The ‘Lost in…’ 2015/16 Awards

I’ve witnessed an awful lot of football this season and an awful lot of that awful lot has been awful. Some really dire stuff at times. Part of what makes football so incredibly alluring is the fact that you turn up at any game, at any level, with no idea of what the hell is going to happen. Sadly, for my groundhopping football adventures and the sometimes scattergun approach I have to choosing fixtures, much of my football entertainment this season has fallen on the side of…well, not being too entertaining at all at times. But whilst at every one of those poor games amongst the 101 games I attended this season, I always thought of a line from Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch: “Complaining about boring football is a little like complaining about the sad ending of King Lear: it misses the point somehow.” Also, I can ultimately endure some of the tedium purely because I absolutely love football. For someone who watches so much football, I feel sometimes I don’t get across in the blogs how much I madly love the game itself – so I thought I’d throw it in here. Boring games or not, I still absolutely adore the sport of football.

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Game 1 of the season back at Buxton in July…

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…to game 101 – Soccer Aid at Old Trafford.

You may have noticed that while the chief purpose of Lost Boyos may be football, it is certainly not the be all and end all of it. Those little weird and wacky side stories that ride alongside my matchday experiences are still very much present: adulterous propositions from a middle-aged man in Bradford; witnessing a naked clubber being incredulous to why he was getting thrown out of a club in Grimsby; and a drunken Gibbo wearing a duck-covered shower curtain for the duration of our afternoon in a remote Yorkshire village – just three of the strange incidents that come to mind from this past season ‘on the road’. There were a lot, lot more – some that couldn’t be chronicled. So you can expect the usual potpourri of on-the-pitch and off-the-pitch awards in this celebration of my 2015/16 here.

On the pitch…

Game of the Season

3. Everton 1 – 2 Swansea City  (Premier League – 24th January 2016)

This number 3 did originally read as ‘Brodsworth Welfare 4-3 Retford Town’, before days into writing this blog I changed my mind. Football is undoubtedly about entertainment, but it is at its finest when it stirs emotions too. Swansea’s first game under newly-appointed Francesco Guidolin certainly was an emotional rollercoaster. At the turn of the year, Swansea were a sinking ship – no doubt about it. We had to take on a club we had only beaten once in our history (and that win was in a half-hearted League Cup game 18 months earlier) and who we had never beaten in the league, home or away: Everton. Cue an Andre Ayew masterclass at Goodison Park to get us up 2-1 at half-time. The second half saw Swansea get hammered, but under the guidance of Guidolin we battled superbly and stumbled over the line; even though Everton’s Seamus Coleman missed an absolute sitter with the last kick of the game. Craig was with me as an adopted Jack Bastard that day and I had no idea that he was filming me in the last minute, as I was so utterly consumed by the game and praying for the Swans to hold out for a vital 3 points. However, I’m glad he filmed me as I feel that the 2 minutes of footage he shot of me at the end of the game encapsulates football fandom perfectly: nerve-shredding to euphoria. I may not see Swansea as much as I’d like to these days, but this game was brilliant and one of the biggest sighs of relief of the season. Swansea City are still the love of my life and this shows it.

 

2. West Didsbury & Chorlton 4 – 3 Congleton Town (NWCFL Premier Division – 28th November 2015)

On this particular November weekend, the north of England was a complete washout and practically all football across Lancashire, Yorkshire and Staffordshire seemed to have been wiped out. I had friends from Wales staying with me that weekend and I promised to take them to some proper non-league football. Fortunately West Didsbury & Chorlton’s  Brookburn Road ground had somehow survived the washout. To trendy Chorlton we headed and witnessed a humdinger of a game with full-blooded tackles, quality goals and the usual unpredictability brought with wet weather. A NWCFL classic.

