Eh up me duck

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Saturday August 25th 2012, Kick off 15:00 at Owen Street. 

FA Cup Preliminary Round.

Coalville Town 5-3 Loughborough University.

Admission £7, programme £1, badge £3, attendance 140.

This game was chosen mostly on the strength of a requirement to visit Northampton, just to solely ‘tick’ the last of the ‘Go Safari’ painted animal art sculptures in Northampton. Ros, having only managed to get 26 of the 27 when we were last there on Aug 12th, so needed to photograph ‘Starlight’ the elephant in the Derngate theatre, which was firmly closed on that Sunday, to complete the 27.

I wanted to get a little further north than Northamptonshire, even though FA Cup ticks could have been secured at Huntingdon (v St Ives) or Wellingborough (v Kings Lynn). And also on my remit was to try to tick a club from NL Step 4. An additional carrot for me was having been at the superb classic 2011 FA Vase final at Wembley Stadium which was contested between Coalville and Whitley Bay, so I was very keen to visit Owen Street, Coalville for this cup tie.

After an early start we had time to pop into Northampton to capture ‘Starlight’, before heading back north on the M1 (a busy M1!), before a quick-lunch at the very good www.taphousesmisby.co.uk/ in Smisby, the ‘taphouse’ brewery pub. Hearty pork sandwich and sampling of three of their beers was taken, very handy, being just a couple of miles from Calke.

Ros had chosen Calke Abbey as her destination this afternoon, a fine partly derelict national trust property, http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/calke-abbey/

So from Calke, it was 10 miles south-east to Coalville.

Coalville is a town in North West Leicestershire, England, with a population estimated in 2003 to be almost 33,000.It is situated on the A511 trunk road between Leicester and Burton upon Trent, close to junction 22 of the M1 motorway.

As the name indicates, Coalville is a former coal mining town, with name coming from the name of the house of the owner of Whitwick Colliery, Coalville House. Coal has been mined in the area since medieval times and mine workings from these times can be found on the Hough Mill site at Swannington near the Califat Colliery site. A life-sized horse gin has been built on the Hough Mill site and craters can be seen in the ground, where the medieval villagers dug out their allocation of coal.

Owen Street is on the edge of town, and has a nice location, with a high bank at one end of the ground, which looks as though it may have in the past housed a railway line, to the right of the entrance is a cricket ground behind a high mesh fence, with match in progress.

I was chuffed to purchase not one, but two enamel badges from the club shop, as they still had in stock the special vase final badges produced for that match versus Whitley Bay in 2011, so that as well as the standard club badge was taken to add to my growing collection. The teams were already up, pinned to the outside of the amusingly titled ‘media centre’, basically a small hut where the PA man was situated!

The Ravens from Coalville had lost that 2011 final, 3-2, but their display on the day perhaps merited a win, such was their gutsy performance, in front of 8,778.  I’d watched 82 matches in the 2010-11 season, and this game was certainly the best, two teams committed to attack, played on a glorious sunny day at Wembley. So, they had lost, but they took the accolade as the first team ever from Leicestershire to make this prestigious final, and 1800 had crammed into Owen Street for their semi final, won 3-0. The same season they had taken the Midland Alliance title, and so took promotion to step four of the non league pyramid and a place in the Evo Stick Northern Premier League Div One South.

I’d never seen Loughborough University before, but on the non league grapevine I’d heard that their new ground had some decent facilities, but that perhaps behind the scenes they had become a little carried away with themselves, I’d heard the term Loughboro’ Uni ‘The Brand’ banded about. Certainly it does sounds as though they are ambitious, and currently they are playing in the Midland Alliance and considered a front-runner for honours in that league for 2013.

I wondered before KO if they would be made up of students, looking at the pen pictures in the programme this looked a certainty, made up of 19/20 and 21 year olds, from different parts of the country. Loughborough university has a reputation as ‘the’ main sports university in England, and many top class athletes have graduated from there in the past, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson amongst others studied there.

For the first fifteen minutes the students really took the game to Coalville, and it was no surprise when lively centre forward Dan Nti put them 1 ahead after 10 minutes. It was slightly against the run of play when Ryan Robbins volleyed a lovely equaliser in the 22nd minute to level it.  After this the Ravens came back into the game, and were fortunate to go 2-1 up after a good strike from left back and captain Stuart. After a defensive mistake on 36 minutes, Davidson made it 3-1, and this how it was at half time, a very flattering scoreline frankly, and no reflection on the play in the first 45 minutes.

To make things very interesting, after a lovely flowing move, Nti score again on 46 mins, 3-2, game on. But Coalville got some more good fortune on 55, a penalty, converted by Stuart 4-2. This game was so easy on the eye, both teams played on the deck from the back, with the emphasis on getting in the others penalty area. Once again the students came back, and the very impressive Nti scored his 3rd hat trick goal in the 61st minute. However some more naivety at the back in the 64th minute allowed Davidson another goal, 5-3. Chances continued to come at both ends, and Loughborough attacked right to the final whistle. I must say I was immensely impressed with them, and their ethos on how to play football, I shall be endeavouring to see them at home this season. Coalville also looked a very decent side, and I shall be expecting to see them in the top six or so of their league this season. So, two Coalville matches have now been seen, both minor classics, I like the Ravens! 🙂 Note: They host Ilkeston in the next round at home.

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