Saturday 29 July 2023

Mickleover - Raygar Stadium

Mickleover FC
Mickleover Sports Club
Station Road

Ground Number: 416

Tuesday 30th September 2014
Mickleover Sports 3-0 Bedworth United
FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round


Mickleover Old Boys were founded in 1948 and spent the first 44 years of its history playing local football in the Derby & District Senior League. In 1993 they gained promotion to the Central Midlands Premier Division, around the same time changing their name to Mickleover Sports. They won promotion to the league's Supreme Division 2 years later and by 1999 had been promoted into the Northern Counties East League at Division 1 level. After 4 seasons in that league, they went up again, after winning the league in 2003. Their rapid progress continued and it was double promotions in 2008 and 2009 as they were champions of both the NCEL and the NPL D1 South. Despite finishing 15th in their first season in the NPL Premier, they were relegated the season after and only survived a second successive relegation by the skin of their teeth as they finished 21st back in the lower league of the NPL D1 South. In 2015, they won the title and promotion back to the Premier Division. Their best finish came in 2018 with a 13th-place finish. 2020 saw them drop the 'Sports' suffix and install a 3G pitch. Combined with a switch to the Southern Premier Central last season, it has done them the power of good. Last season they finished 6th, just missing out on the playoffs and achieving the highest finish in the club's history.

In the FA Cup, they have reached the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup four times. The FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round was reached in 2017 as Mickleover lost out to Brackley Town. In 2001, they reached the FA Vase 4th Round, losing 5-2 at Stourport Swifts. Local cup wins include the NPL Chairmans Cup in 2010, the NCEL League Up in 2007 and the NCEL Trophy in 2003. The village of Mickleover is located two miles from Derby and has a population of 18,000.


It was FA Cup Replay week again and so if possible, I was looking for a game in that competition if at all possible. There were a few decent ties, but they were all a fair way away. Happily, Anwar was back to keep me company and help out with fuel costs, and between us, we chose one of the nearer ones - Mickleover Sports v Bedworth United. It was actually a continuation of the first FA Cup game of this season that I had seen. Staveley Miners Welfare had triumphed over Worksop on that Friday night. They went on to beat Rainworth Miners Welfare in the Preliminary Round. Just as they were getting into their stride they came up against Mickleover Sports in the 1st Qualifying Round. I was hoping that the game would be moved to Friday night, as had many of the games. But sadly it was not to be and Mickleover triumphed 3-0 over the NCEL side. Then on Saturday, tonight's sides played out a 1-1 draw in Bedworth, to set up tonight's replay.

As usual, it was my day off on Tuesday. Usually, I sat around, waiting to go to football and doing various things to kill time, but I did something useful for once, going down Wycombe and getting my hair cut. I used to go to an Asian place that was in some random part of town, but since they started closing on Tuesday I have found a decent one near the town centre called 'Chaps'. It's a couple of quid extra but it's nicer, and they have a really friendly dog there. I then came home and killed the rest of the time by going on the internet and watching TV. I left a little bit earlier than usual for Aylesbury because I wanted to check in their Sports Direct for a pair of slip-on trainers I fancied. I met Anwar and his mate Scouse Carl who was making his debut on one of our groundhops. Traffic was very slow getting out of Aylesbury, then again through Milton Keynes, and once more on the M1. All in all, there was around 30 minutes delay. We needed food and so stopped at a pizza place called Pizza Tonight on the way. I had a hot and spicy pizza and it was excellent for the £4 that I paid. From then on it was only 10 minutes to the ground, arriving there around 10 minutes before kick-off.

