Wednesday 28 January 2015

Bury Town - Ram Meadow

Bury Town FC
Ram Meadow
Cotton Lane
Bury St Edmunds
IP33 1XT

Ground Number: 456
Tuesday 27th January 2015
Bury Town 1-2 Maidstone United
Isthmian Premier


Bury Town FC was formed in 1872. They became founder members of the Eastern Counties League in 1935 and stayed there up until 1964 when they transferred across to the Metropolitan League. After finishing as runners up in 1971 (they had been Champions twice during their short stay) they joined the Southern League. Disappointing results saw them opt to go back to the Eastern Counties league in 1976 however. They remained there until 1987 when they once more decided to join the Southern League and were a lot more successful this time, at least initially, even finishing 4th in it's Southern Division in 1989. However results quickly deteriorated and they found themselves relegated back to the Eastern Counties League in 1996. A couple of 2nd placed finishes saw them promoted back up, this time to the Isthmian League in 2006. They had a couple of seasons in its Division 1 North, before transferring to the Southern League D1 Central and it was from here they won promotion to the Ryman Premier after another sideways switch. They adapted well to the new level, finishing 3rd in their first season. They finished 5th, 7th and 17th in the next 3 seasons, but the future at this level looks in doubt as they currently sit bottom of the league prior to tonight's game.

In the FA Cup, they have reached the First Round on a couple of occasions, most notably holding Bournemouth to a draw in the late 1960s before losing in a replay. They have also reached the FA Trophy 2nd Round in 1970-71 before losing to Hereford United. They got to the FA Vase Semi Final in their last season in the competition which was 2005/06 but lost out to Hillingdon Borough after a 2nd leg defeat, in a game that I attended. The club has won a number of local cups, including the Suffolk Premier Cup on 11 occasions and the Suffolk Senior Cup 5 times. They netted their record transfer income for a single player when Simon Milton joined Ipswich Town and he remains the most well-known player to turn out for the club.


I had been attempting to go to Bury Town for some time before this match came up. My first try was when their game was given the go-ahead on Twitter. I made my way to the ground, only to find that the game had been called off whilst I was en route. The pitch looked fine when I checked, however, and it was another case of an over-cautious referee, which sadly is becoming all the more common nowadays. It potentially could have been my second wasted Saturday in a row, but luckily unlike the previous weekend, I had a backup plan in place, instead going to Soham Town Rangers. There had been a couple of other times where the club had initially confirmed game on, only for the referee to call it off, but luckily I decided against travelling on these occasions. With the weather being poor over the next few days, I was initially apprehensive about making the trip tonight, but after checking the weather forecast it seemed both dry and warm enough not to pose any problems. 
On the day of the game, I was stuck at home all day, waiting in for a TV that was supposed to be delivered. But considering that there had been no update since 6PM last night, I was not optimistic that they would deliver on their promised 24 hour delivery. I spent the day watching TV, looking on the internet and preparing this blog. I got my stuff together at 3.15 as I had to go and meet Anwar, but still had seen no sign of my parcel.

I had to go to a shop in Aylesbury to get some drinks and snacks for the game. Annoyingly this took longer than I'd intended due to a queue in the shop and traffic, so I ended up getting to his house at 4.10. After quickly checking Facebook, we were on our way and it was a pretty good journey for once. That was apart from some moron on the M25 who despite being in the fast lane, kept slamming their brakes on for no reason. Luckily everyone had taken care to leave a safe distance between each car, so there was no pile-up. We got to the ground at 6.05. This was ideal timing, as the car park stopped charging at 6. We got our coats and made our way into town. It reminded me a bit of Stamford, very well kept and the part that we walked through was unspoilt and not modern. Looking for something to eat, we didn't see many cost-effective options, and so it was once more to Wetherspoons, this time called 'The Corn Exchange'. This was one of the poshest Wetherspoons I had been in, in terms of decor, looking more like a fancy restaurant than a budget pub. I had a nice deal which was a gourmet chicken burger, chips and onion rings. That lot with a pint of Stowford Press cost me £7.09 which was good value as per usual. It was all very good, apart from the onion rings being cold. But when they asked, I did that typically British thing of not bothering to complain. We left just after 7 and made the short walk back to the ground, which took just over 5 minutes. I paid £10 to get in, plus £2 for a programme. Looking at the programme later, it was a reissue from the original game on the 3rd January. There was also a paper insert to update fans on stats and team news. In any case, it was a well-presented effort and had a decent amount to read, making it good value. I went to the club shop and bought a pen, before walking around and getting some pictures. I then settled down for the game and checked my phone for updates on Facebook.

