Friday, 15 March 2019

Wootton Blue Cross & Marston Shelton Rovers - Weston Park

Wootton Blue Cross & Marston Shelton Rovers
Weston Park
Bedford Road
MK43 9JT

01234 767662

Ground Number: 836
Friday 15th March 2019
Marston Shelton Rovers 3-1 Queens Park Crescents
Beds County Premier


Ground owners Wooton Blue Cross were formed in 1887, the reason for their name being that they were established by the former manager and players of the disbanded Hitchin Blue Cross. They started out in the Bedford & District League before joining the South Midlands League in 1946. They were champions in 1948 before joining the United Counties League in 1956. They'd remain here until 2013 with finishes ranging from a high of runners-up in the Premier Division in 1981 to a low of 18th in Division 1 in their final season. They then dropped down to the Bedfordshire County League Premier Division and aside from 2015/16 where I can find no record of them, they've stayed there ever since. They are currently enjoying their best season here, sitting 3rd at the time of kick off. Notable cup runs include reaching the FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round three times and the FA Vase 4th Round in 2003 when they lost 3-0 at Whitley Bay. Local cup wins include a Bedfordshire Junior Cup and two Bedfordshire Senior Cups. Famous former players include former Premiership player Callum Davenport who played for the club between 2010 and 2012.

Marston Shelton Rovers was established in 1888 and started out in the Bedfordshire County League. They were league champions for four seasons between 1935 and 1939 and like their landlords, would make the step up to the South Midlands League after the Second World War. Their best finish of 8th in the Premier Division was achieved on three occasions whilst their low of 16th in Division 1 saw them relegated back to the Bedford & District League in 1973. This became the present day Bedfordshire County League and Marston Shelton Rovers have resided in the Premier Division since 2012. They finished 5th in their debut season and although they suffered a low of 13th last season, they sit in 7th prior to tonight's contest and with a good chance of gaining a best-ever finish at the end of the season. Marston Shelton Rovers played in the FA Cup in the 1950-51 season, beating Bedford Corinthians before losing to Hitchin Town in the Preliminary Round. They entered the FA Vase for the first time this season, losing 2-1 to Hillingdon Borough in the 1st Qualifying Round. Their most recent cup honour is the Britannia Cup in 2017 whilst they've also lifted the Aubrey Tingey Memorial Cup (1977), the Bedfordshire Intermediate Cup (twice) and the Bedfordshire Junior Cup (twice)


Initially, I thought I was going to have another blank Friday on this day but had taken out a subscription to the Football Traveller for the rest of the season as I was finding that the choice of games for midweek was dwindling. This paid immediate dividends when it threw up a game in the Bedfordshire County League on Friday night. It was a real bonus that it was close and also at a ground I had been meaning to visit for ages, namely Wooton Blue Cross' Weston Park which despite being fairly local, had eluded me so far. The match was in doubt the day before due to an issue with the away side, but they were very helpful on Twitter in confirming that everything was OK. That meant, weather permitting, I would be seeing a game. I tried to get fellow hopper Anwar on board and although initially keen, couldn't make it. My day at work was a pretty busy one and so I finished an hour later than usual. The afternoon was spent catching up on things, including researching tonight's game which I left as late as possible in case the game was called off. After a dinner of Lamb Rogan Josh, I left home at 5.50. The drive was as expected, quite a bit of traffic, but even so, I was parked up in a side road near the ground at 7.20. I then went in and got some pictures of the ground. With entry being free, I bought a pint of Aspall from the bar for £3.60 to help out the club.

