Thursday 28 July 2011

Milton Keynes - Stadium:MK

Milton Keynes FC
Stadium MK
Stadium Way
Milton Keynes

Official Website

Ground Number: 137
Wednesday 12th March 2008
Milton Keynes 0-3 Wycombe Wanderers
Berks & Bucks Cup Semi-Final


The stadium was opened in July 2007 when a young Chelsea side were the opponents for a friendly. At that point, the stadium only had its lower-tier built with the upper added at a later date. This extra capacity was mainly built for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the stadiums biggest attendance was for the Fiji v Uruguay game in that competition that attracted a crowd of 30,048. The stadium has also hosted the party for Milton Keynes 40th anniversary, the Collectomania fair and various Jehovah's Witness conventions. The record attendance for football is 28,127 which saw Milton Keynes 5-1 defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup.

The club had remained in League 1 for the vast majority of their stay at the ground, though 2015/16 saw a 23rd place finish and instant relegation. Last season saw them finish 23rd in League 1 and suffer relegation to League 2 where they sit in the playoff positions at the time of this blog update (March 2019). A record run in the FA Cup saw Milton Keynes reach the FA Cup 5th Round in 2012/13 when they beat Cambridge City, AFC Wimbledon, Sheffield Wednesday and QPR prior to a 3-1 home defeat to Barnsley. The 2014/15 season saw a memorable League Cup runs as they beat rivals AFC Wimbledon 3-1, Manchester United 4-0 and Bradford City 2-0 prior to a 4th Round 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United.


Wycombe were robbed of 3 points in the game billed as "The Big Bucks Derby" as they drew 2-2 with Milton Keynes. I've made my feelings clear on the Franchise issue before, but have to concede that Milton Keynes FC (or whatever they choose to call themselves) has potential. If only they had done it the right way by working their way up honestly then I'd have more respect for them. Wycombe started brightly and could have been ahead when Oakes's free-kick was saved well by MK keeper Willy Gueret on 33 minutes. A few minutes later and Wycombe took a deserved lead, Scott McGleish heading in from around 6 yards. Another free kick from Oakes led to another good effort but it was Wycombe who were good value for their 1-0 lead at half time. Wycombe made the mistake of defending too deep as the second half commenced. Time and again we put undue pressure on ourselves by getting the whole team playing in the last third of the pitch. As a consequence, we have no one to play the ball to and allow the other team to pressurise us. Wycombe should have had a penalty on 68 minutes when McGleish was fouled by MK keeper Gueret. He needed treatment for his injuries, but the referee merely waved our appeals away. Milton Keynes got their equaliser shortly after, but there was more than a suspicion of offside as Aaron Wilbraham netted. Their joy was short lived however, as a fantastic volley from Scott McGleish scored from a wonderful volley. Delroy Facey should have really wrapped the game up minutes later but he was foiled by the keeper. Another good contribution from the big man though, hopefully with some match fitness he will put chances like that away in future. The 4th official signalled 5 minutes of injury time but Wycombe were still looking comfortable. But on 94 minutes a corner was met by the head of big defender Sean O'Hanlon amid appeals by Wycombe players for a push in the box.

Looking back, I regret going and giving them full-pricer admission, but I was going to every single Wycombe game home and away back then and had not yet discovered the joys of groundhopping. I'd been the previous month to see the reserves play in the Berks & Bucks Cup Semi-Final and paid a nominal £3 entrance fee. I just wish I'd got out of the habit of going to Wycombe home and away earlier than the following August when I broke a seven-year run. Anyway, back to that County Cup tie, Wycombe won with ease, running out 3-0 victors thanks to goals from George Daly, Dan Fitchett and Matt Phillips. Wycombe reached the final, but put out the youth team and lost 3-0 at Chesham United. It's extremely unlikely that I will return due to the way the club was established.


STADIUM MK is a smart and modern stadium, though it is currently too big for its club's needs. At a cost of £50m, the 30,500 capacity was originally smaller but since my visits, seats have been added in the upper tier. These seats are very high-spec and are padded like those at the Emirates. There's plenty of empty ones too, with the average attendance being a touch over 7,000. I'm unsure of food and drink options and most pubs near the ground do not admit away fans. There are various chains on the adjacent retail park including TGI Fridays, Frankie & Benny's Nandos and Pizza Express as well as an Ikea. Otherwise, it's Fenny Stratford (a mile) and Bletchley (just under two miles) that have the nearest options.

