Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Solihull Moors - Damson Park





Solihull Moors FC
Damson Park
Damson Parkway
Solihull
West Midlands
B91 2PP

0121 705 6770


Matchday Number: 266
Tuesday 23rd April 2013
Solihull Moors 1-1 Histon
Blue Square North


After regretting not going to a couple of games last week, I was going to make the most of getting games in this week, with the end of the season fast approaching. First up of 3 games in 3 days was Solihull Moors. Originally I was planning to have a good day (or afternoon) out in Bury St Edmonds, with a game that Bury Town in the evening. But what with me visiting more and more Blue Square North grounds (thanks in part to getting a good deal with Oxford City on coach travel) and the fact that I could get home a little bit quicker doing this game instead, I opted for Solihull. With 3 games in 3 days (2 of them being late nights) and having to get up at 4am, the extra sleep would be appreciated.

On the day of the game, I was off work, as per usual for a Tuesday. I spent most of the day chilling and left home just after 3.30, planning to have a look round Aylesbury Town Centre before meeting Anwar at 5. I got there bang on time and we were soon away, making good progress considering the rush hour, getting into Shirley, around 5 miles from Solihull's ground, just before 6.30. There was a reason for stopping here before the game. My CAMRA good beer (or cider in my case) guide informed me that there was an off license with a great choice of real ciders for sale, called Bernie's. So I decided to take a look. It turned out to be a good shout - I bought 5 bottles of stuff I had not had before for just over a tenner. There was also a chippy on the parade of shops, but it looked uninspiring. Again I had done my homework, looking on the just eat website for something a bit different. I found a place called Perfetto Pizza, about a mile away that did Piri Piri Chicken Breast burgers along with Piri Piri fries. Having had the chicken in Portugal, I knew it was very nice and so it turned out to be the case, with the meal being great value at just £4. I will certainly come back if I am in the area, combined with the off license, that's a nice little pair of places to visit, and not too far off the M42 if I want to stop on the way to or from somewhere.

We got to the ground around 7.25 and after a few quick pictures of the outside, we went in and got a programme each. It was nicely presented, one of the better looking ones in this league. But sadly it was an out of date version, from the original game on 23rd March, with no update or insert included to give up to date details. I went and had a look in the club shop, which offered a huge selection of programmes for just 30p each, as well as old books and the usual club merchandise. Sadly the programmes didn't seem to have any organisation and I only skimmed the surface looking through my wants list, due to kick off rapidly approaching. Bedford Town have a great shop in this regard, everything neatly laid out and easy to find what you want. 




Current Peterborough United director Barry Fry was at the game also, looking for new talent to add to the impressive number of bargains that he has picked up at non league level. I was pleased to see him, as he is one of my favourite people in football. A lot of Wycombe fans might not agree, well those with long memories anyway. Back in 1997 or 98, Wycombe were leading Peterborough 2-0 on a cold day at Adams Park. The visitors, believed in the Wycombe camp to be coerced by Fry started to fall over and 'struggle' with the conditions, leading to the referee abandoning the game and the result being null and void. It turned out OK though. I was below betting age, but still managed to win £50 from a few quid stake, getting someone else to place the bet for me, and my Dad to pick up the winnings. And we won that rearranged game 2-0. And as I worked for the club at the time, I got an extra games pay, which was a fairly big deal as it was before I had any kind of any other job. So no grudges from me, and Bazza was as friendly as anything, posing for pictures and shaking hands after out chat. Sadly mine and Anwar's plan to get him to buy Jo Kuffour off of Wycombe didn't work, as he had seen him play!


Solihull Moors were founded in 2007, with 2 clubs - Solihull Borough and Moor Green coming together to form a stronger club. They took Solihull's ground as their new home, mainly because Moor Green's stand had been burnt down in in an arson attack. They have been in the Conference North since then and were on course for matching last season's finish of 9th. When I had seen them sweep aside Worcester, back in February, they looked a good bet for the playoffs is results went their way, which would beat their best ever finish of 7th, back in the 2010/11 season.




Histon meanwhile, had fallen a fair bit from when I last saw them, back in 2010. They were on the decline then, not long ago having beaten Leeeds, live on ITV, they were experiencing financial troubles and were only able to recruit very cheap players. Although they beat Barrow 3-1 on that August day, the season was to end in relegation, and they were facing a similar battle tonight - defeat would almost certainly see them relegated to the Southern Premier, and guarantee Colwyn Bay, who had seen a dramatic improvement in their end of season form, guarantee safety.


The game kicked off with Solihull dominating the early period. But Histon were playing some good passing football and started to control the game. Both sides has chances, mainly from headers from crosses. And the first goal came from one of these situations on  39 minutes - Michael Richens heading home from Jay Dowie's corner. The home side were looking an entirely different team from the one I add seen comfortably beat Worcester 3-1 a couple of months ago.



Like the start of the first half, the second opened with Solihull being the better team for the opening 10 minutes. A tubby striker called Gary Birch, who was ex Telford was especially impressive, as he was last time I watched him. He won everything in the air and had a decent touch on him. And even at a couple of stone overweight, he still showed more athleticism and pace than the aforementioned Kuffour! Histon's most impressive player was Danny Fitzsimmons, the captain won pretty much every ball, marshalled his defence well and organised well as the club captain. He turned down a deal to extend his youth contract at Yeovil Town to play first team football at Histon, and you can see that he has the talent to play higher up. Histon had some good chances to make it 2-0, but didn't take them and were eventually undone by sloppy defending, 3 minutes from time. A corner was put in and Stuart Pierpoint headed home for an equaliser. It was harsh on the visitors, and they even had a half chance to win the game after that, but again they couldn't finish. Their league future now hangs in the balance, currently they are out of the relegation on goal difference only, by an amount of a single  goal. But they have a tough trip to Bradford Park Avenue, while Corby, on the same number of points as them have a better chance of picking up points with a home game against out of form Gloucester City.

It has been another good night of football, the 15th that me and Anwar had done together in fact. After a decent journey home, I was back in by 11.20PM. I wasn't that tired, due to getting up late, and so I watched the excellent Wheeler Dealers: Trading Up on Sky Plus before going to bed at just after midnight.

DAMSON PARK is one of the smaller grounds in the Blue Square North. The original main stand is an interesting design. A lower tier with around 200 seats, is supplemented by an upper tier with around a further hundred seats for members or season ticket holders. Looking at it, it must have a decent view. The only other structure of note is further seats in a new stand behind the goal. This also has areas of terracing and holds around another 200 seated and 300 standing under cover. The other 2 areas of the ground are open flat standing.

As mentioned before there is a club shop with old programmes and club merchandise which has a good selection. The tea bar looked to have a good choice of burgers and hot rolls, but no chips that I could see. And I didn't go in the clubhouse, so don't know what that is liked, but it is hired out for functions to make the club money, so it can't be that bad. All in all, above average, and in a pretty central location in regards to the rest of England and so worth a visit.


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