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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Melksham FC

Melksham 2 Tring Athletic 1

Small stand at Melksham

It's a 'sham

Melksham 2 Tring Athletic 1

Oh, if I could just get into London reliably, this groundhopping lark would be so much easier. Some issue on my first journey meant that trains were running at least 25 minutes late. I actually ended up getting the train before the one I headed for which then didn't stop at two of the usual stations. Very harsh on people who had to get off and wait another 30 minutes for the next one. Shambles!
Then the tube line wasn't running, so I had to re-direct taking two different tube lines and finally made it to Paddington with little time to spare.
I had to take the train to Chippenham and then change for a short journey to Melksham. The female train guard on this service seemed to know everyone and pulled one young lady up for not buying a ticket two weeks earlier. She seemed to have a complete handle on who everyone was, what they were doing and where they were going. It was great to see her in action.
Melksham was a slightly odd place, walking from the station to the town, I came across a subway with a weirdly big spiral footpath. Would work for people with pushchairs etc, but a simple flight of steps for other people would have saved a lot of time and effort.
I was happy to unexpectedly bump into a Wetherspoon's and was intrigued to discover that they had started selling pizza on their menu. My pizza came quickly and although it would not win any awards, it was not half bad.
I was slightly unsure of my direction, so went up an alley that pointed towards the tourist information. I must have walked 5 minutes and never did find it, or the post office that was supposedly down the same track. Where are they??????????
I eventually figured out my route which was a longer walk than I had anticipated.
It was about 20-25 minutes from town, it was set just off a new looking housing estate and is actually in an excellent location.
Once I reached the turning to the ground, it still took 5 minutes walking up the path until I actually reached a good sized car park and the entrance.
The ground was a modern looking construction, an interesting looking high stand, but it didn't seem to have mush cover from the elements. A small, more traditional stand was on the other side. The whole place was neat and tidy with plenty of room for expansion.
I liked the touch of having ball girls during the game and their rotation of sitting spots every 5-10 minutes was a bright idea to keep themselves warm.
Melksham scored twice in the first quarter of an hour and despite Tring getting one back on 40 mins, they held on to win reasonably comfortably.
A bugger to get back from on public transport. I actually booked a cab to take me to Chippenham and picked up my train from there.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Desborough Town FC

Desborough Town 2 Stourport Swifts 4 aet

Floodlights and water tower at Desborough FC

Desborough's day turns Stour

Desborough Town 2 Stourport Swifts 4    aet

Hold the front page!  My first train actually arrived 3 minutes early. I think in 20 years it had once turned up 1 minute early, 3 minutes is simply unheard of. A simple start to the journey, no tube involved, just a stroll across the road to St Pancras. I had a bit of time on my hands, so decided to search around for lunch inspiration. I really  wasn't feeling it. No sandwich either caught my imagination, or if it did, it seemed to be ridiculously overpriced. I ended up buying a very reasonably priced packet of chocolate digestives from M&S for 86p. Took me all day, but I'm embarrassed to say that I ate the whole lot of them.
The train journey from London to Kettering went without incident. I don't know Kettering so well having only been there once before and that was when I had to divert on my way home. So the issue I had was to find the bus stop. I headed towards the town centre signs, headed for the shops and more by luck than judgement, bumped into a whole row of bus stops. Took me a while to find the right one and when I did, there was under 5 minutes to wait. Good job as it was bloody freezing and felt like it was in a wind tunnel.
The bus journey to Desborough was supposed to take 35 minutes but I was there in only 15-20. A small town but with good facilities and a fair number of shops.
In search of a proper lunch, I walked into a pub next to the bus stop and promptly walked straight out again. Sometimes you just get a bad feeling about places.
So I ended up with a bag of chips from the chippy in town, unremarkable but very nice and warming.
I then popped into Coral's to pass a bit of time, through an each way bet on a 12/1 shot at Wincanton that led all the way from the start until about 50 yards from the finish when it got beaten into second. Still left with a proffit though.
The walk to the ground was about 10 minutes from the town, all along a straight road and extremely easy to find.
It is a striking ground, visit if you can. The floodlights are old school affairs, towering into the sky at each corner and looking like they were pulled straight out of my 1970's Subuteo set, I loved them! There is also a water tower in one corner that again, gives the place a unique look. There is a clubhouse just before the ground entrance that was absolutely packed when I popped in at half time. However, they had sensibly seperated the hot food and hot drinks counter which enabled the queues to keep moving. Lots of cover, standing cover along the majority of the near end, more covered standing on the near side along with a seating area that had wooden benches.
I was sitting in this area before kick-off reading the programme and was joined by an ex UCL referee. He was good company and i actually stayed in the stand for the whole game, something that I rarely do.
The game itself was great, Stourport took an early lead, but Desborough always looked dangerous in attack and equalised before half time. Stouport went ahead again right at the start of the second half but Desborough once again equalised midway through the period and took the tie to extra time.
Stourport eventually won it with 2 goals in the final extra time period.
One of those grounds that I was so pleased to have made the effort to visit, take a  look around if you want on my Youtube channel through the link below, even better, visit if you can, you will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Lordswood FC

