Thursday, 12 July 2018

Chatteris Town - West Street

Chatteris Town FC
52-54 West Street
PE16 6HP

Official Website

Ground Number: 778
Tuesday 10th July 2018
Chatteris Town 2-1 March Town
Bill Salisbury Memorial Cup


The club was formed in 1920 as Chatteris Town Juniors, changing to their present name a year later. They joined the Isle Of Ely league upon formation and were an immediate success, progressing quickly through the divisions. Eventually, they moved up to the Cambridgeshire League, winning it in 1932. Time was spent in both this league and the Peterborough & District League with the latter being won three times in succession between 1964 and 1966. This was the most successful time in Chatteris Town's history and after the third success, they decided to make the step up to the Eastern Counties League. Their highest ever finish of 3rd was achieved in 1968. Twenty years later, the league expanded to two divisions, this led to some tricky seasons for the club and they were eventually relegated after finishing bottom in 1995. Six further seasons were spent in Division 1 and despite a best-ever finish of 5th in 2001, the club took the decision to resign from the league due to financial reasons. Dropping down to the Peterborough & District League, Chatteris Town would remain here until 2007 when they moved to the Cambridgeshire League. Starting in the Senior B division (step 9 of non-league football), success was immediate with the club finishing 3rd and winning promotion. Another promotion followed from the Senior A Division with the club finishing as champions in 2009. Promotion to the Premier Division followed and despite an excellent 7th place finish in 2011, Chatteris Town were relegated back to the Senior A Division two seasons later. In 2016, they were promoted back up to the Premier Divison after finishing as runners-up behind Outwell Swifts. Despite a best-ever finish (since their return) of 5th in 2016/17, last season saw the side struggle and finish bottom, meaning that they start this season in the step 8 'Senior A' division.

Chatteris Town played in the FA Cup for a number of seasons between 1946 and 1995. Their best progress was the 3rd Qualifying Round, reached in their debut season when they lost to Cambridge Town and then again in 1972 when they lost out to Ely City after a replay. They will want to forget the 1951/52 season though as they suffered a crushing 14-1 defeat to Kings Lynn Town. In the FA Vase, the 2nd Round was reached in 1993 with a 5-1 defeat at Bridgnorth Town. Local cup wins include the Eastern Counties League Cup in 1968, the William Croad Intermediate Cup and William Cockell Memorial Cup in 2016 as well as the Cambridgeshire Challenge Cup on six occasions. Chatteris Town's record attendance of 2,000 came for a 1988 league game against their local rivals March Town United.


I'd wanted to visit Chatteris Town for a while as it was one of the better grounds at step 7. Despite it having its own stand, it was probably one to do in the summer, thanks to it being pretty open. So, therefore, I was pleased when it came up fairly early in pre-season when there wasn't so much on. It had the bonus of not being a friendly although the game against local rivals March Town was unlikely to attract the 2,000 crowd that it did when the sides met in a 1988 Eastern Counties League clash. The Bill Salisbury Memorial Trophy was created in memory of the Chatteris Town club legend, though information on his contribution to the club is scarce on the internet. It appears that the cup was first contested back in 2015, with March Town running out 3-1 winners. The following year saw March retain the trophy with a 2-1 win. Last season saw the hosts win the trophy as they finally defeated March 1-0.

On the day of the game, I awoke after a pretty good nights sleep. After having some breakfast, I headed down town pretty early to get my hair cut as it was getting a bit long, especially for the recent hot weather. While I was down there, I went in to Iceland and got a pizza for lunch and some drinks for later. After getting a lift back home with my Dad, I had my lunch and spent the afternoon carrying on with this blog post and catching up on some TV. The internet bought some decent news in that tonight's game was free. I'd already found a place for dinner called Chilli Masters which was just under a mile (or 15 minutes walk from the ground). I left at 4.15, meeting Anwar in Aylesbury half an hour later. Despite the journey being under 70 miles, it took just over 2 hours to get there, thanks to traffic and small roads. We arrived for dinner at 6.50, where I had a chicken tikka burger, chips and a drink for £4. It was nice and the portions were good, so I was fairly full as I drove the mile to the ground, arriving at 7.20 and parking up outside. Pictures were taken of the impressive ground for the level and a spot sought where the low lying sun would least ruin the view. There were a number of friendly dogs enjoying the evening sun and it was a nice setting to watch a game in the conditions.

