Tuesday 17 October 2023

Arlesey Town - New Lamb Meadow

Arlesey Town FC
New Lamb Meadow
Hitchin Road
SG15 6RS

01462 734504
Official Website

Ground Number: 257
Tuesday 26th March 2013
Arlesey Town 3-0 Redditch United
Southern League Premier Division


The club was established in 1891 and played in the Biggleswade & District League. In 1922, they joined the Bedfordshire County League. They later joined the South Midlands League and were Division 2 champions in 1930, 1932 & 1936. Following the end of the Second World War, Arlsesy spent five seasons in the South Midlands Premier and were champions in 1951 & 1952. They then spent four seasons in the Parthenon League and two in the London League before returning to the South Midlands League. They alternated between the Premier and Division 1 for their first four seasons before settling in the Premier Division. They were runners-up in 1969 behind Addmult and 1982 behind Pirton. Arlesey then moved to the United Counties League where they were champions in 1985. The club would rejoin the South Midlands League in 1992 and were Premier Division champions in 1995 & 1996. The league merged with the Spartan League to become the Spartan South Midlands League in 1997. Arlesey were Premier Division champions in 2000, then joined the Isthmian Division 3 which they won in their first season. They finished 4th in Isthmian Division 2 the following year before being moved to Division 1 North. They alternated between the Southern & Isthmian League for a while but never really challenged for that title until 2011 when they won the Southern League Division 1 Central. Four seasons were spent in the Southern Premier including a record 6th place finish in 2013. Arslesey were relegated back to Division 1 Central in 2015 and then into the Spartan South Midlands Premier in 2018 where they remain to this day.

Arlesey Town reached the FA Cup 1st Round in 2011 - losing 3-1 at Salisbury City and in 2012 losing 3-0 at Coventry City. The former run was notable as it included a 2-1 victory over Forest Green Rovers in the 4th Qualifying Round. The FA Trophy 5th Round was reached in 2004 and included wins over Boreham Wood, Hayes and Dagenham & Redbridge before a 3-0 defeat at Exeter City. In 1995, the FA Vase was won at Wembley Stadium. Arlesey Town beat Hoddesdon Town, Boston Town, Barnstaple Town, Diss Town, Cammell Laird and Raunds Town before a 2-1 win over Oxford City in the final. Local honours include two Bedfordshire Premier Cups, five Bedfordshire Senior Cups, four Hinchingbrooke Cups and two Biggleseade Knockout Cups. In the South Midlands League they won the Challenge Trophy in 1980, the Premier Shield in 1965, the Premier Division Cup in 1994 and the Floodlit Cup in 1991. Their record attendance of 2,000 came for a 1906 Bedfordshire Senior Cup game against Luton Town Reserves. Famous players to play for the club include Nathan Abbey, Zema Abbey, Drewe Broughton, Sol Davis, Liam George, Dave Kitson, Jack Midson, Mark Osborn and Martin Williams. In addition, former QPR defender Rufus Brevett also managed the side. The town of Arlesey has a population of 6,000 and is located in Bedfordshire, near the Herts border.


The club was originally formed in 1905 as Baldock FC. They joined the Herts County League Northern Division and enjoyed a series of mid-table finishes up until football stopped for World War 1. Following the resumption of the game, they were league winners and runners-up in the pool between the three divisional winners. In 1921, the club changed its name to Baldock Town.  In 1925, the league disbanded and the club joined the Bedfordshire & District County League, winning Division 1 in 1928. The league was soon renamed the South Midlands League and following the Second World War, Baldock Town spent a single season back in the Hertfordshire League before returning to the SML. They won Division 2 in 1948 and then Division 1 in 1950 to win promotion to the Premier Division. A short spell was spent in the Parthenon & London leagues at the end of the 1950s before they returned to the SML in 1963. They were Premier Division champions here in 1966, 1968 and 1970. Baldock Town would remain here until 1983 when they switched to the United Counties League. After a 3rd place finish in 1986, they were runners-up the following year to Potton United. This earned them a promotion to the Southern League Southern Division. They were runners-up behind Salisbury City in 1995, going up to the Premier Division. In 1996, they recorded their highest-ever finish of 18th, at the time, this league was at step 2. After being relegated the next season, they would return to the Southern League's feeder divisions. Despite a 5th place finish in 2001, the club folded over the summer and left the Southern League.

