Wednesday 30 January 2013

Hinckley United - De Montfort Park

Hinckley United FC
De Montfort Park
Leicester Road
LE10 3DR

01455 840088
Official Website
Independent Website (much better)

Ground Number: 238
Tuesday 29th January 2013
Hinckley United 1-3 Brackley Town
Blue Square North


This blog was created in 2013, back when I didn't bother with researching club histories, so the history page is taken from the Bradford Park Avenue programme from when I saw them earlier that season. Sadly, the club was dissolved at the end of that season and split into two clubs. Hinckley AFC was established by supporters and played at Heather St Johns before moving to Ibstock United. The original clubs owners and ground owners created Leicester Road FC who play at this ground. Both currently compete in the Midland League Division 1 which sits at step 6 of the Non-League pyramid.


I had been intending to go to Hinckley for quite a long time now, after hearing about their excellent club shop, which is supposed to have a great selection of old programmes. But various postponements had thwarted my attempts so far, mainly due to the weather, but in one case, because they could only raise 8 players for their game against Bishops Stortford back in December. I had actually been to the ground back in October 2008 when on the way to Tamworth v Barrow just to take pictures. And had been told abruptly but reasonably politely that only sponsors were allowed in the ground at that time! And I had also visited their old ground at Middlefield Lane, this time on the way to a Mansfield v Wycombe game, where I found this rather amusing sign.

I had had something of a football famine over the past 2 Tuesdays with pretty much the whole of the football calendar being wiped out. I had turned to alcohol to replace the buzz of a game, firstly with my Mum's birthday and then last week with a couple of cans whilst watching Bradford City's epic route to the Carling Cup Final after beating Aston Villa over a 2 legged semi-final. But it was not as healthy as football and it didn't make the week go any quicker than it does normally. I had consoled myself for the lack of games with making future plans for games. Firstly on my week off, I had already booked a ticket for Liverpool v Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday, which would be one of only 4 grounds that I needed to complete the 92. I was thinking of doing a 7 game marathon, starting on the previous  Friday with Spennymoor v Darlington. I have several mates who support Darlo, but it was looking like I would have to go in the Spennymoor end as, despite several attempts to ask Darlington if they could post tickets over Facebook and Twitter, they are as yet too ignorant to reply. Spennymoor meanwhile replied within 15 minutes. Whether I would be doing this depended on what was going on in between, with me waiting on the result of Huddersfield v Leicester in the FA Cup (to see if Burnley v Huddersfield would go ahead) and also the TV scheduling of Manchester City v Leeds (to see if the game would be moved to the Sunday. And I was also considering doing the NCEL groundhop, the main attraction being the local derby between Bridlington Town and Scarborough Athletic, which I really fancied.

On the day I woke up with the cold that had been bugging me for the past couple of days and spent the morning writing the start of this blog post, getting stuff ready to send on eBay and listening to the BBC Non-League Show podcast. There was still some doubt if the game would be on, so I kept checking Twitter and the Hinckley United message board for any news. I had also been playing Football Manager on my iPad, with Hinckley United. I started off with 3 straight defeats, as per the form book. But had started to turn things around, and climbed to mid-table by September, even beating Colwyn Bay 8-0! It turned out to be an epic game and as I give this blog a tidy up, 6 years to the day of the game, I can reveal that I won the Premiership, Champions League and Club World Championship with them. In real life, they had been struggling, going 1-0 down in under 10 seconds the last time I had seen them at Bradford Park Avenue, eventually losing 4-0. They has only one win and one draw to their name so far, but three of those points had been deducted due to financial irregularities. This meant a pretty much nailed on relegation to the NPL for next season.The win ironically came against one of the bigger sides in the division - Boston United and to cap it all on Boston's own patch.

After killing time in the afternoon, I set off to pick Anwar up in Aylesbury at 3.50 and after stopping for petrol along the way, I was there at 4.25. The journey to Hinckley went pretty smoothly for the most part. We spent some of the journey planning future trips to Solihull Moors, Worcester City and Nuneaton Town. The only time we did hit traffic was in Hinckley itself, due to road repairs which added about 10 minutes onto the journey. I had done my research and found a local Chippy called 'Tudor Road Fish Bar' where you could park outside. Scallop and Chips were had by both of us for the very reasonable sum of £1.85. Although they weren't the best I have had, it was still nice and the portions were pretty generous. On the way to the ground, we went through Middlefield Lane which was where the old Hinckley United ground was. I couldn't see what had become of it, as it was pitch black. My earlier research also paid off when I parked on the roadside outside the ground, rather than parting with £2 to use the car park.

