Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Birstall United - Meadow Lane



Birstall United FC
Meadow Lane
Birstall
Leicestershire
LE4 4EU








Ground Number: 757
Tuesday 20th February 2018
Birstall United 4-0 Teversal

East Midlands Counties League







BIRSTALL UNITED - A BRIEF HISTORY


The club was founded in 1961 and initially played Sunday League football in the Leicester and District League. After 3 titles, the switch was made to Saturday football where the success continued with progress up the divisions of the Leicester Mutual League. In 1976, the club joined the Leicestershire Senior League, with promotion from Division 2 earned in their debut season. They'd remain in Division 1, later renamed the Premier Division for the next 30 years with finishes ranging from a pair of 16th placed finishes at the start of the current century to the championship season of 2015/16. This entitled them to make the step up to the East Midlands Counties League and they enjoyed an excellent debut season last year, finishing 3rd behind West Bridgford and South Normanton Athletic. This season has seen a decrease in form, but still a respectable mid-table placing. It would be a tough test for their latest fixture though, with them facing leaders Teversal.

This season the club made it's FA Cup debut with them defeating South Normanton Athletic 3-0 before a defeat by the same scoreline to Cleethorpes Town in the Preliminary Round. They have made a number of appearances in the FA Vase, reaching the 4th Round in the 1997/98 season before a narrow 2-1 loss to Spalding United. Local cup wins include the Tebbutt Brown Cup three times, the Leicestershire and Rutland Senior Cup on three occasions and the Leicestershire Senior Floodlit Cup in 1994. The most well-known player to turn out for the club is Calvin Plummer who played under Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest as well as in the Football League at Chesterfield, Derby County, Plymouth Argyle and Barnsley. The village of Birstall is a fairly large one, with a population of just over 12,000 according to the last census.



MY VISIT

Though I'd had a really busy weekend of football thanks to an extra day off, I was still as keen as ever to see a game on this Tuesday. There wasn't a tremendous amount of choice and so I wasn't that optimistic that fellow hopper Anwar would fancy any of them. However, when I messaged him, he was willing to do one, only with a limited budget. Luckily, Birstall United was the nearest unticked ground and was doable on what he was willing to spend on petrol. I spent the Monday night catching up on by blogging, including doing research for this game. I was hoping for a good night's sleep, what with it being my day off work on the day of the game. I did get a reasonable night in, going to sleep at 1 am and getting up at 8.30 as well as also having an afternoon nap the previous day.  I went down town early and went for a much-needed haircut and picked up a few bits of shopping before meeting my Dad for a lift home. For lunch, I had a Goan pulled pork curry which was pretty decent. The afternoon was spent at home, including trying to plan some games to go to over the next few months.  It proved to be a little too early to plan for my week off in a months time, with hardly any games organised at present.  I also placed a bet for the first time in ages and saw that a number of games had fallen victim to the weather. I was hoping that my pick would not be one of them. Locally, Ashby Ivanhoe had bitten the dust at lunchtime, though I did have Kirby Muxloe Reserves as a backup. There was a disappointing lack of updates from the Birstall United Twitter feed and they had no website either, but visitors Teversal appeared to think the game was going ahead.

I made up my flask and left at 3.50. It was a good journey to Aylesbury with me getting to Anwar at 4.15, 10 minutes ahead of schedule. I set up Twitter alerts for both of tonight's clubs and programmed my Sat Nav while I waited for him. I had a bit of a wait as he was kept waiting in his local shop, but eventually, we were on our way. Getting out of Aylesbury is usually a pain, but on this occasion it was fine. Even through the unpleasant city of Milton Keynes and its plethora of roundabouts, the going was very reasonable for rush hour. A few miles on the M1 signs started to light up saying that there were people on the road. We were held at a standstill for 45 minutes with me turning my engine off once I realised we were not moving. It still cost me on my fuel economy, but at least there wasn't too much damage done. Eventually, we got going and later on, I was pleased when Northants Police tweeted that they had reached a 'successful resolution' but the delay made things a bit tight. We got to the ground at 6.55 and after seeing that the floodlights were on and the game was going ahead, we made our way to the local chip shop, Birstall Fisheries. I looked on Google later and it appeared to have a lot of negative reviews for stingy portions - a pet hate of Anwar and I. However, on this occasion my portion was decent, the only negative being that the woman in front of us had the last bit of Black Pudding that I had my eye on, so I had to make do with pancake roll and chips for £3.50. We eat them whilst walking back to the car and they were pretty good overall.



