Friday, 20 July 2018

Cheadle Heath Nomads - The Heath

Cheadle Heath Nomads FC
The Heath
Norbreck Avenue

Ground Number: 780
Thursday 19th July 2018
Cheadle Heath Nomads 3-1 Chadderton


The club was established as recently as 2004, having been formed as part of a merger between two local clubs - Linotype and Cheadle Heath Nomads, with both clubs having an extensive history in the Mid Cheshire (now Cheshire) League. The Cheshire League would be Linotype Cheadle Heath Nomads home for the next 14 years, with the club staying in the top tier for the entirety of their stay. Finishes ranged from a rock-bottom 16th in 2011 to their only league win so far in 2015. They were also runners-up the following year, but it wasn't until last season's 4th place finish and the expansion of the North West Counties League that they were able to make the step up. Though the new club has not yet played in either of the FA Competitions, former club Linotype were regulars in the FA Vase (reaching the 2nd Round on three occasions). With the facilities now in place for step 6 football, the new club should be able to enter the FA Vase. They appear to have dropped the Linotype from their name this season and are now known as Cheadle Heath Nomads.


With me having an afternoon game at Walsall, I was keen to see something in the evening. I'd initially earmarked the reasonably nearby Malvern Town, but that game was called off after opponents Dudley pulled out. I found another close one at Eccleshall, but again, that was moved to Lilleshall, due to problems with the home club's pitch. Next choice was Middlewich Town, a ground that I'd seen on a Norwegian hopper, Anders' blog. But that too was cancelled due to an unsuitable pitch. I turned out I was going to have to travel over 60 miles to see a game, either Shirebrook Town (v Mansfield Town XI), Wellington (v Kidderminster Harriers XI) and Cheadle Heath Nomads (v Chadderton). With the latter one having a good Twitter and free entry, I decided to go for that and it also had the bonus of a 7PM kickoff, meaning that I'd be able to start heading home earlier. The club was newly promoted to the North West Counties League for this season and looked to have a nice tidy and pleasant home.

From my afternoon game at Walsall, it was just over 70 miles to this game. However, owing to rush hour traffic, it took over 2 and a half hours to get there, with me not arriving until 6.30. I decided against going for food as I wasn’t really hungry. I was slightly disappointed to see that the game was being played on the back pitch, but it was no big thing really. They were hard at work getting the ground ready for the new season, cables were being laid for floodlights and they’d not even got the rail around the pitch yet. It was still a nice place to watch football though, especially on a summers evening. I caught up with things while I waited for kick off, glad that it started at 7 so I could make my way home slightly earlier.

The game started with the hosts on the front foot, hitting the post in the opening minute, albeit for an effort that would have been ruled out for offside. The opening goal game around 20 minutes in. Chadderton keeper Jordan Hadlow made a great save from a shot to deflect the ball around the post for a corner, but he could do nothing to prevent Jack Warren heading home the resulting kick. A couple of minutes later, the lead was doubled, this time it was Kieran Hibert finishing from close range at the back post, following a cross from the left. Chadderton had chances on the break, but it was Cheadle Heath Nomads that were running the game. They were awarded a penalty around half an hour in following a trip in the area, but Rick Tindall, a recent signing from Manchester League side Poynton was denied by a great save from Hadlow. So a dominant first half from the hosts, with their number 10 looking a real handful overall, a team that should cope well with the step up to the North West Counties League. The second half saw a host of changes and the visitors a lot more competitive. They pulled a goal back early on in the second half, triallist Si Muhammed with a low shot following a good through ball. Chadderton came close to equalising on a number of occasions but the game was wrapped up on 75 minutes when Terrence Butler capitalised on some lax defending to fire past substitute keeper Daniel Havern to make it 3-1 and seal the victory.

It had been a really good game, and probably the best that I have seen this season. Before I headed home, I wanted to get home for something to eat and so drove to the nearest takeaway that I could find. This turned out to be Prego Pizza and there I had a Texas BBQ Chicken meal for a fiver. It turned out to be decent enough and prepared me for my journey home. I left at 9.15, getting home three hours later. It had been a tiring day and I only stayed up for 10 minutes before going straight to bed and getting a good 10-hour sleep in.


THE HEATH is a smart set up, with a nice location. The original part of the ground is the smart looking pavilion, this has seating for around 20 and standing for a whole lot more. To comply with ground grading, a standard arena type stand has been installed, holding around 50. The rest of the ground is open hard standing.