1. AFC Emley 3 – 4 Congleton Town (FA Vase – 2nd October 2015)

It seems that Congleton games were the place to be this season with the NWCFL club featuring once again in a 4-3 thriller in my top 3 games – this time at top spot. This was by quite some distance the best game of football I watched all season and one of my all-time favourites since the blog began. A superb advert for the FA Vase. AFC Emley propelled themselves into a 3-1 lead against opposition from the level above them. The third goal was of such genius (and will feature elsewhere in these awards) that it prompted the Emley manager to perform a Mourinho-esque sprint down the touchline. Then, we were left to enjoy one of the most end-to-end games I’ve seen with Congleton pulling themselves back into the game to make it 3-3, before scoring a winner in injury time to take them through to the next round of the Vase. It was one of those games you just couldn’t take your eyes off. An incredible game of football.

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Our view from the stand of my game of season: AFC Emley v Congleton Town.

The Boyo d’Or (Best Player Performance of the Season)

3. Róbert JežSpartak Trnava 2 – 0 Senica (Fortuna Liga – 9th April 2016)

This was my first experience of Slovakian football and fair to say I had a good go at slaughtering the standard of football over there in my blog about my trip. But I definitely didn’t slaughter my beloved Róbert Jež. Definitely not. The seasoned Slovak midfielder ran the show as Spartak beat Senica 2 -0. With Spartak looking likely to be my future ‘Slovak team’ when I move there next year, it looks like I may have found myself a favourite player. I hope he’s still there when I go over anyway.

2. Adam Boyes – Guiseley 3 – 1 Wrexham (Conference Premier – 12th April 2016)

Probably the most all-action striker performance I saw all season. Guiseley remained in the Conference by the skin of their teeth this season and undoubtedly this 3-1 win over Wrexham proved vital. In the most barnstorming first 25 minutes of football I’ve seen in a long while, Guiseley were 3-0 up and with a lot of that lead down to the hardwork of Boyes. With two goals to his name – one of them superb  – and with his relentless running for the whole 90, the only thing that let Boyes down was that he really should have scored a hatrick.

1. Gareth ‘The Llanwern Number 10’ Delve – Llanwern 3 – 1 Ynsyddu Welfare (Preseason Friendly – 30th July 2015)

And so following in the footsteps of previous Boyo d’Or winner Leo Messi (cheers to Ben Robinson for that puntastic award title by the way) is another superstar: Gareth Delve of Welsh League Division Two club Llanwern. A genius. Step aside Leo.

When me, Gibbo and My Year In The Welsh League’s Nicky Roberts watched this wizard play at Ystrad Mynach, we were spellbound. Putting into words how magical he was that day proved an arduous task in the blog, but I did say there and then that this award was sewn up on that Thursday evening back in July. I proclaimed ‘Llanwern’s number 10 IS football’ – and I stick to that. I was even fanboying later that evening when he began tweeting us. We still constantly talk about how much fun we had watching him play. Magical.

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Man. Myth. Legend. Gareth ‘The Llanwern number 10′ Delve – a footballing magician and current Boyo’ d’Or holder.

Best Young Player

There’s been a lot of unknown names mentioned in these blogs over the years, who’ve gone on to make names for themselves, but, to be honest, I struggled to come up with a Top 3 this season. One player definitely caught my eye though and I have no doubt will be a star somewhere…

Patrick Roberts – England U19 v Japan U19 (International Friendly – 15th November 2015)

Poor decision-making, he gave the ball away constantly and he was generally infuriating for his team mates. Not exactly a glowing review of a footballer. However, quite easily one of the best players I saw with a football at his feet this season was Patrick Roberts. Comparisons to Leo Messi have been thrown about (sometimes by Roberts himself I should add) and there is definitely a mimicking of the Argentine in Roberts’ game. With ridiculous control, silky dribbling and a bag of trickery at his disposal, I have no doubt that he will go onto be a superstar somewhere, if not at Manchester City if they give him a chance (they did spend £11m on him after all). It was worth heading over to the Academy Stadium this season just to watch this talent for Manchester City EDS (or England u19s in this particular case).

