Wednesday 28 November 2012

Hednesford Town - Keys Park

Hednesford Town FC
Keys Park
Keys Park Road
WS12 2DZ

01543 422870
Official Website

Ground Number: 229

Tuesday 27th November 2012
Hednesford Town 2-0 Ilkeston
Northern Premier League - Premier Division


Just as with 2 weeks ago, I was planning to go to Biggleswade Town v Slough Town. But yet again it was called off due to cup commitments on Slough's part. Originally it was their FA Cup tie against Mansfield Town, which sadly they lost on penalties. But this time it was a competition of slightly less importance - the Red Insure sponsored Southern League Cup - a tie at my mate Anwar's local team, Aylesbury. So he had been planning to go there and I had been planning to go to Carshalton Athletic v Enfield Town. But on the morning of the game Aylesbury called their game off, and Hednesford Town - a ground we had both wanted to go to, confirmed that their game was on. So I text Anwar and asked if he was up for it. He said yes, and so we made arrangements of where and when to meet. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the Carshalton game was later called off. I did have Horsham v Worthing as a backup, however.  So after the usual hard slog at work, I had just over an hour to relax and catch up at home before setting off to meet Anwar at 3.50. I got to Aylesbury at 4.15. Soon we were on our way. Trips up north are the same distance more or less going via Aylesbury are more or less the same distance as going directly from Wycombe, however, it does take a fair bit longer, as the route from there to the M40 meaning half an hour drive along A roads which are pretty slow moving in places. But once we got on the M40 it was fine, and for most of the M42 as well. But the M6 had a load of delays, over an hours worth in fact, so it was a good thing that we allowed extra time, as we got there at 7.25, if we would have left much later we would missed the kickoff.

After paying to get in and having a look round the ground, the first port of call was the club shop. There was a decent selection of programmes there, but nothing that I needed. There were also pennants, but at a fiver each, I decided against it. Next stop was the tea bar. After getting some chips, it was nearly time for kick off and so we took our place in the big side terrace. We got chatting to a friendly Walsall fan who like us enjoyed going to other games. The game itself was pretty good, an entertaining encounter which Hednesford shaded. But it was still 0-0 at halftime. At the interval, we got some more chips, which turned out to be a huge portion compared to the first, so I was pretty full after that. I also bought a Bovril to warm me up. If the home side shaded the first half, they totally dominated the second. After barely a minute of the game restarting, Hednesford were 1-0 up when former AFC Telford player Elliot Durrell scored a great goal that went in off the bar. They went onto dominate the half, but it wasn't till the 88th minute that victory was sealed. A home player went down in the area and the referee awarded a penalty. Despite a valiant effort from Ilkeston keeper Ashley Timms, it was that man Durell whose powerful penalty made it 2-0 and game, set and match. After 5 minutes of injury time, the victory was confirmed. The Hednesford fans, by the way, were in good voice and sang a number of decent songs. Ilkeston also bought a fair following for a midweek game and sang a few songs. We made a pretty quick getaway, getting back to Aylesbury at 11.40, meaning that I was back home around midnight, after a traffic free journey. Having no work meant that I could stay up for a few hours and have a drink or two, I eventually got to sleep just before 3.


KEYS PARK is a fantastic non-league ground, having been built for their days in the Conference. It would put a few football league grounds to shame to be honest. As well as a good club shop, there is a tea bar that does your usual range of football stuff, all at reasonable prices. The town is around 15 minutes walk away, and probably has a better range of pubs and food places, though I didn't confirm in person.

The MAIN STAND has 710 seats. It has a smart design and has the club bar and conferencing facilities behind it. This stand is accessed by different turnstiles to the terrace, and you have to pay a pound extra to go in here, compared to the terrace. The other area of seating is the HEDNESFORD END, with a capacity of 301. This looks to be the away end if segregation is in force, as it has separate turnstiles. There is also uncovered standing for around 500 more in this area. Along the far side, the WIMBLEBURY TERRACE is also large and covered and holds 2752  In addition, there is uncovered standing for 250 more between this and the main stand.At the opposite end, is the HEATH HAYES END has a capacity of 1752 and is a large covered terrace. 

