Thursday, 19 May 2016

November 2015 - A view from behind the goal


November was a decent month for the Bloods and a milestone for the blog. We also met our new fan Carlos Bailey. He was a very serious looking man with a slug under his nose. Someone must have told him that Ken was now serving burritos. He looked very much like Bloods fan Nigel Bailey. Maybe it was his long lost brother?!

My blog had also hit the 10,000 view milestone. I was flattered and didn’t expect it to receive that many views, unless someone was feeling sorry for me and clicked on my link hundreds of times….Thanks Mum.

We also got some new mugs branded which was another one of my ‘Del Boy’ ideas. Martin and I sold almost 100 mugs throughout the season.

Anyway, back to the beautiful game and our first match of November was away to Whitton United.

Whitton United 1 – Saffron Walden 3

7th November 2016

I must have checked the weather over 100 times since the Friday afternoon before the match. After hearing the Reserve’s had been postponed, the match against Whitton United looked doubtful. The ground had a pitch inspection at 11am and it was all systems go. It was game on!

As I drove to Whitton, I was praying that I wouldn’t get a phone call, telling me the match had been called off. Thankfully it was still on when I arrived about 45 minutes from kick off. I had a good catch up with Nigel, Peter and Martin. Martin had told me that we were currently rock bottom of the league. A win was badly needed, which would get us out of the bottom three.

The line up to face Whitton United:

Floyd Croll was in goal. Defence: Grindrod (Viking), Reid, Solkhon (Rocky) and P Abbott. Midfield: Murphy (The Boss), Fleming and Noble (Nobby). Forwards: Calver (Wig), Thomas (Zinedine) and Bell. Subs: Soutar, Drane, M Abbott, Crane (Road Runner), Harper and Andrews.

We didn’t start the game very well, and found ourselves a goal down after 2 minutes. Paul Abbott lost his footing, just outside the 18 yard box, which allowed Whitton’s number 10 to play the ball around Abbott. He timed his pass well, and their number 7 struck the ball and hit the back of the net.

Bell managed to get forward, and ran with the ball into the box. He went for a shot, but it was well defended for a Walden corner. The corner was taken by The Viking, which found Rocky at the back post. Rocky headed the ball at the goal, which slightly went over the line to award the Bloods the equaliser. The defender was given a yellow card, for trying to scoop the ball away from the goal mouth, with his hand. In my opinion it was very good refereeing by the officials, who did need to consult with each other but made their decision quick. Before you faint, yes I did give the officials a compliment. It was 1-1 and game on.

Walden had a nervous moment when Floyd came off his line to clear the ball. The ball hit the Whitton striker, but Rocky got back and cleared the ball.

Our wing play was excellent and the Viking, Wig and Harper passed the ball in a triangle around the Whitton defence. The Viking crossed the ball, but it was well defended for a Walden corner. His corner was taken well, but no one managed to get a clean shot on goal and the defence managed to clear the danger.

35 minutes into the match, and the rain started getting heavier. I was starting to worry that the game would be called off.

There was a nervous moment for Walden when the Whitton striker tried to lob Croll, but it was wide and off side.

HT: Whitton 1 – Saffron Walden 1

We had the perfect start to the second half. James Thomas met The Viking’s cross, and caught the ball perfectly to make it 2-1. It happened so quickly. Had we been in the VIP seats at Wembley, we would have missed it.

Whitton didn’t let their heads drop, and tested Croll with an in-swinging cross from the wing. Croll firmly pushed the ball over the cross bar for a Whitton corner. The corner was well delivered, but Fleming headed the ball clear, which found Bell in space. Bell ran with the ball and delivered a cross into the box, but it was slightly too high for Rocky.

The Bloods showed grit and determination to keep onto their lead. Every player was working hard and Wig tracked back, and made a brilliant tackle to deny Whitton a shooting opportunity.

Whitton had not given up, and still had a good chance to get back into the match. They tried to push our back four back, but the lads stood up well and wouldn’t let them shoot.