With both sides having lost their last game, they were keen to set the record straight. Obviously, Maidstone were the favourites, being top, while hosts Bury Town were bottom. It looked like it would be a routine victory as the visitors applied all the pressure, but they lacked quality in the final third. It remained scoreless at the break and they were in for a big shock at the start of the second half. Joe Whight got the opening goal for Bury Town on 51 minutes, and it had been coming after they started the second half the strongest. It was a fantastic strike and it beat former Wycombe keeper Lee Worgan all ends up. Four minutes later it went from bad to worse for the Stones as Billy Bricknell was sent off for foul and abusive language. It was the first time I had seen a sending off of this nature. I've seen players bellow in the ref's face that he was a 'f**king c*nt' and not even be booked before, so it was nice to see action being taken. Maidstone seemed more interested in disputing the referee's decisions than playing football. Eventually, they got their game together, equalising 20 minutes from time through an Alex Akrofi header. A couple of minutes later Frannie Collin won it with a superb free kick. The former Tonbridge Angels, Gillingham and Dover fan is well thought of in Kent football and he will have enhanced his reputation with this strike. The home side had a couple of half chances to equalise but Maidstone clung on for a vital 3 points.

We made a good getaway, but like last week the game finished quite late, and we also had to stop for fuel on the way back. Even so I could be confident of getting back to Aylesbury by 11.30. But once again, roads were inconsiderately closed and lengthy diversions added 30 minutes on to the journey, as well as adding cost via extra miles. This meant that I did not get back to Anwar's until nearly midnight. 
The one small compensation was that it only took 15 minutes to get home as the roads were nice and quiet. I still had some stuff to do, including some work that I had forgotten to do earlier. After I had wound down, I didn't get to sleep till nearly 2 am, which with me being up at 4 was far from ideal. As usual, though my body coped fine though. The mystery of my missing parcel was solved though, the supposed 24-hour service furnished me with my parcel 81 hours after it had been dispatched.


RAM MEADOW is a traditional non-league ground, set right in Bury St Edmonds town centre. There are 2 seated stands on either side, the main stand being of especially interesting and unique design. The official capacity of seating is listed as 300, but it looks more than that. There are covered terraces behind each goal, probably holding around 400 each, while the ground has an overall capacity of 3500. The club shop sells souvenirs and a small selection of old Bury Town programmes. While the tea bar and clubhouse are decent enough, it's probably worth going into town if you have time, where a much wider selection. All in all, it's a great place to visit, especially for an evening game where parking charges are not a problem in the 720 capacity car park, which is a pay and display one owned by the council

Sunday 25 January 2015

Teversal - Carnarvon Street

Teversal FC
The Grange Sports & Social Centre
Carnarvon Street
Sutton In Ashfield
NG17 3HJ

Ground Number: 455
Saturday 24th January 2015
Teversal 3-0 Lincoln Moorlands Railway


The big news coming out of Teversal this week was that they were fighting to save some of their facilities - more info and petition HERE. The local council were planning to knock down the building, used by 4 sports clubs. In turn, they were jacking up the rent that they would charge the clubs, who already find it tough and do a good job balancing the books.

The club was formed in  1918 and played in local leagues, including the Central Midlands League, up until 2005. That year they joined the NCEL D1 and have remained there ever since. They had a best-ever finish of 10th in 2008 and 2012. Last season they finished 15th, and at the start of the game were just below that in 18th. They had never really had a good run in any of the FA Competitions, reaching the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup and the 2nd Qualifying Round of the FA Vase.


Originally on this day, I was all set to go to Mansfield Town for a rare away game with Wycombe. This was for 2 reasons - the main one of which was that I could go on the Independent Supporters Coach and go to an excellent pub in Ashover called the Old Poets Corner, which had 15 ciders available. But my parents would not be attending due to being on holiday, and although it was fantastic last year, I didn't fancy going on my own. The other reason was to see my mates who support the Stags, and as I had arranged to drop mates off at the game I could do that beforehand. So why my reluctance to visit Field Mill and see my team play? After all, I had only done a few away games this season due to my groundhopping, and Mansfield was one of the best away days in the league. They had also saved our skins last season, by beating Bristol Rovers on the last day of the season, which sent them down instead of us, a result for which we will be ever grateful, especially considering how well we have pushed on this season. The answer was Mansfield Town's draconian ticket policy for away fans. For some reason, they had a rule that meant that away supporters could not purchase tickets on the day of the game. That's right - unless you bought in advance, then if you turned up at the gate on the day, then they would refuse point blank to let you in. From what I understand the reason for this, is that the authorities, namely the 'safety advisory committee' have declared that they would on offer the club a reduced capacity safety certificate. This meant that you had to chance it, if anything changed last minute, then you had done your money. A totally disgusting way to treat a customer, and whatever half bake decided this was a good idea needs their head looking at. I certainly wasn't going to dance to their tune, especially as one of the mates I was giving a lift too was ill in the week, and not 100% certain to make it. 