Hosts Marston Shelton Rovers were sitting in 7th and were in great form, their only defeat in the last 12 games coming in a 4-1 defeat at Cranfield United on 20th February. Visitors Queens Park Crescents were a name I recognised from the Bedfordshire League Hop earlier this season and they were a place above their hosts.  They were an Asian-based club and from what I head, did a very nice selection of food on the day. Though now a basic ground, they play on the site of the former home od Bedford Town in Cardington. Their form was a bit hit and miss, but they'd won their last game 4-0 at AFC Oakley. They'd won the reverse game on their own patch back in October, goals coming from Ayez Hussain, Shahinur Rahman and Fabio Sattar with Nick Skolsky grabbing Marston's consolation. The opening period of this game was not great and the few chances that were created resulted in wayward finishing. Marston Shelton Rovers opened the scoring on 23 minutes when Perry Connolly caught the visiting keeper out of position and finished in the bottom right-hand corner from just outside the area. Queens Park Crescents fought back and they hit the bar on the half-hour mark although referee Ross Cole had already blown for a foul. It had been a dull first half, but the second period was an improvement. A deflected goal by Nick Skolsky doubled the lead a few minutes in. The best goal of the game came just after the hour mark as Peter Kerr's drive found the bottom right-hand corner. The visitors had their number 16 sent off for saying 'Fuck's sake, what's going on ref' which seemed a tad harsh as I've seen a lot worse without even a talking to given. At least Queens Park Crescents got a goal back five minutes from time when a player got away on the break and slotted in the bottom right-hand corner from just inside the area. They had been very poor though and their misery was compounded when they had a second player sent off for a challenge that looked heavy but with no malice. This resulted in fans from each side having a row, the final whistle blowing soon after. I got away quickly, stopping at both the Chalfont Craft Beer shop and Tesco on the way home. I got in at 10.30, listening to the Two Mikes while typing my blog before going to bed at 1 am.


WESTON PARK is a good venue for step 7 and would be OK for a couple of levels higher. There's just the one covered stand, though this is large with space for 250 covered, most of which are seats. The rest of the ground is open, though there are a smart pair of dugouts on the far side. There's a bar at the ground, this includes real ale from the Eagle Brewery, but there was limited choice for other drinks. There was no hot food when I went, but there was a chippy outside, plus further facilities in the village.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Collingham - Station Road

Collingham FC
Station Road
NG23 7RA

01636 892303
Collingham - Official Website
Collingham - Twitter
Newark Town - Official Website
Newark Town - Twitter

Ground Number: 835
Friday 8th March 2019
Newark Town 1-3 Collingham
CML North


Collingham FC was established in 1887 and although there is no history of their early years that I could find, they joined the Central Midlands League in 1995. Initially joining the second-tier Premier Division, a 4th place finish in 1997 was good enough for promotion to the Supreme Division. They'd stay here until 2002 when they disbanded - a 5th place finish the previous year being their best season. They played in Sunday League football until they re-emerged in the Central Midlands League. By now, the league was at step 7 of the Non-League pyramid and split into two regional divisions. Collingham spent the 2015/16 season in the CML South, finishing 13th. The following season they switched to the North division, finishing 4th in the previous two seasons. Currently, they sit in 3rd, with an outside chance of winning the title if results go their way. They've had a couple of seasons in the FA Vase, the best coming in the 2001/02 season when they beat Meir KA 2-1 before losing 3-2 at Boston Town in the 1st Round.

Newark Town FC meanwhile was founded in 1991 although there was a club of the same name that existed before. A junior team at first, they moved into senior football in 1994 and joined the Notts Alliance League at Divison 2 level in 1997. They were promoted to Divison 1 in 2003despite finishing second-bottom and joined the Central Midlands League the following year. Starting in the second-tier Premier Division, they had their best finish here of 7th in their first season. Despite this, they were promoted to the Supreme Division in 2008 after a 13th place finish. A pair of 5th place finishes in their first two seasons was as good as it got for them. The league split into two regional divisions in 2011 with Newark Town finishing 5th and 7th in their two seasons in the South Division before switching to the North. Since moving, they've finished a high of 4th in 2015 to a low of 17th last season although they are in a much-improved placing of 10th this time out. They reached the 1st Round of the FA Vase in 2008 after they beat Meir KA and Gornal Athletic before losing 4-0 at Coalville Town.


