Thrapston Town FC
Ground Number: 353
Friday 11th April 2014
Thrapston Town 1-1 Buckingham Town
United Counties League Division 1
I am a big fan of Friday night football. It's either that or a few pints to help me unwind at the end of a week at work, and I certainly prefer the healthier option. Sadly though, very few clubs schedule games on Fridays, and the ones that tend to do so are either in the North East or Wales, which would prove very expensive for me on my own - the next nearest ground that I had not been to on this night was Aberystwyth Town - over 4 hours and 220 miles away!
There was actually quite a choice for this Friday, but Bishops Cleeve and AFC Rushden & Diamonds had already been done. The league that Rushden are in is the United Counties League Premier Division and they are pretty good at scheduling Friday games compared to others with Yaxley already having played a couple of games on that particular night this season. I resisted as I knew they would be on the groundhop that I would be doing next August. But I struck gold, a division below in the United Counties Division 1 there was a game in Thrapston. I seem to recall going to the town for banger or stock car racing when I was a kid, but have hardly any memory of it. Or maybe it was Thruxton, as there seemed to be no sign of anything when I googled it. The visiting team would be Buckingham Town, probably the nearest team to me in that particular league.
Thrapston Town were formed as recently as 1960, under the name of Thrapston Ventura. They sent the first 18 years of their existence in the Kettering Amateur League, winning the title on 5 occasions. in 1978 they joined the United Counties League Division 2, moving to Division 1 a couple of seasons later after a 3rd placed finish and restructuring of the league. In 1996 the club changed it's name to Thrapston Town. They spent their one and only season in the United Counties Premier Division in 2011/12 finishing bottom of the league after coming runners up in Division 1 the previous season. Last season they had a mid table finish back in that league, coming 12th out of 19 teams. Their best season in the FA Cup came in 2011/12 when they reached the 1st Qualifying Round. As for the FA Vase, they have reached the 1st Round on 2 occasions, losing to Kings Lynn Town and Kentish Town. Before the midweek games, both sides were marooned in mid table, with Thrapston sitting 10th.
Buckingham Town were a few places lower in 13th, but had a much more illustrious history to point to. They progressed though the United Counties League, winning the Premier Division for the first time in 1983/84, as well as the League Cup from the same division. They did not take promotion but the following season they had their best ever run in the FA Cup, getting all the way to the 1st Round, hosting Leyton Orient in front of 2000 fans and TV cameras, as they lost 2-0 after putting in a great performance.
This success continued as they were champions of the United Counties Premier again, and took promotion to the Southern League in 1986. After joining the Midland Division they switched to the Southern Division a couple of years later, winning it in 1991. By rights they should have been promoted to the Premier Division, but ground grading rules decreed that despite safely housing over 2000 fans little over 5 years previously, their home was not up to scratch. Despite having a period of decent finishes in the seasons after that, they were relegated back to the UCL in 1997. A further relegation meant they dropped again to the UCL D1 in 2007, where they have remained ever since. While they have never progressed in the FA Trophy, they did get to the quarter final of the FA Vase in 1992/93, before losing to Tiverton Town. The suffered a blow losing their Ford Meadow home in 2011 and after a season playing at Winslow, now play at the Irish Centre in Milton Keynes.
It was a fairly busy day at work but I still finished at 12 as we had extra staff in. I went home, had lunch and a bath and then I watched TV until leaving at 4. Looking at my sat nav it looked like I was going to get to the ground really early so I stopped for an hour in Aylesbury. In fact, after some traffic in Milton Keynes I had to abandon visits to 3 of the grounds I had planned to take pictures at - Wellingborough Whitworths, Irchester United and Rushden & Higham. But I did get some pictures of Wooton Blue Cross which looked pretty good, what I saw of it anyway as it was all locked up.
I got to Thrapston at 7.20 and feeling hungry, walked to the local chip shop, called Pieces. It was actually pretty decent for down South and the Sausage and chips at £2.10 was good value and the chips not soggy like most places down here. I then walked back to the ground and had a pint of Strongbow while I waited for the 8pm kick off.
Thrapston had already had a goal ruled out for offside when they took the lead after 10 minutes. A sloppy back pass was intercepted and the ball was headed over the onrushing keeper. It was all going wrong for Buckingham, they had a player stretched off and the woodwork twice came to their rescue before the half hour mark. Thrapston continued to press but towards the end Buckingham had some chances of their own. But it remained 1-0 at the break with the home side well on top.
The second half was a different story with Buckingham having much the better of the play. They got their equaliser about 10 minutes into the second half and continued to press for the winner. Thrapston did start to regain control towards the end but despite chances coming and going at both ends it remained all square at the end. Given the balance of play, it was probably a fair result and it had been a decent game to watch. I was grateful for Friday night football and it would be a good shout for the United Counties League to encourage more teams to offer this.
It was a nice easy journey home. Despite the game not finishing till 10, I was back home by 11.30. After a couple of cans and typing my blog, I went to bed and watched a bit of TV, getting ready for going to Margate the following day.
CHANCERY LANE is actually a pretty decent venue for a step 6 team, and has already proved fit enough for the next level up. Although it is open on 3 sides, with one side being partly out of bounds due to the cricket pitch. The one side that does have a stand on, stretches a decent proportion of the pitch and is mainly seating, holding over 100 I reckon. It's split up so that parts can be closed when not in use, as was the case tonight. There was also covered standing for around 50 under cover.
The clubhouse was pretty standard drinks wise, and there were snacks and drinks available near the changing rooms, but it was quite basic. The town was only 5 minutes from the ground and although small, has a decent choice of pubs and food places. It certainly seemed pleasant enough to spend a couple of hours in and the same goes for the football club, which was certainly a nice place to spend a spring evening and worth the 150 mile round trip.