Saturday, 8 December 2018

Royal Wootton Bassett Town - New Gerard Buxton Sports Ground

Royal Wootton Bassett Town FC
New Gerard Buxton Sports Ground
Brinkworth Road
Royal Wootton Bassett

Ground Number: 823
Friday 7th December 2018
Royal Wootton Bassett Town 1-1 Brimscombe & Thrupp
Hellenic Premier


The original club was formed in 1882 and up until recently, were known as Wootton Bassett Town. They played in various leagues including the Vale Of White, Swindon & District and the Wiltshire League. The latter of these bought in a rule that players had to live within a certain radius of the club and this together with financial pressures caused the club to fold in 1908. They would re-emerge in 1930, this time playing in the Calne & District League. The second world war would interrupt and when football resumed, the club would play in the Wiltshire Leagues with mixed fortunes. 1988 would see them make the step up to the Hellenic League, initially in Division 1. Finishes here were mixed, ranging from as low as 12th on a couple of occasions to as high as 3rd in the 1999/00 season. That allowed them to be promoted to the Hellenic Premier. Despite a respectable 13th place finish in their first season, they generally struggled and were relegated in 2005 after finishing second-bottom. It would take them until 2010 to bounce back, by way of a runners-up spot to Slimbridge. Though they finished in a respectable 15th, they were demoted due to ground grading. Wootton Bassett Town would spend two more seasons back in Division 1 West, finishing as runners-up to Brimscombe & Thrupp in 2013. This would lead to a two-year groundshare with Cirencester Town and it was in the second of these seasons that the club would enjoy their best ever finish in the clubs history of 11th in the Hellenic Premier, a feat they would repeat a couple of seasons later. 2015 would see them renamed Royal Wootton Bassett Town and return home. Since then, finishes have been mid-table but this season has seen an incredible upturn in results with them sitting in 4th coming into their latest game.

The best FA Cup run came during the 2012/13 season when they beat Calne Town, Hamworthy United and Highworth Town before a 4-0 defeat at Dorchester Town in the 2nd Qualifying Round. The FA Vase 2nd Round has been reached on a couple of occasions - in 2008 when they lost 4-0 at Wimborne Town and then again in 2017 as they lost 3-2 at Horndean. The club has won a plethora of local trophies, the most notable of which is a pair of Wilshire Senior Cups in 1999 and 2001. The town of Wootton Bassett was granted Royal patronage in 2011 due to many war heroes coming from the town and has a population of 11,385.


I'm always keen on a bit of Friday night football, but the options are usually few and far between. This proved to be the case this week - the nearest viable options with my usual Friday hopper Chris were Welshpool Town and Norwich CBS, but he had done both. We did briefly consider Barry Town but in the end, decided against it as it was a bit of a stretch getting there and it would also be a long way back and a late night. Royal Wootton Bassett Town was a lot nearer, but geographically unviable going via Milton Keynes. It worked for going via my regular hopper Anwar though, but he'd not shown much interest in hopping lately. But when I told him how near it was, he was thankfully up for it and so I'd have some company for the journey, plus help with fuel costs. The day of the game came and it was a reasonably easy day with me working 5-12 including a free Christmas buffet at the end. I came home and spent the afternoon catching up on my YouTube subscriptions before leaving at 4.15. I was at Anwar's half an hour later and soon enough, we were on our way. There were a few delays, but overall, it was a good journey for a Friday night. We got to our pre-planned stop of Morrisons in Swindon at 6.20. Their cafe is usually pretty decent and I'd wanted a sit-down meal with it being chilly. I'd deliberately selected the store with the Cafe that closed at 7PM as I'd been caught out in the past with early closers. So I was most disappointed when I went to order food with 40 minutes till closing, only to be told that they stopped serving hot food at 5.30 as they closed at 7. Bizzare and an utter disgrace, but par for the course with Morrisons shoddy customer service. Luckily there was a chip shop outside and although Saveloy and chips eaten in my car was not ideal, it was decent enough for £2.70.

