Tag: St Albans City

Saints Put To The Sword by Rampant Stags

Absence, we are often told, makes the heart grow fonder. It’s been a little over ten years since I last lived in St Albans and I’d seldom had cause to visit my former home over the course of the intervening decade. Perhaps it is this emotional gap that helped this city, the first true stop north on a journey from London, feel sprightlier to me than it might otherwise have done. On the other hand, though, perhaps something else has been going on there. The market now seems to specialise in artisan foods, the town centre was bustling in a way that many high streets have stopped doing so in recent years. The handsome cathedral building, which once seemed to be in a perpetual state of renovation, now seems to be finally clear of scaffolding. Even the Odeon cinema, which once stood derelict as a tribute to the seemingly irresistible onward march of the out of town mall, is now being renovated to reopen. The smell of affluence hangs heavy in the air. As if to prove the absolute failure of trickle-down as an economic theory, little of this wealth has ever found its way to Clarence Park, the leafy, historic, yet oddly unsatisfactory home of St Albans City Football Club. There has always been a strong irony to the fact that the football club in one of the...

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St Albans City, For Once, Go Marching Into The FA Cup First Round

It’s a competition that may not mean so much to the grandest of the grand, but the FA Cup still has a relevance which still means a lot to many. It’s been eleven years since St Albans City of the Southern League Premier Division last appeared in the First Round Proper – it’s been eighty-nine years since their one and only win against a Football League club in this competition, a five-three win against Brentford in the long-forgotten Fifth Qualifying Round of the competition in 1924 – but this morning the faint smell of victory continues to cling in the nostrils after the Saints overcame a rousing display from Isthmian League Division One North club Chatham Town yesterday afternoon. St Albans City play a division higher than Chatham in the overall scheme of the non-league pyramid, but whether this fact makes such a huge difference at this level of the game is very much open to question. The winners of this match, no matter who it turned out to be, would be amongst the lowest ranked clubs in Sunday’s draw, but at this stage of the competition all that really matters is winning the next match and getting through to the next round of the competition. Indeed, in an era during which the majority of clubs in the Conference Premier – whether rightly or wrongly – are full-time, it...

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In Praise Of The Older Footballer

As you get older, one of the many things that you start to realise that you hadn’t done before is that there comes a point when you start to become older than the footballers that you watch kicking a ball around of a Saturday afternoon. It shouldn’t surprise you to realise  that by the time you hit your mid-thirties you’re older than ninety-five per cent of those appearing on Match Of The Day of a Saturday night, but it does, and from that moment on it isn’t long before that ninety-five per cent has become more or less one hundred per cent, and those few years really do not take very long to pass. Last night, apropos nothing in particular, I was reminded of the continuing playing career of goalkeeper Paul Bastock, who, at some time before eleven o’clock, tweeted that he had to be up early in the morning to play football for St Albans City in the Southern League Premier Division. Bastock reached his fortieth birthday in May 2010, and to still be playing semi-professional football more than three years later is a rare achievement and, moreover, as soon as I noted this particular achievement on Twitter myself, a couple of people replied to me to suggest that his ongoing place in the first team is no fluke. Bastock “is like a fine wine, if anything he...

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Tom Davis: The Career Of A Blue Square South Journeyman

Some people find their way in the world as a jack of all trades, spending their talents over a range of different tasks. Others, meanwhile, discover that they can do one thing, but do it very well. Midfielder Tom Davis didn’t quite make the grade as a Premier League professional and he has also tried other divisions, but like a compass pointing involuntarily north, he always seems to find his way back to the division that he has called home for the lions share of his career: the Blue Square Bet South. There are, of course, plenty of other players that have made this particular division their home since its introduction eight years ago, but none have done it with quite the level of success that Davis has managed. The midfielder started his career in the youth set-up at Fulham, but since dropping down into the non-league game has played in no less than three teams that have been promoted from this division, with a potential fourth being on the cards this season following his signing on loan by the manager of the current league leaders, Woking. The Surrey club had been sailing off into the distance at the top of the table but – in spite of a defeat against struggling Eastbourne Borough last weekend – they have since his arrival at Kingsfield started to improve again after...

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The Twohundredpercent Pre-season Predictions: The Southern Premier League

The Southern Premier League has a new sponsor this year, the same one as its northern counterpart so make sure you don’t confuse the two. Helpful. Anyway, teamwise the biggest relief for those footballers who get car sick is that Truro have been promoted, so that’s one afternoon spent on the M5 looking at the back of caravans which teams and fans alike won’t have to endure. Salisbury are also gone, climbing back from whence they came with their giant budget and full-time players. Joining the league are AFC Totton and Frome, both know the league well and both have impressive squads for the coming season. Frome can even boast a current England captain among their ranks, speedy winger Luke Ballinger is also the skipper of the national Futsal team. He’s had experience in the Southern Prem and a brief outing in the Blue Square North with Gloucester City, like his teammate, defender Tom Evans. The little Somerset side have an experienced squad and a decent manager in the form of Darren Perrin. AFC Totton, with free scoring striker Mike Gosney, could power their way through the Southern Prem, along with the other new boys, Hitchin,  they are likely to be goal hungry and eyeing up the top end of the table. Cambridge City have been lurking around the top of the Southern Prem for a while now and are the favourites...

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