Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Brocton - Silkmore Lane

Brocton FC
Silkmore Lane Sports Ground
Silkmore Lane
ST17 4JH

01543 571964
Official Website

Ground Number: 891
Tuesday 5th November 2019
Brocton 0-4 Stafford Rangers
Walsall Senior Cup 1st Round


The club was founded in 1937 but had to pause plans due to the outbreak of the war. Previous grounds included the Chetwynd Arms Ground and a groundshare at Stafford Town's Rowley Park. The Cannock Sports Stadium was home between 2002 and 2004, then a groundshare with Heath Hayes for a couple of years after that before moving to Silkmore Lane in 2006. Their early days were spent in the Rugeley & District, Cannock Chase and Staffordshire County South Leagues. They made the step up to the Staffordshire Senior League in 1991, this, in turn, became the Midland League with a 4th place finish in 1995 and 1997 being the highlight during their time here. They joined the Midland Combination (step 6) league in 2003, winning the title in 2014. Reorganisation meant that they were promoted to the step 5 Midland Premier and they spent 3 seasons here, a 13th place finish in 2015 being the best finish in the clubs history. They were relegated to Division 1 after finishing second-bottom in 2017 and didn't pull up any trees for the following couple of seasons. This season has seen a huge improvement, currently, Brocton sit second, four points behind Leicester Road with two games in hand.

In the FA Cup, Brocton have twice reached the 1st Qualifying Round, losing 2-1 at Halesowen Town in 2013 and 4-2 to Deeping Rangers in 2017.  Their best run in the FA Vase came during the 2014/15 season as they defeated Kirby Muxloe, Rocester, Pegasus Juniors and Bolehall Swifts before a 3-2 defeat at Tadcaster Albion in the 4th Round. Local cup wins include the Staffordshire FA Vase, lifted in 1997 and 2000. The record attendance came for a 2015 league game against Hereford, 362 in attendance on that day. The village of Brocton is a small one, with a population of just over 1,000, it lies between Stafford and Cannock Chase.



Around a month ago, fellow hopper Chris announced that he'd be free on this date so I noted the date and said I'd get back to him nearer the time. With around a week to go, I checked the fixtures but there was a real lack of choice. Just Brocton and Sandbach United were within a reasonable distance and these were joined by Bromyard Town & Leicester Nirvana after further research at the weekend. I favoured Brocton v Stafford Rangers whilst Chris preferred Leicester Nirvana v Westfields. In the end, as it was an FA Vase game, I was happy to go with his choice and was hoping that the weather would play ball after the original tie at the weekend was called off. I woke on the morning of the game after a good nights sleep and had a bacon and sausage sandwich. After getting bathed and dressed, I walked to town and back for exercise, getting some Irn Bru and fruit. I arrived back at 1.15 to the news that Leicester Nirvana were having a 3pm pitch inspection, so I further researched my backups and added a few more, just in case. Bad news came on the way to meet Chris with the Leicester Nirvana game off but at least they had tweeted early with the Westfields coach leaving at 4.

I met Chris just before 4 and he phoned Brocton to confirm that the game was on. The club said there were no issues and so we headed for there. The roads were lousy as usual, an hours delay overall, with the majority of it coming on the M6 due to a broken-down car. We were in Stafford at 6.40 and went to a pizza place called Slices, getting a large Mexican pizza each to take back to the ground. They were on a special offer for the pair, but even with having not eaten in 7 hours, I struggled to eat mine it was that big. It took ages to cook and I was glad we had time to play with. It was a bit concerning that neither club was tweeting any news about the game, but I needn't have worried. Finally, at 7.05, Brocton tweeted to say that the game was on. We made our way to the ground, arriving at 7.15 and eating in the car. Entry was a fiver and a thick programme £1. We headed to the bar which had a great choice, I had a bottle of Henney's Cider for £3. It was one of the better ones that I have had in a football ground. There was just under three miles between the grounds and also a three-division gap with Brocton in the step 6 Midland League Division One and Stafford Rangers were in the Step 3 NPL Premier although the latter had been Conference mainstays in the 1990s.