After arriving at the impressive stadium, we were glad to see the floodlights on and people milling around as there had been a slight doubt earlier whether the game would be on. As the fears proved unfounded, we went for a quick look around the bar before going into the ground. I didn't mind paying the £10 admission this time, as the club were having financial issues and needed all the money they could get. I took a few pictures of the ground and waited for the programmes to arrive and the club shop man to open up. The shop, as previously mentioned came with a good billing and it lived up to it with a great selection of programmes, magazines, books and other football related stuff, as well as the usual pin badges and scarves. I bought 7 fanzines and a 'You are the Ref' book all for £2.50. I must have spent about 35 minutes in there and it was pretty much time for kick off when I came out. I was going to get a picture of the pre-match lineups, but my camera batteries were dead, so I had to make do with my phone. It was nice to see a couple of people from the non-league forum that I go on, they assured me I'd get a warm welcome and they were right.

As for the game, an attendance of just 152 fans saw Brackley stroll to a fairly dominant win. Notable names from their side included former football league players Billy Turley and Jefferson Louis and they must have a budget around 10 times that of Hinckley. The visitors opened the scoring in the 24th minute when Steve Diggin made a weaving run into the box before putting the keeper on his backside and finishing neatly. It wasn't until the hour mark that Brackley scored again, despite several chances. Tom Winters scoring direct from a corner. It was Diggin again on 70 minutes, this time when home keeper Rob Peet lost the ball. He was left with a simple tap in to double the lead. At this point, it looked as if it could be a rout but Hinckley held firm and even got a goal back - Harvey Headley scoring after a home player was tripped just inside the box. Hinckley could have got another back when they came close moments later, but it was not to be. Overall they had not looked too bad at the back and in midfield, it was just the lack of anything up front that meant that every time they tried to create a chance, the ball was won back by Brackley and putting the home side back under pressure again.

It's a sad state of affairs for Hinckley. Despite having a very good ground and a decent catchment area, they could only manage a little over 100 fans of their own for the game. They might be playing poorly and not appeal to many in the town but it's a vicious circle - until they get more people through the gate they will not have the funds to attract new players. I had enjoyed another football night out After dropping Anwar off, about 15 minutes later than expected due to those infamous invisible workmen on the M1 I was back home by 11.40. I wasn't feeling sleepy at all and in the end only got 2 hours sleep which left me feeling very groggy the next day.


DE MONTFORT PARK is an excellent non-league ground, that would not be out of place in the Football League with a few more seats. For those wishing to sit, there is a seated stand holding around 500 fans with executive facilities at the back. It costs £2 extra to sit here, but like the rest of the ground offers good views. Behind one goal there is a large covered terrace with around 1200 capacity and this is matched by a similar side terrace holding around the same amount. Finally, there is an open end with some small steps of terracing

The club shop as mentioned before is excellent, stocking thousands of books, programmes and other bits from teams all over the globe. There is also an impressive range of pennants and scarves on display. 
Other facilities include a large bar which has a decent range of drinks. The tea bar looked good also, but I didn't get anything from there. Sadly, the ground is no longer the home of Hinckley United, the club went bust in 2013, reformed by supporters as Hinckley AFC soon after. The ground's owners also created a new club, Leicester Road FC, both teams competing in the step 6 Midland Division 1, a sad state of affairs for such a decent ground and former club.

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Daventry Town - Communications Park

Daventry Town FC
Communications Park
Browns Road
NV11 4NS

01327 311239

Ground Number: 237
Tuesday 8th January 2013
Daventry Town 0-0 Aylesbury
Southern League - Division 1 Central


For my first new ground of 2013, I was off to Daventry Town v Aylesbury, again with my mate Anwar. He is actually an Aylesbury fan so it would be nice to see a team that I could get some extra knowledge of. I already knew of 2 of their players - former Wycombe striker Craig Faulconbridge who came to the club with a big reputation after being top scorer at Wrexham the previous season. But he never lived up to his big billing and eventually departed after a bad run of injuries. The other was James Faulkner, also for Wycombe, but only as a youth teamer and occasional reserve team player. I had actually been to Daventry's ground before when on the way to a Wycombe game and had been impressed with the ground. It was also a good game to go to, as after today, I would only have 4 grounds to tick to complete the Southern League Division 1 Central. My finances had received a boost with a nice profit on the Groundtastic magazines that I had bought at Yeovil, but that was knocked off with getting caught speeding on the way back from Hornchurch which meant I would have to pay the best part of £100 for a 'driver improvement course' with a sizeable commission going towards the Thames Valley Police 2013 Christmas party I would imagine. But it was my own fault really, I knew the camera was there and just kept pace with the car in front, being clocked at 35MPH, the very lowest speed that they can 'do' you for.

