Snow Upset at City

In the end, the result was perhaps something of a formality. For me personally, my trip to Manchester was anything but a formality as I suffered a slight accident on my return. More of that later.

On the pitch, Huddersfield, who had more than matched their illustrious opponents in the original tie, were once again fielding a weakened side, with their aspirations of joining the likes of City in the Premier League at the forefront of coach David Wagner’s priority list.

So it came as a huge surprise when, after just 7 minutes, Town’s Harry Bunn shot through Claudio Bravo’s legs to open the scoring. Huddersfield’s army of fans – roughly 5,000 of them – were ecstatic but that goal only served as a wake up call for City.

Tap-ins from Leroy Sane and Pablo Zabaleta, with Sergio Aguero’s clinical penalty in between, turned the replay in City’s favour before half-time.

After the break the game fizzled out as both sides preserved energy. After Sergio Aguero had added his second and City’s 4th with a neat finish from a Raheem Sterling cross in the 73rd minute, many fans started to head home, myself included. This meant I missed substitute Kelechi Iheanacho’s goal, which was essentially the last kick of the game. As that went in I was already awaiting my tram back to Ashton.

So City cruised through after an initial shock. And talking of shock’s, mine was yet to come.

Back in the car, I set my sat nav instead of following my natural instinct to use the M60 towards Stockport and join the A6. This decision proved costly. As I drove away from the park and ride at Ashton, it was raining. It continued to rain until I reached the south end of Glossop, through Charlestown, where the A624 begins its climb up Chunal Hill.

In daylight, this is a pleasant drive, as the views across the Peak surround you. And I could cope with rain, but as I made my ascent I noticed the rain was beginning to turn to sleet. Then the sleet became snow. Then the snow became big bloody flakes and suddenly – almost an in instant – the landscape was white over and the road – still an incline – was becoming more and more treacherous.

There were two cars in front of me, so naturally I kept my distance, but at the same time I was aware to the fact that if I stopped I’d probably struggle to get up the hill such was the slippery conditions.

As the road began to level out, a car behind me overtook all three vehicles. This car was a police 4×4, but the driver had neglected to switch on his blues and twos so to me, and I assume to the other drivers too, he looked like a lunatic. As the cop pulled in front of the leading car in our three-car convoy, that car braked, making the car in front of me brake and making me brake. Sadly for me, I began to skid. And I just kept on skidding, gathering speed and momentum for a good few yards. I had two options: skid into the back of the car in front, which I knew had four people in it, or go into the verge. I chose the verge and hit something – the kerb, a rock, a log, who knows? – with a massive thud.

Shaken, I continued, but at this point I hadn’t surveyed the damage. I rolled down to a slight dip in the road and – to my delight – I saw a pub. So I pulled in safely to assess the damage, and as you can see from the images below, the wheel was buckled. God knows what I hit but it was hard. I could have changed it there and then, but with the snow still cascading down, and with me still shaking, I decided to see if the pub – The Lantern Pike in Little Hayfield – had any rooms. Thankfully they did, and in fact, as the staff returned from a celebratory night out, they too had to spend the night in the Inn, as the road had now become completely impassable.

In the morning, after an excellent fry up by the way, I changed the wheel, checked the brakes and made my way back home as most of the snow had disappeared.

I’d never seen snow envelop a road as it did that night. It was scary stuff.

I’d like to thank all the staff at The Lantern Pike for their hospitality, and for providing me with not only a bed for the night, but a stiff drink on arrival too! I needed that!

Bloody snow!

My buckled wheel

The Lantern Pike. Never have I been so glad to see an inn!

The damage in daylight.

No Separating Town and City

It’s fair to say that this season’s FA Cup 5th Round included an eye-catching, mouth-watering array of matches, with many Championship sides hosting Premier League sides, and with two non-league sides still in there (whilst we’re on the topic, well done to Lincoln City for reaching the Quarter Finals. Historic stuff).

Huddersfield versus Man City was one of those eye-catching fixtures, and although both sides made changes – Town 7, City 8 – with both teams having an eye on games they consider of higher importance, it was still an entertaining affair, even if there were no goals.

Going into the game, both sides had eased past their 3rd and 4th round opponents, scoring 8 goals each and conceding none. Something had to give, and although City sprayed the ball around better, as you’d expect given the calibre on show, Town more than matched them for commitment, endeavour and spirit, and restricted them to a handful of chances which were dealt with by ‘keeper Joel Coleman, making only his fourth appearance for the club.

In fact, it was the hosts who had the ball in the net but Phil Billing’s effort was ruled out due to an offside decision.

