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North Cheltenham Churches Football Team
Sponsored by Selim Smith & Co

We are grateful to our Kit Sponsor – Selim Smith, the local undertakers, who
 agreed to sponsor our new kit (cue lots of jokes about burying the opposition!). 

Results and League Table          

North Cheltenham Churches Football Team - 13 September 2008
Our team just before the game on 13 September 2008

For info and team selection details contact

The webmaster wishes to record his grateful thanks to Edward Wyatt for the photographs and to Michael Wyatt for the reports on the matches. 

Game 21:   Cup Match:  18 April 2009:
Tewkesbury  7 - 0   North Cheltenham Churches

On a sunny day, one with a fickle wind, the NCC kicked off this knockout game in the plate competition. The Hoops were without many of their regular players, including both first and reserve goalkeeper, and Chris Dagnall courageously wore the gloves. In the opening ten minutes the home side had the first attack and got a corner, which was cleared by the NCC defence. The Tigers followed this up with a shot at goal, saved resolutely by Chris Dagnall, and then another shot, which went wide. In turn NCC attacked, and earned two corners, both easily dealt with by the defence. Play continued, the Tigers winning another corner and the NCC firing the ball wide of the goal. Approaching the fifteen-minute mark a Tiger attack resulted in them being awarded a penalty, decisively put away, to open the scoring. Following this each side gained several corners, but those from the Tigers posed the greater threat, going wide of the goal and over the bar. In between these corners the Tigers fired two more shots at goal, both were saved. The NCC attacks were becoming fewer; those that came resulted in naught. Ten minutes before half time another Tiger attack flowed down the right wing, and the ball was sent past the NCC keeper, standing at his near post, to double the score. The North Cheltenham team had a chance to score but the Tewkesbury goalkeeper made a good save. Then five minutes before half-time the home side had yet another corner, which was headed into the net; 3-0 already. In the remaining minutes of the half both sides had further attacks, those from the Tewkesbury resulted in a cleared corner and another fine save from Chris Dagnall.

In the opening minute of the second half the home side sped down their right wing, and scored again. This was not the start the NCC wanted, down 4-0. Corners continued to come to both sides; that from the Tigers was cleared, and then the NCC’s corner resulted in a header, which went wide of the goal. Following this the home attacked again, this time up their left wing, and scored their fifth goal. Tewksbury Tigers were hungry for more goals; initially they created several chances, but nothing positive resulted. Then yet another attack produced yet another goal, as the ball was judged to have crossed the line before the keeper gathered it. In the following twenty minutes the home side continued to put pressure on the NCC goal, with a series of shots, which either went wide or were saved by Chris Dagnall. Despite this chances continued to come for the Tigers, as well as a series of corners; from one corner the ball smashed into a post and went out for a corner. Shortly after a lone Tiger sped up the field, and decided to produce a spectacular lob shot. The ball seemed to be going in but skidded off the crossbar to go behind for a goal kick. In the last ten minutes the NCC tried desperately to snatch a consolation goal but it was the home side which scored again, with a header from another corner, following a defensive mix up. The Tigers, their appetite satiated, denied the NCC, who were well and truly knocked out from the plate competition.

Michael Wyatt signing off with his final report of a disappointing season.

Game 20:   League Match:   21 March 2009:
Tewkesbury  1 - 1  North Cheltenham Churches

On a beautiful and sunny spring morning, following the vernal equinox, NCC visited Tewkesbury Trinity Tigers for their final league match of the season. The ground, at Newlands, was surrounded by fresh blossom and verdant leaves, and glistened in the early sunlight. Kicking off the Tigers attacked towards the hills, and had an early free kick, easily dealt with by the NCC defence, who sent the ball up-field, ensuing in a Tiger goal kick. In those opening minutes play moved up and down the ground, as each side made initial forages. Following a shot from Andrew Murton, which was sent over the cross bar, it was the turn of Tewkesbury to probe, resulting in James Walter, NCC’s goalkeeper, making a save. During the opening ten minutes both defences were kept busy as play moved from end to end. Then the Tigers pounced; some high balls in the visitors’ goal area were not cleared, enabling a prowling forward to knock the ball into the net. From the restart the Tigers again sped up the field, first on the left wing, and then on the right. This latter nearly resulted in a second goal, but a superb tackle saved the day. A sharp NCC attack, and corner, was copied by the Tigers, but headed out before James held the returned shot. Lee Bradley took a long free kick, which was sent into the Tigers’ lair, before being gripped by the Tiger keeper, and this brought play up to the half way mark in the first half. Martin Eccles make a valiant effort to head home a fast cross from a free kick, taken on the right wing, before the sea-saw of action continued. Now the Tigers, in twos and threes, were hunting up their wings more than their visitors, and were controlling the ball better, but they could not add to their tally, as the NCC defence, and keeper, kept them at bay. Much of the action was duplicated; Tewkesbury won a corner but their shot passed over the bar, then the NCC had a shot, which also sailed over the bar. With ten minutes to go to half time the Hoops began to control play more. This was demonstrated initially by Ian Jones, who eluded the Tiger defence, but was too close to their keeper to pass him; and then by a striking passage of play, in which the NCC marched up their right wing, winning a series of throw-ons as they did so. This movement was ended with a corner, and the ball again being headed over the cross-bar. Another attack, and corner followed, and yet another one, which was saved by the keeper, before the clearance kick was greeted by the half-time whistle.

NCC had the better of the opening minutes of the second half, and was unfortunate not to score when a group of players put the Tigers under great pressure, with a series of headed balls in the goal area. This was followed by a good solo run, up the right wing, by Andrew Murton, which saw a cluster of NCC forwards splitting the Tigers’ defence, but the ball went behind for a goal kick. Leaving their den the Tigers ran up field and a dangerous low diagonal cross resulted, speeding just wide of the far post. This was followed by a further attack, which saw James Walter make a very good save, sportingly applauded by some of the opposition. The NCC made another run up their right wing, but the cross was cleared. Now the NCC spent a few minutes camped inside the Tigers’ lair, and the few spectators saw the ball bobble about, as it was sent back and forth. Then a brilliantly weighted cross floated over, and both Martin Eccles and Ian Jones went up for the ball. The former rose higher than anyone else, but the ball was already on its way into the net, for Ian Jones to have the distinction of scoring both the first, and last, of NCC’s league goals this season. This goal was no more than NCC deserved, and the stage was set for an interesting final half hour. The pace hotted up, and, at times, became frenetic, with individuals performing in procession; a well-taken overhead kick from a Tiger, a great take from James, jumping and reaching up as he parried a shot, players covering for each other, in defence and attack, dazzling runs, and the linesmen running the line adeptly. Perhaps the hard ground contributed to the fast and furious pace of the game, a game in which no side dominated for long; a draw was a most fair result.

A contented Edward Wyatt reporting, deputising for Michael, sojourning in Auld Reekie.

Game 19: League Match: 14 March 2009 :
Cornerstone   4 - 2   North Cheltenham Churches

On a cloudy day Cornerstone hosted the NCC’s penultimate league game of the season, a match postponed during the recent spell of bad weather. In the opening twenty minutes the home side, with the wind and slope in their favour, started well, and sent in several shots which were either saved or sped wide of the goal, and also gained two corners, both being cleared by a resolute NCC defence. Gradually the NCC began to make an impression, and mounted some attacks at the other end. On twenty-one minutes Chris Rudge sped down the right wing and sent over a very good cross, which found Chris Dagnall. With a clinical finish he beat the goal keeper, at his left hand post, and sent the ball into the back of the net, to open the scoring. Full of confidence the NCC continued in their efforts to score, and had a shot go wide of the goal. Not to be outdone Cornerstone created two chances, both passing wide of the goal, an effort the NCC emulated shortly after. The Hoops were playing some good football, and were beginning to cause trouble, when their efforts were undone. Some fourteen minutes before half time Cornerstone sent over a cross to their right wing. A defensive mix up and great determination from the opposition saw the ball end up in the net, past the despairing dive of a desperate Tim Rudge in goal, and so restore parity in the match. Moments later Cornerstone almost took the lead as their shot went just wide of the right hand post. In this fascinating duel we saw Martin Cookson send a volley over the crossbar, and NCC held their own very well. However, in the fourth minute of time-added on, Cornerstone mounted an attack down their left wing, and fired an optimistic low long range shot, which evaded everybody and then disappeared into the bottom corner of the net. Shortly after the half ended, and NCC was very disappointed to have conceded a goal so late into the half.

