Friday, 28 July 2023

Wellingborough Town - The Dog & Duck Stadium


Wellingborough Town FC
The Dog and Duck Stadium
London Road
Wellingborough
Northamptonshire
NN8 2DP

07449 089528
WTFC UCL Page
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Ground Number: 319
Tuesday 3rd December 2013
AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2-1 Newport Pagnell Town
United Counties Premier










WELLINGBOROUGH TOWN FC - A BRIEF HISTORY

The origins of the original club began in 1867 when they formed under the name of Wellingborough FC. Then it is claimed that this made it not only the oldest club in Northamptonshire but also the sixth-oldest in the country. The early years of their history were spent in various competitions such as the Leicestershire & Northants League, the Midland League and the United League. A four-season stint in the Southern League proved unsuccessful in the early 1900s and they would return to local football. The club changed its name to Wellingborough Redwell in 1905 and then again to Wellingborough Town in 1919. Following the end of World War II, the club would have two spells in the United Counties League. The second of these was the more successful with them winning the title in 1963 and 1965.  A couple of seasons followed in the Metropolitan League with the club winning the title in 1970. Then it was a single season in the West Midlands (Regional) Premier before decamping to the Southern League. They never pulled up any trees here, spending the entirety of their stay in the second tier. Their best finish was in their debut season of 1971/72 when they finished 5th. In 1989, they finished second-bottom and left for the United Counties League. They remained here, in the Premier Divison until their demise in 2002.


Their traditional Dog & Duck Ground was named after a local pub which is now a Beefeater. Part of the land was lost to a hotel, originally a Travelodge, now a Premier Inn. However, it was left mainly in tact, thanks to a consortium, including snooker champion Peter Ebdon, reforming the club in 2004. They played in the Northamptonshire Youth League for the 2004/05 season before successfully applying to rejoin the United Counties League. Starting in Division 1, they finished runners-up in their first season, finishing behind Sleaford Town. The following season, they achieved their best-ever United Counties League finish, 3rd in the Premier Division. It was their best finish in nearly two decades, but to this day, they remain in the same league.


Wellingborough Town have twice played in the FA Cup 1st Round, losing 2-1 at Bristol Rovers in 1928 and at Aldershot by the same scoreline in 1965. The reformed club have just one 1st Qualifying Round appearance to their name. Moderate success was enjoyed in the FA Trophy. The club's best FA Vase run came during the 2020/21 season as they beat Haverhill Rovers, Woodbridge Town and Norwich United prior to defeat at Anstey Nomads in the 4th Round. Famous players to gave turned out for the club include Phil Neal as a youngster and Trevor Benjamin in the Twilight of his career. Wellingborough Town's traditional nickname is "The Doughboys", which is thought to derive from the local speciality "’ock ‘n’ dough". A hock of bacon is an economy cut taken from the front of the leg of the beast. It is cooked slowly in the oven, typically with onions and carrots in a pastry case. There is a local pub house called the Ock ‘n’ Dough.



The club is based in the town of Wellingborough and shares the footballing landscape with Wellingborough Whitworth who play next door and ply their trade a tier lower in the Spartan South Midlands League Division 1. Rugby is also played nearby. The town is located 11 miles from Northampton and has a population of just under 57,000. Famous former residents include broadcaster David Frost, Radiohead's Thom Yorke, snooker player Peter Ebdon and footballer Trevor Benjamin. Originally named "Wendelingburgh" (the stronghold of W├Žndel's people), the Anglo-Saxon settlement is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Wendelburie". The town's market was granted a royal charter in 1201 by King John. The primary industry in the town is the Whitworths flour mill. 



MY AFC RUSHDEN VISIT

AFC Rushden and Diamonds were formed from the ashes of their old club after the original Rushden and Diamonds went into a financial meltdown a few seasons back.  The club was formed in 2011, playing its first season as a youth side due to being unable to find a senior league to join in time. They finished 5th and won the NSYL Knockout Cup 4-1 against AFC Kempston Town. The following season they converted to a senior side, entering the United Counties League Division 1 and winning promotion at the first time of asking. The club shared at Raunds Town for the first year of their existence, however since becoming a senior side they had moved over to Wellingborough. Looking at the league table, AFC Rushden sat in 5th place in the table on 38 points, while Newport Pagnell were down in 19th on 14 points.


