Thursday, 25 July 2013

One Photo From Each Club: Sholing to Winchester City

Disallowed goal for Sholing.
The summer mini-series "One Photo From Each Club (in alphabetical order)" concludes with ten pics from Sholing through to Winchester City.

I chose the first picture of a controversially disallowed goal from Sholing because of the colours. The horizontal blue, orange, black and green stripes could be straight off of a rarely seen Pacific island nation's flag - perhaps the Federated States of Micronesia? If East Southampton ever declares independence from the rest of the country, the People's Republic of Sholing are welcome to use these colours on their flag.

Enemy territory for this Pompey fan...
The one ground that I would never ever have visited as a home supporter under normal circumstances is St Mary's, home of Southampton FC. I felt very uncomfortable indeed sat in with the home fans. I grinned, I bore it, and eventually it was all over and done with. It was as pleasurable as sitting a two hour maths exam for me. Inside, St Mary's is as bland as all the other modern bowls, so the best photos all came from outside the ground. I chose the one above of the badge painting from the end of the nearby railway bridge as my favourite of the Saints set. Last time I looked, this was featured quite high up in Google image search, which possibly explains why my report on Saints has had significantly more visitors than the one from Fratton Park, where none of my photos feature high up in the search results. Yes, that must be the reason...

So long as you keep away from the goalmouth...
I was chuffed when Got, Not Got's Derek Hammond contacted me and asked if he could use this photo from Stockbridge in his book. I said "yes!" and a few months later, there it was, on sale from all good bookshops! The next Got, Not Got book should be available later this year. There may or may not be any more of my photos within - I don't know yet! Looking forward to it immensely though, as the first was a cracking read!

Tadley-Calleva's Michelin Man.
Tadley-Calleva are the pedant's favourite club, what with their unusual hyphen and Roman settlement reference. They are also the favourite club of anyone who loves mysterious metal tanks that look like the Michelin Man. I'm guessing the object in the photo above is a water tank? Beyond that are the turnstiles, with a piece of gorsey heathland in the background. Next time I visit, I'll have a walk around the heath and look for some interesting wildlife pre-match - adders, stonechats, fritillaries and suchlike.

Team Solent defend a free-kick under their twinkling floodlights at Test Park.
Hampshire's newest ground is also the closest to my house. The students of Team Solent play at Test Park, from where you can see Southampton's tallest building, Millbrook Towers. The floodlights always twinkle in the gloom at Test Park. It's like playing under six super-bright Bonfire Night sparklers on very tall sticks. However, you can't wave these sparklers around trying to spell out your name in the dark. And you don't have to put them in a bucket of cold water when you've finished with them.

Proud as punch after AFC Totton's promotion three seasons ago.
My favourite AFC Totton photo was actually taken at Gosport Borough on the day that Totton won promotion from the Southern League Division One South & West. A happy day for these two fans. The whole team took off their shirts and handed them to their supporters as souvenirs. These two received the famous number 10 shirt, as worn by Pele, Cruyff, Mike Gosney, etc. As an aside, the main picture from the match report (a team group with their tops off) receives a ridiculous number of hits from people looking for "Shirts v Skins" pictures. Make of that what you will...

A nice pose by this Totton & Eling player.
The other Totton club were formerly known as BAT Sports - the football club of the Southampton tobacco factory which has recently downsized and moved its production facilities to Asia. Shirley used to smell of tobacco if the wind was blowing in the right direction. This no longer happens since Costco moved on to the site. Anyway, Totton & Eling hosted a tremendous FA Cup match against the mighty Weymouth last season - the most exciting game of 2012/13 for me as the Wessex League side came close to knocking out their esteemed opponents in a 2-2 draw. The best photo was of the home number 8 picking up the ball for a throw-in one-handed, just like Pat Jennings used to in the 1970s.

Large numbers of interesting things to look at at US Portsmouth.
For an interesting backdrop, United Services Portsmouth can't be beaten. The Spinnaker Tower and the Lipstick building are the two most impressive structures that can be seen from the ground. However, if you look hard enough, you can also see HMS Victory and Portsmouth Guildhall. They don't look quite so good in a photo though. Too far away.

