Tuesday 27 August 2013

Hyde FC - Ewen Fields

Hyde FC
Ewen Fields
Walker Lane
SK14 5PL

0161 3677273

Ground Number: 292
Monday 26th August 2013
Hyde 0-1 Grimsby Town
Skrill Premier


For the second part of my bank holiday double, I was off to Hyde v Grimsby. In fact, this was the whole reason that I was up here, and it was pure luck that I managed to squeeze 2 games in, owing to the fact that the game had been moved for BT Sport. I had, in fact, planning this since the day the Conference fixtures came out. I had 3 grounds left to do in the Conference and was looking to do these with Grimsby if possible. It's funny how things work out. I used to get so fed up with going to Grimsby year after year. This was back in the day when I did every single Wycombe game, home and away for 7 years. Therefore I was 'forced' to make the trip up to Blundell Park year on year as they followed us around the divisions. I was not as adventurous then, as I was without the comfort of Google maps on my phone. After missing a coach home from Brentford one year, I was concerned about going too far in case I got lost. So I only ever tried the nearest chippy, and the nearest pub, both of which invariably disappointed. And there was not the information out there to make a more informed decision either. Another way that technology has transformed away days is social networking - Facebook and Twitter was how I met a few Grimsby fans. It's ironic, but after wishing the trips to Grimsby away and indeed missing our last visit there as I had stopped my 'run' I had been for the past 2 years wishing for us to be paired together in the cup or for us to be in the same league.

Of those trips to Blundell Park, the highlight has to be when we won 1-0 back in 2005 to send us top of the league. We were under John Gorman's stewardship at the time and were playing fantastic football, branded by many as 'Gormania'. The home fans were buzzing, they were going well and were right up there with us at the top of the table. They also had a huge game with Spurs in the League Cup coming up and supporters had to turn up to this game too, to stand a chance of getting a ticket to their big cup tie. As a result, they had more fans than usual and Wycombe fans were given just a small corner, instead of our usual end. Tommy Mooney was the man that did the damage as we saw out a tough game to top the table at the final whistle. And since then I had seen Grimsby a few times with me lending my support to them for the day. First of all in April 2012 when I met brothers John and Tom during the 0-0 draw at AFC Telford. Then the following season in September I met William at Newport County, another 0-0 for the Mariners. Then I met him again as we travelled to see them draw 1-1 with Rotherham reserves at Parkgate's ground, we also went to another game at Barton Town Old Boys later that night. It was a really enjoyable day and the time that I decided to really step up my efforts to tie in my groundhopping with seeing the Mariners play.

As for the home side, I had not had much experience of seeing them play. I had been to the ground to take pictures back in around 2008. I had been given the typically friendly Lancashire welcome as I visited a few grounds around the area. Since my visit they had had their ground turned blue by Man City as they use it for their base for reserve and youth teams. They had dropped the United name too but had stopped short of changing the kit blue and changing their name to City. Some may consider it as a sellout, but the money they had got from the deal allowed them to gain promotion from the Conference North and enjoyed a solid first season in the Premier. As for on the field, I had not seen them play. They had however halted Wycombe's run to a trophy before I started getting into football. Back in 1988, they beat Wycombe 1-0 in an FA Trophy Quarter Final, the game being played on an artificial pitch. They went on to lose to Telford in the Semi Final, who in turn went on to beat Macclesfield in the final at Wembley to lift the trophy.

I had left Mossley as soon as the final whistle sounded it and made slow progress towards Hyde, thanks to busy traffic and a set of roadworks. I got there just after 5.15 and chucked my car down the nearest empty road that I could find. I then tried to amble my way to the ground as I had no idea where the away supporters were supposed to go. I soon found the ground after a couple of wrong turns and a friendly local pointed me in the direction of the visitors' entrance. Little did I know but my mates were behind me as I ran and rushed my way through the turnstile and so right on kick off we met and decided where to stand. On getting into the ground I was surprised to find how empty it was. I was expecting a massive support from Grimsby and a struggle to get near my mates, but the stands were empty. In the end, the attendance was given as an entirely believable 782, with a highly dubious 272 being classified as away fans - it seemed a whole lot more from them. We went behind the goal first half and to be honest, the view wasn't great. The terrace was quite a long way back from the pitch and there was netting draped down over the front of the stand to make the view even worse. For the second half, we stood along the side and the view was a lot better. We had some banter with the linesman too and celebrated Grimsby's winner which came from Alex Rodman in the second half.


