Hungerford Town FC
Ground Number: 272
Monday 6th May 2013
Hungerford Town 3-1 Merthyr Town
Southern League D1 S&W Playoff Final
For my second step 3 non league playoff in 2 days, I had the choice out of Hungerford or Lowestoft as my destination. As I had a fairly expensive weekend up North coming up, I opted for the one that was much nearer and so chose Hungerford, who would be playing Merthyr Town in a game that decided who would go up from the Southern League Division 1 - South and West.
On the day I was off work and enjoyed a good sleep the night before. I decided to go to a car boot at Taplow, near Maidenhead on the way. I bought a few DVD's and a game for my old xBox before leaving there at 1.20. After a hassle free drive down the M4 I was in Hungerford by 2.10. The roads round the ground were really busy, so I was glad to find a parking space near the ground. The Merthyr fans coaches were arriving at that time and the whole of the town seemed to be there, with them taking around 500 fans for the journey down the M4 from Wales.
Hungerford had enjoyed some good times in the past few years. After coming up from the Hellenic League in 2009, they had consolidated their place on the Southern League before finishing 2nd in the League behind Poole Town this season. Merthyr Town meanwhile had been successful in all of their seasons since their formation in 2010, gaining 2 promotions in 2 years before this season's 3rd placed finish, a point behind today's hosts. However, this was a far cry from the heights that the original Merthyr Tydfil club reached. They were regulars in the Conference up until the mid 90's and I had seen them play Wycombe at Adams Park in my first 2 years of supporting the Chairboys. From then on until their demise in 2010, they spent most of their time (apart from one season) in the Southern Premier, with a few good finishes, the best one being 3rd in 2004/05 season.
After going in and getting a programme I had a look around and took some pictures before looking for something to eat. There was a decent looking barbecue and so I had sausage and chips before sitting down and looking through my programme. It was soon time for kick off and after a cagey first half with few chances for either team and it remained 0-0 at half time. Mark Draycott gave the home side the lead on 46 minutes, but the scores were soon level, thanks to Ryan Newman. For the rest of the half Hungerford looked the better side but were unable to profit from their domination. So after 90 minutes and the scores still level they went into extra time. Merthyr were looking really tired at this point and their best chances seemed to be through a penalty shoot out, just as they had done to qualify for this final by beating Swindon Supermarine in the semis. But it wasn't to be, goals either side of the half time interval in extra time sent them out and they never looked like recovering from this double blow.
It had been another good game in a decent atmosphere, mainly from the travelling Welsh contingent, who made up the majority of the 813 crowd. Despite it being busy I got out of Hungerford and on the M4 pretty quickly and was back home at around 7PM
BULPIT LANE is a pretty decent ground for this level. There are several small areas of cover around the ground, the 2 seating areas holding around 500 people, with probably around the same amount again being covered standing. The rest is open standing.
The tea bar on my visit was in the form of a barbecue and was very nice and decent value with Sausage and chips for £2.50. The clubhouse was recently refurbished and was a fair size although I didn't drink in there. There is no club shop to my knowledge although you can buy metal badges at the bar.