Thursday 22 November 2012

Rotherham United - New York Stadium

Rotherham United FC
The New York Stadium
New York Way
South Yorkshire
S60 1AH

Ground Number: 228
Tuesday 20th November 2012
Rotherham United 2-3 Wycombe Wanderers
nPower League 2


After enjoying the previous night's game at Bradford Park Avenue, it was another new ground for me tonight. And this time it would involve my own team Wycombe, who I will have now seen play at all 3 of Rotherham's grounds - Millmoor, The Don Valley Stadium and tonight's venue, The New York Stadium. On the day I got up at about 7.30am, having stayed in Rotherham the previous night. After getting showered and lazing around for a bit, I went off in search of breakfast, opting for the local Morrisons, whose cafe is by far the best of all the supermarket offerings. After that I headed over to Sheffield to the big ASDA there, to take advantage of the double discount day for staff. And then into Rotherham Town Centre to see what I could get there. After all that I had completed the vast majority of Christmas shopping, but it was still only just after 1PM, which left me with over 6 hours until the game kicked off! Luckily Paul and Sue who I went up with, had family up there who I get along well with and who I have met before. So we went round to their place for a few games of FIFA. We left fairly early for the game, around 5.30PM and after parking up, were at the ground by 6.

We welcomed the team off of the coach, wishing them luck for the nights game. To everyone's surprise, when kitman Stewart Bannister came off the coach, he went up to Paul in an agressive manner, having a real go at him, about some stuff the crowd had been singing. The other fans of both teams that were there at the time were shocked and disgusted by the rant, as were the stewards. There was some background to this. During the AFC Wimbledon home game in September after which Gary Waddock was sacked, the crowd had been calling for the manager to go. These calls were repeated at the end of the game. Bannister did not take this well, apparently he was sticking 2 fingers up to the crowd and making offensive gestures. I didn't see this myself, but certainly heard the reaction of the crowd, who were annoyed that someone whose wages they pay could act in such a manner. Whatever happened, the bad feeling had carried on into the following home games, with a small section of the crowd singing "Bannister - You're a c*nt", which to my knowledge, didn't include Paul, but for whatever reason, Bannister had decided that the fault lie with him. After all that, I headed off into town to find a pub called The Bridge Inn, which had promised real cider according to my CAMRA app did real cider. But when I turned up to the place quoted on the app it was all shut up and looked abandoned. So disappointed, I headed back towards the ground, and bumped into a pub of the same name, that looked open and offered real ale according to the blackboards outside. Sadly, it only offered Strongbow, so I decided not to bother and carried on towards the ground, stopping off at my car on the way to pick up a coat.

I took my seat for the game and joined in with some of the pre match singing. The game soon kicked off and after seeing a very early goal last night, I certainly wasn't expecting to see one 2 games in a row. But after 16 seconds, Rotherham were in the lead, former Manchester United trainee Daniel Nardiello capitalising on a  static Wycombe defence and Jordan Archer being unable to hold the ball. Rotherham continued to press and dominate, but it was Wycombe who got the equaliser just before the half hour mark when Dave Winfield headed in from Josh Scowen's free kick. But Rotherham continued to have the better of the game and they regained the lead when Mark Bradley scored in the 35th minute with a crashing shot. As we went into the halftime break, it looked like there was only going to be one winner, and it could be by a decent margin. But it was a different Wycombe side that played the second half. We came out with an intention to turn the game on it's head, carving out chances. And we got our reward - 2 goals from Matt McClure early on in the second half gave us a result we really needed. His second and Wycombe's third was a real beauty as he lobbed keeper Andy Warrington. And it was Wycombe who looked more likely to score after that, especially after Rotherham went down to 10 men, following an injury after they had used all 3 of their substitutes. The result lifted Wycombe off the bottom of the table, but they were still in the relegation zone due to Aldershot winning. After the game, we went to the chippy after dropping someone off. It was an easy and clear drive home, but I still didn't get to bed till nearly 2am that night, with only 3 hours sleep before work, I was pretty tired the next morning.


THE NEW YORK STADIUM is one of the better recently built grounds. Though much of the ground is unfinished from the outside - the 4 corners have rooms with glass frontage, but when you look inside it is just plain concrete, presumably waiting for a bar or club to be put in. The inside of the stadium is decent, with seating offering good legroom and decent views, owing to the steps being fairly steep. The tea bar is just the standard football fare, and I didn't see a bar open. Though the town is really close by, with a number of pubs, including a couple of Wetherspoons.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Bradford Park Avenue - Horsfall Stadium

Bradford Park Avenue FC
Horsfall Stadium
Cemetery Road
West Yorkshire

Ground Number: 227
Monday 19th November 2012
Bradford Park Avenue 4-0 Hinckley United
Blue Square North


As I was going to Rotherham the following night, and due to my mate Paul having family, who I also knew, up that way, it was decided that we would stay overnight on Monday and make a better day of it. The first thing I looked for was games on Monday, there weren't many. But one that I did fancy was Bradford Park Avenue v Hinckley United, so I pencilled it in for a visit. In the time in between deciding to go and the game, I also discovered that Bradford's club shop was another good'un, with lots of interesting stuff to buy. I had also made an unscheduled visit to Bradford itself, finding the excellent Fighting Cock pub, sadly I was not making a revisit tonight, but I will certainly be returning at some point in the future. On the day we had decided to leave at our normal work time, 6 am, to make the most of the 2 days. So after waking at 5.10 and having a quick wash etc, I was out of the house by 5.40 and after filling up with petrol, I was picking Paul and Sue up bang on time. After a fairly easy journey traffic-wise, we were in Sheffield just after 9 and so parked up and had a look around. I had a list of shops I wanted to go to and also a list of pubs I fancied visiting, as Sheffield is well known for being a drinking capital of the UK.

