Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Lambourn Sports - Lambourn Sports Club


Lambourn Sports FC
Lambourn Sport Club
10 Bockhampton Rd
Lambourn
Hungerford
Berkshire
RG17 8PS




Ground Number: 1098
Tuesday 16th August 2022
Lambourn Sports 1-0 East Hendred
Friendly







LAMBOURN SPORTS CLUB - A BRIEF HISTORY

Lambourn FC was established in 1909, using the current ground for the whole of its existence. The club's red and white shirts were originally used when the well-known jockey Tommy Robbins, donated the red and white kit to the club. In 1946, they adopted the name of Lambourn Sports, bringing together the various sports club that played on the site. In 1955, the club purchased their home for £700, having previously rented it. In 1961, the club made the step up to the Hellenic League. Starting in Division 1, they finished as runners-up to Botley United in their debut season. A 10th place finish was a solid start at the higher level but results soon tailed off and they were relegated to Division 1 in 1967 before leaving the league altogether in 1972 to join the North Berks League. They'd remain there until 1977, rejoining the Hellenic League and remaining in Division 1 until 1982 when they were champions. They'd only last one season in the Premier Division this time, finishing bottom of the league and winning twice all season. It would take until 1995 for them to return, this time finishing 3rd behind Endsleigh and Milton United. The 1995/96 season was the best in the club's history as they finished 3rd in the Premier Division behind Cirencester Town and Brackley Town. They'd spend one more season in the Hellenic League before departing in 1997 for financial reasons. They joined the North Berks League Division 4 and won that and Divisions 3 and 2 in consecutive seasons, They then won Division 1 (and therefore were league champions) in 2006, 2008 & 2011. The latter of these titles saw them briefly join the Hellenic League for a couple of seasons, having mid-table finishes in each of the regional Division 1s. Player availability was an issue and this led to them resigning and ultimately resigning from the North Berks D1 midway through the following season. Returning in Division 2 in 2014, they'd win the title at their first attempt. Though they finished bottom of Division 1 in 2017, they'd remain there until 2021 when they dropped down to Division 2 despite finishing 6th. Last season they finished in 6th place in Division 2.

Lambourn Sports' only venture into the FA Competitions came in 1996 when they lost 1-0 to Bournemouth Poppies in the FA Vase. Local cup wins include the Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy in 1995, the Reading Senior Cup in 1960, the North Berks Cup in 2006, the North Berks Charity Shield three times and the North Berks War Memorial Cup twice. The most famous person associated with the club is Swindon Town legend Don Rogers whose two extra-time goals helped the Robins overcome Arsenal 3-1 in the 1969 League Cup final. He bought plenty of success to Lambourne Sports as manager between 1990 & 1996 before moving on to manage Swindon Supermarine and Hungerford Town. He runs a well-renowned sports shop in Swindon to this day. 

The village of Lambourn has a population of around 4,100 and the football ground is also currently home to former Hellenic side Newbury Town after they were sold down the river by their local council. On 8 September 1944, a stricken B-24 Liberator flown by 2nd Lt Lawrence Berkoff DFC  was returning from an aborted mission. Berkoff maintained control of the plane so that his crew could parachute to safety over Baydon, but saw that if he bailed out the plane would crash into Lambourn. He, therefore, remained at the controls to divert the aircraft and was killed when it crash-landed in a field on Folly Road at 10:45 pm, missing the village by a few hundred yards. Berkoff was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross and a plaque in his honour was unveiled by his great nephew, Todd Berkoff, at Lambourn Memorial Hall on 26 June 2003. On Tuesday 13 April 1953 an articulated lorry carrying aviation fuel suffered brake failure as it came down Hungerford Hill (now the B4000). Despite the best efforts of the driver, it hit several buildings before overturning on Oxford Street. The lorry exploded, destroying the tobacconist's, confectioner's, watchmaker's, jeweller's and antique dealer's shops, but only the driver was killed. The burning fuel set fire to three houses, two thatched cottages and several flats, and 37 people were made homeless. It also flowed down the street and into the River Lambourn and set fire to property up to 50 yards away until the Newbury, Hungerford, Wantage, Swindon and Faringdon fire brigades helped the local brigade quench the fire. The village has strong racing connections with it being near Newbury Racecourse and several famous jockeys have lived in the village.