From the restart Cornerstone had two early attacks, the first went wide and the second was well saved. Almost at once they attacked again and won a corner. In a crowded goalmouth a Cornerstone player was able to stab home their third goal, a disastrous start for the visitors. This was followed up by a series of NCC attacks, which resulted in a near miss, a fortuitous save by the defence and a well-taken save by the keeper. For the next twenty-five minutes play ebbed and flowed up and down the field, each side probing for any weakness; nerve-wracking for any partisan. After seventy-three minutes the home side, attacking up their right flank, was awarded a free kick. Whilst the NCC defenders were running to defensive positions the kick was taken, with great haste, and an attacker, seeing Tim Rudge as the only line of defence, was able to shoot into the far corner of the net, to secure a three-goal lead. Five minutes later the resolute Undertakers attacked up their left wing, and the ball came to Martin Cookson, waiting on the edge of the goal-area. He let fly a tremendous volley, which flew past the keeper, and into the back of the net, before his fruitless dive had begun. That was not the end of the excitement; in the 89th minute Cornerstone had a gaol disallowed, following a push on the NCC keeper. Although each side continued to press forward neither was able to advance their score. It was noticeable that Cornerstone, playing on their home pitch, was more adept at using both the slope of the pitch, and its width.

A crestfallen Michael Wyatt reporting from Evesham High School

Game 18:  League:  28 February 2009
Kendal Road   1 - 3   North Cheltenham Churches

It was a dull and chilly morning at Plock Court as NCC kicked off against a young Kendal Road, on a bobbly pitch. Initially, both sides were evenly matched (apart from their ages) as Tim Rudge made a couple of saves for NCC, who had a couple of shots of their own; one from Ian Jones which looped over the crossbar and one from Andy Murton, shot from the edge of the area and just missing. Some strong tackling by NCC, with debutant Jason Lodge excelling, more skilful saves from Tim and speedy covering by Andy Macauly meant that NCC were beginning to take control of the game. Some frolics arose when the ball was lost in the boundary stream. After forty minutes, following a corner taken by Lee Bradley, Martin Eccles rose like a salmon and headed the ball into the net; 0-1. This was the start of a great spell of play from NCC for the remainder of the half, rounded off with a goal from Ian following great dribbling in the box; 0-2 at half time, and NCC were in the lead!

Kendal started the second half with renewed confidence, but NCC were still attacking with excellent wing play from Martin Cookson and Jason Burge. However, after three saves from Tim, Kendal scored from a free kick; 1-2. With some strong defending from James Walters and Paul Broekman, excellent line decisions and another dip in the stream for the ball, NCC yet again began to dominate play. With tiring legs on the pitch the substitutes Jason Roberts, Huw Roberts and Mark Broekman all came on and helped give NCC renewed energy. They were rewarded, five minutes from time, by a goal from captain Andy Murton, following a corner kick; 1-3. A well-deserved and much overdue victory, following an excellent all round team performance, with Martin Eccles just shading the Man of the Match award.

An elated Ruth Rudge, wearing a stripy scarf, and with hands too cold to hold the pencil, reporting from Plock Court, deputising for the absent regular reporter.

Game 17:  League:  21 February 2009:
Trinity & Quedgeley   4 - 2   North Cheltenham Churches

On a lovely sunny morning, at a Gloucester venue new to the NCC, the visitors kicked off and immediately began to attack.  They had the better of the play during the opening ten minutes, with a couple of shots passing over, or wide, of the goal posts.  Gradually the home got back into the game with some shots of their own, one passing very close to the upright.  The game moved from end to end, exciting for the neutral onlooker, but the home side posed the greater threat, and their attacks up the right wing created several chances, including a corner.  These were dealt with by the NCC defence, and especially by James Walters, in fine form as keeper.  Then, on seventeen minutes, a T&Q attack, down their left wing, lead to the ball being crossed, in front of the goal, to a fellow player.  He had the straightforward job of sending it into the goal, for the opening score.  Four minutes later an NCC attack, down their right wing, enabled Andrew Murton to chip the keeper, leaving Chris Rudge with the easy task of tapping the ball into the net.  The next few minutes saw both sides attack, but then Trinity and Quedgeley again advanced up their right wing.  A hard low shot, from a narrow angle, beat the advancing James Walters, and speeding by the far post continued into the net.  Three goals in eight minutes, and T&Q had regained the lead.  There was plenty of action on the field, with each keeper busy, watched by the greatest number of spectators I have seen at these games.  With fifteen minutes of the half remaining an attack from the Hoops, up the right wing, was followed by a beautiful cross from Jason Burge.  A trio of defenders met this, and in their confusion one put the ball into the net, thus tying the score yet again.  This spurred on a vociferous T&Q, who created several shots on goal, and were awarded a penalty.  Although this was poorly taken it was nevertheless well saved by James Walters, who stood his ground.  NCC replied in kind, and saw a shot sail over the crossbar.  Then, on the stroke of half time, the home side restored their lead when a shot, from the left, hit a post before rebounding clear of the NCC defence, providing an easy chance to score.  Shortly after the whistle ended a very entertaining first half.

By comparison the second half became much quieter and was played at a slower pace.  The home side started with several shots going wide, and James Walters making a series of good saves, including one where he jumped to take the ball off the head of an attacking player.  Trinity won a corner, which was well taken, but then wasted as the ball was sent wide of the goal.  Then NCC attacked, had another shot pass over the crossbar, and saw a couple more saved by the keeper.  On sixty-three minutes came the most dramatic piece of cruel luck; the home side came up the left wing, and sent a high volley towards the goal.  Unfortunately the dipping ball hit the cross bar, and rebounded out, where it hit a leaping James Walters on the back of his head, and both keeper and ball landed behind the line, a more calamitous event than the earlier T&Q own goal.  This was the only score of the second half, although within a few minutes T&Q had a goal disallowed, for a most blatant offside.  Although the rest of the match saw action at both ends the intensity and fervour dissipated.  That does not mean there was no action, far from it.  Each keeper was kept busy, but both were fortunate in that their opposition missed what would appear to have been clear-cut chances to score.  T&Q had a corner, which was sent into a densely packed NCC goal area, but James was able to jump and punch the ball clear, and was able to hold the return shot.  One feature of this small ground was the frequency of the ball being lost, albeit temporary, when sent beyond the surrounding boundary of the park.

A bewildered Michael Wyatt reporting from Windfall Way, Gloucester.

Game 16:  League Match:  14 February 2009
North Cheltenham Churches   0 - 5   Cheltenham Trinity

The hills overlooking Newlands stood enhanced by the week’s earlier covering of snow, which had caused this match to be switched from the unplayable pitch, at Prestbury, to the more conducive conditions of Newlands.  Thus, unwittingly, NCC’s last home league game of the season had already taken place.  Cheltenham Trinity kicked off, and played against the slight slope and up towards the whitened hills.  Trinity matched an early NCC attack with their first shot on goal, but the ball went off target.  NCC had the better of the opening fifteen minutes, with three good shots, all going wide of the goal.  Trinity were not outdone, and themselves had a corner.  This heralded much improvement from their side, and they had a ten-minute spell in which they gained five corners, including three in succession.  A lot of the play took place in the middle third of the field, but, as the half progressed, Trinity began to attack with four or five forwards lined up across the pitch.  On a tacky playing surface the NCC tactic, of booting the ball up field, for it to be chased by a lone striker, was not working, and allowed the white-shirted visitors great freedom in the park.  Despite this it was becoming an enjoyable game for the spectator, who could see Trinity continuing to dominate.  They had two shots, which went over the crossbar, and another, which was saved by Tim Rudge.  Then, ten minutes before half time, Trinity had a good chance to score, but the ball grazed a post and went out for a goal kick.  Both sides continued to attack, but determined defences saw that the half remained scoreless. 

