I’m Not Crying Wolf

I can’t believe it’s been nearly 3 weeks since my last post. I joked in a previous post that this blog and I were in a relationship, and if that were the case, I couldn’t argue if it tried to break up with me right here and now. Luckily, however, I think I have enough good things to tell my blog that it might just forgive me.

I also just want to note that I have tried to put together a few posts recently, but they didn’t really flow for me, so they are still in draft form and may show their faces eventually. So far, most of my stories have really come to me out of the blue and the inspiration comes in a moment. When I write at times like that, I am always happier with the outcome. For instance, my last story, on the Missing Ball, came to me the day I had lost the last ball and I went and wrote it that night. The idea to add the story within that post about Mo-vember, came after I started writing. I guess what I am saying is that I don’t want to write, just to write. I need an inspiration.

For the record, I'm not advocating anything going on in this image...

For the record, I’m not advocating anything going on in this image…

Ok, I don’t have an inspiration here, so who knows how this post is going to turn out?

Believe it or not, it may actually be a good thing that I haven’t been writing on my blog! Why? Because it means that I have less time on my hands. Why do I have less time on my hands? Because I have been doing more. If I’ve been doing more, why haven’t I been telling you about it? I don’t know. What have I been doing? Well, I will briefly tell you some of it here and will elaborate on it all in future posts.

To be honest, part of the reason I haven’t told you about my recent happenings is because I didn’t want to get you too excited about things that I couldn’t confirm or that I would have to go back on – come on, you can at least pretend that you get excited by my posts. It would be like calling you to dinner, while it was still cooking, or asking you to marry me…maybe. Essentially, I don’t like causing unrealistic hope. It’s like the boy who cried “Candy”.

Crying Wolf

So, he doesn’t cry “Candy”, but you get the point…don’t be that guy

On that note, I have to tell you a story about a coach who did this to a player. We were having a practice the day before a game and overall it was shambolic. Our coach was not happy. He proceeded to chew us all out, except for one player who seemed to have magic boots on that day and was doing whatever he wanted with the ball. The coach said/shouted something along the lines of “No one has played today like they deserve a spot on the field tomorrow, no one except Bruno (made up name)! The only player who I know will be playing tomorrow is Bruno!” “Bruno” was a fringe player at the time and would get into the odd game, but wasn’t a starter. So needless to say, he was happy to hear he would be getting significant minutes the next day. FALSE…he didn’t play a minute! Absolutely shattered. As a matter of fact, the entire team was shattered along with him.

Unlike other reputable news services, I like to have valid and complete information to back my claims.

I’ve done my research on this and I can confirm that I am fantastic. Thank you and Goodnight.

Back to reality! I do have some news for you mainly in two parts.

The main bit of news is that I have signed with Guiseley AFC who are a semi-professional team in the 6th division, which is called the Blue Square Conference North. I wasn’t going to tell you until I actually played, but they announced it on their website and on their twitter account, and….wait for it…on FACEBOOK!

Here is the brief article that confirms that I Sean O’Reilly, signed with Guiseley. Thankfully for everyone there is no picture of me in the article. The said article has made its way around enough that I figured it was pretty well confirmed.

I have been training with them for the better part of a month and it may have been official sooner had some paperwork issues gone smoothly through the system…which we all know never really happens. I have done well in training and have been enjoying it considerably, but it is only another step in the right direction. The manager has not had the chance to see me play in a full game and thus I still have plenty to prove and far more work to do. I will be sure to let you know when I make my debut!

Guiseley are currently sitting in 2nd place in the 6th division and are considered one of the favorites for promotion into the 5th division. Last year, they lost out on promotion in a final playoff and are very focused on righting that failure. I hope to play a significant part in helping them achieve it. The other added bonus is that they are the closest team to me, which is a big positive!

In other news, I have recently got a part-time job at a local school where I will primarily be helping out with the PE department. It is a Catholic Jr. High/High School called St. Mary’s and is only a few miles down the road. Two of the cousins I am living with, Jenny and Will, attend the school and that is how I got connected with it. Yes, it is another of the many things I am thankful to them for.

