Another year wiser…

It doesn’t seem more than five minutes since I was recapping the 2009/10 season on this blog. In fact I’ve just looked back and it was May 8th 2010 when I was summing up a season where I’d been to 58 games, taking in 53 new grounds and was 40 shy of completing the top 8 levels of English football. I said then that I was contemplating a bit less travelling during the coming season and although twelve months on it didn’t feel like it, I did actually manage to cut it down to 45 games (including 34 new grounds) – and I still need 31 to reach my ‘8 levels’ goal.

Last weekend I had a very enjoyable three days (Friday I was judging at a beer festival – whey hey!) during which I made my annual trip to Berwick Rangers on the Saturday, and went to ‘new’ Wembley on the Sunday to see the FA Vase final. The last game of the season at Shielfield Park always seem to attract ‘Footy tourists’ with at least three groups of 50-something males in the town for a boozy weekend and to take in the game. I even bumped into the Nottingham lads who were there last year. All the old favourite hostelries were on form – the Pilot, Barrels, Castle Hotel – and the good news is that the Angel in Tweedmouth is now open again with a couple of real ales on. The Black and Gold at the ground has also reopened, but its keg beer only now, sadly.

On Sunday I travelled down to the Smoke with Lad and Father-In-Law in tow. Parking at Stanmore is a snip at a quid, even if they fleece you on the tube (£8 to travel four stops and back is a disgrace). We had a passing interest in Coalville Town, as it’s not far from where we live, and so cheered them on against habitual finalists Whitley Bay. I might win no friends in the North East by asking this question, but should the Bay really be competing at this level? I’ve seen it suggested – and I couldn’t possibly support this argument – that they contrive to either miss out on promotion, or don’t apply for the step-up, purely and simply so they can compete in the F.A.Vase each year, and enjoy the revenue-lined route to Wembley.

They’ll probably be there again next year, but Coalville won’t as they’ve taken an honest promotion and will be up there next season with the bigger fish. They should have left London with the Vase, but dominating play, hitting the woodwork twice and helping the opposing keeper claim the man-of-the-match award doesn’t necessarily win you a trophy. Bay had the two most clinical strikers on the park and prevailed 3-2.

So all that’s left this season is to watch Forest’s agonies in the Play-offs (again) and trust that Non-League Nigel will stuff his Direby squad with even more no-hopers as they slither towards the Championship trapdoor next season. Now that would be a laugh.

Roll on August!

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