FA Cup action in front of Whitchurch United's old stand.
The FA Cup match between Whitchurch United and Gloucester City was a grand occasion. The ground was packed with raucous reprobates from the West Country, trying to out-shout and out-instrument the Whitchurch Mums who were watching from outside the ground (it was Drums v Horns in the Battle of the Instruments). I've chosen this photo of the overflowing stand to represent the excitement of the day. Another ground I'd like to return to.

Winchester City's refreshment cabin.
A less exciting FA Cup match was witnessed at Winchester City in the rain last season. Keeping dry was an attractive option on the day, and the best place to do it was inside the tea hut. Not sure if there were any ice creams, but I had a nice cup of tea to warm my hands up.

Alright, that's enough looking back. It's time to look forward again. The new season starts on August 3rd and I hope to be at a match on that day. There may be a report, you never know.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

One Photo From Each Club: Hythe & Dibden to Romsey Town

The highest point at Hythe & Dibden.
Part three of the "one photo from each club in alphabetical order" series takes us from Hythe & Dibden to near-neighbours Romsey Town, along an inefficient petrol-guzzling route through the county of Hampshire.

Hythe & Dibden are intending to move from their home in a public park, and understandably so, as they share with the local cricket club and their property is an easy target for ruffians and vandals after dark. However, I do like their current quirky ground very much. I chose this photo of the top corner of their ground as my favourite of a pretty good set of pictures. It's the angles, you see. I very much hope they take their spectators' bits and pieces to their new ground and arrange them in a pleasing way for all us amateur photographers to enjoy anew!

Picturesque Lymington Town.
Another excellent set of pictures came from Lymington Town (if you look at the photo behind the blog title, that's from Lymington). A picturesque ground in a public park on a day when the winter sunshine shone just for me. The photo I've chosen from the derby match with New Milton Town features the clock tower from the Church of St Thomas in the background.

Luxury seating in the dugout on Moneyfields' second pitch.
Saints fans had a whale of a time with my pictures from Moneyfields on their Saintsweb message board. I visited the Wessex League club from Portsmouth just as it seemed that Pompey might be going out of business. Saints fans were almost unanimous in saying that their rivals should start again by sharing at Moneyfields, with the picture featured above receiving a lot of virtual guffaws (and hits). Pompey are now owned by their fans and Saints are wearing a terrible kit for the second season running, so let the teasing and ribbing begin again for season 2013/14...

Preparing for a wedding reception after the match at New Milton Town.
Moneyfields got a lot of visits from the links on Saintsweb, but the most-viewed page on HAH is New Milton Town, with 620 hits* at time of writing. I don't understand this at all, unless I explained how to make a bomb in the match report (I didn't!), in which case, the NSA must have been reading  with interest. Or perhaps someone really really likes the photo above, with the marquee held down by bar chairs?

*Saints are second with 546, Romsey Town third with 415, United Services Portsmouth fourth with 394, and Moneyfields fifth with 352.

Petersfield Town's old stand.
Another favourite set of photos came from Petersfield Town's old ground. I liked their ramshackle and charming old stand so much that I sat in it for over ten minutes in the first half - for a fidget like me, that's good going! My seat was just out of shot to the left on the top row in the photo above. I tipped my camera slightly to one side to make the angles a bit more arty in this picture. I believe it's only a matter of time before my work is recognised by the artistic cognoscenti and hangs in a gallery in that there London.

Waiting to enter the fray at AFC Portchester.
AFC Portchester are relatively new to the Wessex League, but they don't want to stop there, they want to move on up and then up some more. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. I went there on a gloomy day in November 2011 to watch a nine goal thriller against their then-promotion rivals, Team Solent. The students kept Portchy waiting outside their changing rooms before the match started, as noted in the above photo. Signs warning people to keep off the pitch (or similar), usually make a good photo. In my honest opinion.

