Friday, 20 May 2022

Leatherhead Youth FC - River Lane


Leatherhead Youth FC
River Lane
Leatherhead 
Surrey
KT22 0AY






Ground Number: 1076
Friday 20th May 2022
AFC Hammersmith 3-3 Banstead Rovers
Leatherhead & District Sunday League Charity Cup Final






PRE-MATCH RESEARCH

As with many grounds and clubs at this level, information on clubs and grounds is hard to come by. Leatherhead Youth, the current owners of the ground have an unclear formation date, although their Twitter account was established in 2015. Their history and badge indicate an initial link with Leatherhead FC and going further back Mole Valley Predators who themselves were created as a three-way merger between senior side Chessington United and youth sides Predators FC and Fetcham Park United in 2006. As you would expect from a team with such a name, there is no senior side, with the emphasis very much on youth football.

 

As for senior sides that have used the venue, Chessington White Hart FC was established in 1990 and worked its way through the Surrey South Eastern Leagues. They joined the Surrey County Premier League in 1996 but a year later changed their name to Chessington United. This was not the same side as the current Chessington & Hook United who used the name up until 1986. By 1999, they had finished as runners-up to Chobham & Ottershaw, earning promotion to the Combined Counties League. Following six seasons here, they changed their name to Mole Valley Predators in conjunction with some local youth teams. They left the league in 2006 and possibly have some connection to the current side Sutton Common Rovers who were known as Mole Valley SCR up until 2015. The ground was used up until 2009 until the team decamped to Cobham and later on, Sutton United.


 
The formation date of the Leatherhead & Sunday League is unclear, but the competition consists of 15 divisions and over 130 teams. As for the two teams, Banstead Rovers had topped the Premier Division. They were a young club, having been established in 2018. They won Division 3 in their debut season and then in the abandoned 2019/20 season finished high enough to gain promotion to Division 1. Last season they finished as runners-up to The Buffs to earn promotion to the top tier which they won this season. AFC Hammersmith Town were slightly older, having been formed in 2011. They joined the Southern Sunday League in 2015, winning Division 1 in their first season. They went on to win the Premier Division in 2017 & 2019. They also won the league's Frank Blunstone Cup in 2017. Last season they played in the Harrow Challenge Sunday Premier, winning all sixteen games. They also won the Jack Walker Open Cup and the Harrow Challenge Premier Cup. They'd only joined the league for the 2019/20 season, finishing 4th in their debut season. This season they were runners-up in the Premier Division, remaining unbeaten all season.


MY VISIT

I'm a big fan of Friday night football, but with the season in its dying embers, I didn't think I'd find any. This one kind of fell into my lap by accident, spotted by Oxford-based hopper Laurence on our groundhopping group on WhatsApp. I'd seen the ground used previously for teams in the Conference Youth Alliance League and I thought it would be that sort of game I'd have to do if I wanted to visit. It certainly looked a decent setup and worth a groundhop and so I was glad when I found out that the Leatherhead Sunday League Cup Final would be played there. It was a nice local one and as a result, I'd not have to pay for a meal out. Fellow hopper Colin was also keen to get his numbers up and so I secured his company and help with fuel not long after I initially found out about the game.


The week was really dragging for some reason, perhaps because Wycombe would be at Wembley on Saturday and I had formulated a plan for a decent day. Friday went a little quicker and I was glad when we finally had post for the first time in a few days as there were things I was waiting for. I spent the afternoon at home, deciding the rest of my fixtures for the season. There was not much about, but four more games, with the last on 30th May will see me finish on 167 games. Banstead Rovers had been very friendly and said there was a drink behind the bar for me although I was in two minds whether to take it, what with me driving. I left at 5.55, getting to Colin at 6.10. He kept me waiting for 10 minutes and then told me he'd not got any cash out. We made good progress at first, but then got delayed on the M25. A five-mile detour to Sainsbury's was needed for a cash machine and we got to the ground five minutes before the advertised kick-off. It was a brilliant setup with great food and drink. I also saw Bournemouth fan Vinny at the game. Entry including a programme was £5 though my drink must have been lost in communication and so I made do with Irn Bru. I was glad of a delayed kick-off, we eventually got going at 7.50.

