Saturday 27 February 2016

Haverhill Borough FC - The New Croft

Haverhill Borough FC
The New Croft
Chalkestone Way

01440 702137
Official Website

Ground Number: 558
Friday 26th February 2016
Haverhill Borough 0-2 Ely City
Eastern Counties D1


HAVERHILL BOROUGH FC was formed in 2011, making them one of the youngest teams in football. Originally called HAVERHILL SPORTS ASSOCIATION they started out in the Essex & Suffolk Border League. Great success was had here with a double promotion to elevate themselves to the Eastern Counties D1 for the 2013/14 season. Following their promotion, they changed their name to its present one and have made a solid start to life at a higher level, finishing 4th and 6th in their first 2 seasons. This season has seen a slight drop in form, with them sitting 8th at the start of the game.

In the FA Cup, their debut season of 2014/15 has seen their best progress so far. Barking and Whitton United were defeated before a 1st Qualifying Round defeat to Leiston. Similarly, it was when making their bow in the FA Vase that they made the furthest progress. That season of 2012/13 saw them defeat Norwich United, Ipswich Wanderers and Dereham Town before a rollercoaster 4-3 defeat to Peacehaven & Telscombe in the 3rd Round. 


As usual, I was hoping for a dose of Friday night football, but this time it was not without it's complications. On the way back from my last groundhop at Ollerton, I had hit a fox on the A46 at 70MPH on the way home. I've no idea what the Basil Brush wannabe was doing in the middle of a dual carriageway, but I'm pretty certain it met its maker, given that a whole corner of my car completely disintegrated. I initially thought the damage was not so bad and was considering trying to get it repaired myself. But then I discovered that there was internal damage also - most notably that the windscreen washer container had been rubbing against the tyre and was now empty as it had a hole in it. I'd pretty much restricted the car to essential use only as I needed it to get to work, but credit to my insurer Aviva. They were first class in getting the situation sorted ASAP, picking it up the day after I reported it. The only fly in the ointment was that it would be between 1 and 5 and if it was towards the latter end of that timeframe it might be tight to make it through the rush hour traffic. Friday was a busy day at work, even so I was out by 12PM as I needed to get home to wait for them to pick my car up. This came around 3pm, and I was now the temporary proud owner of a Vauxhall Corsa. It didn't drive as well as my Renault Megane, nor did it have the built in sat nav but it did have DAB Radio, meaning Absolute 80's would be keeping me company for most of the time I was in the car. I had around 10 minutes to get my stuff together before I left to meet Anwar, who was accompanying me on my latest groundhop. I got to Aylesbury just after 4 and surprisingly the M25 was little hassle and we were at the ground by 6.

It was a 20-minute walk into town to the local Wetherspoons. The Dabbet Smock was my 61st in the chain and was well above average. A Philly cheese steak roll with chips & onion rings, a pint of my favourite cider Black Dragon and great service were the highlights. By 6.45 I was all done and walked back to the ground, getting in at 7.05. After paying £5 entry plus £1 for a programme, we made our way into the ground. I got some chips for £1.50 before settling down to watch the game between the dugouts. Ely opened the scoring on 10 minutes with a low shot from the edge of the area. It was 2-0 on 20 minutes as a good through ball was headed over the keeper and into the net. It was pretty much one-way traffic and at half time we went into the bar to warm up. There wasn't too much action in the second half if anything Ely were looking to add to their haul. We left at 9.40, stopping at the local Tesco on the way to get a drink for the journey home. I had a 15-mile detour after missing the turnoff for the M25 but even so, I was back home around 12.15 after dropping Anwar off.


THE NEW CROFT is a modern ground, built around the time of Haverhill Borough’s foundation. It’s also home to Haverhill Rovers FC, a team who play in the Eastern Counties Premier and are the town’s original club. There are 2 areas - a seated stand and a covered metal terrace, both holding around 150 each. The rest is open hard standing. There is a bar at the ground that does a standard range of drinks and the tea bar has a reasonable choice too. For a better choice, the town is a 20-minute walk away and has a good Wetherspoons, plus a number of other pubs & takeaways.