Friday 22 July 2011

Bedfont Town - The Orchard

Bedfont & Feltham FC
The Orchard
Hatton Road
TW14 9QT

0208 890 7264

Ground Number: 166
Thursday 21st July 2011
Bedfont Town 1-1 AFC Wimbledon (2-3 on penalties)
John Morris Memorial Trophy


The club was formed in May 2012 following a merger between Bedfont Town (established as Bedfont Green in 1965) and Feltham (established in 1991 as Feltham & Hounslow Borough). Despite Bedfont plying their trade in the step 4 Southern League Central, it was decided that the new club would take the place of Bedfont Town in the step 6 Combined Counties Division 1, so as to cut down on travelling costs. The changes bought some decent results, two 5th place finishes in their first two seasons. The 2015/16 season saw a runners-up spot, 3 points behind CB Hounslow United and this was good enough for promotion to the Premier. They'd only last at the higher level for one season, finishing second-bottom and some 13 points adrift of safety. Last season saw a hangover with the club finishing in 17th place. In the summer Adam Bessent joined from Staines Lammas who had unfairly been booted out of the league due to ground grading - this despite the venue being good enough to host football at this level for over a decade, but their loss was Bedfont & Feltham's gain. This season has started very well for Bedfont & Feltham as they are currently unbeaten at the top of the league. Getting off to a cracking start helped, an 11-0 thumping of Bagshot earned them the TalkSPORT 2 ' Non-League Team Of The Week' award. A 3-3 draw at Dorking Wanderers reserves was followed up with a 5-0 hammering of Sandhurst Town on Saturday.

In the FA Cup, 2015/16 saw the club's best FA Cup run as they beat London Tigers and AFC Hayes (both after replays) A tough test against AFC Rushden & Diamonds awaited them in the 1st Qualifying Round where the run ended, despite a credible performance in the 2-1 defeat. The FA Vase has proved trickier, the best run being the 1st Round in 2013 where they lost 1-0 at Welwyn Garden City. Local cup wins include the CCL Division 1 Challenge Cup, lifted in 2015 as they beat Worcester Park 4-3 on penalties in the final as well as the Middlesex Premier Cup a year earlier.


I first visited the original Bedfont club on the way back from giving my parents a lift to Heathrow on a non-matchday. As I was taking a photograph of the outside of the ground a bloke pulled into the car park and asked "What the f**k are you doing" This was pretty much the limit of his vocabulary for the whole conversation, with me explaining that all I wanted was a few photos for my own personal collection, not to be used on any site or for commercial purposes. Peppered with bad language he told me he was going to take down my number plate and report me to the police. "Fine" was all I could muster, such was my utter bemusement at how a human being could act like that with 2 young kids in the back of the car. That was in July 2004. So when the original Bedfont club went bust in 2010, I didn't shed too many tears after this experience. Luckily, there was a tenant to move into The Orchard, namely Bedfont Town and also Feltham (the two would merge a couple of years later) 

I drove to the game, giving mates Dale and Paul a lift to keep me company. We got to the ground well in advance of kick off, though I felt that the £8 entrance fee was a bit much for a friendly against a football league teams reserve side.  The game was in memory of John Morris who served both clubs well in the past and died in 2009. AFC Wimbledon, freshly promoted to the Football League named a young squad for the game against a side managed by one of their former heroes, goal ace Kevin Cooper. Chris Bush gave the Dons the lead on 18 minutes with a low shot from inside the area. It was all square on 27 minutes, Gabriel Odunake with a goal on the break for Bedfont. The hosts took the game to Wimbledon and looked the most likely to score, but it remained 1-1 at full-time. The game went straight to a penalty shootout, footage of which is above. Bedfont missed their first three penalties through Harris, Cooper and Savage but Kabuye and O'Sullivan scored their final two. Wimbledon's misses on kicks 2 & 4 by Rose and Dos Santos ensured it went right to the death but with  Reece Jones, goalkeeper Jack Turner and Chris Bush converting successfully, the visitors prevailed 3-2.