From there, we made our way to the ground, getting there at 7.20. Entry was a reasonable £6 and a programme was £1.50. The latter was superb, a real amount of effort put into making something worth reading. I only had around 15 minutes to kill before a kickoff, a result of leaving as late as possible to avoid any late postponements due to the rain. I needn't have worried as the pitch was in superb condition. The visitors were well on top during the early exchanges and they hit the inside of the post through Sam Blackie on 11 minutes. They should have got a penalty shortly after, but the referee waved away the claims. They did get a penalty on 22 minutes, a highly dubious one and probably awarded as the referee knew he had messed up the first decision. Ash Caldwell stepped up, but the home Keeper Sawyer produced a brilliant save. I assume he was a reserve team player as he wasn't featured in the team profiles in the programme, however, he was the man of the match for the Wootton Bassett. There was finally a legitimate penalty awarded on 41 minutes, this time Caldwell scored, despite a good effort to save the shot from Sawyer. The hosts should have had a free kick, but in general, they were very poor and it was a mystery how they sat 4th in the table. Wootton Bassett did improve in the second half and they'd go on to equalise with their first serious shot and well-travelled striker TJ Bohane netted a looping header. The home keeper was caught out of his area later on, but Brimscombe were too slow to take advantage. The ref didn't help the game, far too fussy and kept breaking up the play. The visitors looked the more likely winners, and they were awarded a host of free kicks, however, most were overhit. The game ended 1-1 and by 9.45 we were away. I stopped at the Co-Op for a few local ciders before heading home. The Two Mikes om TalkSport kept us company on the way home with me dropping Anwar off at 11.25. I was home 25 minutes later and so I had a couple of bottles while typing this blog before going to bed around 2 am.


The new GERARD BUXTON SPORTS GROUND is a well kept and smart venue, but its a bit dull. Its the standard new build - open bar a couple of metal 'Arena' stands - one seated and one standing with around a capacity of around 100 each. They do the job to a point and satisfy ground grading criteria, but not much more than that. Facilities at the ground are OK, a basic tea bar and a spacious bar that shows TV football. The town is around a mile walk away. There is a decent range of merchandise, but this is to order and prices reflect this. The programme is £1.50 and is excellent, with plenty of stats.


I visited Wootton Bassett's old ground in August 2007, whilst I was on the way to a Plymouth Argyle v Wycombe Wanderers game. As it was around 7 am, the ground was all shut up and so I was lucky enough to find a hole in the fence. I was impressed with a nice homely ground, but the authorities were obviously not as they demanded improvements, meaning that the club had to share at Cirencester for a couple of seasons. 

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Park View - New River Sports Stadium

Park View FC
The New River Sports Stadium
White Hart Lane
Wood Green
N22 5QW

Official Website (under construction)
Wikipedia Page

Ground Number: 822
Saturday 1st December 2018
Park View 0-5 Winslow United
Spartan South Midlands League D1


The club was established in Tottenham in 1991 and at first, played only friendlies. They draw a lot of their players from the Ghanaian community in London and as a result joined the Ghanaian Football Society League in 2003, winning its Premier  Division in 2006 and 2007. After their second win, they joined the Middlesex County League Division 1 Central & East, winning it before leaving the league. Spells in the London League (winning its Premier Division in 2011 and 2012) and the London Commercial League (winning Division 1 in 2012) before they made the switch to the Amateur Football Association. They were a huge success here, winning three titles. Park View reverted to standard FA football at the start of last season, joining the Spartan South Midlands League Division 2, where they were champions in their first season. This season has seen the positive progress continue and they sat 6th in the league prior to today's game.

The club are yet to enter the FA Cup or FA Vase, but they have  won a host of local cups including the Middlesex County FA Cup (2008, 2010 & 2015), the London Football League Cup (2011 & 2012), the London Commercial League Cup (2014) and the Spartan South Midlands Division 2 Cup (2018)


Thanks to Wycombe's exit from the FA Cup at Luton in the 1st Round, I knew we wouldn't have a game this weekend. Thoughts turned to where I could go and there was one that I really fancied doing - Lye Town v Leighton Town in the FA Vase. Normally I'd be able to get cheap tickets up there thanks to advance fares from Chiltern Railways. However, despite trying to buy tickets nearly two weeks in advance, there were no cheap ones available. Fellow hopper Anwar suggested Ilkeston, but I fancied one on public transport. London was the obvious choice, with it being a decent time to visit the capital, what with it being my last free Saturday before Christmas. There were not too many options for new grounds, but in the end, Peckham Town v Bexley won out over other options at Fire United and Park View. These were kept as backups though in case of rain, along with a revisit to Redbridge. Friday evening was spent planning other things to do in London such as a trip to Borough Market, as well as watching TV before grabbing a fairly early night.