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Ollerton Town - The Lane

Ollerton Town FC
The Lane Sports Ground
Wallersby Lane
New Ollerton
NG22 9UT

07745 591845
Official Website

Ground Number: 557
Tuesday 23rd February 2016
Ollerton Town 12-0 Welbeck Welfare
Central Midlands League North


OLLERTON TOWN FC was formed in 1988 under the name Ollerton & Bevercotes. Staring in the Notts Alliance they won Division 2 in 1993 & changed their name in 1994, winning the Alliance Division One  2 years later and earning promotion to the Premier Division. At the turn of the century, they joined the Central Midlands League and have remained there ever since. They were champions in 2008 and following recent reorganisation were placed in it's North Division, where they sat 5th prior to tonight's contest.

While yet to play in the FA Cup, they have been regular entrants in the FA Vase over the years. Their best run came in 2009/10 when they reached the 2nd Round before a defeat to current NPL side Gresley. The club was also Notts Senior Cup runners up in 2008.


For my final Tuesday hop of the month, I knew I'd be without my usual hopping partner, as he was busy with his kids' parents evening. Initially, I thought I'd be doing the shortest trip possible on my own, to help keep my costs down. Luckily Chris, another hopper who I'd met previously at various grounds was available to step into the breach. Christened 'The Garner Monster' by Groundhop organiser Laurence on a Scottish groundhop, he was based in Milton Keynes and would be available from 4PM on Tuesday, so initially, I was thinking somewhere on the M1. With a few favourites listed from a possible list of 20, my top picks were Congleton Town and Dronfield Town. After conferring with Chris, I was delighted when he agreed. He has a slight preference towards Congleton, and that was all fine by me, as there were plenty of decent pubs for a pre-match meal, including a Wetherspoons. There was a possibility that it would be included on next season's North West Counties hop, but with plans still far from finalised at this stage, I decided to visit a ground I'd wanted to spend a match day at for ages. That said, though there would be no rain for a few days, the temperature would be 2 degrees, and with the prospect of a frozen pitch, I'd go armed with a list of backups. As it turned out we knew that our first choices would not be where we would be heading.

I'd had a busy day at work on Monday, so was hoping for a decent nights sleep on Tuesday. In the evening I started doing research for my blog, and looking at the cold weather hoped it wasn't all going to go to waste. I got a good 10-hour sleep on Monday night, and woke up feeling nice and refreshed. I used the morning for an 8-mile round trip walking to town and back, before coming home for lunch. As I was walking back I discovered that my second choice game at Dronfield had bitten the dust, and this heightened my fears for the Congleton game that was my favourite. Sure enough, just after 2PM, it was confirmed as postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, so all my work in researching their history last night had gone to waste. I texted Chris as to where he fancied next, while I checked for news of other inspections for games I had listed.

I left at 3 and due to some delays on the way I didn't get to his work until around 4.10. I checked Twitter while he made some phone calls. Central Midlands League fixtures secretary and Groundhop UK supremo Chris Berezai proved to be our saviour when he confirmed that Ollerton Town v  Welbeck Welfare was confirmed as on. With hardly anyone else posting news we decided to head for there. The journey was predicted to take a couple of hours and it started off well enough on the M1. As soon as we got off and on the A46 we encountered a whole load of rush hour traffic. We found later that the delay was caused by an accident that delayed us by 50 minutes. It must have been a bad one as they were still investigating it well into the early hours of the following morning. We got to the ground at 6.50 and after discovering that the local pub was a right dive, did no food and only Strongbow cider we went in search of a takeaway. We found a place called Milano's Pizza where we both had a half pound Chilli Burger with fries for the wallet-friendly price of £3.90. The burger was huge and there was a generous portion of fries as well. It filled me up good and proper as I eat it walking back to the ground.

When we got there we were greeted by Jack Warner who had our programmes kept back for us, and not long after we saw Chris who had kindly provided us with tonight's game. Entry was a reasonable £3 and a decent programme cost £1. It was to be a sober Tuesday for me as there was no bar at the ground, and I was glad of the flask of Bovril I'd bought with me. There were hoppers in abundance with Shaun from the 100 Football Grounds blog attending the same match as me 2 games in a row despite him living in Newcastle. He was aiming for Dronfield Town before it fell victim to the weather. He'd also bought along fellow North East folk Lee and Katie who support Middlesbrough and Sunderland respectively. Despite their teams' differences on the pitch they get along famously and often go hopping together.