Goal of the Season

This is definitely my favourite award! Not a lot to choose from this season to be honest, but the Top 3 were all beauties.

3.Bafetimbi Gomis – Swansea City v Newcastle United (Premier League – 15th August 2015)

Anyone who knows me will know that I’m not exactly Gomis’ biggest fan (that’s putting it very lightly), but back in the nascent days of the second weekend of the Premier League season, he rounded off a fine passing move to send Swansea on their way to a 2-0 win over Newcastle. It was a classic Swansea goal too (these were the days when pundits were still loving us and before our season turned to shit). A 21 pass move, starting with keeper Fabianski, eventually found its way to Man of the Match Jonjo Shelvey, who threaded a peach of a through ball to Gomis to take around Tim Krul and finish. The video below doesn’t do justice to the whole majestic move.

 

2. Sam Madeley – FC United v Curzon Ashton (Conference North – 31st August 2015)

Curzon Ashton’s Matty Warburton had just scored in the 85th minute to put Curzon 3-1 up at FC United’s new home and it looked like game over. That was until Sam Madeley happened. Madeley was my favourite player at my local club Salford City, before he moved to FCUM, so I was delighted to see him score one of the most well executed volleys you’ll ever see. As the clock ticked towards 90, Madeley connected with this piledriver to make it 3-2, which inspired FCUM to go on to make it 3-3 a minute later. I breathed a sigh of relief too, as I had ditched my Curzon pals to go in the FC United home end. A superb volley which I assumed would be the best goal I’d see all season.

1. Ashley Flynn – AFC Emley v Congleton Town (FA Vase – 3rd October 2015)

It was going to take something special to top Madeley’s volley and Swansea’s team goal – well, this goal was a mix of both: a beautiful passing move combined with audacious skill at the end. You may have noticed that this featured in my ‘Game of the Season’ too.

Emley had just taken the lead and found themselves 2-1 up against higher league Congleton. Time for cool heads? Not quite. Straight from Congleton’s restart, they retrieved the ball and morphed into Barcelona, as they began passing around Congleton for fun. After a stint of metronomic passing, a delightful pass was played through to send striker Ashley Flynn in on goal. Flynn eventually finished the season with an astronomical 73 goals to his name and he was to show his class here. Instead of challenging the goalie in a one-on-one, Flynn couldn’t be arsed and instead opted to lob the keeper from 25 yards. His scooped shot drifted beautifully over the keeper’s head and in, which was the cue for Emley’s manager to burst down the line in spontaneous and uncontrollable joy. It was just a shame that the goal didn’t help the team win in the end. My favourite of the season.

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Emley’s manager celebrates the best goal of the season with a sprint down the line to join his players.

The Cosmin Matei Hipster of the Season Award

If you don’t know who Cosmin Matei is then you need to go back to my Leigh blog from the summer of 2013 and read about the day the Romanian attacker became a sort of Lost Boyos demi-god; so much so that I created an award to his honour his ‘hipness’. Define ‘hipness’? Well, I’m not sure I can in footballing terms, but I guess the criteria we use generally consists of 1) being a cultured footballer 2) usually foreign (the more obscure the nationality, the better) 3) not a big-name player. Simple. So who was ‘hip’ last year…

3. Róbert JežSpartak Trnava

Well, he did come 3rd in the Boyo d’Or, so it would be a travesty if he didn’t feature here too. Plus, he’s just a cool, stylish footballer. Definitely deserves his place on the hipster podium.

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Watching Jez in Trnava.

2. Daphne Corboz – Manchester City Ladies

A player now dubbed by Lost Boyos regular Craig as ‘Hipsterella’, becomes the first woman to win an award on these blogs and the second America to feature in Hipster of the Year category, after New York City’s Tony Taylor claimed the prize last year.Corboz is just a cool and stylish playmaker in the mould of an old-school number 10. Extra hipster points for ditching her studying of medicine to move to Manchester to become a footballer.