As per usual, I was off on Tuesday. I had been looking forward to getting my new TV but sadly had relied on my parents being in to receive it as it was due to come when I was out at the game. But they forgot and had plans elsewhere, so I had to reschedule it. I could have cancelled tonight, but was looking forward to it and was in no rush anyway as the TV I have at the moment is still doing its job well enough. I spent the day getting parcels ready to send on eBay, going down the post office at lunchtime before going down to Wycombe for a quick pint with a mate from work. I had planned to meet Anwar just after 5, so after coming back home and chilling for a bit, I set off at 4.30, getting to Aylesbury bang on time. The journey to Daventry took just under an hour and a half, with traffic and slow-moving roads. We got to the ground about 6.45 and so with time to spare, headed off into town to find something to eat. We found a Chinese and got a small bag of chips each, which in truth were pretty massive and filled us right up. They were good chips too, only hindered by a complete lack of condiments. After eating them, we went back to the ground and got in about 7.10, each getting of only eight programmes that they had printed. At £1 it was just about the only thing that came cheap, as the entry, the club shop and the tea bar were all a bit more than you would expect at this level. We spent pre-game chatting to some Aylesbury fans, getting some pictures and checking my phone, though the data signal was a bit iffy, especially for a club that had loads of mobile phones advertised, thanks to one of the clubs sponsors.

Though the game finished 0-0, it was a fairly decent game to watch. Daventry dominated, though both sides struggled to create chances despite lots of attacking intent on a damp pitch. Daventry hit the woodwork twice from open play, and then again from the penalty spot after a player was felled in the area. Aylesbury keeper Simeon Charles played a blinder, though ex Wanderer Craig Faulconbridge looked like the years had caught up with him, making a few errors. The visitors actually had a chance to take all 3 points late on, Leon Osie going down in the area, but the appeals were waved away and the game stayed goalless. 
After the game, it was a much quicker journey home, dropping off Anwar at 10.50, and getting back myself 25 minutes later. Though I was wide awake and didn't manage to get to sleep till 2am, not good when you have to wake up at 4.


COMMUNICATIONS PARK is a typical new non-league ground with just the metal style stands for cover. In this case, a small bit of cover on the far side and 2 smart looking stands with yellow seats either side of the clubhouse. The rest is open standing. 
Talking of the clubhouse, it is as smart and as modern as you will find anywhere and has the usual range of drinks you would expect to find in such a place. The ground is pretty isolated, so it's probably your only choice for a drink nearby. This also houses the club shop, and although there were no old programmes, there was a good range of merchandise, albeit expensive, for example, a scarf cost £10.

Friday 4 January 2013

The Wycombe Wanderer Awards (Review of 2012)

Well we've said goodbye to 2012. During the year I managed to see 101 games and visit 51 new grounds for a game. I'd guess this lot has cost me up to £2000 (the 63 so far in 2012/13 season have cost me £1061, working out at £16.84 a game including tickets, travel, spending in club shops and food and drink. Some games have been worth it, some haven't but overall I have had good value more often than not. The costs have been helped out through me getting a free season ticket for Wycombe Wanderers by working for them collection for the clubs lottery scheme. I am also hoping to make a tidy profit on the 40 groundtastic magazines that I bought for £6 (job lot) at Yeovil. They tend to go for around the £3 mark each, even for the common issues. This will all go back into my football fund and should help bring or keep the costs down. I am setting myself a target for spending for the 2012/13 season, hoping to go on a trip to Sweden with other groundhoppers. This and more aims will be listed at the bottom of this page.

Ground 205 - 16/7/12 - Hitchin Town 0-1 Luton Town - Friendly

TOP FIELD is a cracking little football ground, steeped in tradition and unique - quite unlike any other ground I have visited. Along one side is a largish stand, holding around 500 people. Then to the left of that, is a large uncovered terrace, one of the bigger ones in non league football. These 2 stands alone make it well worth a visit, but the other 2 sides are even more interesting and unique. They are wooden terracing (or they could be used as benches should people wish to sit) They are pretty steep in height and so offer a good view, and a lot of them are covered too to protect from the elements. In my opinion, a must for all groundhoppers and indeed football fans.