Originally, I was going to save my revisit to Bedfont for the following night, as British Airways FC shared there. But hopper unavailability and an upcoming costly weekend led me to scale back my plans and go to the Bedfont & Feltham v Frimley Green match on Tuesday instead, rather than do an extra game. When I checked out the excellent website, I was pleased to see that admission was only £5 and that a digital programme would be available. Most hoppers prefer a paper copy, but for me, they soon take up too much space once you have a few, so I'm not that fussed. The day of the game came and I'd had a reasonable night's sleep on my day off.  I did my usual walk down town before getting a lift back home with my Dad and having lunch. The afternoon was spent researching my next few games - Friday at US Portsmouth v Sholing, Saturday at Bradford City v Wycombe Wanderers and whatever I decide to do on Bank Holiday Monday. I left around 6.40, making good time and getting to Bedfont at 7. After getting some pictures of the outside and going in, I was glad to meet Chesham United supporter and fellow groundhopper Giles and we had a brief chat. Entry was an excellent value £5 as promised and so I caught up online as I waited for kick off. I also had a brief look at the programme on my tablet and noted that Frimley Green had a few players listed that were not in the programme, including a new goalkeeper, which would turn out to make a difference.

The first half saw the hosts start on the front foot and dominate the opening stages, having several chances in the process. Frimley Green did come back into it though and soon had the ball in the back of the net but it was ruled out for offside. Bedfont & Feltham soon got back into their stride, hitting the right-hand post around 25 minutes in. It had been a fairly physical game, the Frimley Green keeper had already taken a clattering and soon after there were accusations of spitting, but after consultation with his linesman, the referee saw nothing. On the half-hour mark, the hosts were awarded a penalty. Michael Capon stepped up and hit the effort low to the left but Frimley Green keeper Chris Harris guessed correctly and palmed the ball away. Shortly before halftime, Bedont & Feltham's Georgie Rooke went off with a painful-looking injury and was replaced, but the game was still goalless at the interval. The second half saw more of the same, Bedfont & Feltham having the majority of chances, but Frimley Green dangerous on the break. The finishing wasn't the best but Harris was having an inspired night in goal for the visitors and he produced a great point-blank save to deny Bedfont the lead. There were some lovely moves from both teams most notably for the hosts when Michael Capon smartly cut back to Kyle Russell who came close, firing narrowly high and wide. It had been a physical game, but not overly dirty. It turned sour around 10 minutes from time when a tackle by Ross Nunn sparked a huge melee. Referee Phil Jones had already blown to punish the challenge which took the player as well as the ball but as the players waded into each other, no amount of frantic whistling could stop their bust-up. The result was a yellow and red card apiece, substitute Farhad Mahboudi for Bedfont & Feltham and a player for Frimley Green who I could not identify. There were still chances for both sides, but in the end, despite the attackers best efforts, it ended 0-0.

The game had been the fourth 0-0 draw that I'd seen in ten matches but was anything but dull. Clear man of the match was visiting keeper Chris Harris who kept Bedfont & Feltham at bay. The referee had a tricky job at times, but generally, he kept a lid on things and did well. I guess that's the neutrality that you get as groundhopper, I'm not sure if I'd have been so impartial had it been a Wycombe game. Talking of my own team, they carried on from where they left off on Saturday's poor performance at home to Bristol Rovers by going behind after 4 minutes down at Plymouth. Fortunately, they recovered in the second half to draw 1-1, Matt Bloomfield getting a rare goal and in the end, we really should have won it. It was a good draw, especially against a team whose manager, fans and Twitter account who have been exceptionally bitter in the oast few years. They've constantly moaned about anything and everything they can, seeing fouls where there are none and complaining about the game being stopped while our injured players get treatment. I listened to reports of this and other local games when I left just before 9.50, getting in at 10.25. I stayed up for around half an hour, but as ever, couldn't get to sleep, drifting off around 1 am, meaning I only got a few hours sleep before work the following morning.


THE ORCHARD is a compact and tidy ground which is well maintained and kept. There are 2 small seated stands along each side, the newest of which, The John Morris Stand, opened on the night of my first visit. There are also covered areas behind each goal, but the majority of the ground is open as you would expect at this level. The ground is a not near any pubs that I could remember, but there was a large bar at the ground as well as a tea bar offering a decent choice of food.