There are plenty of pubs and takeaways in the vicinity and the town of Edgeley and Stockport County FC is around a mile away. Back at the ground, there is a bar with a reasonable range of drinks, though I'm unsure of prices as I didn't indulge. Hot drinks are available, and although I didn't see any food for sale, there is a kitchen there.


Retford - The Rail

Retford FC
The Rail
Babworth Road
DN22 7NJ

07766 700536

Ground Number: 779
Wednesday 18th July 2018
Retford 1-0 Cleethorpes Town XI


RETFORD is one of the youngest clubs in football, having been formed as recently as 2015. They joined the Central Midlands League North upon formation and have played there ever since, finishing 7th, 6th and 5th in their three seasons here. The club has not yet entered the FA Cup but did play in the FA Vase in 2016, losing 3-0 at Leicester based side St Andrews FC. Their nickname of the 'Choughs' comes from the fact that they play at the Rail ground. For the first time this coming season, they will face local rivals Retford United for the first time in league games, United having suffered a fall from grace in recent times, having played as high as the step 3 NPL Premier. The town of Retford itself has a population of just under 22,000 and has a great range of pubs considering its size. Famous people to hail from the town include Liam Lawrence, the former Portsmouth and Republic of Ireland footballer.


I'd been wanting to go to Retford for some time, although I'll admit my initial interest was in their rivals Retford United, a club that had suffered a fall from grace in recent times, having once played in the NPL Premier, but now sharing a step 7 league with their newly established rivals. Retford FC were playing at the former home of Retford Rail, a pretty good venue and one that was in the town centre. This town had a number of interesting looking pubs and so really, it was one to do when I could sleep overnight. The only problem was, the accommodation was really expensive - £50 a night for a basic B&B. A solution was found with a nearby campsite - Little Oak Camping. They charged a tenner a night for a pitch, together with a £13 tent from Tesco, I had a bed for the night as well as something that could save me money in the future. I planned a game for Thursday afternoon and evening to make the most of my driving up north, whilst keeping an eye on Retford's Twitter in case of any late cancellations.

I'd spent the night before at Wycombe Wanderers v Brentford, not the groundhop I wanted, but a reasonably cheap option. It was nice to catch up with some old faces, even if we were disappointing in the second half, eventually losing 1-0. I woke up fairly early on the day of the game, failing to get the big nights sleep that I wanted on my week off. After having some breakfast I took my Aunt's dog who we are looking after for a walk. When I got back, I opened my birthday presents, including a very nice Sony Smart speaker. I got all the stuff in my boot, leaving at 11, first listening to my new Lancashire Hotpots CD and then Jeremy Vine on Radio 2. About 12.30, I stopped at McDonald's for lunch, having a BLC and fries for under £2.50. It also gave me half an hour rest and a chance to catch up online. I had to pump my tyre up before I went, but soon enough I was on my way. There was a brief delay of around 20 minutes thanks to rubberneckers slowing down to look at an accident on the other side of the road. By the length of the tailbacks, it looked a pretty serious one, but I'll never understand what kicks people get out of seeing someone else suffer misery. I got to my campsite at 2.45 to be greeted by the friendly owner. I soon had my tent up, spending around half an hour at the campsite before walking the mile and a half into town.


It was a pleasant afternoon for a stroll and with bags of time to spare, I was able to undertake a leisurely pace. I stopped for a peek in the estate agents and property was very good value in what was a pleasant town. Though not the cheapest in the country, it was still less than half the price in Wycombe and strengthened my belief that the way forward is a move up north. It would certainly aid my groundhopping ambitions. I stopped at ASDA to get a bottle of Irn Bru before heading into town. Although all of the micropubs were starting to open, I decided that my first stop would be Wetherspoons. The Dominie Cross was my 167th Wetherspoons. Though it might have been a bit worn on the outside, the inside was a gem. 5 real ciders including one of my favourites, Black Dragon at £2.75 a pint. A recipe for carnage potentially, so I decided to stick at a single pint until after the game. Despite its 7.2%, it goes down easier than Neymar, and I really wanted to get to and remember tonight’s game. I would, however, be returning later. Leaving some friendly locals behind, I made my way to Beerheadz, a micropub. This was another great place, where I had another retry, this time a pint of The General from Sandford Orchards at 8.4%. This one was a cider to sup slowly, rather than sling down the neck. So after a brief stop at Aldi for some chicken and a bargain £3.49 England sweatshirt, I made my way to the Beer Shed. A pint of Sandford Orchards Vintage was tried, with it being another strong one, that was my pre-match drinking done.

