Archive for the ‘Ridgeons League’ Category

Ridgeons League Grounds 2011-12

The Ridgeons League kicked-off in anger on Saturday and for anyone intending to travel around East Anglia to watch any of its 37 clubs in action over the next 9 months here’s a handy map to point you more or less in the right direction.

Brightlingsea Regent are making their debut in the league whilst three sides have exited stage left. Leiston were promoted to the Isthmian League, Histon’s second string withdrew early this summer along with Saffron Walden Town who withdrew just this month citing financial problems.

I’ll be endeavouring to complete my ‘set’ of Ridgeons League stadia with a visit to Dereham Town’s Aldiss Park a ground that has proved to be somewhat elusive over the last year or two.

Whitton United 3 Ipswich Town U-18’s 4

The new McDonald's Stand at Whitton United

Whitton United had a storming end to their 2010-11 Ridgeons League campaign finishing as runners-up to Gorleston and five points ahead of third placed Diss Town. Unfortunately their King George V Playing Fields ground failed to meet the minimum requirements for the Ridgeons Premier Division at the time of the League’s AGM (in fact it didn’t meet those for Division One either) and so their application for promotion was denied.

There’s a certain irony here in the fact that work to upgrade the ground (including the construction of a 113-seater stand) was started in March, just as their impressive end of season run was underway, but could not be completed in time. Anyway the new McDonald’s Stand is now completed and was officially opened today by Russell Osman – a UEFA Cup winner with ITFC in ‘81 and now U-18’s coach with the ITFC Academy – and Mark Richards, owner of a number of McDonalds franchises.

Brightlingsea Regent XI 4 Tottenham Hotspur Legends 2

30-07-11: Brightlingsea Regent XI 4 Tottenham Hotspur Legends 2 (Friendly) North Road, Brightlingsea, Essex

Western Promenade, Bateman's Tower & Beach Huts

With a population around the eight-and-a-half thousand mark Brigthlingsea sits on the estuary of the River Colne, 10 miles south-east of Colchester and eight miles west of Clacton on Sea. Once known for its oystery fishery and shipbuilding industries these have all but vanished although the town does have a marina and a recently refurbished yacht club to retain a ‘working’ link with the sea. You may remember the series of protests against the live export of animals through the town in 1995 that became collectively known as the ‘Battle of Brighlingsea’ and kept the local Police busy for some nine months.

The western promenade, which is overlooked by Bateman’s Tower, boasts hundreds of beach huts and a 1930’s open air swimming pool. Although nowhere near as grand as Ipswich’s Art Deco Lido at least it’s still functioning. The tower (which leans in a similar fashion to its more famous counterpart in Pisa) was built in 1883 by John Bateman as a folly for his daughter as she recovered from consumption.

Tottenham Hotspur Legends

Former Ipswich captain and midfielder Matt Holland swore by the healing powers of the sea water here. Football’s Mr Indestructible regularly paddled along the beach at the Essex coastal town following manager George Burley’s recommendation of salt-water therapy to a reduce the swelling in a ankle injury. He’d picked up the knock during the home match with Manchester United – Town’s first following their return to the Premiership in 2000 – to put in jeopardy a remarkable record of 171 consecutive appearances in Cup and League games. But the treatment worked and Holland went on to extend the run to 223 consecutive appearances for the Blues!

Steve Sedgley a midfield predecessor of Holland’s at Portman Road is probably more commonly associated with Spurs and Coventry than with Ipswich. In a playing career that spanned fourteen seasons he made 84 league appearances for Coventry, 164 for Tottenham, 105 for Town and a further 106 for Wolves. He picked up two FA Cup winners medals, one with Coventry as an unused substitute in the Sky Blue’s 3–2 defeat of Spurs in the 1987 final, and one four years later, with Spurs this time, as the North Londoners beat Forest 2-1.

Steve Sedgley

Ipswich paid £1 million for Sedgley in the Summer of 1994 and he spent three eventful seasons in Suffolk as Town were relegated a year later, just missed out on the play-offs in 1996 and were close to a Wembley appearance in 1997 but lost out to Sheffield United in a heartbreaking play-off semi-final second leg. His languid playing style saw him spend most games wandering seemingly disinterested around the centre circle before coming to life to make a crucial tackle or to ping an inch perfect pass out to the flanks.

And that’s pretty much how he played this afternoon as he and a Tottenham Hostpur Legends side took on Brigthlingsea Regent – new members for the coming season of the Ridgeons League – in a Charity match in aid of ‘Cardiac Risk in the Young’. While I recognised many of his teams mates faces, and their names as the teams were called out over the tannoy, I can’t claim to be able to match one with the other. Perhaps a passing Spurs fan could take a look at the team picture above and do the honours. In any case good on them for putting on a decent performance and Brigthlingsea Regent too who, on this showing anyway, should prove a handful for other clubs in Ridgeons Division One.

