Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Rams Get It Right For Hoffenheim Clash

I tend to think that, if a Championship club are going to have a home pre-season friendly then they may as well (a) play against a team from a different country if possible instead of a top-flight side and (b) make the match as accessible as possible for supporters to build up a bit of goodwill ahead of the new campaign.

So, fair play to Derby County for inviting TSG 1899 Hoffenheim to Pride Park next Saturday, 29 July at 3pm, and pricing tickets at £5 for all (£1 for Under 12's).

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

FA WSL Hoping For Boost From England Women

England Women start their European Championship campaign against Scotland in Utrecht, Holland, on Wednesday evening.

The game is being televised live on Channel 4 at peak time, therefore giving more valuable exposure to the Women’s game and on a different platform to the BBC where it can usually be found, although as an aside I find the choice of Clare Balding to host the coverage slightly strange when there are many excellent female broadcasters out there whose main focus is football.

England are one of the favourites to lift the trophy and hand a boost to the FA Women’s Super League which kicks off its new season in September, the era of ‘summer football’ having ended and a winter schedule having being introduced for the 2017/18 season.

Helping the national team and those clubs in the Champions League are the headline reasons for the change but, on an everyday level it is also hoped that a more regular schedule of matches throughout the season will lead to an increase in attendances.

The WSL features regularly on these pages and our Twitter feed, matches are affordable to watch and provide a family-friendly environment in which to do so.

But the 2016 season was a disjointed affair with a ‘feast or famine’ schedule of games which sometimes saw teams play two home matches in quick succession and then have a long gap until their next one.

I’ve just finished reading Carrie Dunn’s excellent ‘The Roar of the Lionesses’ book which, for all of the England stars on the front cover, covers many aspects of the Women’s game and the challenges that it faces to build on the huge strides made in recent years.

Positive headlines from Euro 2017 will certainly help in that regard.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

The Toolstation Cup

The Battle of the Leagues is fast becoming a pre-season staple, teams from the Toolstation-sponsored Western and Northern Counties East leagues meeting in a fixture that raises money for charity.

Cribbs FC host this summer's edition with Street FC taking on AFC Mansfield on Saturday 22 July at 3pm.

Admission is £3 (including programme) with all proceeds going to RNLI Flood Rescue Team and the Countess of Brecknock Hospice.

Friday, 14 July 2017

In Praise Of Neil Warnock

The Cardiff City manager can divide opinion in the game (and sometimes that division can be unequally weighted) but his name has cropped up twice in the past week in interesting articles I've read, both of which have a connection of sorts to the theme of this blog.

In last Sunday's Non-League Paper, the excellent Ian Ridley, vice-chairman at Salisbury FC where this week's Pay What You Want game against Oldham Athletic attracted nearly 500 spectators, was banging the drum for pre-season friendlies and how they can provide a financial lifeline for many clubs even before the start of the campaign proper.

As it gets increasingly more difficult to persuade managers of Football League and Premier League clubs to bring their sides to local Non-League grounds, Ian cited Neil Warnock as 'one of the exceptions' for his willingness to do so.

I then came across a piece on Wales Online which explained how Friday evening's friendly between Taffs Well FC and Cardiff City came about, basically boiling down to Mr Warnock knocking on the door of the Welsh League club's door and asking for a game as part of his belief that the major club in an area should be rooted in their local community.

A sell-out crowd of close to 3,000 were in attendance and, judging by the Twitter feedback a very enjoyable evening was had by all, one that also helped raise money for two charities as well as the hosts.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Free Football This Saturday

And a mention also to Squires Gate FC where this Saturday's friendly against Clitheroe is 'Pay What You Want' admission (minimum £1).

If you're in the Blackpool area and fancy watching a match, do as the club say and just throw in what you think you should pay to the two lads holding buckets on the gate.

Season tickets for 2017/18 are also on sale, costing just £50 and £30.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

All In A Good Cause

Pre-season is a time when many Non-League clubs look to combine the serious business of getting ready for the new season with some valuable fundraising for a variety of causes.

The beneficiaries can vary, Hanwell Town for instance are supporting Bill Healey, a player for both themselves and Wingate & Finchley after he suffered a serious injury earlier this year.

His former clubs will meet in a friendly on Saturday 29 July at the Powerday Stadium where admission will be £5.

The Sutton Charity Cup is ongoing with eight clubs from the Sutton Coldfield area playing a series of matches over the summer to raise money for local causes.

Admission to each game is via a £2 donation with the Twitter page the best way of keeping up to date with fixtures.

This coming Saturday at Morecambe FC sees 'The Bay Trophy' contested for the first time between the Shrimps and Lancaster City.

A Family Fun Day precedes the action, admission for which is £5 and free for Under 16's with one of the local causes to benefit being the Neil Marshall Memorial Fund which was set up after the untimely passing of the former Lancaster captain.

Cheshunt FC host a Community Cup Fun Day on Saturday 29 July with three 60-minute matches taking place between the hosts, Harlow Town and Hertford Town between 11am annd 5pm and a host of other activities.

Tickets are priced at £10 Adults, £5 Concessions and £1 Children (20% discount when purchased online) and 50% of the profits will help fund an awareness campaign about the dangers of swimming in open water.