Although NCC started the second half it was Trinity who set the pace, winning an early corner, from which the shot went wide of the goal.  Following their attack the NCC won themselves a corner, and the game seemed set to follow the first half pattern.  However, eight minutes into the half, Trinity had a free kick, just on the edge of the NCC penalty area, following a handball.  A cleverly flighted ball sailed over the wall, and other defenders, and thudded into the back of the net.  Within two minutes a long ball split the NCC defence and a solitary Trinity attacker, coming in from the right, calmly slotted the ball past Tim Rudge, and on into the net, 0-2.  Shortly after they found space to head the ball towards goal, after another forage from the right wing, but this was easily saved.  The green and whites now had a better period of play, following a shot which just missed the left hand post, and a corner.  Although cleared, this was followed by a good solo run up the left, by Andrew Murton, but the Trinity keeper parried the shot, and the ball went out for another corner.  Then the whites created several chances to increase their lead, including another free kick near the penalty spot.  As the ball was sent over the heads of the NCC defence, three players jumping up rather like MPs during PMQs, it was held by Tim Rudge, who made a very clean catch to diffuse the danger.  Trinity favoured the high ball from their set pieces, and from one, of several corners, Tim sped out and up, to gather another clean take.  NCC followed this up with two good opportunities to score, one saw a two-on-one chance go begging, with the Trinity keeper stranded to the left.  Then, ten seconds later, and with just under twenty minutes to go, Trinity scored their third goal, a well taken volley shot from just inside the goal area, which gave the home keeper little chance of stopping, as it thundered past his left post.  This was followed by a period of intense play at both ends; NCC had three good attacks in succession before Trinity mounted another one; a run down the left wing, followed by a high volley, which was well parried by Tim Rudge, and out for a corner.  NCC packed their area with at least nine defenders, hardly any room to breathe, but the home keeper was up to it.  With ten minutes to go Trinity scored a fourth goal.  Following the restart NCC attacked, but Trinity regained the ball, and sped down their left wing, to stab in a fifth goal; two goals within a minute, which shows how fast and furious the game was played.  The NCC did not deserve to lose by this margin, and sadly their run of poor results continues; belying the commitment given by the players.

A speechless Michael Wyatt reporting from a sticky Newlands

Game 15:  League Match:  31 January 2009:
Cambray   6 - 1   North Cheltenham Churches

On a chilly day, accentuated by a bitter wind, NCC took on the league leaders, hoping for an upset similar to the corresponding fixture in the previous season.  NCC started in a positive mood, and made some early attacks.  Then, after three minutes, Cambray had a free kick on their left wing.  The resulting kick was floated in and a Cambray attacker, reaching the ball first, sent it over Tim Rudge, and on into the back of the net.  Although the green and whites had a shot, which was saved by the home keeper, it was Cambray who dominated play, making good use of the stiff breeze.  They created many great chances, including one which went wide of the goal, and won a series of corners, one being headed just wide.  After fifteen minutes another Cambray attack, (deja vu) again down the left wing, produced their second goal.  A Cambray attacker was fed a good ball and delicately lifted the ball over the on-rushing keeper, and into the back of the net.  NCC survived a withering onslaught, which resulted in half a dozen attacks, and included two shots which went wide, several more corners on the trot, and a good long-range shot, which was parried by Tim Rudge for a corner.  Having saved a potentially dangerous situation the NCC made a rare run up the field, only to be denied as Cambray, rampant, gained yet another corner, which was tucked into the net, at the near post.  Within a minute a Cambray player fired a thunderous shot, which sped into the back of the net like a rocket, for the most spectacular goal of the match, 4-0, and still ten minutes remaining until the break.  Then the NCC, fielding several new players, seemed to gel, and spent some time in the Cambray half, creating a series of chances up both wings, having shots sent wide of the goal, or cleared by the defence.  This should have added encouragement for the second half, when they would be aided by the wind, but already there was a mountain to climb. 

NCC started the second half well, showing greater determination, better possession and creating more runs down the field, resulting in shots towards the goal.  Even so, when Cambray mounted an attack it was potentially more dangerous, as exemplified on the hour mark, when Tim Rudge pulled off a couple of great saves.  Minutes later Cambray were awarded a free kick, on the left wing, and a cleverly floated ball crossed the goal area, before going behind for a corner.  Shortly after they were awarded another free kick, which was sent wide of the right hand post.  Although play ebbed up and down the field Cambray began to demonstrate why they are on top of the league; at times their goal area was defended by eight players, easily nullifying any NCC attack.  From an NCC corner Cambray dispatched the ball up their right wing, where it was gathered by a lone forward.  Helped by a mix up in the Undertakers’ goal area he was gifted with the simple task of putting the ball into the back of the net.  Five minutes later the NCC goal was under siege, as Cambray wasted great chances, but won a corner.  This was partially stopped by the keeper, leaving the loose ball running free, where an alert Cambray forward smashed it into the net, to hit NCC for six.  A minute later an excellent NCC solo run was well saved by the Cambray keeper.  Then three minutes later NCC had a free kick, and Jason Burge sent a beautifully flighted ball towards the left hand post.  Here it was met by Chris Rudge, who had both time and space to head the ball past the upright, as all and sundry watched, to gain a consolation goal for NCC; no more than they deserved.  The final minutes were exciting, with corners at both ends.  The last kick of the game saw Chris Rudge take a corner, which drifted in, and this dipping shot, avoiding every player, agonisingly crossed the goal area, before going out.  Despite the disappointing score line the NCC played much better football in the second half, and the new players were a credit to the side.

A gloomy Michael Wyatt reporting from the Burrows

Game 14: League Match: 24 January 2009
North Cheltenham Churches   1 - 2   Diamonds

On a cold but sunny morning the two clubs in contention at the foot of the league, NCC and Diamonds, met.  Almost at once the visiting keeper was forced to make a high save, on his left hand side, and this, in turn, was followed by Tim Rudge denying Diamonds in their opening foray, which saw them pressing hard for a few minutes.  Following another NCC incursion the Diamonds spent a period on the attack, before the Undertakers had a couple of chances, including one following a free kick, and a volley, which was sent wide.  Although play ebbed and flowed throughout the half Diamonds were dominant for the last twenty minutes, and had six corners, all to no avail; their tactic of short corners was easily dealt with by a stonewall defence.  During this period the NCC had two great chances to score but the Diamonds’ keeper made two very good saves, diving to his left, to stop headers from both Ian Jones and Martin Eccles.  A goalless first half was a first this season for the NCC. 

From the restart Diamonds mounted a succession of attacks, mainly down their left wing, the first was well saved by a diving Tim Rudge, earning applause from the opposition.  Their domination increased as a great chance saw the ball cross the NCC goalmouth, to go behind for a corner, with the keeper out of position.  Then, in a rare NCC attack, Lee Bradley fired a well-directed volley, but unfortunately the ball sped low over the crossbar.  Just before the hour mark Diamonds won another corner, which was sent to an attacker standing near the penalty spot.  This player out-jumped everybody, and sent in a high looping diagonal header, which, dipping in an agonising way, entered the top corner of the net, despite a valiant attempt from Paul Broekman.  Although NCC had a chance to score the keeper made a very good save by his right hand post.  Diamonds almost doubled the lead when their next attack lead to another good save from Tim Rudge, who coolly collected a descending ball.  However, he was beaten shortly after by a dipping shot, which fortunately hit the crossbar before rebounding out.  The away side continued to create more chances, including one which passed just wide of the goal, with the keeper beaten, and another which saw a spectacular overhead kick pass above the bar.  NCC continued to press forward, and from one such attack, made down their right wing, Andrew Murton sent in a delicate rising chip.  This was met, in a most spectacular way, by the head of Martin Eccles, and the ball looped over the heads of two defenders, to descend into the corner of the net before the late arrival of the visiting keeper.  All square at one goal apiece, with less than twenty minutes left.  Diamonds spent much of the next ten minutes camped well inside the NCC half, who resolutely denied every cut and thrust from their opponents.  Then, with three minutes to go, and following an NCC attack, heartbreak for the home side.  Yet another Diamonds’ attack resulted in the ball being headed towards the goal, but Tim could only parry the ball, and then watch in horror as it spun over him before entering the net.  In the final minutes the NCC were denied every opportunity of scoring, and as the full time whistle went they were totally dejected with the result; I felt a draw would have been a fairer result. 