EWEN FIELDS is one of the smaller grounds in the Conference but is smart and modern. Three and a half sides are covered terracing with the views being good apart from the one down the far end. And even then it's not the worst view you could get at a football ground. The seated stand holds around 530, whilst the ground overall holds just over 4000 people.

Mossley - Seel Park

Mossley FC
Seel Park
Market Street

01457 832369

Ground Number: 290
Monday 26th August 2013
Mossley 2-3 Curzon Ashton
NPL D1 North


The club was formed in 1903 and played friendlies and in local leagues in their formative years. In 1919 they would join the Cheshire League, finishing as runners-up twice before joining the Northern Premier League in 1972. Whilst the league was just a single tier, they were champions twice and runners-up a further three times. In 1987 the league would expand and Mossley would remain in the Premier Division until 1993 when they finished second bottom. Relegation to Division 1 did not improve fortunes and within two seasons they suffered a further demotion, this time to the North West Counties League. This finally saw an upturn in results, but they'd have to wait until 2003 to win promotion back, this time as runners-up to Clitheroe. Since then, aside from a sole season in the NPL Premier, they have remained in the second tier, last making a playoff bid in 2013 where they finished 5th, only to lose 1-0 to Cammell Laird in the semi finals.

There have been a couple of notable runs in the FA Cup, with Mossley most notably in the 1949/50 season when they reached the 2nd Round. Ashton United, Altrincham, Northwich Victoria, Buxton, Droylesden, Runcorn & Witton Albion were beaten before defeat to Nuneaton Borough after a replay. They repeated the trick again in 1980, beating Crewe Alexandra before losing 3-1 to Mansfield Town. Mossley reached the 1980 FA Trophy Final, only to lose 2-1 to Dagenham at Wembley Stadium. In the FA Vase the club have three Quarter Final appearances to their name. A plethora of local cups have won, as well as the Manchester Premier Cup seven times, the Ashton Challenge Cup on nine occasions, the Manchester Intermediate Cup three times and the Manchester Senior Cup twice. The record attendance of 6,640 came in 1946 for a local derby against Stalybridge Celtic whilst the biggest win, 9-0 against Urmston came the following year. There have been a number of notable players for Mossley but the one standout name in the dugout was Howard Wilkinson who managed the club during the 1976/77 season.


Today would be 2 games in one day. First up was Mossley, a ground I had wanted to visit for ages, after going there randomly on a Sunday on the way back from a weekend away. They were really friendly and showed me around the boardroom and some of the trophies that they had won down the years. It was also a classic old ground with some nice scenery all around, so I was really looking forward to it.

Today's opponents were Curzon Ashton, who I had seen around a year and a half ago at their own ground were flying after a perfect start to the season. They had won 3 out of 3. They were another really friendly club, and it was a great night out when I'd visited the previous season. I had also seen them play at New Mills last season and had met a few people from there, one of whom was their manager John Flanagan's son Aaron, who I chat to on Facebook and Twitter. Mossley meanwhile, were still looking for their first win of the season - they had drawn 2 and lost 1 of their opening 3 games.