Despite that early night, I woke up at my normal work time and couldn’t get back to sleep. After lying in bed for a few hours, I had breakfast and a bath as well as a Lemsip as I wasn’t feeling great. Whereas others would stay in, wallowing in misery and breathing in my own germs, I knew the best answer was some nice fresh air and a trip out. I left home just after 9.30, stopping at Amersham Tesco for a Daily Star and a bottle of Irn Bru. I got the 10.14 train out of Amersham, already feeling better and in a good mood. I received disappointing news that the Peckham game was off, no surprise given the deluge of rain. It always seems to pelt it down on my day off, while remaining dry whilst I’m stuck in work and this appeared to be the case for the following Tuesday. I continued ahead to Borough Market, via a change at Finchley Road before getting off at London Bridge. With me not fancying Fire United’s limited cover and poor view due to an athletics track, it was going to be either Park View v Winslow or a revisit to Redbridge v Chertsey Town. The former appealed more due to the 3G pitch and despite having a running track, the stand was well elevated and offered a decent view.  So I got to the wonderful Borough Market around 11.30. The New Forest Cider stall was the order of the day and I tried a couple of new bottles, namely Oliver’s Gold Rush and Little Pomona C’est Si Bon-Bonne. In between, I had some excellent Wild Boar Tortellini with Pesto and Tomato sauce. All this came at a premium, but it was not going to be added to my football costs for the season, as I do like to splash out on nice food and drink when I’m in the mood. I researched online for where to go and so got the 12.50 Northern Line train to Kings Cross St Pancras where I got the final leg of my journey, the Piccadilly to Wood Green. I then stopped at McDonald's where they messed up and gave me someone else’s order, albeit a mistake that benefited me. I got to the ground at 2.15, initially no one taking entry, but later on sometime coming around and charging a fiver which included a programme. I met a couple of other hoppers whose games had also been called off and we had a chat as we waited for kick off.

Though Park View were in 6th, Winslow United were higher in 4th place. It looked as if the game was going to be a close one, but that turned out to be anything but the case. Winslow had brought along a decent number of fans, compared to the handful of home supporters. The game kicked off pretty late, nearer 3.10 than the stated kick off time. It was a Winslow break that provided the first goal as they moved the ball quickly up the other end and although Aaron King's shot was initially saved, Jack Bowers followed up with the rebound. King got on the scoresheet himself just before halftime when a corner was put in, the ball was headed back across and he got the final touch, though the home keeper might have wanted to do better. Park View were not giving up and they had some chances of their own, with Winslow playing a lot of the game on the break, Parsons hitting the bar for the visitors. They made it 3-0 to pretty much seal the game, a foul in the area resulting in a penalty which Ryan Freshwater converted. Just before this goal, Park View had their number 12 sent off for a second bookable offence after he had only just come on as a substitute. The 4th was the only goal that I didn't get on camera and it looked like a keeper error as Shibs scored from a fairly tame shot. Park View let frustration get the better of them and their number 14 was the second substitute to get his marching orders and again it was a second yellow following a late tackle. A member of the home bench was also sent off. The visitors made it 5-0 late on. A series of corners finally resulted in the ball falling to Harry Dalton at the back post who headed home. 