The hosts opened the scoring after 15 minutes when Lewis Bingham finished from inside the area after Welbeck failed to cut out a ball across the box. It was 2-0 on 28 minutes thanks to a header from Kyle Ludlow from around 6 yards. It was soon 3-0 after 38 minutes and it was looking as if there would be a repeat of the reverse fixture on Saturday where Ollerton won 12-0. The second half started in the same fashion with the home side making it 4-0 pretty much straight after the restart. In truth it could have been a lot more had Ollerton decided to be more clinical rather than playing pretty football. An hour in and it was 5-0 thanks to a low hard fairly central shot by Karl Ludlow that deceived the keeper. A penalty was converted by Kyle Clarkson to make it 6-0 a few minutes later. The goals continued to rain in and a couple of headers later it was 8-0 with more than 20 minutes to go. The woodwork had saved it from hitting double figures on more than one occasion. There was a cracking lob with the keeper making a great save but it Kyle Ludlow followed up for his 6th of the game and it just crossed the line according to the linesman. A deflected shot by Sam Stretton made it 10 with around 10 minutes to go. It was 11-0 when Stretton’s shot crept inside the far left post and then 12 from a close-range finish by Sam Dockwray after the keeper had made a few great saves to keep the score down. It was the biggest win I have ever seen (beating Coleshill Town 11-0 Ellesmere earlier in the season) and equalling the most goals in a game (Chalfont Wasps 1-11 Marlow United - a friendly in July 2014) However, there was a bigger score on the night and a number of hoppers were there to witness it. Somerset County League side Fry Club had a 23-0 win against Cutters Friday.

Lewis Bingham 15’
Kyle Ludlow 26’  47’ 59’ 69’ 71’ 77’
Jamie Charlton 37’
Kyle Clarkson 62’
Sam Stretton 80’ 86’
Sam Dockwray 88’


So a complete hammering and a repeat of the scoreline when the sides met on Saturday. Chris had been good company and paid pretty much everything I had that evening. I did feel a tad guilty so didn't charge him the full amount at fuel but you get some hoppers who whinge if you charge than more than half the cost of the fuel, despite there being other numerous costs associated with driving. I listened to BBC Radio Nottingham on the way back and they had former Wycombe striker Mark Stallard on there who scored 23 goals in a couple of decent seasons for us back at the end of the 1990s. I had a good journey home traffic wise but annoyingly on the 70mph A46, a fox chose to run out in front of me. After hearing a thud and some scraping plastic I feared the worst and when I got to Wavendon to drop Chris off my worries were confirmed. The front of my car is only made of flimsy plastic and it had smashed to pieces on the front right-hand corner of my car. That's the second time in a year that an animal has run out in front of me after a deer did the same last April, that time resulting in a £330 excess payment on my insurance that I could well do without. I got in around 12.20, watching TV and YouTube before trying to get to sleep at 2am. It was no good as my mind was full of the costs and hassle of getting my car sorted. So I woke up at 4am with hardly any shut-eye, though I caught up the next afternoon.



THE LANE is a smart and tidy venue that is one of the better at step 7. There are 2 covered areas - one behind the goal and one along the side, providing cover for a few hundred and easily keeping any crowd that would be present on a normal day dry. There are no permanent seats, just random chairs placed for those who wish to sit. There is hard standing all around the pitch. The tea bar is pretty basic with hot and cold drinks and snacks, while there is no bar. They sell badges for £3 as well. There’s a fair bit nearby, the pick of which is Milano’s Pizza, offering decent food & generous portions at great prices. 