MY VISIT

I only found about about this game the day before. I'd seen their ground on a YouTube channel called 'Groundhopping FC' when he did a football grounds tour of Berkshire, however, sadly the channel has now been deleted. But nevertheless, I'd been looking out for an opportunity for a while and I initially thought that I'd found it when I saw in the Football Traveller that the winners of the Wantage Town Development v Lambourn Sports would be at home to Saxton Rovers on this Tuesday in the Faringdon Thursday Memorial Cup. It would be perfect as I was in Oxford in the afternoon and halfway there. However, as excellent as the Twitter account was, it bought me the bad news that Wantage had won. I pencilled in a revisit to Flackwell Heath but kept Lambourn Sports on my Twitter shortlist. On Monday night they tweeted that they were looking for a referee, then an announcement that they had a game against East Hendred. They were super helpful on Twitter and very communicative, so I planned my trip with some confidence.

 I'd been to one match since my last groundhop. It had all been going so well at first. I'd met up with Colin and we walked down to my usual pre-match pub, The Rose and Crown. We met up with Dan who was on his way to Marlow and had a good catch-up. I had a nice lunch and the match started well with Wycombe leading. In fact I was delighted up until 16:23 when Shrewsbury scored their equaliser with their first shot on target of the game. When they netted a penalty with their second shot on target, my mood was not so good with the dreaded Sunday coming up. Shrewsbury, credit to them had hung on in there, defended like warriors and then taken their chances. It didn't lighten my mood or the costs on my footy spreadsheet -  whenever we lose, thankfully rarely, the whole costs of my eating and drinking get added. I searched for a reason, other than football being football and sadly, poor Colin is going to have to cop the blame for this one. Being a superstitious sort with my lucky pub, takeaway, shirt, bag etc, I noticed that we had lost all three times I'd spent my pre-match with Colin. As a result, I doubt I'll go to the uninspiring League Cup game against Bristol City as I think the break from Wycombe will do me good.
The day of the game came and it was my usual day off work. I didn't need anything from town, so I just walked around the local area for four miles or so. When I came back, I started researching the club as well as having something to eat. This took longer than expected and I hadn't quite finished it when it was time to leave at 2pm. It was a good journey over after getting petrol and everything was well handled at the hospital thanks to our wonderful NHS. I left just after 4 and had a good journey over to Lambourn via some nice scenic villages. The heavens opened as I got to Lambourn and so rather than having a pleasant stroll into the village, I took shelter in the car. The car park at the ground was quite small and so I parked on the road outside. The rain was still pelting down and I got soaked when I went out to take pictures. Going back to the car, I started making plans of what to do should the game be called off due to the grey skies or wet, with my nearest unticked ground on Futbology being a fair way away at Downton in Salisbury. However, I knew that Devizes were at home too and that was nearer.
As it turned out, I needn't have worried. East Hendred had travelled 13 miles for today's game. Hosts Lambourn Sports lined up in red and white stripes whilst East Hendred were in blue and black stripes. The game kicked off a few minutes early at 6.27 and it was East Hendred who had the better of the play early on. Lambourn were not without their chances and they lobbed narrowly over following a break on 23 minutes. Five minutes later, a sloppy backpass by the hosts allowed the visitors' number 9 in. He was denied by the keeper who stood his ground and would not let the forward pass. Despite claims for a penalty, an indirect free kick was awarded on the edge of the area but this came to nothing. Lambourn Sports took the lead on 57 minutes following a goal on the break. It was an attack down the right and there were three players queueing up to put the ball in the net from a few yards out. East Hendred were a more direct side whilst Lambourn were more about passing. The visitors had chances but the hosts came close to doubling their lead on 69 minutes when they shaved the top of the bar with a shot. East Hendred hit the bar themselves with ten minutes to go from a long-range effort. In fact, there were plenty of chances for both, but I've never been one to write a comprehensive match report.


Around 40 had been in attendance and it had been a really good game. The ref was quite lenient and despite a few moans from either side, the game was played in a good spirit. I'd got a bit peckish during the game but thankfully had some crisps with me. Thankfully the rain eased off too and I spent most of the game standing alongside the pitch. I left at 8.05 and put the Wycombe game on the radio. The first half was BBC Radio Devon commentary until I got nearer home and was able to pick up our local station. I was in at 9.15. It was another disappointing Wycombe performance with them being 2-0 down at the break. They did pull a goal back in the second half but more sloppy defending saw Exeter win 3-1. I felt sorry for the Wycombe fans that had travelled, our failure to replace lost players is costing us. At least they got to see a game. The EFL's daft policy of putting long trips in midweek saw Accrington travel down to Forest Green only to see the game called off a little more than an hour before kick-off. It had been a good game for me and hopefully, I'll have a couple of revisits before my next new ground at Kimberley Miners Welfare on Saturday.