PE Teacher

I initially just asked if I could do some volunteer work with any of the football/sports to give myself more things to do and also improve my coaching. After a few meetings, with the relevant and important people in charge, they offered me work as a Teacher’s Assistant. So, come next term, I will be working a few days a week as a St. Mary’s employee. I will be doing most of my work in the PE department, but will also help out as needed in other classroom situations.

It is going to be a challenging and exciting experience for me and I expect to learn a significant amount. I also hope I can do my part in helping the kids who I will be working with improve not only as athletes and students, but as good people with good Catholic values.

Overall, I am very blessed to have both of these opportunities in front of me. Unfortunately, though, it means I did not make it home for Christmas and will miss all my crazy family and friends back home very much. However, I am lucky to have loving relatives here as well, with whom I can celebrate the joy of Christmas.

Do just go, go head first!

Peace,

Seano

The Missing Ball

Before anyone asks it, or even thinks it, this has nothing to do with the recent Mo-vember movement or any form of male cancer. Not that it isn’t a good cause, its a great cause – even if I can’t participate, well wait, does whisker count? Whisker-vember just doesn’t go well, so I humbly cheer on other mustaches from the sideline.

Hmm, this post is slowly becoming about Mo-vember even though I said it wasn’t.

Story time!

When I was back at St. Francis University, I think it was my Junior year, most of the guys on the soccer team decided to do the whole No-Shave-November thing. Come to think of it, I think we were rebelling and decided to do No-Shave-till-November, so it was actually October.

I went along with it. It was a sad effort on all our parts and I think overall only 2-3 people made it the whole month. It definitely wasn’t as big of a deal that year as it has become now. As a matter of fact, it was the first time I had heard of it. This year it was wild, I felt like everyone had some kind of facial growth going. I know in the football world it was all over the place: players, coaches, pundits alike were all slowly turning into cave men. Loved It!

Georgie Best! Sports a handsome beard back in his day.

Georgie Best! Sports a handsome beard back in his day.

You almost miss the stache, with the classic Valderrama hair!

You almost miss the stache, with the classic Valderrama hair!

As it turned out, I was one of those two or three people on my team who didn’t shave for a month. As it also turned out, no one knew.

A night or two after the month was over, I walked over to the sink in my room and casually mentioned “I guess I can shave now”. My roommate, Benny, who could grow a carpet on his face in just a few days, sat straight up and said something along the lines of “WHAAAAA? BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!”, “You haven’t…HAHAHA”, “Sean…BAHAHAHHA”, “You haven’t shaved? HAHAHAHA!!!!”, “FOR A MONTH! BAHAHAHA”. Before I could answer he had run down the hall and told everyone. My No-Shave-Till-November campaign had, in truth, become a disgraceful Mo-ck-tober campaign.

Alexi Lalas, famous for his goatie in his playing days, sporting a very full stache

Alexi Lalas, famous for his goatie in his playing days, sporting a very full stache

That one will surely live through many a team reunion.

Back to the main point of post: the missing ball. Today I went to the local park, as I often do, to get some work in. One of the more recent challenges I have made for myself, when I am training alone, involves working on my longer, aerial passes. For this, I use a wall (about 6-6.5 ft high). I will typically back up 30-40 yards and try to hit the wall while the ball is still in the air. If I hit the ball too hard, it goes over the wall and I have to jump over and go get it. If I hit it too soft and it bounces before it hits the wall, it doesn’t come back all the way and I have run and get it. When I hit it right, the ball will typically role all the way back to me easy-peasy!

This is a great way to practice something. There are direct negative consequences for mistakes and if you do it right it is easier for you, but its not easy to do it right – sounds kinda like life doesn’t it.

Today, in my infinite imperfection, I kicked the ball over not 1, but 4 times (most of the others didn’t make it to the wall in the air either). Let me add that there is a relatively busy road just behind the wall, only protected by a few rows of trees (many of which are very thorny trees).