There had been a real lack of Friday night football for MK based hopper Chris and I to do this season. More often than not, it would have involved a long trip to the north-east or far reaches of Wales if we wanted to see a game at a ground we both needed to 'tick'. That would mean me being tired on the drive on the way home, so I didn't consider any of them. Thankfully, on this Friday, a game within reasonable distance came up. It was a local derby too - between ground-sharers Collingham and Newark Town with the latter team and tenants being the 'home' team on this occasion. In the week leading up to the game, I started my research into both of tonight's clubs as well as pre-match food options. The day of the game came and I had my usual 5am start at work. It was hectic, as per usual for a Friday but thankfully I was out by 11.30. I spent a few hours at home before leaving around 2.40 and stopping in Aylesbury en-route so I could get some drinks for tonight's game. After picking Chris up at 4, we had a surprisingly good journey and were at our pre-match food place by 6. The Mint Leaf Indian restaurant was not far off the A1 and had good reviews. We both had Murgh Kali Mirch with rice. We'd only stumbled upon the place by accident, but the food was excellent and the portions generous. From there, it was around 4 miles to the ground with us getting there just after 7. It was a reasonable £3 to get in, plus £1 for a decent enough programme, though we were initially given an edition of the Dinnington Town issue from last month by mistake. We passed time before kick off chatting to various people including groundhopper Dave Woodings and also a season ticket holder at Wycombe who lived locally and reads this very blog.

Both teams were on a good run of form leading up to tonight's contest. Collingham were unbeaten in five games, their last defeat coming in a 4-3 defeat to Clay Cross Town which was their only defeat in their last 10 games. The two sides had met back in November, with Collingham recording an emphatic 5-0 win on that occasion. Newark Town's only defeat in the last five had been a 4-2 defeat at Retford although recent form had been a big improvement in an inconsistent season that had seen them beaten 11-0 by Renishaw Rangers back in November. Collingham, in their striking orange & black kit, started the brightest against the light and dark blues of Newark Town. It was the dominant side that took the lead on 6 minutes after a free kick was awarded on the right. It was delivered well and it went in off the head of the head of unfortunate Newark defender Luke Boddy for an own goal. It was 2-0 after 20 minutes, this time a cross from the right to the far post was poked home after hesitant Newark defending. Collingham had been completely dominant during the first period but the second half was a different story. Newark took the game to Collingham and after going close on a few occasions they reduced the arrears on 65 minutes when an effort was cleared off the line before being poked home by Kieran Job. Newark had a few more efforts and in both sides desperation to win, there was a bit of handbags a minute from time. This led to at least one sending off and appeared to knock the comeback off its stride. Collingham took their free-kick quickly with Jake Park getting away from the defence and finishing calmly to make it 3-1. It had been a good evenings entertainment for the 193 in attendance, but it was time to head home. We stopped at a garage so that Chris could get a drink before we got on our way. As is the trend with the roads at night there were closures and one on the A1 added 20 minutes to our journey. I dropped Chris off at 11.50 but still the diversions were not over as the M1 exit to the M25 was closed meaning I had to go on smaller roads via Hemel and Chesham. I eventually got home at 1 am, typing my blog with a cider whilst also catching up on the night's TV.


STATION ROAD is a decent venue for step 7. Although there are no seats, there is a fair bit of cover thanks to the clubhouse. The pitch is fully railed and there is a good amount of hard standing. The clubhouse itself is reasonably large and has an upstairs viewing gallery. The range of drinks includes some real ales and Carling Cider and Lager. I'm told there is also a BBQ on most match days. Local facilities include a Co-Op shop with the village being under a mile away. 

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Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Loxwood - The Nest

Loxwood FC
The Nest - Recreation Ground
Plaistow Road
West Sussex
RH14 0SX

Official Website

Ground Number: 834
Tuesday 5th March 2019
Loxwood - Horsham YMCA
Southern Combination Premier


A previous club in the village, Loxwood United, was established in 1920. They played in the West Sussex League, the main highlights being twice winning the Tony Kopp Cup in 1977 and 1988 as well as becoming Division 2 North champions the following year. Generally, though, they played non-competitive football and folded sometime in the first half of the 1990s. The current club, Loxwood FC, was formed in 1997 and joined the West Sussex League. They were highly successful here and moved up to Division 3 of the Sussex County League (step 7 of the non-league pyramid) in 2006. After a couple of seasons, they were promoted to Division 2, building a new stand in 2008 and adding floodlights in 2010 to comply with step 6 ground grading requirements. Loxwood were promoted to the step 5 Sussex County D1 in 2014 after finishing third behind Eastbourne United and Broadbridge Heath. They've played here ever since, though the league was renamed the Southern Combination Premier Division in 2015 to reflect it covering a wider geographical area. Loxwood have had two best-ever finishes of 6th in 2015 and 2017. Prior to the game, Loxwood sat 16th, safe from relegation, but set for their worst finish since being promoted to step 5.