It was downhill all the way after this for Pompey.
My favourite Pompey photo wasn't taken at Fratton Park - it was taken at Wembley after the 2008 FA Cup final. I waited behind after the celebrations had finished on the pitch, not because I wanted to see all the winners' paraphernalia dismantled, but because I was desperate for the toilet, having been put off by the queues at half-time. As it happens, because I was hanging around waiting for the full-time toilet queues to disperse, the paraphernalia was dismantled and was taken down a tunnel right in front of me. I got this lucky shot and made it monochrome when I uploaded it to the computer. I call it "The beginning of the end", as Pompey's dishonest project began to unravel right there and then.

A snowy winter's day at QK Southampton.
I've not visited QK Southampton for a match (I was only seeing clubs from the top ten levels of the English football pyramid on my journeys - QK play in the next level down). However, their ground is local to me, so when it snowed this past winter, I popped along to take a few photos. I like this one of the dugouts best. Big dugout. Small dugout.

Sunset over Ringwood Town.
Ringwood Town was rather photogenic when I visited last November, giving me my only half-decent sunset of the season. I entered the above effort into a charity photo competition at my workplace, but it was beaten by a picture of a sheep.

Poplars behind the goal at Romsey Town.
My adopted Wessex League club is Romsey Town, who play a ten minute drive from my front door. I've seen them around fifteen times over the last couple of seasons. They usually lose, but very occasionally, they sneak a 1-0 win, such as on the night I took my camera along when they played Christchurch. I took this photo of the poplars behind the goal lit up by floodlights on that serendipitous evening. (Note to self: must look up "serendipitous" in the dictionary and check its meaning. Should probably look up "cognoscenti" as well...)

The final set of photos will run from Sholing to Winchester City (in alphabetical order, of course), and shall appear before the start of the new season.

Monday, 1 July 2013

A Message to The Onion Bag

Darkness comes to Blackfield & Langley.
The chimney at Fawley Power Station.
I've been having a Twitter conversation with my fellow blogger, Jerry from The Onion Bag, about whether it's worth him travelling to either Blackfield & Langley or Fawley next season specifically to take photos of football in front of the chimneys. As I'm incapable of having a conversation in 140 characters or less, I thought I'd put up a few pictures from both grounds so that he can make up his own mind...

The covered standing area at Blackfield & Langley.
The first five photos are from Blackfield & Langley's Gang Warily ground. As you can see, there are many chimneys and pylons around the ground, but the chimneys tend to be part-hidden by conifers. I think on a clear day, if one or two of them are smoking, then there could be some decent photos to be had. On the day I went, it was cloudy, and there was no smoke pouring out, so they weren't as spectacular as they could have been. It's a risk if you're travelling a long way.

More Fawley Oil Refinery chimneys.
On Google Street View, there was smoke coming out of one of the chimneys behind the ground until the latest update - I think it looked pretty good. However, on last year's update there is no smoke...

Also worth looking at, as ever, are Paul Paxford's photos from the ground. There are some here.

There are many pylons around the ground, emanating from Fawley Power Station. The one below is the closest. Again, if you want to travel a long way to take photos, this is what you can expect, pylon-wise:

The closest pylon to Gang Warily.
Fawley Oil Refinery again, this time from Fawley AFC.
Fawley's ground is further away from the chimneys, but you can still see them. However, I don't think they look quite so good in photos as they do just down the road at Blackfield & Langley. They're more like matchsticks (or Matchmakers...mmm, Matchmakers!).

Sitting only allowed.
These are the sort of photos you can expect to take at Fawley. There are more on my original report from the ground last autumn - the bottom two here just missed the cut (I usually post eight with each report - I think that's about right). I posted my favourite from the ground last week - the Bemerton players heading for the changing rooms, which are at the community centre complex on the main road, much closer to the refinery, and hence better for chimneys!

I don't think you can see pylons from Fawley's ground, as they skirt around the village of Holbury to the west.

And again, oil refinery chimneys from Fawley AFC.
In my opinion, the best scenic backdrop of all the grounds I've been to in Hampshire is at United Services Portsmouth - Spinnaker Tower is pretty impressive, as is the Lipstick Skyscraper (not its real name, apparently, but that's what everyone calls it). You can just about see HMS Victory from the ground as well (although you can't tell what it is from a photo - I tried, but it's just too far away to be able to see it properly).

Anyway, as I stated previously, make up your own mind if you think it's worthwhile travelling!