A tormented Michael Wyatt reporting from Stade de Prestbury

Game 13:  League Match: 17 January 2009:
North Cheltenham Churches   0 - 2   St Matthews

After two postponements, due to frosty weather, this game was moved to Newlands, because of the soggy conditions at Prestbury.  On a sunny morning St Matthews kicked off, and began well, winning several early corners, and sending in shots at the goal, or just wide.  Resolute work from Tim Rudge, in goal, and the NCC defence, ensured parity continued.  After ten minutes the NCC mounted an attack, down their left wing, but their shot went wide of the goal.  The home side applied pressure on St Matthews during the next five minutes, but good football all round maintained the deadlock.  Under a brilliant blue sky the play ebbed and flowed from one end to the other, even though it streamed from the Saints more frequently.  The NCC’s defence was extremely effective, and produced a succession of brilliant manoeuvres to deny the visitors.  On the half hour mark the Hoops cleared another of the dozen corners conceded during the first half, and the ball fell to Andrew Murton.  He put in a dazzling spurt to speed up the left wing, leaving the visitors’ mid-field players rooted to the ground; unfortunately this marvellous solo effort was cleared, for the cycle of attrition to begin again.  Shortly before half time the NCC had a sustained attack successfully dealt with.  Then St Matthews had a commanding period of play, when they moved the ball from one side of the field to the other, and back again, before a low shot was fired into the back of the net, for a deserved lead.  From the restart a determined NCC attack almost led to an equaliser, but the visiting goalkeeper made a good save.  As the half time whistle went the home side could consider themselves unfortunate to be a goal down, especially after their resolute defence and strong attacks.  In the end it was the numbers game, the visitors had many more attacks, and such pressure was bound to score in the end.

In the opening minutes, following the restart, each side created a chance, that from the NCC going low over the cross bar.  St Matthews still attacked, but Tim Rudge jumped to save a cross at head-height, and then made another save by diving near the corner of the goal.  Then the home side had an attack, which was well saved by the keeper, as he clutched the ball safely to his chest.  After a hectic fifteen minutes Tim Rudge was hurt in a collision, but continued after a short breather.  Two minutes later Andy Macauly had his shot saved by the keeper, diving low to his right.  Although the NCC had more opportunities to score the visiting keeper saved one, but could only watch as another shot sailed, not too-high, over his cross bar.  In a game where each side threatened to score as they attacked it was St Matthews who succeeded.  Following a sustained period of attack, in which they had two corners, the ball was eventually cleared.  Shortly after a long ball found an attacker, who fired in a low diagonal shot which beat Tim Rudge, and ended up in the bottom corner of the net.  This second goal gave them the game, but it would have been right for the hosts to have scored, but this was not to be.  The final ten minutes were exciting, as first St Matthews mounted great pressure, which the determined defenders kept out, followed by some brave NCC attacks, again seeing a solo run from Andrew Murton.  No one would deny the visitors their win, they are second in the league, but full credit to a spirited display from the home side.  This win meant that St Matthews retained the Grant Bayliss Cup. 

A disgruntled Michael Wyatt reporting from Newlands

Game 12:   Charity Cup Final:   20 December 2008
North Cheltenham Churches   3 - 3  Cornerstone
(NCC win 4-2 on penalties)

This game was played between the team voted the winners of the fair play league, NCC, and the winners of the 2007-2008 Plate Competition, Cornerstone.

There was a well-above average number of spectators, including an assortment of over one thousand seabirds, which gracefully viewed the game from an adjacent pitch

Cornerstone started this game, on a dull day, which promised both sunshine and showers.  There was a well-above average number of spectators, including an assortment of over one thousand seabirds, which gracefully viewed the game from an adjacent pitch.  What a disastrous start for the NCC, who conceded a goal in one hundred seconds.  They had attacked, which resulted in a goal kick for Cornerstone, whose keeper sent a long ball up the left wing.  Here, amongst a melee, the ball ricocheted off a player and rolled into the net, a soft goal conceded.  As the play continued there was a slight advantage to Cornerstone, who caused Tim Rudge to make two or three early saves.  After a quarter of an hour the fresh young legs of players returned from university began to get acclimatised to the sticky surface and working with their teammates.  Their pace showed when Chris Rudge almost scored, but the ball went wide of the left hand post.  A couple of minutes later Andrew Elvidge managed to shrug off a defender and send in a shot, which was well caught by the keeper.  NCC were kept in the game when Tim brought off a fine save, jumping and stretching up to push the ball over the bar; an act applauded by both spectators and the opposing players, reflecting the true spirit of the match.  Play continued to move from one end to the other, providing plenty of excitement for the enthusiastic viewers.  Then, following a volley which sailed over their bar, the NCC mounted another attack, up the middle of the field.  From this Lee Bradley was able to beat a defender, and send the goalkeeper the wrong way, before sending the ball into the back of the net.  All square, after 25 minutes! This spurred on Cornerstone, who pressed hard for a five-minute period.  They forced another fine save from Tim, who, in a repeat performance, jumped to push the ball over the bar, for a corner, which he made sure he reached first.  Soon the NCC were again at the other end, where Martin Eccles had a couple of attempts denied by the defence.  Andrew Elvidge and Chris Rudge worked well down each wing, and their crosses to Lee Bradley and Martin Eccles created pressure on the Cornerstone defence, resulting in a couple more attempts to score.  Not to be outdone Cornerstone had a shot miss the right hand post, and another, with what was becoming a regular event, pushed over the bar, for a Cornerstone corner.  This pulsating game became more exciting during the final five minutes of the half.  Following an NCC attack the ball was sent up the left wing where a low shot eluded Tim Rudge, and for the second time Cornerstone had their noses in front.  Three minutes later NCC emulated this feat, the ball going through the centre, and out to the left wing, where a cross was sent to Andrew Elvidge.  He managed to squeeze the ball past two defenders, and the keeper; and so into the net, to maintain the equality at half time.

Cotswolds Churches League Charity CupFive minutes later, with both teams neck and neck, NCC kicked off the second half, and were soon pressing their opponents.  In complete contrast to the opening period it was the NCC who had a slight advantage in this gripping game of end to end drama.  The Undertakers were using their players well, often six attackers, sometimes more, were in the goal area, perhaps they ought to have used the whole width of the field more, to allow the young blood more space in which to demonstrate their speed.  After half an hour of this half NCC sped up their left wing; their initial shot was blocked by the keeper.  As more attackers, and defenders, arrived, packing the goal area, it was the NCC who put the ball into the net, a lovely shot from Mark Broekman completely beat the outstretched arms of the keeper.  As the teams returned towards the centre-spot, awaiting the referee’s whistle, he was seen speaking to the linesman, and the goal was disallowed; a delicate off-side being cited.  Goaded, Cornerstone mounted some potentially dangerous attacks, bringing yet more match-saving efforts from Tim Rudge.  From one the ball was sent up the field, and some twenty seconds later the NCC had scored, taking the lead for the first time.  The university lions were involved, and we saw Andrew Elvidge lobbing the keeper with a delicate low chip, which sped into the left corner of the net.  This was no more than the NCC deserved, and there was about ten minutes of play left! Before the jubilation had subsided Cornerstone had duplicated this, and, twenty seconds from the restart, had equalised.  A run up their right wing resulted in a cross, and a lob which sailed high over the keeper’s arms, and into the net.  What a finale was promised for the final minutes.  Andrew Murton limped off, removing a key forward, which allowed Cornerstone to dominate the last period.  The draw was enabled after a spectacular overhead kick was superbly saved by Tim Rudge, and so the result of the game would now depend on one mis-kick from the penalty shoot-out.

Although both keepers made a save a Cornerstone player shot over the bar, and so enabled NCC to maintain a one-goal advantage, with each side having taken four penalties.  The final kick was taken by Ryan Martin, who, keeping his nerve, delicately stroked the ball past the Cornerstone keeper, to give the NCC an unassailable lead; and victory in the penalty shoot-out by four goals to two.  This was a superb game, played in a most sporting manner; a pity there had to be a loser.  Well done to all involved.

An exhilarated Edward Wyatt, deputising for Michael, who, missed a thriller, due to illness. 

NCC with their trophy
The winning team with their trophy

Game 11:  League Match: 13 December 2008:
Ecclesiastical   16 – 0   North Cheltenham Churches

On a dreary day, with rain falling, Ecclesiastical kicked off the final league game before Christmas, against a depleted NCC, who had to borrow an opposition player! Who could have guessed the outcome? Ecclesiastical started well and had early chances to score but the ball went over the bar or behind for a goal kick.  More attacks came from the team in red, and the NCC was beginning to struggle against their domination.  After nine minutes the home side opened the scoring when a fierce volley, chest-high, flew between Tim Rudge and his left upright.  As Ecclesiastical continued to attack they saw many chances going wide or saved by Tim Rudge, working almost non-stop.  On fifteen minutes the home side came down their left wing, got behind the defence and scored, with a low shot into the far corner, to double their lead.  Within two minutes the ball was sent, past an advancing keeper, into the other corner of the NCC net; already three down.  In the next fifteen minutes Ecclesiastical scored five more goals, and missed at least two more.  Number four was a low shot drilled in from the right, as was number six, scored within a minute of number five, another chest-high volley into the left hand part of the goal.  The next goal was a soft one, perhaps the ball took a wobble.  Although in total control Ecclesiastical had two shots go over the bar, and another one was saved in a most spectacular fashion by Tim Rudge, jumping to his left and grasping the ball with outstretched arms right in front of the goal post.  The eighth goal was hit through a crowded goal area.  Then the NCC exerted themselves for five minutes, having a shot narrowly pass over the bar, and another shaving an upright.  However, Ecclesiastical scored one more before half time, a tantalising high ball which descended rapidly, to rest in the back of the net.  In the closing minutes of the first half the home side managed to miss two more sitters, which, if taken with the other misses, would have given them double figures.  As it was, nine was already the greatest number of goals NCC had conceded in a half. 