1. Julio Arca – South Shields

Probably the biggest ‘name’ to claim the prize so far, but he is no doubt deserving of it. Arca made his name as a classy midfielder for the likes of Sunderland and Middlesbrough in the Premier League and he definitely fell into the category of ‘hipster’ in the pomp of his career; he did also captain the Argentinian u20 team that won the U20 World Cup in 2001 to gain further hipster points. However, his hipster rating now soars through the roof as instead of calling it a day on his football career, he opts to ply his trade in the second tier of the Northern League in the north-east of England (10th tier). Arca has been instrumental this past season in leading South Shields to the title and promotion to Division One with his astute generalling of the midfield, as well as scoring 12 goals. Me and Gibbo had the pleasure of watching him run the show and score a penalty at Ryton & Crawcrook back in April and he was a joy to behold. Hip.

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It’s at grounds like this at Ryton & Crawcrook you’ll find ‘hipster’ Julio Arca playing these days.

Matt Harrold Hero of the Year

After Crawley striker Matt Harrold’s heroics in goals for an hour during Crawley’s 2-2 draw with MK Dons, he became the inaugural winner of this award last season named in his honour. The first winner not to be Matt Harrold is…

Chris Swailes – Morpeth Town

He’s survived 4 heart operations, retired twice and then went on to create Wembley history in front of us at the tender of age of 45. Yes, Chris Swailes is a hero after he became the oldest goalscorer in a Wembley final, as he netted the equaliser for Morpeth Town against Hereford in the FA Vase. Under his captaincy, Morpeth would go on to win the final 4-1 with Swailes earning himself Man of the Match too. What a hero.

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Dan Swailes scores for Morpeth in front of 20,000 Hereford fans at Wembley.

Favourite Ground of the Season

I suppose as a groundhopping blog this should be the most important award. As always there were plenty to choose from this year, but here are my Top 3 (which I’ll change my mind about countless times and then regret my choices or ordering once published – like I did last year).

3. Grimsby Town – Blundell Park (Visit for: Grimsby Town 0 – 1 Cheltenham Town – Conference Premier – 30th October 2015)

I’d wanted to visit Blundell Park for ages and it definitely lived up to what I expected. The ground is wonderfully ramshackle, yet somehow maintains a touch of grandeur; I think it must have been the magnificent floodlights that loomed overhead. The place looked beautiful on this Friday night lit up by those sexy floodlights and it made up for the rather bland game of football we witnessed there. Oh, and I bought a £10 inflatable Harry the Haddock here so what more could you want from a ground?

2. Merthyr Town – Penydarren Park (Visit for: Merthyr Town 0 – 1 Cirencester Town – Southern Premier Division – 26th December 2015)

“Merthyr is probably one of the best grounds in non-league – you should come visit it some time,” is a line I regularly spout off to my footballing pals. It’s true though: Penydarren Park is amazing. Incidentally, I was born and bred in Merthyr Tydfil, so maybe some bias lurks in my statement. I sometimes have to remind myself of its magnificence by visiting every so often. Yes, it does have a plastic pitch these days, but the rest of the place is still magnificently old school: from the large terracing to the ramshackle main stand. I just love the place and I kick myself every time I visit that I didn’t take more advantage of the place, whilst I was growing up less than 10 miles away down the valley. This is my much overdue homage to the old beauty.

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Beautiful Penydarren Park on Boxing Day…

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…it’s nice to enjoy home comforts sometimes.