So, a comprehensive win for Winslow and not what I expected looking at the table on kick off. The game was also much delayed due to the late start and various incidents in the game, so I didn’t leave until 5.10. I made my way back to the station, stopping at Morrisons on the way to get some cartons of drink. I decided to go up into central London, stopping off at Leicester Square for a look around. There were absolutely tons of homeless people around, with tents and sleeping bags everywhere. I hope our government are proud of their legacy. I stopped at the brilliant Harp Pub in Trafalgar Square for a half of Easter Hill Cox Cider before taking the 20-minute walk along the Embankment to the Southbank Christmas market. I avoided temptation and at around 7.30 started to head for home. A walk to Waterloo, changes at Finchley Road and Harrow on the Hill were made before my final train to Amersham. I got back just before 9. It was the usual Saturday evening of relaxing until Match Of The Day and the usual late night followed by a 4 am start at work the following morning.


The NEW RIVER SPORTS CENTRE is a multi-sport venue which has an athletics track. However. this doesn't make the view from the large 1,040-seater stand bad, in fact, it's great, thanks to the stand being elevated and tall. The rest of the ground is open and has plenty of terracing all around the pitch. Facilities at the ground are restricted to basic drinks and snacks. Parking is limited to pay & display car parks, so you are better off coming by train. Wood Green station is a 20-minute walk away and offers a wide range of food and drink places, including a decent Wetherspoons called Spouters Corner. 

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Ashby Ivanhoe - NFU Sports Ground

Ashby Ivanhoe FC
NFU Sports Ground
Lower Packington Road
LE65 1TS

07807 261975

Ground Number: 821
Tuesday 27th November 2018
Ashby Ivanhoe 5-1 Ingles
Leicestershire County Cup Quarter Final


The club was founded in 1948, joining the Coalville & District League upon formation. A transfer to the Burton & District League followed in 1967 where fortunes were mixed. The late 1980s saw them join the North Leicestershire League, winning its Premier Division on four occasions. The club made the step up to the Leicestershire Senior League in 2005, starting out in its step 8 Division 1. Ashby Ivanhoe performed well and by 2008, a runners-up spot behind Ashfordby Amateurs was good enough to gain promotion to the Premier Division. Finishes again were excellent, with the Premier Division title being lifted in 2011. A 3rd place finish in 2014 was good enough to see the club promoted to the East Midlands Counties League, although they only missed out on winning the title due to goal difference with Allexton & New Parks and Melton Mowbray finishing above them. Finishes in the EMCL have finished from 3rd in 2016 to 17th last season. This season has seen a slight improvement, with Ashby Ivanhoe sitting 13th at the time of kick off.

In the FA Cup, the club entered for the only time in the 2016/17 season. They beat Quorn 4-3 and Loughborough Dynamo (a significant giant-killing as they were the away side at a team two levels higher) before a 6-0 home defeat to Ilkeston in the 1st Qualifying Round (although this game produced the club record attendance of 693). The 2016/17 season also saw the club's best ever FA Vase Run, beating Pelsall Villa and Stone Old Alleynians before losing to Hucknall Town in the 1st Round. Local cup wins include the North Leicestershire League Chairman's Shield twice, the Cobbin Trophy in 1997, the Ivanhoe Shield in 1981, the Ashby Charity Cup in 1997 and the Coalville Charity Cup in 2011. Famous names in the dugout include Tony Hemmings with the former Wycombe striker managing the club between 2013 and 2015. The club is based in Ashby-De-La-Zouch, a small town with a population of  13,759. It is well-known for being the home of the snack manufacturer KP. Famous people to come from the town include footballer Russell Hoult and radio and TV presenter Max Rushden. Fictionally, Adrian Mole lived in Ashby-De-La-Zouch during his lifetime with his girlfriend Pandora Braithwaite later becoming MP for the town, although she'd sacked him off long before then.


There was a really limited choice of games on this Tuesday, what with the weather getting colder and wetter. I'd have Chris with me for a change and it was due to the weather that we decided to opt for a league game to play it safe, despite our initial preference being Clay Cross Town. Our options boiled down to two - Sheffield Wednesday & Leicester City. I'd visited both of course as I'd completed the 92, but with both visits coming in 2012, I was happy to revisit to update my blog and get better pictures. The day of the game came and I'd had a reasonable night sleep. After getting ready, it was my usual walk down town where I got some soup for lunch, plus a few other bits. I came back and did my final bits of research for tonight. Lots of games had already been called off before I left at 3.30, but these were tending to be down south, where the weather had hit earliest. I got to Chris about 4 40 and had fully intended to book tickets for Leicester. I'd not booked them at home in case of any late changes or car problems and thought it would be simple enough on my iPad. I was completely wrong, a series of failed CAPTCHA's and complaints that my perfectly valid landline number was not valid meant we tried to ring the ticket hotline. Only to be greeted by a recorded message of Jamie Vardy telling us to ring back between 9 am and 6pm. With it being 5 pm now and 20 minutes already wasted, we decided to search for what was still on. Thankfully, I had a directory of all the names and numbers of club secretaries. Though the Ashby Ivanhoe man didn't answer, he called back within a few minutes and confirmed that the game was on.

