Saturday, 20 April 2019

Newent Town - Wildsmiths Meadow

Newent Town FC
Wildsmiths Meadow
Hooks Lane (use entrance on B4215)
GL18 1HD

Ground Number: 853
Friday 19th April 2019
Newent Town 0-1 Cheltenham Saracens
Hellenic D1 West


There's limited information about the club online but they were founder members of the Gloucestershire County League in 1979. They remained here until 1989 but struggled generally, their best finish being 7th in their debut season in what is currently a step 7 league. They moved to the Gloucestershire Senior Northern League after finishing second bottom and enjoyed some success there, having lifted the Division 2 title in 1973 during their previous tenure in the league. They rejoined Division 2 in 2013, finishing 3rd and winning promotion to Division 1. A 3rd place finish here in 2016 was their best during this spell, but the following season, a 7th place finish was good enough to make the step up to the Hellenic D2 West for the 2017/18 season. They were champions in their debut season, earning promotion to Division 1 West where they currently sit 9th, knowing that they will be playing in the same division next season.
They are currently yet to play in the FA Cup or FA Vase but have won a number of local trophies including the Reg Davis Gloucestershire Northern Senior League Cup in 2016 and 2017. The market town of Newent has a population of 5,200 and has a number of listed buildings as well as a cricket and rugby club. Famous people to come from the town include footballer Stuart Fleetwood and the 2018 World Triathlon champion Vicky Holland.


With me having visited both Longlevens and Lydney Town in recent times, I was only really looking forward to the third game on the Friday leg of the Hellenic Groundhop. I’d been partially successful in organising a treble of my own, seeing a game at Roman Glass St George early afternoon and then only the second half of the game at Clevedon as bad traffic resulted in delays. I listened to the summing up of the Wycombe game on my phone as we lost 1-0 up at Rochdale. It was a good journey and so I made good time. I got to Newent at 6, stopping in town. I checked out the Co-Op and Cobblers Micropub for any ciders that I’d not had, but both drew a blank. I headed back to the ground with Google Maps directing me to the wrong end of the ground but that was soon remedied. I was at the ground by 6.20, with payment taken from my car window before I was directed to a space in the adjacent field. I got myself a tasty chicken curry and was hoping to use the sauce for my chips. That was easier said than done as due to the small frier, it took 25 minutes to clear a small queue. I was at least free in time for the game.

As with the game last at Almondsbury, the game was spent in the excellent company of a hopper from Leicester. I later met another hopper from Retford who I’d not seen for ages and also picked up a Hellenic League fleece which cost me £8, a great buy, but it cleaned me out of cash. It was a bright first half with chances for both sides, the opening goal coming 10 minutes into the second half. The Newent keeper Alex Goode made a cracking double save to put the ball behind, but he was unable to prevent Matt Bernard heading home from the resulting corner. From then on, the game was dead pretty much, with very little goalmouth action as Cheltenham Saracens closed the game out well. Given the number of people there, getting on for 400 and I believe the best attendance so far on the hop, it didn't take long to get out when we left at 9. I listened to the grassroots gossip podcast on the way home. I was glad when I got off the country roads and onto the main ones. I hot a snag at Headington with the A40 being closed by the Police with no diversion signed. It turned out that someone had jumped from a bridge and dies, so it put the minor inconvenience that was sorted by Google Maps into perspective. I got home at 11, having a couple of drinks whilst I caught up on stuff, sorted some photos and worked on my blog. It was a late night for me with me not getting to bed until after 3 am, still with plenty to do with regards to writing about my trip.


WILDSMITHS MEADOW is a nice tidy setup. It has just the one stand, this is currently a terrace with a few random seats in to meet ground grading. At least its a brick and mortar structure though, unlike the plethora of metal stands that are in grounds nowadays. Plans are in place to put proper seats in, as well as plans to extend the clubhouse which is quite small. The ground is in a nice setting, around a mile from the town and everyone is nice and friendly. The food that I bought was pretty good and service would probably be quicker than I experienced on a standard matchday.  

Roman Glass St George - Oaklands Park

Roman Glass St George FC
Oaklands Park
Gloucester Road
BS32 4AG

Ground Number: 851
Friday 19th April 2019
Roman Glass St George 0-2 Cribbs
Western League Premier


The club was established in 1872, making them the oldest club in Bristol. They’ve been known as St George or Bristol St George at various points during their history. They were founder members of the Bristol and District League In 1892, this was later renamed the Western League. Spells in the Birmingham and Gloucestershire County Leagues followed with the club occasionally dropping down into local football. In 1995 they merged with local side Roman Glass, taking their current name. The original club were three times Western League runners-up. In modern history, they joined the Gloucestershire County League in 1999, winning it twice. The latter of these occasions coincided with a move to the Gloucestershire FA headquarters, giving them the opportunity to play step 6 football. They joined Division 1 of the Western League in 2007 and despite finishing in the bottom half of the table more often than not, they managed to finish as runners-up to 
Westbury United on 2018, earning promotion to the Western Premier in the process. In their debut season at step 5, they sit in 18th place, knowing that they are are safe from relegation with a few games to go.

