All over the world people were talking about the refugee camps in Calais. How thousands of men, woman and children were desperately fleeing some horrendous warzones such as Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. 99% of people will just read about it, but not Bloods keeper Floyd Croll. Floyd decided to pack up a bag of footballs and visit the camps. He gave a very personal, heart-felt piece about his experiences, which made it on the local news. The club and I were very impressed by Floyd and decided to help by doing a bucket collection. James White also organised an acoustic night at the club to help raise more money for the Red Cross. I really recommend you read Floyds blog, which you can find on my blog if you click through the archive and it will be in September.
Saffron Walden 0 - Haverhill Rovers 1
8th April 2015. The Meadow
The word robbed would be an understatement. That was the opinion of the frustrated Bloods fans, as they left the Meadow. Sorry to sound like Mourinho, but had he been the Bloods manager, his comments toward the match officials would have made the back pages of the national newspapers.
I know I may sound like a bitter, bad loser, but in this instance it is well justified. If you are a Rovers fan please don’t think I am being disrespectful. The Rovers lads played well and came to the Meadow with a job to do, and full marks their game play.
We had the usual catch up before the match. I was pleased to hear that James Thomas had re-joined the Bloods. On Saturday, a few of the fans had gone to watch Royston against Hanwell to suss out the competition for the next round of the FA Cup.
Sticko’s line up was similar to the team who beat Cheshunt in the FA Cup. The main difference was that Bell played up front, in place of the injured Sam Gregory.
To our amazement we had a great goal disallowed. The Beast took a long throw-in, which found Fleming, who flicked the ball over the keeper’s reach. The assistant referee had called a foul throw, and the referee agreed. No idea how he would of seen that when he was 70 yards away from the Beast.
Haverhill played well through the first quarter of the match, with their best player being Michael Shinn. He reads the game well, and has a great cross from a set piece. I thought he looked like Bloods’ greatest threat.
The best chance of the match came from Bell. G Man put some great pressure on the defence, which forced them to play back to Archer. Archer miss kicked his rushed clearance, which Bell intercepted. The ball just got under his feet, so his shot didn’t have enough power on it. It was very unlucky that he couldn’t get his body behind the shot.
We continued to put the pressure on with a series of free kicks and corners, but we just could not get a clear shot on goal.
At the end of the first half Wig had another great effort, where he turned his man but his shot hit the post.
That was a frustrating half which had lots of controversy.
Second half and Strong went down from a challenge. He required some treatment from Sarah, but got back up soon after. He tried to walk it off, but eventually it resulted in him being replaced by new Blood James Thomas. Bell then dropped back to the vacant right back position. Sadly this was the injury that ended Strong’s season. I knew he was waiting for an operation and we all hope he gets back to full fitness. Not just for the team but for him. Strong has come to a lot of the matches and watched from the side lines, cheering the lads on.
15 minutes were remaining, and we looked like we were up against it. Thomas showed some great skill on the ball and played the ball into the box. He beat his man but the assistant referee waved for a foul on the defender. I have no idea how he made that decision. These decisions were starting to get silly.
5 minutes to go and Croll pulled of an incredible save to his left. Rovers had a golden opportunity, but were denied by the outstretched Bloods number 1.
90 minutes in and disaster struck. The referee gave a penalty to Rovers for a ridiculous hand ball decision. The ball hit the Beast by the line. His hands were by his side, and the ball would have gone off for a goal kick had Beast not been there.
At the time I added the following to the blog to vent my frustrations:
Regarding handball they now ask the referee to consider the proximity of the potential offender to the person last playing the ball, the speed of the ball and importantly whether the offender's arms are in a natural or unnatural position.
So the question of intent is now, did the offender deliberately place his arms in an unnatural position to increase the chances of the ball hitting him?
If the answer to that is yes then it is correct to penalise that player even though it used to be argued that was ball to hand.
So after reading the above I will let you make your own mind up.
The penalty was taken well and scored Perry Moody, who has now been forgiven by the way.