In the opening minutes of the second half the home side created three early chances, one of them hitting a post.  Then, after just two minutes, they scored, when a partial save was knocked in, to take their tally into double figures.  Shortly after, a well-struck volley, from the left wing, flew past the post, and into the net, with the home defence well beaten.  Tim continued to deny the reds, this time with a dive to smother the ball, but it was not long before goal twelve came, a low hit going past the keeper.  Even though most of the play was one way, the NCC did have the occasional attack, with a free kick, which was easily cleared, and a shot, which was sent over the bar.  Then the rains ceased, and NCC improved, marginally! For ten minutes they denied their opposition, who fired several shots high and wide, but eventually another speedy attack up the wing saw a diagonal ball pass the keeper, for goal number thirteen.  NCC defied Ecclesiastical for seven minutes, during which the reds missed yet another chance, and Tim pulled off yet another brilliant save.  Then a low ball, crossed from the left wing, ended in the back of the net.  Ecclesiastical continued to strive for more goals, and it must be to the credit of the NCC that they only conceded a brace during the final twenty minutes; Tim pulling off several more fine saves.  The penultimate goal, a long-range lob, which gave the keeper no chance, was, I believe, the best goal of the match.  NCC’s second half performance, on a very sticky pitch, was better than the first half, and fewer, goals, just, were conceded at more regular intervals.  This was NCC’s worst defeat ever, and will provide much food for thought during the Christmas period. 

A demoralized Michael Wyatt, reporting from the King Georges V playing fields. 

Game 10: Cup Match: 6 December 2008
Cambray   6 - 0   North Cheltenham Churches

On a cold but sunny day Cambray kicked off this cup-tie, and began well, with a penetrating opening attack.  This was contained by the NCC defence, and James Walter, the NCC goalkeeper for the game.  As Cambray continued to press forward, creating several chances, the ball was frequently sent wide of the goal, or well saved by James.  Then, after seventeen minutes, another attack from the home side produced a corner.  From this corner a Cambray player was fouled, resulting in a penalty, which was sent low into the right hand corner of the net, to give Cambray a well-deserved lead.  They continued to create chances, one was shot wide, James saved another and the defence put one out for a corner.  The Green and Whites had difficulty in taking the attack to Cambray due to the latter’s good defending.  The home side continued to dominate, and just before the half hour they scored their second goal.  This followed a corner from the right, and again the ball sped into the bottom right hand corner of the net.  Then the Undertakers had a free kick but the Cambray defence held firm.  Cambray had another shot but the ball went over the bar, dipping too late; within a minute another shot was sent wide of the goal.  Ten minutes before half time Cambray created two chances; the first was well saved by James, diving bravely into a melee of players, but the second, fired low from the right, produced their third goal.  Now, at last, the NCC started to match Cambray, attack for attack.  A good run from Martin Cookson found Andrew Murton, who shot, but the Cambray keeper made his first save of the game, to deny the visitors.  Although the hosts created more chances these were denied, by good goal keeping or over-enthusiastic shots going wide.  As the half time whistle went we wondered how many more goals Cambray would score. 

The opening minutes of the second half were all NCC, who attacked from both wings.  The Cambray defence, well spaced, stood firm, and the early shot at their goal went wide.  Then Cambray made their first attack of the half, and sped down the left wing.  A low shot went into the net, past a disappointed goalkeeper, to give Cambray their fourth goal, just three minutes into the second half.  Further Cambray attacks were denied, initially by a solid NCC defence, and then by James, who made three great saves in a three-minute period, two on the ground and a third by jumping up.  Approaching the hour another Cambray attack, down the left wing, saw them awarded a corner.  From this an NCC player was judged to have handled the ball, and Cambray were awarded their second penalty.  Although James Walters correctly guessed the direction he was unable to prevent goal number five.  During the next five minutes each side had a chance before Cambray hit a fierce long low drive, which crept under the keeper’s body, to knock NCC for six, with half an hour’s play remaining! Then NCC showed more resolve for the rest of the match, but the Cambray side still managed many more attacks, about five or six to every one from their opposition.  The home keeper had an easy game, and hardly dirtied his hands.  However, Cambray became complacent, and missed many scoring opportunities; one, on seventy minutes, skimmed the bar by a whisker, and another was headed over the bar when it might have been easier to score! Cambray continued to create more scoring opportunities, but the ball was either shot wide or hit over the bar.  When they had a free kick, from outside of the box, James, looking into the sun, produced a brilliant save by knocking the ball high over the crossbar.  Shortly after, he was fortunate, when a high ball, descending from the bright sun, landed behind the bar.  In the closing minutes Cambray had one shot sent across the goal mouth and another was well saved by James Walters, diving and smothering the ball with his body.  Well deserved was his award as man of the match for the NCC.  As the final whistle went the NCC were relieved that Cambray did not score any goals during the final half hour, but the NCC need to play each game according to the talent available, both from them and their opponents. 

A dejected Michael Wyatt reporting from the Burrows. 

Game 09: League: 29 November 2008
North Cheltenham Churches  2- 2  Trinity & Quedgeley 

On a cold and overcast day NCC were hosts to Trinity and Quedgeley, the other new team in the league.  The away side began the game and were kicking towards the hills.  The home side had an early attack down the left wing, and Ian Jones sent a cross to another NCC player, who shot wide of the goal.  A Quedgeley attack saw Tim Rudge make a good save.  After five minutes a great through ball found Ian Jones, who fired a wonderful shot past the keeper, for NCC to take an early lead.  Then NCC had another chance, which went wide off the goal, followed by the away side, who had two chances which saw the ball go over the bar, and then wide of the post.  Pressing hard for an equaliser Quedgeley had two corners; the first saw the ball sent wide of the goal and the home defence cleared the second.  After 18 minutes Quedgeley attacked and scored, sending the ball high into the corner of the goal.  From the restart the Undertakers made a penetrating attack down their right wing, but the keeper made a good partial save and the rebound was hit wide of the goal.  A couple of minutes later a good pass found Ian Jones on the right wing.  From here he sent in a low volley, which ended up in the far corner of the net, to score his second goal of the game, and thus restore the Undertakers’ lead.  Quedgeley had a free kick, which went for a corner, but the resulting shot went wide of the goal.  An NCC attack saw the visiting keeper come out to meet the ball, which was gathered very well.  For the next twenty minutes Trinity & Quedgeley made a succession of attacks, and had several shots towards the goal, but they were all denied by Tim Rudge and the NCC defence, who weathered this storm with great fortitude.  Approaching half time another NCC attack saw the Quedgeley keeper make a good save when he pushed the ball onto the bar, and so behind, for a corner, the first of three successive corners.  The final attack of this half went to the away side, who shot wide of the goal. 

NCC started the second half with an early attack, from which they ought to have scored, but wasted the chance with an open goal.  Almost immediately the visitors attacked down the left wing, and fired a shot across the goal, which ended up in the far corner of the net; two minutes after the start.  This goal sent the visitors into overdrive, and for much of the remaining time Quedgeley maintained an almost continuous barrage on the NCC goal.  In the ten minutes following the goal they fired two shots, and a free kick, over the crossbar and packed the goal area with players, forcing an excellent save from the home keeper.  During this time NCC managed one attack, where the keeper jumped to catch the ball, and so saved a goal.  Another NCC attack saw Ian Jones shoot wide of the right hand post, but almost immediately he was forced off with an injury to his groin.  Quedgeley continued attacking, unsuccessfully, for much of the next ten minutes, again shooting over the bar and causing the ball to bobble about dangerously in the home goal area.  Still all square at the mid point of the second half, whence followed a quieter period of balanced play.  Then, with about 15 minutes to go, North Cheltenham had an attack which saw Andy Macauly put the ball into the net, but the goal was ruled out for offside, which was very frustrating for the team.  For the rest of the match Quedgeley attacked the harder, with two penetrating corners sandwiched around more shots over the bar and past the uprights.  As the full time whistle went I thought a draw was a fair result in a game neither side deserved to lose. 