Since the merger, form in the FA competitions has not been notable. The original club reached the FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round in 1953, beating Radstock Town and Hanham United prior to a defeat at Chippenham United. They’ve also twice reached the FA Vase 3rd Round as well as the FA Amateur Cup 2nd Round. Local Cup wins include two Gloucestershire Senior Challenge Cups and eight Gloucestershire Senior Amateur Cups. The current manager is the former Bristol Rovers player Andy Gurney.


Having already established that I was going to visit Clevedon Town and Newent Town on this day, I needed to find myself a morning game. I was split between Sherborne Town (a 100-mile round trip) or Roman Glass St George (the 1 pm kick off would lead to me missing the start of the Clevedon game) so I put a poll (or a referendum) on Twitter. No shiny red buses promising things that cannot be fulfilled, just the plain facts. Not Brexit, more Clentry if you like. Roman Glass St George won with 58% of the vote, so that was my early game decided. I was camping in Almondsbury after last night’s game there and despite having to sleep in the shower block because of noise from the nearby M4, I got a good 6 hours sleep in. I woke up around 7, having a nice hot shower before having some grapes for breakfast. The short notice of the game meant that I spent the morning relaxing in my tent while doing research on the club’s history. I was packed up and ready to go by 11 and with time to spare I went to a farm shop and Tesco. The former yielded nothing but Tesco was good with me picking up a few local ciders and some lunch.

From there it was a 10-minute drive to the ground, with me getting there at 12.20. Admission was £6 and a programme £1 from the friendly gateman. I went to the club room and got a can of Thatchers Haze for £2.20, drinking it on the grass bank outside while I caught up online. The attendance wasn't very big and I can't help but think they might have had a few more had it kicked off earlier. The game started with very few chances but Cribbs were slightly on top. They took the lead on 36 minutes when Jordan Lovibond followed up with a header after the initial shot had been parried by the keeper. The hosts came close to equalising shortly after, the home keeper turning a low drive around the post. Lovibond got his and Cribbs second, rounding the keeper and finishing from around 5 yards to end a good team move. Half time came and the referee took the mick somewhat, going in at 1.47 and taking a 21-minute half time break, coming out at 2.00 with the players already having been out on the pitch and lined up for a good 5 minutes. Lovibond was denied his hat trick goal on 48 minutes as he was adjudged to be offside. The hosts then had a dominant 15-minute spell, but without really creating anything. The closest anyone came to scoring was when Cribbs had a great shot on 64 minutes which the home keeper did well to tip round the post. The referee continued to drag his heels and so it wasn't until 2.57 that I got away. This, coupled with traffic issues meant that I wouldn't get to my game at Clevedon until half time.


OAKLANDS PARK is a decent venue for the level. All the covered accommodation is on one side comprising of two small metal terraces and a 150 seater proper stand which looks very similar to the one at Bristol Manor Farm. The rest of the ground is open hard standing. There's not a huge amount nearby, so you are probably better off eating and drinking at the ground where drinks, pies and pasties are available. The programme is £1 and is well presented and decent value for the price.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Almondsbury - The Field

Almondsbury FC
The Field
Gloucester Road
South Gloucestershire
BS32 4AF

Ground Number: 850
Thursday 18th April 2019
Almondsbury 3-2 Malmesbury Victoria
Hellenic D1 West


The club was originally based in nearby Patchway and was established in 1969 under the name of Patchway North End. A couple of years later they were renamed Patchway Old Boys before relocating to Almondsbury in 1989 and adopting their current name. They started out in local leagues, latterly the Bristol Combination before joining the Gloucestershire County League in 2001. They were champions in 2004, earning promotion to the Western League D1. Between 2009 and 2017 they partnered with the local university and were known as Almondsbury UWE. They remained as members of the second tier of the Western League for the whole of this time, finishes ranging from 5th in 2015 to 22nd (bottom) in 2017. At the start of the season, a reshuffle of the pyramid meant that they were moved to the Hellenic Division 1 West.  Before tonight's game, they sat in a mid-table placing of 7th

The club's best run in the FA Cup came during the 2012/13 season when they beat Petersfield Town and Cadbury Heath before a 4-0 defeat at Blackfield & Langley in the 1st Qualifying Round. Their best progress in the FA Vase was the following season when they beat Radstock Town 1-0 prior to a 4-2 defeat at Barnstaple Town in the 1st Round. The village of Almondsbury has a population of 4,700 and up until 2012 was home to another football team - Almondsbury Town. They reached as high as the Southern League but financial issues saw them fold. There's also a cricket club and a tennis club as well as other amenities including a pub and a hotel. The village was the birthplace of Franz Ferdinand lead singer Alex Kapranos.


