Saturday 25 March 2017

Whitby Town - The Turnbull Ground

Whitby Town FC
The Turnbull Ground
Upgang Lane
North Yorkshire
YO21 3HZ

Ground Number: 680
Thursday 23rd March 2017
Whitby Town 4-3 Middlesbrough
North Riding Senior Cup Semi-Final


The club was formed in 1880 as STREANESHALCH FC and has been known as WHITBY CHURCH TEMPERANCE, WHITBY and WHITBY UNITED before settling on their current name at the end of World War 2. After playing in various leagues during the early part of their history, they joined the Northern League full time in 1926 and remained there until 1997. During their time in this competitions, they were champions twice and runners-up on 5 occasions. Never relegated in their history, they had just one bottom-placed finish during their time in the Northern League, this coming in 1956. In 1997, they took the step up to the NPL, winning Division 1 at the first attempt and gaining promotion to the Premier Division for the 1998/99 season. They finished 7th in their first season which is effectively their highest ever finish in the non-league pyramid. The 2003/04 season saw them in playoffs for the newly formed Conference North, however, they lost 8-7 to Radcliffe Borough on penalties after a 2-2 draw. The following season, Whitby Town enjoyed their best ever NPL Premier finish of 4th. Since then, it's been mainly lower-half finishes, although this season has seen a huge improvement, with Whitby sitting just outside of the playoffs at the time of my visit.

In the FA Cup, Whitby Town's best run came during the 1983/84 season. Having beaten Harrogate Town, Durham Town, Lancaster City and Bishop Auckland in the qualifying rounds, they were given a tricky looking tie at then Football League side, Halifax Town in the 1st Round. After taking a notable scalp, winning 3-2, they were drawn away again, this time to Wigan Athletic. Despite giving them a close game, they went down 1-0. Whitby Town have twice been FA Trophy Quarter Finalists and were FA Amateur Cup runners up in 1965. They went one better in its replacement, the FA Vase, winning it in 1997 as they beat North Ferriby United 3-0 at Wembley. Locally, the club has won the North Riding Senior Cup on five occasions and the Northern League Cup six times as well as the Scarborough & East Riding County Cup and the Rothmans National & Overseas Cups.


I'd wanted to visit Whitby Town for ages, but with it being so far away from home, chances were limited. I finally got my chance on my week off, booking a room in Whitby for the original game night of Tuesday. However, a week before the game, it was switched to the Thursday. Luckily I was still able to cancel my hotel room in time and not lose any money, staying at home and going up on the Wednesday and Thursday instead. My original target the previous night had been the completion of the Conference North at Darlington v Bradford Park Avenue, but with that suffering a 4 pm postponement due to heavy rain, I went to Shildon v South Shields instead, after much drama trying to find a game that was on. As it turned out, just over half of my options went ahead, which was surprising given the volume of the deluge.

On the day of the game, I woke at 7.30 after setting my alarm the previous night. Normally I'd have liked a lie in, but with breakfast being served between 7 and 8, I had to be up early. After having a shower I went down and had breakfast before returning to my room until the check out time of 10 am, with me catching up on my blog whilst watching TV. Having lots of time to kill, I walked into town and had a look around before going to look at Darlington's new ground that I'd missed out on last night. It was still only 1 when I left Darlington and so with plenty of time to use up, I stopped at Stokesley Sports Club FC. It was a good facility for step 7, having previously hosted Northern League football. I needed some fuel to get home, so I stopped in Guisborough to fill up. Even after all that, I still arrived in Whitby at 3.15, some four and a half hours before kick-off.

First stop was the town's Wetherspoons, called the Angel Hotel. It was one of the better Wetherspoons I have been in, well kept and with my favourite Black Dragon cider on. I had a pint of this while reading my paper, mainly featuring the cowardly terrorist attacks of the previous day and the reasonable performance of the England team in Germany. After walking along the harbour and getting some nice pictures, I went to another tourist hotspot, namely Poundland, to get some snacks for tonight's game. I then went to the excellent Waiting Room micropub, where I had a couple of halves of Tutts Clump cider that I'd not had before. Whitby really was a nice town and I had enjoyed my time so far. I'd done some prior research and found that the best option for the traditional dish of fish and chips was Silver Street Fisheries. It was top notch with me having scampi and chips. The chips were cooked in beef dripping which made them all the better. I went back to my car to give my phone a charge while I waited for the turnstiles to open.

I went into the ground just before 7, paying £10 for entry. I then went to the club shop buying a programme, a pen and a commentator gaffes CD for a fiver. After walking around the ground and getting some pictures, I bought a Bovril and took a seat in the stand for the game. Middlesbrough took the lead on 36 minutes when Niall McGoldrick bundled home from close range. The hosts got back on level terms just before half-time when Michael Roberts headed in a cross. Whitby took the lead on 48 minutes, this time it was another header from Luke Bythway. Boro were level a couple of minutes later, but my view of the goal was blocked by some geezer bringing back his half-time teas. The hosts retook the lead on the hour when the ball was squared to Bythway who fired home from 8 yards to get his second. On 69 minutes the game looked to be safe when Bythway completed his hat-trick by heading home a free kick. There was an almost immediate reply for the visitors on 73 minutes when Bradley Fewster fired into the bottom right-hand corner to make it 4-3. Despite it looking like a potential comeback might be on, it was the hosts that had the better of the remaining chances but there were no further goals.

Despite it being a pricey couple of days for me, it had been a great game to end my time away. I had a long drive home ahead of me, with an estimated arrival back at home of 2.15. This actually got as late as 2.30 thanks to multiple sets of roadworks and lane closures. It was a slow start thanks to being stuck on single carriageways and the Two Mikes Podcast, the commentator gaffes CD I'd bought earlier, Viking Radio, The NPL Podcast, The Non-League Podcast and finally the Two Mikes on TalkSPORT kept me company at various points during the journey. I actually got home in good time, arriving home at 2 am. I caught up on my Youtube subscriptions before going to sleep around an hour later.


THE TURNBULL GROUND is a smart and tidy venue. Pride of place goes to the 505 seater main stand which is elevated above pitch level. Opposite is the only other cover in the ground which holds around the same amount. The rest of the 3,500 capacity ground is open hard standing with some steps of terracing. 

At the ground are a reasonable tea bar and clubhouse which do the job if you are pushed for time. If you've got time to spare, the town of Whitby is great, with a huge rain of pubs to suit all tastes. An excellent Wetherspoons and an even better Micropub called 'The Waiting Room were the ones for me. Food wise, Silver Street Fisheries came out top in Trip Advisor and it didn't disappoint. The club shop at the ground is very good, lots of club merchandise as well as loads of old programmes and other random stuff.

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