1. Karlsruhe SC – Wildparkstadion (Visit for: Karlsruhe SC v MSV Duisburg- 2. Bundesliga – 22nd August 2015)

As I wrote in my blog on Wildparkstadion, it was love at first sight when I first spied Karlsruhe emerging through the trees of Schlossgarten. It has easily been my favourite of the season since. On this blazing hot day down in south-west Germany, the whole place just seemed perfect. Imperious floodlights surging into sky, a mix of old and open terracing and a fanzone circling the whole ground. I could even ignore the fact that the stands were a bit of a distance away from the action. The ground was just perfect for me and I’m sad to hear that Karlsruhe are likely to be moving into a newer, more modern home in the very near future. Visit while you can.

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Wildparkstadion’s floodlights erupt through the woodland.

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Beautiful, retro ground.

In the Stands

Favourite Chant of the Season

DISCLAIMER #1: I did participate in a ‘Will Grigg’s on fire…’ chant with Wigan fans a few weeks and, yes the chant is great fun, but I’m not going to air it here and instead opt for others.

DISCLAIMER #2: obviously the ‘Littlehampton Town Anthem’ penned by me and Craig is the greatest chant of the season (video here) , but for the sake of modesty I’ll omit that too.

3. *Drums rhythmically bang* “FISH!” – Grimsby Town fans.

Simple yet effective. Grimsby fans loving celebrating their maritime roots with chants such as ‘ We only sing when we’re fishing’, but I love the simplicity of just shouting ‘FISH’ to an almost tribal beat.

2. “GUY FAAAAWWWWWKKKKKESSSS! WHAT A WANKER! WHAT A WANKER!” – Notts County fans at Salford City.

Salford City can be found about 10-15 minutes walk from my front doorstep, but for ticketing reasons, and thanks to my friendship to people high up at Notts County, I ended up in the County end for Salford’s huge televised FA Cup clash against league opposition the night after Bonfire Night. What I didn’t expect to happen that night was to almost be smashed with a firework. Yep, as the first half came to a close, an object was thrown from the adjacent street and towards the away end with it landing just off the touchline. Everyone looked around at each other querying what the object was, before the shrieking noise and sparks shooting out of the back of it indicated to us that this was very much a firework. Everyone dived for cover, just like you see in OTT action films, before the firework struck the pitchside fencing (fortunately) with the only damage sustained being to a Notts County flag, which caught light for a matter of seconds. The two contrasting sides of football fans were shown here after this incident: one side made a break for the exit to go batter the firework antagonist (who had obviously done a runner) whilst the other side showed the more humorous nature of football fandom by chanting the above chant, dubbing this country’s most infamous treasoner a ‘wanker’. Funny.

1. ‘Aitor La Bamba’ – Middlesbrough fans

So to the tune of La Bamba, everyone:

“Danny Danny Danny Ayala! Diego Fabbrini, Thomas Mejias, Kike Garcia, Aitor Karanka….Aitor Karanka!”(Repeat)

For weeks after visiting Boro this song was stuck in my head, yet I have to say I absolutely love it. I know other clubs perform their own version of this (Stoke sing a Marc Muniesa version for example), but this was the one that most enchanted me on my travels this season. I was actually relieved that Aitor Karanka didn’t leave Boro, after his one week exile mid-season, purely for this chant to stay alive (although then Diego Fabbrini jumped ship to break up the song’s protagonists).

Best Fans

3. AS Trencin fans

After my visit to Spartak Trnava on the Saturday, Sunday saw me head off on a rather more spontaneous outing to the home of Slovak league champions, AS Trencin. The ground was great (some more on that to come later), the town was lovely and the game was enjoyable. My abiding memory of the place will be the fans though. Hardly anyone spoke English, but everyone I met made efforts to make me feel welcome – even if it was largely through hand gestures and providing me with home-made borovička. Unlike the largely right-wing stance of the majority of Slovak football fans, Trencin are ardent left-wingers and very proud of it. For such a small number, they made quite a bit of noise too, as well as creating confetti out of the free programmes on offer. Fun times.