In what turned out to set the pattern for the evening, it was a feisty start, with plenty of tough tackles coming in, especially from the visitors. Chatteris Town had been having a good spell but then they wasted a free kick, losing possession quickly. March were swift on the break and a low shot from just inside the area by Toby Allen on 29 minutes gave them the lead. This led to the visitors seizing control of the game up until halftime, but Chatteris came out for the second half a revitalised team. They started the half on the front foot with Jack Brand having a shot that clipped the post and was cleared off the line five minutes in. They did eventually get the equaliser on 57 minutes, a ball was played across the box and Jack Jefferson netted from around ten yards out. This spurred Chatteris on further and around 10 minutes later Jefferson forced a great save out of the March Town keeper Simon Dalton. Shortly after, they had a shot cleared off the line as they continued to press. Then, the impressive Josh Dodman, who had come on just before halftime played in Harris-Hercules who tried to take the ball towards goal but was felled by March Town keeper Dalton. There was a big debate about whether he should be sent off, but in the end, the referee awarded just a free kick just on the right side of the area. Jack Saunders stepped up and powered a free kick into the bottom left-hand corner to give the hosts the lead on 79 minutes.  March pushed for the equaliser with Max Mattless hitting the bar with a few minutes to go. Chatteris had to cling on after this, Matt Walshe saw red for a crude challenge soon after, but they survived to retain the Bill Salisbury Trophy and by my reckoning make it two titles apiece for the local rivals.

We left at 9.45, having enjoyed the game. It had been a combative game, but the referee and his assistants did well to keep a lid on things, despite complaints from both sets of players and fans.  We left at 9.45, learning that England would have faced France in the World Cup Final, had they beaten Croatia. Certainly, the team had done us incredibly proud this tournament and despite certain sections of the media attempting to turn fans against players like Raheem Sterling, most had remained fully behind our heroes. Sadly, they went out in the semi-final the following evening, continuing their disappointing form when they play on ITV, only less marginally disappointing than the sub-par coverage itself. On the way back, we listened to a show on BBC Radio 5 live which recalled England's last World Cup semi-final against West Germany. This made the journey pass quickly, with me eventually dropping Anwar off at 11.10. I got home myself 20 minutes later but just couldn't get to sleep for hours for some reason. It meant I was really tired when I woke for work at 4 am the following morning.


WEST STREET is a great venue for step 8 football and would probably suit a step 4 side with a few minor improvements. The sole seating area holds around 250 according to an old non-league directory and this is made up of bench seating. There is an area opposite for standing holding around 150 and a further covered area behind the goal for around 50. The ground has an overall capacity of 2,000 and is pretty well kept, save for behind one goal which is overgrown.

Facilities at the ground are pretty decent, there's a spacious car with TV and a tea bar with a reasonable range. The town is not far away, around 10 minutes and offers a decent range of takeaways and pubs.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Melton Town - Melton Sports Village

Melton Town FC
Melton Sports Village
Burton Road
Melton Mowbray
LE13 1DR

Ground Number: 777
Friday 6th July 2018
Melton Town 2-1 Grantham Town


Though there have been a number of clubs representing the town of Melton Mowbray, this incarnation was formed as recently as 2004 and were initially known as Melton Mowbray. Starting out in the Leicester & District League Division 2 (step 10 in the non-league pyramid), they were champions in 2007, earning promotion to Division 1. Their first season produced a credible 5th place finish but despite a disappointing 11th placing in 2008/09, they moved up to the Leicester Senior Division 1. After three seasons spent in mid-table, 2012/13 saw the club finish as runners-up to Allexton & New Parks, earning promotion to the Premier Division in the process..The momentum continued for both sides as they were the top two the following season too. Another runners-up spot, this time to Sileby Town followed in 2015 before the following season saw a 3rd place finish. With the required improvments now in place, they moved back home to the Melton Sports Village after a number of years playing in nearby Ashfordby. Promotion to the United Counties League followed as well as a name change to Melton Town and 2016/17 saw an excellent 9th placed debut season. Last season saw a slight drop to 16th, but still well clear of any potential relegation spots.

Melton Town are yet to make their FA Cup bow, but they did make their FA Vase debut last season. A 3-2 victory at South Normanton was followed up by a disappointing 4-1 home reverse to FC Bolsover in the 2nd Qualifying Round. In terms of local cups, information is scarce, but they were runners-up to Desford in the 2008 Leicester & District League Cup Final. The town of Melton Mowbray is famous for its pork pies and has a population of just over 27,000. Famous people to come from or live in the town include footballer Jamie Vardy, cricketer Stuart Broad and actor Mark Wingett who played Jim Carver in 'The Bill' for 21 years and 780 episodes. 


