Friday 29 April 2016

Fleet Spurs - Kennels Lane

Fleet Spurs FC
Kennels Lane
GU14 0ST

Official Website

Ground Number: 585
Friday 29th April 2016
Fleet Spurs 0-3 Downton
Wessex League D1


FLEET SPURS were established in 1948 and started playing competitive football 3 years later after initially playing only friendly games. They initially competed in local Aldershot, Surrey & Hampshire League, experiencing plenty of success. After being very successful in the Hampshire League, this competition merged with the Wessex League where the club found success hard to come by at first. However things have gradually improved and in 2010 they had their best ever finish of 3rd in the Wessex Division 1, scoring 102 goals in the process. This season they were in 10th place with a game to go, and could either move up or down a place dependent on other results.

Success has been limited in the FA competitions with them yet to win in 2 attempts in the FA Cup. The FA Vase has also been quite barren with only the 2nd Qualifying Round being reached, though they did have a notable 6-1 victory over Petersfield Town in their debut season of 2010/11. Local cup wins include the Peter Benyon Cup in 1991 and both the Aldershot Junior Cup & the Hampshire Junior Cup in 1953. The club was the attention of Tottenham Hotspur lawyers in 2013 as their badge was deemed to be too similar to the Premiership clubs cockerel and they were forced to change for it the following season. Though they have no official links to their illustrious neighbours the club was set up as a homage to Spurs by those returning from World War 2. 


After going to a game on almost every Friday this year, I wasn't sure at first whether I would make a game tonight. All my hopping friends were busy and with the nearest game being at Framlingham near Ipswich it would be an expensive night out. However, a saviour came in the Non-League Paper fixture list last Sunday in the form of Fleet Spurs. It was ideal being just 40 miles from home which was one of my closest grounds that I've not visited. I'd be able to eat at home before going to save even more money, and I was bound to know a few people there with Norwegian groundhopper Anders choosing the game as part of his trip over here. It was a brutal day at work, one of my busiest in a while which left me knackered and glad to get out of the place at 2. I went home and had a bath and had another look at games for next week. Though the choice of leagues is thinning out, there are still plenty of games and I could have the situation where I am doing a game every night of the week. Not the best thing seeing as I'll only get a few hours sleep with me being up at 4am every day but I wanted to get in games while I could before the season ended. I spent the afternoon watching some of my 'Goodnight Sweetheart' DVD box set that I'd bought off of eBay recently. After having a nice dinner of lamb shanks and couscous, I left at 5.45. It was a good journey, save for a few slow spots and I was at the ground by 6.50.

After paying £5 to get in which included a programme. I chatted to another hopper OxPete while I waited for Norwegian hopper Anders to arrive. He'd been filling his boots at the Reading Ale & Cider festival and I was a tad jealous when I found they had 150 ciders on offer. For my pre-match pint, I'd bought a can of Blackthorn from home to save money. I chatted to Anders and another hopper from Mossley while we watched the game from under the cover as it had started to rain. Downton were slightly the better side and they took the lead on 25 minutes when Tom Aldridge's persistence forced an own goal from Fleet after a goalmouth scramble. I was a bit peckish at half time so I got myself a bacon burger for £3.50 which was excellent. Despite the hosts having a much better start to the second half they didn't make their dominance pay and they were punished on 74 minutes when a Downton forward picked up on a loose ball and fired home to double their lead from around 10 yards. Still the pressure came from Fleet Spurs but the game was wrapped up in the last minute with the goal of the game. Ross Bentall's low shot was driven into the bottom left-hand corner. Very harsh on the hosts but a lesson in finishing their chances given on the night. There were a number of hoppers present on the night out of a crowd of 37. I gave Anders a lift back to Farnborough North station so he could get his train back to Reading. As he was listening A-HA from his homeland of Norway were on the radio and it was the Absolute 80's Party that was my soundtrack on the way home. The journey took me back via the M3 which was full of roadworks and the M25 but there were no problems at this time of night. I got in at 10.30 and spent the rest of the evening chilling with a couple of ciders while I typed my blog. Later on, I watched TV in bed, happy in the knowledge that I didn't have to be up for work in the morning.


KENNELS LANE is a fairly basic ground but it's extremely well kept. The only cover is around 50 seats in front of the clubhouse, similar to Pewsey Vale. The clubhouse offered some decent food plus a decent selection of cans of beer and cider. This is just as well as its a long way from anywhere and I can certainly recommend the bacon burger as it's as good as any that I've had in a football ground. It was a good value night out, the programme included with entry was very nicely presented, though it could have done with more in it, stats and reading wise.

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Leicester Nirvana - Gleneagles Avenue

Leicester Nirvana FC
Highfield Rangers FC
Gleneagles Avenue

Ground Number: 584
Tuesday 26th April 2016
Leicester Nirvana 7-0 Holbeach United
United Counties Premier


LEICESTER NIRVANA were formed in 2008 as a result of Thurnby Rangers (long time members of the Leicestershire Senior League) and Leicester Nirvana (an initially junior team who spent a season in the Central Midlands League, finishing as runners-up in their first season. They were initially known as Thurnby Nirvana upon merger but changed back to one of the clubs original names last summer. Initially taking up Thurnby Rangers place in the Leicestershire Senior League, a 3rd placed finish in their debut season was enough to see them admitted to the East Midlands Counties League as Thurmaston Town & Leicester Constabulary, the teams who finished above them, chose not to accept promotion. After finishing 9th in their first season of 2010/11, they gradually progressed up the league and by 2014 they were champions, winning promotion to the United Counties Premier. Last season they finished as runners-up, and they have carried that on this season with them being in a very tight title race with AFC Kempston Rovers with just goal difference splitting the 2 sides. Both sides were on long unbeaten runs and were facing tough games tonight - 6th placed Holbeach United were the opponents tonight while Kempston faced 4th placed Eynesbury Rovers.