2. Bromley fans

One of my biggest disappointments this season has been that I never got around to joining Bromley fans for more games, as they enjoyed their first foray into the Conference Premier. At Taffs Well FC last summer I met Bromley fan, Stu, a groundhopper and friend of my brother from his time in South Korea. So when I agreed months later to attend Macclesfield v Bromley, I got in touch with Stu and opted to become a Bromley fan for the day. Fair to say, I was made so, so welcome amongst their ranks and their friendliness was matched by their sense of fun too. Several prematch beers were enjoyed in their company and, despite Bromley sinking to defeat to Macclesfield, lots of fun was had in the stand. Even as I began leaving Moss Rose, the away fans were still chanting away and bouncing around like loons. It was all just great fun.

1. Atherton Collieries fans

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Colls fans at Brighouse.

I still feel that I don’t champion Atherton Colls enough in my blogs – so here we go: I love the Colls fans. Since I was introduced to this wonderful club years ago through my groundhopping compadre Gibbo, I’ve spent many happy times with them. Part of the reason I love visiting Colls so much is because of the wonderful and wacky cast of fans that rock up at Alder Street to watch them.Their home following has improved so much since I first visited back in 2012, but it’s on their away outings where I have had the most fun with them; the trip to Brighouse was definitely one of the season highlights and the chants of “WE’VE ALL BEEN TO BRIGHOUSE!” will live long in the memory. Plus, they know how to light up their ground too – which brings me nicely onto a new award for this season…

Best Alternative Pyro of the Season

Rockets in Atherton (DISCLAIMER: at the time of this pyro – I was attending the Flat Cap Derby at Atherton Collieries – it was definitely set off from just outside the Atherton Colls’ ground. This pyro was definitely not endorsed by Atherton Collieries Football Club and they should accept no responsibility for it).

If I had a quote of the season award (I almost did), the phrase “I got them from a man in Denton,” would win. The big mystery at first was what was the ‘them’ that one can get off a man in Denton in East Manchester? As this gentleman (he’ll remain unnamed) reached into his bag to reveal his purchase, my mind was racing with what he was going to pull out. I’m not sure I expected him to pull out a form of military rocket. These were rockets usually reserved for warzones to light up battlefields, but here they were on a table in an Athertonian pub; soon they were to light up the whole Wigan/Bolton area. After about 20 minutes of the Flat Cap Derby, the first of these rockets soared screaming into the night sky from behind Alder Street without exploding and probably crashing somewhere in the Hindley area; the second one though sent the whole ground silent as it exploded and lit up the sky above us. And apparently the fella had only gone to East Manchester that afternoon to get some flares to set off. This was far more fun though. “It’s like Colls-atasary!” claimed one of our party.

Best Food of the Season

3. Fat Annie’s Hot Dog (The Classic) – at FC United. Doused in chilli sauce. 

On visiting FC United’s new home for the first time, everyone I met was raving about the hot dog stand there. I’m partial to a sausage, but somehow I never got around to sampling one on that first visit. Not to worry, a second visit to Broadhurst Park a month later sorted that out and I have to say it lived up to the hype. With my Slovakia move fast approaching, I’m well aware I’m going to have to get used to sausage (or klobasa) at football over my usual pie choice. If they’re as good as this I’ll be very happy with that.

2. Minced meat, carrot and turnip pastry-less pie at Emley (more Emley love!)

A pie should never be pastry-less in my eyes – at least that’s what I thought until I went to Emley. This effort was incredible. Homemade by the lovely lady in the food hut, I was presented with a tray of mashed up carrot, turnip and mince – and it was superb.

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The Emley catering lady is happy with her effort.

1. Meat and potato pie at Brodsworth Welfare

Brodsworth Welfare pies are definitely number one for food of the season; not bad for a club we hadn’t planned on visiting at all. The game we witnessed there was great, but the highlight of the day had to be the pie. Perfection. Homemade pastry, beautiful thick beef chunks and glorious gravy in a hefty portion too.

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Best food of the season.

