thanking me for my email and making arrangements to meet up with me in Washington DC after the bike ride. It is hard to put my finger on what it was, but that phone call from Dick was so inspiring and motivates me to do my upmost to raise sponsorship for the Police Unity Tour.

Please consider making a donation, no matter how small to the fund for the memory of those who gave their lives serving their communities. No one deserves to die simply doing their job.

You can donate via my first giving page (by credit card)

My First Giving Page

or by sending donations to me Peter Bennett care of 148 Chester Road, ILFORD, Essex, IG3 8PY

PUT Logo

Police Unity Tour 2013: The Countdown & Training

PUT

Well, its only 60 days until the start of the 2013 Police Unity Tour (PUT) in East Hanover, New Jersey. Its about this time that I start to panic that I have not done enough training or ridden enough miles.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a long time will know that I have had the honour of riding with the Police Unity Tour in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

The ride is now in its 17th year and is a ride by Law Enforcement Officers to raise funds for the memory of Officers killed in the line of duty. The history of the PUT is set out on their website

Our History

In May 1997 the Police Unity Tour was organized, by Officer Patrick P. Montuore of the Florham Park Police Department, with the hope of bringing public awareness of Police Officers who have died in the line of duty and to honor their sacrifices.

We started with 18 riders on a four day fund-raising bicycle ride from Florham Park, NJ to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC. which raised $18,000.00. This May we had nearly 1600 members nationwide who made the trip, and we are proud to announce that we were able to donate over 1.65 Million Dollars to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, bringing our total donations to nearly 12 Million Dollars.

In late 2005, the Police Unity Tour pledged $5 Million in support of the National Law Enforcement Museum.  Inspired by our commitment and our motto, “WE RIDE FOR THOSE WHO DIED” the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has selected our organization to be the sponsor of the Museum’s Hall of Remembrance.

Having completed the $5 Million commitment to the Museum in 2009 the Police Unity Tour dedicated the 2010 ride to the restoration of the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. The $1.1 Million restoration project includes the re-engraving, coating and sealing of the 18,983 names on the memorial as well as the cleaning of the walls and other memorial improvements

 

The ride is a very special event on many levels. For some people it is riding in memory of a relative or fellow officer who has died in the course of his duty. There is often a large turnout from officers in a police department where one of their colleagues have died. Some of those riding are relatives of those killed who do the ride as a pilgrimage to their loved ones.

Riding the 300 or so miles from East Hanover to Washington DC, you spend a lot of time chatting whilst pedalling along. The stories you hear are at the same time both heartbreaking and uplifting. Some people have never ridden a bike any distance before learning of the PUT. Their efforts and dedication to colleagues or loved ones is uplifting and inspirational.

This year, I am honoured to have been asked to ride in memory of two officers killed in the last year. One was a US Postal Service Inspector who died whilst investigating a fraud relating to Hurricane Katrina. He is Preston Boyd Parnell and the reason I am riding in his memory is because the person that introduced me to the PUT and who has roomed with me for the last two year (& this year coming as well) – Mike T  Rae- is also a US Postal Service Inspector. I am also honoured to have been invited to attend a memorial service/ ceremony to this officer at the US Postal Service Offices in Washington after we arrive in DC.

I have also been asked by a friend who is a police officer in Colorado to ride in memory of one of her colleagues who was accidentally killed by so called friendly fire in Lakewood near Denver, Colorado. The significance of this is that the officer Jeffrey James Davies is actually an Englishman who had married an American lady and settled with her and their two children in Colorado. I understand the deceased’s father will be there in Washington DC to attend the memorial ceremony & to meet us. I am always moved at how grateful the relatives of fallen officers are at us for riding in the PUT. It is humbling as all I am doing is what I enjoy – namely riding my bike. The only thing I do is to try to raise sponsorship.

Please Donate to this Worthwhile Cause

 

 

So, what of my training so far. Well, I’ve really only ridden to/ from work this year. Even then, not even every day. I have done two Sunday rides with a friend of 43 and 50 miles respectively. I had not done a 50 mile ride last year before I went to the USA for the PUT. The comparative figures are

 

Time Period Count Distance Time Elevation Gain Avg Speed Calories
May 2012 5 48.1 03:47:48 863 12.7 1,895
Apr 2012 27 525.53 56:33:48 10,368 9.3 20,657
Mar 2012 40 727.14 57:51:05 12,270 12.6 28,687
Feb 2012 25 329.74 33:21:41 5,656 9.9 15,551
Jan 2012 31 528.73 44:11:38 10,108 12 23,519
Summary 128 2,159.24 195:45:59 39,265 11 90,310
             
             
Time Period Count Distance Time Elevation Gain Avg Speed Calories
May-13            
Apr-13            
Mar 2013 14 257.27 19:21:39 4,163 13.3 10,854
Feb 2013 29 454.06 34:44:42 7,605 13.1 20,037
Jan 2013 30 428.08 35:25:16 7,651 12.1 17,950
Summary 73 1,139.41 89:31:37 19,419 12.7 48,841

 

The first thought is I am on course to equal the mileage I had in 2012 before going to the USA, but I need to increase the mileage between now and May like I did last year. The cold and wet weather does not encourage one to ride extra. Tomorrow it is expected to feel like –9C at the time I should be commuting to work and –7C at the time I am due to ride home from work.