That's just a sample of what's out there so please see if there is anything happening locally to you and good luck to all of the clubs involved.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Coming Up

July 11: Paget Rangers host Bromsgrove Sporting in a pre-season friendly. Admission to this game and the fixture against Alvechurch on 22nd July is priced at £3 Adults, £2 Concessions.

Paget are also involved in the Sutton Charity Cup with seven other sides from the Birmingham area. Admission to each match in the competition is by a suggested £2 donation which goes to help local good causes.

July 11: Three home friendlies scheduled for Basingstoke Town as they entertain Eastleigh, Crystal Palace U23's (15th July) and Woking (18th July) and admission priced at £5 Adults, £2.50 Concessions and free for Under 16's.

July 11: Colchester United send an Under-23 side to Top Field, home of Hitchin Town and both this match and the game against Wealdstone on 29th July are set to be 'Pay What You Want' fixtures.

July 11: Marine FC admission prices for pre-season are £5 for all with Under 11's free with a paying adult. They entertain AFC Fylde, Southport (22nd July), Blackburn Rovers (29th July) and Bolton Wanderers (1 August).

July 15: Competitive action begins in Scotland with the opening fixtures in the Betfred League Cup. All of the teams in Group A, Inverness Caley Thistle, Falkirk, Brechin City, Forfar Athletic and Stirling Albion have agreed to mutually reduce prices to £10 Adults, £5 Concessions and Under 16's free for all of their respective fixtures.

July 15: The first of three home friendlies at Southport FC against EFL opposition as Blackpool are the visitors. This game, and those against Wigan Athletic (Tue 18th) and Accrington Stanley (Sat 29th) are priced at £5 Adults, £3 Concessions and free for Under 18's.

July 15:
 AFC Telford United host a Wolves U23 side at the New Bucks Head. Admission to this game, and the friendly against Hereford FC on 22nd July will be £5 Adults, £3 Concessions, £1 Under 16's. 

July 15:
 A Chelsea XI visit Crawley Town with the hosts launching their new kit and planning a Family Fun Day as well. Advance tickets are just £1.

July 15: Lancaster City visit Morecambe for what both clubs hope will become a regular pre-season meeting. They will play for the 'Bay Trophy' with a Fun Day and Fundraising also taking place for local charities such as the Neil Marshall Memorial Fund which is in memory of the former Lancaster City captain who passed away last year. Admission is £5 for all except Under 16's who can come in for free.

July 15: Tadcaster Albion host Doncaster Rovers at the i2i Stadium with admission £5 Adults, £3 Concessions and £1 for 6-17's. Games are also scheduled against Spennymoor Town and Leeds United and Sheffield United U23 sides.

July 15/16: The SJP Community Cup takes place at Hendon FC. Hemel Hempstead Town, Hitchin Town and Hayes & Yeading join the hosts with two matches on each day. Admission per day is £5 with Under 18's free. Hendon are also offering free entry to the game against Hanwell Town on 11th July.

July 18: Ashton United host Stockport County before a game against FC United of Manchester the following Tuesday (25th). Admission prices are £5 Adults and £3 for Under 16's.

July 18: The first of two Northamptonshire derbies in pre-season at Brackley Town, against Kettering and then against Rushden & Diamonds on 25th July. Admission prices are £5 Adults, £3 Concessions and free for Under-18's. 

July 19: The pre-season friendly between Merthyr Town and Newport County will be 'Pay What You Want' admission.

July 22: Three home friendlies at Banbury United begin with a game against Chippenham Town. Admission is priced at £5 Adults, £3 Concessions and £1 Under 16's. 

July 25: Rugby Town FC host Banbury United in the first of three planned pre-season friendlies at Butlin Road. Admission to the matches will be £5 Adults and £3 Concessions. Entry to the earlier games on the 3G pitch will be free.

July 25: Pre-season friendlies at Merstham FC are £5 entry with visits planned from an AFC Wimbledon XI, Cray Wanderers (Sat 5th August) and a Crystal Palace XI (Tue 8th August). 

July 29: The annual Tony Downes Memorial Trophy match takes place at Droylsden FC with Ashton United the visitors. Admission to the Butchers Arms will be £5 Adults, £3 Concessions and £1 Under 16's.

July 29: Maidstone United host Southend United Under 21's at the Gallagher Stadium. Admission is priced at £5/£3/£2 and free for Under 11's. 

July 29: Hoffenheim provide attractive opposition for a friendly at Pride Park and fair play to Derby County for making tickets just £5 (£1 Under 12's).

July 29/30: The O'Neills Invitation Cup takes place at Farnborough FC with four matches across the weekend involving the hosts, Hartley Wintney, Basingstoke Town and Fleet Town. Two-day tickets cost £12 Adults, £10 Concessions, £6 for 16-21's and free for Under 16's. 

August 4: The Thanet Derby in pre-season between Ramsgate FC and Margate FC is £5 for Adults, £3 for Concessions, £1 for 12-16's and free for U12's. The same prices apply at Ramsgate's two other home matches, against Balham FC on Tuesday 18th July and Three Bridges on Saturday 29th July.

August 5: There is free entry at Folkestone Invicta for the friendly at home to Thamesmead Town when the two clubs will be playing for the Sid Burvill Cup in honour of Invicta's late groundsman.

August 8: More free football in Kent, this time at Ashford United FC where the doors are open for the final pre-season friendly against Kennington FC.