Lordswood 0 Bracknell Town 1

Dugouts at Lordswood FC

Bracknell Lord it

Lordswood 0 Bracknell Town 1

Rail delays, ah rail delays. The bane of my life. But for once, they worked in my favour. I forget what lame excuse it was this time, but I actually caught the train before the one I was aiming for as it was 25 minutes late. Needless to say, we were packed in like sardines and people were unable to actually get on the train. Never mind, they’re putting the fares up in January and that will fix everything.
My connection was from St Pancras and I looked longingly to the adjacent platform, where folk were excitedly boarding the Eurostar for a trip to Paris. I would happily go anywhere right no so long as it was warm!
Chatham was a lot bigger than I had realised and the traffic through the town centre, seemed to be at a standstill. On route to the bus station, I had to walk along some weird raised boarding that took me round some construction work and then I very reluctantly had to walk past a Wetherspoon’s without going in.
Not to long a wait for the bus and I boarded for the 30 minute journey to Lordswood. All was going well, lots of people getting off but the traffic was moving and I was in good time. Then out of nowhere, as the bus pulled away from a stop, the driver managed to smack the wing mirror into the bus stop, there was a horrible, wrenching noise and the whole wing mirror and arm crashed to the ground with an almighty thud, a good job nobody was standing there!
Need;ess to say, the bus couldn’t carry on and we all had to wait for the next bus which arrived after about 10 minutes. This of course ended up being packed solid although it had thinned out by the time we reached Lordswood.
I had to walk along a raised stretch of pavement for about 10 minutes to reach my destination. This was a proper sports complex with a facility for cricket, rugby, pertank and many other sports. A bit in the middle of nowhere but an excellent facility none the less.
The ground was fairly basic with one small stand and a clubhouse a few minutes walk from  the pitch that served decent food. I however, stayed in the ground and ordered a burger from the tea hutch. Not at all bad andwas served up straight from a hot grill.
The game was not at all bad, Bracknell were always the better team and probably deserved to win by more than one goal. The only goal came on 10 minutes from one of Bracknell’s excellent two tricky wingers.
Not the easiest place to reach and adventures along the way, good to get this ticked off.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Westfield FC

