Ground Number: 924
Tuesday 15th September 2020
Mildenhall Town 1-0 Godmanchester Rovers
Eastern Counties Premier
MILDENHALL TOWN FC - A BRIEF HISTORY
The club was established in 1898. There's not a lot of information on the club's early years on the internet, but they joined the Bury & District League in 1945 before progressing to the Cambridgeshire League in 1969, progressing Divisions 2B & 1B and reaching the Premier Division in 1975. They made the step up to the Eastern Counties League in 1988 as founder members of the new Division 1. After five consecutive bottom half finishes, they finished 4th in 1994 and then in 1999 they were promoted to the Premier Division after finishing as runners-up to Clacton Town. They had a number of good finishes and were runners-up to Wroxham in 2007. They went one better ten years later and were champions, going up to the Isthmian Division 1 North. They spent a couple of seasons here though they struggled and were relegated back in 2019. In their last season back, they were in 8th place before the season was cancelled.
Mildenhall Town enjoyed their record FA Cup run in their debut season of 2000/01. That year, they beat Ilford, Northampton Spencer and Beaconsfield SYCOB before a 2-0 defeat to Grays Athletic in the 3rd Qualifying Round. In the FA Trophy, they reached the 3rd Qualifying Round - beating Kings Lynn Town & Barwell before a 1-0 defeat at Lancaster City. The 5th Round of the FA Vase was reached in 2006 and 2007 but went out with 4-0 defeats at Hillingdon Borough and Billingham Town respectively. Local cup successes include the Eastern Counties League Cup (2016 & 2017), the Cambridgeshire Invitational Cup (1996, 2010 & 2011) and the Suffolk Junior Cup (1900). The record attendance of 450 came for a friendly against Derby County in 2001. The small market town of Mildenhall has a population of just over 10,000 and is home to a large RAF base. It is referenced in the Pink Floyd song 'Let There Be More Light'.
Once again, I was looking for some Tuesday night football and happily, fellow hopper Anwar was keen to join me though. There wasn't a huge amount of choice, especially with me up at 4 am for work the following morning. There were a few options in Bristol, but from Aylesbury, where I'd be coming from, involved a lot of slow country roads. There was also the Coronavirus rates to consider with me now wanting to ruin my week off next week, but also wanting to get games in whilst I could. Mildenhall Town came out as the best option, with a fairly decent journey and it was also the shortest in mileage too. The only disappointing part was the hefty £9 admission charge. It would be the most I've ever paid for a step 5 game and a price more suited to the level above. For me, £6 for this level is the ideal price, anything less is a complete bargain. £7 is acceptable and I've paid that on a few occasions, but anything more has me feeling negative before I've even entered the ground. It's not a feeling I like as I want to promote the joys of non-league football through this blog and try and be positive. To be fair, it might be a hangover from their Isthmian League days and at least they are upfront about it, clearly displaying the price on their website. In any case, it was a tiny difference financially and the overall trip price including petrol was the most economical on the night. I did my usual research in advance, researching the club's history and spotting places to eat. The location of the ground was great, right on the edge of the town centre.
Monday came and I had a busy day at work. However, I got home to good news for my time off next week. I was hoping for a game in Devon or Cornwall in the FA Cup and I got a decent one in Saltash United v Cirencester Town. Wanting to put something concrete down, I pre-booked a ticket for £7 and also a tent pitch at a nice looking site around 4 miles away. I like a nice walk, so the distance wasn't a problem. I also put in place plans to go to Crediton on Monday and Newton Abbot on Wednesday as well as some trips to Fawley and Holland (the seaside town based in Essex) whilst I was based at home. I had a decent night's sleep and woke around 7 am. I did some more planning for my week away as well as having a shower. I walked down town and got quite a bit of shopping before getting a lift back home with my Dad. I had a nice pizza for lunch and spent the afternoon finalising the finer points of my trip away and had pretty much everything planned in by mid-afternoon. I also made sure that the tent my brother was lending me was in order before watching TV for a bit and leaving just before 4. I needed petrol, so stopped on the way, meeting Anwar at 4.30. We had a good journey over, aside from a few crappy country roads. We were there by 6.25, parking near the ground. We popped to a local Chinese takeaway called China House and bought salt and pepper chips which although costing £3.60 were a large portion and pretty tasty. I'm thinking of doing a spreadsheet to keep track of my favourite dish and how various establishments shape up. The town was extremely pleasant and we found a nice seating area to have our dinner. From there it was to the well-kept ground, we had to walk around a bit to find the entrance. £9 was paid and a programme was thrown in too when I asked. I caught up online and got some pictures before kick-off before we met fellow hopper Maurice - a Braintree fan and Ben - a Colchester fan, opting to stand on the far side.
Mildenhall Town had played just the one game in the league, drawing 2-2 at Newmarket Town. Their games in the FA Cup were certainly entertaining - a 4-3 win at Hadleigh United was followed up with a 4-3 win on penalties over higher league Corby Town. Godmanchester Rovers had gone out of the FA Cup to Ely City on penalties on the opening day. Since then, they'd drawn 1-1 at Haverhill Rovers and lost 3-2 against Walsham Le Willows. The hosts were wearing their usual gold and black and kicking down the slope whilst the visitors were in red. Mildenhall were dominant early on but Godmanchester had the first real chance on 10 minutes when on the break they forced home keeper Daniel Crump to tip the ball onto the bar. The hosts thought they had taken the lead three minutes later when a long-range shot was followed up after Godmanchester keeper Niall Conroy parried but the 'goal' was ruled offside. The game was being played at a really high tempo and on 16 minutes, the visitors had to be alert to survive a goalmouth scramble. On 21 minutes Mildenhall came close again when a shot hit the inside of the post and bounced clear. The hosts continued to pour forward and after wasting a few more chances, they had another shot cleared off the line on 36 minutes. Two minutes later Godmanchester keeper Conroy made a great save to keep the score level, diving low to his left. After the break, the one-way traffic continued and on 50 minutes a visiting defender threw himself in front of a shot to prevent a goal. There was another cross deflected over six minutes later but Godmanchester almost won it on the break on 85 minutes when Crump was forced into a great save, tipping the ball out for a corner. Just as it looked as if it might be the most entertaining game ever, a corner was put in and substitute Casey Phillips leapt highest to head home in the 92nd minute. It was a deserved victory for the hosts and a good night. We all said our goodbyes and got back to the car at 9.40. Radio 5 was listened to for catching up on the night's League Cup games before Union Jack provided some music for the rest of the journey. I dropped Anwar off at 11.15, getting home myself 25 minutes later. It took me a while to get to sleep, which wasn't ideal with me up for work at 4 am.
RECREATION WAY is a very well-kept ground. The main accommodation is on one side, comprising of a bench seated stand holding 50 and a standing area for around the same amount. This has had a facelift in between my picture taking visit in 2009 and my game 11 years later. Also added on the opposite side is a metal 'Arena' type stand, holding another 50 seated. The rest of the ground is open standing. The ground is immaculately kept and it's nice to see pride being taken in the place. There's a bar at the ground which does a decent range of drinks including two local real ales. There's also a BBQ selling burgers and hotdogs. There's plenty of choice of takeaways in town plus a couple of pubs, all within a few minutes walk. There's a small car park at the bottom of Sainsbury's car park (avoid Sainsbury's itself which has a 2-hour limit) plus street parking.