Due to England's brilliant progress in the World Cup, I wasn't envisaging going to a game for a while. With the Three Lions games being on Tuesday and Saturday, my usual hopping days, I'd decided to stay in and save money. Not that it bothered me, the whole nation seemed to be behind the team and the players doing really well. It made a nice change from the team playing badly and the media doing their best to disrupt team harmony and turn the nation against the team. Just before the World Cup, certain outlets, most notably the Sun ran another story in their hate campaign against Raheem Sterling over his tattoo. Wonderfully, the nation got right behind the player and condemned the spiteful coverage. We also went into the tournament with realistic expectations and any progress a bonus. The latest win against Colombia had broken two unwanted statistics - firstly our awful record at penalties and also the 9% win record when ITV cover our games compared to a 70% win record when on the BBC. Coincidence maybe, but I am thankful that our next match against Sweden is on the BBC and hope that all future ones are, as the BBC coverage is far better anyway. Happily, a number of teams were playing on Friday night, most notably Melton Town who were playing Grantham Town in their first friendly of the season. Though regular hopping partner Anwar didn't fancy it, Chris, who I'd last seen a game with in October fancied it. The closer the game got, the more I looked forward to it, though I was hoping to get a good night's sleep before, what with me starting work at 5 am.

As it happened, I managed a reasonable night, but not as much as I'd have liked. It was a pretty busy day at work, though I still had over an hour to relax and have lunch before watching some of the Uruguay v France game and leaving at 3.30. Despite allowing an extra half hour to get to Chris, I only just made it on time. My usual cut through at Broughton was closed again although I and scores of other drivers didn't know until we actually got 100 yards down the road. A long queue to turn round and the usual congestion around that area added 25 minutes to the journey. I got to Wavendon at 4.55, thankfully Chris was quick off the mark. Delays are to be expected on a Friday night and thankfully there was only a further 15 minute delay thanks to the M1 and A47. We got to Melton Mowbray at 6.30, putting our order in at a Chinese called Ma's Cottage. While we were waiting for it to be cooked, we popped along to an excellent Micro Pub called the Gas Tap where we both had a small glass of Farmer Jim's Copper Top cider which was excellent. After picking up our meals we made our way back to the ground, getting there at 7.05. My car bonnet made for an impromptu dinner table as there was no other option. It was not the most comfortable, but at least it kept the food warm. I enjoyed my prawn curry and 'Thai style' chips. By 7.20, we were all finished and ready to go in, paying £5 for the priviledge.

It was nice to meet groundhoppers Rob and Adam who I knew from Twitter and through the evening, I had some good company. The game was pretty decent too, Melton Town taking the lead on 16 minutes. It was a low cross from the right that saw Liam Fray finish from around six yards despite the Grantham keeper getting a glove on it. A couple of minutes before half time the visitors had the ball in the net, but it was ruled out for offside. The first half had seen Grantham enjoy a dcent share of posession, but it was the hosts that were creating the chances. Just after the hour mark, there was a glaring miss for the visitors when they blazed over from just a few yards out. It had been a competitive game with plenty of commintemt and Grantham Town equalised on 80 minutes. A cross found Tiago Nassunculo who bundled home from close range. The scorer had played in Grantham's youth setup last season and was one of six youngsters from last season that played in very much a second string side. Melton Town got the winner a couple of minutes later, a penalty was awarded for a infringement in the area and Ashley Palfreyman stepped up to convert the spot kick. There was no further action of note and so I said my goodbyes and headed off with Chris for home. We stopped at Morrisons on the way for a drink, with me dropping Chris off at 11. I decided to take the longer route on the M1 for my journey home. Although it was 20 miles longer, it cut out lots of nasty countryside roads with the unpredictable wildlife jumping out in front of the car. I got back at midnight, but stayed up for a while, having a couple of drinks whilst I typed this blog.


The MELTON SPORTS VILLAGE is a smart and tidy venue, under a mile from what is a pretty decent ground. It'll never win any awards for individuality, the obligatory metal stand holding around 100 fans, with the rest of the ground being open to the elements. It's in very nice surroundings though and a nice place to spend a summers evening. Everyone was friendly and it was a nice place to spend a warm summer's evening. Sadly, there were none of the local delicacy - the pork pie on sale, but the tea bar does the job without being spectacular. I didn't visit the bar, but there are plenty of decent establishments in town, most notably the Gas Tap micropub. Ma's Cottage is a good Chinese also, but there are plenty of other places on offer.