After a two-year abeyance, the club reformed in 2003. They played at various basic venues during this period. They played in the North Herts League initially, progressing to the Herts Senior County League. They were Division 1 champions in 2008, after which they moved to the Herts FA ground in Letchworth. They were known as Baldock Town Letchworth between 2008 and  2011 before moving home to their old ground at Norton Road, now known as the North Herts Arena. They were Premier Division champions in 2012 but were denied promotion as the perimeter fence and 3G pitch were deemed insufficient. The following year, they moved to groundshare at Hitchin Town and have since shared at Stotfold and Arlesey. Their reserves still play at the arena. In 2013, they were runners-up to Met Police Bushey and won promotion to the Spartan South Midlands League. They were Division 1 runners-up to Southall in 2018 and have been in the Premier Division ever since. Their best finish since came in 2019 when they finished 5th.

The original club reached the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round twice - in 1991 and 1999. The latter of those saw them miss out on games against league sides Chesterfield and Preston North End. They also played Wycombe Wanderers in a 1989 tie. Since reforming, their best effort has been the 2nd Qualifying Round. The original club reached the 2nd Round of the FA Trophy in 1999 and the 4th Round of the FA Vase in 1975. The latter was notable for being the FA Vase's debut season. Bladock needed three attempts to beat Stotfold and four to beat Wooton Blue Cross before losing to eventual winners Hoddesdon Town. Since reforming, Baldock have reached the 2nd Round of the FA Vase four times.

Locally, the old club won the Herts Charity Cup in 1992, the Herts Charity Shield in 1958 & 1970, the Wallspan Floodlit Cup in 1986, the Hinchingbrooke Cup in 1987, the TSI Floodlit Cup in 1989, the Woolwich BS Cup in 1984 and the Herts Intermediate Cup in 1987. The record attendance of 1,200 came against Arsenal for the opening of their floodlights in 1984. Their most famous former player is Kevin Phillips who was Supporters players of the year in 1992 before moving on to Watford and going on to start for England. Other players to have turned out for the club include Zema Abbey striker for Wycombe and others), Ian Allinson (St Albans City manager), Kelly Haag (Fulham striker), Christian Hyslop (Colchester left back) and Gary Roberts (Brentford winger). According to the 1993 Non-League directory, Iain Dowie played for them, but I can find no evidence to support this. Baldock is a historic market town, located in North Hertfordshire. It has a population of around 10,000.


After Saturday's restricted choices, games-wise, I was looking forward to another game tonight. Again, the choice would be slimmed down, due to the England game being tonight. I was originally planning to go to Solihull Moors v Harrogate Town tonight, but that had been moved to tomorrow. I would have Anwar back as my fellow traveller tonight, after a bit of a break, and was looking forward to the help with the fuel costs and the good company. I had the day off as usual and spent the day relaxing. I left around 4, planning to go to Aylesbury to get some food shopping and other bits before meeting Anwar at his work at 5.30 in Wingrave. I also had a good pub planned for tonight, the Engineers Arms in Henlow, around 10 minutes from the ground. Everything went according to plan and we were in Henlow at 6.40PM. My app came up trumps again, and this was one of the best pubs yet. With 7 ciders on, 6 of which were new to me, I had plenty of choice. I could only have one though, due to lack of time and me driving so I opted for a half of Bollhayes Cider, very pleasant at 6%, which is on the lower end of the ABV rate for real cider. Very nice it was too. I also saw that they did various food, including pizzas for a fiver, so I think I will be returning at some point in the future when we are in this neck of the woods. After that, we went in search of food, going to the Henlow Chippy, which had mainly poor reviews on Google. It was OK, pretty mediocre, but at least it filled a hole. And service was quick too, which with kick-off approaching was essential. Decent chippies down south a few and far between anyway, so it doesn't really come as a surprise.