So where to go instead. If I had not been going to Mansfield beforehand, then the go to choice would have been Heanor Town which has a nice range of pubs and eating places nearby, so I decided to save that for another day when I could take better advantage. Also dismissed was Shirebrook Town, as I was due visiting them later this year in the NCEL hop. So after looking at some other options, including Dronfield and Retford, I decided to go for the nearest - namely Teversal v Lincoln Moorlands Railway in the NCEL D1. The weather looked OK for that area, but even so, I had a list of backups prepared, especially after the late postponement of my game at Pontefract last week, which resulted in a mad dash to Garforth. On the night before the game I had a few drinks and welcomed my parents back from holiday. It was nice to see them again, especially when they bought back some duty-free Bacardi which went great with my Irn Bru. I had spent an hour beforehand compiling a list of alternative games, should my first choice at Teversal be off. I also watched the game between Cambridge United and Man United which turned out to be decent.

On the day of the game, I woke at 7.10am and after watching TV for a bit I had a bath. Leaving home at 9am I had to stop for fuel before picking Paul and Sue. We had a good journey up and were happy to see that soon after setting off Mansfield v Wycombe was on. We got to Mansfield just before 12 and I was happy to see that Teversal had confirmed 'game on' on Twitter. For lunch I went to a Wetherspoons pub called The Court House, having a pint of my favourite Black Dragon cider and a Haggis burger. It was very nice and after that, i popped along to the Beer Shack to get 2 pints of Springherne Tremletts cider to take home for MOTD tonight. I also had a half of Rogers cider, which was the weakest one on offer. After that, I spent a while looking around Mansfield, getting a couple of games for PS2 and some stuff for the game. I even picked up some more new fruit ciders to take with me too, only a quid each as well from Home Bargains.  To be honest, at this point I would have abandoned the groundhop and gone to the Wycombe game, as I’d had a change of heart around 6.30 last night. But because of the aforementioned ticket policy, I was not at liberty to do so. In any case, I was really looking forward to the game I was going to. I left Mansfield at 2.10, and then from there, it was only a 15-minute drive to Teversal. I got to the ground, and as I walked in I was greeted by the sounds of the team news from the Mansfield v Wycombe game. That was because the club was playing the local station Mansfield 103.2 over the tannoy. Unlike most local stations, these had not been taken over by the bland and uniform 'Heart' franchise. They were providing excellent coverage of the local football scene with news and reports from the games involving Clipstone, Shirebrook, Rainworth Miners Welfare and AFC Mansfield. There was also someone from Teversal reporting in and it made a refreshing change to most music-based stations who barely acknowledge their local league side, let alone the smaller non-league outfits.

I'd paid £5 to get in, plus £1 for a smart and well-produced programme. As there was time to spare until kick off I went into the bar and watched some of the Blackburn v Swansea game which the home side won 3-1. I also caught up on Facebook as well as checking news of other games. I met a couple of friendly dogs and the people at the club were also great, making me feel really welcome which is typical of the NCEL, and why I am such a huge fan of the league. About 10 minutes before kick off I went outside and got a teamsheet as well as getting a video of the teams being read out. I spent the game chatting to various people, most interesting of all a Sheffield United fan who was also a referee and was at the game doing a bit of groundhopping, after his first choice at Dronfield was called off. Later on I got some chips from the tea bar which were OK but nothing special. I also saw in the programme that both teams were struggling for form, so one way or another, a bad run would be ended today. 
It was a fairly comfortable victory for the home side, with Lincoln Moorlands Railway not creating much. The scoring was opened on the half-hour mark when Toby Birch finished from close range. The lead was doubled just after half time through Sean Dickinson. The match was all but over and the victory was sealed when Greg Tobin converted a penalty 6 minutes from time. It wasn't a classic, but it was decent enough, and it was a shame there were only 34 people to see it, as this friendly club deserve better.

After the game, I drove the short distance back to Mansfield to pick up Paul and Sue. On the way back, I listened to the radio and heard that Wycombe were lucky to get a 0-0 draw in the game. This was confirmed by people who had been to the game who said it was one of our worst showings of the season, so I am glad I made the decision to go elsewhere. After a good journey home with a break at Warwick services, we got back to Wycombe at 8PM. After dropping Paul and Sue home, I was back myself 20 minutes later. I spent the evening catching up on the internet and playing a bit of Football Manager before enjoying some of the cider I had bought with Match Of The Day.


CARNARVON STREET is a decent enough ground for a step 5 or 6 club. There are just the 2 areas of cover though. Firstly a seated stand holding just under 100 people. The other area of cover is one of the strangest and most unique in football. Situated behind the goal it is basically a Tesco trolley shelter! In any case, it does the job. The rest of the ground is open hard standing. The bar is smart and modern and offers a good range of drinks along with showing the footy on big screen TVs. The tea bar offers a good range of food at decent prices as well. I'd certainly recommend a visit here, they are a really nice club who will give you a great welcome.