I will get the mileage in, its the least that I can do given the sacrifices made by those I am riding in memory of.

 

Please help me by making a donation to the cause via my first giving page. Even  a couple of pounds can make a big difference. Alternatively donations can be made by sending cheques payable to me or cash to Peter Bennett, 148  Chester Road, ILFORD, Essex IG3 8PY.

Although my first giving page may be showing no donations, I have raised approximately 1/2 the $1750 target so far. Please help me get to the total as soon as possible.

Ground Hopping: AFC Hornchurch FC v Bath City FC Saturday 9th March 2013

Competition: Blue Square Bet Conference South

Date: 9th March 2013

Venue: Hornchurch Stadium, Hornchurch

Attendance: 340

 

Another new ground today. I had been hoping to head over to Ascot to see Ascot United FC v Shildon AFC in the FA Vase 6th round replay, but time was not on my side. After attending at Lea Valley Youth Cycling Club’s Saturday morning club session in my role at Child Welfare Officer, I would not have had sufficient time to drive across or round London from Essex to Berkshire so it was time to find another game to attend. Using the comprehensive fixture guide in the Non League Paper, I saw that AFC Hornchurch were playing at home to Bath City. This was very local to me and seemed a good opportunity, especially since my friend and long suffering Leyton Orient fan Greg lived in Hornchurch & we had previously talked about going to see them play.

Greg despite being busy for work decided to accompany me to the game. So we headed off to Hornchurch Stadium, me for my first visit, but Greg had been there before to watch his son play in a schoolboy cup final. First impressions of the area round the ground were that it was smarter than the area surrounding most football grounds.

The ground itself has numerous turnstiles, but only one of them was open and for some reason some were labelled A to F, but others were not labelled at all.

Turnstile(s) at AFC Hornchurch DSCF0009

Rather like Chelmsford City & Enfield Town, AFC Hornchurch play in an athletics Stadium, but unlike the above two clubs, the ground does not have temporary stands erected behind the goals to enable spectators to watch from there.

The first impression of the ground is a little misleading. It looks at first glance to be a little ramshackle with at least 2 different stands down each side of the ground. On the far side there are two small simple seated stands with a small amount of uncovered terracing at either end of the stands

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I think however, that first glance is a little unfair as the ground served it purpose. On the side nearest the turnstiles, there are a number of sections all covered, some temporary seating, a directors box and a covered terrace which was home to the Urchin’s vocal support. For a group that were small in numbers, they certainly made plenty of noise with almost 90 minutes of singing and drumming. A mixture of songs, supporting the Urchins (Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough” was a favourite) and songs taunting local rivals including Grays and Chelmsford City amongst others.

To be fair, there was a decent contingent up from Bath as well and they also made their presence known. It was great to see two sets of supporters getting behind their teams and inter reacting with each other without a police officer or heavy handed steward in sight.

The game itself was a fascinating affair. It was hard to believe Hornchurch were in the bottom three of the division. They created lots of chances, but seemed to have trouble finishing them. The Hornchurch number 9 made lots of good runs and got himself in excellent positions, but only scored once. The player that impressed most was the Hornchurch defender Alex Bentley. He was by far the best player on the pitch and could easily play at a much higher level. He was playing on the left side of a back three. Ironically Orient are desperately in need of a good left sided defender. Russell Slade could do worse than to take a look at him.

One thing I have not mentioned so far is the running track surrounding the pitch. As you know I do not like watching football from behind a running track, but the atmosphere created by both sets of fans, especially the Urchins small but vocal fans and the ability to stand on the terraces made it less unpleasant than normal.

Overall, it was a good day out, with a good standard of football and a loyal and vocal home crowd.If they play like they did today, it is hard to see that Hornchurch will not stay up. For £11 admission, it is good value for money and far more enjoyable than paying £40+ to watch Premiership football in a sterile atmosphere. At Hornchurch you can bring your pint with you on the terraces!

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The TV Gantry – Not as many cameras as Sky use

 

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The Sky Box in the BSB Conference South is less Glamorous than at Old Trafford

 

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Brings A New Meaning For “In the Net”

 

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Part of the Bath Travelling Support

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Watching Football From The Bar

 

 

Admission Price £11 (seating / standing all at same price)

Programme: £2.50

Tea £1.00

An Ugly Tour: A Correction or Two

Following on from the last post, I have been asked to clarify certain pieces of information

Friday Night – apparently my reference to behaviour should have been clarified and the phrase I was looking for was

As the alcohol flowed, so my behaviour became……. [I have just been reminded that what happens on tour stays on tour]…

Saturday Night – again, it appears that some people may have misunderstood the phrase

The decision however was made for us after what we did ever so not discretely in the car park opposite the pub.