Brocton came into the game having enjoyed five straight wins. October had been especially productive when the weather had not got in the way. They'd enjoyed rollercoaster away wins at Bilston Town (4-3) and Rocester (5-4) as well as hammering Nuneaton Griff 14-0 at home. Stafford Rangers, by contrast, had only won one of their last eight and had dropped to bottom place following a defeat to fellow strugglers Bamber Bridge on Saturday. They named seven of the side that started that game in tonight's lineup. They dominated the first half and took the lead on 40 minutes, a close-range finish by Joe Berks. Brocton came close to an equaliser a couple of minutes later but were denied thanks to a smart save by Rangers keeper Lewis King who tipped a header around the post. The visitors doubled their lead on 49 minutes, the initial shot was saved but Bradley Grayson followed up from close range. Berks got his second on 64 minutes with the goal of the game, a great strike that found the top corner from the edge of the area. The game was wrapped up on 80 minutes, this time it was Euan Garnett who took advantage of hesitancy in the Brocton defence to send a decent portion of the 217 crowd home happy as he made it 4-0.

After the game, we left at 9.40. The big talking point on TalkSPORT was Chelsea coming back from 4-1 down against Ajax to draw 4-4 with them even having a winner ruled out due to VAR. Wycombe's second-string side had lost to Fulham U21's in the Leasing Trophy, not that I was the slightest bit bothered by that. In terms of the other games that were under consideration, Leicester Nirvana had already bitten the dust by the time we left and the same fate also befell Wythenshawe Amateurs and Barnton. In the games that did go ahead, Sandbach United beat Congleton Town 3-1 in a friendly game whilst Bromyard Town overcame Ewyas Harold 7-3 in the Herefordshire Cup. After we'd got fed up of the limited range of football debate, we switched to Radio 4 and listened to Alexi Sayle. A closure on the M6 meant that we had to come back via the A45 and witnessed some petty road range between a Hermes lorry and a Royal Mail lorry after one cut the other up. The other party tried to get in their revenge by slamming their brakes on and driving slowly, luckily I left plenty of room as their childishness could have caused an accident. It didn't add much time to the journey though with me dropping Chris off at 11.30. I listened to a recording of the BBC Three Counties Non-League show on the way home, getting in an hour later. With work at 4 am in the morning, I didn't hang around before going to sleep and was only slightly tired the following morning.


Silkmore Lane is typical of a ground of a club that has recently started playing senior non-league football but they've actually only played there since 2006, gaining a 30-year lease on that was the former Police sports ground. There are the obligatory metal stands, one seated and one standing both holding around 100 fans each. The rest of the ground is open but is nicely kept. I didn't try the tea bar but the bar was very good, offering a selection of real ales and a decent cider, mainly in bottles. There wasn't a huge amount near the ground, but the town is under two miles away with places in between.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

St Andrews - Canal Street

St Andrews FC
Canal Street
Aylestone Road

0116 2839298

Ground Number: 890
Tuesday 29th October 2019
St Andrews 1-2 Saffron Dynamo
UCL Knockout Cup


The club was established in 1973 after initially playing friendlies for some time before this. They joined the Leicestershire City League upon formation and were incredibly successful around this time, winning 44 honours at various levels. After winning the league's Premier Division four times on the bounce, they joined the Leicestershire Senior League in 1985. After a couple of seasons in Division 1, they were promoted after finishing as runners-up to Rolls Royce. The next 21 years were spent in the Premier Divison with the title being won three times. In 2008, St Andrews made the step up to the East Midlands Counties League as founder members and after finishing as runners-up to Bardon Hill in 2015, they were champions the following year. Promotion to the Midlands Premier followed and the 2016/17 season saw their best-ever finish of 9th at step 5 in the non-league pyramid. Last season saw a transfer to the United Counties Premier thanks to reorganisation. It was not a good season for the club with them going down on goal difference following a 3-way tie on 33 points along with Oadby Town & Wellingborough Whitworth. Last season saw a disappointing 16th place finish but this year has seen an improvement with St Andrews in 6th place so far.

The FA Cup has seen little success for St Andrews with their sole victory coming in their debut season of 2009/10 when they won 3-2 Lincoln Moorlands Railway before a 6-1 defeat at Winterton Rangers in the Preliminary Round. In the FA Vase, the 2013-14 season saw an exceptional run to the FA Vase semi-final. Starting in the very first round, they beat Lutterworth Athletic, Clipstone, Lincoln Moorlands Railway, Brocton, Bolehall Swifts, AFC Rushden & Diamonds, East Preston & Newcastle Benfield to set up a two-legged clash with West Auckland Town. Despite gaining a 0-0 up in the North East, the home leg was lost 2-1 despite them taking the lead in front of their record crowd of 1,600. Local cup wins include the Leicestershire Senior League Cup on four occasions, the Rolleston Cup three times, the Leicestershire Junior Cup twice the Leicestershire Challenge Cup and the Westerby Cup.