We got to the ground around 7.30, and on one of the coldest nights of the season, it was not the best time to realise that I had left my coat at home! Luckily my fleece was pretty good, but it was still gonna be a cold night. After paying to get in and getting a programme, there were still only 14 in the ground, with under 10 minutes to go till kick-off! The attendance was announced later as 80, which was highly optimistic, unless they were counting the officials and players. We walked round taking pictures of the ground, before getting a much-needed hot drink and sitting in the main stand. Both teams' form had been stuttering of late, and while Arlesey were in a mid-table placing, with a slight chance of the playoffs if they put a good run together, Redditch were struggling at the bottom of the table. They were one point clear of the final relegation place, with Bedworth below them. They had only been relegated to the Southern Premier from the Conference North a couple of seasons ago as well. Arlesey had a former Wycombe player in Zema Abbey as manager, the much-travelled striker having an unremarkable 5 game spell at the club under Tony Adams, where he failed to hit the back of the net. He is doing a better job of management however, taking Arlesey, one of the smaller clubs in the league to a respectable league position and also on an FA Cup run which resulted in some much-welcome revenue, as well as a good showing away to Coventry at the Ricoh Arena, where they played a lot better than the 0-3  scoreline suggested. He is assisted by his brother Nathan, the former Luton Town keeper, who is still playing for the team in a dual role.

The first half was completely dominated by the home side, with Redditch hardly getting a sniff of the action and looking like relegation certainties. Arlesey took the lead on 17 minutes - Hibbert heading in a Roberts corner. The lead was doubled just before half-time when Prosper crossed for Dillion to head past Redditch keeper Bradley Catlow. The Arlesey Twitter confidently predicted the game was over at this point, as they should have had a lot better. Even though 2-0 can be a dangerous lead, this proved to be the case. Redditch were a little bit better in the second half, having some chances, but Arlesey were still well on top. The home side got their third and final goal of the night on 54 minutes as Aston Goss got clear of the defence and finished smartly past the keeper. We left the ground just before 9.50 and were back in Aylesbury in around an hour, with me getting home at 11.10. As usual, I didn't want to go to sleep and spent a while looking on various places on the net, before watching that night's Wheeler Dealers, getting to bed at 1am, with the usual effects the next day that having only 3 hours sleep causes.

