Thursday, October 01, 2015

AS Monaco FC

AS Monaco 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1 - UEFA Europa League, Group Stage

The Principality of Monaco is a sovereign city-state and microstate, located on the French Riviera in Western Europe. France borders the country on three sides while the other side borders the Mediterranean Sea. Monaco is governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, with Prince Albert II as head of state. Although Prince Albert II is a constitutional monarch, he wields immense political power. The House of Grimaldi have ruled Monaco, with brief interruptions, since 1297. The official language is French, but Monégasque, Italian, and English are widely spoken and understood. The state has no income tax, low business taxes, and is well known for being a tax haven. Monaco is not formally a part of the European Union, but it participates in certain EU policies, including customs and border controls. Since 1929, the Monaco Grand Prix has been held annually in the streets of Monaco. It is widely considered to be one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world. The erection of the Circuit de Monaco takes six weeks to complete and the removal after the race takes another three weeks. The circuit is incredibly narrow and tight and its tunnel, tight corners and many elevation changes make it perhaps the most demanding Formula One track.

Association Sportive de Monaco Football Club was founded in 1924 and plays in Ligue 1, the top tier of French football. The club's traditional colours are red and white, and the club is known as Les Rouges et Blancs. The team plays its home matches at the Stade Louis II in Fontvieille. Monaco played at the original Stade Louis II since its construction in 1939. In 1985, the stadium was replaced with the current iteration, built on a nearby site consisting of land reclaimed from the Mediterranean, which has become a recurring feature of the stadium's seaside surroundings. The stadium is named after the former Prince of Monaco Louis II and houses a total of 18,500 supporters. In December 2011, 66.67% of the club was sold to the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev while the club were bottom of Ligue 2.

An early evening flight from Heathrow was delayed due to congestion. The eventual arrival at Nice still enabled me to buy a ticket and catch the last direct coach service to Monaco. Although not as cheap as the train, the driver was asking passengers where they wanted to be dropped off. Accordingly my hotel was in sight when I disembarked!

The following morning after breakfast, I took a stroll over to the stadium. Although it was not possible to gain access to the ground, I was able to take some photographs of the outside. Not long afterwards, match programmes were available from the Ticket Office. These secured and safely deposited back at the hotel, I was then able to explore further.

Having visited the harbours and viewed some rather expensive boats, I took the opportunity to visit Brasserie de Monaco. This versatile establishment brews beer on the premises. For journalistic research purposes, this Pieman was obliged to sample all three of the brews available. Specifically these were Blanche (4.8%), Blonde (5.2%) and my favourite Ambre (5.7%). Refreshed, it was soon time to collect my match ticket and head off to the match.

I had seen the Stade Louis II on television a number of times and have to say that in "real life" it did not appear as impressive as it did on the small screen. The all seated stadium is covered, with exception of the majority of the area given to the away support.  It rained constantly throughout the match and the majority of the English fans managed to get under cover in the corner of the section. The match was a fairly tame affair with Spurs failing to add to a first half lead and succumbing to a late leveller for the French side.

The following morning it was not possible to catch the train to Nice as had been my intention. Apparently there had been "rocks on the line". It had been raining heavily all night and the adverse weather conditions were making it very difficult to move about. In the end Nice was reached by bus (a slow one) and all were glad to get there. The opportunity to explore Nice was lost to the torrential rain. Instead I opted for a leisurely lunch and sat through the previous evening's Europa League extravaganza between Rubin Kazan and Bordeaux (0-0) It was ironic to hear that the weather at home and been very good whereas the South of France was less so. This Pieman was glad to get back to a dry England!

Attendance: 7,216
Admission: 22 Euros
Programme: Free (8 pages)

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Bray Wanderers FC

Bray Wanderers 0 Cork City 0 - League of Ireland, Premier Division

Bray is a town in north County Wicklow, Ireland. It is a busy urban centre and seaside resort, with a population of 31,872 making it the ninth largest urban area in Ireland at the 2011 census. It is situated about 12 miles south of Dublin on the east coast. The town straddles the Dublin-Wicklow border, with a portion of the northern suburbs situated in County Dublin. Bray's scenic location and proximity to Dublin make it a popular destination for tourists and day-trippers from the capital. Bray is home to Ireland's only film studios, Ardmore Studios, hosting Irish and international productions for film, television and advertising. Some light industry is located in the town, with business and retail parks concentrated largely on its southern periphery. Bray town centre has a range of shops serving the consumer needs of the surrounding area. Commuter links between Bray and Dublin are provided by rail, Dublin Bus and the M11 and M50 motorways. The River Dargle which enters the sea at the north end of Bray rises from a source near Kippure, in the Wicklow Mountains. Bray Head is situated at the southern end of the famous Victorian promenade with paths leading to the summit and along the sea cliffs. The rocks of Bray Head are a mixture of greywackes and quartzite. The large concrete cross at the summit provides a notable landmark on the east coast and is a major attraction for locals and visitors. 

