Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Weston-Super-Mare FC - Woodspring Stadium



Weston-Super-Mare FC

Woodspring Stadium
Winterstoke Road
Weston-Super-Mare
North Somerset
BS24 9AA

01934 621618




Ground Number: 407
Tuesday 9th September 2014
Weston-Super-Mare 3-2 Ebbsfleet United
Conference South



With only 3 grounds to do in the Conference South, and not having done one for ages, I thought that a tick was long overdue. The added bonus was that Anwar wanted to do it too, and although it was one of our longer trips for a midweek game, we could stop in Bristol on the way, where there would no doubt plenty to see and do. It would also be one of the highest level game that we had done together in our 65 hops, with the only 'better' one being Nuneaton v Luton Town last year. I would have just Whitehawk and Gosport to do after this to complete the league. I noted that the trip for Ebbsfleet would be around 4 hours on a coach, with it being 175 miles between the 2 clubs. I had 40 miles less to do and I thought it was a long trip for me!

The town of Weston-Super-Mare used to gain most of it's economy through tourism, thanks to it's seaside location, This has declined in recent years with the advent of foreign holidays, but is still a fairly popular destination. Other industries such as helicopter manufacturing have come to the area to try and make up the shortfall. Famous people to come from the town include Fawlty Towers actor John Cleese and TV presenter Jill Dando.




Weston-Super-Mare FC were founded in 1897, but disbanded twice for World Wars 1&2. They have been going in their current incarnation since 1948. They played in the Western League for many years, winning it in 1991 and getting promotion into the Southern League.  They generally did well in their new surroundings and won promotion up to the Premier Division in 2004. 12 months later, they finished high enough to gain entry to the newly formed Conference South after restructuring of the of the non league pyramid. They have remained there since and in 2013 had their best ever finish when they ended the season in 7th place.

They had won a number of local cups, including the Western Senior Cup on 6 occasions and the Somerset Premier Cup twice. In the FA Cup, they have reached the first round proper on 2 occasions, and the 2nd Round in 2003 when they lost 4-1 to Northampton Town. That same season also saw them have their best run in the FA Trophy, when they reached the 4th Round. They have had several ex professional players turn out for them, mainly coming from the nearby Bristol trio of Rovers and City. Most well known to Wycombe fans will be Mickey Bell, who had 3 excellent years at Wycombe before leaving for Bristol City in controversial circumstances. He was at Clevedon Town as manager for a while, and oversaw the clubs loss to step 5 side Hartley Wintney last season. Even so, Weston-Super-Mare obviously saw enough in him to give him the manager's job at the start of the season. So far, they are just below mid table in 16th place.



Ebbsfleet were were one of the favourites for promotion at the start of the season and were currently just outside the playoffs in 7th place. They were known as Gravesend & Northfleet up until 2007, as the club was a merger of Gravesend United and Ebbsfleet United after the second world war. For a time they were owned by My Football Club, an online venture where 27,000 members paid £35 each to take over a club and have say in things like team selections. They eventually gave up ownership, partly to the supporters trust and partly to a Kuwaiti businessman. They are one of the few non league teams to have a club song, and it's quite a catchy one, entitled 'Cheer, Cheer, here come the Fleet'






They have spent most of their history in the Southern League, though they were founding members of the Alliance (now called the Conference) in 1979. They had an excellent first season, finishing 5th, which to date remains their best ever placing. However, within a few seasons they were relegated back to the Southern League. After switching to the Isthmian Premier for 5 seasons, they won promotion back to the Conference in 2002, remaining there for 11 seasons, suffering relegation back to the Conference South in 2013. In their first season back, they finished 4th, losing out in the playoffs, but winning the Kent Senior Cup. They have done very well in the FA competitions, winning the FA Trophy in 2008, and getting to the 4th Round of the FA Cup in 1963, where they beat Exeter, Wycombe and Carlisle before taking Sunderland to a replay. The most famous player to play for the team is current England manager Roy Hodgson, who made 59 appearances between 1969 and 1971.

Talking of England, I spent the previous evening winning away in Switzerland. As I'd promised myself, I watched the match completely sober, which must be the first time since about Euro 96, when I was at school. England played very well and new Arsenal signing Danny Wellbeck scored 2 good goals. I always thought that he did well for England, and reckon that the Gunners have got themselves a bargain there. I also fancy him to score more goals than any of the Manchester United strikers who have replaced him, or are still at Old Trafford.

Anyway, I had a good nights sleep, around 9 hours in all which was good. I normally only get half of that. I spent the morning relaxing, before I left home at 11.30. I went into Aylesbury and got some things for the journey. I also got some lunch at this brilliant takeway called 'Sunset Grill' and I have to say it's the best Chicken Piri Piri Burger that I have ever had. I then drove to meet Anwar at the school where he worked at 1.15. We then headed west for our day out.