Sunday 21 February 2016

Ossett Albion - Queens Terrace

Ossett Albion FC
Queens Terrace
Dimple Wells Road
West Yorkshire

Ground Number: 556
Saturday 20th February 2016
Ossett Albion 1-0 Scarborough Athletic
NPL D1 North 


OSSETT ALBION FC was founded in After playing in the Yorkshire League for much of their early years, they became founder members of the Northern Counties East League when it was established in 1982. Initially plying their trade at Division One level they were champions in 1988 and therefore earned promotion to the Premier Division, Despite a rocky start, including 2 bottom placed finishes in their first 2 seasons, they were not relegated. Gradually they improved and by 1999 they were winners of the league but were not promoted due to the bizarre reason of one of their dressing rooms not being big enough. With the problem remedied, a 2nd place finish in 2001 was enough to see them promoted to the NPL D1 instead of champions Brigg Town. They were relegated after one season and found themselves back in the NCEL Premier. They were champions for the 2nd time in 2004, and this time it was enough for them to be promoted back up. They’ve been in the  Northern Premier League Division 1 North since, and despite struggling most of the time, have not gone down. They did finish in 6th place in their first 2 seasons though, just missing out on the playoffs. This season they are looking in fine fettle after a 17th placed finish last season, and appear well in for a chance at the end of season shake-up promotion wise, sitting in 4th place after the game.

It’s been a case of always the bridesmaid but never the bride for Ossett Albion in the FA Cup. They’ve been one step away from having a shot at a league side on 3 occasions have lost in the 4th Qualifying Round. Defeats to South Liverpool, Stalybridge Celtic & Bradford Park Avenue have halted their progress. They’ve had little way in the way of progress in the FA Trophy, though they have made good progress in the FA Vase, reaching the 4th Round on 3 occasions. Season 1992/93 saw an extraordinary battle with Worsborough Bridge Miners Welfare in a Preliminary Round tie. Back in the day of unlimited replays it took them 4 attempts for the game to be decided, with their opponents eventually running out 3-2 winners. Locally they have won the West Riding County Cup on 4 occasions, the most recent coming in 1999. Their Wikipedia entry proudly boasts that this is twice more and 17 years more recently than crosstown rivals Ossett Town. They’ve also won the West Yorkshire League Cup twice, and the NCEL League Cup in 1984 as they defeated Ilkeston Town. Famous people from the town itself include Coronation Street’s Helen Worth, who plays Gail Platt in the Weatherfield soap.


Fellow hopper Anwar was keen to tick off most of the 92 and was willing to help in a decent way with fuel costs. With that in mind, we had got in a routine of me dropping him off at a ground, and then heading off to a non-league one of my choosing. This had worked well in the past with me going off to various places but we had not yet managed to get one under our belts this season. Finally, though the opportunity came up, as we both had a free Saturday, and he wanted to go to Burnley. The first choice for me was Clitheroe, but with the inclement weather in mind I had drawn up a list of 20 possibilities, including a few step 7 and below, as well as a 3G at Widnes. The journey up went well, apart from the last part as there was a lot of traffic in Burnley Town centre. Even so we were installed in Wetherspoons at 12.15 where I had a Chilli Hot Dog with all the trimmings for £6. The first disappointment of the afternoon came with the news that the game at Clitheroe was off, but second choice Liversedge were confident that they would play their game. With only light rain forecast, I left town at 1.15. My third choice Lancaster City was holding a pitch inspection at that time and appeared doubtful, and so with it being isolated in terms of alternatives, that was not really considered. It was a 28-mile journey to Liversedge FC, through lovely scenic roads, which were sadly very slow. As I was 10 minutes from the ground, I got a phone call from fellow groundhopper, Andy. However, I was in a signal blackspot and was unable to answer. Figuring something was up with the game, I pulled over as soon as I could and checked Liversedge’s Twitter. No news, but when I checked the NCEL’s official feed it had been called off 8 minutes earlier. I shouldn’t be surprised, as their pitch is very dodgy, and as a consequence, they have a big backlog of games in hand, which they will need to win if they are to lift themselves off of the bottom of the NCEL Premier. I’d really been looking forward to going there, as they were one game away from playing Wycombe back in 2004, and I knew one of their fans so it would be an interesting place to visit.