Honourable mentions: Stourbridge's Amblecote, Hednesford Town's Keys Park, Dartford's Princes Park and Cardiff City's St David's Stadium

Least favourite new grounds - Bradford Park Avenue's Horsfall Stadium and Hornchurch's Hornchurch Stadium

Ryman League Division 1 South - Playoff Semi Final - 01/05/12

A real epic of a game, swang this way and that and ended up as a pulsating 4-4 draw before a penalty shoot out decided that Bognor Regis Town would go through to the playoff final where they beat Dulwich Hamlet to seal promotion to the Ryman Premier.

Honourable mentions: So many - Abingdon Town 3-3 Windsor, Wycombe Wanderers 5-0 Hartlepool United, Wycombe Wanderers 3-4 Notts County and Woodford United 4-5 Leighton Town.

Worst games: Wycombe Wanderers 0-3 Fulham, Wycombe Wanderers 0-1 AFC Wimbledon, Wingate and Finchley 2-0 Wycombe Wanderers U19, Sheffield United 3-0 Wycombe Wanderers, Stoke City 0-2 Swansea City and AFC Telford 0-0 Grimsby Town.


So much competition in this category, as part of my motivation for visiting a new ground was a good club shop. My criteria is: A good selection of programmes and books at good prices. Leamington's excellent shop takes the award. I got a Merthyr Tydfil Pennant for 50p with a free Keyring, several books and a load of fanzines for a bargain price. Worthy of special mention are Yeovil where I got 40 issues of Groundtastic magazine for £6 and pennants at Guiseley and Bradford Park Avenue (at £1 and £1.50 respectively) 

Other honourable mentions to: Stourbridge, Dartford, Curzon Ashton and Alfreton Town and Bedford Town all of which were mind blowing.

Worst was Newport County - Sky high prices and full of rugby tat (though to be fair the second point is  not their fault considering they are lodging with Newport Gwent Dragons, which is a lot better than their old arrangement at the athletics stadium.


A real great selection of good value and well cooked food. The highlight of which was delicious bread pudding, still warm from being freshly cooked at just 50p a slice.

Honourable mentions to Alfreton Town, Brackley Town, Guiseley, Swindon Supermarine, Leamington and Corby Town.

Worst: Plenty of bad ones, seemed to be the general rule in the league. But at least they didn't lie like Beaconsfield SYCOB/Slough who said "You're too late, there's no chips" despite me being clearly able to see some through the serving hatch.


Another closely fought one, but Swindon Supermarine edge it. When I went to their pre season game at Witney Town, they gave me free cakes and welcomed me with open arms. And were just as friendly when I went to see them at their home game against Shortwood United

Honourable mentions to Sheffield Wednesday who are a fantastic bunch of fans, and I have made several good friends from there. Grimsby too in sheer size, though they do have a couple of plonkers that thankfully I have only heard about.

Worst is a very difficult one to choose, have never met any really bad fans. But Sheffield United's constant whinging about a tackle 12 years ago by Gareth Ainsworth gets a bit tiresome. And if I didn't know my mate Jordan, I might think the whole lot of em where like that, rather than just an odd few.


I had met Sam randomly through Facebook, I can't remember how. He is a Peterborough fan and we chatted loads about our teams, eventually arranging a meet near his. And we had a lot of fun taking the mick out of the tubby Aylesbury keeper, who loved the banter and took it in good spirit. A real top lad and he introduced me to Kyle who was also great but supports the wrong WWFC!

Honourable mentions to: everyone else who agreed a meet, have enjoyed them all, thanks lads! And this is the only category that hasn't got a least favourite, as everyone was spot on.


Another hotly contested category, as pretty much every club gave a great welcome. But the best was at Curzon Ashton, where I met so many friendly people from the club shop, to the tea bar, to the turnstiles and the press box. I wasn't planning on going originally, but the Man City game got cancelled, costing me a tick off of the 92. But I am glad it did in many ways.

Worst was Chelsea, horrible club that cost me going to Man City by winning in the Cup. And they employ John Terry and Ashley Cole, who really are an example of where the game has gone morally wrong at the top level. And add to that the nastiness over the Mark Clattenburg situation and I don't see much competition elsewhere.