The Boss had a lovely headed goal disallowed. It all came from a free kick taken by Harper. Wig was in an off side position, but was not interfering with play. He had his hand up and was running away from the goal. Anyway, the ball found Rocky at the back post, who headed across the box. The Boss flew in and buried it into the back of the net with his head.

Wig scored the goal of the day. He collected a long ball from Thomas’ cross, and brought it down to his feet. He smashed the ball at the goal, which hit the bottom of the crossbar and bounced over the line. The keeper had no chance. The ‘We are staying up’ chants had begun!

So the final whistle went, and we had won! We really needed the three points, and the lads did not disappoint. Mrs Nash’s flannel was not needed! We had now moved up to 16th place.

Fans ‘Man of the Match’ went to Jamie Solkon

Saffron Walden 2 – Long Melford 2 – Melford won 5-3 on penalties

Thurlow Nunn League Cup

10th November 2015

There is nothing like Tuesday night football to break up the working week. After a successful 3-1 away win confidence was flowing. A win against Long Melford in the cup would have been a great opportunity to build on the hard work. To say we were unlucky would be an understatement. Losing on penalties is never nice, but sadly it was not our night. I shall talk you through the match shortly.

Former Bloods goal scorer, Shaun Avis came to cheer on the lads. It must have been very strange for him, to be standing with the fans and not giving the centre backs hell. It was great to see Avo.

Before the match, I presented James Thomas with the Bloods Sweat and Cheers player of the month for October.

TEAM: Sam Soutar, Paul Abbot, Dan Grindrod (Viking), Jake Noble (Nobby), James Solkhon (Rocky), Ryan Fleming (Flemo), Craig Calver (Wig), Joe Murphy (Boss), Marc Abbot (Max Drane – 70 mins.), James Thomas (Zinedine)(Graeme Turner (G Man)– 66 mins.), Louis Harper (James Crane (Road Runner) – 66 mins.). Substitutes (not used): Spike Bell, Charlie Dicker.

Charlie Dicker had impressed Sticko while playing for the U18s. He was awarded with a place on the first team’s bench. Even though Charlie didn’t play, I felt it was a huge achievement and it proves that hard work and determination doesn’t go unnoticed.

In the first 15 minutes the possession was even, with both teams looking threatening. As always when these teams meet, they are always up for a gritty match.

Melford had a decent effort, but it was well saved by Soutar. The shot was curving and could have gone anywhere, but Sam stood strong and Harper was there to clear the rebound.

23 minutes into the match, and Wig won Walden a free kick in ‘Harper’ range. Mr Sam ‘No Foul’ Mansfield worked very hard to get his team ready. Sorry Sam, but I couldn’t resist

Melford looked dangerous on the break, and Soutar had to make a decision on whether to come off his line or stay put. He decided to run off his line and put in a great challenge on the attacker. The ball span in the air, but Melford failed with the follow-up shot.

26 minutes into the match, and Wig made a lovely run into the box, beating the defender. He played the ball back to Marc Abbot, who pushed the pull forward, but was tripped up when he went to run onto the ball. The referee awarded the Bloods with a penalty. Marc Abbot placed the ball on the spot and drilled it into the roof of the net. Pick that ball out son! Walden 1 – Melford 0

I always liked to do try and do a ‘Quote of the Match’, and the quote came from Geraint Jones. Mansfield miss kicked his clearance and Geraint said; ‘Would you like tea with that slice?’ Genius from the young lad! It’s nice to have a quote that I could actually print. Isn’t that right, Mr Nash? However Malcolm you did say at the time that you felt the referee was having a good game. Must have been something in the air!

Melford worked very hard to get back into the game, and I would say they were matching almost Walden pound for pound…Well, apart from being 1-0 up. Melford were playing a lot better than the last time we played them at Stoneylands. Typical!

The Boss Man was inches away from making it 2-0, by almost connecting with Zinedine’s lethal cross. It was just slightly in front of him when the ball came in.