The first time I kicked it over was easy, as it sat just on the other side of the wall. The second and third time I happened to be practicing striking 1-time volleys out of the air, which is a classic high-risk vs. high-reward situation. If you manage to score a one touch volley, you feel like the man, you look like the man, and people will treat you like the man (at least for a bit)! If you shank it, you feel stupid, you look stupid and people treat you like your stupid (for a while). So, when I shanked these two over the wall they also cleared the trees. So, I had to push my way through the thorny trees and out on to the busy road, looking and feeling stupid, to retrieve my ball.

The last time I kicked it over, it only just cleared the wall, hit some branches right behind the wall, and appeared to drop straight down. I ran over immediately to scale the wall AGAIN. I got to the top of the wall and looked over…the ball was nowhere to be seen. I jumped down into the thorny trees and began crawl-walking around looking for it. Nothing. I went out to the road. Nothing. I crossed the busy road looking stupid to see if it had somehow gotten across (highly unlikely considered the pace I kicked it at). Nothing. The road was gradually sloping downhill and the ball could have gotten caught in the culvert and started rolling away so I walked down a little ways…looking stupid. Nothing. I went back and looking up into the trees in case it was stuck in them somewhere. Nothing!

Note: this was a bright neon yellow ball – on my receipt it is classified “Hi-Vis.”!

Seriously, how do you miss this!!!!!

Seriously, how do you miss this!!!!!

NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING!!!!!!!!

I sat there scratching my head for a bit and came to the only rational conclusion I could. It grew legs and ran off.

Now, if you remember, I wrote about losing another ball a while back at the same place. It’s bizarre. However, this isn’t just my second ball since I’ve been here. It’s my fourth (4TH). Two have mysteriously disappeared and two have been victims of death by puncture from the above described thorny trees. Moral of the story…don’t kick a ball over the wall into the thorny trees. Sigh! The Sports Direct store in Leeds is loving it.

In other news, my soccer life has continued to improve, while my love life has continued nowhere. I continue to train, here and there, with about as many teams as balls I’ve lost. Funnily enough, I have gotten to play a little in a few games with Albion Sports yet again. They have been doing well and sit 2nd in their league. In any case, they needed players for a few games again this week and I was happy to oblige.

We lost one of the games and won the other. I only played briefly in both and I was essentially given permission to run around as much as I wanted as long as I made sure they didn’t score. They didn’t! This leads to today’s seanostat: My team has never been scored on while I’m on the field in England! Boom! I hear Man Utd is having defensive difficulties…SIR ALEX!?!?

The Home of Rossington Main.

The Home of Rossington Main.

Overall, training has been good and it was nice to get into games, even if just for a few moments. I continue to work hard and wait for a breakthrough.

Special shout out to my youngest brother Desmond who turns a whopping 2 tomorrow. He’s always got bruises on his face from falling down head first…what an inspiration! Love him.

I wish you all a blessed and reflective advent!

Until next time Peace out.

Seano

Bits and Pieces

Rome was not built in a day. In the same way a tower is not built as one piece and a pie is not made with one ingredient. We all have our own Rome’s to build, and it is important to realize that each one will be made up of bits and pieces; it is not one giant block that falls out of the sky and hits you on the head. So, here are a few of the bits and pieces that have been added to my Rome the last few weeks.

I have been getting more consistent training with a few amateur sides in the area. So, at least a couple times a week I am able to get into a team training environment, which has been beneficial. The training level is of varying quality and in some cases the speed of play, and more particularly the speed of thought, is not as quick as I am used to. However, it is a good fitness boost and it is far more motivating to work at a training session than by yourself.

The first team I have been involved with is called Thackley AFC. Thackley is just north of Bradford and about 8 miles from where I am staying. They are one division (I think it’s 9th overall) above the side I was playing with a little while ago: Albion Sports. So, it is an improvement in that sense. However, at the training sessions, not too many of the first team players come, since they often play twice a week. The sessions are thus typically filled with reserve/youth players and so they do lack a bit of quality. It is also difficult to judge the level of the first team from this point of view. However, the management staff have been friendly and have offered for me the opportunity to play some games. Once my paperwork goes through I look forward to be playing more competitively again – something I have sorely missed.