AFC Hammersmith had got to this final, firstly by having a home walkover against ECS Classics. They then won 7-0 at Putney Town before another walkover against Priest Hill. They confirmed their place in the final with a 2-0 win over Barnes Eagles on Sunday. Banstead Rovers had won 7-2 at Mondial, beaten Doverhouse Lions 2-0, and defeated Thames River Plate 3-0 before a 2-0 win at JB Rangers. In the league, AFC Hammersmith had inflicted Banstead Rovers' only defeat of the season in September before being the only side to draw against them nearing the end of the season. Both sides had chances, Banstead edging the possession but AFC Hammersmith looking the more clinical. The latter took the lead on 40 minutes, a slightly deflected low shot from 15 yards finding the bottom left corner. A minute later, it was all square, an attack down the left and a ball into the six-yard box was put home from close range. The halftime whistle soon sounded with the game finding a tempo. Banstead Rovers started the second half well and took the lead on 52 minutes, firing into the roof of the net following an attack down the right. Following the goal, Hammersmith's bench had a couple of men sent off for something they said to the referee and they came and stood near us. Plenty of stick was still given out from their quarter and they saw their side clip the post from a free-kick move. Banstead could have extended their lead, some great footwork by #8 was not rewarded when his ball into the box was not put away. They did make it 3-1 from a penalty awarded for a foul just inside the area and for a while, it looked as if they would see the game out. However, Hammersmith had other ideas, forcing a good save out of the keeper. They got a penalty of their own around five minutes from time and this foul and the reaction cause a melee. After a delay, the penalty was converted to bring the game back to life. Hammersmith equalised in the last minute, a free-kick into the box was headed home and took the game to extra time. There was some controversy before the game could restart as the dismissed Hammersmith coaches gave a team talk from the side of the pitch and some Banstead people were not happy. Hammersmith had by far the better of extra time but the game went to penalties. Hammersmith missed all three and Banstead scored all three to win the cup.

Banstead had bought the majority of fans and they deserved their win. It had been a great game and a really good advert for the league. They celebrated although it was less than a minute before the place was plunged into darkness. We left around 10.45 and had a decent journey home. I dropped Colin off at 11.30 and got home myself 10 minutes later. I had a blog to do, TV to watch and cider to drink. I sorted out my photos and videos and it was quite striking how much better my phone was than my camera. It was Wycombe's date with destiny the next morning and so I set my alarm for 8.30. With me not being a big sleeper, I was aiming for a 2.30 bedtime, although as with usual after a game, I was wide awake.

THE GROUND

RIVER LANE is a remarkable setup for a side that doesn't even have an adult team and could probably be suitable for step 6. There's only one side open to spectators and this includes two neat stands which probably seat 150 between them. There's a basic bar and they also do a great range of food. The car park is sizeable although there's not much near the ground in terms of food or drink.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Loughborough Dynamo - Nanpantan Sports Ground


Loughborough Dynamo FC
Nanpantan Sports Ground
2 Watermead Lane
Loughborough 
Leicestershire
LE11 3TN







Ground Number: 1075
Tuesday 17th May 2022
Allexton & New Parks 2-1 Burbage Old Boys
Leicestershire Senior League Cup Final








LOUGHBOROUGH DYNAMO FC - A BRIEF HISTORY

The club was established in 1955 by pupils from Loughborough Grammar School, taking its name from Dynamo Moscow, who had recently visited England to play Wolverhampton Wanderers, with the colours taken from Wolves After playing friendly matches for two years, they entered Division 3 of the Loughborough Alliance in 1957. The club won the title in 1960 and were promoted to Division 2. The following season saw them finish as runners-up in Division 2, earning promotion to Division 1. They went on to finish as runners-up in Division 1 in 1963 & 1964 before winning the title in 1965. They then moved up to Division 2 of the Leicester & District League. They were promoted to Division 1 in their first season and then again to the Premier Division in 1967. Although the club were relegated in 1969, they won Division 1 in 1970 to secure an immediate promotion back to the Premier Division. In 1972 the club transferred to Division One of the East Midlands Regional League before moving to the Premier Division of the Central Alliance the following season. However, after finishing bottom of the division, the club dropped back into Division 2 of the Leicester & District League. In 1980 they were promoted to Division 1. In 1981 they were Division 1 runners-up, earning promotion to the Premier Division. Although the club were relegated back to Division 1 in 1983, they were promoted to the Premier Division again in 1987 after finishing 3rd in Division 1.