HT: Saffron Walden 1 – Long Melford 0

Walden started the second half by looking for that second goal, straight from kick-off. The Bloods put together a series of good passes and kept the ball well. Zinedine was causing the right back havoc, and Melford found him difficult to control.

Zinedine’s trickery paid off, as he was fouled in the penalty area. The referee awarded the Bloods another penalty. Up steps Marc Abbot! Marc calmly slotted the ball into the left hand corner. Mansfield did get a touch on the ball, but it was too well placed to stop. Marc was now on a brace and full of confidence.

Melford battled hard to get back into the game and their hard work paid off in the 55th minute. Griffiths latched on to a well-timed through ball and lobbed Soutar from 18 yards. It was a perfect lob, and I personally think it was impossible to save.

Long Melford continued to look dangerous, and were trying everything to get into the match. The Viking made a perfect challenge to prevent a cross. He kicked the ball off for a corner.

The corner was good, and Melford believed they should have had a penalty but the referee told them to play on. Or as we would say; ’Get up man!’

Walden held the lead deep into injury time, before the match ended in controversial fashion.

In the 95th minute, The Viking went down injured in his own 18 yard box. The ball was kicked into touch in the Long Melford half while he received treatment. Long Melford threw the ball to Wig, who kicked the ball back 60 yards to Soutar in the Walden penalty area. Sam Soutar mistakenly picked the ball up, and the referee penalized him for handling a back pass.

Griffiths drove the in-direct free kick from the edge of the penalty area, which took a slight deflection from the Bloods wall, and ended up in the back of the net for the equaliser. The decision of why Melford didn’t kick the ball directly back to Sam was questioned and caused debate between the fans?!

I know how disappointed Sam was for his mistake, but as I said to him after the match he must not blame himself and to keep his chin up.

The final whistle blew and the match went into a penalty shoot-out.

Long Melford won the toss and scored all five of their penalties, whereas Ryan Fleming’s spot kick was brilliantly saved by Mansfield, and Long Melford went through to the quarter-finals 5-3 on penalties. Wig, Boss and Road Runner all scored from the spot. Personally I would not want to take a penalty, so well done to all those who stood up.

Fans ‘Man of the Match’ went to Marc Abbott

Saffron Walden 0 – Brantham Athletic 1

Before the game started we had a minute silence, as a mark of respect to all those innocent people who were killed in the attacks on Paris. Such terrible news and our hearts and prayers went out to all the victims loved ones.

TEAM: Floyd Croll, Paul Abbot, Dan Grindrod (Viking), Jake Noble (Nobby), James Solkhon (Rocky), Ryan Fleming (Flemo), Craig Calver (Wig), Joe Murphy (Boss), Marc Abbot, James Thomas (Zinedine), Louis Harper. Substitutes: James Crane (Road Runner), Max Drane, Ben Laurence (Beast), Neil Andrews, Sam Soutar.

The Bloods first threat at goal came from a wicked cross by the Viking, after Zinedine kept hold of the ball in the box and played it back to the Viking. The cross was aimed at Harper but it was well defended by Nobbs.

17 minutes into the match, and Bratham had a great chance. Stace jumped well and connected with a cross but his header went wide.

The Boss was working very hard in the centre and played a lovely ball to Wig. Wig ran with the ball up the wing and crossed it. The defender got a slight touch on the ball, but it went only as far as Zinedine. Zinedine crossed the ball back into the box, but it was to long for the Boss.

37 minutes into the match, and Zinedine had an excellent chance which tested Hawkin. Harper headed a cross to Zinedine and he skilfully pushed it to one side. His shot was bending away to the keeper’s right hand side, but Hawkin managed to get a firm hand to it and pushed it away for a corner. Marc Abbot took the corner but nothing came from it.

Brantham’s goal came from a rebound, after Croll made an excellent save. The ball was loose and tapped in from 6 yards. It was quick thinking from the Brantham striker. I am sorry I didn’t see who scored the goal. I was having a Wenger moment.