A relieved Michael Wyatt reporting from the Stade de Prestbury

Game 08: League Match: 15 November 2008
North Cheltenham Churches  1 - 3  Cornerstone

On a cold day NCC took on Cornerstone, hoping to bounce back after suffering two heavy defeats.  Initially each side had an attack, which was successfully dealt with by their respective opposition, although that from the NCC resulted in a shot going near to a post.  After ten minutes NCC got a corner.  From this Ian Jones headed the ball home, but the goal was ruled out for a foul.  What a disappointing start! The home side created two further chances, one was well saved and the other went wide of the goal.  Then the visitors began to dominate more, winning corners and creating several chances, their shots passing wide of the goal, or were saved by Tim Rudge.  Chris Rudge, playing with great fortitude, made a determined solo run for the Hoops, and penetrated the Cornerstone defence, before firing the ball at the goal.  Here the keeper dived to push the ball away for a corner, the resulting shot passed over the cross bar.  Approaching the half-hour Cornerstone attacked, and fired an optimistic long-range shot.  This took a wicked deflection, sending the ball into the far corner of the net, giving Tim Rudge no chance of a save.  The remainder of the half saw both sides continuing their attacks, as play alternated up and down the field.  As the half time whistle went the NCC could be proud of their effort, but disappointed to be behind in a fairly even period of play. 

The second half was completely different.  Cornerstone began in an attacking mood, winning two corners and raining several shots on the NCC goal, including one which ran across the face of the goal.  Just beyond the hour mark the NCC attacked down their left wing.  The Cornerstone defence partially cleared the ball, but an alert Andy Macauly fired in a terrific low volley, which sped past the hapless keeper, and so into the net, to level the scores.  This was Andy’s first league goal, so well done to him.  Then, within two minutes, disaster struck, as a good ball through the middle beat the NCC defence and three attackers, waiting to pounce, restored the lead, by sending a shot past the frantic dive of a desperate goalkeeper.  This was a blow for the green and white team, but it shows how quickly the situation can change.  Cornerstone then dominated the remaining twenty minutes of the game, and produced a succession of attacks, which lead to a series of chances, but these chances came to naught as Tim Rudge gave an exemplifying display of his prowess.  However, another goal was inevitable, but when it came it was ruled out, for a foul.  The NCC had a rare foray into the opposition half, but almost immediately the team was on the back foot.  Cornerstone continued to miss their chances, as the seconds ticked away.  In the final minute of the game they sealed their win with a shot which hit the edge of the near post before rolling, tantalisingly slowly, across the goal area before ending up in the opposite corner of the net.  When the final whistle went the NCC players were disappointed, but relieved that they were not thrashed again.  Despite the result I think this was the best performance by the NCC team for a month. 

A downhearted Michael Wyatt reporting from the Stade de Prestbury. 

Game 07: League Match:  8 November 2008
Trinity  8 - 3  North Cheltenham Churches

On a cold but sunny morning NCC kicked off this game against Cheltenham Trinity.  In the opening minute Trinity had a chance to score but were denied by the NCC defence.  Then, in turn, NCC had a chance but the Trinity defence held firm.  However, after four minutes, a Trinity forward attacked down their left wing, and, beating the NCC defence, fired a narrow shot across the goal, past the diving Tim Rudge, which ended up in the bottom corner of the net.  Although the visitors had a few darts towards the opposition’s goal, including one diagonal shot which passed tantalisingly close to the goal, it was the home side who continued to apply pressure, with a series of penetrating runs down both wings, attacks which went wide or were saved by Tim Rudge.  After twenty minutes Trinity mounted another fast attack down the left, and crossed the ball before scoring.  Three minutes later things got worse for the green and whites when Trinity scored their third goal; what would be the final score? Approaching the hour Ian Jones made a promising run down the left wing, and, as he moved into the penalty area, he was brought down.  Andrew Murton stepped up, and, wrong-footing the keeper, calmly slotted the penalty kick into the bottom right hand corner of the net.  Cheltenham Trinity had a great chance to score but the ball was headed straight into the hands of Tim.  Now NCC played some promising football, and from one attack Andy Macauly, with an open goal, was unfortunate when the ball hit the crossbar, another shot went wide of the goal.  Ten minutes before half time Andrew Murton attacked down the right before crossing the ball to Ian Jones, who side-footed the ball past the diving keeper, to pull another goal back; could there be hope! As the half time whistle went the NCC must have dwelt on what could have been, misses and even hitting the bar. 

In the opening minute of the restart the home side had a shot but the ball sped over the crossbar.  Three minutes into the half the home side took a long throw, from near the corner post.  Eluding three defenders the ball was delicately headed past out keeper, to give Trinity goal number four.  North Cheltenham began to penetrate a tiring side, but were unable to convert any of the chances created, including a spectacular long range shot from Chris Rudge, which hit a post.  After fifteen minutes Trinity had another attack, from which the ball ended in the net, but this was disallowed for offside.  NCC created several more opportunities, but were unable to increase their score.  Trinity were kept quiet, but when they attacked they threatened, in one the ball passed very close to the right hand post.  Just past the hour Trinity were awarded a free kick, for an alleged handling of a back-pass.  The ball eluded all four defenders packing the NCC goal, despite their desperate attempt at a clearance.  The North Cheltenham team had five minutes of pressure, with shots and passes going wide of the goal; but from one attack Ian Jones, running down the right wing, was able to dribble around the lone keeper, to score his sixth goal of the season.  However, just ten seconds from the restart the home side scored their sixth goal, when the diving keeper was lobbed, and the ball sped into the far corner, watched in desperation by the defenders returning late.  Two minutes later the opposition were awarded a penalty when their lone forward has his shirt pulled, enabling Trinity to score their seventh goal.  With three minutes of the game remaining Trinity scored their final goal after a lone forward eluded a solitary defender before shooting into the far corner, where the best efforts of another defender were unable to prevent the goal.  In the final minute Stephen Murton, standing by the near post, saved further blushes with a deft header.  As the final whistle was blown the NCC had recorded their heaviest defeat of the season. 

A stunned Michael Wyatt reporting from Newlands

Game 06: League Match: 1 November 2008
North Cheltenham Churches  1 - 7  Cambray

On a cold morning NCC took on second-placed Cambray, who kicked off, playing towards the hills.  The visitors started well and won an early corner, which was sent narrowly wide of the goal.  As the home side attacked Andrew Murton had a chance to score with a chip, but it was not high enough, enabling the Cambray keeper to make an easy save, and then to send the ball up the field.  From this attack Cambray fired in a shot which saw the ball hit the post, before bouncing back into play.  Then Cambray made a series of penetrating attacks, each time they came up they looked likely to score as they rained in shots, which went wide of the goal, or were saved by Tim Rudge, who was made to work exceedingly hard.  Although the NCC had a few attacks of their own it was Cambray who took an early but deserved lead, following another foray.  Initially Tim Rudge pushed the ball behind, for a corner.  This resulted in the opening goal, after twenty minutes.  Both sides produced a ten-minute spell of fast and furious football.  As the half hour period came Cambray gained yet another corner, on their right wing.  As the ball came in it appeared to be covered by Tim Rudge; then, calamitously, he spilled it, and could only watch as a quick and alert forward nipped in to poke the ball home.  Although they were behind the home side was still in the game, and their attacks were awarded two corners, which were both cleared, and some shots going wide of the target.  Nine minutes before half time attack another attack saw them score a wonderful goal when Andrew Murton fired in a thunderous hit from outside the penalty area, and watched it speed into the far left of the net.  Although in the remaining minutes Cambray created more chances to score the Hoops felt they had survived a battling half, and were still hoping to get something from the game. 