A replay is the last thing either side needed as they have more pressing agendas, but that’s what they have on Wednesday, March 1, in front of the live BBC cameras. Having spoken to a few Town fans prior to kick off, they said although it would be a nice feather in the club’s cap to knock out the Premier League giants, they saw the game as a ‘distraction’ from the league, in which they currently occupy third place. City supporters were probably thinking the same, although their focus is on the Champions League as the league is all but out of their reach.

As you will see from my photographs, the setting for a game of football could not have been better. It was an incredibly mild February day, with the prolonged Yorkshire sunshine tipping the temperature into the 15 degrees mark.

The atmosphere was buzzing pre-match, and credit must go to the Huddersfield supporters amongst the sell-out crowd – a record attendance at the John Smith’s stadium, 24,129 – as they produced chant after chant. Normally it’s the away support who are the noisiest, but City’s support, despite amassing 4,000, was quiet, and Town fans easily outsung them.

I can’t sign off without mentioning Terry Furness. He was the guy who got me into the game. Huddersfield had put into practise a method to stop Man City fans getting hold of tickets among the home fans. This process meant that in order to get a ticket, you needed to have purchased at least one Huddersfield ticket via the official ticketing service which I had not. I’d been to the Town v Port Vale game and the game at Rochdale but for the former I paid on the day and the latter I decided to sit with the Rochdale supporters.

Terry responded to a Tweet I’d sent bemoaning my decreasing ticket options. After looking back through my timeline and seeing that I wasn’t a City fan, he offered to buy me a ticket. We spoke on the phone and arranged payment and then an e-ticket was emailed to me. What a top bloke! I couldn’t go to the game without at least trying to meet the guy so that’s Terry and I pictured below (I’m on the right).

My focus now is getting a ticket to the replay and then the quarter final match at Middlesbrough.

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Myself and Terry Furness – a top bloke who sorted me out with a ticket.

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The pre-match atmosphere was buzzing in the Yorkshire sunshine.

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Town Upset Hill and Down Dale

Rochdale v Huddersfield was always going to be a tasty affair, given that the two clubs are separated by just 20 miles of M62, but the 4th Round ‘derby’ between Keith Hill’s Rochdale and David Wagner’s Championship high-flyers Huddersfield had added spice thanks to a wet, zippy surface and a referee who threatened to ruin the game as a spectacle with some OTT decisions.

After constant rain had made the Spotland pitch (I should say the Crown Oil Arena pitch but I’m old school) difficult to judge, both sides were guilty of overplaying passes and misjudging the pace of the ball in the early exchanges. But rather than let the slide tackles slide and take into account the derby atmosphere and the whole occasion, referee Jonathan Hogg was far too whistle happy and the game had very little flow to it, much to the annoyance of the home support, who felt that their side were getting unfairly treated.

When play did flow it resulted in the opening goal, a debut goal for new Town man Colin Quaner, who had an easy tap-in after Chelsea loanee Izzy Brown slid the ball to him.

After the break, Town, backed by a horde of supporters who filled an entire side of the ground, took full control. Rochdale had created little, apart from a chance for Peter Vincenti who should have done better than put his header over the bar from 6 yards out.

In the 66th minute, that man Brown converted a spot kick, and then two goals by fan favourite and potential cult figure Michael Hefele completed Town’s passage into the 5th round.

On a personal note, I think this match was the first match I’d attended as an adult and NOT had a beer! Hold ups on the M1, gridlocked traffic through Rochdale and a major struggle to find a parking spot meant that I arrived at the ground with minutes to spare and no time for a swift one in the clubhouse. And with commitments in the evening, I had to make haste on my return so it was a dry day on the booze front at least, if not the weather front.

Another first for me occurred when leaving the ground. As I walked up Wilbutts Lane, past the ground, two mounted police officers cantered towards me in an attempt to escort a few Town fans away from the Rochdale fans who were pouring out of the ground. The sight of two massive horses coming directly at me was a real sphincter botherer I can tell you!

Town will now host Manchester City and it’s been a struggle to get a ticket for this potential giant killing game. I had to wait until February 14 when the tickets went on general sale but even then, a method of ensuring City fans do not get seats amongst the home fans was put into practice by the club, and so to get a ticket you needed to have purchased a ticket for a previous Huddersfield match. I had of course been to the game versus Port Vale in Round 3, but that was a pay-on-the-day match. So I turned to Twitter where I found help from a very kind-hearted Town fan who has offered to buy me a ticket. Other offers followed from Town fans who had seen my pleas on Twitter and read my blog. Satisfied I’m no City fan, they were more than happy to help further my Quest. Good on them.

So hopefully, thanks to Terry Furness (whom I shall buy a pint on Saturday), I will be at what promises to be a real humdinger of a tie.