Thursday 21 July 2011

Shrewsbury Town - The New Meadow

Shrewsbury Town FC
The New Meadow
Oteley Road

Ground Number: 132
Saturday 29th December 2007
Shrewsbury Town 0-1 Wycombe Wanderers
Coca-Cola League 2


1: The club was founded in 1886 and in their early years playing in the Shropshire League (1890 -1895, best finish runners-up in 1891), the Birmingham & District League (1895 - 1937, champions in 1923) and the Midland League (1937 - 1950, three times champions)

2: In 1950, Shrewsbury Town joined the Football League and bar the season of 2002-03 when they were relegated to the Conference, they've remained there ever since. Finishes have ranged from a high of two finishes of 8th in the second tier, achieved in the 1984 and 1985 to a low of bottom of the 4th tier in 2003. The latter saw relegation to non-league, but they bounced back immediately through the playoffs, beating Barnet and Aldershot Town in the playoffs.

3: The best progress the club has managed in the FA Cup has been the Quarter Final, firstly in 1979 when they lost to Wolverhampton Wanderers after a replay and then again in 1982 when they lost 5-2 at Leicester City, the latter game featuring a young Gary Lineker. Things looked to be going according to the script when Leicester took a 6th-minute lead through Larry Maybut an injury to keeper Mark Wallington and his manager's insistence that he play on saw him make a couple of errors to gift Shrewsbury the lead. A comical own goal by Steve Biggins made it 2-2 at the break. Striker Alan Young had gone in goal, bit after he too was injured, Leicester went down to ten men as there was only one substitute allowed in those days. Steve Lynex went in goal but then Young came back on and resumed his goalkeeping duties. Lynex provided the cross for Melrose to put Leicester ahead before they made it 5-2 thanks to Lineker and another Melrose goal. A less dignified exit came about in 2004 as Shrewsbury lost 2-0 in a 1st Round tie at non-league Histon and then again in 2008 (losing to Blyth Spartans) and 2009 (losing to Staines Town)

4: Shrewsbury Town's best ever progress in the League Cup came in the debut season of the competition. In 1961, they reached the semi-final before losing 4-3 on aggregate to Rotherham United.

5: Up until 1985, Shrewsbury Town often played in the Welsh Cup, winning it six times and finishing as runners-up on three occasions. The last of these wins came in 1985 as they hammered Bangor City 6-1 on aggregate.

6: The Shrews reached the Football League Tophy Final in 1996, losing 2-1 to Rotherham United at Wembley Stadium.

7: Record attendances include a crowd of 18,917 at Gay Meadow for a 3rd Division game against Walsall in 1961 and at the New Meadow an attendance of 10,210 for a FA Cup 4th Round game against Chelsea in 2014.

8: The record victory of 21-0 game in an 1894 Welsh Cup game against Mold Alyn Stars. Eleven years later, they suffered their record defeat, losing 13-0 to Small Heath (now called Birmingham City) in a Birmingham League game.

9: Famous players to play for the club include Joe Hart who earned himself a move to Manchester City. Other well-known names to play for the Shrews include Neville Southall and John McGinlay.

10: The town of Shrewsbury itself has a population of just under 72,000 and famous Salopians include Charles Darwin, Michael Heseltine and Michael Palin.


On my first visit, Wycombe gained their 4th victory in a row with an excellent 1-0 win at fellow promotion rivals Shrewsbury Town. It seems unbelievable that 3 weeks previous they were losing 6-0 at Stockport and not playing at all well. But how things can change. It was an excellent performance, we battled well to gain a deserved victory. The future looked rosy, 3 weeks previously, you wouldn't have bet any money on Wycombe getting promoted. There was a biting Shropshire wind in the air, but Wycombe's excellent performance warmed up the 500 or so travelling support. The goal came in a first half which Wycombe dominated. John Sutton followed up Scott McGleish's shot that had been parried by Shrews keeper Glyn Garner. There were several other good chances for Wycombe, with a few for Shrewsbury too, but Wycombe were good value for their lead going in 1-0 to the good at half time. The second half was a different story though, Shrewsbury came out like a wounded animal and hit the woodwork twice in 5 minutes. It was mainly Shrewsbury for the rest of the game too, with Frank Fielding and the Wycombe defence performing miracles to keep them at bay. Youngster George Daly came on with 20 minutes to go and did really well, he looks a real prospect for the future and it's great news that he is getting his chance to prove himself.

