Wednesday 15 March 2017

Coton Green - New Mill Lane

Coton Green FC
New Mill Lane
B78 3RX

Ground Number: 675
Wednesday 15th March 2017
Coton Green 4-0 Chelmsley Town
Smedley Crooke Memorial Cup Quarter Final


COTON GREEN FC were formed in 1982. They started out as a Sunday football team but after switching to Saturday football, they progressed through local leagues prior to joining the Midland Combination in 2004. It was a great first season for them with them losing twice all season and lifting the Division 3 championship. They continued their good form and a couple of years later, they were promoted again. 2007/08 saw them make their step 6 debut and it was a hugely successful season, with them finishing runners-up to Knowle and earning promotion to the Midland Combination Premier Division. For the first time in years, the results didn't come and they finished bottom of the league and were relegated. They've taken a while to recover, being relegated back to Division 2 in 2013/14 and then finishing rock bottom again in 2015. Restructuring saved them from a further relegation and they seized the initiative last season finishing 7th - their first top-half finish in seven seasons. It's looking like a mid-table finish again this season, with Coton Green sitting in 9th, but with plenty of games in hand on the teams around them. 

The club entered the FA Vase for the first time in 2015, losing 8-1 at Nuneaton Griff, a club who play at two levels higher than them. This season it was step 5 opposition again, with them going down 3-1 to Kirby Muxloe They do have a local cup honour to their name - in 2012 they defeated Lichfield City to win the Fazeley Charity Cup. They've also been runners-up in the Midland Challenge Urn in 2005.


I'd decided this game with Chris roughly a week before the event, with me keen to do a Wednesday groundhop after Wycombe had a home game on Tuesday. I was made all the keener by the fact that I had managed to switch my day off at work, so that I could start my holiday a day early. We both had our first choices for games - me with West Bridgford (Chris didn't fancy it, as it was effectively their reserve side) and Chris with Cinderford Town (I didn't fancy it due to the tight time schedule) but in the end we agreed on Coton Green v Chelmsley Town, a game being played in the Smedley Crooke Memorial Cup Quarter Final. We'd already seen a game in this cup this season, as Boldmere S&S Falcons won at Bilston Town back in the autumn. The previous night I'd seen Wycombe put in a sparkling first-half performance to lead 1-0 against Plymouth Argyle and have the title chasers on the ropes, only to do the typical Wycombe thing of sitting deep and hoofing and inviting pressure. The end result of 1-1 was not bad, but we should have had more. Undoubtedly the highlight results-wise was AFC Wimbledon beating Milton Keynes 2-0 and our local radio station made for decent listening with lots of whining Franchise fans phoning in.

The day of the game came and I was in a good mood. As well as it being my last day for a while, my manager was off. Also, the other half of the pair I've christened the 'gruesome twosome' announced he was leaving. I reckon the pair only got the job after they failed the charm test to become traffic wardens! It was a quiet day too, and I was out by 11.15. I got home and went straight to bed, though in truth I only got an hours sleep before waking at 2. I had some lunch before getting my stuff together and leaving at 4pm. Chris had warned me he may be a tad late in finishing, but me entering the road of his workplace, he was coming out and we were soon on our way. There was some delay in getting out of Milton Keynes, then the usual long-running roadworks on the M1. There was a slight mishap as my sat nav navigated to the wrong 'Market Street in Tamworth, but we were only a few miles out and things were soon corrected. We got to our intended pub, The Market Vaults, at 6.50. We had both chosen this pub independently, so it was the obvious choice. It didn't disappoint on the cider front, with 16 available. I concentrated on local cider maker Hurst View, who turned out to be a fine producer. I had halves of Jibber Jabber and Medium still while we relaxed in anticipation of the game. I'd also bought a container with me and so took home two pints of Bishops Blend which turned out to be the best of the lot. The pub was a real cracker, with some friendly dogs, including a lovely beagle.

Around 7.25, we left for the ground, getting there 10 minutes later. After paying £3 to get in, we went to the bar, where I got some chips before going out to watch the game. Coton Green were the better side from start to finish, in a game that was played with full-blooded commitment. It was former Bolehall Swifts player Dave Yonwin who opened the scoring with a dipping shot early on. It was 2-0 before half time - a ball from the right was nodded in by Yonwin for his second goal of the game. The game descended into a scrappy contest with both sides committing needless fouls, but the referee did well, making the correct decisions and keeping a lid on things. The hosts sealed the game in the last 15 minutes - Adam Goodby nipping in to head home from 6 yards to seal the game and Dave Yonwin passing up the chance of a hat-trick by squaring the ball to Jake Walker whose low shot into the bottom left-hand corner put the icing on the came and made the final score 4-0.

I'd spotted Youtuber 'Swifts Fan' during the game and was glad that he would provide me the opportunity to watch back the goals, which are above. It was he from who I knew about Dave Yonwin and it's one of the few channels on Youtube that I love for its individuality and personality. We made our way to a well-regarded Chinese takeaway called 'Simply Chinese' which turned out to be very good. I had house special curry with salt and chilli chips. The portions were huge and despite not having much since breakfast, I was stuffed. One thing I've learned from my travels is that the best Chinese food seems to be from the Midlands area, so Barry from Auf Wiedersehen Pet's enthusiasm for the cuisine was not altogether misguided. Whereas David Bowie provided the soundtrack on the way up, it was the podcast of the best show on the radio, The Two Mikes, that had us laughing all the way home. There were a couple of closures and diversions, but we were back in Milton Keynes to drop Chris off, just before midnight. I got home myself 40 minutes later, having 20 minutes to get everything together before settling down to listen to the Two Mikes on TalkSPORT. It was nice being able to interact live for once and I had a few comments read out on air while typing my blog. I got into bed at 4 am, vowing to get some sleep before tomorrow's trip to the North East.


NEW MILL LANE is a pretty basic venue, with just the one area of standing cover, which would hold around 150 if needed. That said, it's better than most at step 7 and the bar and tea hut facilities are excellent, offering a good range at decent prices. The club shop is also excellent, offering a much bigger range than a lot of clubs up to step 3, though I was disappointed that notebooks were out of stock - I bought a pen for £2. There are plenty of takeaways nearby to suit every taste. I really enjoyed my visit here, a great value visit to a friendly club who I really hope make it back to a higher level.

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