I left at 9 and after a few delays got to Mossley at 12.40. I parked up near the ground and put a pub I had found in my CAMRA app, the Rising Sun, into Google maps. Looking on their website they looked to have a great range of ciders, which was right up my street. After a jog up there I got there just before 1PM. I was delighted to find a cider that was exclusive to the pub, made by Pure North. I also had a pint of Naish's Singing Cider, both of which were delicious. A really friendly place too, with lovely scenery of the rolling hills out of the front window. A place that I will certainly be returning to in the future, and probably now my favourite ever pub. After that, I walked back into town looking for food, but being a bank holiday everywhere was closed. So I bought some chicken and brownies from the Co-Op, collected my things from my car and went into the ground.

After paying to get in and buying a programme I took a walk around the ground and got some pictures. I was looking forward to visiting the club shop, but sadly it remained closed for the afternoon. I consoled myself with some chips, which were excellent and good value at £1.20. It was really hot and so I took some shelter under the stand where it was a bit cooler. The game was a decent one and a real local derby as the 2 sides are a few miles from each other. Matthew Warburton gave Curzon Ashton the lead when he was put through and finished an easy one on one chance. It remained that way at the break and the visitors were good value for their lead. However, in the second half, Mossley stepped up their game and were rewarded with an equaliser on 59 minutes when Sam Madeley netted after a real bit of goalmouth pinball. Their joy was short lived however as Warburton got his second for Curzon a minute later, a header from a corner restoring their lead. It looked to be all over on 66 minutes as Warburton took the ball around the keeper before finishing into an empty net. However, there was still time for Mossley to set up a frenetic finish when Kevin McGrath headed in. Despite applying lots of pressure in the remaining 10 minutes or so, they were unable to find the equaliser.

It had been a good first part to the day, and it was nice when a couple of Mossley fans came up and shook my hand and thanked me for coming all the way from Wycombe. I am glad I had come, the only disappointment was that the club shop was closed, as I bet there is a right treasure trove of books and programmes etc in there.


SEEL PARK is a wonderfully traditional old ground, and a must visit for any groundhopper as there are not many around like it anymore. The main stand is on the same side as you go in and holds around 300. There is a covered terrace to the right, holding around 600, and one opposite holding around 500. The rest is open terracing. A really friendly club on both occasions I have visited too and you will be made to feel welcome. And the view of the rolling countryside around the ground is very nice too.

The club shop looks to be good judging from the website. I ordered a small pennant and a pen for £3.50 including postage as it was not open on my visit. The tea bar was good value too, and the chips I had were lovely. The bar was busy when I went there, but I didn't take much notice as I had already had a couple of pints and had to drive to Hyde after the game. The town is nearby and has a few places, though I'd recommend visiting the Rising Sun - a superb range of drinks and they did pizzas too, which I wish I'd tried.

Sunday 25 August 2013

East Thurrock United - Rookery Hill

East Thurrock United FC
Rookery Hill
SS17 9LB

01375 644166
Official Website

Ground Number: 290
Saturday 24th August 2013
East Thurrock United 3-0 Grays Athletic
Isthmian Premier


Between the last game and this, I should have been going to Mickleover Sports v Sutton Coldfield Town, but my mate pulled out the day before as he had some unexpected bills come in. And I wasn't going to pay to go all that way on my own. I would have gone to see Epsom and Ewell play at Chipstead on Wednesday had I known, instead I spent Wednesday and the next few days setting up my new PC which had proved to be a right pain in the backside, and reminded me why I switched to Mac from Windows 4 years ago. But I had laid out too much to reverse the decision, and I could get a good price for my Macbook Pro, more than I paid for it 14 months ago if I was lucky. For once I would be visiting a ground that I had not even been to for photos, in fact, this was a big factor in influencing my decision. I also a couple of bits of casual work that I could do on the way, quick 5 minute jobs that I could use to offset the cost of fuel for today's trip. In normal circumstances, I would be heading to Oxford v Wycombe in the M40 derby, but the combination of having been there loads, the Priory pub closing down, high ticket prices and last weeks kamikaze team selection left me looking for alternatives.