THE GROUND

LAMBOURN SPORTS CLUB is an excellent venue for the level, having been as high as the Hellenic Premier at one point. The only thing stopping them now is the lack of lights as the setup is certainly there. There is a decent-sized stand at the ground, holding at least 50 and although this is a temporary structure, it's not the standard metal type. There are also further small areas of cover and the pitch is fully railed. For food and drink, there is a decent-sized village not far away which has a decent selection of outlets. Sadly rain and lack of hunger prevented me from sampling them, although the Nippy Chippy looked to do some good stuff, not far from the ground. The bar was open on my visit, normally only from Wednesday until Sunday but it opened halfway through the first half. I didn't go in, but you can get a drink, at least, in there. Overall. the ground was well worth a visit, a friendly club and a nice village are a bonus too.

Friday, 12 August 2022

Undy Athletic - Undy Playing Fields


Undy Playing Fields
The Causeway
Undy
Caldicot
NP26 3EN
 
01633 881352







Ground Number: 1097
Friday 12th August 2022
Undy Athletic 2-0 Newport City
Ardal South East







UNDY AFC - A BRIEF HISTORY

Undy AFC. was formed in 1947 by Joe Champion, Lambert Bird, Harry  Hodges and others. The changing facilities were in Undy Church Hall, using a tin bath for washing. Back then, the club colours were black and white. They would last until 1962, playing in local leagues, before finances forced them to close. They would reform in 1970, still playing local football, most notably the East Gwent League which they won on several occasions. The 80s and 90s saw them change their colours to red and white and gradually improve05 their facilities. Their clubhouse opened during this time, pouring its first pint in 1992. Undy joined the Gwent County League at the turn of the millennium, starting in Division 2. In 2003, a runners-up spot behind Garnlyndan Athletic was good enough for promotion to Division 1. By 2011, they were league champions and this allowed them to make the step up to the Welsh League. Starting in Division 3, they were an immediate hit at the new level, champions in their debut season. They then spent four seasons amongst the top teams in Division 2. In 2016, a third-place finish behind Caldicot Town and Cwmbran Celtic was good enough for promotion to Division 1. Their debut season saw a credible placing of 7th (their best ever in the second tier) but in 2019, they became founder members of the Cymru South. They were 12th when the season was abandoned due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Welsh football took a near 18-month sabbatical, starting again in 2021. Last season saw them relegated, only pointless Port Talbot Town kept them of the bottom of the table. As a result, they started this season in the Ardal South East at tier 3 of the Welsh Pyramid.

During the first incarnation of the club, they won the Argus Cup three times. The 'new' club won it again and also the Gwent Motors County Cup in 2004, shortly after which they moved to their current and much-improved pitch. The village of Undy is located in southeast Wales, near the border with England. The area was first settled in Roman times. In 1996 a stone coffin dating from the 3rd or 4th century was found during building work, containing the skeleton of a young woman. The population of the area, twinned with the adjoining village of Magor is just over 6,000. 

Magor is a thriving village with plenty of facilities and shops although Undy has the leading football team in the area. It is most well-known to people for it's motorway service station. Surprisingly, the services only opened in 1996 along with the Second Severn Crossing and was first operated by the Granada group. Subsequently managed by First, the services became dilapidated and lacking in facilities and in April 2007 were voted the worst in Britain by members of Vans United. In August 2011, it was announced that Magor services had been sold to Roadchef. It was fully refurbished in 2015 and now has modern facilities.


MY VISIT

I always like a bit of Friday night football as it's far healthier than sitting in and having a few drinks to relax after a working week. Ideally, I'd have done a game involving me taking another hopper, but nothing was available. Usually, I'd have taken Colin to something like this, but he was working. When I put out my intentions for the week, stating that I might look for something nearer on Twitter, the Undy account gave me a great welcome. Much like Newport City had when I went there and we have had some good exchanges on Twitter. I know it's only a small thing, but it means a lot when clubs put the effort in. I'd lost count of the number of clubs that hadn't even bothered to respond when I sent tweets enquiring about games or wanted to give them money for something else. I know that they are volunteers but manners cost nothing. My initial research on Tuesday afternoon revealed that the club were based near Magor. I only remember that place for the pretty tired and miserable-looking station that the Wycombe fans coach always used to stop at on the way to Cardiff and Swansea. It might be different now, as that was 20 years ago. Either way, I was looking forward to taking a stroll into town and seeing the place in a more positive light.


