Wednesday 3 December 2014

Spalding United - Sir Halley Stewart Field

Spalding United FC
Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field
Winfrey Avenue
PE11 1DA

Ground Number: 441
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Spalding United 5-1 Coalville Town
Doodson Sports Cup 2nd Round 


Spalding United FC was formed in 1921. They played in a number of local leagues and won many of them before being promoted to the Southern League Midland Division in 1988. They only lasted 3 seasons at the new level before dropping back down to the UCL. A turbulent time followed with them switching between leagues but last season they stormed to the UCL title after winning their first 17 games. This season they have followed it up with more success and are currently 5th in the NPL D1 South.

They have reached the FA Cup 1st Round on 2 occasions, although their record attendance came in a 2nd Qualifying Round game against Peterborough in 1952. That day 6972 crammed into the ground to see the 2 sides draw 2-2 before Posh triumphed 3-0 at London Road. In the other FA competitions, they have reached the 3rd round of the Trophy and the Quarter Final of the FA Vase.


There were plenty of options for this midweek. However, I had some restrictions. Firstly I wanted to do a step 4 or above game - as I did Coventry Sphinx last Saturday and will be off to Long Eaton this Saturday, both of whom are at step 5. My first thought was Cinderford Town v Swindon Supermarine, as I like watching the visitors. But then I looked further into it and the roads there were not the quickest, plus there was a lack of options food and drink wise. Also, Anwar was on a limited budget, so I had to pick something close. I discovered that there were a few other options, and after checking the weather I plumped for Spalding over Tividale, as it was a cup game. OK, so it was only the much-maligned Doodson Cup, which was regarded as a waste of time by a lot of people. But I love cups, and the last one I had seen - Yate Town v Swindon Supermarine in the Red Insure Cup, had been a cracking 3-3 draw and a penalty shootout. My only previous game in this cup had been Nantwich Town's 5-0 demolition of Leek Town around this time last year, after I had given some friends a lift to Crewe for the Wycombe game.

I spent Tuesday relaxing at home in the morning as it was my day off. I had a dentists appointment at 2PM and as it wasn't raining, decided to walk the 20 minutes there and back. I had to have a tooth out and it was quite complicated. The dentist asked me if I was 'having a quiet evening at home' and I said yes. I didn't want to worry her by telling her that I was travelling 100 miles up the A1 to a pub and football match. As I was picking Anwar up at 4PM and needed to get petrol and a few bits for the nights game, I left at 3.10, but even then after getting my things, I was still 5 minutes later than scheduled. At least the Irn Bru perked me up a bit. 
Anwar was there waiting for me, and I was happy with the arrival time of just before 6PM. However, 15 minutes delay getting out of Aylesbury soon put paid to that. My Waze sat nav did it's best, with me going cross country at times, but in the end, I got to the ground at 6.30. We parked up in a car park opposite, which fortunately didn't charge after 6PM. We'd planned to go for dinner, but before we went we nipped across to the turnstile to get a couple of programmes in case they sold out before we returned. After putting them in the car, we made our way into town.

It was only a few minutes walk to the Ivy Wall, the local Wetherspoons. They always offer good value for reasonable food and as long as you know what you are doing you can get something nice. As I had been to the dentist I opted for something soft, namely the Chilli Con Carne Gourmet Hot Dog. It was lovely and for little more than £7, it came with chips, onion rings and a pint of Thatchers Gold. I later had a pint of my favourite Black Dragon Cider, and after that lot, I was feeling miles better. It was one of the better Wetherspoons I had been to and was well looked after. By now it was 7.30, and so we made our way back to the ground, getting there 10 minutes before kick off. After paying £7 to get in, I got some pictures of the ground. I learned the value of having a good phone, as while I was looking on Facebook a ball from the pre-match warm-up caught it a treat and catapulted it out of my hands and onto the floor, luckily it was unscathed. We took a seat in the stand and listened to some of the retro tunes they were playing including the Bay City Rollers and the themes from Match Of The Day and Grandstand. The home fans were in good voice this evening, singing throughout.

Both sides fielded much-changed sides for this low key game, but there was only one side in the game. Spalding United were ahead after 3 minutes and the lead was doubled with both goals coming from Andrew Tidswell. Jordan Hempenstall made it 3-0 on 22 minutes and by pre-match, it was 4-0 courtesy of Jordan Nuttell. The scoring died down in the second half with substitute Tom Waulmsley completing Coalville's misery around 10 minutes from time. Sam Brookes grabbed a late consolation for Coalville, but they had a wretched night and were never in the game. I needed fuel and so I made my way to the Sainsbury's nearby. Annoyingly the petrol station was all in darkness and coned off so we had to go to Morrisons, 2 miles away and fill up there which meant we didn't get doing until 10PM. We made great time however and after dropping Anwar off at 11.30  I was back in my house 20 minutes later. As usual, I had little sleep as it took me ages to drop off and I had to be up at 4am for work.


SIR HALLEY STUART FIELD is a decent ground for this level. The standout feature is the elevated main stand which is quoted as holding 300 fans but looks bigger. Next to it is a covered metal terrace and that is it as far as cover goes as the rest of the ground is open. The small club shop was closed when I went, and I didn't use the bar or tea hut. However, the town is close by and that has a huge range of places to go for pre-match food and drink.

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