Dennyfield – Home of the Dennyboys (Thackley)

I also trained with a team in the same division as Albion Sports called Yorkshire Amateur. They are based in the north suburb of Leeds. One of my relatives works with someone at the club and kindly got me in touch with him. He has been generous enough to let me come out to training. It is a similar situation to Thackley’s training with many of the first team players too busy to come, so many youth/reserve players make up the numbers, which in turn lowers the quality.

Bracken Edge – Home of Yorkshire Amateur

Lastly, I was supposed to train with Guiseley AFC this week. The team down the road that I have watched and written about a few times. Their training session on Thursday evening; however, was called off. They ended up losing their FA Cup replay game to Barrow Town on Tuesday and the manager decided to rest the team before the weekend game, after the tough loss. Fortunately, I intend to train with them this Thursday instead, so God willing something will come of that opportunity as well. From all the accounts I’ve heard they are a well respected, well run club that would be a great, albeit difficult, place to get my foot in the door.

I admit I have been to yet another Guiseley game. It was a cup game that they ended up winning 7-0 versus a lower division club, so it wasn’t much to write about. More of a slaughter-fest, although the visiting side did show some signs of a fight at first and could have made it interesting if they had scored one of their (few) early chances. Noteworthy; however, is the fact that it was after this game that I was finally able to speak with the manager and get invited to training (he must have just been very happy about his recent demolition job).

My tour of non-league football (considered 5th division and below) continued and broadened this weekend as I went to a game about an hour away at the home of FC Halifax Town. If you were only to visit the stadium you would assume they were higher than the 6th tier of football, but that is the nature of the promotion/relegation system over here; where you can drop or rise consecutive leagues in consecutive seasons as fast as the temperature in Loretto, PA, where I went to school.

FC Halifax Town, formerly Halifax Town AFC before entering administration in recent years, has a long history. They spent many decades in the football league, which partly answers the question of why they have a nice 13,000 capacity stadium. On the day, they handed the visitors, Droylsden FC, a solid 4-1 defeat. Although Droylsden are among the bottom dwellers, the “Shaymen” of FC Halifax made hard work of it and came into the half 0-0.

Droylsden tried to keep the ball, but didn’t have the quality to do it effectively. Despite some average spells of possession, they were relatively harmless all game. FC Halifax ground out 2 goals in the first 30 minutes of the 2nd half before Droylsden answered with their only goal off of a well rehearsed free kick play. While Droylsden pushed on for the equalizer, FC Halifax duly killed the game with 2 goals in the last 10 minutes. The crowd, numbering around 1300, was not afraid to show it’s disapproval at it’s own players and were probably the least forgiving crowd I’ve seen. Although, to be fair to them, it wasn’t a pretty spectacle for much of the game.

Here are some pictures of my visit to “The Shay”

.

All these situations are good building blocks for me and I am sure they will be integral in helping me to the next step in the process for a couple of reasons. The most obvious benefit is fitness. At any training session, no matter what the level, you can be sure that there is one constant where fitness is involved: you get in what you put out. So, I always put in a good shift on that front. Also, it is a great chance to network and continue to learn about the sports environment I am in, which is very interesting and unique to anything we see in the US.

The more I get acquainted with English football, the more impressed I am with the sheer number of football grounds there are here. Even at the lower levels, like Thackley and Yorskshire, clubs have their own dedicated ground. Sometimes it’s not huge and barely has a stand, but it is still impressive and just goes to show how integral football is to the culture here. It is also interesting that many of the clubs here, small and large, have a long and storied history, often even from before the world wars.

Stay posted on the future developments of my Rome and keep on building yours, we’ll get there.

Build with your headfirst! Ok maybe that’s not a good idea

God Bless,

Seano

Lunch Date

I’m not really sure what inspired that last post? I wanted to write something and that’s what came out. I think I was trying to be reflective in some way. Not really informative in any way, so sorry. More like I spewed some random thoughts out of the blue, just to have an excuse for a post.

However, it also acted to precede this post. The promised lunch date.