In 1922, some members of St Kevin's Gaelic football club in Bray left the club as a result of a dispute and formed a soccer club called Bray Wanderers. They won the Miller Cup, which at the time was one of the most prestigious junior cups in the country, in 1927–28. In 1950–51 Wanderers won the FAI Junior Cup, defeating Drogheda United 2–1. Wanderers also reached the Leinster Junior Final that season, but were defeated by Rathfarnham in the final. Wanderers won the Junior Cup again in 1953–54. The following season Wanderers left the AUL and joined the Leinster Senior league. Bray Wanderers were elected to the League of Ireland when it was expanded to two Divisions for the 1985–86 season. They played their first game as a League of Ireland club on 8 September 1985 in a FAI League Cup match against Dundalk with Jim Mahon having the honour of notching the Seagulls' first goal at senior level. The Wanderers' secured promotion to the Premier Division by winning the League of Ireland First Division Championship that year. They were relegated back down to the First Division in the 1987–88 season. Wanderers did not regain Premier Division status until the 1990–91 season but had their first major success during their spell in the First Division. They won the FAI Cup in 1990 beating St. Francis 3–0 in the first Lansdowne Road final with John Ryan becoming only the second player to score a hat-trick in a FAI Cup final. They made history by becoming the first ever First Division side to win the trophy. Due to this success, Wanderers competed in European competition for the first time in their history in the 1990–91 season. They were defeated, however, by Trabzonspor in the European Cup Winners' Cup preliminary round.

On arrival at Dublin Airport, a 24 hour Tourist Leap Card (Dublin’s equivalent of Oyster) was purchased for €10. This covers all travel On buses, trains and trams within the wider Dublin area. The X747 express bus from the airport costs €6 each way and this also covered the DART train to /from Bray. There is a 72 hour version costing less than €20. All in all extremely good value. After some obligatory Guinness in town, it was time to head out to Bray.

From Connolly Station, the DART service follows the coast south towards County Wicklow, the journey to Bray taking around 40 minutes. The Carlisle Grounds is situated immediately behind the railway station. However, before venturing over to this venue, an opportunity was taken to visit The Porterhouse Inn. At this fine establishment this Pieman enjoyed Porterhouse Red (4.4%) – possibly the best ale I have tasted in Ireland.

The Carlisle Grounds boasts only one covered area for spectators. This seated main stand runs almost the full length of the pitch. There is also a large uncovered seated area running the full length of the pitch on the opposite side. A flat standing area is situated behind the goal at the Quinsboro Road end of the ground. This is also where the turnstiles are located along with the club shop, catering facilities and toilets. The opposite end of the ground is not available to spectators. The changing rooms are located at this end adjacent to a grassed area and some cars were parked immediately behind this space.

A delicious snack of chips in curry sauce was enjoyed prior to the match. The sauce was quirky in that it contained large chunks of pepper and other ingredients – very nice indeed! The travelling support from Cork was in good voice during the first period of the match willing their side on. I believe it fair to say that the standard in this league is not particularly high compared to senior non-league football in England. However, there was plenty of effort and commitment shown by both teams. In the end, for the second successive Saturday, this Pieman witnessed a goal free encounter. That said there was a good friendly atmosphere in the ground as indeed there was throughout Bray and Dublin.

Programme: €3
Tea: €2
Chips in Curry Sauce: €4

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Bayern Munich FC

Bayern Munich 3 AC Milan 0 - Audi Cup (Pre-Season tournament)

Munich is the capital and largest city of the German state of Bavaria, on the banks of River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps. Munich is the third largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg. The name of the city is derived from the Old/Middle High German term Munichen, meaning "by the monks". It derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who ran a monastery at the place that was later to become the Old Town of Munich; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat of arms. In 1175, Munich was officially granted city status and received fortification. The city was heavily damaged by allied bombing during World War II and was hit by 71 air raids over a period of five years. Munich is famous for its breweries and the Weissbier (or Weizenbier, wheat beer) is a speciality from Bavaria. Helles with its translucent gold colour is the most popular Munich beer today, although it's not old (only introduced in 1895) and is the result of a change in beer tastes. Helles has largely replaced the Munich Dark Beer (Dunkles), which gets its dark colour from burnt malt. It was the typical beer in Munich in the 19th century, but today it is more of a speciality. Starkbier is the strongest Munich beer, containing 6–9 percent alcohol. It is dark amber in colour and has a heavy malty taste. It is available and popular during the Lenten Starkbierzeit (strong beer season), which begins on or before St. Joseph's Day (19 March). The beer served at Oktoberfest is a special type of Märzen beer with a higher alcohol content than regular Helles. 

