Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Northampton Sileby Rangers - Fernie Fields

Northampton Sileby Rangers FC
Fernie Fields Sportsground
Talavera Way
Moulton Park

01604 670366

Ground Number: 450
Tuesday 6th January 2015
Northampton Sileby Rangers 4-1 Harborough Town
United Counties Premier

This would be my 450th ground that I had visited to see a game of football. I had hoped to reach this landmark a few games sooner, but a combination of bad weather and people being unavailable to do some of the longer trips, it had been delayed till now. I had had a really good day in Lowestoft for my 449th (and Anwar's 250th) but it had been a fairly costly one due to the distance and having to eat out. So we looked at some more local options, and out of those available Northampton Sileby Rangers looked favourite as it also had backup games at Northampton Spencer and Northampton ON Chenecks, should there be problems with the weather or pitch.

NORTHAMPTON SILEBY RANGERS were founded in 1968 as Sileby Rangers, and were initially the works team of Sileby Engineering,a firm that had their roots in the Leicestershire village of the same name. They were known as Northampton Vanaid for a period, and it was during this time that they won the Northampton Town league and gained promotion to the United Counties League in 1993. They joined at Division 1 level and were champions in their first season, but were denied promotion due to lack of floodlights. They changed their name to the present monicker in the year 200, but had to wait until 2013 for their promotion when they were champions for the 4th time, but this time with the required facilities in place. Last season saw them consolidate, finishing in 15th place. They were finding the going tough this season, down in 20th place, but they did at least have a fair number of games in hand on the teams above them.

This season had been their first in the FA Cup, and they had done well to reach the 1st Qualifying Round. They beat Hillingdon Borough 3-0 in the extra Preliminary Round and despite losing 4-0 to AFC Kempston they were awarded a tie due to their opponents fielding an ineligible player. They went out in the next round however, after a 3-1 defeat to North Greenford United.  Last season saw them reach the FA Vase 1st Round where they lost 5-2 to AFC Mansfield. Local cups have been won, including the Northamptonshire Junior Cup on 4 occasions.

HARBOROUGH TOWN were a place above in 19th, so this was a real relegation battle. They were formed in 1975, but it wasn't until 2010 that they made the United Counties League. That debut season was a disappointment, with them finishing bottom out of all 17 teams in the Division 1. The next season saw a miraculous recovery with them finishing runners up and gaining promotion to the Premier Division. The 2 seasons since had seen them remain stable, finishing in lowly positions, but avoiding relegation. Last season saw them finish 17th, 12 points ahead of bottom side Stewart & Lloyds Corby who were the only team to be relegated. 2 seasons ago they make their debut in the FA Cup - a 2-1 victory over Teversal was followed up with an 8-0 defeat to Mickleover Sports. They also made their joint best progress in the FA Vase, beating Holbrook Sports and Barrow Town before losing out to Grimsby based Cleethorpes Town.

Richard Stearman and Chris Carruthers are 2 players who progressed from the club to play in the football league. The latter was due to sign for my team Wycombe in the 2005 close season, but pulled out joining at the last minute. He had spent the last part of the previous season on loan at Bristol Rovers, but had been offered nothing, and so signed a contract with Wycombe for the upcoming season. However, before he went on holiday, he sent Rovers manager Ian Atkins a text, asking if they were ready to do a deal. Atkins said yes and so he asked Wycombe to rip up his contract, which they agreed to. This led to him getting a bit of stick from the Wycombe crowd whenever he played there, however, this was not to be for long, as he dropped back into non league football a few years later and started his own business.

On the day of the game I awoke having had a good nights sleep, though I did have a stinking cold. I had a Lemsip to try and combat this, as well as having a bath. I wanted to get my car washed as it was getting pretty filthy, but just my luck that it started tipping it down as I left. This meant that the car was were doing outside only, and as my car is pretty grubby inside too, I decided not to bother. While I was in town, I got a few bits anyway, before coming home and having lunch. I spent the afternoon playing my Football Manager 2015 game as Staveley Miners Welfare, as well as keeping up to date on Twitter and Facebook. I had some Chicken Balti dinner at 5, before leaving home at 5.20.

It was really busy with lots of dawdling drivers so I didn't get to Anwar's until 6pm. Thankfully we had a good journey and were there within an hour. Initially we were a bit concerned as the gates were closed, but it turned out there were 2 entrances. We parked out on the road anyway and walked through to the turnstile, paying £6 entry plus £1 for a programme. We chatted to a friendly ground hopper and the gate man while we waited for kick off.


The last time I had seen Harborough was on the UCL groundhop back in August, where they played at Deeping Rangers and lost 3-0. They had been very poor, so I was not shocked to see them struggling. I had never seen the home side play before, but with home advantage, I fancied them to shade it.

Harborough were the better side in the opening period but it was Sileby who opened the scoring on the quarter hour when Simon King opened the scoring with a drilled shot into the bottom right hand corner. A minute later the lead was doubled when his brother Aaron scored after a great passing move. It was a killer double that was harsh on the visitors. Harborough continued to push and it took a good save from the home keeper to prevent them getting a goal back from a header. Sileby started to get hold of the game and wasted a free kick and a penalty to further extend their lead so it stayed 2-0 at the break.

It was quite cold by now so Anwar and I sat in the warm bar during the interval. Harborough got one back almost immediately to give them a chance of a comeback. It was all but extinguished on the hour mark though. Sileby had already hit the post shortly before but they had their 2 goal lead restored with a comical own goal. A cross was put in and it deflected off of the left back Mitch Bevins and into the net. The keeper really should have done better as it only slowly trickled over the line. Chances came and went for both sides but Sileby made it 4-1 just before full time from a shot from just inside the area.


We made a quick getaway and had a good journey home on the way home, despite the match finishing at 9.50. I dropped Anwar off at 10.40 and was home myself by 11. I spent some time checking online, plus watching a few YouTube videos. As ever on a Tuesday I found it difficult to drop off to sleep, due to a combination of the huge sleep I get on Monday night (in comparison to the rest of the week) and the energy that I get from watching football. As a result, I only got around an hours sleep before getting up at 4am for work, but as usual I didn't really feel it the next day.

FERNIE FIELDS is an excellent step 5 non league ground which is really smartly kept. Most of the cover is on one side with seats holding 150 and cover for another 400. There is a smaller area of seating behind the goal near the tea bar which holds around 50. The rest of the ground is open hard standing but is lined with smart hedges. The bar is large and welcoming with a fairly basic range of drinks and the tea bar offers hot food as well as snacks and drinks.

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