I left home about 11.30 and had 2 quick jobs in Chesham and Hatfield that would net me £14 towards my fuel costs. When I got to the second, it was absolutely hammering it down and I didn't want a repeat of last season where I twice drove to games to see they had been called off. So it being just before 1PM I went into ASDA and got some chicken and grapes for my lunch and checked Twitter and the Isthmian League website so as I could arrange an alternative if needed. There was only good news that 'the pitch was still playable' so off I went, getting to the ground at 2.15. I had a quick look around and got some pictures of the outside of the ground, but the rain was still torrential so I didn't want to hang around too long. I paid to get in and then got a programme, a decent effort with plenty to read and at only £1.50, one of the cheapest at this level. Ironically last time I saw Grays was on one of those aforementioned bad weather days. It was back in March and we had lots of sleet. Initially, Bury Town said their game would be on, and so I headed over there only to find it had been called off. I had made backup plans though and although I had wasted fuel by doing unneeded miles that day, at least I did see a game. It was at Soham Town Rangers and was one of the very few games on that day. The visitors were favourites to win again today, having won 4 out of 4 so far this term. East Thurrock meanwhile, who I'd never seen play before had had an inconsistent start to the season, being in mid-table. They had has a boost during the week when they signed former Grays favourite Stuart Thurgood, who played for them when they were in the Conference. As it turned out, he would play a big part in the afternoon's proceedings.

It was still hammering it down and would continue to do so for the rest of the afternoon. So I was glad to get a spot undercover and was also glad that the pitch held up really well for the whole game. The rainy conditions made things difficult though and the first 44 minutes were unremarkable, though both keepers made a good save each, that was it for serious chances. But then on the stroke of half time, that man Thurgood hit a free-kick from 30 yards out. It didn't look like it was a shot, but it evaded Grays keeper George Kamarusi and made him look a bit silly. That said he made plenty of good saves throughout the afternoon. The half time scoreline was harsh on Grays, who if anything, were slightly the better side. However, the second half was a different story. The home side came out a lot more confidently. Thurgood especially was looking assured and dictating play. On 65 minutes, East Thurrock doubled their lead with the best goal of the afternoon, David Bryant scoring with a lovely curling shot. While all this was happening, I was keeping tabs on Wycombe's progress at Oxford. Despite having a man sent off we were leading 2-1 against the league leaders, and that would remain the case until I left the ground. Back to Essex and Grays were labouring. Their keeper made several good saves, but in injury time, East Thurrock got the goal their domination merited. Kamarusi made another great save, but Bryant grabbed his second on the rebound.

It hadn't been the greatest of games, but had been a decent local derby. I left with Wycombe winning 2-1, but as I when the classified football results came through it transpired that Oxford had got a 97th-minute equaliser, not the only bit of help they had had from referee Andy D'Urso, judging by reports on our message board. We always seem to get a raw deal when he is in the middle. It was a fairly decent if rainy drive home, but as I got off the M25 at Amersham, it stopped thankfully. I got home at 6.30. I have a days rest from football tomorrow before it recommences on Monday with a double at Mossley and Hyde.


ROOKERY HILL is a pleasant non-league ground in nice surroundings. It reminds me a bit of Pickering Town in the NCEL in the style of stands that it has, which are pleasing on the eye and from where the view is good. As you go in the turnstile to your right is a seated stand holding around 200. Opposite, there is a similar one, albeit at one end of the pitch, holding 150. This is where most of the Grays singers spent the afternoon. There are also 2 mini terraces, holding around 200 between them under cover, but the rest is open standing, not great on a day like this. I think they are building an extension or a new stand to go with the one on the far side, as there is some metal framework in place, but nothing else yet.

The clubhouse has Sky and a pretty standard selection of drinks, whilst the tea bar was your typical non-league one, though I didn't try anything from it. I think they sold old programmes in there as well - you could actually queue and sit inside, maybe they do merchandise in there also as I didn't see any other shop. I enjoyed my day out there. The ground looked a bit out of the way, and I didn't see any nearby pubs or takeaways, though I only came off the dual carriageway and straight into the ground within a few hundred yards.