I only decided to go to this game on the day before. I'd initially been hoping to have other hoppers come with me and help out with costs, but both my usual mates were unavailable. I'd already looked into possibilities and knew that there was a campsite two miles from the ground which did camping at £10 a night. That was good enough for me as I was down in the Westcountry for a treble on Friday. It also meant that I could go to the Bristol Cider shop en route and pick up some bottles for home. The only decision I had to make was whether to do Roman Glass St George or Sherborne Town on Friday morning, so I put it to the vote on Twitter. Both teams retweeted it and in the end, Roman Glass St George came out on top. There was a brief scare that it was the same ground as Almondsbury, but helpful hoppers put my mind at ease and in the end, it was just across the road.  The day before the game was a bit hectic, I needed sleep in the afternoon after a late night on Tuesday. The evening was spent doing research for the weekend as well as researching club histories. Normally, I'd have all 4 researched in advance, but in the end, I only had time to do tonights and Newent Town who I'd be visiting the following evening.

I didn't have the best nights sleep before the day of the game, probably thanks to the afternoon nap. I was still OK at 4 am though and got fuel on the way to work. After I finished at 12, I got a few bits of shopping and started making my way towards Bristol. Being the start of the Bank Holiday, the M4 was, of course, problematic and so I had to come off at Hungerford thanks to delays due to a vehicle fire, the resulting traffic adding 30 minutes to my journey. There were delays in Bristol too, another 40 minutes due to roadworks and the Bristol road system being terrible at the best of times. It was worth it though, as after parking up at ASDA, I headed to Bristol Cider Shop. There I bought 6 ciders in bottles that I’d not had yet, plus a couple of pints of Crossmans Medium Dry Farmhouse which I’d yet to have. It was then half an hour to my campsite, me deciding to knock the visit to a farm shop on the head as time was running out. A friendly welcome awaited me and a tenner a night for a pitch was not bad with facilities thrown in. I had the whole site to myself, the only downer being that I could hear the motorway nearby, but I’d brought some earplugs for that eventuality anyway. I pitched my tent and chilled with my two pints while I caught up with things. It was just over two miles to the ground, so I set off at 6.20 to make sure I’d be there on time. I got there at 7, paying a good value £6 including programme. I met several familiar faces and it was good to be amongst good company. A bacon cheeseburger, cheese and onion pasty and a can of Thatchers Gold were sampled before kick off as I looked to help out the club where I could.

Almondsbury were in mixed form, the highlight of recent games being when they hammered strugglers New College Swindon 11-0 at the end of March. Including that result, they won 2, drawn 2 and lost 2 of their last 6. I’d been present at Malmesbury Town’s high point a fortnight ago as they crushed Cirencester Town Development 5-0. Out of the last 6 games, they had won 3 and lost 3, this included the reverse fixture of tonight’s game where Almondsbury triumphed 3-1 on 22nd March. The game started very much in the visitors' favour and they were ahead after 7 minutes. The ball fell to an unmarked Gareth Jones who rifled into the roof of the net from 10 yards. Malmesbury had further chances but they spurned them. Despite a fair bit of possession, Almondsbury created nothing. That was until just before when Lewis Sheppard somehow found space in the area before finishing from close range. The start of the second half offered plenty of effort but little in the way of clear cut chances as the attendance was confirmed as 195. The game was a bit of a dead duck until the final 13 minutes, but as is often the case, a goal can change everything. It was certainly a tidy goal that got things going, 77 minutes gone, the ball falls to Joe Tranter and he put it in the top right corner from inside the area. The game looked to be heading the way of Malmesbury but a lovely cut back from the right allowed Dan Lane to head home right on the line. Almondsbury completed the comeback on 88 minutes, Alex Bisp with a right-wing cross that befuddled visiting keeper Ant Brown.

It was harsh on Malmesbury who were the better side all told, but nothing against Almondsbury who had been brilliant hosts. I checked out the social club and the nearby Swan Hotel, both of which disappointed on the cider front. By 10.25 I was back at my tent, but the noise from the M4 was unbearable. Luckily, I was the only idiot to book the place, so I locked myself in the shower room. Still not quiet enough for a light sleeper like me, but it did quieten down in the end with me only having a couple of ciders and getting around 6 hours sleep.


THE FIELD is a fairly basic setup, just the one metal seated stand holding 50 to meet the ground grading, the rest of the ground open. There’s a tea bar offering basic food plus cans but a friendly welcome is ensured. Nearby are a few pubs including The Swan, but with nothing of note for me, you are better off giving your money to the club.