Best Floodlight Porn

AS Trencin – Štadión na Sihoti

The picture tells the whole story here. Just look at theose floodlights! Sexy.

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Sexy floodlights.

Strangest Ground Feature

Driving Range at Fulwood Amateurs

Probably the sole reason we headed to Fulwood Amateurs was to say we had watched football in a ground that contains a driving range. Fortunately, no golfers were present on our visit and we did not witness a brutal football/driving range combo.

Best Goal Music

 The Real Thing – Can You Feel The Force? (at Shaw Lane Aquaforce)

There is no place in football for goal music and it should be wiped from the face of the Easrth…unless you happened to be called Shaw Lane Aquaforce and you have the wit to play Can You Feel the Force? every time you score. Shaw Lane Aquaforce had been one of the most anticipated grounds visits in Lost Boyos history – purely for the club’s name – and for it’s amusing goal music alone, it lived up to our build up. Just brilliant.

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Me and Craig had a lot of love for Shaw Lane Aquaforce’s goal music (and their ridiculously cheap scarves).

Ray Mears Survival Award

Surviving the blizzard at Garforth.

The most tortuous 15-20 minutes of weather I’ve ever experienced at football. Lest we forget…

Best Memento

Harry the Haddock

He’s become a good friend to me this year since joining the Lost Boyos gang in Grimsby back in October…yes, I know he’s an inflatable haddock, but he’s lovable one. Plus, he’s always there waiting for me when I get home from work too. He fitted in one last adventure with us as he accompanied us for my whole birthday weekend, as he attended the FA Vase and Trophy Finals to watch his beloved Grimsby Town. A dependable soul is Harry.

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Harry is just one of the lads really.

The ‘Never again…’ award

Kidsgrove

I have no problem with the football club Kidsgrove Athletic, aside from the fact that they reside in the town of Kidsgrove. I won’t be going back to that dive. Never again…

Thumbs Up Photo of the Season

Firstly, a big shout out to Notts County fan Aston who was so drunk at Salford City v Notts County that I thought he may die mid-thumbs up…

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Respect to Notts County fan Aston for being the only person ever to struggle to actually raise his thumbs and stand at the same time. Incredible levels of drunkennness.

But the real winner is…

Crawley fans at Orient pub

Having seen the Curzon Ashton winning photo from last season, Crawley fans decided they wanted to better it; so just yards down the road from Leyton Orient’s Brisbane Road before Crawley were due to take on the Orient, a mass Crawley fan sweep up was underway to get as many of their fans in the photo as possible. Here’s the result below. Beautiful.

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Great thumbs up effort from the Crawley faithful.

And in the pubs…

Best Pub of the Season

3. Miners Arms – Moston

They’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve always got on very well with FC United fans. I was kindly invited along to the club’s new local in Moston by FCUM fan Martin and his mates and it proved an exceptional hub for the fan-owned club. And much love to Martin and the gang for looking after me so well (that means paying for most of my beer and skipping the queue to get it, as Martin knew the owner). It’s a proper old school social club set up with food served in the front cafe area, a main room with a stage for bands and a back room with a piano and even a banjo. Plus, if you’re lucky, you may even get to visit the secret cinema hidden within (seriously). The pub’s made all the better by the fact it’s less than 5 minute walk to Broadhurst Park, so no need to rush the beers.

2. Čajka – Trnava

The future local and headquarters of my Lost Boyos adventures, Čajka became my homebase during my week in Slovakia. Friendly and welcoming staff (who usefully spoke good English), good range of very, very cheap beers and the most beautiful pizzas served quickly and also very cheaply. Plus, it was here I was introduced to the Slovak love affair with borovička.

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My future drinking hole in Trnava.