Subsequent visits saw Wycombe remain unbeaten, or at least they were when I went. In December 2008, it was another 1-0 victory, this time the goalscorer was Matt Harold. It took Wycombe 9 points clear at the top of League Two, an impressive feat against 3rd placed Shrewsbury who had defeated Wycombe 7-0 at Adams Park a couple of months earlier in the Football League Trophy. For my final visit in March 2011, the game will be remembered for the crazy incident which led to Wycombe's equaliser. We'd played quite well, but were behind thanks to James Collins' goal on the half hour. Then, five minutes after half time a shot by Gareth Ainsworth was saved by Shrewsbury keeper Ben Smith. The shot was nowhere near in, a clear few yards from crossing the line but the linesman awarded a goal and referee James Linington signalled a goal. An incensed Shrewsbury took the game to Wycombe and were unlucky not to win, but we held on for the point thanks to a decision that was so bad, it was embarrassing.

VISIT 4: SHREWS 2-1 WYCOMBE (L1, 16/03/19)

The New Meadow was on my list of grounds to revisit so that I could update my blog, so I'd decided on this visit as far back as last summer. I'd managed to visit the majority of my targets this season, but various reasons, either financial or Wycombe putting in a stinking performance in the previous match. That was the case for this game too, we put in a fantastic performance against Sunderland on Saturday, only being denied a win thanks to a last minute error from keeper Ryan Allsopp. We’ve got an awful home record against Accrington who we played on Tuesday but were 1-0 up and looking fairly comfortable just before half time. Then, thanks to yet another Allsopp blunder, we conceded another needless penalty and went into the break level. The second half was a terrible performance and we ended up losing 3-1. I might have opted out of Shrewsbury there and then but two things stopped me. Firstly, I’d already got my ticket and second, the Independent Supporters coach had chosen a good pub to stop at. The White Hart in Shifnal passed me by when I visited Shifnal Town FC earlier this season as my time in the town was limited. But they appeared to do real cider and good food. There were also a couple of backups in The Plough and The Anvil who I emailed but both failed to reply and would, therefore, be unlikely to get my custom.

I had a late night on Friday and only got around 5 hours of sleep, waking at 6.30. I woke up and lazed around for a couple of hours before leaving the house at 8.40. After going down the local shop, I met my Dad at the coach pick up point at 9 and soon we were on our way. I was happy to get a double seat to myself and pay the reasonable fare of £20. We did pre-orders for food with me opting for faggots, chips and peas. We got to the pub just before 12 and I had pints of Watergull Orchards Medium and a Cherry one. After that, I went to The Plough and had a pint of Sandford Orchards Hogfather. A brutal but nice cider at 7.4% and so I finished off with a half of Watergull Medium which was the best of the day. So we left and got to the ground at 2.30 and so I stopped at the club shop to get a pen. The game. It was a dreadful first half and a dull second but Wycombe eventually grabbed the lead 23 minutes from time. It was a great free kick from McCarthy and for a long time, we looked comfortable. But Wycombe proceeded to throw it away in the last 5 minutes and injury time. Firstly lousy marking from a free kick allowed Omar Beccles to slot home. A draw was a huge disappointment but at least it would have stopped the rot. But the someone gave away a stupid penalty, Ollie Norburn converting the spot-kick to ensure another miserable afternoon. I was fuming with the team and it made for a long journey home. I can’t think of many times when I’ve felt worse as a Wycombe fan, but amazingly the trip home made things seem less bleak. By the time I got dropped near my house just after 8, I was feeling a lot better. I stopped at the Co-Op to get a few bottles for Match Of The Day later. The rest of the evening was spent catching up on various things. Usually, the Sunday morning would be hell, but with a fortnight off coming up, I was in a positive mood.


The NEW MEADOW (or Montgomery Waters Meadow as it is currently known as for sponsorship purchases) was opened in 2007, replacing the clubs much-loved, but ageing Gay Meadow. With 4 fairly identical seated stands and a capacity of just under 10,000, it provides good views and leg room but lacks the character of their old home. This season the club installed 550 'safe standing' places at the home end, the first club in English football to do so. Away fans get around 2000 sets behind one of the goals. Food in the ground is the usual basic range at inflated prices. Nearby pubs include the Wild Pig which is a few minutes from the ground and charges £5 for parking or the Charles Darwin, 10 minutes walk away with free parking for customers. For a better range of pubs, the town centre is a good bet, two miles away and offering a bus service to the ground if you don't fancy the walk.