Monday, 30 September 2013

There's Still Magic In The FA Cup!

It’s no secret that the lads at Concord Rangers have had a spectacular rise over the past few years, improving season by season, and this was punctuated by the club securing promotion to the Skrill Conference South this past summer. League success is always important, but of course the various cup competitions also play a big part in the success of a side. For example last season Concord were able to win the Ryman League Cup in a thrilling final against Dulwich Hamlet. However when it comes to FA Cup progression, this has eluded the Beachboys over the years, and this season a focus of the club is to go further than they have previously done and make the first round proper. In previous years Concord Rangers have been entered into the competition at the first of four qualifying rounds, with the furthest they’ve progressed being the 3rd qualifying round. This season though, we entered the competition one round later, and in turn leaving us with one less game to get through in order to achieve our goal. The Beachboys were given a home draw against St Ives Town, that’s the St Ives Town in Cambridgeshire, not the St Ives Town in Cornwall! The Saints play in the Calor Southern League Division 1, which is essentially two steps down from where Concord play. But of course, league levels mean absolutely nothing in the FA Cup, shocks don’t only happen in the later rounds when Premiership teams are involved! St Ives had overcome Soham Town Rangers in the Preliminary round, and beaten Dereham Town in the first qualifying round to set up last Saturdays clash. Fans of goals were not disappointed as Concord Rangers earned a 4-3 victory on the day, but it was more a case of poor defending which led to the amount of goals being scored by both sides. A win is still a win though, no matter how it comes along. And this put Concord Rangers into the hat for the third qualifying round draw, which took place on Monday. Now standing in the way of Concord Rangers’ highest ever progression in the FA Cup are Histon, who currently play in the Skrill Conference North. Histon also entered the competition at the 2nd qualifying round, and were able to beat Royston Town 4-0 away from home. They will provide a tough test on Saturday October 12th when they visit the Aspect Arena. The countdown is now on, in just under 2 weeks (at time of writing) Concord Rangers will host Histon in the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup, just 2 games away from the First Round Proper, what all non-league teams aspire to achieve! It’s there for the taking, the lads will have to work their backsides off, but that’s no different than normal. Best of luck to the Beachboys, and here’s hoping we see as many people as possible there cheering on the lads. You Are My Concord! Alan Jessup-Peacock

Saturday, 21 September 2013

A Scottish Tale

It's been over 10 years since I last visited Scotland to see my family up there, so with life moving in the right direction, work going well & having settled into the new flat, I thought it was about time I got my backside into gear! I went up last Tuesday, had about an 11 hour trip there in total by train! Yes I know it's quicker to go by plane, but given that I work on the railway the fares are cheaper and therefore more appealing, even with a long old journey! After leaving Basildon at 08:30, I arrived in Elgin not long after 19:00, and got to my Aunts place in Lossiemouth a little after 19:30. The journey was made that much more bearable by the new Reacher novel from Lee Child entitled "Never Go Back". Funny thing about that is I started the book just as the train left London, and had the whole thing finished shortly after leaving Aberdeen! The first 3 nights of the trip I spent in Lossiemouth with my aunt, and it was good to catch up and relax! Over the days I was lucky enough to visit the Glenfiddich & Glen Moray distilleries (it would have been rude not to really), the Speyside Cooperage where they make & repair the whisky casks, and have a meal in the Skerry Brae, a great pub that has served decent grub for years! Also made sure that I walked along the beach towards the lighthouse, even though both myself & my aunt ended up soaked thanks to the rain. That beach is home to some great sand dunes, sits right next to the golf course, and is directly under the flight path from RAF Lossiemouth. I remember countless times where as a kid me & the brothers would run & play along that beach! During the downtime where I wasn't out & about or my aunt was working we spent probably far too much time watching the History channel & Food Network! Duck Dynasty, Storage Wars, Diners Drive Ins & Dives, they all helped provide some entertainment! On the Friday I said goodbye to my aunt (after buying her a small bottle of champers for letting me stay) and made my way off to Inverness. I was there earlier than I needed to be as I couldn’t check into my B&B until half 4, so I took the time to enjoy a cigar and watch the world go by next to the River Ness! After checking in, I met with my cousin & went out for a bit of dinner & a drink or two. We had quite an honest discussion about a few bits, and it was good to do so! After a bit of shopping around Inverness Saturday morning I met my cousin again around lunchtime and we decided to head towards Aviemore and the Cairngorm mountains beyond. However whilst on the way we went past what looked like a zip-line place amongst the trees called "Treezone". Basically it was an obstacle course suspended in the trees at heights reaching 40 feet, split into two separate courses. Both myself & my cousin signed up and did it, ending up pretty shattered once we'd managed to work our way around it! There was no way we were stopping though, as two young kids were going round in front of us, and we couldn't be shown up by them! A trip up to the top of the Cairngorm mountain followed, before heading back to Ness. The journey home was just as long as the one going, and without a book to keep me going I was focused on watching the West Ham game on my phone. Ok it ended up being 2 hours of my life I'd never get back, but it helped pass the time! I had a great few days away, loved being able to spend time with family I haven’t seen in ages, and felt a lot better for it.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

5 Games In!

We’re 5 games into the Skrill South season, and I’ll be totally honest in saying I had no idea as to where Concord Rangers would be sitting at this early point of the season. Obviously I hoped we would be doing well, but I was under no illusions as to how difficult the Skrill Conference South would be for the club. I’m pleased to say though that the Beachboys have made a positive start to the season, and given more than a good account of themselves in some difficult games already. Opening weekend was a great occasion & experience for everybody involved with Concord Rangers as they made their debut in the Skrill Conference South at home to Basingstoke. The visitors were a good side, as all opponents are certain to be at this level, and they provided a very entertaining game on the day. John Easterford made his mark on the Beachboys history books by scoring Concord Rangers first goal at Conference South level, however there wasn’t too much celebration as a late Basingstoke goal ensured that they would get a 2-1 victory. There wasn’t a long wait before Concord were able to put points on the board though, as they following Monday the Beachboys made the short trip to Chelmsford City. With the game even at halftime with the score at 2-2, it looked to be a fast-paced and competitive second half. That’s what we got, however for all the possession, domination and chances that Concord created, the score remained the same at 90 minutes. A point was on the board though, and once again history was being made by this Beachboys side! Of course, for a club playing at this level for the first time, the early part of the season will be full of moments where history is made, a new record is set for the team and moments are created that will live long in the memory of those involved. So it will be no surprise when I say that another special moment occurred the following Saturday, when Concord made the trip south to face a well fancied Dover side who had won both their previous matches this season. Danny Spendlove was able to score an absolute classic of a goal to give Concord the lead, and although he then went off injured and the lads played with 10 men for the last 15-20 minutes, it was the Beachboys who came home with all 3 points. Bank Holiday Monday brought Sutton United to Thames Road, and with them former loanee keeper Tom Lovelock. Both him and Concord custodian Jamie Butler were unbeatable in their respective goals and a 0-0 draw was the final result on what was a beautiful day on Concord Island! Things were not so beautiful in Bath City the following Saturday though, as although the weather was spot on, the end result wasn’t. A tough 3-1 loss ensured that Concord Rangers would finish their first 5 games of the season with 5 points. A solid start to the season, personally I am happy with how the lads have played and how they’ve risen to the challenge that has been put before them. But of course there is still a lot of football left to play, plenty more games will be won or lost, all that I ask for is that the team remains competitive as we have shown we can be. The Conference South journey has begun, it’s been fun so far and I know I am not the only one looking forward to seeing where it takes us over the coming months! You Are My Concord!

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