In the FA Cup, Loxwood have twice reached the Preliminary Round - losing to Arundel in 2016 and Banstead Athletic the following year. They've reached the FA Vase 2nd Round on the same number of occasions - losing to Newport IOW in 2014 and Colliers Wood United in 2015. Other local cup wins include the Malcolm Simmonds Memorial Cup in 2005 and the West Sussex Centenary Cup twice. The village of Loxwood is part of the Chichester district and has a population of just under 1,500. 


With an extremely limited choice of games this week, fellow hopper Anwar turned down our only possible option at St Andrews. It seemed to be a running trend this season - last year we would have a number of choices in double figures but in recent weeks, the most we had was 4. I still wanted a game though and after seeing that there were no possibles on the train, I did what I usually did and looked south. Due to it being around 30 miles closer, I chose Loxwood over options at Horndean, Corinthian and Bearsted to keep costs down. The day of the game came and it was standard for my day off work - a good nights sleep and a 4-mile walk down to High Wycombe before an afternoon at home. It was nice to be able to download the match programme - though to be in truth, it wasn't up to much - out of 28 pages 20 were adverts of some sort or another and the others were fixed information or statistics. The website and Twitter, on the other hand, were excellent and provided me with all I need to know ahead of tonight's visit. I got a fair bit done in the afternoon before leaving at around 5.15 after a dinner of stir fry. I had a decent enough journey with delays on the M25 and through Guildford, but nothing horrendous. I got to the ground at 7.10 and had to park on the road outside as the car park was full. I stopped in the bar to go to the toilet and noticed that they had a cider that I’d not had before in Cornish Orchards Dry. I don’t normally drink midweek, but the chance to help out a non-league club too was too good to turn down. It was very nice too and good value at £3.50.

Looking at the form book, both teams were on pretty decent form despite their differing. Loxwood had won 3-1 at Arundel on Saturday - their third victory in a row. They were unbeaten since a 6-0 defeat at Pagham on 26th January. Visitors Horsham YMCA had won 3-2 at Little Common on Saturday which again was their third victory in a row and were unbeaten since 12th January when they lost 5-3 at Hassocks. Entry was a reasonable £6 and with the on and off rain, I spent most of the game sheltered in the stand. Both teams had bright spells in a lively opening period but it was the visitors that took the lead on 25 minutes when a free kick was headed home by Dean Brown. It was 2-0 to Horsham YMCA five minutes later when Alex Barbary slotted home a low corner at the far post following poor marking. The game seemed over on 41 minutes when Brown got his second, this time he controlled well, sidestepped his marker and finished with a low shot into the net. Loxwood were given a glimmer of hope on 44 minutes when Sam Karl got away down the left and put in a great cross that left Mark Goldson with a simple finish. The second half saw a much-improved performance by the hosts and they reduced the arrears on 51 minutes when Goldson got his second. A corner was put in and caused chaos with a shot was cleared off the line. It came out to Goldson who blasted home from just inside the area. After the on and off rain of the first half, it was pretty persistent for most of the second with Loxwood giving it a real go. Horsham YMCA had chances on the break and it was a surprise there were no more goals. The visitors' keeper Aaron Jeal was booked for time wasting in the dying embers of the game as his team sought to run down the clock and this resulted in him and some home fans having a slanging match as I left the ground. By the time I got back to my car, it was 9.50 and so I headed for home, listening to Radio 5 on the way where the big news was Real Madrid getting beaten 4-1 at home to Ajax which as amusing as it was,  scuppered my bet for the night. I was in at 11.05 after a good journey, getting into bed at 11.20 but finding it hard to drop off to sleep.


The Nest is a very pleasant venue which is surrounded by trees. There is plenty of hard standing as well as two areas of cover. There’s the standard metal ‘arena’ stand and although this is fairly dull, it does the job, holding around 100. There’s also an attractive wooden stand behind the goal for standers, this holds slightly more. The clubhouse houses all the facilities and this is spacious and has a good range of drinks. Food appears to be restricted to rolls and snacks, while a small range of merchandise is available. Overall, I’d recommend a visit to this friendly club and future plans include a new toilet block in the ground and replacing the perimeter fence. 

