Thursday 25 August 2016

Godmanchester Rovers - Bearscroft Lane

Godmanchester Rovers FC
Bearscroft Lane
PE29 2LQ

07950 367417

Ground Number: 609
Wednesday 23rd August 2016
Godmanchester Rovers 1-3 Eynesbury Rovers
FA Cup Preliminary Round Replay


Godmanchester Rovers were formed in 1911 and up until 2002 they playing in local Huntingdonshire & Cambridgeshire Leagues. That summer, they made a speculative attempt to join the Eastern League, despite being in the second tier of the Cambridgeshire League. To their surprise, they were accepted and joined the league at Division 1 level. After 12th and 7th placed finishes in their first 2 seasons, they had a bad 2004/05, finishing bottom. However, due to lack of teams in the league, they were not relegated. They did continue to struggle for the next seasons, but in time form improved. They won the league in 2012, beating Thetford Town to the title on goal difference. Since their elevation to the Premier Division, form has been excellent and two 5th placed finishes were followed up by finishing the last 2 seasons as runner-up. Both those occasions had seen them lose out to Norwich United for the title, but whereas it was a massive 26 points that separated the teams in the first instance, it was clawed back to a more modest 4 points last time out.

The club were looking to match their best ever FA Cup run on the night of my visit, bidding to reach the FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round. Previously that was achieved in 2009/10 when they lost out to Northampton Spencer after defeating Haverhill Rovers and Rothwell Corinthians in replays in the previous 2 rounds. The furthest they have reached in the FA Vase is the 3rd Round, that was in the 2011/12 season when they lost out to United Counties League side Newport Pagnell Town. Other cup honours include the Eastern Counties Division 1 Knockout Cup in 2012, as well as League Cups from their times in the Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire Leagues. Future stars Joe Lewis & Darren Bent appeared for the club in their youth, whilst their record attendance came for an FA Vase game against Yaxley in 2014.


This trip was arranged on Sunday with my groundhopping pal Chris. I was keen to do as many FA Cup games as possible this season, and so we left it until all the Preliminary Round ties had been played until we made a decision.Chris finished work in Milton Keynes at 4, and the only viable game I could do was Godmanchester Rovers v Eynesbury Town. I did briefly think I was going to miss out as Chris had 'ticked' Godmanchester, but then he asked could I drop him at a game at Buckden, 5 miles from my eventual destination. It would mean a very early arrival at Godmanchester, possibly as early as 5PM if traffic was kind. But after some research, I discovered that the town of Huntingdon was just over 2 miles walk away. That had a Wetherspoons which would suit me for dinner, and a number of other decent pubs and attractions also, so I was happy to do this. I got in the mood for the game by watching Youtuber 'Awaydays' video of the original tie at the weekend where the game ended 1-1, setting up tonight's clash.

It was another short day at work, with me out by 11.15 after just over 6 hours work. I miss not getting my full hours, but I hope this continues onto Bank Holiday Monday as I get my full days wage, no matter what hours I do.  I had a bath and lunch before finishing off my blog. Normally I am rushing around when doing a groundhop with Chris and always end up leaving late. But today I had a bit of time to spare and didn't know what to do with it, despite having a lot of things I needed to do. At least I left on time,  getting to Milton Keynes with 10 minutes to spare and killing time by catching up on Facebook. It was another scorching day,  with temperatures well over 30 degrees. I met Chris at 4.05 and soon enough we were on our way. After a 10 minute delay at the Black Cat Roundabout, I dropped Chris in Buckden at 4.45.

There was another 10-minute delay as I was stuck at a level crossing for a while, but I was still at the ground just after 5. As I was expcting, there was no one at the ground, so I walked the just over 2 miles into Huntingdon. I headed for the Sandford House, which was my 105th Wetherspoons. There I had a half Peri Peri chicken with chips and a bottle of Hazy Hog cider which cost me a very well priced £7.49. It was nice too, not all dry like the last time I had it in Bangor a couple of years back. After that I had a pint of my favourite Black Dragon cider for £2.65. By now it was time to head back to the ground, but not before stopping at Sainsbury's to get some cans of diet Irn Bru. I left town at 6.45, getting to the ground at 7.25. I paid £6 to get in, and was glad that there were still some programmes left at £1 a go. It was a decent programme too, well worth the £1 asking price, so I sat and read it while waiting for the game to start.

The game was fairly equal in terms of chances, but it was the hosts to took the lead through Ben Keating who followed up after the initial shot was saved. Eynesbury Rovers were looking good for an equaliser and they got it on 38 minutes when Dan Moyes' long throw found Tom Coles who finished well. From then on, the visitors dominated and they went ahead just after half time through Matt Bannister, fis placed shot from close range finding the net. Rain and lightning carried on in the background as Eynesbury continued to dominate, though the players continued undeterred. Eynesbury wrapped it up on 65 minutes, when Bannister got his second, drilling a shot into the bottom left hand corner. There was a little bit of a scuffle towards the end as frustrations bolied over, but it didn't amount to much and finished without major incident. Eynesbury Rovers had reached the 1st Qualifying Round for the first time in 21 years and will face a home game against Southern Premier side Sutton Coldfield Town.

After the game I made my way back to Buckden to meet Chris, who had sampled every pub and takeaway in the village during his visit. We discussed our next football day, which will be on Bank Holiday Monday and will include a visit to Nuneaton Griff in the evening. The ideal location would be North Ferriby United, but it's unlikely that I will get out of work in time, even though, technically I really should be having it off, but for an uncommunicative manager. I was annoyed to lose my bet for the night as Worthing failed to beat Leatherhead, but I was still in a fairly good mood as we headed home, listening to the football on the radio where Accrington Stanley beat Burnley. I dropped Chris off at 10.30, getting home myself at 11.20. I tried to get to sleep around midnight, but it was tricky because of the heat. With 2 night short sleep in a row and me up at 4 the next morning, I was sure to catch up on some shut-eye the following afternoon.


BEARSCROFT LANE has an official capacity of 1,050 and was a ground that I visited on Saturday 2nd November 2013, prior to a trip with another groundhopping pal, Anwar, to watch Kings Lynn Town play. It was a similar story to another local side Huntingdon Town, with a couple of standard issue metal stands plonked down. However, it had a bit more to it than their local rivals, maybe it was the clubhouse painted a nice shade of blue, or the friendly welcome I got from the groundsman and his dog. 

In any case,  I was looking forward to a visit for a game, though I expected it to come a lot sooner than the 2 years it eventually took. When I did return I found another stand had been added. The bar and tea bar offered a decent range at reasonable prices and I enjoyed my chips for £1.


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