I understand some people may have misinterpreted the above remark to think that the actions in the pub car park involved more than one person and as a result some people may think that what happened there involved more than just me.

I did say you had crude minds and it wasn’t what you think. The fact that as a weak bladdered male, I had to use the outdoor facilities should come as no shock to anyone.

Finally, I am told that my blog post did not do justice to the people of Romford. They were far uglier than I have stated and the males additionally had the worst dress sense this side of S*nderland. In fact, if I did not know better , given how ugly and or scruffy the people were, I could have been forgiven for thinking we were out in Pennywell.

An Ugly Tour

Well,  its time for a blog that isn’t about football. This last weekend for the first time this year, I spent the weekend in London, accompanied by a young lady. As a result I did not see any football at all nor did I get to cycle either. And, I have to say it was great.

As Michelle was coming down, I had to do something to make the house look less like a pigsty and more like a home. After my disaster at cleaning last weekend, I was left in a quandary this week. Could I trust myself with the steam cleaner. Well, I put on protective clothing and decided to bravely take on the steam cleaner and I’m proud to say that I won, but it was a close thing. The house was made slightly less untidy/ dirty, but I realise I need to get a cleaner, preferably a live in cleaner with benefits (are you listening…..?)

Instead of travelling by train/tube and meeting Michelle at Kings Cross and going out for a drink at Liverpool Street, we decided I would drive up, and bring Michelle back here and we’d have our big night out on the Saturday instead. Well that was the plan….I did meet Michelle and drove back to my house. From there things seemed to go downhill rapidly.

We decided to pop out to the Irish Bar at the end of my street for a couple of beers. I must comment that Michelle looked the lady in her gorgeous little black dress and heels, whilst I looked like the accused in my ill fitting suit. A couple of beers became rather more than that. As the alcohol flowed, so the behaviour became……. [I have just been reminded that what happens on tour stays on tour]… So, we eventually staggered home and cracked open the vodka bottle.

I have to say that Michelle knows how to bring out the best in me, and we had a great night, even if it was at least 4am before we went to sleep. See, we’re not to old to party!

Following the antics of Friday night, we had a leisurely day on Saturday, spending some quality time with just each other for company. That is always a test for a relationship! I think we passed.

Saturday night we decided that discretion was the better part of valour and we therefore thought it best not to show our faces in the Irish Bar and instead we thought we’d head down to Romford for a night out. Luxury transport was the order of the day, so we got the number 86 bus into Romford and headed into the first pub we came across. It was one we had been in together last summer, but Michelle couldn’t remember it.

Bizarrely the door staff we not outside the premises but were several yards inside the premises. There role seemed to be merely to check people could prove their age. We got served quickly and took up a position in the pub to people watch. The pub had a clientele ranging in age from 16 to 70+. The dress code seemed to be anything that did not suit or look smart. The older or fatter the women were, the more flesh they seemed to show. Tattoos seemed to be compulsory for females. The males in the bar were no better, they seemed to have no dress sense and only slightly less tattoos than the females.

On to the next pub up the street, only to be expected to agree to be searched before going in to the pub. Obviously a nice place, but we were not going to let anyone search us, so onto the next pub. This one was charging to get in at 9pm on a Saturday night. No, there was no band on, just a charge to get into a pub. [How long before Tesco start this approach?]. I’m not paying just to enter a pub, so it was onto the next pub. This proved to be a very good choice as double vodkas and diet coke were less than £3-50 a throw. It would not be a shock to those who know us to realise we didn’t abuse the prices.

As we tried to drink the pub dry of vodka we went back to people watching. The view was even less pretty than in the first pub. There were only 2 people who had not hit every branch of the ugly tree as they fell out of it. Sadly, one of those two spoilt it by opening her mouth. The Essex accent is the ultimate contraceptive.

We headed off for the night bus home, only after the pub had shut and we were the last ones to leave the premises. If we had waited any longer, I think we would have been physically ejected.

The night bus dropped us off outside the Irish Bar at the end of my street. That was still open and we did debate whether we dare show our faces in there after the previous night. The decision however was made for us after what we did ever so not discretely in the car park opposite the pub. No, nothing like that – you’re crude.

So we headed home for more vodka and finally into bed. It was Sunday afternoon by the time we surfaced. Just time for a quick bite to eat and a dash to Kings Cross to get Michelle’s train.

What did we learn this weekend?

1. Romford is possibly the ugliest town- and I don’t just mean the architecture

2. Those who were less ugly sadly had an Essex accent.

3. Behaving disgracefully – you’re never too old for it.