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.


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.


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.


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.


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,


Cup Game

I’ve just been involved in a Cup game in England last night. Albeit it was only a small cup known as the West Riding County Cup. As is the best part of cups, it was a chance for us, the statistical underdogs, to come out and prove our worth against a team that plays higher up in the Egyptianesque sized pyramid of English non-league football. The game was played away at Farsley AFC’s ground “The Throstle’s Nest”. It really wasn’t much of an away game since it is sandwiched in between Leeds and Bradford and thus was probably just as easy for me, and some of the other players, to get to as our home ground.

The Throstle Nest: Home of Farsley AFC

It was our first game in 9 days. This long of a break from games can be an advantage, but also a setback.

It’s great because it means that you are more rested than usual. If the other team has played over the weekend and midweek, it means this will be their 3rd game in 6 days. Despite games being a footballers primary enjoyment, playing this often can take a significant amount of sharpness and stamina out of you pretty fast, especially if you are not taking care of yourself. Of course, teams like Man United, Man City, Real Madrid, and particularly AC Milan have top notch facilities where there are staff whose primary job is to make sure your body runs in top gear, year after year. Even then, we hear about players who are being rested because of fatigue. The truth is, playing a full 90 minutes takes quite a bit out of you. Doing it every few days can be even rougher. If you don’t have someone to massage you down and make you personally designed smoothies, it can be even more difficult.  So, when you get more than a week-long break in the season this can be quite helpful.

At the same time, having too long of a break can also be damaging because you can lose momentum – which we were beginning to build before this break – and you can lose game sharpness. This can be especially true if you don’t train often, as is the case with Albion. The one training session we did have, as I mentioned, did not have full participation and so it lacked a game-like feel overall. Even when you are training consistently, it can be easy to lose that cutting edge that so often separates teams of similar quality.

Soooo…..was the break a blessing or a curse?


It was a great game for the team! We won 4-1 against a side that plays two divisions ahead of us and on paper were favorites. However, our confidence from the last few games carried through and we were able to get the big win. The break turned out to be a big benefit for us. At the beginning we absorbed pressure and managed to get the first goal against the run of play. Farsley equalized within minutes and remained the more dominant team. Yet we continued to keep the game in front of us and limited the home teams significant chances. This allowed us to again score on the counter. The 1st half ended 2-1.

In the second half, we didn’t dominate possession, but were more comfortable as Farsley was unable to sustain the high pressure they put on us at the beginning of the game. We continued to be dangerous when we got the chances going forward. We had many close opportunities including one off of the post. We were finally rewarded when the keeper misread a long ball into the box, which floated over his head, caught the post and went in for the 3rd. The last goal came late in the game when our striker pressured a long ball and forced the keeper to make a mistake and essentially walked the ball into the net. At this point, the game was all but over and we just had to stay tight in the back, which we did. Overall it was a gutsy performance from the team and we showed both our solid defensive work and how dangerous we can be in attack.

Farsley suffered from what I like to call “the Barca syndrome”. It’s a problem that many teams have at lower levels of football. I’ve seen it in college, PDL, and even sometimes at the professional level. These teams try to play inverted wingers and high fullbacks, in an effort to play possession based attacking soccer that is modeled after Barcelona  As this happens they get too comfortable going forward and lose focus on their defensive shape and responsibilities. Also, they don’t have the work rate off the ball to win it back quickly; which is an integral part of the Barca system. Therefore, when they lose the ball there is less cover and less pressure, which makes these teams susceptible to counter-attack. Albion did a great job of exposing this tonight against Farsley, as three of the goals came off of counter-attacks. While on the other hand, Farsley did not get behind the Albion defense more than once or twice.

Even the possession kings, Barcelona, are susceptible to the counter attack, especially with a threat like Ronaldo!

Unfortunately, I did not play at all tonight. As disappointed as I was and as ready as I was to play tonight after the cancellation in midweek, I am focusing on the positive result for the team and looking forward to the next game. We do not know who our next opponent will be in the WRCC, but I will be sure to update you when we find out. I believe the next round will take place at the beginning of November.

Our next league game is away to a team named Knaresborough Town on Saturday. There is no reason that we should not continue our winning streak against them! Let’s hope I can play a bigger part in that game. To find out, check back here!

A special shout out and thanks to my Uncle Walter who brought me to the game and sat through the rainy evening…at least he got to see a good game and a number of goals.

God Bless and don’t be afraid to dive in Head First!