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Lye Town - The Sports Ground

Lye Town FC
The Sports Ground
Stourbridge Road
West Midlands

01384 422672

Ground Number: 833
Saturday 2nd March 2019
Lye Town 1-0 Ilkeston Town
Midland League Premier Division


The club was established in 1930 and for the first year of their existence were known as Lye & Wollescote. They started out in the Worcestershire Combination and were highly successful, winning it in 1936 and finishing as runners-up on three further occasions. The Second World War interrupted proceedings and when football resumed, Lye Town were placed in the Birmingham Combination, the forerunner to the modern day West Midlands (Regional) League. Despite finishing as high as 4th in 1952, they generally struggled and were relegated to the second tier four years later. The league returned to being a single tier in 1960 and was renamed in 1962. Lye Town would remain here until 2014, ending their run by winning the by then step 6 league, a feat that had also achieved in 1998. Since being promoted to the Midland League Premier Division finishes have generally been good, as high as 4th in 2017. Last season saw a loss of form and a 16th place finish and this has continued this term with Lye Town sitting 15th at the time of the game.

Lye Town have reached the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round on three occasions, the latter of which in 1989 saw them defeat Hednesford Town, local rivals Stourbridge and Desborough Town prior to a narrow 2-1 defeat to the then Conference side Stafford Rangers. IN the FA Trophy, the 3rd Qualifying Round was also their high point, going out after a replay to Enderby Town in 1975. The 1995/96 season saw them reach the FA Vase 4th Round as they beat Sandwell Borough, Blakenall, Oakham United & Chester-Le-Street Town before a 2-0 defeat at home to Barwell. Local cup wins include the Worcestershire Senior Urn (2014), Birmingham Midweek Floodlit Cup (2011 & 2013 and the Birmingham Junior Cup (1934, 1938 and 1939). The town of Lye itself is part of Stourbridge and has a population of just over 12,000 according to the latest census. Historically it was known for the manufacture of nails, anvils, vices, chain, crucibles and firebricks and is the birthplace of Sir Cedric Hardwicke who went on to star in a host of Hollywood movies.


Back in January, Chiltern Railways had a sale on train tickets and so I was able to get tickets each way from Wycombe for a fiver a pop. The only drawback was that I'd have to come home earlier than I wanted although as a trip to Birmingham was long overdue, it wasn't such a big issue. Lye Town had been on my hit list for some time now and so, I was glad when I saw, two months in advance, that they were at home. The weather might play a part though, but thankfully when I checked in the week leading up to the game, there was not too much rain. I also planned my pre-match transport, food and drink with a fair degree of precision, plus a list of backups should the worst happen. I'd seen both sides play in the past year - Lye Town as they drew a boring pre-season friendly 0-0 at Shifnal and Ilkeston as they'd drawn 1-1 at Cadbury Athletic back in May. I'd met the Notts County and Ilkeston owner Alan Hardy at the latter game and he'd seemed a decent bloke, though 2019 had not been kind to him. As well as Notts County's shocking performance on the pitch, he's also had to quit social media after accidentally posting a picture of his penis on Twitter and in the week leading up to the game his company Paragon Interiors had gone bust, with Notts County also at risk as the company had lent him £7m to buy the club.