The home side attacked from the restart, but were denied.  Then it was the turn of Cambray, and after just sixty two seconds they had increased their lead.  An attack up the right wing saw the ball crossed, and, as it sped past the home keeper, two Cambray forwards were on hand to tune it into the net.  Cambray came on relentlessly, and at times the Hoops had nine men defending a succession of corners and shots towards the goal.  Pausing for breath momentarily allowed the Undertakers to attack, who won a corner, which was successfully cleared by the defenders.  Then came a disastrous twelve minute period, in which the home side conceded four goals.  First a run towards the right hand post saw an aerial shot end in the back of the net, with the home defence wanting.  Tim Rudge made a couple of good saves, to deny the visitors temporarily, but then Cambray fired a ball in from the right, past the advancing keeper, and into an empty net.  Within two minutes another goal as four forwards nipped in among twice that number of defenders, and, as the keeper fumbled, shot the ball between the two players standing by the NCC goal posts; six conceded already.  Cambray had produced some wonderful attacking football, and every time they had the ball it seemed that they would score.  Three minutes later Cambray continued their relentless attacks, and gained a corner, on their right.  Then came a wonderful kick, which saw the ball gain height, parallel and very close to the goal line.  Approaching the near post the speeding ball started to dip.  Before anybody was able to react the ball was nestling in the back of the NCC goal.  Although there was another twenty-five minutes of play left that was the end of the scoring.  Both sides continued to strive for goals, and for the last ten minutes the home side made some penetrating attacks, resulting in shots on goal.  Unfortunately they were denied by some agile, and at one time, fortuitous footwork, from the Cambray keeper.  At full time whistle the NCC team could only reflect on a game in which they were torn apart by a team far superior in many ways. 

A cold and despondent Michael Wyatt reporting from the Stade de Prestbury. 

Game 05: League Match: 18 October 2008:
Diamonds  2 - 1  North Cheltenham Churches

On a sunny morning at Naunton Park, with autumnal leaves falling gently and being blown onto a crisp carpet by the light breeze, North Cheltenham Churches, playing up the slope, kicked off this match against Diamonds.  Both sides started at a cracking pace, with shots going wide of their respective target.  Within five minutes Diamonds mounted another attack, from which they scored with a wonderful aerial shot that thundered into the back of the net, giving Tim Rudge in goal no chance.  Although Tim made another save soon after, to deny Diamonds, play settled into a rhythmic ebbing and flowing throughout the length of the field.  NCC had a chance to score but the Diamonds’ goalkeeper made a diving save near his right hand post to prevent a goal.  The home side had a very solid group of midfield players, but as the game progressed their grip of the centre was slowly loosened, more so in the second half.  The visitors played very well, and were unlucky to see one of their shots pass wide of the far post, with the keeper prone near the other post.  This was repeated two minutes later, but in the following minute he plucked the ball out of the air to keep their advantage intact.  Approaching the half-hour mark the Undertakers had a brief spell in which they dominated play, having at least two shots pass wide of the goal.  Then Diamonds sped up their right wing, and again scored with a cracking volley from outside the penalty area, which disappeared into the bottom corner of the net, despite Tim Rudge getting a touch to the ball.  For the rest of the half the NCC were pressing hard for a goal, but their many efforts were denied by going wide or being saved by the busy home keeper.  At half time it looked as if the visitors were still in the game, despite having conceded a brace. 

As the second period started the Hoops had both the sun and slope in their favour.  They forced two early attacks, one resulting in a corner, which was cleared, and the other saw a shot go wide of the goal.  After eight minutes another NCC attack was mounted down the right wing.  Despite a packed Diamonds’ goal area Andrew Murton, on the edge of the penalty area, was able to guide the ball into the far corner of the net with a delicate touch of his boot, to give the away side great hope of getting level.  Then North Cheltenham began to increase their pressure, and, although they created a succession of attacks, they were unable to get that vital final touch.  One such shot sped across the goalmouth, so near to success.  After some twenty minutes Diamonds made their most threatening attack of that half and their shot passed close to the right hand post, before going behind for a goal kick.  Ian Jones led a dogged NCC attack but on every occasion he was denied by some valiant keeping.  As each side strove for a goal they left their defence rather stretched, causing both keepers to utilise their full area as they prevented a further score.  With a quarter of an hour left an NCC volley passed near to the right hand post, a pity we did not see more of these attempts.  This last period again saw play moving up and down the field, but it was looking increasingly likely that the visitors were having no luck today.  With two minutes left NCC moved up their right wing, and, creating pressure on the home goal area, presented themselves a wonderful chance to score.  As the ball descended across an empty goalmouth the keeper made a desperate lunge to his right, and was able to parry the ball with his fingertips.  Unfortunately for NCC, Ian Jones, running in, was unable to poke the loose ball into the net, and so NCC was denied the draw which they thoroughly deserved.  The final minutes saw NCC pressing hard; great disappointment accompanied the final whistle. 

A despondent Michael Wyatt reporting from Naunton Park

Game 04: League Match: 11 October 2008:
St Matthews  1 - 1  North Cheltenham Churches

On a warm sunny morning North Cheltenham kicked off this match at Prestbury; the teams were playing for the Bayliss Cup, in memory of the hard work Grant Bayliss put in to get the NCC team off the ground.  Both teams started well, chances were created at either end but solid defending, and good goalkeeping, prevented any score.  After fifteen minutes a good long ball found Chris Rudge, who, evading the defenders, calmly lifted the ball over the diving goalkeeper, into the net; NCC had taken the lead.  This goal seemed to instil a spirit of urgency into the home side, who began to attack more frequently, causing Tim Rudge to pull off a series of polished saves.  Several shots went wide of the goal, either passing a post or going over the crossbar, and good defending by the NCC players all helped to deny St Matthews.  Having weathered the storm the Undertakers came back into the game more, and were able to make the opposition defenders work, who denied them a good attack on the half hour mark.  As the break approached Tim Rudge performed two or three brilliant saves, even tipping the ball over the bar, to preserve the NCC’s one-goal advantage. 

Following substitutions the NCC fielded a different side, allowing St Matthews to spend much of the second half camped inside the visitors’ half.  Stubborn defensive work, and full credit to the team’s squad, denied them repeatedly.  The rare NCC attacks allowed their defenders some respite for a few moments.  Just past the hour mark Tim Rudge made a dazzling save when he jumped and knocked out the ball, but the opposition was prevented from capitalising on this.  On another occasion the ball went across the empty goalmouth, with Tim lying on the ground.  With some five minutes of play left the opposition packed the NCC goal area, and it seemed as if only one player was in St Matthews half of the field.  Then, with four minutes remaining, and following one of these crowded attacks, a forward hit a brilliant aerial shot, which flew over the crowded pack of players before ending in the far corner of the net, past the frantic lunge of an desperate defender.  It was the equalising goal, no more than St Matthews deserved.  On balance a draw was a fair result as neither side deserved to lose, although NCC could consider themselves fortunate, but brilliant goalkeeping and redoubtable defending were the key to them gaining their first ever point from St Matthews. 

Following the draw there was a penalty shoot-out to decide the holders of the Bayliss Cup.  As the home keeper saved the twelfth kick it was St Matthews who won the penalty shoot-out, by 6-5. 

A much relieved and happy Michael Wyatt reporting from the Stade de Prestbury. 


Game 03: League Match: 27 September 2008:
North Cheltenham Churches 4 - 2 Tewkesbury

On a misty morning the visitors kicked off this match, a game each side was hoping would give them their first points of the season.  The home side attacked at once, and were awarded a corner.  As Lee Bradley cleverly floated a high ball across the goal it was met by Martin Eccles, who headed it past the keeper and three defenders, into the back of the net; a dream start for the NCC.  Almost immediately NCC had another corner, which the keeper managed to punch clear.  The home side was playing some of its best football, and were dominating.  Despite this the visitors came into the game more, and managed some attacks of their own, which were well kept out by the Hoops defence, beginning to operate in tandem.  Then, on the quarter an hour mark, NCC had a free kick.  Taken by Lee Bradley this was successfully met by Ian Jones, who headed past three defenders and out of reach of the diving keeper, to score in the far corner.  Shortly after this prolific scorer (four goals in three games) went off with a hamstring injury.  Approaching the half hour Tewkesbury had a rare attack in which a solitary Tiger skilfully dribbled the ball past the home defence before lifting it over Tim Rudge, to pull a goal back.  Either side of this goal Tim Rudge pulled off two magnificent jumping saves, to deny the Tigers.  Both sides continued to attack, but the resolute NCC defenders held firm.  With just over ten minutes before half time the hosts mounted another attack, up their centre.  Although the Tigers packed their goal area their defence was unable to prevent Martin Eccles from turning, and firing into the bottom corner of the net, his second goal of the match, to restore the two-goal lead.  For the remainder of the half excitement mounted as the game moved from end to end.  Only determined work from both keepers kept their opposition out.  From a well-taken corner the Tigers came close to scoring, but a dextrous Tim Rudge was able to punch the ball clear of the attacking pack.  As the half time whistle went the NCC team thoroughly deserved their lead. 