I'd originally intended on visiting this ground on 2nd October 2018 for a UCL Knockout Cup game against Aylestone Park. However, fellow hopper Anwar pulled out on the morning of the game and I headed south to Chichester City. It looked as if I might be on my own this week too - Anwar had tried to get in contact with Thomas who had come with us to Abingdon a fortnight ago, but he'd been unable to summon a response. With him having had a pricey weekend at Rotherham v Wycombe, I offered to pay a bit more of the petrol than usual as otherwise, I'd have been on my own, heading instead to Totton & Eling. I'd originally been intending to visit there a couple of Fridays ago but it had been called off due to rain, as had my planned trip to Peckham Town on Saturday. Having checked the weather tonight, it didn't appear as if there would be a similar problem, but just in case I had Aylestone Park as a backup.

The day of the game came and I'd had a good nights sleep for once, finally getting up at 8.30 after an 11-hour sleep, albeit after waking up a couple of times. I had breakfast and a bath and walked down town, getting some lunch and some fruit. I came back and spent the afternoon playing Championship Manager 97/98 via the DosBox app on my Chromebook. It was the whole reason I had spent my first pay packet on a PC back in 1998 and it was just as addictive now as it was then. I managed to tear myself away, leaving at 4. Thanks to roadworks in Aylesbury, I was delayed 15 minutes meeting Anwar and didn’t reach him until 4.45. Thanks to the clocks going back, it was the first time that we'd left for a game in the dark. We were soon on our way and despite having to take an alternative route through the backstreets, we made good time and were at our pre-planned takeaway by 6.30. The Krispyland Chicken and Grill was great with a huge menu choice. I went for a Mexican Chicken Burger meal for £4. From there, it was 3 miles to the ground with us getting there at 7.10. Entry was £6 and it was nice to get a friendly welcome off the gate lady’s dog Bonnie as we went in. We sat in the bar and caught up before the game started. I was still peckish so got some curry sauce and chips for £2. The man serving was really friendly and asked where I'd come from and the food was great.

St Andrews had enjoyed a decent October. They'd enjoyed big home wins against Birstall United (5-0) and Cottesmore Amateurs (7-2) as well as a 3-2 win at Bugbrooke St Michael. The only blot on the landscape was a 3-0 loss at Harrowby United. Over the same period, Saffron Dynamo had played even better. They'd enjoyed wins against Rushden & Higham United (3-0), Oakham United (5-1), Blackstones (2-1) and Blaby & Whetstone Athletic (3-1). They'd also drawn 1-1 at home to Bugbrooke St Michael. The hosts started the brightest and had a number of chances in the opening few minutes, failing to take any of them. They were made to pay on 8 minutes when Saffron Dynamo took the lead with their first real chance of the game. From a corner, Jordan Henry forced the ball over the line, there was some debate over whether it was a goal or not, but the linesman gave it. This led to a period of domination for the visitors but the hosts had a chance on the break on 23 minutes, #9's low shot from just inside the area which was tipped round the post by the goalkeeper. On 35 minutes, Saffron Dynamo doubled their lead on 35 minutes, again it was Henry, this time he was given too much space and shot home on the turn from the edge of the area. The first half had been an entertaining affair, but the second period, for the most part, was a scrappy battle. Saffron Dynamo had the better of the few chances that there were, but St Andrews didn't help themselves, having a couple of players sin-binned for arguing with the ref. They didn't have many chances, but the few that they had were squandered. That was until 88 minutes when they pulled one back from close range. Finally playing for the last five minutes, they laid siege to the visitors' goal, having a strong penalty claim dismissed. The game finished at 9.40 and listened to the football of which there wasn't much to write home about.  I dropped Anwar off at 11.10, getting home myself at 11.35. I stayed up for half an hour before going to sleep as I had work at 4 am in the morning.


CANAL STREET is set in pleasant surroundings and is a decent place to watch football. There's a 100 seater stand with blue seats and benches at the front. There's also a covered area opposite, holding around 30 but apart from that, the ground is fully open. Facilities at the ground are pretty good, a nice range of food and a reasonable bar, all at OK prices. I didn't spot much in the immediate vicinity of the ground as it is in a residential area.