The night before, I had a couple of ciders, but stayed sensible and was in bed by 9. I was hoping for a good nights sleep but was left disappointed as I woke up at 3. After trying and failing to get back to sleep, I went downstairs and cooked some ‘Grim Reaper’ sausages - not exactly a traditional breakfast choice, but they were good all the same. I’d decided that as I was up early, I’d walk the 4 miles to the station for exercise. I tidied up my Henley Town blog, visited 4 years ago to this day before leaving later than planned at 7.25. Having to jog part of the way as I was late, I called in at a local shop for a paper and arrived at the station with 10 minutes to spare.  My train was on time at 8:34 and I was pleased to bag a single seat with a table. It should have been a nice, simple journey but we had to stop at Banbury as some poor soul threw themselves in front of a train. I had to wait 75 minutes for the bus replacement service to arrive, but finally, I was on my way. I have every sympathy for the jumper and can’t really blame the train company, but I don’t understand why the police take so long to deal with a fairly frequent occurrence. Getting to Leamington just before 11, I had a 20-minute wait until the first train arrived. My pre-match plans gone up in smoke, I decided to knock Stourbridge and it’s two pubs and lunch on the head and instead head to Birmingham pre-match. It was New Street rather than Snow Hill that I arrived at, but I was finally there at 11.45. It was a 10-minute walk to The Post Office Vaults which didn’t disappoint. For £4 I had a pint of Troggi Tregagle Perry and it was cracking, one of the best that I’ve ever had. It was a much-needed drink and it lifted my spirits after a frustrating morning. I stuck to the same brewery for my second pint with their St Teigo proving also excellent. That wait, for now, I ventured to Poundland to get some drinks and snacks before getting the bus. Someone was smoking weed on the bus which upset the driver, so there was a delay after he stopped and sounded his emergency siren. Finally, we got to Lye at 2.30, the Windsor Castle was a nice pub with limited cider. Rather than the common Thatchers Gold, I had a pint of their Rhubarb and Ginger 'cider' which was OK, but not cider. A portion of chicken tikka and chips was enjoyed from a local pizza place, again OK but not exceptional.

Lye Town were on a run of inconsistent form, which probably explained their league position. They'd lost the last two home games by a single goal to Stourport Swifts and South Normanton Athletic but had recorded 4-1 and 6-2 wins over Highgate United and Wolverhampton Sporting Community in recent times. Ilkeston Town were more consistent with a 2-0 defeat to Quorn on February 2nd being their only loss this year. The two sides had met early season back on the 11th August, Lye recording a surprising 3-2 win thanks to a brace from Jack Till and a goal from Luke Carter as Malachi Lavelle-Moore's double was unable to prevent a defeat for the ambitious Derbyshire club. It was £7 in, above average to get in, but not unreasonable. I was expecting Ilkeston to dominate, but in reality, the first half belonged to Lye. I was especially impressed with their number 2, Joe Colley who created plenty down the right-hand side. I think it was he who provided the cross on 28 minutes, a low cross that was volleyed home at the far post by Nick Turton. Ilkeston's Elliott Reeves went into the book for a cynical tackle on 34 minutes as he took out his opponent. The visitors improved greatly improved in the second half, having made a couple of changes at the break. Elliott Reeves went close, hitting the bar with a curling shot on 64 minutes. Seven minutes later, Reece Fyfe had the ball in the net with a header from a cross, but the goal was ruled out for offside. POssibly, Ilkeston were a bit unlucky in the second half but overall, Lye defended well and deserved their win.

The game finished pretty promptly. Despite chasing the 4.56 bus down the dual carriageway, I failed to catch it, having to wait until 5.12. Wycombe had crashed to another defeat, 4-2 at Peterborough, but it had been a good day. I wanted to get back to the Post Office Vaults, knowing already what I was going to order. I had a pint of Three Saints Scrumptious and a half of Beardspoon Ciderfect, thinking that I was on course for my train home. Sadly my lack of research meant that I arrived at the station well on time, but it was the wrong station as my arrival station was different to my departure one. I could have had an extra hour in the pub, or actually made my intended train. Not a problem unless there was a ‘Blakey’ type ticket inspector, so I spent my journey home on high alert. Luckily I got back to Wycombe without any issues, my ticket checked but there was no problem. I was back at Wycombe at 9.15 and after walking to Lidl to get some cans and chicken, I got the 9.55 back to Hazlemere Crossroads, a mile from home. I was back through the door at 10.30 and had a can whilst watching Match Of The Day. It had been a good day, drinking and football-wise, but a poor one on the travel and food front. I got to sleep just after midnight and so was tired when I woke at 4 am the next morning.


The SPORTS GROUND is a nice and traditional venue. There are two covered areas - the main stand that is a combination of seating and standing and then a covered barrel roof terrace behind one goal. Overall, there's covered seating for 500 and covered seating for 600. In addition, 3 sides of the ground are hard standing, with one side being where cricket is played. The bar and the tea bar at the ground are OK and they do the job at reasonable prices. Further, afield, the town is a few minutes walk away. The Windsor Castle was a nice pub, but limited on the cider front. Olympia Pizza was a fairly average takeaway and with a few competitors, I'd recommend eating somewhere else or at the ground.