Grundisburgh 2 Ipswich Wanderers 2

Grundisburgh 2 Ipswich Wanderers 2 (Friendly) Playing Field, Grundisburgh, Suffolk

Grundisburgh

A double-header at the ‘Playing Field’ as reigning Suffolk and Ipswich League Champions Grundisburgh took on Ridgeons League Ipswich Wanderers in a 2pm kick-off while at 4pm the respective reserve teams were to be in action.

The home side have been SIL champions three times in the last five years and are coached by Micky Squirrell who has amassed an impressive 10 SIL championship wins as both player and manager, and eight of them with ‘The Villagers’.

The first elevens played out an entertaining 2-2 draw but I didn’t stay for the second game instead heading across the village to the green where they were busy setting up for the annual village duck race.

Grundisburgh

Around the green are the Church of  St Mary, the former village school, a quaint old village shop and to complete the picture a ford over the River Finn along which 1,200 plastic ducks would later be put through their paces.

Predominantly a medieval church St Mary’s has an imposing red brick bell tower which replaced the original in the early eighteenth century and contains a ring of ten bells that are held in high regard by the campanologist fraternity.

Inside the church sixty wooden angels hang down from the roof (a reminder of the eerie, but considerably more contemporary, Weeping Angels in the 2007 series of Doctor Who) although for many years they did so in a head- and wing-less state after being decapitated/clipped during the reformation.

There are also fragments of wall paintings that pre-date the Black Death and numerous other artefacts and architectural features that make for an interesting visit.

Wisbech Town 5 Newmarket Town 1

25-04-2011: Wisbech Town 5 Newmarket Town 1 (Ridgeons League Premier Division) Fenland Stadium, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire

Words to follow.

More pictures here.

Godmanchester Rovers 0 Diss Town 2

23-04-2011: Godmanchester Rovers 0 Diss Town 2 (Ridgeons League First Division) Bearscroft Lane, Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire

Words to follow.

More pictures here.

Cambridge University Press 0 Gorleston 1

16-04-2011: Cambridge University Press 0 Gorleston 1 (Ridgeons League First Division) Cass Centre, Cambridge

‘The Press’ were formed in 1893 making them the oldest club in this University town having been around longer than both Cambridge City (1908) and Cambridge United (1912). However it was only last summer that the team made the move up from the Cambridgeshire FA County League to the Ridgeons League.

Essentially the works side of the Cambridge University Press (the Press is the oldest printing and publishing house in the world and the teams primary sponsor) they play their home games at the Cass Centre which stands on the Press site a fifteen minute amble south of the city centre.

Most of my non-league ground visits go ahead without a great of planning – grounds are picked at random with no particular eye on key fixtures – so the fact that this game proved to be the one that saw Gorleston secure promotion from Division One of the Ridgeons League to the Premier Division was pure chance.

The only goal of the game, six minutes from time, won the Norfolk side all three points in this clash against ‘The Press’ who themselves are also in the hunt for a promotion place. A week ago Gorleston won the First Division KO Cup and now – five points clear of second place Diss Town and with three games left to play – are favourites to clinch the Division One title too.

The choice of fixture also gave me a chance to wander around a few of Cambridge’s many museums beforehand, namely the Scott Polar Research Institute Museum, The Cambridge Museum of Zoology and the Sedgewick Museum of Earth Sciences. Although I didn’t allow sufficient time to do them all justice.

At the SPRI the highlight for me was the display of a sample of some of the 1,700 photographs taken by Herbert Ponting when he accompanied Captain Scott on his mission to explore Antarctica between 1910 and 1913. Ponting was a pioneer of artic photography and his images – even a century later – are quite special.

Where did the creators of the Alien creature in the Alien Movie Triology go for inspiration? Look no further than nature itself where a quick glance at the some of the exhibits in the Cambridge Museum of Zoology would give no end of ideas for life forms to inhabit future science fiction movies. The marine section contains examples of some pretty evil looking creatures from the ocean depths.

And if fossils and dinosaurs are your thing then the Sedgewick Museum of Earth Sciences is a must. A complete Iguanodon skeleton stands just inside the museum entrance guarding over a sample of the museums collection of 1.5 million fossils, rocks and mineral specimens. The interior is filled with rows of fixed cases, more or less as it would have been when first opened, which has been done intentionally to retain the Victorian/early Edwardian character of the museum.

More pictures here.