We got to the ground at 7.20, paying a fiver each to get in and me also getting a programme for £1. Pre-match was spent catching up online and getting pictures of the ground. I'd have liked time to start typing up my blog but thanks to the earlier delay there was no time. The game kicked off with visitors Teversal having the first couple of chances but it was Birstall United that took the lead on 3 minutes. A cross-cum-shot from the right was only parried by Tevie keeper Josh Turton. The visitors had a couple of chances on the break as well as the hosts having a shot cleared off the line, but it was Birstall United that doubled their lead on 26 minutes. Keeper Turton brought down a home man and Sam Moore dispatched the penalty with aplomb, blasting it into the top right corner in the style of West Ham's Julian Dicks back in the day. It was nearly 3-0 soon after when the Teversal keeper was caught off his line, but the Birstall striker shot wide. The rout continued in the second half and on 15 minutes Lewis Dodd made it 3-0 with a spectacular lob from the halfway line that caught keeper Turton off his line again. The scoring was complete a minute later when a visiting defender slid a cross into his own net. Teversal's misery was complete a few minutes later when Lewis Fisher was rightly sent off for a crunching tackle that got nowhere near the ball. Turton made a good double save to prevent it becoming 5-0 and a header narrowly wide saw Teversal missing the chance to reduce the arrears.  

It was a bad night at the office for Teversal and though they'd bought a few fans, it was the majority of the 37 crowd that went home happy. The result was especially surprising given that Tevie came into the game on the back of 9 straight wins, whilst Birstall had lost their last 3. Out of my other potential options on the night, Kirby Muxloe Reserves beat Ashby Ivanhoe Reserves 4-0 whilst Holwell Sports lost 2-1 at home to Holbrook Sports. With my other 3 options postponed, I was lucky that Birstall had an excellent pitch. Other results on the night saw a mixed bag for Wycombe with one result going for them and another against them in terms of promotion rivals. MY bet was ruined by AFC Fylde's failure to beat Guiseley, the only game on my six-fold to go wrong. We left at 9.35 and despite 15 minutes being added to my journey thanks to a closure on the M1, I dropped Anwar off at 11.10. I got home myself 25 minutes later but didn't get to sleep for another hour or so, meaning I was pretty tired when I got up for work at 4 am the following morning.



THE GROUND

MEADOW LANE is a smart ground for the level which has seen a few improvements in recent years. As you enter behind the goal there's a small covered area as well as a clubhouse and other facilities. Along one side is a metal seated stand which is a bit different to the usual 'Arena' type ones. This looks to have a capacity of around 50. Next to it is a smart standing area, around 150 in capacity. This is in the process of being built and has no back and sides but ironically looks like a mini version of a much bigger stand at Notts County's Meadow Lane. The other two sides are open flat standing.

Facilities at the ground do the job but are quite basic. There's a tea bar serving drinks, snacks and rolls, but no hot food. There is also a bar with a basic range of drinks on offer at good value prices. The village is around 15 minutes walk away and has a number of takeaways and pubs.


SCORES ON THE DOORS

1: Ground facilities & condition (for the level)

A nice homely and well-kept venue (7)

2: Area around the ground (parking, food/drink, public transport)
Nearby village, parking ok (6)

3: Welcome / Club Friendliness
Average (5)

4: Value for money

Decent value for the level (7)

5: Social Media & Website
No website, sporadically updated Twitter (4)

6: Programme

Disappointing effort but smart cover, only £1 (4)

7: Game entertainment
A decent contest, if a little one-sided (7)

8: Tea Bar
Basic with hot drinks and rolls, but you can't expect much at this level (5)

9: Bar / Clubhouse

Basic range of drinks (5)

10: Club Shop
None (-)

TOTAL SCORE OUT OF A POSSIBLE 90: 50
AVERAGE SCORE: 5.55


GROUND PHOTOS

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Ossett Town - Ingfield



Ossett Town FC
Ingfield
Prospect Road
Ossett
West Yorkshire
WF5 9HA









Ground Number: 756
Saturday 17th February 2018
Ossett Town 0-2 Hyde United
NPL D1 North







