Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Tring Athletic - Grass Roots Stadium


Tring Athletic FC
The Grass Roots Stadium
Pendley Sports Centre
Cow Lane
Tring
Herts
HP23 5NT

01442 891144
Official Website
Twitter






Ground Number: 212
Tuesday 28th August 2012
Tring Athletic 0-2 Ashford Town (Middlesex)
FA Cup Preliminary Round Replay






TRING ATHLETIC FC - A BRIEF HISTORY

The club was formed as a youth team in 1958 and remained that way until 1971 when the age limit was scrapped. Up until 2003, they played at MIswell Lane, current home of Hertfordshire League Division 3 side, Tring Town, Athletic having absorbed the original first team of Town when they moved in to their current home. They spent their formative years in the West Herts League before making the step up to the South Midlands Division 1 in 1988. The league merged with the Spartan League in 1997 and although Tring Athletic won the second tier in 2000, they were unable to take promotion due to ground grading issues. With the reorganisation of the Non-League pyramid, a 4th place finish in Divison 1 in 2004 was good enough for promotion to the Premier Division. They've been there ever since, with them finishing as runners-up behind Chalfont St Peter in 2011. They were runners-up again in 2019, this time to Biggleswade and last season were in 2nd place when the season was abandoned. It was, therefore, a bit of a surprise to see them rock-bottom of the league this time out, having lost all 8 games.


Tring Athletic have twice reached the FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round - in 2006 when they lost 5-1 at home to Kings Lynn Town and in 2010 when they lost 7-0 at Wealdstone. The competition has not been a happy hunting ground in recent years with five consecutive Extra Preliminary Round exits. They've fared better in the FA Vase, enjoying a number of decent runs. Their best came during the 2017/18 season when they beat Ely City, Berkhamsted and Hullbridge Sports prior to a defeat to Melksham Town in the 5th Round. In terms of local cups, they've won the Herts Charity Shield (2000, 2002 & 2008), the Herts Centenary Senior Trophy (2000, 2001 & 2003), the West Herts League Cup (1966) and a plethora of Spartan South Midlands League cups including in 2009 when they won the treble of the Challenge Trophy, Premier Division Cup and the St Mary's Cup.

As well as Tring Athletic, the town is also home to Tring Corinthians who play in the Spartan South Midlands Division 2 and Tring Town who play in Division 3 of the Herts Senior County League. The small market town of Tring has a population of just under 12,000 and was the birthplace of top-level referees Graham Barber and Graham Poll. The town is home to Tring Brewery which is based on the picturesque Dunsley Farm alongside a farm shop and cafe. Poet Edward Lear made reference to the town in his 'Book Of Nonsense'

There was an old person Of Tring
Who embellished his nose with a ring
He gazed at the moon
Every evening in June
That ecstatic old person of Tring.

MY FIRST VISIT

As I had a couple of days off work, I was looking to do a game on Tuesday night. Always a big fan of the FA Cup, I settled upon the game between Tring Athletic and Ashford Town. The original game had been played at Ashford Town's Short Lane ground and had been drawn 2-2, a significant result, taking into account that Tring were a division below Ashford. I had originally been planning to do a game on Monday too, over in Oxfordshire at North Leigh. But I was so tired after work, working for 6 days solid and at a crazy pace that I decided to rest for the afternoon instead. It did me the power of good, come Tuesday evening I was raring to go and so with my batteries fully recharged I left home at 6.35 and despite multiple tractors driving along single-track roads and getting in my way, I was still at the ground at 7.10. I paid £5 to get in, plus £1 for a programme and after taking some pictures of the ground went and took a seat in the stand.




Tring Athletic were a bit of a disappointment on the night. After a battling performance to earn a draw on Saturday, I would have expected more of them as the home side. Ashford took the lead in the 12th minute, a home defenders clearance went straight to Dan Brown who controlled well and slotted past the keeper. Tring actually had a chance to equalise in the 24th minute after a challenge felled the home striker. But Tony Fields' effort was saved by the Ashford keeper Paul McCarthy, Despite pinball ensuing in the area, the visitors survived and added to their lead on the half-hour when Kofi Lockhart-Adams drive found it's way into the bottom right-hand corner. Ashford had chances to add to their lead, dominating the second half, but in the end, it stayed at 2-0. After a much easier drive home, I was back in 25 minutes, arriving home around 10PM having enjoyed a good value night of 
cup football.