FC Bayern was founded in 1900 winning its first national championship in 1932. They won the European Cup three times in a row from (1974–76) and have reached ten European Cup/UEFA Champions League finals, most recently winning their fifth title in 2013 as part of a continental treble. Bayern has also won one UEFA Cup, one European Cup Winners' Cup, one UEFA Super Cup, one FIFA Club World Cup and two Intercontinental Cups, making it one of the most successful European clubs internationally. Since the formation of the Bundesliga, Bayern has been the dominant club in German football with 25 titles and has won 7 of the last 11 titles. After much discussion, the city of Munich, the state of Bavaria, FC Bayern, and TSV 1860 jointly decided at the end of 2000 to build a new stadium. While Bayern had wanted a purpose-built football stadium for several years, the awarding of the 2006 FIFA World Cup to Germany stimulated the discussion as the Olympiastadion no longer met the FIFA criteria to host a World Cup game. Located on the northern outskirts of Munich, the Allianz Arena has been in use since the beginning of the 2005–06 season. Its initial capacity was 66,000 fully covered seats, but this was increased 71,000 in 2012 and again to 75,000 after receiving approval by the city council in January 2015. The most prominent feature of the stadium is the translucent outer layer, which can be illuminated in different colours for impressive effects. Usually, red lighting is used for Bayern home games, blue for TSV 1860 München games and white for German national team home games.

On arrival at Munich Airport, a three day tourist ticket for two people (can cover up to five) was purchased for less than £40:00. This covered the train to and from the airport/city centre. It also covered us for all other train, metro, tram and bus journeys within the extended Munich region. This proved to be extremely good value and was also used to get us to and from the stadium on both match days. To reach the Allianz Arena from the centre of Munich, Line U6 (blue) from Marienplatz is direct. On alighting at Fröttmanning it is less than a 10 minute walk to the stadium.

Throughout the three days spent in Munich it was extremely hot. Accordingly, large glasses of cold beer became a requirement and were most welcome. The Audi Cup is a biennial two-day pre-season tournament that features four teams. The first Audi Cup in 2009 was organised and promoted by car manufacturer Audi AG to celebrate their 100th year of trading. Bayern Munich and AC Milan have taken part in all tournaments to date. This year Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur made up the quartet of participants.

Bayern Munich defeated AC Milan 3-0 to reach the final of the Audi Cup. The highlight for me being the third goal, Robert Lewandowski's volley, having been set up by Thomas Muller. Real Madrid defeated Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in the earlier match.

The following day saw Tottenham Hotspur ease to victory over AC Milan. The highlight being Nacer Chadli's first half strike, curled into the net. The final was won by the host club, defeating their Spanish rivals by the only goal of the game, scored at the death by Lewandowski.

I was impressed with the speed with which we were able to access the station after the second match on both days of the tournament. Bayern Munich featured in the second match on both occasions and the majority of the 70,000 crowd were leaving the stadium at the same time. To be able to continuously walk from the ground on to the platform and on to a train was not something I had anticipated.

Attendance: 70,000
Admission: 35 Euros (40 Euros day two)
Programme: Free (Different edition issue each day)


Other matches attended at Allianz Arena

4 August 2015 – Real Madrid 2 Tottenham Hotspur 0 – Audi Cup
5 August 2015 – Tottenham Hotspur 2 AC Milan 0 - Audi Cup
5 August 2015 – Bayern Munich 1 Real Madrid 0 - Audi Cup

Friday, May 29, 2015

Camelon Juniors FC

Camelon Juniors 5 Bo'ness United 2 - Fife & Lothians Cup Semi-Final

Camelon is a large village within the Falkirk council area, Scotland. It is in the Forth Valley, 1.3 miles west of Falkirk, 1.3 miles south of Larbert and 2.6 miles east of Bonnybridge. The main road through Camelon is the A803 road which links the village to Falkirk. Camelon was the site of a flight of locks, which joined the Union Canal with the Forth and Clyde Canal; this was replaced in 2002 with the Falkirk Wheel, a rotating boat lift. Camelon is the site of a series of Roman fortifications on the Antonine Wall. Mariners Day is an annual children fayre held on the second Saturday in June. It includes a parade, crowning ceremony of the Queen along with fun and games for the children of the area. Camelon has good access for a village of its size with Camelon railway station lying on the Cumbernauld Line and the Edinburgh to Dunblane line. Next to the station there are amenities including the Mariner Leisure Centre.