As lunch dates go they usually are not long, but they are informative and a good excuse to leave work (Ok, I don’t work per se). Anyway, I miss Chipotle, so that’s going to be where we eat. Not romantic, I know. There is a serious lack of good Mexican food here, or at least I just haven’t looked hard enough. Lot’s of Indian food and Curry though, if that interests you.

Drool!

So, aside from my lack of eating Mexican food, what have I been doing? Much of the same; football (soccer), training, searching, learning and some touristing (I know that’s not a word). Because this is a short lunch date, I won’t tell you about the learning and touristing today…which is good, because that means we’ll have to have another date soon.

FOOTBALL

Obviously I want to be playing in games, but since I haven’t been doing much of that, I have been going to quite a few. I’ve gone to a game at Huddersfield Town and 2 games at the local side Guiseley AFC. Spending time, and money, going to games is like homework…well, maybe more like a field trip. Either way its fun and educational on a number of levels. I personally enjoy going to games to experience all the different flavors that English football has to offer. This entails the crowd (cheering and jeering), the stadium, the town, and even the walk from the train to the field. It is also good for me to see the different levels of play between different divisions, as well as varying styles.

Huddersfield Town vs Wolverhampton Wanderers

The Huddersfield game was a few weeks ago. It was about an hours train ride to see the Championship (2nd division) side play. On the day, the home side were the better team and the result reflected that as they came out 2-1 winners over the recently relegated premier league side Wolverhampton Wanderers. The crowd at the Burrito Bowl…that is the John Smith Stadium (aka Galpharm Stadium) was rowdy, the traveling fans, who I ended up quite near, were also in full voice, and 2 great first half goals from Huddersfield made for an enjoyable afternoon.

Coming in from behind the away stand

To the far stand (My side was a bit bigger and had 2 tiers)

Both of Huddersfield’s goals came off of well executed crosses from the right hand side (right in front of me). The first was headed in and the 2nd was a lovely one-time side volley from Jermaine Beckford (famous for scoring this lone goal against Man Utd while playing with Leeds a few years ago to knock the Red Devils out of the FA Cup). A late bit of pressure from Wolves saw them nick a goal towards the end, but overall I thought Huddersfield were deserved victors.

One of the newer looking stadiums I’ve been too.

The atmosphere was great. It started with the walk in, where a few hundred Wolves fans were being ushered in by local police; complete with horses and all. The away fans were just to my right throughout the game and were fantastic. A few of them; however, seemed more set on instigating the fans around me and had some success. They were plenty of taunts and obscene gestures being thrown back and forth and more than 1 person from both parties would have been happy to “take it outside” so to speak. Due to the large presence of police, I doubt this occurred, but in a slightly twisted, testosterone induced sort of way hope it did.

The away stand filling up with Wolves fans in their orange kits.

Guiseley AFC vs Bradford Park Avenue

I have now been to 3 games at Guiseley AFC. The first one I already wrote about in a previous post and I will briefly tell you about the other two.

The 2nd one was a Tuesday night game vs local Bradford rival Bradford Park Avenue (BPA) in none other than the West Riding County Cup (If you don’t remember, the WRCC was the cup that I was involved in and wrote about a while back). Also, coincidentally – or not considering it is why I went to the game – BPA is the team that I have trained with a few times. Unfortunately, BPA, who I was obliged to root for, got…well there’s not a nice way to say it. The final score was 4-1 to Guiseley. The game was essentially decided in the first 10 minutes, when Guiseley scored 3 quick goals – and it could have been more. They added one more at half before BPA got a consolation goal late on. From what I have observed of both teams, it appeared both of them started “weak” teams, which shows this cup is not a big focus for them. After making a few changes though, BPA settled in and had a presentable second half. However, after the initial burst of goals from Guiseley, the final result was never in question.

Guiseley AFC vs Burrito…I mean Barrow Town

The second game was an FA CUP 1st round game vs Barrow Town (1 division above Guiseley-5th division overall). Guiseley is a favorite for promotion up to this league and will have to face this kind of competition on a weekly basis if they can make the jump this year. As opposed to the WRCC, the FA Cup is a big, BIG deal for smaller sides. Not only are their huge financial benefits for the teams (from what I hear making the 1st round alone = 60,000-80,000 pounds), it also provides an avenue (if they progress) for smaller teams to play the big premiership teams like Manchester United, Arsenal, or Liverpool.