HT: Saffron Walden 0 – Brantham Athletic 1

55 minutes into the match, and Croll made a fabulous safe from a point blank shot. The cross was whipped in and the striker caught the ball well, but it was not got enough to beat the athleticism of Croll.

60 minutes into the match and Harper was substituted for Crane (Road Runner) and the Viking was substituted by The Beast.

75 minutes into the match, and Thomas did well to beat the defender. He struck the ball but it was well saved by Hawkins for a corner to Walden. The corner came in but was defended by Stace.

Wig had a rush of Blood, and ran extremely fast to chase down a free ball. He got his cross in but it hit the bar. It would have been a great solo effort had it just dropped under the bar.

The Bloods continued to keep Hawkins busy, after Wig latched onto his punched clearance from a corner. Wig’s effort was on target but again was well saved by Hawkins. Their defence were keeping them in the match.

Both keepers were keeping their teams in the mix. Croll made another great save on the 80th minute, to deny Brantham from going 2-0 up.

Drane did some great foot work, and beat the Brantham defender. The ball was passed to Wig but Wig’s shot was blocked by Sibbons.

Zinedine was working extremely had and trying to create chances. He linked-up well with Road Runner, on the line and the Boss joined in on the action. The Boss won the Bloods a throw for the Beast. The throw was headed into the box, but just didn’t drop for anyone to get a clean shot. The crowd were shouting for someone to hit the ball, but the Brantham boys stood up well.

Again, it was not our day. We had lost 0-1. Plenty of great build up play, but no goals to show for the lad’s hard work.

Fans ‘Man of the Match’ went to Floyd Croll

Biggleswade 1 – Saffron Walden 3

FA Vase – 21st November…..Bloody cold.

After such an incredible run last year in the FA Vase, I was really looking forward to the match. The club had arranged for a coach, to take the players and supporters to Biggleswade United. Biggleswade were in the Spartan South Midlands League and were currently 19 in the league. When you compare the two team’s performances over the last 10 games, we were evenly matched…Well on paper that is!

We arrived at the ground just before 2pm, and headed straight to the bar. After a few rounds and a nice warm pasty, we headed over the car park to the ground. There was a real chill in the air and you could definitely tell winter had arrived. The lady on the PA system welcomed us to the ‘Second Meadow’, and asked us to give her a wave. Well of course we all waved and cheered to let the home fans know we had arrived.

TEAM: Floyd Croll, Ryan Fleming (Flemo), Dan Grindrod (Viking), Matt Snelling (Mashy) (Stuart Wardley (Sticko) – 51 mins.), Ben Lawrence (Beast), Chris Reid (Graeme Turner (G Man)– 36 mins.), Craig Calver (Wig), Max Drane (Joe Murphy (Boss)– 79 mins.), Jake Noble (Nobby), James Thomas (Zinedine), Louis Harper. Substitutes (not used): James Crane (Road Runner), Neil Andrews.

Walden lost the toss, so we ended up playing against the sun. I even gave Nigel ‘Carlos’ Bailey a few bars of ‘Here comes the sun’. He complimented me by adding the ‘Doo do do do’ bit.

To say the boys were up for it would have been an understatement. As the Biggleswade Tweet said ‘We came out of blocks, faster than Usain Bolt’. I really respected the Tweet, as we really did. We really went for it.

The Bloods drew first Blood, when Zinedine took advantage of a bad clearance by Biggleswade. Zinedine saw that Martos was off his line and volleyed the ball towards the goal. The ball had so much spin that it beat Martos at his left post. All the defence could do was stand there and watch. The goal came 2 minutes after kick off.

17 minutes in and Biggleswade had equalised. Floyd Croll made an excellent save from Cooper, but Sagwete did not waste his opportunity from the rebound and smashed the ball past Croll.

Soon after the goal, Reid made a great challenge to stop the Biggleswade striker from having a clear shot at goal.

The Bloods soon got back into their rhythm, and would not let the equaliser faze them. Flemo’s long ball was skilfully taken by Zinedine. Zinedine squared the ball to Wig, but his effort was straight at the keeper.