I paid £10 for entry and programme and also bought a pen from the club shop for £1.50. I had a brief chat with another groundhopper Chris and got some pictures of the ground. I then took a place on the other side of the pitch to watch the game. At half time it was getting a bit chilly so I got myself a cup of cracking homemade minestrone soup which was easily the nicest hot drink I have had inside a football ground. Mickleover had accounted for the wonderfully named Thurnby Nirvana and the wonderfully friendly Staveley Miners Welfare so far, so perhaps I should have been rooting for Bedworth. But really I was hoping for penalties. In any case, the hosts dominated the first half and were good value for their lead at halftime. The second half was a different story though, with Bedworth having much the better of the opening exchanges and being unlucky not to equalise. The game turned on a sending-off and a penalty mid-way through the half. There was a foul in the area, and as the player was the last man, he walked. The resulting spot kick was put away well and Mickleover never looked back from there. They added a 3rd when the goalkeeper messed up and was stranded and lobbed to round the game off. A fair result in the end.

I drove home after briefly getting lost on the one-way system in Derby City Centre. There were around 20 minutes added to the journey, what with diversions and traffic on the M1, but even so we still got back to Aylesbury by 11.55. After dropping Anwar and Carl off I was back home within 20 minutes. As usual, after a night of football, I couldn't get to sleep for ages and only ended up having around an hour's sleep, which left me feeling jaded the following day.

Mickleover v Stapleford Town, Friendly, 29/7/23

Just a brief update to my previous entry as I have a four-game day. The hop had not worked out well for me, with two of the three grounds that I needed bing on Sunday when I was working. I was still keen to do some of the 2023 UCL Hop though and initially thought I was going to have to do Radford. But then, MK-based Chris said he was happy to come along and so I had a rethink. Radford would be a pain to park with a large crowd and so we opted instead for Mickleover. It too would be a revisit for me, but I'd not been since 2014. It also gave me a chance to revise my blog and get some new pictures. Having been to Radford two years more recently, it seemed a good decision.
I didn't have much sleep the night before, around five hours. I got up, had breakfast and left at 7.45. It was a good journey to Chris, with me stopping for petrol on the way. It was with him by 8.55 and he was there waiting for me. We made good time with only delays in Derby City centre. We got to the ground at 12.30 and got some pictures. I saw Wrexham fan John checked in and we also had a chat with fellow hopper George from our Groundhopping group. The game did not start as scheduled at 11 so that was our pre-match at our next game. It also gave me time to upload pictures to my blog which has been painfully slow lately. We got going at 11.30 and Mickleover took an early lead, a low shot from just inside the area. They dominated but Stapleford equalised from their first attack on 17 minutes, a neat volley from a cross. The visitors improved with time and started to have more of the game. Mickeover retook the lead on 37 minutes, an attack down the left at the near post. Right on half time, Stapleford were awarded a penalty but it was blasted over. The second half saw some brilliant saves from both keepers, the game fairly equal but seemingly no more goals. It was a simple goal that made it 3-1 to Stapleford right on time, capitalising on sloppy defending to slot the ball in the bottom left corner. 


I'd been to The RAYGAR STADIUM before, back in 2007. Some rather hopeless navigating by my mate Paul meant that we went about 15 miles out of our way due to having to divert due to delays on the motorway. Either which way, now that I was in Mickleover, I was going to take a look at the ground and was impressed by the ground, which was then an NCEL venue at step 5. There were a couple of areas of cover, a seated stand holding around 300 and cover for 350 standing fans, while the rest of the ground was open. It would be interesting to see if there was anything added since my last visit when I went there for a game. I wasn't sure if the cover behind the goal had been added, as I do not have a picture of that end from my last visit. In any case, it adds cover for around another 350 standing fans. Around a quarter of the ground is closed off to fans, due to them also playing cricket there.

The club shop was good, offering a decent range of club stuff and also old books and programmes. The clubhouse offered real ales and a range of other drinks, though I didn't indulge on this occasion. The tea bar offered a small range of food, mainly burgers but the minestrone soup was homemade and delicious. The people at the club are really friendly and the ground is worth a visit. 


Not a lot had changed structurally but it had been smartened up. A 3G pitch conversion had happened and the ground looked better in the daylight. All the facilities were closed given the low-key nature of the game and entry was free.

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