But it was fairly early and only just after 11 when I left, so I decided to give the pubs a miss. Instead, we went and had a look around Meadowhall for a bit. Sheffield was a great city with lots of good shops. The only sour point was the £9 parking charge for 2 hours 3 minutes parking. Between the 3 of us, it was not so bad, but still a total rip off. I will be researching somewhere cheaper next time. After that we went to our hotel in Rotherham, checking in at around 2.30. After a short rest, I was on my way again, stopping at Hemsworth Miners Welfare and Nostell Miners Welfare football grounds. 

I had also planned in a trip to Wakefield, as there was a few shops I fancied looking at there, not least Ninja Games, a store that was supposed to have a good range of old games at good prices. But I was thwarted for the second time that day - the shop had disappeared, that said I did get a couple of old games from the local Cash Generator shop. I had time to kill so I went for a quick ha;f at The Fernandes Brewery Tap. They only had Old Rosie cider on tap, which I had had a few times before, but it was a nice place to drink, and they had lots of choice for the real ale enthusiast. After that, I went back to where I was parked at Sainsbury's and bought some chicken and other stuff to make up the £10 that I needed to get my parking for free. By then it was just after 6PM and was time to leave to pick up my mate David, who lives in nearby Liversedge and who loves football and pubs as much as me. The game was a good chance to catch up with a mate who I talk to loads online and who I had met before when going to pick up a laptop in Huddersfield when I went to watch Alfreton Town v Barnsley in pre-season. The journey took a bit longer than expected due to traffic and I got there at around 6.45. We were soon on our way, but the Sat Nav directed us to the wrong end of Cemetery Road, where the ground is located in. When I tried using another app to search for the stadium, it was another 20 minutes away. This meant we didn't get there until about half 7, meaning I didn't have much time in the club shop. There was a huge range of programmes there and I had a quick flick through but didn't find any I wanted as I only had around 5 minutes. Neither did I see any pennants, but I later read in the programme that they sell them for £1.50, sadly that was the next day so I had no way of going back. But the club were very helpful and I ordered one by post later on.

Bradford Park Avenue has lost 3-1 to Solihull Moors at the weekend, their third 3-1 defeat in a row after losing to Doncaster Rovers in the FA Cup and Stafford Rangers in the FA Trophy in the previous 2 games before that. Hinckley meanwhile, were having a rotten season - rock bottom of the table with one win all season and their latest result was an 8-0 defeat to Altrincham at the weekend. And tonight didn't get much better for them - after just 10 seconds of the game, they were picking the ball out of their net as they made the worst start possible. This was to be the story of the evening as despite Hinckley putting up a determined performance, the home side prevailed 4-0 with 2 goals apiece from Danny Holland and Tom Greaves. You can view a more detailed match report here. It was a good game overall and I had enjoyed my evening thanks to some great company. The journey back was a lot easier, and after dropping David off just before 10, I was back at my hotel in Rotherham 50 minutes later. We have already started looking at what game we can go to next time. Bradford City v Wycombe would have been great, but I have already given some mates from Hayes and Bath who will be playing that day my word that I will go, so I am hoping that one of them gets moved due to a cup competition. I have a week off in February which I plan to do a few grounds up North again, with an ever increasing number of targets, due to meeting so many decent and like-minded people.


THE HORSFALL STADIUM is not the best place to watch football, as it is shared with the local athletics club and has a running track surrounding the pitch. This is made up mainly of one big stand which is all covered and offers as good as view as you could expect from such a stadium. As mentioned previously, the club shop has a great range of programmes and old books as well as the usual club merchandise.

The Tea Bar has a decent range of stuff including chips for £2.50. By far the most I have paid at any ground, league or non-league. In their defence, they were homemade and pretty nice, but even so, still really expensive. At least I was able to get Sausage and chips for 50p extra, which wasn't so bad, as there were 3 sausages and a huge portion of chips. There was also a clubhouse at the ground, but I didn't go in, so can't vouch for what it was like. Overall though, a decent friendly club, and although it would be far from my first choice for a revisit, they are making the best of what they have and are a club with a long and interesting history.