Westfield 1 Canterbury City 0

Small stand at Westfield FC

The Herbert Wells - Woking

Go West

Westfield 1 Canterbury City 0

 Take a walk around Westfield FC with me here

I've now visited 569 grounds. Not a patch on some peoples totals, but I'm more than happy with my effort. But I'd never been to Woking!
I try to visit as many different leagues as I can each season and that means I still have clubs to see at Conference level. And for some reason, I've never done Woking FC.
So coming to Westfield, was a bit of a novelty for me as it's situated only a stone throw from Woking FC's ground.
Needless to say, my intended train to London was cancelled, but you can't teach an old dog new tricks and I'd checked the online departure board so was able to leave a shade early and catch the train before. Plenty of trains from Waterloo, although the one I caught seemed to crawl all the way.
It had been a fairly grotty morning and was still raining when I arrived in Woking. But I was eyeing up a Wetherspoon's and took the short divert to The Herbert Wells.
I'm not a curry lover, but for some reason I was drawn the the chef's special Chicken Balti. What a choice! Absolutely delicious and came with jasmine rice, 2 popadoms and a Naan bread, all washed down with a pint of Jouster.
Still raining when I left the pub and with time to kill, I diverted to Ladbrokes to idle away 30 mins. I bet each way on a horse at Wincanton which in a 2m4F race, was in the first three for the entire race until about the last 20 yards when it fell back to 4th.
The rain had finally subsided and it was surprisingly warm for November. I guss it's about a 20 minute walk from the station to the ground although I feel I probably didn't take the most direct route. My way did take me past Woking FC, so I can now at least say that I've seen it from a distance.
I actually somehow missed the entrance to Woking Park and ended up wandering along endless side streets.
When I did find Woking Park, it is quite an impressive facility. I saw a roller park, a boxing club and a scout centre.
The ground itself is a little odd, the bar is up a flight of stairs and there's a balcony where folk stand to watch the game. There's a section of seating under this and also a small isolated little stand behind the far goal. Friendly people though who seemed to take a real pride in keeping their club ticking over.
The scout centre was next to where I was standing and as the game started, a hoard of young children arrived for a birthday party. I was then treated to the thump, thump of disco music and children's entertainers desperately trying to get these kids to yell at the top of their voice. This kind of distracted me a little from the game for a while as it's difficulty to become engaged with the battle of a cup tie with agadoo assaulting your ear drums.
With a minutes silence being observed for Remembrance day, I was less than impressed to see the referee not even bringing the players on to the pitch until 15:03. We eventually kicked off 7 minutes late. Why????!!!????
The game itself was okay and Westfield deserved their win, the only goal coming in the 23rd minute.
as so often happens, the game was spoilt by the continual arguing, dissent and bickering of the players and benches. Something has to be done and quickly, if grown men want to spend the afternoon arguing, join a debating society!
Anyway, I enjoyed Woking and hope to be back before too long to tick off the town's senior club.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Brocton FC

Brocton 4 Wednesfield 1

Two sets of dugouts

The Picture House - Stafford

Brocton storm through

Brocton 4 Wednesfield 1

I had planned to visit Westbury. Then the FA decided their previous tie should be replayed after an erroneous decision was made by the referee and they lost. So I ended up at Brocton which is located a couple of miles from Stafford.

I've taken up pilates on a Saturday morning and do an hours class at 07:30. It's an excellent work out but it does take it out of you. Therefore, when I dropped off on my train up to Stafford, i was as close as I've been in a long time to missing my stop. I woke as the train was slowing and frantically gathered my bits and pieces together and rushed up the carriage to the exit much to the bemusement of the ear-phoned teenager sitting next to me.

Storm Brian had hit the mainland. It had had all week, but decided to rock up at about 13:00 on a Saturday afternoon. The forecast was shocking with 45 mph winds and heavy rain predicted. Yes, it was windy, but apart from a couple of showers that lasted for only a minute or so, I totally got away with a dry afternoon.

I had checked in advance and had decided to lunch at the Wetherspoon's in Stafford that I was pretty much going to walk past anyway. What I found was an absolute delight. An old cinema that has been converted into a pub. Real theatre as you walk in to the appropriately named 'The Picture House' and see the bar way below you. You walk down steep stairs to reach the bar, exactly the sort of stairs you walk down in many a cinema. So unique!
There was a beer festival on and I selected a pint of St Erik's Midnight Sun which was incredibly pale and had the taste of grapefruit. I really liked it. I ordered a jacket potato and beans which oddly also came with salad and a pot of dressing. Lettuce and cucumber should never be on the same plate as a baked bean! Nice though and actually spreading some dressing on the potato was aa bit of a revelation.

It is about a 25 minute walk from the station to the ground pretty much along one road which flanks a large retail park.

The ground was very easy to find and I was offered a very warm welcome by a couple of officials on the gate. Everybody I spoke to in Stafford was really friendly, I would go back there in a heartbeat.

The ground itself is neat and is surrounded by a white rail. There are side by side, a covered seated area and a covered standing area that look very tandem. What I understand to be a new clubhouse is on the far side with a small bar and some tables and chairs. Two sets of dugouts in a row with half facing Brocton's pitch and the other pair facing the other way and adjoining pitch.

Oddly, the game kicked off 5 minutes early, made a pleasant change to the usual 5 minutes late.

The teams exchanged early goals and it was tight after this until Brocton scored three in the last 10 minutes. The goal that put them ahead came after the keeper threw it out to a full back only to find it intercepted and then curled home.

All in all, despite Storm Brian, I found a friendly club in a great town. Take a walk round the ground with me here

Friday, October 06, 2017

Midhurst & Easebourne FC

Midhurst & Easebourne 0 United Services Portsmouth 2

Dilapidated cricket pavilion at Midhurst & Easebourne FC

Clubhouse at Midhurst & Easebourne

USP Ease. through

Midhurst & Easebourne 0 United Services Portsmouth 2

I'm always away for the first round of Vase matches so good to be back on the road again.