MY SECOND VISIT

I was on my own again this Tuesday, as both my hopping pals were unavailable. Anwar was off to somewhere in Milton Keynes with another hopper, Richard and Colin was doing something with his Dad. I did think about joining the former but it was 14 miles to Aylesbury and I could do a local revisit for fewer miles than that. I decided to put it to a poll on Twitter and gave four options - new grounds at Bearstead and Blackfield & Langley, plus revisits at Tring Athletic and Harefield United. The latter two had the benefit of getting home at a more reasonable hour and also keeping costs down. Blackfield & Langley took an early lead, but with Tring being the only club to interact with the tweet, they soon took the lead and never looked back, winning with 48% of the vote. I researched the club history and planned my weekend - currently it's looking like a Midlands double as long as the COVID rates don't shoot up. I had a decent nights sleep before the day of the game, waking around 7. I spent the morning at home before walking to town and back for lunch, nearly 10 miles in all, getting some shopping too. The afternoon was spent at home catching up on things and watching YouTube. I had dinner around 6, leaving at 6.40. It was a good journey over to Tring, albeit via mainly small country roads. I was there by 7.10 but with the car park full, I had to park outside. Entry was £7 and after I'd checked in on the Serco Track & Trace app, I got some fresh pictures of the ground. It was a lot better than I remember and I was glad I paid the club a revisit.


Tring Athletic had lost all eight games in the league this season and had also gone out of the FA Cup (losing 2-0 at Easington Sports) and the FA Vase (4-1 at Edgware Town) although they had progressed originally in the Vase by beating Harefield United on penalties following a 1-1 draw. London Colney were not faring much better having drawn 0-0 at Wembley on opening day and losing all five games since. In the FA Cup, they'd lost 3-1 at Woodford Town and although they progressed on penalties against St Margaretsbury in the FA Vase, they lost 1-0 at Ipswich Wanderers in the following round. London Colney started much the better side and they were awarded a penalty on 25 minutes for a push in the area. There was a few minutes delay as an injury needed to be dealt with but Tring's 17-year-old keeper David Saunders pulled off a great save to keep the spot-kick out. London Colney took the lead shortly after, a great strike from 25 yards finding the top right-hand corner. The hosts levelled five minutes before the break, a ball was put in from the right and Joe Naylor had plenty of time on the ball to turn and fire in the top corner from 15 yards. This delighted a young group of fans who had been getting behind their team by chanting 'Tring Army!. The second half saw the hosts control the game, though they didn't create that many chances on goal at first. A good save from the London Colney keeper forced a corner and a good delivery was headed back across goal by James Butler and finished at the near post by Connor Smith. The visitors had the ball in the net soon after, but the whistle had already gone for offside. The game was sealed on 84 minutes and it was a lovely strike by Smith from 30 yards to complete his brace and make it 3-1.


The game was over by around 9.25 and I made my way back to my car. I tried to listen to the Wycombe game on the way home, the reception was dreadful at first, but as I got nearer home, I was able to listen. We'd gone 1-0 down shortly before I left and that stayed the case for 6 out of 6 defeats in the Championship so far. I was home just after 9.50 and managed to catch the final few minutes of the game on iFollow. As I'd got up three hours later than I usually do, I wasn't ready for bed and so I typed this blog and sorted some pictures before going to bed around 11. Next up for me looks like a double in the Midlands on Saturday - AFC Birmingham v Gornal Youth at 10.30 at Bartley Green and Redditch Borough v Knowle at 3, though late changes might occur, the way the world is at the moment.


THE GROUND


THE GRASS ROOTS STADIUM is set in picturesque surroundings in the Hertfordshire countryside. Originally the home of Tring Town FC, the 2 clubs merged in 2003 and kept the Athletic name. On Wikipedia, it claims the stand seats 125, but it seems more than that. It's a stand that has its pros and cons. You get a good elevated view, but then again there are wooden pillars to contend with. And the front of the stand covers the near touchline when you are looking down onto the pitch. But overall it's a good view and the wooden built stand is certainly more interesting than the standard metal stands with plastic seats that are seen nowadays in so many non-league grounds. There is also a decent covered area behind one goal, with a few seats and standing as well. The rest is just open standing, but really it's a well-specced ground for this level. There is a decent bar too, they serve Thatchers Gold Cider and a local ale from the Tring Brewery, as well as the usual standard stuff you get in other places. They also do food in there (Burgers, Hot Dogs and Bacon Rolls) and also a selection of club merchandise, but no old programmes sadly.


2020 PICTURES

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