Friday 30 October 2015

AFC Sudbury - Kings Marsh Stadium

AFC Sudbury
Kings Marsh Stadium
Brundon Lane
CO10 7HN

Ground Number: 532
Friday 30th October 2015
AFC Sudbury Reserves 1-6 Wivenhoe Town
Eastern Counties D1


AFC SUDBURY were formed in 1999 after the merger of 2 local teams Sudbury Wanderers and Sudbury Town. They started in the Eastern Counties League Premier Division, finishing 3rd in their first season. In the next 5 years they were champions on every single occasion, despite having the facilities in place. Finally in 2005-06, they took up promotion, despite only finishing 3rd. The Isthmian D1 North was their destination and they coped with the step up excellently, finishing in the playoff places in each of their first 2 seasons. Their bids for promotion did not end in success, and in 2008 they were transferred to the Southern League D1 Central for a couple of seasons, before going back to the Isthmian. Up until last season was a series of mid table finishes, but after finishing 3rd there was more playoff heartache as they lost out to Brentwood Town in the semi final.

The club reached the FA Cup 1st Round in 2000. After beating Southend Manor, Brook House,  Heybridge Swifts, Leek Town and Belper Town, they faced then football league side Darlington. That was where their dream ended, with them crashing out 6-1, but it was still a great showing to get that far. The FA Trophy 1st Round has been reached on 3 occasions, but the biggest case of 'always the bridesmaid, but never the bride' has to be in the FA Vase. In 2002 they reached the semi-final, losing to Tiptree United, just missing out on a Wembley final. They did, however, make the cut for the following 3 seasons but Brigg Town, Winchester City & Didcot Town were the victors on each occasion. Local cup success has been had in the Suffolk Senior Cup in 2003/04 and also the Eastern Counties League Cup in 2006.

As for the reserve team, they joined the Eastern Counties League Division 1 in 2013. They finished 14th & 19th in their first 2 seasons but this season has seen much better progress with them sitting in 10th at the start of the game. Visitors Wivenhoe Town would be tough opposition, however, topping the league with 10 wins and a draw from their 11 games so far. 


As my parents were away until late on Friday evening, I decided that a bit of football was in order. There were plenty of options, but the closest was AFC Sudbury v Wivenhoe Town. It was actually their reserve team that played in the Eastern Counties League but as it was a decent ground and a good standard going on previous experience, I was happy to go. I was even more pleased when Anwar said he would come, as well as Dan & Maurice who I'd planned to meet in Braintree which would help a great deal with fuel costs, as well as providing great company. On the day of the game, it was a very busy day at work, and I didn’t get finished until 1.15PM. I then went home, getting some lunch, having a bath and leaving to meet Anwar at 4PM. I got to Anwar at 4.20 and we were soon on our way. I'd planned to meet mates in Braintree at 6.15 and despite 20 minutes delay on the M25 we made it up elsewhere and arrived bang on time. After half an hour we were at the ground and after taking pictures of the outside we went in, me paying £6 which included a programme. The floodlights were only part on, so I went to the bar for a £3.30 pint of Aspalls.

I went outside and got pictures of the ground, as well as having a portion of chips. They were so good I had a second one, at £1.20 they were a bargain. I stood with the lads on the other side of the ground. AFC Sudbury dominated the first 20 minutes but it was Wivenhoe Town who took the lead, following up after the keeper parried the initial shot. The hosts continued to have the better of the game but just before halftime Wivenhoe made it 2-0 as a ball across the 6-yard box was bundled in. Wivenhoe bossed the start of the second half and extended their lead to 3-0 with an own goal. It was soon 4-0 with the best goal of the night, blasted into the top corner from just outside the area. It was very harsh on Sudbury and they got a consolation with 25 minutes to go with a close-range finish. Wivenhoe extended their 4 goal cushion minutes later with a fine goal as the forward slalomed through the area before finishing well. In the dying embers of the game, Wivenhoe made it 6-1 with a close-range finish.

It was harsh on the hosts after they dominated the first half, but they barely had a kick in the second. I’d have said that 3-1 would have been a more reflection on proceedings. In any case, it was time to hit the road again and after dropping Dan & Maurice in Braintree at 10.15 and Anwar in Aylesbury at 11.30, I was back by 11.50. After typing my blog and watching a bit of TV I went to sleep at 1.30, ready for another day of football tomorrow.


THE KINGS MARSH STADIUM is a smart ground, almost certainly good enough for the Conference South. The Main Stand holds around 300, while opposite an area of covered terracing has room for around 500. There is cover behind both goals too, though it is flat standing, probably about 800 capacity in total. The ground is smart and well presented and this extends to the bar which is large and bright with a good selection of drinks and TV sports. The tea bar is also excellent with great chips and a wide selection of other stuff. A good range of other merchandise is available, though sadly no pens, pennants or old programmes on my visit. Just as well they have good facilities as the location is a fair walk from anywhere, but it’s well worth a visit, be it a first-team game in the Isthmian League or a reserves game in the Eastern Counties League.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Basford United - Greenwich Avenue

Basford United FC
Greenwich Avenue

07850 996397
Official Website

Ground Number: 531
Tuesday 27th October 2015
Basford United 1-1 Newcastle Town
NPL D1 South



BASFORD UNITED FC was formed in 1900. They have enjoyed a rapid rise up the leagues, indeed they were playing in local Nottinghamshire Leagues up until 2011. For 2011/12 they joined the Central Midlands League South at step 7, winning the league at the first attempt and earning promotion to the East Midlands Counties League. They won that league too, joining the NCEL Premier for the 2013/14 season. In their one season here they finished 5th, before transferring to the newly formed Midland League for the start of last season, Their rise up the leagues continued as they won the league once more and for this season they took their place in the NPL D1 South. Once again they were going well, sitting in 5th place. Opponents Newcastle Town (who I had seen lose to  Coleshill Town in the FA Cup around 6 weeks ago) were in 7th place, just a point behind.