I was happy to get to the ground, £2 entry was good. It was another £2 for chips which were also decent. Retford came into the game on the back of a decent 1-1 draw against a young Sheffield United side whilst Cleethorpes Town’s second string side had drawn 1-1 at Humber League side Hessle Rangers. The first half saw the visitors dominating but it was Retford, who capitalised on some sloppy defending, who led at the break, thanks to a close-range effort from Adam Scott on 33 minutes. They’d certainly weathered the storm well but were most effective on the break.  Nevertheless, I was pleased for them, as I’d been made to feel welcome. The second half passed without much incident, but the hosts looked comfortable in the lead and were rarely threatened, though the Retford keeper did have to pull off a couple of good saves.

A pleasant walk through the park was enjoyed and 15 minutes later, I was back in Wetherspoons. Another pint of Black Dragon was sampled, whilst I caught up on things. I decided to leave my drinking there and via a pit stop at a local Chinese for some salt and chilli chips,    I made my way back to the campsite, arriving around 10.30. I dropped off to sleep fairly quickly, having enjoyed a good day.


THE RAIL is an excellent venue for a step 7 side. There’s just the one area of cover, this is behind the goal and has a mixture of sitting and standing. The rest of the ground is open hard standing with the far side being out of bounds for spectators.

The tea bar at the ground is a pretty decent effort. There’s a wide range of stuff at decent prices. I didn’t check out the bar, if they did indeed have one, but the town of Retford is around 10 minutes walk away. There are a huge number of pubs here, including an excellent Wetherspoons and plenty of other good places. You’ll also find plenty of takeaways and other facilities too.


Thursday, 12 July 2018

Chatteris Town - West Street

Chatteris Town FC
52-54 West Street
PE16 6HP

Official Website

Ground Number: 778
Tuesday 10th July 2018
Chatteris Town 2-1 March Town
Bill Salisbury Memorial Cup


The club was formed in 1920 as Chatteris Town Juniors, changing to their present name a year later. They joined the Isle Of Ely league upon formation and were an immediate success, progressing quickly through the divisions. Eventually, they moved up to the Cambridgeshire League, winning it in 1932. Time was spent in both this league and the Peterborough & District League with the latter being won three times in succession between 1964 and 1966. This was the most successful time in Chatteris Town's history and after the third success, they decided to make the step up to the Eastern Counties League. Their highest ever finish of 3rd was achieved in 1968. Twenty years later, the league expanded to two divisions, this led to some tricky seasons for the club and they were eventually relegated after finishing bottom in 1995. Six further seasons were spent in Division 1 and despite a best-ever finish of 5th in 2001, the club took the decision to resign from the league due to financial reasons. Dropping down to the Peterborough & District League, Chatteris Town would remain here until 2007 when they moved to the Cambridgeshire League. Starting in the Senior B division (step 9 of non-league football), success was immediate with the club finishing 3rd and winning promotion. Another promotion followed from the Senior A Division with the club finishing as champions in 2009. Promotion to the Premier Division followed and despite an excellent 7th place finish in 2011, Chatteris Town were relegated back to the Senior A Division two seasons later. In 2016, they were promoted back up to the Premier Divison after finishing as runners-up behind Outwell Swifts. Despite a best-ever finish (since their return) of 5th in 2016/17, last season saw the side struggle and finish bottom, meaning that they start this season in the step 8 'Senior A' division.

Chatteris Town played in the FA Cup for a number of seasons between 1946 and 1995. Their best progress was the 3rd Qualifying Round, reached in their debut season when they lost to Cambridge Town and then again in 1972 when they lost out to Ely City after a replay. They will want to forget the 1951/52 season though as they suffered a crushing 14-1 defeat to Kings Lynn Town. In the FA Vase, the 2nd Round was reached in 1993 with a 5-1 defeat at Bridgnorth Town. Local cup wins include the Eastern Counties League Cup in 1968, the William Croad Intermediate Cup and William Cockell Memorial Cup in 2016 as well as the Cambridgeshire Challenge Cup on six occasions. Chatteris Town's record attendance of 2,000 came for a 1988 league game against their local rivals March Town United.