7-2 v Shefford Town & Campton, SSML Prem - 17/10/03

I had been fancying a revisit to Arlsey for a while. The ideal situation would have been a Baldock FA Cup game on a Friday night, though they always seemed to plump for Sunday when their games clashed with Arlesey. The opportunity finally came when I was a bit stuck for games. Due to the England game and other factors, there were very few games and with others off to Chesham United v Braintree Town in an FA Cup replay, I took the opportunity for a fairly local revisit. I'd always wanted to visit Baldock Town at their old ground at Norton Road and I thought the opportunity had come last season. I spent ages researching the club's history only to discover that the game was being played at a local leisure centre. I didn't fancy it at the time but now they play in the Herts Senior County Premier, I reckon I will get around to it. For now, though, they play at Arlesey Town, around 4.5 miles away and I could use some of my work on this entry.
Since my last game at Devizes, Sunday was its usual slog. It had not started well with me having to scrape ice off my car for the first time in months and discovering I needed a new tyre. In fact, that became two new tyres on Monday when I went to get them checked and discovered that another one had low tread as well as a lump in the wall of the other. The day of the game came and it was my usual walk down Wycombe and back. I then came back and had lunch before spending the afternoon doing some work on my blog. With Futbology adding step 7, I decided to do the same to my blog. Though with 48 leagues at this level, it was a mammoth task. I reckon it'll take some time to do. I went out just after 3.30 to get my tyres done, the heavy traffic meant that just over five miles took 40 minutes. It took a while and then another frustrating journey home but I was glad it was done. I had dinner before leaving at 6, delays on the M1 meant I didn't arrive until 7.20. It was more of a low-key affair this time, but the attendance was 124, nearly 40 more than when I went to see Arlesey two levels higher. That said, it was up against an important England game, making it even more impressive. Entry was £8, standard for this level now and card payment was available.
Baldock Town were 11th in the league whilst Shefford Town & Campton were 19th. The hosts were in disappointing form and had lost 3-1 on Saturday to leaders St Panteleimon. They'd also lost 5-1 at Leverstock Green and 6-1 to FC Romania. Their sole win in the last four had come when they won 3-2 at London Lions. Though Shefford Town & Campton had beaten Rushden & Higham 4-2 in the FA Vase recently, they'd not won in seven league games. On Saturday they'd had a decent 2-2 draw against Dunstable Town. The hosts started brightly and they took the lead on three minutes, BJ Christie getting on the end of Newman Carney's left-sided cross. On 13 minutes, it was 2-0, a little bit of pinball in the area after Shefford failed to clear their lines and it was left to Christie to poke home for his second of the game. The visitors struck back immediately with a superb goal, Callum Mullins finding the top left corner from 35 yards. It was turning into an excellent open game and both sides came close in the next few minutes. Baldock restored their two-goal lead on 23 minutes, a low drive into the bottom right corner by Flavius Drescanu. Baldock looked the most likely to score and only a brave save from the visiting keeper, for which he needed treatment, prevented another chance. Just before halftime, a left-sided corner was headed home by Dempsey Thomas. The second half started as the first had finished with a Brandon Carney header from a cross extending Baldock's lead to 5-1 on 49 minutes. On 67 minutes there was a glimmer of hope for Shefford Town and Campton as they pulled one back following a spell of decent play. It was pretty scrappy but they all count. It didn't look as if it would alter the direction of the result. However, a Baldock player was sin-binned for something he said to the referee and then the number 6 was sin-binned for having a moan to the linesman about the decision. Towards the end, the visitors came close to pulling another back. A header forced a great save out of the Baldock keeper but the rebound was blasted over. They went straight up the other end and Archie O'Brien curled home a superb shot from range on 87 minutes to make it 6-2 and then thumped the bar with another great shot less than a minute later. In injury time they made it 7-2, a superb volley from outside the area by Harry Dollimore.

I'd been tempted by some chips at half-time and the portion looked huge for £2. Other decent value options were available. However, having had a fair bit already today, I resisted temptation. Overall, the ground had not changed much, aside from some parts looking a little tired. It was a super ground for the level though, having hosted Southern Premier football. The bar was very smart too. It had been a clear and deserved victory for Baldock Town and I left just after 9.45 after a fair bit of added time. There had been some notable results on the night. San Marino very nearly held Denmark to a draw with the Danes squeezing through 2-1. England came from behind to beat Italy. In the FA Cup, Sheppey United beat Billericay Town to become the third step 4 side to get through to the 1st Round. By the time I'd got home, another giant killing had happened not too far away as Southern Premier side Chesham United beat Braintree Town from the level above.I stayed up for a bit typing my blog before watching TV in bed.

THE ARMADILLO STADIUM is a neat modern stadium with a capacity of just under 3000. The main stand on the clubhouse side holds around 200 and is raised up, so as to offer a better view. Opposite is covered standing, holding around 500, though part of that has been converted to seating, presumably to comply with ground grading regulations. There is an uncovered terrace to the right, whilst the remaining area is hard-standing. The warm bar was most welcoming on a cold night, and although there was nothing special on the cider front, it was nicely decorated and had a big screen TV showing the England game. There was no club shop that I could see, though you could get a limited range online. The tea bar was decent, and although I didn't eat anything, the soup and the Bovril were spot on and amongst the best value I have had this season.


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