Hopping Around

Only three more games this week to write about. I had planned to go to games tomorrow ( Friday 11th ) and Saturday, but owing to a welcome change in plans I have ended my week of ground hopping early.

Barkingside 1 v 0 Hackney Wick FC – Eastern Counties League Div. 1 South Monday 7 September 2020

A very local game for me as I can walk to and from the ground. Its a regular venue for me as both Barkingside and also Ilford play here. Barkingside ironically used to play at Oakside which was the venue of last game I attended. Barkingside are a favourite club of mine for several reasons, apart from being so close to my home. The Chairman Jimmy is always so welcoming and puts a huge amount of effort into making people welcome. Also Barkingside often play on Monday nights or Friday night to avoid clashes with other games and to attract the ground hoppers.

One slight difference for this game was the need to ring Jimmy to get a reservation for the game because of the covid restrictions. imagine having to ring the chairman at Manchester United on a match day for a ticket?

So, after a stroll to the ground and after a temperature check etc, I wandered along to the Main Stand to take my seat for tonight’s Eastern Counties League Division 1 South game ( step 6 ). There was a much higher than usual crowd for the game. It was later announced as 155, compared to the usual 50-75. Part of the reason for the extra fans was the regular East London ground hoppers. Many of whom I had not spoken to since early in the year pre lockdown. It was good to catch up and learn that none had suffered physically owing to Covid.

Barkingside took the lead from a good header from a good free kick in the first half. That proved to be the difference between the two sides. The game itself was an entertaining affair, probably more so than one would expect from a step 6 game ( that’s the 10th tier of English football). The lack of further goals was no reflection on the entertainment value.

A few of noticeable events tonight were:

  • a) the relative quality of the pitch. It certainly looked far better than I remember. This may simply be because of the lack of use since early March, but I think that work has been done to improve the pitch.
  • b) parked up against the fence around the pitch was a scooter. Not something you expect to see at a football match.
  • c) In the second half, the Barkingside chairman Jimmy made a point of thanking those in the main stand for attending. A nice gesture that sums up the friendly nature of this club

A short walk home and I was in the house only 15 minutes after the final whistle

Good value for £6

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Waltham Forest 1 v 2 FC Stansted Essex Senior League Tuesday 8 September 2020

Tuesday night saw me make the short trip to Wadham Lodge Sports Centre to watch Waltham Forest host FC Stansted in the Essex Senior League. This is a step 5 league and at the same level in the pyramid as the Northern League in theory. In practice, the Northern League is much stronger as shown by the fact that the 2019/2020 FA Vase Final is between 2 Northern League sides. It is several years since an Essex Senior League side reached the semi finals of the FA Vase ( Bowers & Pitsea who lost to eventual winners Morpeth (from the northern League!)). I hadn’t been to Wadham Lodge since the start of last season. I’m not sure why as its not very far from my home.

Another lively and entertaining game tonight. Waltham Forest took the lead after 13 minutes from a penalty after a clear foul inside the area. Lots of protest from the Stansted players, but it was one of the simplest decisions the referee had to make.

After 34 minutes it was 1-1 with Stansted equalising after a goalmouth scramble.

The whole game was a rather feisty affair and it was credit to the referee that he never sent anyone off and only sin binned 1 player. Stansted in particular seemed to be very pumped up for it and seemed to want to argue everything. Their competitive spirit was rewarded in the 74th minute when they scored after a corner. It was a bit of a turn around as 4 minutes earlier Stansted could have been 2-1 down when Waltham Forest hit the post.

It was probably a fair reflection of the game and another entertaining game.

Admission £7

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Ilford FC 6 v 2 Redbridge FC Essex Senior League Wednesday 9 September 2020

So Wednesday and my 2nd visit in 48 hours to Cricklefields. This time to see Ilford play. Last week, you will recall I saw Ilford lose at home in the FA Cup to a side from a division below them, whereas on Saturday I saw Redbridge unlucky not to beat a Sawbridgeworth side who would probably have been promoted if it wasn’t for the lockdown last season. On this basis, you may have expected Redbridge to be favourites, but other ground hoppers who watched Redbridge in the FA Cup last week said they were very poor.

After only 18 minutes of tonight’s game, Ilford were 3-0 up. Its a while since Ilford were so dominant in a game. It was 1-0 after 5 minutes. After 16 minutes, it was 2-0 with a David Beckham –esq free kick. One of the best free kicks I will see this season. Two minutes later, Ilford had made it 3-0 after beating the offside trap and a well taken goal.

Shortly before half time Redbridge pulled one back from the penalty spot giving a slight chance of making a game of it in the second half.

The second half was dominated by Ilford with goals in the 70th and 72nd minutes to make it 5-1.
A few minutes later a Redbridge player launched into a foul mouthed rant at the referee accusing the referee of timewasting. The foul mouth rant was heard by everyone in the ground and should have resulted in an immediate red card for the foul mouthed yob. The referee chose to ignore completely the incident…or did he?


A minute or less later the ball was played forward by Ilford and the Redbridge foul mouthed yob challenged for the ball and was penalised by the referee with a straight red card for an elbow ( allegedly). Some may think the referee had in mind the foul mouthed rant when making his decision.

This was not the ned of it, because as he walked off the pitch and along the running track, the Redbridge player resorted to a further foul mouthed rant about the referee , the decision etc. I wonder if the yob realised that his rant was directly in front of both the ESL Chairman and Secretary? Could make for an interesting hearing if he is stupid enough to appeal his card.

After this, the player went into the changing room, got changed, came back out to near the main stand where he spoke to the league chairman and sat down quietly to watch the last few minutes of the game. Technically this is not allowed as a player sent off has to remain in the changing room and can’t return to the stands. A rather silly rule it seems to me. I can’t see the harm done by the player watching the game as opposed to being detained in the changing room like a prisoner in a cell.

After 83 minutes, Redbridge were 6-1 down and a minute later it was 6-2. That was the final score.

Another entertaining game and probably the best I have seen from Ilford in many years. What a contrast to a week ago.

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So, three enjoyable games in three nights and all for a total sum of less than £20. Great value for money.

That’s my lot for this week. Next week? I haven’t got as far as planning that yet, other than perhaps Barkingside on the Friday for the FA Vase tie