I'd wanted to visit Chatteris Town for a while as it was one of the better grounds at step 7. Despite it having its own stand, it was probably one to do in the summer, thanks to it being pretty open. So, therefore, I was pleased when it came up fairly early in pre-season when there wasn't so much on. It had the bonus of not being a friendly although the game against local rivals March Town was unlikely to attract the 2,000 crowd that it did when the sides met in a 1988 Eastern Counties League clash. The Bill Salisbury Memorial Trophy was created in memory of the Chatteris Town club legend, though information on his contribution to the club is scarce on the internet. It appears that the cup was first contested back in 2015, with March Town running out 3-1 winners. The following year saw March retain the trophy with a 2-1 win. Last season saw the hosts win the trophy as they finally defeated March 1-0.

On the day of the game, I awoke after a pretty good nights sleep. After having some breakfast, I headed down town pretty early to get my hair cut as it was getting a bit long, especially for the recent hot weather. While I was down there, I went in to Iceland and got a pizza for lunch and some drinks for later. After getting a lift back home with my Dad, I had my lunch and spent the afternoon carrying on with this blog post and catching up on some TV. The internet bought some decent news in that tonight's game was free. I'd already found a place for dinner called Chilli Masters which was just under a mile (or 15 minutes walk from the ground). I left at 4.15, meeting Anwar in Aylesbury half an hour later. Despite the journey being under 70 miles, it took just over 2 hours to get there, thanks to traffic and small roads. We arrived for dinner at 6.50, where I had a chicken tikka burger, chips and a drink for £4. It was nice and the portions were good, so I was fairly full as I drove the mile to the ground, arriving at 7.20 and parking up outside. Pictures were taken of the impressive ground for the level and a spot sought where the low lying sun would least ruin the view. There were a number of friendly dogs enjoying the evening sun and it was a nice setting to watch a game in the conditions.

In what turned out to set the pattern for the evening, it was a feisty start, with plenty of tough tackles coming in, especially from the visitors. Chatteris Town had been having a good spell but then they wasted a free kick, losing possession quickly. March were swift on the break and a low shot from just inside the area by Toby Allen on 29 minutes gave them the lead. This led to the visitors seizing control of the game up until halftime, but Chatteris came out for the second half a revitalised team. They started the half on the front foot with Jack Brand having a shot that clipped the post and was cleared off the line five minutes in. They did eventually get the equaliser on 57 minutes, a ball was played across the box and Jack Jefferson netted from around ten yards out. This spurred Chatteris on further and around 10 minutes later Jefferson forced a great save out of the March Town keeper Simon Dalton. Shortly after, they had a shot cleared off the line as they continued to press. Then, the impressive Josh Dodman, who had come on just before halftime played in Harris-Hercules who tried to take the ball towards goal but was felled by March Town keeper Dalton. There was a big debate about whether he should be sent off, but in the end, the referee awarded just a free kick just on the right side of the area. Jack Saunders stepped up and powered a free kick into the bottom left-hand corner to give the hosts the lead on 79 minutes.  March pushed for the equaliser with Max Mattless hitting the bar with a few minutes to go. Chatteris had to cling on after this, Matt Walshe saw red for a crude challenge soon after, but they survived to retain the Bill Salisbury Trophy and by my reckoning make it two titles apiece for the local rivals.

We left at 9.45, having enjoyed the game. It had been a combative game, but the referee and his assistants did well to keep a lid on things, despite complaints from both sets of players and fans.  We left at 9.45, learning that England would have faced France in the World Cup Final, had they beaten Croatia. Certainly, the team had done us incredibly proud this tournament and despite certain sections of the media attempting to turn fans against players like Raheem Sterling, most had remained fully behind our heroes. Sadly, they went out in the semi-final the following evening, continuing their disappointing form when they play on ITV, only less marginally disappointing than the sub-par coverage itself. On the way back, we listened to a show on BBC Radio 5 live which recalled England's last World Cup semi-final against West Germany. This made the journey pass quickly, with me eventually dropping Anwar off at 11.10. I got home myself 20 minutes later but just couldn't get to sleep for hours for some reason. It meant I was really tired when I woke for work at 4 am the following morning.


WEST STREET is a great venue for step 8 football and would probably suit a step 4 side with a few minor improvements. The sole seating area holds around 250 according to an old non-league directory and this is made up of bench seating. There is an area opposite for standing holding around 150 and a further covered area behind the goal for around 50. The ground has an overall capacity of 2,000 and is pretty well kept, save for behind one goal which is overgrown.

Facilities at the ground are pretty decent, there's a spacious car with TV and a tea bar with a reasonable range. The town is not far away, around 10 minutes and offers a decent range of takeaways and pubs.