Outside of the three 'senior' leagues in the non-league grade in Scotland, are the 'junior' leagues. Although called junior, this refers to the level of football played, not the age of the participants. The junior leagues are organised by the Scottish Junior Football Association and are regionalised into three areas, North, East and West. There is a Scottish Junior Cup, which all members of the association participate in, having done so since the Nineteenth Century. Camelon Juniors FC is a Scottish Junior football club based in Camelon. The club, founded in 1920, currently play in the Scottish Junior Football Association's East Region Super League after winning the Lothians League Division 1 in 2005–06. Prior to this match, this Pieman had never seen a Scottish non-league match let alone a match within the 'Juniors' structure.

This Pieman had already booked an excursion to Glasgow in order to attend the Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park and was delighted to find that Camelon Juniors was scheduled to host Bo'ness United in the semi-final of the Fife & Lothians Cup on the Friday evening. The journey from Glasgow Queen Street to Camelon takes around 40 minutes. Whilst awaiting for the last train before peak services commenced, an opportunity was taken to visit The Vale public house opposite the station. At this establishment I enjoyed a pint of  Drop (a pale, hoppy session ale 4.2%) from the local Jaw Brew brewery.

On reaching Camelon and in search of solid refreshment, it was good to be able to enjoy the buffet at a local Chinese restaurant. Many of the local shops were displaying Falkirk flags and scarves in support of the local team’s participation in the Scottish Cup Final the following day. Carmuirs Park is relatively close to the railway station, taking around ten minutes to walk.

We were the first spectators to arrive at the ground and having paid admission and purchased raffle tickets, there was a good opportunity to wander around taking photographs. There is covered terracing on both sides of the pitch and further terracing behind one of the goals. The other end of the ground backs on to houses. In the garden of one house, an occupant has built his own covered grandstand from where he can watch the matches.

Grandstand in the Garden
This match started with visitors Bo'ness United (second from top of the East Region Super League) forcing the play. When they took the lead they could easily have already been a couple of goals ahead. Therefore, it was a surprise, shortly before the break, that Camelon (closer to the bottom of the same league), levelled the score with a scrambled goal.

This uplift in fortunes galvanised the home side and some fine attacking play and determined tackling contributed to an entertaining second period where Bo'ness were blown away. The final result of 5-2 is a testament to the fine standard of football in this match and if typical is a tribute to the Scottish Junior scene. As the match had commenced at 19:15 it was just possible to catch the 21:17 service back to Glasgow.

Attendance: 571
Admission: £5:00
Programme: Not issued
Tea: £1:00

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Stocksbridge Park Steels FC

Stocksbridge Park Steels 4 Brigg Town 0 - Northern Premier League, Division One South

Stocksbridge is a town in the metropolitan borough of the City of Sheffield. In 2007 the population of the town including Deepcar and Bolsterstone was nearly 14,000. Deepcar is a village adjoining the eastern end of Stocksbridge. To the south are the villages of Bolsterstone, site of a manor house; and further south is Ewden Village, a navvy village established in the early 20th century during the construction of the Sheffield reservoirs. Oughtibridge is a village to the south east, on the main road to Sheffield, in the Upper Don Valley. The village of Wharncliffe Side is located on the main road between Deepcar and Oughtibridge. Midhopestones (or Nether Midhope), and Upper Midhope (or Over Midhope) are small villages in the western half of the ward, close to the northern border, and near to Midhope and Langsett reservoirs. A handful of Stocksbridge families can claim descent from those named in such documents as the Poll Tax Returns of 1379 and Hearth Tax Returns of 1672 in Bolsterstone, Bradfield, Hunshelf and Midhope. Of the family names recorded in the 1779 Waldershelf Valuation, some descendants can probably trace an unbroken line through more than 200 years. Hundreds more can certainly claim to have descended from those who were drawn to this area by the prospect of work in the new industries of the last 150 years. The Censuses of 1851 to 1891 show that they came from every part of the British Isles and from almost every County in England.