1. Piccadilly Tap –Manchester

How could this not win? My home away from my Mancunian home. Pretty much every Lost Boyos outing finished up here with an ale. Me and Gibbo began our love-in with this place at the end of last season, shortly after it was opened, but this season it has blossomed into a marriage of sorts. I still can’t quite believe that the place has only been in my life for just over 12 months. There’s nothing frilly to the place – just good beer and a good place to drink it, conveniently parked next door to Piccadilly station. Given the nickname ‘Lost Boyos HQ2’ for the season.

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I finally convinced the Jack Army to visit the Tap before Manchester City v Swansea.

Bonus Best Wetherspoons

Picture House – Stafford

The visiting Wetherspoons thing started as a bit of a running joke, but soon morphed into a runaway juggernaut of its own, so much so I felt this season deserved a ‘Spoons of the Year’ award. Yes, all Spoons are generally the same, but there are some gems to be found and when you find ones like this one in Stafford, the whole ‘Spoons-hopping’ proves worth it. My favourite of the season and a great way to start my day out in Stafford.

Best Beer

Punk IPA

I hailed Siren brewery’s seaweed-flavoured ‘Blue Sky Blue Sea’ as the greatest beer ever when I discovered it in Brewtique in Macclesfield. However, I’m going to be boring with ‘beer of the season’. Punk IPA has been my liquid companion from the summer months of preseason right through to the end and it has not let me down once. It made its Lost Boyos debut when me and my brother ended up sinking a few pints of it before visiting Worthing United, but it’s been virtually ever-present on the road since (those who follow my ‘lostboyo’ Snapchat will definitely understand my fondness for it more). Singing ‘PUNK EVERY WEEKEND’ has become a sort of half-arsed mantra for the season.

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This stuff has been the fuel of my travels this season.

And finally, the overall…

Highlight of the Season

AFC Emley

You may have noticed that Emley has popped up throughout the majority of these awards: the best game I witnessed all season; the best goal I saw all season; one of the best pies I’ve had in ages; and a lovely, old non-league ground up the hills of scenic Yorkshire. The place was perfect, but this was only half the story. This was what I’d call a ‘perfect Lost Boyos day’ with all the random misadventures tangled up amongst a brilliant football experience. I’ve said to Gibbo all season that it was my favourite trip of the season, yet he can barely remember it as it was his birthday day out. His drunkenness saw him don the infamous duck-covered shower curtain and even get a girl’s number whilst wearing it (amazingly). To make the day even more perfect, we were reunited with groundhopping’s finest duo, Tony 1-Leg and Johnny the Rhino, too (Tony’s “stop being a landmark Johnny – they’ve already got one here!” line still cracks me up when I think about). When others think I’ve lost the plot going to these random places to watch football, it’s days like this that make me realise that they don’t have a clue what they are missing out on.

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Gibbo’s birthday celebrations begin on the train to Yorkshire with Johnny the Rhino, Tony 1-Leg and two random women.

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The famous shower curtain.

And that’s it. I promised I won’t get all reflective yet (I’ll save that for later in the summer), as my 6 years living in the north-west of England edges ever closer to the end and my two-year stint in Slovakia gets more prominent on the horizon.There’ll still be a few blogs from up here in the north before I head back home to Wales at the end of July and then onwards to Slovakia a couple of weeks later. Here’s a big thumbs up to the whole of 2015/16 and all those good souls that have been part of the adventure this year in the usual montage form. If you feature in this…well you are a legend to me…

Now to go and enjoy a football-less June…oh, actually there’s the small matter of my home nation being in their first tournament for 58 years to keep me entertained.

If you don’t already, get following me and the #lostboyos adventures on the social media accounts below or even tell a friend:

Twitter: MattLostBoyo

Snapchat: lostboyo

Instagram: lostboyo

8 thoughts on “The ‘Lost in…’ 2015/16 Awards

  1. Pingback: Lost in…Rhyl (Gap Connahs’s Quay v Stabæk) | Lost Boyos

  2. Pingback: Lost in…Carlisle (Carlisle City) | Lost Boyos

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