So that was it, game over. Rovers had taken all 3 points. A potentially great derby match was ruined by some bad decisions. Do not get me wrong, Rovers played well and if you ask their fans, I think they would agree we should have shared the spoils.
The fans ‘Man of the Match’ went to Wiggy Calver
Hanwell Town 1 – Saffron Walden 0
12th September 2015
At 10.30am sun was shining, the fans smiling, and the bacon sarnies were sizzling. I resisted one of Andy’s famous bacon sarnies and opted for a cup of tea.
It was great to see everyone and we had a good catch up. We were still complaining about the matches referee. I wanted to know if I had been too harsh in my last blog. The opinion of the Bloods family was no.
I went to see Sam Gregory and Sam Soutar first. I wanted to check on Gregory’s knee injury. He seemed confident he will bounce back soon, which was good. I was pleased to see that all three of our injured played come along to cheer on the team. (Strong, Solks and Gregory)
The club had arranged for a coach to take the team, board and fans to the match. So with the bloods family in tow, we were off to Hanwell.
Wardley made more changes from last week’s narrow defeat against Haverhill.
Croll was in goal. Defence: P Abbott, Lawrence (Beast), Reid and Bell. Midfield: Snelling (Mashy), Harper and Noble (Nobby). Forwards: Calver (Wig), Thomas, and Turner (G Man). Subs: Murphy (Boss), M Abbott, Wardley, Crane, Drane, Souter and Grindrod (Viking).
Dan now had the nickname Viking, due to your very impressive beard. I am only jealous that I can’t rock a beard as good as you.
Early in the match, and thanks to a lovely run by G Man, we had won a throw-in in the Beasts territory. The fans called for the Beast the same way the Romans would have called for Spartacus. The excitement was shortly lived, as Beast was penalised for a foul throw.
In the first 10 minutes Hanwell looked the better side. They had a series of corners, but none of them troubled Croll. Reid was having a great first 10 minutes and stood strong against a physical Hanwell team.
Just as we thought we had gone one nil up, the flag was raised for off side. The Hanwell defence had opened up and Mashy got on the end of a cross, but according to the assistant referee, was off side.
Shortly after the disallowed goal, the same thing happened to Hanwell. I am afraid I was not looking, or as Wenger would say ‘I did not see the ball’. I heard a cheer from the Hanwell fans which was followed by ‘Aaaaaahhhhhhhh’ from the Walden fans, when they realised the flag had been raised for off side. I love football banter.
Our best effort of the match came from a brilliant long ball from Wiggy to Thomas. Thomas ran and played the ball back to Wiggy. Wig’s shot was pushed away by Davies. G Man followed it up from a header which was caught by Davies. That was very unlucky.
Hanwell started the second half well. They came out all guns blazing. They had a great effort from Duguid. It happened so fast, but Croll saved the shot and the Beast did well to keep the ball under his control and play it out for danger.
5 minutes into the second half, and Hanwell had scored. The goal came from a corner, which the players struggled to see. The ball went over the top and was well finished
Hanwell came close to going two nil up, from a header. The ball came in and the Hanwell player’s header hit the post. Hanwell were playing well and we needed to get back in the game.
Hanwell were desperate to get their second goal. Ighorae had a great shot on goal, but again Croll stood up to the mark, and made a great save. Croll was determined not to be beaten again, and was giving the Bloods a life line.
Shortly after, Hanwell’s keeper Davies pulled off a brilliant finger tipped save to deny Thomas of his first goal. Thomas headed Mashy’s excellent cross, but Davies saved the day for Hanwell.
Duguid showed some excellent skill, and just got passed Bell. His shot was strong, but Croll saved well.
The last great effort for the Bloods came from a great ball from Harper, which found Thomas at the far post. Thomas’ header was on target but straight at Davies.
The match ended in defeat. We had lost 1-0 in game, which could have gone either way. Hanwell looked the better team throughout the second half and their pressure paid off. The Bloods did well considering we played a step four club who has some very fast, skilful players.
Fans ‘Man of the Match’ went to Floyd Croll.
Long Melford 0 – Saffron Walden 3
18th September 2015.