OSSETT TOWN - A BRIEF HISTORY

The club was formed in 1936 with their early years being spent in the West Yorkshire League and the Heavy Woolen League. After World War 2, they joined the Yorkshire League. Fortunes varied wildly as more divisions were added with highs of 6th in the top tier in 1951 and 1979 to a low of 8th in the third tier in 1971. In 1982 a reorganization of the non-league system was implemented and Ossett Town were placed in the Northern Counties East League. Various moves happened, the club eventually being placed in  Division 2. Ossett Town were promoted to Division 1 as champions in 1989, with a 3rd place finish behind Rowntree Mackintosh & Liversedge the following year being good enough for promotion to the Premier Division. They'd remain here for a decade, with a runners-up spot behind local rivals Ossett Albion being good enough for promotion to the NPL D1 in 1999. They adapted to their new league well, finishing as runners-up behind Harrogate Town in 2002. However, they were denied promotion due to the required ground improvements being completed 12 hours too late, even with the delay being due to inclement weather. In 2004, promotion was finally earned due to reorganisation following the introduction of the Conference North & South. A seven-season spell in the NPL Premier followed, with a best-ever finish of 10th in 2007. Since relegation in 2011, the club has played in NPL D1 North. Last season was their best since returning, a 4th place finish ended with a 4-2 defeat to Farsley Celtic in the playoff final. This season has seen the side in mid-table, with an outside chance of making the playoffs with a good run of results.

In the FA Cup, Ossett Town has reached the 4th Qualifying Round twice, firstly in 2005 when they lost 3-2 at home to Leamington, then this season when they lost in a replay after gaining an excellent draw at Conference outfit Solihull Moors, missing out on a home game against Wycombe Wanderers in the process. The club made their FA Trophy debut at the turn of the century, losing 1-0 to Doncaster Rovers in the 2nd Round. The FA Vase 5th Round was reached in 1999, a 2-1 defeat at home to North Ferriby United ending their run. Local cup wins include the NCEL League Cup in 1990, the West Riding Senior Cup in 1950 and two West Riding County Cups. The club's record attendance of 2,600 came for a 1988 friendly in which Lee Sharpe made his debut.

The town of Ossett has a population of 21,131 according to the 2011 census. The town has a history in coal mining and was also home to software house Team17 who produced the computer game 'Worms' with a number of references to the town included in the game. Famous people from Ossett include the pop group 'Black Lace' and actress Helen Worth who plays Gail Platt in Coronation Street. A number of people in football have connections to Ossett, including current referee Bobby Madeley. The most well-known footballer to turn out for the side is former Newcastle defender John Beresford. Currently, singer Jake Quickenden plays for the club, but the most valuable player to the club is Derrick Blackburn. His sale to Swansea Town netted the club a cool £1,350, a significant sum back in 1957 and one that allowed the club to purchase their current ground.



MY VISIT

I'd been wanting to visit Ossett Town for a while, owing to some good pre-match options in the way of pubs amongst other things. I'd nearly been back in October for their FA Cup 4th Qualifying replay with Solihull Moors but I couldn't persuade fellow hoppers to come and help me out with fuel costs. I was disappointed when they lost out to the Conference team, as it meant I couldn't go with Wycombe either after we were drawn away to the winners of the replay. The need to visit was accelerated last week with a merger between Town, and their local rivals Ossett Albion. I'd been to their rivals a couple of years ago, getting there right on kick-off as a flurry of late postponements meant a last minute dash for a game. I really enjoyed my time there, including some very nice pork pies and regretted that I didn't have more time to spend there. Unusually for me, I acted quickly to get the ground in before its potential demise, booking a hotel and arranging a trip within half an hour of seeing the tweet. I'd be seeing a game at Nostell Miners Welfare on the Friday and even Rochdale v Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday after I was lucky enough to secure a ticket.



