Saturday 1 October 2016

Great Yarmouth Town - Wellesley Stadium

Great Yarmouth Town FC
Wellesley Stadium
Sandown Road
Great Yarmouth
NR30 1EY

07791 696900 (Secretary)
Official Website

Ground Number: 625
Friday 30th September 2016
Great Yarmouth Town 2-3 Fakenham Town
Eastern Counties Premier


Great Yarmouth Town were formed in 1897 although their stand pre-dates the club by 5 years - making it the oldest stand in continuous use in the entire world. The club were founder members of the Norfolk & Suffolk league during their formative years, and won the competition on 3 occasions. In 1935 they became founder members of the Eastern Counties League and have remained there ever since. The league extended itself to 2 tiers in 1988 and during that period until the present day, they have spent time in both divisions. Their worst finish came in the mid 2000's when they twice finished 13th in Division 1. They won promotion back to the Premier last season following a 3rd placed finish and  are having a great season, sitting in 8th place at the time of the game. They were champions of the Eastern Counties Premier way back in 1969.

In the FA Cup Great Yarmouth have reached the 'proper' rounds of the FA Cup on a number of occasions.  Their best progress happened in successive seasons in the early 1950's as they reached the 2nd round twice, losing to Wrexham and Barrow. The few seasons in the FA Trophy proved to be frustrating results wise, although the FA Vase has proved a little more fruitful. In the 1982/83 season they lost out narrowly in a 2 legged semi-final against VS Rugby.  The club have extensive local honours - winning the Eastern Counties League Cup 4 times and the Norfolk Senior Cup on 4 occasions.

Their record attendance came in 1953 when 8,944 turned out for an FA Cup 1st Round tie against Crystal Palace. The town of Great Yarmouth had its roots firmly in the fishing industry, but that has all but disappeared now. Nowadays the local economy is boosted by tourism, north sea oil rigs and renewable energy sources. Notable residents of the town have included Navy officer Horatio Nelson, actor Jason Statham and Ellis Platten from the Youtube channel Away Days.


This trip was planned a couple of weeks ago and confirmed the night before. My most regular hopper Chris had done his ground and Anwar couldn't be bothered again, so it was left to my pals in Braintree to accompany me. Even they would be one short as Josh would be in Cumbria but at least I had Dan & Maurice who had been on every hop with me when I'd stopped off at Braintree, an excellent record. The night before I looked how far it was and was surprised when I found that I'd have to drive another 2 hours once I'd got to Braintree. However without the petrol contributions from my 2 pals, it would have proved an expensive, almost impossible trip to pay for on my own. The town of Great Yarmouth also had a number of decent looking pubs, and the weather was dry, so that was one less thing to worry about.

It was a busy day at work, but as I was off out that evening, I couldn't stay on and help others after I'd done my job. I left at 1, going home and having lunch and a bath before getting my stuff together and leaving at 2.30. One of the benefits of not having Anwar with me was that I could leave early and have a bit of time in Great Yarmouth itself. I'd planned to get to Braintree between 4 and 4.30, all being well with the traffic situation. The M25 caused a small amount of annoyance with slow patches, but it was only a few minutes delay. The real delay game when I got to Braintree and it took 20 minutes to do the last mile thanks to too many superfluous sets of traffic lights. I picked Maurice up at 4.10, and was at Dan's 10 minutes later and we were on our way. There were lots of delays listed and so there were a couple of adjustments made thanks to some local knowledge from the lads. We got stuck behind a few slow drivers and that was frustrating, doing 35 on a 60 limit long straight single carriageway. We got to to the ground at 6.40, and my first task was to get a programme. I also bumped into Ken who I'd only seen last on Wednesday and we had a brief chat before I made my way into town. There was 55 minutes until kick off and town was a mile away, but I still decided to take the plunge.

I was glad I did, my only stop The Tombstone Bar was an absolutely cracking place. There were 9 ciders on offer in all and happily 2 new tries for me. My pints of 'Scrumpy Wasp Nice Pear' and 'Snailsbank Orchard Dry' were both fantastic and the whole place had a nice friendly vibe and a feeling that the people running it appreciated a good drop. This was not the only decent looking place I could have visited in what looked a great town for drinking but with me driving and kick-off approaching, I was unable to sample more of them. I had a stroke of luck on the second point when Ken tweeted me to say that kick-off had been delayed until 8 due to the late arrival of the visitors due to traffic. This couldn't have worked out better for me as it meant I could savour my drink and then stroll back to the ground. Ideally I'd have had some more time to get food but time was still tight and I got to the ground at 7.50.

I paid £6 to get in, before making my way to the tea bar. Choice was a bit limited, but I got a good value hot dog for £1.20. I initially thought the tannoy announcer was a lady but it turned out to be a trick of the microphone as when I got up to the stand to meet Dan and Maurice it was a man reading the teams out. The game turned out to be a cracker between the Bloaters and the Ghosts, which must be two of the best nicknames in football. It was the hosts that went ahead early on 2 minutes when Haydn Davis made his way into the penalty area before firing home from around 12 yards. They looked the more likely team to score again, but Ashley Jarvis equalised when he headed home a corner for Fakenham on 18 minutes. Davis got his second for Great Yarmouth a couple of minutes later, this time with a low shot from the edge of the area. It looked to be all going swimmingly for the hosts on 27 minutes when Kyle Plumb was sent off for a stamp for the visitors. The hosts were clear favourites, and maybe it was complacency that cost them in the end. In any case George Abbot equalised with a header from a free-kick on the stroke of half-time and Ashley Jarvis got his second on 76 minutes when he netted the winner when he followed up after home keeper Elvijs Putnins could only parry the initial shot. In the end they were worthy winners in a game that gave the 140 attendees a good nights entertainment.

During the game we'd all fancied some chips. I'd fancied the special ones that had chilli and pepper on. I searched on JustApp for the nearest Chinese takeaway that did them and placed our order. Luckily it was only half a mile down the road and when we got there, our order was all cooked and ready. We sat and eat our dinner in the nice looking town before leaving for home at 10.15. The journey home was reasonable but we were still encountering slow drivers. Perhaps that was why I put my foot down once we reached the dual carriageway, but when I did on the A14 I witnessed the double flash that all drivers dread. I'd been zapped by a speed camera doing 62 in a 50 and can only hope that nothing comes of it was it put a dampener on what had been a great night. It was a totally unwarranted restriction on a deserted road in any case. Happier times were ahead when we celebrated Dan's 19th Birthday a few minutes before I dropped him home. Once I'd dropped Maurice off I made my way home and it was a good journey, save for a road closure near home which meant that the last 2 miles turned into a 5-mile diversion. I got in at 1.30, winding down with a can of cider before going to sleep just after 3.


WELLESLEY STADIUM is a good ground for the level, probably with enough capacity for anything up to step 2, though it is hindered by a running track. There is a cavernous main stand with seating for around 600 though it looks a lot bigger than that due to the generous legroom. It's the oldest stand in the world, having been open since the early 1890's. Opposite is a smaller covered stand with benches in and space for another 200. The rest of the ground is open standing. There's a bar at the ground, and this does the usual range of drinks in pleasant surroundings. The tea bar is good value, but choice is quite limited.

The town is around half a mile away, depending on what part you intend to visit and this has a wide range of outlets. I can recommend the Mandarin House takeaway for food, and you can also you can eat in. The Tombstone Bar has an excellent range of drinks and is a very nice place to visit, but there are many more places to suit your individual tastes.

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