There was of course football in midweek, a couple of revisits. First up was Penn & Tylers Green, walkable from my house (three miles away) who were playing Brook House. Even better, they put out an offer saying that they were offering free entry to Wycombe Wanderers season ticket holders - a real bonus when I was trying to get my cost per game down. It was a pleasant evening, but it was cut short after an hour by an overly fussy referee. One of the unique floodlight pylons at Penn would not rise but even so, the pitch was illuminated well enough to play on. Not according to the referee though who called the game off after the third attempt to reset the lights proved fruitless. At least he gave them a chance I guess, but the game was abandoned much to the charging of the Penn players who were comfortably leading 2-0. At least the walk home gave me the chance to listen to the Wycombe game on local radio. A team that featured ten changes from the Saturday game at Bolton Wanderers won 2-1 at Northampton Town. From what I heard and saw of the goals, it was positive all round.


There was then another local revisit, up Holmer Green for their friendly against Leverstock Green on Thursday. I'd originally been intending to head to Windsor v Balham in the FA Youth Cup. As generally happens with teams that are more about participants than spectators, there was minimal Twitter activity. Wary of any late changes due to the heat, I double-checked an hour before the game on FA Full Time. I was glad I did as the game had been put back a week. They were playing it safe, understandably but it was a mild and pleasant evening up at my local football club. The first team are struggling at the moment, but the youngsters showed them the way with an impressive 5-1 win. I really want to visit my two local clubs a lot more and am planning on doing all of the Allied Counties Youth League fixtures with them being played on Mondays and Thursdays.

The day of the game came and it was tough at work. The worst aspects of the general public tend to come in waves and after a calm Wednesday, things ramped up towards the weekend to the ultimate doomsday of Sunday. It was like a creche with the number of feral kids running amok and I had to be careful not to trip over them with them laying on the floor everywhere. I at least had something to look forward to, although I didn't leave until nearly 3.30 due to using the toilet on work time and getting changed. With what I thought was plenty of time, I took it easy on the way down, trying to get better fuel economy. However, there were a fair few delays - an abnormal load near Swindon, traffic around Bristol where it splits off to the M5 and then slow for a few miles before I was due to get off. All in all, there was around half an hour delay, with me getting to the ground at 5.50. I parked up and ordered my takeaway from the Blue Cumin Indian takeaway. I had Eesa Mishti Tokh (prawns in a sweet and sour sauce), spicy chips and Murgi (spicy chicken) Naan. It was all pretty decent and good value for just over £11. The local Co-Op[ was pretty rubbish though - barely any chilled drinks, long queues and barely any local products - something that Co-Op pride themselves on and do very well in my local store.


From there it was back to the ground, with me getting there at 6.40. I'd have preferred more time but rather than give my money to a shop, I decided to go into the bar. I had myself a pint of Strongbow Cloudy Apple to cool down and also a can of Rio. It cost more than I'd have paid elsewhere, but it was all going to a good cause. I paid £5 to get in, plus £2 for a well-presented programme that was a bit thin on content. I said hello to fellow hoppers George and BCFC Dave from the NonLeagueMatters Forum. The two teams were in contrasting form. Undy had made a great recovery from relegation - winning 2-0 against Brecon Corries on the opening day before a 4-0 win at fellow relegated side Risca United on Wednesday.  Newport City by contrast were struggling - they had lost 3-1 against Risca United before crashing 6-0 at Trethomas Bluebirds on Tuesday. As expected, the hosts were well on top, the Newport keeper produced a couple of great saves to keep things level. They weren't to be denied forever though and on 32 minutes, Undy took the lead.  A good through ball by James Gidney found Dan Jarman who finished with a low shot. On 38 minutes, Gidney got on the scoresheet himself, another low shot. The game died down in the second half but Newport had a good spell, forcing a series of corners. Undy had spells too, hitting the post on 72 minutes following a prolonged attack. Newport had another good spell towards the end, but it wasn't to be for them and Undy deserved the win.

 
With the light quickly fading, the game didn't finish until nearly 9. The attendance was announced as 100 and I saw a few there from the visitors. Their Twitter account had been super friendly but had said little over the past week, maybe not surprisingly given results. I was gutted for their recent form and hope they can turn things around soon. Undy meanwhile look like they could put things right this season and had been a good club to visit. I left at 9 and headed to Aldi, though I saw a Co-Op on the way and stopped. It was another poor store but at least I got a drink for the journey home. It was a fairly uneventful trip with me getting back at 11.15. I typed my blog, sorted my pictures and had a few drinks ahead of Wycombe Wanderers v Shrewsbury Town tomorrow.


THE GROUND

THE CAUSEWAY is a smart setup, though a very modern one. There are two areas of cover - a seated stand (the standard metal arena unit) holding around 150 and another smaller standing area holding around 50. The rest of the ground is open. There's a basic tea bar as well as more food in the bar and a clubhouse with a decent range of drinks, though sadly little from the local area. The car park is large and is more than large enough to avoid you having to use street parking.