Friday, 29 June 2018

Longlevens - Saw Mills End

Longlevens AFC
Saw Mills End

Groud Number: 776
Friday 29th June 2018
Longlevens 0-3 Cirencester Town


The club was formed in 1954 and initially played in the North Gloucestershire League, starting in Division 4 and winning it in their first season. In 1968, they made the switch to the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League, staying there for over 40 years and winning Division 1 in 2009. They earned promotion to the Gloucestershire Senior League in 2011 and started the most successful period in the history of the club.  A 9th place finish was a good solid debut season, but in 2012/13 season saw Longlevens crowned champions. The following season they repeated the trick and this time were promoted to the Hellenic Division 1 West. A third successive league win saw them promoted to the Hellenic Premier in 2015 where they remain to this day. Credible finishes of 10th and 12th were followed up with a record high finish of 9th last season.

Longlevens are fairly young participants in the FA competitions. They've had two seasons in the FA Cup - reaching the Preliminary Round on both occasions. In 2016 they beat Bedfont and Feltham before a 5-1 defeat to Farnborough before beating Fairford Town 5-1 in a replay before a narrow 1-0 defeat at Hanwell Town this season. They've played in the FA Vase for a season longer, but it took them until this season to get their first win. Ardley United were defeated 4-2 before a comprehensive 8-1 win over Tytherington Rocks. The run ended in the 1st Round with a 2-1 defeat at Southern Counties East League champions Sevenoaks Town. Local honours include the Gloucestershire County League (Les James) Cup which they won in 2014 with a 3-0 win over Rockleaze Rangers.


Having only finished last season on the 9th June thanks to the CONIFA World Cup, I had a much shorter break than usual. Those 19 blank days had mainly been filled with the World Cup, with me doing my usual trick of watching every game that I could. I first spotted this game in the middle of my time off and mentioned it to fellow hopper Anwar. I needed him on board to make it happen, and thankfully, despite him not deciding until the day before, he decided to go for it. There were a couple of notable names within visitors Cirencester Town's squad. Former Wycombe player Charlie Griffin was their boss and ex-Cheltenham Town midfielder Michael Pook was also playing for them. The evening before, I watched England v Belgium with both sides putting out much-changed sides and the Belgians winning 1-0. On the day of the game, it was a brutally busy day at work and hopes of an afternoon nap were diminished as I had to work until 2 after getting up at 4 am. I only had am an hour at home, catching up online before leaving at 3.30.

Half an hour later I was picking up Anwar in Aylesbury. The journey was only 70 miles but it took two and a half hours thanks to woeful roads and Friday night traffic. We got to Gloucester at 6.30, going to a place called Muchachos where I had a Los Chillis Locos chicken burger meal for a fiver. For the money, it was absolutely fantastic and one of the best meals I have had whilst out groundhopping.  The ground was only a few miles away - or so I thought. It turned out that Google sent me to the wrong location where what I presume where the old ground was. There was a social club and club signs, but a helpful lady pointed us in the right direction. With the correct information, we had a few more miles to travel, getting there at 7.25. It was a blessing in disguise then, that the game kicked off at 7.45 rather than the advertised 7.30. I had a nice time to relax before kick off, getting some pictures of the ground and catching up online.

Cirencester Town started with a pretty strong squad but there were not many chances in the opening exchanges. The visitors won it thanks to a prolific 10-minute spell towards the end of the half. First, on 34 minutes, last season's leading marksman Ben Whitehead converted a penalty following a foul in the area. On 40 minutes, it was 2-0. A good ball found Whitehead and his low shot on the turn from around 10 yards produced his and his sides second. Two minutes later, it was game, set and match. The initial shot hit the post but Alan Griffin was on hand to scramble the ball home. Longlevens forced a series of corners just before halftime but they lacked the cutting edge to score. The second half passed off without much incident, but it was spent in the pleasant company of a group of groundhoppers who also supported Cheltenham Town and made up a healthy crowd of 79. We left at 9.45, getting to Anwar's at 11.10. I was home by 11.35 and listened to the Two Mikes while typing my blog. Next up for me is Fleet Town v Woking tomorrow. Initially, I thought that I'd have Anwar for company, but he had family stuff to deal with and quite rightly gave that priority. Thankfully, as a revisit, it's not too far from me and there are a few people that I know that will be in attendance.


SAW MILLS END is a pleasant place to watch football. There is just the one stand, this is fairly long and has a couple of rows of seats at the front as well as standing behind. It's nice to see a solid structure rather than a metal stand. The rest of the ground is open hard standing. Food and drink at the ground appeared quite basic, cans and bottles in the bar, but I didn't check out the food. You'd be better off going into Gloucester city centre where there is plenty of choice, though the ground is quite a walk from there.