Thursday 15 September 2016

Wellington FC - The Playing Field

Wellington FC
The Playing Field
North Street
TA21 8NE

Ground Number: 620
Wednesday 14th September 2016
Wellington 2-1 Ashton & Backwell United
Western League D1


WELLINGTON FC were formed in 1896 and after nearly 100 years in local leagues they joined the Western League. They've spent the vast majority of that time in its second tier, apart from two spells of 3 years in the Premier Division between 1981-1984 and 2008-11. By far their best ever season came in 2008/09 when they finished 7th in the Western Premier. Since 2011 they've been in Division 1, with the closest they have come to going up was in 2015 when they finished 6th. After a 12th placed finish last time out, they were enjoying an excellent start to this season, sitting in 3rd place after the weekend games. This was all the more remarkable considering that the game I'd be attending would be their first home league game of the season.

Thanks to their step 6 status, the club have been sporadic entrants into the FA Cup over the years. Their best progress came in their debut season of 1981/82 when they reached the 1st Qualifying Round before losing to Bridgwater Town. The FA Vase 3rd Round has been reached twice, most recently in 2009/10 when a 3-2 home defeat to Combined Counties League outfit Epsom & Ewell ended their ambitions. The club have twice won the Western League Combination Challenge Cup in 1996 and 1999.


As I was visiting Truro on the Tuesday, I was looking for a game to break my journey home. I'd been hoping for an afternoon game but all my research drew blanks. I'd still be doing an evening game though and after looking at 10 options from the South West Peninsula, Western and Wessex Leagues, I drew up a list of options. My criteria was pretty simple - not too far west so as that I'd have too much time to kill during the day and not too far east that it was too close to home to make it a wasted opportunity. I also wanted a good selection of pre-match pubs and a nice town, and in the end Wellington v Ashton & Backwell United was the best option.

On the day of the game I'd slept soundly after a few drinks the previous night but woke around 8 feeling fine. I went downstairs and had breakfast which was decent. With a hell of a lot of time to kill - 10 hours when my evening game was a 2 hour drive away I decided to stop at a few places along the way. First off was Healeys Cornish Cider farm where I bought a bottle of their own cider. Then it was onto Bodmin Town who had a nice stand and as parking was free I had a look around the town, buying some sweets and a calendar. Then it was on to Launceston, a decent ground with a good sized stand, located on an industrial estate. As I got back on the dual carriageway I noticed that I had a flat tyre and so had to call out Green Flag as I wasn't 100% confident about changing it. At least it killed some time I guess. I was surprised when the bloke came within 10 minutes, though the bad news was that all my tyres were all on the verge of needing replacement. I drove a few miles to a local tyre place and thankfully they did me a good price for the full set. From there I still had plenty of time so I visited Topsham Town which was pretty basic before finally Willand Rovers which had been one of my game options for the night. This was my favourite so far and only narrowly missed out on being my game of choice.

I got to Wellington at 4.40 and seeing that the car park near the ground charged, I slung my car in a nearby side street as I didn't have any change. I had a look around the town, which didn't have much apart from a decent range of pubs which was a bit of a disappointment as I had plenty of time to use up. Luckily my first pub, The Dolphin, was half a mile away so that used up some time. It was the best pub of my time away to be honest with a great range of ciders and it was a shame that I'd have to drive home and limit myself to a couple of pints. I had Mad Apple medium cider, which a nice fairly dry one. From there it was off to Wetherspoons for dinner. It was an excellent example for others in the chain with a great range of cider. I had the Piri Piri half roast chicken with a bottle of Hazy Hog for £7.49 with both excellent as ever. I got to the ground about 7pm after collecting my things from my car. Paying £5 to get in, plus another £1 for a programme I walked around the ground getting photos. It wasn't the most developed ground I've done at this level, but it was a pleasant and relaxing place to spend a warm September evening. 

Wellington took the lead on 23 minutes with a powerful volley from around 10 yards and my fear of 2 stinking 0-0s in a row were availed. There was a few minutes delay at the end of the half whilst a visiting player received treatment for an injury before being taken off on a stretcher. There wasn't a huge amount between the sides but Wellington doubled their lead on 63 minutes as the attacker netted after shooting on the turn from around 10 yards. Ashton and Backwell grabbed one back shortly after when the keeper was unable to prevent the ball from squirming over the line, Calum Biggins eventually credited with the goal. The game had been pretty feisty and 10 minutes from time a visiting substitute was sent off for one outburst too many at the referee as there were lots of niggly tackles from both sides. One of these challenges resulted in another visiting player receiving his marching orders right at the end of normal time. There was even time for yet another Ashton and Backwell player to be sent off near the end, though this time it did seem a bit harsh for what looked a reasonable tackle.

The game had been a decent one, and although the referee got a bit of stick, it was only the final sending off that it had been debatable. It might have been a small crowd of 38, but some of the fans got involved too, with the Wellington number 11 getting some stick from visiting fans. He did respond on a couple of occasions, but generally did well to avoid the baiting. After the game I noticed I needed more fuel, so had to stop to fill up at Morrisons in Taunton. From there it was a decent journey home and I tuned into Liverpool's Radio City on my phone to listen to their chat show on the way back. It was Neil Fitzmaurice, who played 'Ray-Von' in the brilliant Peter Kay sitcom 'Phoenix Nights' that kept me entertained. I got in at 12.10, going to bed pretty much straight away and watching TV until 1am. I had a good nights sleep,l not waking until 10am. It was towards the end of my week off, and to be honest I saw no more football than I would on a normal week, though I had at least had a proper rest this time. It had been an expensive and unhealthy time too, but at least I'd got 2 long distance ticks done.


THE PLAYING FIELD is a fairly typical setup for step 6, and is set in a pleasant public park. Most of the facilities are on one side - the small original stand which is a mixture of seating and standing, plus the dressing rooms and bar which offers a satisfactory range. I didn't see any food or merchandise for sale, but the basic programme is decent for £1. In addition there is a newly installed metal stand with a capacity of just under 100 to bring them up to standard for step 5 football. The rest of the ground is open hard standing.

The ground is situated right next to a public car park, which charges up until 6PM, so you may wish to use the free street parking in Victoria Street which is near the Police Station. The town is out of the ground and to the right, this has an excellent Wetherspoons and many other pubs and takeaways. If you opt to go left towards the free street parking, you will find The Dolphin pub which is a real gem, and the best option if you are not looking to eat. There are also many takeaways in the immediate vicinity of the ground should you be pushed for time.  

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