I find that referees are becoming ever fussier nowadays and look for any excuse to call a game off. Most ridiculous of all was Barrow v Braintree Town, with 2 friends that I knew having gone up there. One had even done his early morning shift at work before leaving for the coach. However, that didn’t stop the referee from calling it off at 1PM with scant regard for the travelling supporters. I personally don’t see why the players cannot adapt to the conditions unless they are utterly ludicrous. Credit to Barrow, they put on a meal for the Braintree supporters before they made their way home, so there was at least a small crumb of consolation. The question was, where was I going to go. There were very few options on my list, but I had remembered seeing that Ossett Albion was at home. I’d fancied that for a while and so after phoning the club to make sure it was on, I put the ground into my Sat Nav. I’d expected it to be fairly local, but it turned out to be 20 miles away. I’d get there dead on kick off, but at least I would have a game. There were more dawdling drivers halting my progress, but after making the time up where the roads were clearer I managed to get to the ground dead on 3PM. Luckily there was a perfect parking space on the end of a row of cars, and so after slinging the car in there and getting my bag out the boot, I dashed to the ground. I got through the turnstile just as the whistle sounded for kick off, though perhaps not surprisingly I missed out on a programme after arriving so late.

The game itself was a real blood and thunder encounter between 2 committed teams. There was a nasty looking injury to Scarborough's Shane Killock and it was not nice to see as you could hear his cries of pain from a fair way away. In the end, an ambulance was called to take him away - shockingly that has happened worth times I have watched the Seadogs. I can only hope that the player gets better soon. There was an unsavoury incident at halftime when one of the Ossett players was racially abused by someone from the visiting fans. There was a tannoy announcement saying that the game would be called off if it continued, and it was a shame that a small section of their fans let down the majority of their support, who were in fine voice all afternoon. The game was won by a 66th-minute header from Osset’s central defender Danny South after a great delivery from a corner. The Scarborough keeper was harshly sent off on 79 minutes when he appeared to win the ball on the edge of the area and as they had already used up all their subs, an outfield player had to go in goal. The man reduction killed off any chance of an equaliser from them, though the score had been low, there had been plenty of entertainment on the pitch.

I’d really enjoyed my day at Queens Terrace. The ground was a real cracker and the entry charge of £7 was very reasonable and in my mind spot on for this level. I was disappointed to miss out on a programme and I knew the town to be very nice from a brief visit while passing through one day. Numerous good pubs and other attractions mean I will be hoping to base myself here for an overnight stay, hopefully, while visiting their neighbours Ossett Town. Highlights of the day included coming within 10 tickets of winning the raffle, a very nice hot pork pie and peas which came from a local farm shop, and a well-stocked club shop. Sadly I didn’t manage to get the rosette I wanted as the man who ran the shop had left his young daughter in charge while he was dealing with the ambulance for the injured player, which is totally understandable. At least I picked up one of their history books, covering the years from 2001-2007 to read. I only wished I could have had a more relaxed time at the ground, with time before the game to chill. I left the ground at around 5.20, thanks to lots of injury time in both halves. I was disappointed at Wycombe’s result, as they lost 1-0 at Northampton. Elsewhere 10 of my 20 games were off, with notable results including Cheadle Town’s 10-1 hammering of Atherton LR. I was glad not to have put on too many more miles on my fuel bill than I needed to, with my nearest surviving game being Fulwood Amateurs v Hesketh Bank in the West Lancashire League, which was a 58 mile round trip away - going to Ossett was an extra 74 miles, even with an initial wasted journey. With the same slow roads on the way back, I didn’t get back to Burnley until 6.40. At least Anwar had a good day, as Burnley beat Rotherham 2-0. We made decent time home and was thankful that we were not coming the other way on the M40. There was a huge tailback on the other side, thanks to a 3 car pile up and I can only hope that there was no one hurt due to a drivers incompetence. I dropped Anwar off at 9.55, getting home myself at 10.15. I was still wide awake after watching Match Of The Day with a very nice ‘Suzie Wong’ cider and so stayed up watching TV until 1am. With me up at 4am, it wasn’t too much of a surprise when I overslept the next morning, though in the end, I was only half an hour late.


QUEENS TERRACE is a great traditional ground, with plenty of character and colour. There steps of open terracing all the way around, with cover behind both goals for around 800 in all. There is also a covered seated stand holding around 250. The bar is pretty small and from my limited view of proceedings, it appeared to be dealing mainly in cans. It did, however, have plenty of interesting stuff on the walls and big screen TV. What are excellent are the tea hut, offering a range of very good food at nice prices, and the club shop which must be up there amongst the best at this level. The town is not too far away and there are a number of decent pubs and takeaways situated there.