First port of call was Bristol Rovers FC. I was hoping to get a picture next to their Vanarama sign, wearing a Wycombe shirt and holding a Mansfield scarf. It was for a bit of a laugh really, there had been bad blood between the clubs in recent times. Wycombe had looked doomed when Bristol Rovers won at Adams Park in the penultimate game of the season, with us 3 points behind them with one game to play. We needed to win at Torquay, but even that would not save us if Rovers gained even a point, which looked a fairly straightforward task at home to mid table Mansfield who had nothing to play for. But they lost 1-0, Wycombe won 3-0 down in Devon to save themselves, and so Colin Daniel, the scorer for Mansfield that day will forever remain a hero to Wycombe fans.It was not the first incident of controversy between the 2 clubs, in fact there is not space here to cover them all here, suffice to say there is no love lost.



I did feel a bit bad about taking the picture to be honest, as the genuine fans didn't deserve it. A steward came along and I rushed it, messing it up a bit. After that we went into a part of Bristol called Bedminster, parked up at Asda and went to some local shops for computer games. There was nothing worth buying, so I went down to the riverfront to a cider bar and had a couple of halves of new ones that I had not tried before. From there I stopped at Asda on the way back to the car, to see what ciders they did, and ended up getting a nice local Scrumpy, while Anwar got some of the Chocolate Bourbon spread he was looking for.


It was about 5.20 when we got back to the car, and after a slow trip out of Bristol, it was plain sailing and we were in Weston Super Mare by 6.10. We were planning to walk into town, but it was a bit far, so I got some chicken from the local Asda, while Anwar went to McDonalds. We went into the ground at 7.15. I had a look in the clubshop and bought a pen for £1 before going to the bar and getting a pint of Blackthorn which I drank while typing my blog. From there I went outside and got some pictures of the ground,while checking Facebook.

THE GAME

Weston surprised everyone by going into a quick 2-0 lead. The first was a screamer but the second was very poor defending on Ebbsfleet's part. The visitors equalised however with 2 goals in 5 minutes by Charlie Sheringham, and all that was with little over 20 minutes on the clock. It died down a bit after that and apart from a few close shots, the next notable incident was the linesman getting injured. Luckily there was someone in the crowd to deputise and so the game could continue. Deep into injury time Jacob Can got what looked to be the winner for Weston Super Mare when he got on the end of a great cross and volleyed into the net to give the home side victory.



ELSEWHERE

Wales scraped past Andorra after going behind but won 2-1 with a Gareth Bale brace. Lincoln beat Grimsby 3-2 in the Lincolnshire derby for their first victory over their rivals for 8 years. After losing 8-1 at home to AFC Fylde on Saturday, Oxford City won 2-1 at Boston United.

AFTER THE GAME

It was a fairly easy drive home, with little traffic. We left Weston Super Mare shortly before 10pm due to the injury to the linesman but were back in Aylesbury by midnight. A road closure affected my journey home, but I was still back by 12.30. I watched TV for an hour, trying to drop off, but couldn't get to sleep at all before work at 4am. I felt OK the following morning, but had 4 hours sleep when I got home the following afternoon. 

THE NUMBERS

Ground 407 (22nd out of 24 in the Conference South)

Game 41 of the season, 1510 of all time, 66th hop with Anwar

Goals for the season 161 (average of approx 4 per game) 

Miles driven: 285, 3904 for the season so far (average 95 miles per game)

Purchases: Entry £8, Programme £2, Chicken & Chips £3, Bovril £1, Blackthorn £3.30, Fuel Contribution £12.80. Total £29.50 (there were other expenses, plus of course maintaining my car, but I didn't charge them to my 'football costs')
Total spend for the season £637.40 (average £15.55 per game)

NEXT UP

Somewhere in Wales on Friday night, most likely Cefn Druids v Bala Town in the Welsh Premier.



WOODSPRING STADIUM is a decent ground for the Conference South. The best part of the ground is the terrace behind the right hand side goal as you come in. It's pretty high and you can get a great view, though it does look a bit strange with seats put in at the front in the middle. The opposite end is a smaller covered terrace. The side where you come in has all the facilities like bar, tea hut and club shop, plus a 350 seater stand, while the one remaining side is open hard standing.

There is not a lot around the ground, in fact it's 30 minutes from town. I did see Asda, McDonalds, KFC and Pizza Hut though. The bar is pretty good, with access from inside the ground, Sky TV and a better selection of drinks than most clubhouses. I had some chips from the tea bar, which were average, but great value at £1, also the Bovril was nice and strong. Finally, the clubshop is now mainly clothing after teaming up with a local sportswear company, but there are still a few small things left to buy.


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