The Bloods did not stay behind for long. 24 minutes in the match, and The Beast connected perfectly from a corner ball by Harper. His thunderbolt header smashed the back of the net, leaving Marto no chance. 1-2 to the Bloods!

36 minutes into the match and Reid was replaced by G Man. Reid took a knock and couldn’t continue. I spoke to him after the match and he was confident he could shake it off.

40 minutes into the match, and Elliot went for a long range effort but the shot went over the bar.

Mrs Nash was now getting cold and sent Malcolm to get into the tea line. Malcolm knows his place!

Biggleswade had an opportunity near the end of the half. They had a good chance from the corner, but the Beast would not allow them to pass go!

HT: Biggleswade 1 – Saffron Walden 2. The lads had worked extremely hard and deserved their lead.

The Bloods re-started the match and won an early corner. There was some pushing and shoving in the box, which can be quite normal, but it was getting silly and Zinedine was not happy with the constant impediment

There was more pushing and shoving from Sagwete on Zinedine as we waited for a Beast throw-in. Sagwete pushed Zinedine over, and the referee had no choice but to show him a yellow card. We all wanted a penalty, as in theory it was a foul in the box. The throw was instantly cleared back to Beast and the Beast crossed the ball towards the back post, but Sticko could not get his head to it.

Well, no one expected what was to happen next. The Viking scored one of the best goals I have seen in a Walden shirt. The ball fell to the Viking and he smashed it from 35 yards out. The ball took a slight deflection, but buried itself in the top left hand corner. His goal is definitely a contender for goal of the season. It was a rocket! It was one of those goals, where you just stand still and watch. The whole team ran to the Viking to celebrate with him.

G Man had to go off for some treatment. I think he was cut after a clash with Marto, but he didn’t stay off the pitch for long.

73 minutes into the match, and Marto was booked for more pushing and shoving in the box. Mrs Nash’s flannel was officially out, as she was not happy with Mr. Marto’s conduct.

Soon after yellow card, the Bloods won a free kick. Harper went for a shot, but it was slightly too high and went over the bar.

85 minutes into the match, and G Man worked really hard to win the Bloods a corner. The Viking took the corner, but he hit the post. The rebound was cleared by the defence.

The final result was Biggleswade 1 – Saffron Walden 3. The Bloods out played the home side and deserved to win. It was a joy to watch, and I was very proud of all the lads.

Fans ‘Man of the Match’ went to Dan Grindrod


Walsham Le Willows 1 – Saffron Walden 2

Saturday 28th November 2015

Both sides were in need of all 3 points, to try and climb away from the bottom 3. Before the match Walsham-Le-Willows (WLW), were on 10 points and the Bloods were on 11 points. Both teams had played the same amount of games and were in the bottom 5 of the TNPL.

It was cold and wet and we all knew it was going to be a gritty match, with both sets of fans feeling anxious. This was what they call a 6 pointer.

We had at least 20 away fans, braving the wind and rain. The Ressie’s had a game at home against WLW Reserves, so Blog favourite Mrs Nash and Co stayed to cheer on the lads at home.

TEAM: Floyd Croll, Paul Abbot, Dan Grindrod (Viking), Matt Snelling (Mashy), Ben Lawrence (Beast), Ryan Fleming (Flemo), Max Drane (Neil Andrews – 92 mins.), Marc Abbot (Joe Murphy (Boss)– 70 mins.), Graeme Turner (G Man), James Thomas (Zinedine), Louis Harper. Substitutes (not used): Stuart Wardley (Sticko), Sam Soutar.

12 minutes into the match, and G Man had the first good opportunity on goal, when he met Zinedine’s head but his effort went over the bar.

WLW spent the first 15 minutes being pinned back, until Curry had a very good powerful effort, which showed the Bloods how dangerous they could be on a break. Luckily for the Bloods, the shot went wide.

18 minutes in and we thought that WLW had scored, but the goal was disallowed for being off side…Phew!