As a rule I am not a fan of club bars and generally avoid drinking there as they offer a very poor range of drinks and are often expensive. Of the few that I did go in, Leamington's was smart and modern with big screen TV's. And the Stowford Press cider that they did was nice and not too common, though I have had it before. And the prices were OK

Worst by a long way is the Vere Suite at Wycombe. Throughout 2012, the only cider they offered was poxy 330ML bottles of Magners. And until the trust took over in the summer, it was highly overpriced. I wouldn't have gone in there, had it not been that my dad got my drink in return for driving to the game. Thanks to the trust, the prices have come down slightly and on 1st January 2013 they started doing pint bottles of Magners. Still mediocre, but a step forward.


This brilliant pub was a great find before my recent trip to see Rugby Town v Royston Town. It was found using the excellent CAMRA (campaign for real ale) app that I had on my phone. It had 12 real ciders and probably around 200 beers including bottles.Other great pubs have included: The Bulls Head - Burslem, The Hops Belgian Bar - Crewe, The Wellington - Birmingham and The Fighting Cock, Bradford.

No worst pubs, as if they are not up to standard, I won't bother with them. My mates all like Wetherspoons, which is fairly reasonable and is far and away the best of the chains for drinks.


Though he may not have had his best times at Wycombe in 2012, thanks to injuries, Bloomfield always gives 100% for the cause and was mucked around a lot in the summer with his contract. He is still only on a 1 year comtract despite turning in good performances since he joined the club in 2003. Contrast that to Jo Kuffour who after being at the club a few weeks was given a 2 year deal, and has not done much since. Not Kuffour's fault of course, but I certainly hope that Bloomfield is in the clubs long term plans.

The worst has to be John Terry, no contest. After the disgusting abuse he shouted at Anton Ferdinand, 2012 was the year of his court case. He got off scot free by the courts and the FA only gave minimal punishment in a separate judgement. If a fan had shouted what he did, they would be banned for a very long time. In fact I know of cases where fans have said or done something far less serious, and have been hit with heavy bans.



It gives me great pleasure to nominate my own club for the best programme. Well presented, printed on nice quality paper and full of good content, it is the best I have seen in 2012. I only bought 1 issue, as I do from every ground I go to, but it's worth the £3 asking price if you are a collector or buy a programme for each game.

Special mention to the London Senior Cup final, which gave out programmes for free, and a decent quality publication it was too. And to Biggleswade Town - only a few clubs put out a programme for a single pound and theirs was the best of that bunch, with nice design and a home made feel, and as much to read as most other programmes.

Worst was Aylesbury United for not producing one due to issues with the printers. But they still charged the same entrance price as they did when a programme was included and I had to work very hard to procure a team sheet as a paper record of my trip to Leighton Town, where they groundshare.


An easy one this, hats off to Canvey Island for offering free admission to their game v Bognor Regis Town on Non League Day. This offer was open to all season ticket holder of other clubs, as well as the armed forces. It made my decision of where to spend the day a bit easier. And everything else was reasonably priced at the ground too.

Worst value goes to Wingate and Finchley who had the cheek to charge £10 for a friendly v Wycombe's youth and trialists. It was one of the dullest games I have seen too. At least the ground was a good one and every one was friendly there, but I won't be rushing to go back there.


To complete the 92. I am currently 4 short, with Liverpool, Man City, Sunderland and Burnley to do. I want to do this before the end of the current season

To complete the Blue Square Premier. Just Barrow, Hyde, Nuneaton and Southport to do here.

To complete the Blue Sqaure South. Currently Weston Super-Mare and Truro to do. I will probably wait until Truro go down, as it's a huge and expensive journey.

To complete the Southern League Division 1 Central. Chertsey, Daventry, Fleet, Guildford and Royston should be fairly easy to complete.

To go on the annual groundhopping trip to Sweden. This is where you see 7 matches in the space of a weekend. It will give me a chance to discover a new country.

To accomplish the above, keep my season spending to under £2000. I am planning on 100 games approx, with 2 a week until the end of the season, sometimes more. This would give me a budget of £20 per game, helped by home Wycombe games costing me only petrol as I get a freebie season ticket for working on the lottery. Ideally it won't be much over £2K with Sweden in as well. This figure includes, entry, travel and all matchday spending.

To visit as many good new pubs as I can, and drink as many new ciders as possible. And to keep an accurate record of this.

To meet more new people, as all my meets so far have been excellent, and the social side is the best part of football.

To get all the programmes that I need to have one from each ground I have seen a game at. Currently need around 40

To see games at grounds that I have been meaning to for ages. Altrincham, Hinckley, Worcester, Cambridge City, Carshalton, Worksop and Merthyr Town are my top targets.