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Terriers Tear Into Vacant Vale

There was no cup upset at the John Smith’s Stadium as Huddersfield comfortably beat my Quest team Port Vale 4-0 in the third round of the FA Cup.

Backed by a decent-sized following, Vale, who themselves had swept past lower league opposition 4-0 in the last round against Hartlepool to set up this tie, never really got going.

“We were worse than Hartlepool”, commented one disgruntled punter on his way out of the ground. I wouldn’t go that far, and to be fair to Vale, they were playing a Huddersfield side sitting pretty in 4th place in the EFL Championship table.

Despite five changes from their last league outing, there was no let up in the home side’s dominance and it was only a matter of time before the goals came, with the opener coming in the 28th minute as Jack Payne arrowed a low shot in off the post.

1-0 at half time didn’t really tell the whole story, though. Town were dominant, Vale were holding on. Only Vale ‘keeper Jak Alnwick kept the scoreline respectable with some good work, but ultimately, it was precisely this good work which was to come at some cost to him personally. His acrobatics to push a downward header wide saw him collide with the post. He soldiered on until the 58th minute when his injury got the better of him and he was replaced by sub ‘keeper Miguel Santos who, in the days after this tie, left the club by mutual consent with Vale chairman Norman Smurthwaite telling BBC Radio Stoke. “You saw on Saturday when he came on that his heart wasn’t really in it”. Awkward.

However, despite their misfortune in goal with the now apparently non-fussed Santos between the sticks, and with the continuous bombardment from the home side, it wasn’t until Chelsea loanee Kasey Palmer scored with a deflected speculative effort in the 73rd minute that Vale looked properly beaten and Town could afford to relax.

Two further goals followed in quick succession, one in the 80th minute when Harry Bunn was given time to cut inside and finish high into the net and then four minutes later when Payne slid in to convert a low cross for his second and Town’s 4th and final goal.

The Terriers were genuinely impressive throughout. Their one-touch pass-and-move style of play under David Wagner is, at times, a joy to watch.

They won’t be able to rely on that style too much in the next round away at Rochdale. They’ll have to dig deep and turn style into grit if they’re to emerge victorious at Spotland where Rochdale will be a difficult side to beat.

As I’m now supporting Huddersfield on my Quest my ticket has been purchased and I’m looking forward to the Lancashire versus Yorkshire match-up.


Below are some pics of the John Smith’s Stadium, a familiar haunt of mine. So familiar in fact that I decided to sit amongst the home fans for a change of scenery, despite officially following Vale for this match.

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Cecilia Helps Break Hartlepool Hearts

Hartlepool were comfortably beaten by Port Vale on Sunday, December 3, in the 2nd Round of the Emirates FA Cup, as Vale illustrated a clear difference from League One to League Two.

From the moment Vale’s 6’ 5” Curaçaoan forward Rigino Cicilia slotted the home side ahead after just 12 minutes, it was clear that Pools were going to find this tie a struggle. And they did.

And it never helps when two minutes later one of your players scores the most awkward-looking of own goals. Under pressure from Vale striker Alex Jones, Pools defender Jake Carroll got himself into a weird shape as the ball was whipped in from the left and then somehow managed to divert the ball in with his arse!

In the 31st minute, Jones, a hot property on loan from Birmingham, rolled his man before finishing neatly beyond beleaguered Pools ‘keeper Carson. It’s clear to see why Vale are keen to extend the forward’s signature when his loan deal expires on January 2nd.

By this time the hardy band of away supporters were venting their frustration at manager Craig Hignett, a man they do not believe should be in the manager’s seat. Also, it’s the first time I’ve ever heard a small section of support continuously chant “We’re a pile of shite” at their own side! What happened to getting behind your team? I’m amazed they weren’t challenged by decent Pools fans. Maybe they all agreed with the chant.

In fairness to the majority of Pools fans, they made half time a party around the food and drink counter, throwing a bright purple wig around and having a D.I.S.C.O. regardless of their team’s inadequacies on the pitch.

The second half was one to forget. It was bitterly cold and the only incident worthy of note was when Nathan Smith was tripped in the Pools area. Ryan Taylor, once of Newcastle, had no problem dispatching the resultant penalty.

Vale’s comfortable victory means my allegiance switches to them as they make the trip to Huddersfield in the 3rd Round. For me, Huddersfield’s John Smiths’ Stadium is familiar territory, having seen my beloved Forest play their on numerous occasions. I even saw a Bon Jovi concert there, but the less said about that the better!

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The view from the car park

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A look around Vale Park (#1)

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A look around Vale Park (#2)

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A look around Vale Park (#3), including a batch of Pools fans whom I was sat amongst.