I was looking to do something fairly local tonight, as I have another game in Portsmouth v Wycombe on Wednesday, and what with starting at 4am on both the Wednesday and Thursday mornings, I was concerned about getting tired. Initially, I selected a few games from some of the step 5 leagues I am looking to complete - the Hellenic and the Spartan but then Anwar suggested AFC Rushden & Diamonds v Newport Pagnell Town. It sounded like a good shout and was fairly local, so it was planned in. On the day I had the day off work so just lazed about at home. It was getting noticeably colder as winter was setting in so I made sure I wrapped up warm when I left at 5PM. I got to Anwar's at 5.35 and for once he was waiting for me which showed how keen he was! There was a bit of traffic on the way, but nothing serious, although we did have the horrible experience of having to go through Milton Keynes, which is becoming ever familiar now. We got there just after 7 and were looking for somewhere to eat. There was nowhere we fancied within walking distance, not without cutting it fine for kick-off so we went straight to the ground. The first stop was the club shop, which unusually for non-league was outside the ground. It was excellent and from what I gather it was shared with Wellingborough Town. I got a few nice things in there - the night's programme for £2, a book called 'Ten of Diamonds' which told the story of the formation of the original Rushden & Diamonds club, a book about the troubles at Brighton under dodgy owners Archer and Belotti for 50p and finally an AFC Rushden & Diamonds pen for £1. I had noticed the entrance to Wellingborough Whitworths FC right next door when I walked into the entrance to the ground - sadly the dark stopped me getting some pictures of it.



We paid our money to get in and after checking Facebook for updates I took my camera out, ready to take a picture to upload to Instagram. As I fired up the camera app the floodlights went out and I feared I'd had a wasted journey. Despite around a 20-minute delay though, they fixed the problem and the kick-off was delayed by just 5 minutes. I passed the time by getting some chips, which although not the nicest I have tasted, were a good portion size and a good price at £1.50. During the game, I met Stacey who I had briefly spoken to on Facebook a while back and we had a good chat about the old days of when our teams used to face each other in the football league. I also met a bloke who looks on the non-league forum that I post on and who had seen I was coming. He told me lots of interesting stories, including the tragic death of their former goalkeeper Dale Roberts, which proved that Paul Terry was just as much of a git as his more famous brother. The short story is, that Terry had an injury and had to go to treatment every day. As he lived so far away, Roberts offered him a place to stay. Then while Roberts was away with the team, Terry was shagging his girlfriend behind his back. This led to the couple splitting up, although they did get back together eventually. Unbeknown to the team, Roberts was suffering from depression and one day when he didn't turn up to get the coach to Eastwood for an FA Trophy game, the manager sent Roberts's girlfriend around to see what was up. It was then that she found he had hanged himself. A very sad story in which there were no winners and a tragic waste of a young life. In his memory, there is a nice bar at the ground, which has lots of his pictures and old shirts up, including the one from his final game for England C.



The game saw the hosts take an early lead when Alex Deakin headed home a Jake Gillingwater free-kick. The rest of the first half continued to be a damp squib. That was until a couple of minutes from half-time when Jamie Nicholls fired home from a fair way out following a decent cross from Sam Parrish. Half chances came and went with Newport Pagnell defending stoutly but they were finally undone on 83 minutes. A loose ball in the box was headed home by Russ Dunkley. After the game, we set off home and made good time. I was back at Anwar's around 11.15, arriving back at mine around 11.40. I was still wide awake having got up quite late and so stayed up until just after 1, getting just 3 hours sleep. This is precisely what I wanted to avoid as I had another game at Portsmouth v Wycombe the following day.



MY WELLINGBOROUGH TOWN VISIT
28/7/23 v 2-1 Daventry Town, United Counties Premier South 

As with a number of grounds that I did early on in my hopping career, I was keen to revisit some of them. Wellingborough Town was a case in point. It was almost a decade since I'd visited and my photos were not the best. It had also been for an AFC Rushden & Diamonds game, as opposed to a Wellingborough Town one. With fellow hopper Colin keen to visit, I knew getting some company would be fairly easy. This game was ideal. I had a choice of a revisit here for a league game against Daventry Town (another ground I'd consider redoing) or a friendly at a new ground in Devizes. With me having an early start the following morning, Wellingborough was perfect. It gave me a chance to really spruce up my blog entry for this ground and I did the research on Wednesday evening. This included the club's history and making better and more organised trip in terms of food and drink.

