Ground Number: 307
Wednesday 16th October 2013
Matlock Town 2-1 Barwell
NPL Premier Division
After leaving the Farsley game, I had decided to visit a couple of grounds on the way to my next game. First up was Shaw Lane Aquaforce who play in the NCEL Division 1. They had won the Sheffield and Hallamshire League last season and gained promotion, although there were doubts over whether they would be accepted due to their ground, at least that's what I read on a forum anyway. So I wasn't expecting much but was pleasantly surprised to find a really modern and smart venue. The stand was of a smart design too, not one of those prefab metal ones that are so popular nowadays. The ground was part of a huge sports complex and is shared with the local rugby club. Next stop was a few miles away at Worsborough Bridge Athletic, a club that I learned later was where Wycombe signed a player called Kevin Day from in the 1980s. That was way before my time supporting Wycombe, but I recall seeing his name in some old programmes. Anyway, they play at the same level as Shaw Lane and their ground is a lot older, but it still has decent facilities and is set in pretty green surroundings. It was by now approaching 5PM, and so I set my Sat Nav for Worksop Town (using a file I got off of a non league forum a few years back) I thought it was a bit further than indicated and was surprised when I was directed past the Worksop turn off on the M1 and made to travel for another 20 miles down the motorway. I thought it might be due to the heavy traffic that was on the slip road and that I was being sent a different way around. I first thought something was up when I turned off at the junction and it was for Mansfield and Hucknall. I then had a horrible feeling - I did remember that Worksop shared at Hucknall a few years back and pulled over at the next safe point to investigate further. My fears were then confirmed. The file was around 4 years old had indeed sent me to Hucknall. So instead of going to Worksop Town v Stafford Rangers, I decided to find an alternative. I looked at the nearest grounds to me, and after consulting my non-league paper and double checking on the internet to make sure it was still on, I opted for Matlock Town v Barwell.
It was actually a blessing in disguise. It had been under consideration for the night, but the extra mileage needed had put it to the back of my mind. Then a few days before, Seb, the mate who I was supposed to be meeting at Worksop, had to go down to Birmingham and would miss the match. I was still pressing ahead though, as I had wanted to go to Worksop for a while, due to the decent programme shop and a decent pub nearby. But it would be better to do it with a mate, and Matlock was another that I had fancied for a while. On the way, I listened to Football Heaven on Radio Sheffield and as ever it was great listening, even though I don't have any strong allegiance to either of the City's sides. I even heard my mate Mick The Owl on there having some of his messages read out. I arrived just before 7 and parked up nearby. I was surprised to see that the ground was right in the town centre, but I found free parking easily enough. I had actually been to the ground, sometime around 1993 to take photos while on a family holiday to the Peak District and I remember the delightful entrance to the ground which is still there thankfully. In fact, only one side had changed since my last visit and it had given the ground a great facelift and better facilities, while not spoiling the old charm in any way. The old stand is pictured above. After paying to get in and purchasing a programme, I went to the club shop and got myself a pen. Even though I had chips and gravy in a chippy before going into the ground, I was still hungry and so bought myself a sausage roll from the tea bar, which was great value and very tasty at £1.30.
I'd never seen Matlock play before, but had visited Barwell recently and seen their 1-1 draw with Stamford. The visitors were in mid-table whilst Matlock were just on the fringes of the playoffs in 7th place. Tonight's game was enjoyable as well, resulting in a 2-1 home win. Corey Gregory could have given the hosts the lead as early a 5 minutes in, but the goal was ruled out for offside. Matlock did go ahead ten minutes later, Mickey Harcourt with a great 30-yard free kick that had Barwell keeper Liam Castle well beaten. A few minutes later, a trip in the area saw Barwell gifted the chance to equalise and Luke Barlone did the honours, smashing the ball straight down the middle to beat Jon Kennedy in the home goal. Matlock had a few more chances, but it was all square at the break. They did retake the lead on 53 minutes, Darryl Thomas following up after an initial shot had been saved. Despite Barwell having some chances to equalise, the hosts held on. After the game, I went back to my car, set the Sat Nav for home, which was a good 3 hours away. I knew I would claw back some time but it wasn't helped when part of the M1 was closed and I had to take a big diversion. Eventually, though, I was back home by 12.30, having had a really nice few days away.
CAUSEWAY LANE is a great little gem, or 'ground porn' as some fellow groundhoppers call it. As you go in through the pretty entrance, there are 2 parts of the ground that have remained unchanged for years. To the right is a seated stand that runs the length of the pitch, and may have at one time been terracing. In front of you, there is a covered terrace for those that prefer to stand behind the goal. The other end is not in use, as it has a cricket pitch. The one new side has an excellent new stand, as well as hosting the bat, tea bar and medical facilities, and the dressing rooms.
The bar is brand spanking new and well decorated, though I didn't drink on that occasion. The tea bar has a limited range but if the Sausage rolls are anything to go by, the food is of a good standard. And the club shop does old programmes as well as a decent range of club merchandise. As mentioned the town is nearby, making it well worth a visit.