Harper delivered a great through ball, for G Man to run onto. G Man did very well to shake off the defender, but his shot was brilliantly saved by Brandy, which resulted in a corner to the Bloods. Brandy looked like an experienced keeper, who would be difficult to beat. The Viking took the corner, but it was cleared away but only to Paul Abbott. Paul Abbott passed it back to the Viking, who had another cross. The cross found Zinedine, who then set Flemo for a shot, but it went straight at Brandy.

35 minutes into the first half, and G Man won us a corner. The corner was taken by the Viking, who found Drane. Drane’s shot was deflected for another corner. Harper took the corner, but the referee blew for a foul on the WLW player.

During the last few minutes of the half WLW looked the better side, and were putting pressure on the Bloods, but the lads stood up well and kept the WLW attackers at bay.

HT – WLW 0 – Saffron Walden 0

We had a small shelter for the 2nd half, which was made by poles and tin. Now for those who have been to an away match, the Bloods family and metal make a noisy mix. We do like something to bang!

The Bloods started the second half, exactly how they started the first half.

50 minutes into the match, and Harper had a great chance. He played the ball onto his right foot and went for a shot, but it was blocked by a defender for a corner. The Viking took the corner and struck gold again! His effort went straight into the net, via the hand of the goalkeeper. It was now 2 out of 2 for last week’s MOTM.

WLW started to get going again and had a chance from a cross, but the striker’s header went wide.

The Beast and Floyd were called into action. The Beast made a good block from a WLW effort, and Floyd did well to save the rebounded effort. The flag was raised anyway, but there was no way Super Floyd was going to take that risk.

WLW pressure paid off from a corner in the 62ndminute. The wind made the ball tricky to clear. Several shots were blocked in a 6 yard box scramble, before the ball was forced over the by Webb.

The lads did not let their heads drop and were determined to get back in front. Zinedine latched onto a great through ball and dribbled the ball into the 18 yard box. Three defenders tried to take the ball from him, but he calmly slotted the ball past the keeper from 9 yards out. It was a fantastic goal and showed us all why he was player of the month for October. What a great asset for the Bloods.

We thought lightening had struck twice, when WLW found the back of the net, but it was ruled off side. Thank God for that!

WLW were playing well, and making the Bloods work hard. They had a great chance from a throw-in, but it was well cleared by Mashy.

Zinedine had another great opportunity to go one on one with the keeper, but he was cynically pulled down by the WLW player. The player was given a yellow card. The Viking took the free kick and went for a shot, but his effort went over the bar.

The Bloods came very close to making it 3-1. Harper had a lovely run, passing a few defenders and passed the ball out to Mashy. Mashy struck the ball well, but it was well blocked for a corner to the Bloods. Harper took the corner, but it went over everyone and out of play.

With only a few minutes remaining, I was starting to feel nervous. We were working so hard to keep our lead. WLW were not done yet and had a good opportunity from a throw-in.

Unfortunately Drane was injured, and replaced by the experienced Neil Andrews in the 92nd minute. Neil sprinted on to help protect the lead from a set piece.

After what felt like a lifetime, the final whistle went and the Bloods had deserved the win. Finally we had won a game, which we had deserved to win. I had watched so many games where we have dominated the match and ended up losing by the odd goal.

Fans ‘Man of the Match’ went to James Thomas


This was better from the Bloods. Two wins and one loss in the league, one loss in the league cup, but a fantastic win in the FA Vase! The team had started to gel and the hard work was paying off. We witnessed a ‘goal of the season’ worthy goal from the Viking, Marc Abbott had staked his claim as chief penalty taker and we were holding onto leads. Looking at the below honours I think you can tell which game we enjoyed the most.


Player of the month – Dan Grindrod

Best game of the month – Biggleswade Away – FA Vase

Worst game of the month – Brantham

Goal of the month – Dan Grindrod vs Dan Biggleswade

Away fans of the month – Biggleswade

Away ground of the month – Biggleswade

Thanks for reading

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