The game ended in a 2-2 tie. This means that there will be a replay next week at Barrow Town. If their is no winner in this game, they will go to overtime and penalties if needed. Guiseley will be frustrated having to travel to Barrow after dropping an early 2-0 lead. As they say, I know it’s cliche, the 2 goal lead is the most dangerous. It doesn’t really make sense, but they say it anyway, and it has an uncanny aspect of truth to it (It’s dangerous because of the mentality it can provoke – for both sides). Anyway, it was a very good game overall, with much more intensity than the WRCC game. The small ground, Nethermoor Park, was packed – standing room only – and the away fans were in full force.

TRAINING

Yes, I continue to train on my own. The details are boring, but I feel good about my fitness, though it is hard to judge.

SEARCHING

I continue to search for opportunities. I have been adopting a more direct strategy than before, trying to go and intercept managers at training instead of going through phone calls and offices, where they seem to have a endless supply of lines to feed me when I ask to speak with the manager for a trial. The trouble of course is finding out where training is.

I watched Bradford City train last week and spoke with their manager after, asking to train with them. He said “no” in more words, essentially saying that I need to be playing somewhere and  they can scout me. Frustrating, but fair considering they get these requests daily. The day after that, Bradford City beat Wigan (a Premier League side) in the League Cup and will play Arsenal (BIG DEAL) in the next round…I’m taking some credit as a good luck charm at least.

I spent a day in the Manchester area as well, doing my thing – with some 5th and 6th tier sides – and am waiting to see if that bears any fruit.

Nagging, nagging, nagging, and if they want it to stop, I can recommend a remedy.

I won’t go away, I’ll go head-first.

Peace all,

Seano

Ground and Grounds

Ground – the word of the week

According to Webster dictionary.com these are some of the definitions for the word “Ground”.

“a : the surface of the earth
b : an area used for a particular purpose <the parade ground> <fishing grounds><football ground>
c plural : the area around and belonging to a house or other building
d : an area to be won or defended in or as if in battle”

Each one is fitting for today’s post (Essentially a review of the week).

Definition A: the surface of the earth

I usually have some interaction with the surface of the earth everyday and to be honest, I rarely think about it – unless it’s face first or something. The ground seems to become more and more significant the further I get from it. If I’m in a plane, I think about getting safely to ground. The further I go out into the ocean, the more I feel called back to land (I’m clearly a land-lubber). However, I would be willing to bet that I could name the person who thought about the “surface of the earth” most of all yesterday.

It was his worst enemy and his best friend, it could have ended him, but he couldn’t wait for it. I’d imagine that there would be a few mixed feelings speeding toward the earth at nearly 730 miles per hour. Yes, he must have been thinking all about the ground yesterday. Yes, it must have been the sweetest thing to set foot on it again, safe and sound. I wonder who felt better about having the ground under their feet again, Columbus and his men hundreds of years ago, or Felix Baumgartner yesterday? Either way, it must have felt great! Both inspiring stories of human determination and courage in the face of the unknown.

Definition C (pl): the area around and belonging to a house

I was resisting all urges to do anything at all on Sunday. However, I forced myself to go out and do something active on what was actually quite a nice day. So, I ended up taking a bike ride to the nearby Bolton Abbey and its surrounding “Grounds”. It turned out to be an excellent decision. It was about a 18 mile ride round trip along the Wharfe river, which runs through Wharfedale in Yorkshire. Not only was it a beautiful ride in and a beautiful location, I also got my lazy bum out and got some good exercise! It was also great to get out of the neighborhoods and into some good old fashioned Yorkshire countryside.

Bolton Abbey sits on a massive estate (30,000 acres) that was owned by the Duke of Devonshire. The land is now part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The Priory, which was founded by the Augustinians, is mostly ruined. However, the front (nave) of the church was preserved and is still used today by the Church of England. (I love writing a blog because I can use Wikipedia and not get in trouble with my teacher…but don’t blame me if I’m wrong!)