Loughborough Dynamo made the step up to the Leicestershire Senior League in 1989, joining Division 1. They had a few 4th place finishes in the 1990s but in 2001, they finished bottom of the league. However, the next season saw a remarkable turnaround to see them win the title and seal promotion to the Premier Division. A 4th place finish was a credible debut and then the following season, they were champions, winning promotion to the Midland Alliance. In 2008, they were runners-up behind Atherstone Town, winning promotion to the NPL D1 South in the process. They have been there ever since, albeit with a few geographical changes. Finishes have ranged from a couple of 20th place finishes in 2016 & 2018 to a pair of 8th place finishes in 2012 and 2019. In the second season abandoned due to Covid, they were actually in second place when the season was abandoned after eight games.

In the FA Cup, Loughborough Dynamo have made the 2nd Qualifying Round three times - losing 2-0 to Redditch United in 2010, 2-0 at Solihull Moors in 2011 and 3-0 to Tamworth in 2019. Their best progress in the FA Trophy came this season when they beat Bury Town 1-0 before losing 3-1 to Bedford Town in the 3rd Qualifying Round. During the 2004/05 season, the club enjoyed a reasonable FA Vase Run. They beat Romulus 5-2, Downes Sports 3-0 and Harrowby United 5-3. They then faced Leamington in the 2nd Round, drawing 1-1 before losing 3-0 in the replay. In terms of local cups, they've won the Leicestershire Senior League Beacon Bitter Cup in 2004, the Leicester & District League Three Sons Trophy in 1981, the Loughborough Alliance Cobin Trophy on three occasions, the Leicestershire and Rutland Senior Cup twice, the Loughborough Charity Cup three times, the Leicestershire FA Presidents Trophy in 2004 and the Leicestershire FA Westerby Challenge Cup twice.



Well-known players to have turned out for the club include Will Jääskeläinen, a current Football League keeper who had a loan spell with Loughborough Dynamo in 2017, and Mark Shelton who currently plays for Hartlepool United. Former Sheffield United & Derby County (amongst others) striker Lee Morris was also a player, coach, and caretaker manager for the club. Loughborough Dynamo share the town with Loughborough Students FC who play in the Midland Premier, Loughborough FC who play in the Leicestershire Senior League Division 1, and Loughborough Foxes who play in the third tier of the women's game. The town has a population of around 68,000. Famous people from Loughborough include the actor David Neilson who plays Roy Cropper in Coronation Street.


MY VISIT

Loughborough Dynamo had been one of a few grounds that had been really evasive when groundhopping. In the ten years that we had been travelling all over the country, it had only come up once or twice. Maybe it was because the NPL D1 Midlands was only a 20 team division, perhaps it was because their pitch was decent or perhaps it was just bad luck. But whatever, I was glad when I found out that a couple of cup finals would be played here. I'd been to the ground to take pictures on the way to a Wycombe game up north around 15 years ago but nothing but seeing a game there would do, now that I was a fully-fledged hopper. The Leicestershire Senior League Cup Final between Allexton & New Parks and Burbage Old Boys was originally scheduled for last Tuesday, only to be put back to this Tuesday. I'd really been looking forward to it and had made arrangements to take Anwar with me, so I was gutted when I found out it had changed. Luckily, we were both able to make the new date.


Sunday had bought the usual misery but despite the huge volume of people at work, it went really quickly. I'd been cheered up a bit when I got home by my new Google Pixel 6 arriving and me selling a few bits on eBay. I had a month's free Amazon Prime trial and so this was very useful to make sure I got a case to protect my phone on time. I also ordered some 64GB USB drives as I'd managed to sell copies of all the football ground photos that I've taken over the years, around 55GB in all. I'd previously sold them on DVD but with so many more modern computers coming without a drive, it was a good shout from the buyer that suggested it and I was making around a tenner a pop for less effort than burning DVDs would take. The only drawback was that it took a while to transfer such a huge amount of files, but at least I was able to get on with things whilst it was completed. Monday was another long day and so I was glad of my usual day off on Tuesday.