Stocksbridge Park Steels FC was formed in 1986 as the result of the merger of Stocksbridge Works, the works team of the local British Steel plant, with another local club, Oxley Park Sports F.C. The new club was immediately admitted to the Northern Counties East League Division Two, the works club having previously played in Division Three of the same league. The Steels spent five seasons in Division Two before being placed in Division One when the lower division was discontinued upon league re-organisation in 1991. In the same year Mick Horne was appointed as the club's manager, and he led the team to the championship of Division One in the 1991–92 season. In Stocksbridge's first season in the Premier Division the team finished near the bottom of the table, but in the 1993–94 season the Steels became Northern Counties East League champions. The club failed to gain promotion to the Northern Premier League, however, as their stadium did not meet the required standard. The club finished second in the division two seasons later, losing the championship on goal difference to Hatfield Main, and on this occasion were admitted to the Northern Premier League Division One. In the 2008–09 season, the club once again qualified for the play-offs and defeated Belper Town in the final to gain promotion to the Northern Premier League Premier Division for the first time. The Steels spent five years in the Premier Division, never finishing out of the bottom half of the table and were relegated at the end of the 2013–14 season.

From the centre of Sheffield there are regular bus services to Stocksbridge. In daylight as I experienced, there is some wonderful scenery to view as the bus winds its way through the South Yorkshire countryside. The journey takes around an hour. The 57 bus service drops you off just a few minutes away from Bracken Moor.

On arrival at the ground I was greeted by a friendly club official, who then invited me into the ground, showing me where all the facilities were. After taking my initial batch of photographs I adjourned to the clubhouse. The licenced bar upstairs offers a good view of the ground and I was delighted to find real ale on sale. A good pint of Ye Olde English Ale (4.6%) from the local Bradfield Brewery was enjoyed. This seasonal beer from the brewery’s selection offers a light copper coloured traditional English ale. Full bodied with a citrus and spice aroma leaving a long dry aftertaste. I later bumped into the same official who was surprised to learn of the real ale as he “only drank wine”. I expect that he will include this fact the next time he welcomes a visitor to the club. Solid refreshment in the form of pie, peas and gravy was also enjoyed along with mint sauce which is often standard at clubs in this particular part of the country.

The Bracken Moor ground is unusual in its layout. There is terracing behind the goal at the Bracken Moor Lane end of the ground. This includes a substantial covered area. Along the side of the ground available to spectators, there is a covered seated stand. The other end of the ground hosts a flat standing area with steep grass banking behind. The remaining side of the ground is fenced off with a training facility behind. This was once where the football ground and cricket pitch merged and the old scoreboard is still visible.

Both sides had endured a difficult season, particularly Brigg Town who were rooted to the bottom of the table with only three wins all season. One of these victories was against Stocksbridge Park Steels! There was to be no repeat of this though, as the home side steadily grew in confidence as the match progressed. A fine lobbed goal in the first period was supplemented by three further strikes in the second half. In the covered area behind the goal, Roxy the dog intently studied every movement of the ball, barking in delight at every shot on the Bracken Moor Lane end goal.

The match ended at 21:36 which was precisely the time of the SL bus for which the stop is outside the turnstile. The bus was on time and was just pulling away when I flagged it down. I and a couple of others from the match were grateful to the driver for stopping and saving us a further 20 minute wait. However, I soon realised that if another spectator had not left the ground earlier to catch this bus, it may not have stopped and we might not have been as fortunate! Stocksbridge Park Steels is a very friendly club and visitors are sure to receive a warm welcome.

Attendance: 102
Admission: £7:00
Programme: £1:50
Tea: £1:00
Pie, Peas & Gravy: £3:00
Real Ale: £2:70

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Annan Athletic FC

Annan Athletic 0 Clyde 1 - Scottish League 2

Annan stands on the River Annan nearly 2 miles from its mouth, 15 miles from Dumfries, in the region of Dumfries and Galloway on the Solway Firth in the south of Scotland. Eastriggs is about 3 miles to the east and Gretna is about 8 miles to the east. Annan Bridge, a stone bridge of three arches, built between 1824 and 1827, carries road traffic over the River Annan. It was designed by Robert Stevenson and built by John Lowry. There is also a railway bridge and a nearby pedestrian bridge over the River Annan and the town is served by Annan railway station. The train turntable was designed and developed in Annan; it can be seen today in the York Railway Museum. Annan Castle formed the original home of the 'de Brus' family, later known as the "Bruces", lords of Annandale, which most famously produced Robert the Bruce. It was at Annan in December 1332 that Bruce supporters overwhelmed Balliol's forces to bring about the end of the first invasion of Scotland in the Second War of Scottish Independence.