I'd chosen not to go out on the town the night before the game, but I was still up until just after 1 am after listening to the Two Mikes whilst typing my blog. I woke at 7 am having had a semi-decent night's sleep. I stayed in bed, catching up online and uploading last night's blog. After having a shower, getting dressed and watching some YouTube videos, I went out at around 10, having been just a little bit too late to get the previous bus. I was expecting to be visiting a few pubs today, but that would come later, first off I fancied a look around Wakefield. I took a slow walk around town while I listened to the Two Mikes. After buying a Fiery Mexican chicken sub from PoundBakery for my breakfast as well as F1 2010 for the PS3 for 20p, I started my journey to Ossett.



I caught the 11.30 bus, getting to Ossett just before 12. I had 3 pubs earmarked, although 2 of them were just for food really. My first port of call was the excellent Bier Huis. Really an off license that you could also sit in, this was ‘Independent Cider Retailer Of The Year 2017’. A bold claim, but a well deserved one, as it had a huge range of bottles, this would prove useful for later as I wanted to take some home with me. I’d been restricted to cans of Strongbow yesterday and if they were bland, my first pint of the day was anything but. Udders Orchard Brigantia was a medium dry and had an impressive depth for something at 5%. Plus it was made just down the road in Huddersfield, a well-known mecca for discerning drinkers. Next up, I had to move to bottled cider, but another from Udders Orchard, one called Luddite was even better. Dry, just like I like it, it was well worth £2.95 a bottle. I passed the time by watching Sheffield Wednesday v Swansea City on the excellent SkorLive website, a great recommendation I'd found thanks to YouTuber Dr Squiffy. My third and final pint before going in search of food was a Naylor's Black Cherry. A bit too sour for my liking compared to my previous cherry beers, I was determined to finish it off before I went. I couldn’t find anything decent with a brief walk around Ossett, so paid a tenner to get into the ground including my £2 programme. After getting a spicy chicken burger and chips for £3.50 I went in the bar, getting a pint of Old Rosie for £3. It was clearly out of the box that I’d got for £15 from Morrisons on Black Friday but I was glad to support their venture. Before the game, it was back to the tea bar for a portion of Chilli & Chips for £3. The first half was pretty dull, but I popped out to a shop to get a drink of Irn Bru at halftime. A quickfire double from Luke Porritf gave the visitors a commanding two-goal lead at the start of the second half but it was harsh on Ossett as there wasn't much in the way of chances. That was how it stayed until the end, with neither side offering much in the way of inspiration.



After the game, I went to the Beer Huis to pick up some bottles for the evening, something nice obtained to have with MOTD. From there it was a bus back to Wakefield, I called in at the Hop, having a pint of Bad Apple. It was one I’d not had for a while, in fact not since I was here a year ago. I took my time over it, almost an hour in fact, before moving on. Next stop was Harry’s Bar. Here I had a Hallets Perry amongst friendly locals, though it was another repeat for me. From there I went in search of dinner, having a very good half pound chilli burger with fries for £4.50 from some random Asian place. I put the bus station in Google Maps, as it was a good mile away, I was expecting to bump into a decent pub on the way back, but that turned out not to be the case. I got back to my room at 9.40, having had a good day and with most of my electricals needing a good charge. I watched the goal rush and Match Of The Day with a bottle of cider before getting into bed around midnight.



THE GROUND

INGFIELD was a ground I first visited on 21st April 2007, stopping to get pictures on the way up to Wycombe's game at Darlington. I was impressed with the ground, the seated stand being unusually behind one goal, in addition to extensive terracing, which included 2 further covered areas. At the ground, facilities are excellent with both bar and tea bar being well above average. The ground is excellently located for the town with the Beer Huis micropub and off license being a couple of minutes from the ground.

SCORES ON THE DOORS

1: Ground facilities & condition (for the level)
A decent ground for the level (7)

2: Area around the ground (parking, food/drink, public transport)

Free street parking, excellent public transport links and right in the town (9)

3: Welcome / Club Friendliness

The usual friendly welcome (7)

4: Value for money

£8 was OK (6)

5: Social Media & Website
Both well updated (7)

6: Programme

Had all the essentials and a bit to read (6)

7: Game entertainmen

A fairly dull contest (4)

8: Tea Bar

One of the best I've been to, plenty of choices and good prices (9)

9: Bar / Clubhouse

Smart, had real cider and TV football (8)

10: Club Shop

Fairly limited range available in the tea bar (5)