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Being a Forest fan, this anti-Derby County sticker in the away toilets made me chuckle.

Pools Prove Too Much for Plucky Stamford

It was always going to be tricky. Stamford’s trip to League 2 Hartlepool in their debut appearance in the FA Cup First Round proper would have to be either nicked or taken back to their Zeeco stadium for the non-leaguers to stand any real chance of an upset.

But sadly, the long trip north was a step too far and a pipe dream too many as the league side favoured so famously by Sky’s leading anchor Jeff Stelling ran out 3-0 winners.

In fairness, that score line flatters Pools a little. Stamford never really threatened apart from a few sorties into Hartlepool territory but they held on until a precise Nicky Deverdics free kick in the 68th minute broke the hearts of the 505 die hard Daniels fans who had made the journey up the A1.

But after that goal went in, Pools felt a huge weight lifted from their shoulders and a deflected volley from Jordan Richards and a textbook Billy Paynter header gave the score line more gloss than their display deserved.

For a full match report visit: http://www.hartlepoolunited.co.uk/news/article/2016-17/hartlepool-united-v-stamford-fa-cup-match-report-3402552.aspx

The most credit has to go the those 505 Stamford fans. For a club whose home gates seldom leak above 300, to take more than most league teams take north is both commendable and applaudable.

With the score 0-0 at half time, they might have dreamed of stealing something but alas their league hosts had that little bit extra and will now play Port Vale away in round 2.

As per the rules of my quest I now follow Hartlepool, and will make the relatively short trip over the border into Staffordshire for the game against Vale on December 2. But it’s been a joy following Stamford. I was part of their biggest ever home attandeance when Wrexham were the visitors in the 4th Qualifying Round, I made the journey to Wrexham with just over 50 others, and was a member of the 505 who witnessed the club’s first ever appearance in the FA Cup 1st Round in their 120-year history. I sincerely hope they go on to have great success.

For me, next up is a trip to Vale Park, another old fashioned traditional football ground, much like Hartlepool’s Victoria Park. I’ve been there twice before, once, in 1999, when my beloved Forest, led by David Platt, persuaded his old mate Ian Wright to join on loan from West Ham. If I remember rightly, Wrighty scored one of his 5 goals for Forest at Vale Park. My second visit came when Forest were languishing in League One in the late noughties.

As for the club I’m now following, their ground, Victoria Park, really is one of the coldest places on Earth. The wind whips in off the North Sea, and you know it’s cold when even the locals moan!

For us away ‘fans’ there’s no respite from the bitterness. Although the away stand is covered, the gap that runs along the whole stand is just enough for the wind to chill your bones, and at half time, the only respite is in the toilets! The food kiosk and bar is open to the elements. Luckily it was just the cold we had to contend with. Had it been raining or – heaven forbid – snowing, it would have been unbearable as there really is no escape from God’s mercy. I had a steaming hot tray of chips which were stone cold within five minutes due to the cold. How people could even hold a cold lager is beyond me!

For me, should I return, at least I’ll be amongst the home fans whom, by the way, are a friendly bunch. Local boozers are welcoming to away fans in general and even if you want to enter the Corner Flag – the supporters’ club HQ I assume – you’re welcome but are asked for a donation on the door.

So it’s Pools who I now follow, and my visit to Victoria Park ticked off a new ground on my ‘Grounds Visited’ chart. Will I be back? We’ll know over the next few rounds I guess.

Videos and pictures from the game

The teams emerge from the tunnel…

Stamford’s players applaud their travelling fans…

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My ticket for the game

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It’s all about the monkeys up in Hartlepool.

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Shot of the ground No. 1

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Shot of the ground No. 2

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Shot of the ground No. 3, including the Stamford Massive.

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Defeated but not disheartened.

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The Stamford players applaud the 505 fans who made the long journey up the A1.

The Lee Beeson Show

Stamford’s Lee Beeson helped his club to an historical FA Cup First Round Proper tie against Hartlepool United by scoring two penalties, one in the original tie at Stamford and then again in the replay at Wrexham.

His first spot kick earned his side a well-deserved 1-1 draw against National League side Wrexham, who are three tiers above them at non-league level.

His second put Stamford one goal up in a monumental tie at the Racecourse Ground. Stamford would go on to be 2-0 up only for the Welsh side to peg them back to 2-2 in the closing minutes. In extra time, Jake Duffy’s free kick put Stamford through, making history for the club. They face Hartlepool in what will be their first appearance in the First Round Proper in the club’s 120-year history.

I thought I’d post both his penalties on here for Stamford fans to savour.