Now that was more like it! This was the win the Bloods needed to kick off our season, and climb up the league. It was a very eventful evening at the Stoneylands. We had an own goal, a red card, Sticksy lasting 90 minutes and a goal keeper who never gave up.
It was my first ever Friday evening match. It was ground a hopper day, which means that people from all over the country visit different grounds for the experience. I was introduced to a few as the Saffron Walden Blogger. I was now known as Mr Blogger to a few of the fans.
Last season’s match at the Stoneylands was epic. We were 3-0 up at half time and ended up drawing 3-3. But this night was different. The conditions were perfect and the Bloods controlled the game.
The starting 11 were:
Floyd Croll was in goal. Defence: Grindrod (Viking), Lawrence (Beast), Wardly (Sticksy) and P Abbott. Midfield: Snelling (Mashy), Harper, Noble and Bell. Forwards: Calver (Wig) and Thomas. Subs: Drane, Murphy (Boss), Morrell, Crane and Soutar.
Ben Morrell was called up to the first team for his first competitive debut, after impressing Sticksy in the reserves.
Not much happened in the first 10 minutes. Both teams were working the ball well, but with no real danger at goal.
Thomas started causing trouble, and produced a lovely flick for Bell to run onto up the right wing. Bell’s cross was well defended, but only for a throw-in in the Beast’s territory. The throw-in was punched away by Mansfield, but fell to the Viking. The Viking’s shot seemed to hit the Melford defender’s hand, but handball was not given. Melford broke well and gave Yearling a chance on goal, but his effort went wide.
Yearling looked threatening and drove toward the goal, but Mashy made a great sliding tackle to win the ball back. He passed the ball to Wig, who made an excellent over the top pass to Thomas. Thomas controlled the ball well, but there was no one home to receive his cross.
During the first half we started to mimic the Melford keeper, by yelling out ‘No foul’. As the keeper took a goal kick, we would start the ‘woooooooaaaaaahhhhhh’ and as he kicked the ball we would yell ‘No foul’. You have to give full credit to the Mansfield, as he didn’t flinch once.
We won another corner for Harper to take. The corner came in and was headed out to Wig. Wig floated the ball back in and Jackson headed the ball over the keeper, and into the back of the net for an own goal, after some great pressure from the Beast. We were quite sympathetic towards Jackson and Mansfield and said how unlucky they were.
Mrs Nash’s flannel had now come out after some great pressure from Melford. I believe from what she was saying, the referee was getting on her nerves…or something along those lines.
We finished the first half strong. We pushed for that second goal with decent chances from Wig, Harper and Thomas, but just had to settle with the one goal for now.
Walden started the second half with determination and grit. We had an early free kick but the effort was well cleared.
Melford started to pile on the pressure, with a great break from Clarke. Abbott made a great tackle to deny Clarke a shot. Sticksy was controlling the line with the Beast very well. The communication was excellent.
We shortly went 2-0 up after some fantastic skills by Wig. Wig crossed the ball in, which fell to Bell. Bell launched the ball into the top right hand corner, making it impossible to save. We were on our way to our first win of the season, but were not counting our chickens just yet.
Just as life for the Bloods could not get any better, Wig skilfully took the ball around the defender and crossed the ball low and hard into the 6 yard box. Mashy got in-front of the defender and slotted the ball home. We were now 3-0 up. Mansfield was not happy, but was not giving up yet.
Melford didn’t give up and Clarke continued to look threatening. He linked up well with Rowe, but the Viking won the ball back and cleared the danger.
In the last few minutes of the match, there was a red card. Row saw red after a robust challenge on Viking.
Viking did have the last attempt but it went over the bar and almost hit Mrs Nash on the head. Jackie told Viking he would be taking home the kit tonight as punishment.
So that was it. Walden had won and kept a clean sheet. It was a fantastic match for the Bloods. I am glad the curse of the blog has now been broken.
The fans ‘Man of the Match’ went to Wiggy Calver
Hadleigh 1 – Saffron Walden 2
26th September 2015
Still buzzing from our 3-0 away win against Long Melford, I was ready to go again. I was so relieved to see that all our hard work was finally paying off.
