Thursday, July 22, 2010

On June 16th, when I wrote of my plans to undetake a mini football marathon, I didn't think I'd have to wait over a whole month for the final set of fixtures to come out to allow me to get all my planning done.

Thankfully though, the Ryman/Isthmian League Division One fixtures came out yesterday and I could pretty much complete the final pieces of my jigsaw!

As I mentioned before, it's something I'd thought of doing for a while, but for reasons known only to my own idiocy, I've decided to wait until I've left the UK to do some football travelling and take in some great clubs and grounds, especially non league and lower league ones.

My plans for seeing Blackpool at home in the Premiership or a nice trip to Accrington Stanley have been scuppered by the pesky fixtures computer. As were trips to Newport County and Salisbury City. Still, I have some cracking visits lined up.

For anyone interested, and I know, why would you be (!), here's my plans for November.

I'm going to fly back into Scotland on November 19th, just in time to take in East Fife's first foray into this season's Scottish Cup. Where that Third Round tie will take me, who knows. Let's just hope it's not a home game or a trip to Brechin, Arbroath or Forfar. Or Montrose again like last year's horrowshow. I so want a nice jaunt to the Highlands or to one of the Junior teams that have made it through.

So hopefully after my nice Highland break, I'm going to fly down to London and make a return trip to Kingsmeadow. Not to see my AFC Wimbledon this time, but the other occupants of the stadium, Kingstonian FC, as they take on Hendon in the Ryman League Premier Division.

The next two days should see London full of Champions League fervour, so obviously I'm planning on avoiding that like the plague and my attentions will still be focussed on the Ryman League.

I'm really looking forward to Tuesday 23rd November and my first trip to Hayes Lane to see the second oldest football club in the world - Cray Wanderers FC.

The Wands are celebrating their 150th anniversary this season (more on that tomorrow) and are rewarded with the team playing at their highest level in the team's long and proud history. I'll be taking in their game against Tonbridge Angels in a Ryman Premier Division match up and it's probably the game I'm most looking forward to on my travels (depending on who the Fife get in the Cup of course).

The following evening, I'm moving down into the Ryman League First Division North to see another Club with a long history, Grays Athletic.

The club were formed in 1890 but have been in turmoil the last few months. They resigned from the Blue Square Premier earlier this year and were due to play in the Ryman League Premier Division. This was not approved and it looked like they were going to end up in the Essex senior league before a groundsharing deal with East Thurrock United has allowed them to take their place in the First Division for this season, a three division relegation it will work out.

The reason that the groundsharing deal was needed was due to the owner of their current stadium, the New Recreation Ground, not renewing their lease. Terrbily sad, as this has been the Club's home since 1906. I'm disappointed to not be seeing them there and a rarity these days of a classic old ground, but obviously nowhere near as much as the Grays fans who have lost their spiritual home in such a horrible way.

It will be good to see them play anywhere really with all that's happened. They're currently managed by ex West Ham legend Julian Dicks, but with the demotions, I'm not too sure he'll still be manager by the time I go and see them.

It's back up to Scotland to see the Fife take on Ayr United at Somerset Park three days later, then I'm hoping to try and get to a FA Cup game on the Sunday somewhere in the north of England, before heading back down to London on the last day of November to see an absolute cracker - AFC Wimbledon v Luton Town in the Conference.

A nice end to my trip and it's one that can't come soon enough.

Six, possibly seven, games in eleven days. Excellent. Roll on November!


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