Saturday 17 November 2012

Corby Town - Steel Park

Corby Town FC
Steel Park
Rockingham Road
NN17 2AE

01536 406640

Ground Number: 226
Saturday 17th November 2012
Corby Town 1-1 Oxford City
Blue Square North


I had wanted to go to Corby Town for quite a while. Not only had I not even been there to take pictures, let alone a game. But they also had a well-regarded programme shop, and there is nothing I like better than trawling through boxes of old programmes, looking to find some gems. Initially, I was looking at doing a midweek game, but then I noticed they were at home at the same time as Wycombe were at Northampton. I had been to Sixfields plenty of times and it was a pretty uninspiring place. And it's geographical location meant that I could drop mates off at the game, and then go to Corby. It was a win-win situation for all - they got a cheap lift and I got some help with the petrol money to try and combat the ever spiralling cost of this season. I have spent over £700 so far, and this would be my 49th game of 2012/13. On the day I was working till 11, so after getting changed and going back to Paul's, we were away by 11.30. After dropping the lads off at Sixfields at 12.30 I made my way to Corby, just over 20 miles taking me an hour. After stopping at Stewarts and Lloyds FC to take pictures of the United Counties League Team's ground, and also stopping at Aldi to get some cider for the evening, I got to Steel Park at around 1.45. After walking around the ground and trying to get into their old Rockingham Triangle ground without much success - all I got was wet feet and a load of brambles all over me for my trouble,  added to the long walk that I had to take, I went into the ground.

After paying £10 to get in and £2 for a programme, my first port of call was the club shop. Sadly, despite having a good range of programmes and books, there was nothing I needed or fancied. And I saw that pennants were on the price list as £10 large and £7 small. But when I went back later to get a picture of the club shop, the prices next to the actual pennants where £5 and £3, so my overwhelming compulsion so cover every square inch of my wall with pennants kicked in and my wallet was £3 lighter. The next place I stopped was the bar. After an annoying drive along slow-moving single carriageways, I needed a pint, and with the town being known as "Little Scotland" due to a large number of people from north of the border coming down to work in the town's steel industry, I was hoping for a nice pint of Thistly Cross Cider. Sadly, it was only Strongbow, but needs must and at £2.60 it was probably one of the cheapest I have had at the footy. I sat and watched the burning embers of the Arsenal v Spurs game on some random foreign channel, the home side winning 5-2 after Spurs had Adebayor sent off. The final stop before the game kicked off was the excellent tea bar. The prices were a bit more than you would pay in a chippy, but they had a nice range of Scottish stuff. First off I had a square sausage burger with chips and Irn Bru for £4.50. Then about 10 minutes later I went back for a Scotch Pie. I initially thought the "Little Scotland" thing was a bit of an exaggeration or something that had long died out. But practically every single person was ordering the Scottish foods and has a Scottish accent. It felt strange but nice in a way, and I'd not have believed it had I not been there myself. After getting some more pictures, I settled down for the game, choosing to spend the first half behind Oxford City keeper Matt Ingram's goal, who was on loan from Wycombe.

The game was not the best I have seen, though it did still have it's moments. Oxford City had the best of the early play, but it was Corby who had the ball in the net first. On 11 minutes, Paul Malone headed home from a corner, but it was ruled out for a foul. I didn't see much wrong myself, certainly, the player involved won the header cleanly and without impeding anyone. As the game wore on, Corby started to get a hold of the game and have the better chances. So it was slightly against the run of play that Oxford City got a penalty shortly before halftime. That was duly converted and they led 1-0 at the break, continuing their excellent run of away form. 
During the half-time interval, I discovered that the old ground that I had spent so long trying to access was just behind the dressing rooms and I could easily walk in and get the pictures I required. So I spent the time getting some nice pictures, before returning to the club shop to get that pennant. For the second half I toyed with a number of standing places before taking a seat in the decent sized stand for the rest of the game. The second half started off fairly slowly but as the game wore on both sides had chances. But Corby probably deserved a draw on the balance of play. And they sealed it 8 minutes from time when Carl Piergianni headed home after good play by the home side. The game ended without either side seriously coming close. I made a quick getaway and was back at Northampton by 5.45. After stopping to go to the toilet, I picked up my mates and after dropping them off, was back home by 7, ready to have my usual Saturday night routine of dinner, a few cans and Match Of The Day.


STEEL PARK is a new ground on the non league circuit, having been built in the last couple of years. Certainly, it is a lot better suited to football than their old athletics home.2 sides are just hard standing. There is a decent sized terrace at one end and a fairly large stand along one side, holding around 500. With today's attendance of 299, all fans can sit or stand where they want in comfort. As mentioned above, the tea bar and club shop are decent, while the bar serves it's purpose. It's quite out in the sticks, the ground that is, so a visit to the town beforehand may be an idea if you want more choice, sadly I didn't have time. I'd certainly recommend a visit here, with the Scottish connections, it's something different and unique from other places.