Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Hyde FC - Ewen Fields

Hyde FC
Ewen Fields
Walker Lane
SK14 5PL

0161 3677273

Ground Number: 292
Monday 26th August 2013
Hyde 0-1 Grimsby Town
Skrill Premier

For the second part of my bank holiday double I was off to Hyde v Grimsby. In fact this was the whole reason that I was up here, and it was pure luck that I managed to squeeze 2 games in, owing to the fact that the game had been moved for BT Sport. I had in fact planning this since the day the Conference fixtures came out. I had 3 grounds left to do in the Conference and was looking to do these with Grimsby if possible. The reason why? Some absolutely fantastic mates from Grimsby, in particular 3, William, John and Tom, who I had met before and are the finest human beings you could wish to meet. With this in mind I'd also arranged to go to Barnet in February with them too.

It's funny how things work out. I used to get so fed up with going to Grimsby year after year. This was back in the day when I did every single Wycombe game, home and away for 7 years. Therefore I was 'forced' to make the trip up to Blundell Park year on year as they followed us around the divisions. I was not as adventurous then, as I was without the comfort of Google maps on my phone. After missing a coach home from Brentford one year, I was concerned about going too far in case I got lost. So I only ever tried the nearest chippy, and the nearest pub, both of which invariably disappointed. And there was not the information out there to make a more informed decision either. Another way that technology has transformed away days is social networking - Facebook and Twitter was how I met the magnificent Mariners. It's ironic, but after wishing the trips to Grimsby away and indeed missing our last visit there as I had stopped my 'run' I had been for the past 2 years wishing for us to be paired together in the cup or for us to be in the same league.

Of those trips to Blundell Park, the highlight has to be when we won 1-0 back in 2005 to send us top of the league. We were under John Gorman's stewardship at the time and were playing fantastic football, branded by many as 'Gormania'. The home fans were buzzing, they were going well and were right up there with us at the top of the table. They also had a huge game with Spurs in the League Cup coming up and supporters had to turn up to this game too, to stand a chance of getting a ticket to their big cup tie. As a result they had more fans than usual and Wycombe were given just a small corner, instead of our usual end. Tommy Mooney was the man that did the damage as we saw out a tough game to top the table at the final whistle.

And since then I had seen Grimsby a few times with me lending my support to them for the day. First of all in April 2012 when I met brothers John and Tom during the 0-0 draw at AFC Telford. Then the following season in September I met William at Newport County, another 0-0 for the Mariners. Then I met him again as we travelled to see them draw 1-1 with Rotherham reserves at Parkgate's ground, we also went to another game at Barton Town Old Boys later that night. It was a really enjoyable day and the time that I decided to really step up my efforts to tie in my groundhopping with seeing the Mariners play.

As for the home side, I had not had much experience of seeing them play. I had been to the ground to take pictures back in around 2008. I had been given the typically friendly Lancashire welcome as I visited a few grounds around the area. Since my visit they had had their ground turned blue by Man City as they use it for their base for reserve and youth teams. They had dropped the United name too, but had stopped short of changing the kit blue and changing their name to City. Some may consider it as a sell out, but the money they had got from the deal allowed them to gain promotion from the Conference North and enjoyed a solid first season in the Premier. As for on the field, I had not seen them play. They had however halted Wycombe's run to a trophy before I started getting into football. Back in 1988 they beat Wycombe 1-0 in an FA Trophy Quarter Final, the game being played on an artificial pitch. They went on to lose to Telford in the Semi Final, who in turn went on to beat Macclesfield in the final at Wembley to lift the trophy.

I had left Mossley as soon as the final whistle sounded it and made slow progress towards Hyde, thanks to busy traffic and a set of roadworks. I got there just after 5.15 and chucked my car down the nearest empty road that I could find. I then tried to amble my way to the ground as I had no idea where the away supporters were supposed to go. I soon found the ground after a couple of wrong turns and a friendly local pointed me in the direction of the visitors entrance. Little did I know but my mates were behind me as I ran and rushed my way through the turnstile and so right on kick off we met and decided where to stand.

On getting into the ground I was surprised to find how empty it was. I was expecting a massive support from Grimsby and a struggle to get near my mates, but the stands were empty. In the end the attendance was given as an entirely believable 782, with a highly dubious 272 being classified as away fans - it seemed a whole lot more from them. We went behind the goal first half and to be honest the view wasn't great. The terrace was quite a long way back from the pitch and there was netting draped down over the front of the stand to make the view even worse. For the second half we stood along the side and the view was a lot better. We had sone banter with the linesman too and celebrated Grimsby's winner with a bit of gusto. Below is a short report from the BBC to sum up the afternoon's events.

Grimsby eventually made their pressure tell as Alex Rodman's second-half goal was enough to beat Hyde.
The substitute poked home from six yards after Joe Colbeck had whipped a low cross in from the right wing.
The hosts had chances in the first period, Grimsby midfielder Craig Disley twice clearing efforts off the line.
But after the break the Mariners were dominant, Colbeck almost making it two late on, his lob landing on the roof of the net with the keeper off his line.

After the game it was sad to say goodbye to my mates and we were already anticipating the Barnet trip in February, if not a cup or Trophy game before then if the draw was kind. We had a big group hug and got some pictures together, sadly the one above does not include John as he was taking the picture! After waving them off in their minibus I made my way back to my car. I was planning to go into town for a curry after but in the event I wasn't hungry and so I drove straight home, the journey taking just over 3 hours as I arrived home at 10.45. It had been a long and enjoyable day and it reminded me that friendships forged through football or not, meant more to me than any football result ever could.

EWEN FIELDS is one of the smaller grounds in the Conference, but is smart and modern. Three and a half sides are covered terracing with the views being good apart from the one down the far end. And even then it's not the worst view you could get at a football ground. The seated stand holds around 530, whilst the ground overall holds just over 4000 people.

I didn't try either the tea bar or clubhouse, nor did I find the club shop but the town is a short way. I had been here before on the way to New Mills FC and found a pretty decent pub called The Cheshire Ring. There is plenty of choice of other pubs and takeaways too.

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