Due to their rapid rise up the leagues, the club have not had many campaigns in the FA Cup and they matched their best ever progress this season when they reached the 2nd Qualifying Round. After beating Loughborough Dynamo and Long Eaton United before losing to Sporting Khalsa. Little progress was made in the FA Vase in their short time in the competition, though in their first season in the FA Trophy they progressed against AFC Rushden & Diamonds and will face a home tie against Grantham Town on Saturday. Various local competitions have been won including the Notts Senior Cup on 2 occasions.


As it was half term, my groundhopping partner Anwar would not have to pick his kids up from school, and so we would be able to leave earlier if needed. The original plan was to take in a game in the afternoon - Wigan Athletic were playing in the FA Youth Cup at the Wigan Robin Park Arena and it was a 3PM kick-off, meaning we could take in another game in the evening. Sadly his parents were busy until 2PM so that was that idea knocked on the head. I was hoping to go to the FA Cup replay at North Ferriby United v Stalybridge Celtic, but unusually for them, the game was being played on Wednesday. Anwar presented a list of the games he was interested in and I plumped for what I felt the most attractive one - Basford United v Newcastle Town. This was a good one for me as I'd been targeting a visit to there ever since they played in the NCEL over 2 years ago. I was glad to be getting on a groundhop to be honest. I’d had a 2 week break from watching Wycombe play, but when we played Newport County last Tuesday we were dire and were lucky to lose only 1-0 to the bottom side in the league. Carlisle on Saturday was a tiny improvement, but we were still very poor and only got a point thanks to a last-minute equaliser against another struggling side. It now looks as if early season promise of a repeat of last season’s 4th placed finish or better was a false dawn and October has been a horrible month for us with 3 defeats and a draw so far. It was my usual Tuesday off work on the day of the game and so I walked down town as per usual, getting some drinks for tonight's game. After relaxing for a couple of hours I left home at 3.15 and after getting petrol met Anwar in Aylesbury at 3.45. It was a reasonable journey, at first we thought the M1 was going to give us hell when I saw 40 minutes delay on my Sat Nav but in the end, there was only around 20 minutes delay. We got to the ground at 6.15, going to a nearby takeaway called Mr T's. There I had a decent Spicy Burger and Fries before walking back to the ground. Paying a bargain £6 to get in I got myself a programme for £1.50 before going to the club shop. There I bought a mug for £3 and then went into the bar, having a can of Strongbow. After that I went outside, joining Anwar on the halfway line and getting some pictures of the ground while I waited for kick off.

The hosts had a couple of players I recognised. Saul Deeney played for Notts County against Wycombe many times, including our victory over them during our Carling Cup run in 2006/07, while from across the River Trent former Forest man Eugen Bopp also starred. In the early exchanges, Basford dominated possession but it was Newcastle Town that were most threatening in the final third. Even so, it was Basford that opened the scoring on 35 minutes with a well-worked goal from Courey Grantham. It was Basford that continued to dominate but on 59 minutes Newcastle got an equaliser, a pinpoint header into the top right-hand corner from Ben Mills. Despite chances for both sides, that was the way it stayed. Basford will be disappointed they failed to make their possession count but the visitors were a much-improved side to the one I saw lose in the FA Cup earlier in the season. The journey home started off well enough on the local roads. The game between Guiseley and Halifax that would decide where Wycombe would be going in 10 days time in the FA Cup was still going on, but we couldn't find a commentary. Instead, we had to make do with BBC Leicester who were covering their Carling Cup game up at Hull.  We found out that Halifax would be our destination on November 7th, as well as various other scores which included Barwell getting through to the FA Cup 1st Round debut. As it turned out, the BBC moved Halifax v Wycombe to the Sunday, meaning I was unable to go due to work. We got on to the M1 OK, but around Leicester, they had shut it for roadworks. The standstill, along with a poorly worked diversion added an hour plus 20 extra miles onto the journey, not what you want when you are up at 4am.No apology either, and it feels as if I write about the disgraceful amount of roadworks and bad roads every blog. Eventually, I dropped Anwar off at 12.20, getting home myself 20 minutes later. I hardly got a wink of sleep, but thankfully the following day was not busy at work, and I caught up on sleep the following afternoon.


GREENWICH AVENUE is typical of a ground that has seen a rapid rise in fortunes, with a few metal ‘arena’ type stands in place. There are a couple of original small stands, but overall it’s not one for the purists. There is a local pub nearby, but it didn’t seem that great from the outside. Food wise there is a local chippy, kebab & pizza place and an Indian takeaway nearby, while the tea bar at the ground is a decent one also. The club shop has a decent range of stuff as well as old programmes. Overall the £6 admission and the friendliness of the people makes this club well worth a visit.