Our opponents Hadleigh, were in 12th place with 2 wins, 3 draws and a loss. For those who do not know Hadleigh, it’s a picturesque town with lots of history. It’s a really nice place to come for a day out or better, a game of football. The ground is well looked after and the pitch looked in great condition. I told the Chairman of Hadleigh what a great job his grounds keeper had done.
Sticksy decided to take a well-earned rest and did not start the match.
Floyd Croll was in goal. Defence: Grindrod (Viking), Lawrence (Beast), Reid and P Abbott. Midfield: Snelling (Mashy), Harper, Drane. Forwards: Calver (Wig), Bell and Thomas. Subs: Solkhon, Murphy (Boss), Wardley (Sticksy), Crane and Soutar
It was great to see Solkhon back in the squad, after recovering from his injury.
10 minutes into the match, and Hadleigh called for a penalty as Chaplin thought he was tripped. The referee was standing very close and waved play on.
Croll then pulled off a great save from a lovely shot by Lorimer. He beat his defender but couldn’t beat Croll. Croll was looking very confident.
Hadleigh almost drew first blood, but Mashy saved the day and cleared the ball off the line. The effort came from a corner taken by Jennings.
20 minutes into the match, and Mashy came close to scoring a screamer. He smashed the ball from 25 yards out, but the ball kept climbing, missing the goal by about 2 feet.
The Blood’s pressure paid off with a brilliant solo goal by Wig. The Beast hit a long ball, which cleared the defence. Wig controlled the ball and placed it in the bottom corner, leaving Nower no chance.
Leading goal scoring Thrower had a really good effort on goal, which Croll saved very well. They were determined to get back into the game.
Thrower had another great chance but again Reid got a great block in. Reid was working very hard.
Hadleigh continued to look threatening and Spidler had forced a great save out of Croll, but managed to take another shot. We held our breath as we watched the ball travel across the six yard box. Luckily no one was there to meet it.
Second half and Hadleigh really worked hard to get back into the game. They put together some great passes. They had a great chance, but the assistant referee called for off side.
Just as we were under pressure, Thomas scored a great goal. He took the ball from outside the 18 yard box, beat two defenders and could have gone down from a trip, but he stayed up and slotted the ball passed Nower’s outstretched right hand. Thomas looked thrilled and punched the air. He was due a goal and it was only a matter of time. It was 2-0 to the Bloods after 10 minutes into the second half.
Hadleigh’s pressure soon paid off when they scored a soft goal. Not sure what happened, as we had defended a lot better chances than that. Chester passed the ball to Stafford, and Stafford swept the ball into the bottom left hand corner. It was now game on. We had to hold on or score another.
Now, what happened next from Floyd Croll was incredible. I only wish someone recorded it. Croll first made a fantastic save to deny Thrower, which then rebounded to another Hadleigh player. Croll jumped up and saved it again. It was a superb double save. Goal keeper Nower even clapped Croll out of respect.
8 minutes remaining, and Hadleigh kept on trying to get back into the game, but we did not panic. Reid, Beast, Abbott and Solk’s held the line well.
Bell looked threating on the wing and worked hard keeping the ball. Bell won us a throw on to keep possession.
As you can imagine, we were yelling at the referee to blow the whistle. We kept watching the referee take glances at his watch.
Finally the whistle went and we had won our second game on the trot. It was a brilliant effort for the team and we are now heading in the right direction.
The fans ‘Man of the Match’ went to Floyd Croll
Ilford 3 –Saffron Walden 2 – Essex Senior Cup
30th September 2015
A dull 0-0 draw for Walden just does not happen. This was yet another eventful match for the Bloods. The match had it all; 2 red cards, a debut goalie, 3 penalties and of course, Mrs Nash’s famous flannel.
Sticksy decided to rest a few players for Saturdays match against Godmanchester. Wig was taking a well-earned break, but would was available for the next match.