Needless to say, Waterloo has track works going on, it was okay going out, but coming back had 30 minutes added to the journey as we had to take the Staines Loop. Who even knew there was such a thing?

After my now weekly, early morning, Saturday work-out, I was beyond hungry when reaching London. I couldn't wait to reach my destination nd bought a Beef, bacon and Guinness pasty which was lovely, a tub of mini pork pies which turned out to be too much and a large prezel that I ended up eating during the game. An interesting mix probably never to be repeated.

The journey to Haselmere station was without incident and I then had a 20 minute wait fro my bus. About 10 minutes in, a couple turned up and were all over each other, they were quite frankly old enough to know better- GET A ROOM!!

The bus turned up bang on time and we were soon passing a packed out food market. If I'd known, I would have got there earlier and had a nose round. You can't beat a good food market. 

The bus apparently passes the ground I was told, indeed it does and in fact stops directly opposite it. I somehow missed this stop and ended up staying on the bus until it terminated in Midhurst. Not the end of the World as it was only a 5-10 minute walk back and it was a glorious afternoon. There were some interesting looking ruins that a steady flow of people were walking to and I then passed the entrance to Cowdrey Park Polo Field. I've never seen a game of polo in my life and although I'd heard of Cowdrey Park, I had no idea where it was. I was actually glad I missed my stop as it was a more than interesting stroll back.

I found the ground which  had a small entrance with a gentleman sitting by his little hut. I was given a programme that had completely the wrong date of 21/5/17 on it and he asked me if I was a concession. I clearly wasn't looking my best!

This was a nice spot to visit on a sunny day. There is a small stand with benches within to sit on, the pitch undulates greatly and it is surrounded by a white rail. The clubhouse is about 100 metres from the pitch but is a reasonable size. There is also a dilapidated old cricket pavillion that I found quite fascinating, I would love to hear its story.

The game itself was not bad. This was Midhurst's debut in the FA Vase and they gave a good account of themselves. Portsmouth were always slightly on top though and they won the game with a flicked header on 28 minutes and a breakaway goal on 55 minutes.

Very pleasant spot and well worth a visit on a nice day.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Southall FC

Southall 2 Cleethorpes Town 5

Covered end at Southall FC

Electronic scoreboard at Southall FC

Easy Cleesy

Southall 2 Cleethorpes Town 5


Southall groundshare at Hanwell Town FC. I had planned to visit Hanwell on two previous occasiona and both times it was rained off. Absolutely no danger of this on the loveliest of February days with it almost feeling spring like as clouds parted and the sun came out. So easy to reach, train to London and then about half an hour on the tube to Perivale.
Needless to say, the one group of noisy guys on the entire train sat opposite me and just didn't stop all chattering at the same time until finally alighting two steps before mine.
My map told me to turn right down a road that I never did find and I found myself confronted with the horrendously busy A40. Fortunately, there is a massive footbridge, so I was easily able to cross over the road. I was presented with a small parade of shops, but none of them presented anything that looked like edible food.
I popped down a little side road to avoid the motorway like A40 and then had a short, tranquil walk to the ground that took under five minutes to reach.
In good time and with a surprisingly small crowd on my arrival, I went in the clubhouse and found a very nice lady offering burgers and chips. I waited a few minutes for the chips to cook and then sat at a table to eat. The burger was very nice, the chips not too bad although a couple more minutes in the fryer would have helped.
I then watched one of the most enjoyable 45 minutes of football on the TV I've seen in a long time as Lincoln turned over Burnley in the FA Cup. Oddly, the club were showing the game on Fox sports, meaning there was an American analyst at half time. There was also a two minute delay from actual proceedings and a guy watching the game on his phone announced that Lincoln had scored and won two minutes before we all saw it happen.
A reasonable ground with a small stand, cover at the near end and bizarrely, an electronic scoreboard.
The crowd never did really turn up and at about 350, was really disappointing for this stage of the competition.
Cleethorpes were four up at just after half time and close to embarrassing Southall. Southall then out of nowhere, started to play, scored twice and if they'd only played like that from the start, would have made a good game of it.
Still, on a glorius afternoon for football, you pretty much forgive the teams anything.