Upon formation in 1942, Annan Athletic FC entered the Dumfries and District Youth League, but this competition lasted only throughout the war years, and in 1945 they joined the Dumfries and District Junior League instead. They had a fairly successful time as a junior club, reaching the fifth round of the Scottish Junior Cup on one occasion (losing 2–1 to Perth side Jeanfield Swifts). In 1950–51 the Dumfries and District Junior League had to be wound up due to lack of officials, and the following season (1951–52) the club had to go into abeyance as the Junior Association would not release them from their membership. For the following season (1952–1953) Annan Athletic joined the Carlisle and District League and the Cumberland Football Association. This proved an astute move when Annan Athletic won every competition they entered bar one in their first season in membership. Annan remained members of the Carlisle and District League until they moved back to Scottish football in the 1977–78 season when they joined the South of Scotland Football League. This switch, along with some upgrade work to their Galabank ground also allowed the club to compete in the qualifying stages of the Scottish Cup as well. The club proved very successful in the South League, winning every competition that was available to them. In an attempt to get more competitive football, they joined the East of Scotland Football League in season 1987–88, although they maintained their commitment to the South League by running a reserve side. They won promotion in their first season in the East League, and two years later won the Premier Division. They became one of the league's top sides and qualified for the Scottish Cup's early rounds on various occasions. Annan applied to join the Scottish Football League in 2000, when two new clubs were admitted, but lost out to Peterhead and Elgin City. Following the demise of local rivals Gretna in 2008, Annan applied along with four other clubs to replace them in the Third Division. Annan Athletic was the successful candidate, being chosen due to the standard of their facilities. The Club’s first league match as a professional team ended in a 4–1 win over Cowdenbeath in the 2008/09 season.

An early start facilitated being able to catch the 07:30 train from London Euston, reaching Carlisle in around 3 hours 15 minutes. Clearly that investment in the West Coast Main line is paying off with journey times like this. The onward connection to Annan was half an hour later which meant there was time to visit the Griffin (100 yards away) and enjoy a pint of Magic Number (4.5%) from the Carlisle Brewing Co. This ale has a gorgeous copper colour, is very smooth with caramel undertones and is full of malty flavours. From Carlisle the journey to Annan takes around 20 minutes.

On arrival at Annan, a good lunch was enjoyed at one of the establishments in the High Street before this Pieman set off in search of a butchers shop in the quest for locally produced haggis. This operation was successful with the haggis travelling just eight miles from Gretna (that’s local enough for me). The butcher asked where I was taking it back to in the same way a caring kennel might seek assurance about a dog being homed for the first time – such a nice touch! At the Blue Bell Inn, I took delight in a pint of the Red Macgregor (4.0%) from the Orkney Brewery. Crystal and chocolate malt give this beer its distinctive ruby-red colour, and its backbone of toasted malt flavour; Cascade hops, rarely found in darker beers, give a floral, perfumed fruitiness.

From the High Street it takes a little over 5 minutes to reach Galabank. The stadium backs tightly on to the road and for this reason this is a three-sided ground. Behind one goal is a covered terrace for the home support. The opposite end of the ground is uncovered and has a shallow terracing. The seated stand is covered and segregated with a small area designated for the away support that also uses the uncovered end of the ground. The view afforded from the seated stand is very good. Immediately behind the stand is the river.

There is a social club bar at the main entrance to the ground and it is possible for visitors to sign and use these facilities (unsurprising no real ale though). The usual in ground catering is available at both ends of the ground. A 3G playing surface was installed at the ground in 2012. This particular match can be politely described as not the best I have witnessed this season. Visitors Clyde were better than their hosts and took the points courtesy of substitute Jammie Pollocks’s strike after 87 minutes. Although the quality of the football may not have matched expectations, Annan (the place and the football club) is very welcoming.

An easy stroll enabled me to reach the station at 17:00, in plenty of time for the connection to Carlisle at 17:22. There is a pub at the station, which is a decent option (again no real ale). My train from Carlisle enabled a return to London Euston at 21:38. Lots of miles covered, a great day in Scotland and some very friendly folk encountered. Annan will not always play that poorly; perhaps you will catch them on a better day?

Attendance: 485
Admission: £10:00
Programme: £2:50 (24 pages monthly magazine covering 3 home matches)
Team Sheet: 10p
Tea: £1:00