Floyd Croll was in goal. Defence: Solkhon, Lawrence (Beast), Reid and P Abbott. Midfield: Murphy (The Boss), Harper, Fleming. Forwards: Crane (Road Runner), Turner (G Man) and Thomas. Subs: Bell, Grindrod (The Viking), Noble (Nobby), Drane and Snelling (Mashy)
8 minutes into the match, and Ilford struck first. I am not sure who it was who scored for Ilford. Basically the ball was crossed to the striker, who was in space. He struck the ball perfectly, beating Croll’s dive. It was a very good finish.
Now I had to blog this Beast, and I am sorry, but how did you get knocked over by Armagh-Tackie, who must have been a foot smaller and 3 stone lighter? Sorry I had to mention that as the Bloods family were shocked. We love you really big man.
20 minutes into the match, and the Bloods were awarded a penalty. Atutis was sent off for trip on Thomas, in the area. Now this caused a debate between the Bloods fans. Atutis was on a yellow from a previous foul; however his foul on Thomas was not malicious. Personally I thought the sending off was a little harsh.
35 minutes into the game and disaster hit. Warwick latched onto a miss placed pass back and ran at the goal. Croll came of his line and clashed with Warwick, giving Ilford a penalty. That was the good news! The bad news was that the referee sent Croll off for the challenge! Now I wouldn’t want to be ‘disrespectful’ to the match officials, but how was that a red card? It felt like he was just trying to even up the teams. Croll held his head high and walked off the pitch. We spoke to him as he came off, and he said there was no point arguing about it, as the referee had made up his mind. Solkhon took the number 1 shirt with no hesitation, as we didn’t have Soutar on the bench. He was playing for Essex U18s. As you can imagine the flannel was out, and we almost had to get Mrs Nash a towel.
Warwick took the penalty well, and scored to make it 2-1 to Ilford. We were now down to 10 men, and had our left back between the sticks. The Bloods fans starting singing ‘We love you Solkhon, we do!’ even if he did look like he was wearing his Dad’s shirt.
G Man made a great run up the wing and got into the box. He got a shot in but it was well saved by McAnaly, for a corner ball. The ball went over the keeper and found the Beast. The Beast drove the ball in low and hard, for the Boss to tap in. It was now 2-2 and I needed the flannel.
It was half time and it was all go. I needed a drink! Off to the bar we went.
Wardley made a half time substitution. Paul Abbott was replaced by Nobby. The Bloods wanted to go for the win, rather than risk penalties, so they played a 3-3-3 formation or it may have been 3-5-1.
60 minutes into the second half and Road Runner was replaced by Bell. The Bloods looked the better team, and played like it was all or nothing.
67 minutes into the match and Ilford’s Weber scored after Young hit the post. The ball deflected back to Weber, and he made good of the opportunity. This felt like a kick in the teeth, as the Bloods had been playing very well.
85 minutes into the match and Bell was tripped in the box, and won us a penalty. I was interested to see if the referee would get his red card out, but he didn’t. Thomas took the penalty but McAnaly produced a great save, to deny Thomas a brace.
Minutes to go and we had a corner. Jamie ‘Schmeichel’ Solkhon ran from his goal line to take part in the attack. Bell delivered a good corner, but it was just too high for Solks.
We pushed and pushed for that equiliser but it just did not happen. I was really proud of the lads for giving it all they had. Even though we lost, the ‘Behind the goal crew’ had a great evening. As always we stayed and clapped both teams off the field, and we wished Ilford luck in the next round.
Fans ‘Man of the Match’ went to Jamie Solkhon
September was looking much better. We had won 2 out of 3 games and started to gel. We were out of the FA Cup, but then we were never going to win it! It’s just nice to say you’re in the FA Cup. So, Thomas had scored his first goal, we had beaten Melford 3-0 and lifted last seasons the curse, and Croll was on top form. Things were definitely looking up.
Player of the month - Wig Calver
Best game of the month – Hadleigh away
Worst game of the month – Hanwell away – FA Cup
Goal of the month – Spike Bell vs Long Melford
Away fans of the month – Long Melford
Away ground of the month - Hadleigh
Thanks for reading