Wedding Speech

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As I’m sure many of you know Robyn and I were married on Saturday at Coombe Lodge, in Blagdon, North Somerset. For anyone who for one reason or another couldn’t make it, here’s my speech (annotations in bold).

I’ve included the message Swedish groundhop organiser Kim Hedwall sent that formed part of Simeon’s best man speech, and the first photo from the photographer, the wonderful Lee Hatherall. We hope you enjoy it, 

Laurence & Robyn January 2020 

Kim’s message 

“On behalf of my wonderful wife and I sincerely thank you to all of you for being here to share our special day.

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Times Like These

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Saturday 2nd November 2019 ko 15.00

FA Premier League

ARSENAL 1 (Aubameyang 20)

WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 1 (Jiminez 76)

Att 60,383

Entry £56.50

Programme £3.50

For a while I’d known my future brother-in-law Scott wanted to visit the Emirates Stadium. Now on one hand I’ve seen enough of Arsenal over the years for there to be little or nothing to be achieved from another visit. It is a case of “Been there done that” but on the other hand, he’s family and I’ve got history. Continue reading

The Shocker

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Friday 25th October 2019 ko 20.00

FA Premier League

SOUTHAMPTON 0 

Bertrand sent off 10 (serious foul play) (VAR)

LEICESTER CITY 9 (Chilwell 10 Tielemans 18 Perez 19 39 57 Vardy 45 55 90p Maddison 85)

Att 28,762

Entry – Complimentary

Programme £4

Back in Albania I was sat in the cable car heading down from Mount Dajti and was speaking to one of our guides Ditmar. He has the advantage of being a footballer, playing in the 3rd tier of the Albanian League for Mirdita so I attempted to explain groundhopping to him. The mechanics aren’t difficult to explain, watch a football match in as many places as possible, but the philosophical side is always a little more difficult. Why would someone set out to visit 5 Albanian grounds with only one being top flight? I explained it as being the type of person that likes to see what’s round the next corner.

But where are the limits he asked? For me there are very few, as long as its 11-a-side I’m happy, which does tend to throw people a little. It did with Ditmar, so he asked where I was heading next. I half smiled, half winced. “Southampton” I said, I’m not convinced he still understands completely just how far down the pecking order I watch. Part of me wished I’d said something in the Southampton & District League!

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Elbar

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Sunday 20th October 2019 ko 14.00

Kategorie e Dytë Grp A

FC INTERNACIONAL TIRANA 5 (Ajdini 65 Xhuveli 69 Shkreta 78 81 Konci 86)

FK KAMZA 1 (Bode 90p)

Biba penalty saved 62

Att 48 at Kompleksi Internacional, Pezë Helmës

Free Entry

In footballing terms at least my stag weekend finished at the one ground that you could argue that wasn’t in Tirana, despite the name of the host club we were a good half an hour’s drive from Skanderbeg Square. Zaja seemed happy negotiating the odd pot hole on dusty roads as we climbed into the mountains, to a surprise to all for the party that hadn’t researched where we were heading! Continue reading

Korça

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Sunday 20th October 2019 ko 12.00

U19 Kategorie Superiore Grp A

PARTIZANI TIRANA 1 (Marinjaj 70)

Qyra sent off 85 (violent conduct)

SHKËNDIJA 2 (Islamaj 52 Kokomani 89)

Hasani sent off 85 (violent conduct)

Att 93 at KS Klubite Olimpiku Stadiumi, Yrshek, Tirana

Sunday morning in Tirana started as I’d hoped. I woke in my bed in the Hotel Vila e Arte just off Skanderbeg Square and not sellotaped to a lamp post naked somewhere! That is the distinct advantage of being on a stag weekend in your late 40’s, I think all of the party ended Saturday by phoning significant others, and during breakfast one or two distant looks showed that while we were enjoying a weekend we’ll remember for the rest of our lives, we missed our wives, girlfriends and children. Continue reading

The Scottish Delegation

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Saturday 19th October 2019 ko 17.00

Kategorie Superiore

KF TIRANA 2 (Dunga 4 Cale 45)

KF LAÇI 1 (Nwabuezi 6)

Official Attendance 0 (we counted 97) at Stadiumi Selman Stërmasi

Entry-complimentary

Zaja was clearly enjoying himself as the little minibus picked its way through Tirana’s perpetually jammed streets. I reckon he’d worked that whoever those middle-aged blokes he’d been employed to ferry around were easy to deal with. Just feed them beer and football and they’d enjoy everything that came their way was I suspect his train of thought. But sat as I was midship I wondered…. Continue reading

Up On The Roof

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Saturday 19th October 2019 ko 14.00

Kategoria e Dytë Grp A

KF MIRDITA 1 (Picaku 45)

Pepkolaj sent off 64 (Serious Foul Play) 

KF GRAMSHI 2 (Zani 6 Goga 59)

Att 110 at Stadiumi Skender Halali, Tirana

Free Entry

Zaja and the minibus bumped into the potholed car park; after the battery incident in Kamëz we were a little tight for time. The game has already started which was handy, it gave it us somewhere to aim for, as the entrance wasn’t obvious, we tried the bar and they helped, just head for the little gap in the fence in the corner…. Continue reading

Peja

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Saturday 13th October 2019 ko 10.00

Albanian Women’s Superliga

FC DAJTI 0

FC KINOSTUDIO 5 (Xhabafti 37 Lulaj 48 73p 83 Xhebrahami 69)

Att 46 at Kompleksi Kombetare, Kamez, Tirana

Free Entry

So where would you hold your stag weekend? I know precisely why we ended up in Tirana, and you can blame my best man Sim. When Robyn and I got engaged in Stockholm Sim and I discussed it over a beer. Originally the wedding was going to be in the summer so we looked at one of the Baltic states, but as soon as Robyn and I discovered that we could get more wedding for the same money if we held it in January we needed somewhere with winter football. I suggested Bratislava for stunning football, great beer and interesting history. Sim’s response changed everything.

“That’s far too sensible” he said “You can do better than that!”  Continue reading

The Full Monty

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Saturday 12th October 2019 ko 14.45

Bedfordshire County League Division 3

LANCOT PARK 5 (Wilson 38 75 Nolan 41 Douglas 60p Wrench 87)

LUTON ALLSTARS 1 (Katcombe 34)

Grey penalty saved 17

Att 118

Free Entry

Programme £2

We left Luton’s environs for the last game of this year’s Bedfordshire Hop. Maybe it was because I’d long since committed to the whole event but when organiser Craig Dabbs mentioned Lancot Park, I’d recognised the name but failed to place why. Sadly for the hop I seemed to be the only one with amnesia! Continue reading

Behind (And Under) The Bike Sheds

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Saturday 12th October 2019 ko 14.00

Bedfordshire County League Division 3

STOPSLEY UNITED 2 (Prosper 9 Downey 90)

Frater sent off 61 (violent conduct)

HARLINGTON JUNIORS 3 (Frantazelli 7 Lambert 40 77)

Thompson sent off 61 (violent conduct)

Att 128

We left village life in Haynes and headed south into Luton’s suburbs. Stopsley is a classic example of a former village that had been slowly absorbed by the larger town nearby. But I had a comment by Beds Hop organiser Craig Dabbs turning over in my mind. Continue reading