For once, the journey was a really good one, with only minimal delays. Most surprising at that time of night. After arriving at 6.40 and checking in at the ground to confirm that the game was on, we drove back into town for dinner. I wasn't expecting much from Nick's Fish Bar, but it turned out to be pretty decent with a tasty and generous portion of chicken curry and chips costing £3.50.  We got back to the ground at 7.10 and paid an excellent value £4 to get in. There were no programmes, but with me rapidly running out of space, it doesn't bother me to be honest. The game was a 7.30 kick off, so I had barely any time to catch up on things before it started. The hosts started very brightly and they took the lead on 5 minutes. A Ben Minshull corner was put in and Joel Earps headed home. There was some debate as to whether it was over the line as it bounced down off of the bar, but the referee gave it. After 12 minutes it was 2-0, a really well-worked move resulting in a close-range finish by top goalscorer Kerr Horn. This was a just score given the hosts' early dominance, but Ingles were starting to come into the game and had a really good spell. They saw plenty of the ball but didn't really trouble the home keeper too much. It was 3-0 just before halftime, just like the first goal it was a Minshull corner and an Earps finish, this time a low, close-range effort. Ingles continued to have the upper hand in the second half, but again, the finishing was lacking. Ashby Ivanhoe made it 4-0 with a goal on the break, a good run from Sam Carline set up Mitch Woodbine who slotted calmly past the keeper. The visitors got a much-deserved goal back on 84 minutes, Kyle Fowkes heading in a cross. The rout was complete in the last minute when Horn got his second, rounding the keeper and blasting into the top corner.

The scoreline had been very harsh on Ingles and although Ashby Ivanhoe deserved their win, it should have been by a one or two goal margin. It had been a really good pick too, only 3 out of 7 step 2 and below games were on and even Football League side Mansfield Town called their game off at 6.30, very poor considering the opponents had travelled from Crawley. The club had been very friendly and it had been a much better ground than I expected. I was delighted to hear on my way home that Wycombe had grabbed a late winner to win 2-1 at Accrington. Incredibly, that lifted us up to 10th, a great position considering our expectations at the start of the season. We'd also dodged a bullet at Leicester, reporter Alan Green made snoring noises to describe their 0-0 draw at home to Southampton, with the hosts eventually winning on penalties. Elsewhere, Manchester United grabbed a late winner yet again as they fluked their way to victory over Swiss side Young Boys. They've done this on a number of occasions and I reckon this side is not much better than some of the sides that have been relegated from the Premiership in the past. Radio 5 kept us company until we got to Chris's at 10:40, then I switched on my Podcasts. After going back via the M1 and M25, I got in an hour later. As per usual, I couldn't get to sleep until 2 am, my lie in the previous morning meaning that my body clock would not let me go to sleep. I caught up with a nap the following afternoon though, but I didn't feel that tired when I woke at 4 am on Wednesday for work.


THE NFU SPORTS GROUND is a great little ground for the level, though it's located a fair way from town, around a mile in fact. At the ground are food and drink facilities, these offer a fairly basic range but at good prices. The ground itself was a lot better than expected. The side where you come in (behind the goal) has two wooden structures - a seated stand holding 50 and covered standing for around 150. On the side is a small metal stand provided by Stadium Solutions, this holds around 50 and is a lot better than the more common 'Arena' efforts. The rest of the ground is open hard standing although only two sides are officially available to fans due to it being a multi-sports venue. This adds to the charm though and with the club being really friendly, I'd definitely recommend a visit.