I'd had a stinking week at work, one of the worst in a long time. I was glad to get out of the place for my one-day weekend. I headed home and had a bath and changed clothes before heading out at 4.25. I was supposed to meet Colin at our local bus stop but he was nowhere to be seen. I waited ten minutes, sent messages and rang him but no response. I was annoyed, as I'd chosen this specifically for him. However, with it being fairly close, I decided to go. It was a decent drive, save for a slow spot around Olney. I was at the ground by 6.15, parking in the club car park. I had come early for Wetherspoons and took the 20-minute walk, making up time on the way. It was very pleasant at the start, a nice wide area for cyclists and pedestrians, rather than the narrow pavements you get in other places. The town was nice and peaceful too and looked well worth an exploration, pub-wise. I was restricting myself to a single pint though. The Red Well was a fairly standard building, but a good Wetherspoons. I ordered a chicken wing basket meal with Black Dragon for £9.03. It had been a tough week but the drink took the edge off and made me feel better. The wings were also superb, along with the Katsu Curry, it must be the best thing on the menu. I supped up and left at 7.05. After getting stuff out of my car, I was at the turnstile for 7.25 where there was a queue. Entry was quick though, albeit at a rather steep £9, though I expect this to become the norm with clubs struggling as much as the rest of us. The club shop was decent and I bought a 'Crap Teams' book for £2. There was a good range of Old programmes too.

Onto the game, Daventry took the bit between their teeth early on, forcing a great save out of the home keeper after two minutes. The corner came to nothing though. Wellingborough took the lead on 10 minutes, slack marking and good pace led to Jessi Obeng rounding the onrushing keeper to make it 1-0 to the hosts. There was a strong Daventry challenge, you could hear the clash from over the other side and it resulted in a minor fracas. Ryan Bell got his marching orders for this tackle and Daventry were down to ten men. Revenge was sought in the next phase of play around five minutes later. Not as bad but treatment was required and a spurned free kick was awarded. Daventry had a half chance on 35 minutes, but brave goalkeeping prevented it from going any further with a dive at the feet of the striker. Just before halftime, Daventry got their equaliser, I think it was a header from a corner but my view was blocked. In any case, the scorer was captain Leon Lobjolt. Wellingborough had the better of the second half and it was a stunning 30-yard dipping volley by Paddy Cichosz on 66 minutes. Scorer Lobjolt was sent off for Daventry, presumably for something he said to the referee.
The Friday night football experiment looked to have worked for Wellingborough, despite strong competition from the Hop game at Saffron Dynamo, a good crowd assembled including people from local clubs such as Bugbrooke St Michaels and Rugby Town. I popped over to Lidl at halftime, getting a nice brownie and a drink of fresh lime juice. Colin finally responded at 9.30, just as the game was ending, his addiction to sleeping the reason for his absence. Other hoppers were asking after him, but apart from a brief excuse with no apology, he disappeared again. In total, there was an attendance of 280, compared to 400 for the hop game. I think this was well above their average. The game finished late, at 9.45 and it was a slow start to the journey behind a white van. Eventually, it pulled off and I was able to go at something resembling the speed limit. I was back by 11.15, having a couple of drinks and planning to get to sleep around 1.

THE GROUND - 2013

THE DOG AND DUCK STADIUM is a decent ground for this level and is probably fit for step 4 football. It has seen a few improvements since AFC Rushden moved in with Wellingborough, The new stands added are a terrace called 'The Peter De Banke Terrace' (they had one of that name at their old ground Nene Park This is a metal stand so it can be taken with them when they move. The other addition is some cover on the side of the dugouts. All in all these 2 have added around 500 extra covered spaces in all. The one remaining stand from Wellingborough is a decent main stand, holding around 200. The rest of the ground is open and flat standing.

As mentioned above, the club shop is excellent with a decent range of stuff for sale. The tea bar and bar are pretty standard for non-league levels. In addition, there is Dale's Bar, in memory of their late keeper Dale Roberts. This has a good range of drinks, sweets and crisps. Especially good value are the hot drinks, which come in a very big cup for the decent price of £1.



GROUND UPDATE 2023

There had not been a huge amount of change. The Peter De Banke terrace had been put on the back of a lorry and taken to Rushden, leaving the stand, a capacity of around 300 as the only cover. A bit of standing cover along the side had also gone. Bar and food facilities were decent and there was a club shop with old programmes, moved from my last visit. The car park was full but there was street parking elsewhere. Near the ground was Beefeater, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Lidl, Starbucks, Domino's and Greggs amongst others. The town was less than a mile away and included a good Wetherspoons. It looked to be a great town for pubs with several attractive venues. 

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