TOTAL SCORE OUT OF A POSSIBLE 100: 68
AVERAGE SCORE: 6.8


GROUND PHOTOS


Saturday, 17 February 2018

Nostell Miners Welfare - The Crofton Centre




Nostell Miners Welfare FC
Welfare Ground
The Crofton Centre
Middle Lane
Crofton
Wakefield
West Yorkshire
WF4 1LB









Ground Number: 755
Friday 16th February 2018
Nostell MW 4-1 Selby Town
NCEL D1







NOSTELL MW - A BRIEF HISTORY

The club was founded in 1928 and spent their early years in the Wakefield & District League, winning it in 1938. After a spell in the West Yorkshire League where they won a League & Cup double in 1967. Shortly after, they returned to the Wakefield & District League where they stayed until 1982. That year they rejoined the West Yorkshire League, eventually working their way up to the Premier Division in 1997. A third-place finish at the turn of the century was a great showing and 5 years later Nostell Miners Welfare were crowned champions. The following season, another 3rd place finish was good enough for promotion to the Northern Counties East League in 2006. Starting in Division 1, Nostell were an immediate success, finishing 4th and winning promotion to the Premier Division. The following season, 2007/08 was the most successful in the club's history, with a 5th place finish. They'd remain in the Premier Division until 2016 when they finished rock bottom. Last season was even worse, just 3 wins all season and 132 goals conceded as the club finished bottom of Division 1. This season has seen a slight improvement with Nostell Miners Welfare sitting 18th after last weekend's games. 

The club made their FA Cup bow in 2008 when they drew 3-3 at North West Counties League side Winsford United. The replay was won 2-1 before a defeat to Warrington Town after a replay in the Preliminary Round which remains their best ever progress. The FA Vase 3rd Round was reached in 2008 - Poulton Victoria, Ashton Athletic and Ryton being beaten before a 1-0 defeat at Stone Dominoes. In terms of local cups, the NCEL Presidents Cup was lifted in 2009, the West Yorkshire League Cup in 1967 as well as a cup whilst touring Belgium in the 1950's.

The club as formed as a result of coal mining at the pit of Nostell, which started in the 9th century and continued up until 1987. Many workers there moved to the Selby Coalfield, but that itself closed in 2004.  The club is actually based in the village of Crofton, which according to the 2011 census has a population of 5,781. Today it is seen as a commuter village, but still boasts post offices, schools, chip shops and an Indian restaurant amongst its facilities. It is also well connected by bus to the nearest city, Wakefield, which is around 4 miles away. Famous people from the village include the Bronte sisters, Sir Titus Salt, who built the mills of Saltaire and lends his name to a Wetherspoons pub in Bradford as well as footballer Harry Roberts who played for Leeds United, Plymouth Argyle and  Bristol Rovers between 1925 and 1939.



MY VISIT

Back in January, I booked this weekend off work and with Wycombe playing at Cheltenham, a ground I had recently visited, I was always planning a trip away. There were a wealth of options, around 15 in all, but I narrowed it down to 3 favorites for my Friday night game. Aberystwyth Town was a ground I had wanted to visit for ages, but that ruled itself out due to expensive accommodation - the cheapest B&B starting at £45. The other 2 options, Nostell Miners Welfare and Billingham Synthonia were level pegging until a proposed merger between Ossett Town and Ossett Albion forced my hand. Having visited Albion, but not Town, I was well aware that one of those could quickly cease to be used should the merger go ahead. After checking the fixtures and seeing that Ossett Town were at home, I booked a hotel less than 2 miles from Nostell Miners Welfare's ground for just £21 a night, that of course after checking that the weather would not put the game into doubt.




It had been a fairly dull week leading up to the game, though I was pleased when Wycombe beat Swindon 3-2 on the Tuesday in another good game. Generally, though, the week dragged, especially with work being a pain again. Despite giving 18 years service, they expected me and hundreds of other colleagues to cut their hours down to part-time and lose £400 a month, just to save the company a few quid. The managers at my store were as nice as they could be, but overall, I feel I work for a nasty, cynical, greedy, selfish firm who couldn't care less about how their penny pinching affects people who have given them good service. It was a fairly busy day at work and I was pretty tired by the time I left, having a spicy chicken wrap and chips before I left at 1. The journey up was a pain, featuring several route changes due to the roads being dreadful and taking 4 hours. It ruined any pre-match plans that I had, with a brief stop at Co-Op to get some cans meaning that I got to my hotel at 5. It was a bit tricky to find, with absolutely no signposting. Luckily I remembered a note from a TripAdvisor about it being behind an Indian restaurant and shortly after I was checked in. There was a bit of confusion about what room I was supposed to be in, but it was all very friendly. I checked out the restaurant on Google and it looked fine, so I decided that I'd have my dinner there. After necking a couple of cans of Strongbow while I watched Pointless and started this blog, I went downstairs for dinner. There, I had a Punjabi Taste Curry, lemon rice, meat samosa and a Strongbow for £15.50 which was all decent.