From the start of the second half each team made promising runs in its quest to score.  Approaching the hour mark NCC attacked yet again, and Andy Macauly sent in a powerful shot, which the keeper put behind, for a corner.  As Lee Bradley sent in another high ball it was met by James Walters, who headed past a pack of defenders, between the stranded keeper and a solitary defender on the far post, to score his first-ever goal for the team; well done James.  For the rest of the game NCC sat back, and defended their lead.  This allowed the opposition to attack far more, forcing a greater work load on both keeper and defenders, who stood the challenge very well.  Despite this the home side made some penetrating attacks.  The Tigers were creating chances, without any reward, and were starting to show their frustration with one another.  This was allayed when, with less than ten minutes left, the Tigers mounted a prolonged attack, winning a series of throws-on.  Then a forward let off a tremendous volley, which rocketed passed the home defence, and keeper, to finish up in the top corner of the net.  A superbly struck goal, but too late to deny the NCC their first win, as they held out for the rest of the match, success which gives them confidence to face St Matthews in their next match, a team they have never beaten. 

A delighted Michael Wyatt reporting from the Stade de Prestbury

Game 02: League Match: 20 September 2008:
North Cheltenham Churches 2 - 7 Kendal Road

It was a beautiful sunny autumnal morning at Prestbury as North Cheltenham kicked off against Kendall Road, a new team in the competition.  The away side started with great confidence, and within the opening minutes won on a free kick, just outside the penalty area.  The kick was driven in low and Tom Parker, reaching to his right, was unable to gather the ball cleanly, and could only watch it bounce into the back of the net.  From the restart NCC attacked down the right wing, and a cross found Ian Jones, who fired a low shot into the bottom corner of the net, just 42 seconds later.  Although both sides kept attacking it was the teenagers of Kendal Road who dominated play, with a succession of forages in which they demonstrated the use of space and speed, exemplified with superb ball skills.  On seventeen minutes an attacker was able to shoot the ball into the bottom corner of the net, passed the advancing NCC keeper, to restore their lead.  Soon after NCC, already missing some key players, lost their goal scorer, who hobbled off with a hamstring injury.  Although the Hoops had several attacks of their own it was the youngsters who were encamped in NCC’s half, where they had several shots narrowly missing the target.  The home defence was becoming very ragged as their opponents sped up both wings, almost at will.  The NCC could consider themselves very fortunate not to have been further behind at half-time, but Kendal Road were to make amends later. 

From the start of the second half the visiting team went into overdrive, and attacked relentlessly, catching the home defence static on many occasions.  After five minutes a Kendal attacker was allowed time and space to dribble around Tom Parker, and so score a third goal, with several of his colleagues backing up.  Then followed a frenetic five minutes; at once Tom had to rush out to clear the ball from a couple of attackers, who had eluded the home defence yet again.  Shortly after Andy Murton, having eluded their proficient defence, was unfortunate not to profit from this rare chance of scoring; two minutes later another chance sped past an empty goalmouth.  Kendal attacked again, and Martin Eccles, endeavouring to clear the ball, could only watch in horror as it lobbed into the far corner of the net, for an own goal.  A shame, for he tried continuously throughout the game.  From the restart the NCC began to play better, and spent most of the next minutes on the attack.  The youngsters, confident of victory, were now forced to defend, as the NCC tried to find a way back into this game.  In a ten minute spell the visiting keeper made several good saves, with apparent ease and confidence.  Approaching the final quarter, which was to be packed with more goals, the visitors again attacked up their left wing.  They outpaced the NCC defence before firing a shot between the keeper and two defenders.  In the following minute a shot went over the bar, and in the next minute the NCC only partially cleared the ball, allowing another attacker, cleverly following up, to score with a low shot through the NCC’s defence.  The visitors were becoming very self-assured, almost cocky of their superiority, but they were brought down to earth, momentarily, when they gave away a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area.  Andrew Murton hit the resulting kick low into the corner of the net, to score.  Mark Broekman, playing in his first match, had a good game, and was unfortunate not to score soon after, as he was unable to latch onto the ball, when given lots of room.  The NCC again spent much of the next five minutes on the attack, without success.  Then, with the end of the match looming, the younger side made another attack, with a repetition of the skills with which they had dominated the game.  The resulting corner produced more chaos in the NCC goal area, allowing two attackers to better seven defenders, producing goal number seven.  As the final whistle went the North Cheltenham team looked jaded and shocked with the result, although I felt James Radburn had one of his best games.  This was the NCC heaviest league defeat since their first season. 

A saddened Michael Wyatt reporting from Prestbury Playing Fields


Game 01: League Match: 13 September 2008 :
North Cheltenham Churches 3 - 5 Ecclesiastical

After a long summer the NCC football team began the new season at home to the league champions, Ecclesiastical.  Due to the incessant rains the Stade de Prestbury was unavailable, and the venue was switched to Newlands.  On a morning graced with the appearance of the sun, although for much of the game it was cloudy, the NCC kicked off, played up the slope, and spent much of the early minutes on the attack.  They forced an early corner and made several attacks, which were denied by the red team, who defended in strength.  Ecclesiastical had several attacks of their own, as play moved from one end of the field to the other.  After ten minutes they scored, following a run down their right wing and poor NCC defending, when the cross was not cleared, allowing a prone forward to guide the ball into the corner of the net.  From the next fifteen minutes the away side dominated play, and, although they created many chances they were denied by good goal-keeping and woeful finishing.  Then Ecclesiastical scored again, following another run down the right wing.  Wonderfully, in less than half a minute, the NCC had pulled a goal back, after a cross from Martin Eccles enabled Paul Bennett to slide the ball into the far corner of the net, for a well-taken chance.  However, Ecclesiastical continued to dominate play, with a series of penetrating attacks, including a couple of near misses.  Not to be outdone the NCC mounted attacks, but were denied by a packed defence, which included most of the team.  Just before half time Andrew Murton had a good chance to equalise, but unfortunately the ball just passed the wrong side of the post.  As the halftime whistle went the home side was disappointed that they were not level. 

As the second half started Ecclesiastical was awarded a free kick, which was well saved low down by Tim Rudge.  They almost scored again but the ball was saved at the near post.  Although the opposition created more, both sides made chances, and one, from the NCC, was well saved by the opposition keeper who came out to gather the ball.  On the hour Ecclesiastical attacked up their right wing and fired the ball passed Tim Rudge, to register their third goal.  They continued to attack for a sustained period, but were denied by some well-taken saves from the goalkeeper, and improved defending.  With about fifteen minutes to go Ecclesiastical scored their fourth goal, when the ball crept past the outstretched legs of the NCC keeper.  However, showing a positive outlook for the future, NCC then dominated play with a series of attacks.  Within two minutes they had scored, when Ian Jones dribbled the ball passed two defenders, before shooting into the bottom corner of the net, away from the advancing keeper.  Soon after the Undertakers, continuing to attack, had a great chance, but were denied by the valiant effort of the keeper, who made a brave save from the feet of Andrew Murton.  Almost immediately Ecclesiastical had a shot, which just went wide of the upright.  Now Ecclesiastical continued to attack, with renewed vigour, and soon were awarded a penalty, for an alleged foul.  The resulting score, their final goal, with about ten minutes to go, was a devastating blow against the NCC. 

Even though Ecclesiastical still piled on the pressure, and brought some good saves from Tim Rudge, it was the home side who scored again.  With four minutes to go Ian Jones, positioned just inside the goal area, received a cross, and, swivelling with great dexterity, placed the ball into the corner of the net, to register his second goal of the game.  During the closing minutes the home side was able to withstand a final onslaught from Ecclesiastical.  Even though the NCC was well beaten, with a somewhat flattering score line, there was hope for future games.  It was obvious that this was the first game of the season, but well played, especially Tim Rudge, in goal, and Ian Jones, our new find.  We look forward to the next match!

A disappointed Michael Wyatt reporting from Newlands. 


Match reports from 2007-08 season

NCC win Cotswold Churches League 9-a-side Plate, 14 July 2007

Match reports from 2006-07 season

Match reports from 2005-06 season

Our Football Team (and Cricket Team)

From humble beginnings under the care of Fr Grant and Andy Macauly the Prestbury football team had its first game in December 2005 and now, officially registered with the FA as North Cheltenham Churches, plays in the Cotswolds Churches League

Results – you can follow the results from across the league and cup competitions at the FA website (impressive or what!). 

Good luck and come on the Undertakers!


New players are always welcome

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