Here are some pictures of the lovely grounds and the surrounding area:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

By the way, bike rides are a great way to get exercise in when your body and mind are making it difficult. It’s a less harsh workout on your body than running and you feel great doing it because you make so much progress! Thanks to my cousin (1st cousin once removed if we’re going to get picky) Chris for lending me the bike.

Definition B: an area used for a particular purpose <parade ground> <fishing grounds><football ground>

I admit I added <football ground> myself, it wasn’t in the definition, but it works all the same! This is a suitable definition for me because I’ve been going to so many football grounds. This week, I attended two more games.

On Tuesday, I went to see local 6th tier team Guiseley AFC take on a Welsh side, Colwyn Bay FC (same division), in an FA Cup qualifying round replay game (The FA CUP is played by all English teams, so it’s a big chance for small teams to gain notoriety and play some bigger clubs if they do well). It was a replay because the teams tied in the first leg of the round. However, if this game ended in a tie there would be overtime and then penalties if needed. It was a good game overall and a decent level of play. Guiseley is sitting 3rd in the division and has just missed promotion the last few seasons (I’ve been trying to get into training with them). Colwyn Bay is in the lower half of the table.

Nethermoor Park – Home (Ground) of Guiseley AFC

The first half was a well fought contest and while Guiseley probably saw more of the ball, Colwyn Bay had the better opportunities and went into the half leading 1-0. The 2nd half, however, was dominated by the home side and when they eventually scored the final outcome was inevitable. Guiseley scored a 2nd soon after and added a 3rd after a Colwyn Bay player was red-carded in a tussle off the ball. The level of play is similar to the PDL in the states, although most of the players in the Conference North would probably have more overall experience, which might give them an edge.

There was a good crowd (probably around 500+) and it was a good atmosphere for a chilly Tuesday night. This is something that we are lacking considerably in US sports. Lower level teams with a decent local following. There are a few teams in the PDL who provide this kind of environment, but its few and far between. There are surely many factors that play into this, but that’s a chat for another day.

On Saturday, I went to another Bradford City game at Valley Parade (Ground). The Bradford City ground is large by league 2 standards, holding just over 25,000. This is because they were in the top tier of English Football not too long ago, before mismanagement and poor form led to a decline.  Though it is rarely filled (nearly 12,000 for this game) they still draw more fans than most other teams in this league.

Valley Parade (I think it’s officially called Coral Windows stadium) from the opposite side of the City.

It was their first Yorkshire Derby in over a decade. York City was just promoted to League 2, for the first time in years, from the Blue Square Conference Premier League and have been doing relatively well. Bradford City, sitting higher than York in the standings, is having a steady season and is surely hoping to get into playoff contention.

Yorkshire Derby kickoff: Bradford City vs. York City

It was a high-tempo game that both teams wanted to win. Both teams worked hard and played similar, straightforward football. In the end, they were both rewarded for their effort and the game ended in a 1-1 tie. It wasn’t the prettiest game to watch (aside from both the goals, which were both very good), both teams played very direct and neither team had long periods of possession; although I would say Bradford City had more of the ball overall. In this way, it was a very stereotypical “English” styled game. The ref didn’t help at all, stopping the game often and not allowing the teams to restart quickly from stoppages. I would go as far as to say the Guiseley v Colwyn Bay game was more pleasing to watch.

Definition D: an area to be won or defended in or as if in battle

If you have read this far I’m impressed, I’m sure it has been a battle! This definition is relevant for me because in my battle to find a team and play soccer, I need to make sure I am not losing any ground! On top of that, I have to continue fighting to gain more and more ground.

In anything you do, if you keep gaining ground, you will eventually win the battle and so the war.

In summary, I’ve been to nice grounds, old grounds, historical grounds, big grounds, little grounds, natural grounds and man made grounds; I’ve been fighting to gain ground and finally, no matter how high you fly, its always best to have two feet firmly on the ground.

Don’t be afraid to dive head first – even if its 730 mph like Felix!

Peace,

Seano

PS: I would also like to give an honorable mention to another type of ground: coffee grounds – always a top lad!