 It was my usual walk to town and back in the morning with me having some nice Spanish Tapas chicken from Lidl for lunch. It was a real scorcher of a day and I was pleased when I found out that my favourite pub in Wycombe, the Rose and Crown would be opening early for Wycombe fans. It had been my happy place and lucky pre-match pub for 3 years and would save me going into crowded places in Wembley. It was the day of my number being transferred to my new phone and everything went smoothly aside from WhatsApp which was not letting me sign in on my new device, but still working on my old one. As a temporary measure, I took both phones with me, leaving a 4 and getting to Aylesbury just before 4.30. I was pleased that my Android Auto was working with my new phone and also by the time we had got to Loughborough at 6.30, WhatsApp had sorted itself out. I had a full car in the end, both Anwar's son Hicham and Wycombe drummer Tho tagging along. We stopped at Istanbul Kebab, a couple of miles away from the ground for food. I was disappointed that the Shami burger I wanted was unavailable but I got a half-pounder with doner meat meal for £6.50. It was huge and very decent, even if not amongst the best that I'd had. We were at the ground 20 minutes before kick-off although the queue at the turnstiles took ten minutes due to lack of change. I helped them out with the exact £5 which included a programme.

Allexton & New Parks started their cup journey with a 4-2 win over Bottesford on 17th November. Next up were Loughborough who they defeated 4-0. They beat Hathern 1-0 before triumphing 5-3 on penalties against Friar Lane & Epworth following a 2-2 draw. Burbage Old Boys started out with a 3-0 win at FC Khalsa on 13th November before a 2-0 win over Highfield Rangers. They won then 7-6 on penalties at Desford following a 2-2 draw before a penalty loss at AFC Kilworth following a 3-3 draw. However, they were reinstated as North Kilworth fielded an intelligible player. Allexton & New Parks would be the favourites having finished as league runners-up whilst Burbage Old Boys had done remarkably well to be here, having finished as runners-up in Division 1 and had the trickier route to the final. There has been drizzle on the way in, but the heavens really opened when the game started. The pitch though was in excellent shape and coped well with the deluge. The game kicked off early at 7.27 and Allexton & New Parks in the black and white stripes made all the early running. They hit the woodwork on 23 minutes, the ball bouncing off the top of the bar. The 33rd minute saw them take the lead. It was unfortunate for Burbage Old Boys, playing in sky blue as the ball was blasted at a defender who had little opportunity to avoid the handball. The resulting penalty was converted by Brandon Jarratt. The rain abated a bit but was soon back, the wind blowing it into the covered stand along the side. The first half had been pretty one-sided but the second period saw Burbage start well. They got their equaliser on 50 minutes, a great through ball finding Andrei Graur who slotted past the advancing keeper. The game continued to flow from end to end but it was a winner a few minutes from time that made it 2-1 to the favourites.  A set-piece was spilled by the Burbage keeper who had an otherwise excellent game. Allexton captain Jake Wain was on hand to follow up and seal their second successive league cup win.

 There was a trophy for each player that took part and medals for the officials as I'd seen the committeemen unpacking onto the table below where we were standing. It had been a really decent game and although the late winner was cruel on Burbage Old Boys, the result was the right one on the balance of play. The catering at the ground looked very nice, especially the chips but I was already full. An official attendance of 300 was given, although it looked a lot more due to the cover being packed due to the rain. It was a fairly early getaway around 9.20 and although the roads were good to us on the way, closures meant a few miles and time added onto my journey as we had to go cross country from Daventry through a load of places I'd never heard of. Fortunately, there was no wildlife on the loose, aside from a rabbit that would have made a nice tasty dinner, had I not avoided it. Greatest Hits Radio provided the soundtrack as ever with some great tunes. I also got the guess the year right, thanks to the hint about 'new Coke'. I dropped Anwar and Hicham off at 11.10, Thomas off at 11.20 and got home myself at 11.40. After a reasonable night's sleep the previous night, I wasn't able to get to sleep until after 2, though I was fine the next morning, having never been a big sleeper.
THE GROUND 

The NANPANTAN SPORTS GROUND or NEWTON FALLOWELL STADIUM as it is currently known for sponsorship purposes is a decent venue to watch football with no prefabricated stands. The main covered accommodation is behind the goal, this has seats at the front (around 200) and more covered standing at the back. There's also a covered raised area by the corner where you go in and this offers a great view of the action. There's also an area of cover on one side, this holds about 150. Aside from a few steps of opening terracing and grass banking, it's flat standing although the ground does have lots of character. 

There's not much in the immediate vicinity of the ground but the food at the ground looked great. There's also a basic bar and a range of merchandise. Other facilities include a large car park which would cope with most crowds and a secondary, partially railed pitch that would probably be worth a visit in its own right.