After going back to my room, I started walking to the ground just before 7. I got there at 7.40, paying £5 to get in, plus & 1.50 for a programme and team sheet. After walking around the ground, I settled down to watch the game. Nostell Miners Welfare had been hammered 8-1 in the reverse fixture, but it didn’t show in the balance of play. The hosts had plenty of the game but suffered from a lack of quality in the main. On 29 minutes a looping cross from the left was not cleared properly and it was left to Billy Mole to rifle into the roof of the net. A few minutes after the Nostell keeper Neil May came charging out of the area, took down a Selby man with a clumsy challenge but was only given a yellow due to a defender covering. It was 2-0 on 43 minutes, a scrappy goal by Jack Owen doubling the hosts lead. A minute later it was 3-0 and the shock result was on the cards, this time it was Owen capitalizing on the left-hand side as the Selby defenders had gone AWOL. It was still a decent finish though and a deserved result with the form book turned well and truly on its head. The  Sandwiched between the goals was a rash challenge by a Selby man, probably in revenge for the earlier goalkeeper clattering. The offender too got a yellow card. At halftime, I got a Minestrone Soup and got some pictures of the inside of the ground before coming out for the second half. The game slowed down, pace-wise, but it was now Selby with the majority of the play, but not really threatening. Selby eventually did pull one back, it was a lovely curling shot into the top corner by Joe Dale. The game was confirmed a few minutes from time, a low cross from the left on the break found an unmarked Jack Owen who slotted into an empty net from just outside the six-yard box, thus completing his hat-trick. An unhappy Selby fan voiced his opinion ‘You shouldn’t be allowed to pull the shirt on again, you shower of sh*t’ he told his team’s well-beaten players.


A post shared by Russell Cox (@russ_wwfc) on

It wasn't until nearly 10 that the game finished, due to the 8PM kick off and lots of injury time. The crowd was 127 and they would have enjoyed a decent nights football, though the visiting fans would have been disappointed with their team, a good few of them making the effort to get across on this Friday night. I really wanted to go into town, but it would have meant a 25-minute wait for the last bus and then having to pay for a taxi back. Though I was keen to tick a couple off of my shortlist of pubs, I decided to go back to my room. I got back at 10.35, having a couple of cans and typing my blog while listening to the Two Mikes on TalkSPORT. I was annoyed that I couldn't upload my blog due to poor signal, but I fell asleep pretty quick at 1 am.



THE GROUND

THE WELFARE GROUND is a typical step 6 venue, with all the cover along the one side. There's a seated stand, this is elevated above pitch level and holds around 100. You can get good views from here. Alongside it is some overhanging cover from the club building. The rest of the ground is open hard standing. There's a spacious bar at the ground with sports TV, plus a decent tea bar. Within easy walking distance are a chippy, 2 pubs, and  2 shops.

SCORES ON THE DOORS

1: Ground facilities & condition (for the level)

Fairly standard (6)

2: Area around the ground (parking, food/drink, public transport)

A few choices, a reasonable amount of parking (6)

3: Welcome / Club Friendliness

A nice welcome all around the ground (7)

4: Value for money
Good solid value for step 6 (7)

5: Social Media & Website

A good interactive and informative Twitter feed. (8)

6: Programme
Had all the essentials, well designed (6)

7: Game entertainment
A decent contest (7)

8: Tea Bar
A decent selection at good prices (8)

9: Bar/Clubhouse

Smart, the usual range of drinks (6)

10: Club Shop
None (N/A)

TOTAL SCORE OUT OF 90: 61
AVERAGE SCORE: 6.77

GROUND PHOTOS