IN the FA Cup the clubs' best run came in their debut season of 2011/12. Desborough Town & St Neots Town were beaten before a defeat to Barrow Town in a 1st Qualifying Round replay. The FA Vase 4th Round has been reached in the past 2 seasons, though this year's game was one to forget as they crashed 6-0 to finalists Hereford in a game that was delayed due to the bad weather.The club also won the East Midlands Counties League Cup in 2011.


The football season was ending already at steps 3 & 4 and tonight saw the playoff semi finals. Initially I fancied Taunton Town in the Southern League D1 South & West, but it was a bit of a long journey when I had to be up at 4 in the morning. I'd have Anwar back in the passenger seat after a series of excuses and other commitments so I text him for his opinion. He gave his preference as Leicester Nirvana & Rothwell Corinthians and with the latter more likely to feature on this August's UCL & PDFL groundhop, I selected the brilliantly named Nirvana as this weeks hop. My research found a Piri Piri chicken place within a short drive of the ground, so that was dinner all sorted.  It was my usual day off work and walk down town on the day of the game, and as I was coming back I listened to the verdict of the Hillsborough Disaster court case where the authorities were found liable for the death of 96 innocent football fans. It’s an absolute disgrace that lies, cover-ups and erroneous reporting has meant that it has taken over 27 years for the families of those who lost their lives to get justice, but hopefully the victims can now truly rest in peace. I spent the afternoon listing a few bits on eBay, having spent quite a lot lately I needed the money. I left at 3.30, getting to Aylesbury to meet Anwar at 4.15. That was after there was an accident on the A413 near the Chiltern Hospital which resulted in a diversion through Great Missenden and a 20-minute delay. It looked a nasty one so the closure was probably justified. Luckily though it appears as if everyone survived without serious injury. It was also slow getting out of Aylesbury and then again through Milton Keynes as it was rush hour. After all this, I was surprised that the M1 was generally good with just the 50MPH limit through the roadworks holding us up.

The biggest delay probably came getting off the M1 into Leicester due to poorly designed traffic lights that only stayed green for a few seconds. Eventually, we got to Peri-Zza, our pre-match meal place at 6.30 where I had a half Peri Peri chicken meal for £4.99. It was excellent and amongst the best meals I have had whilst groundhopping though I wish I'd opted for the whole chicken option. From there it was onto the ground though we went to the junior ground and club offices first as that was the address given on the official website. That was just a field and building and was deserted so it obviously wasn't there. We guessed that the groundshare with Highfield Rangers that was mentioned on Wikipedia still existed do we headed off there and luckily there was more life there. I paid £5 entry plus £1 for a decent programme, albeit from the time of the original date for this fixture on 12th March. We went in the clubhouse and found out that they failed ground grading as the capacity of the ground was only 900, though to be honest it wasn't much worse than Petersfield or Salford City at steps 4 & 3 respectively apart from the lack of turnstiles. Pre match I bumped into the referee who I follow on Twitter and was also the linesman when we went to Stamford earlier this year and so we had a brief chat. It was unseasonably chilly, despite being nearly May the temperature at half time was 3 degrees.

Despite Holbeach starting slightly the better side it was the hosts who had the first real chance of the game. The last man was brought down and the offender red carded but the resulting penalty was screwed wide. Nirvana took the lead on 20 minutes with a Matthew Melbourne shot from around 10 yards that hit the underside of the bar on it's way in. This signalled a period where the hosts seized the initiative and Holbeach did not help their cause by having another man sent off for denying a clear-cut goalscoring opportunity. Nirvana doubled their lead just before half-time when a cross from the right by Master deceived the keeper and went straight in. On 53 minutes it was 3 with the goal of the night when a mazy run was capped by a superb finish for Reece Morris. It was 4-0 on 56 minutes when Master got his second with a shot through a crowd of players. Melbourne got his brace on 70 minutes as he got away from the Holbeach defence and slotted past the keeper. It was six after a good cross found Jordan Nelson and he curled a shot in the bottom right-hand corner. Finally, on 88 minutes the rout was complete, this time through Matthew Melbourne who capped a great performance with his hat trick. The drive home was pretty good, though it wasn't until nearly 10 that we got away due to the 8pm kick-off. We listened to the football analysis as Manchester City drew 0-0 at home to Real Madrid in the Champions League. I was a bit disappointed for my mate Louis who's Hythe team got to the play-off semi-final in the Isthmian Division 1 South only to be thumped 7-0 at Worthing, the same score as the game I'd seen. Related to tonight's game  Nirvana's closest rivals AFC Kempston Rovers had 'only' beaten Eynesbury Rovers 3-0 so that gave a clear advantage on goal difference. For the rest of the journey, there was more about Hillsborough, especially The Sun newspaper who has printed those offensive lies so boldly on their front page all those years ago. Yet there was no mention of the inquiry on the front page with the story relegated to pages 8 and 9 of tomorrow's paper. I dropped Anwar off at 11.25, getting home myself 20 minutes later. I watched TV for a bit before going to sleep around 1am.


GLENEAGLES AVENUE is actually the home of Leicestershire Senior League outfit Highfield Rangers. It's an excellent ground for that level and a reasonable one for step 5 with 3 metal stands - 2 seated holding just over 100 and a standing area holding around the same. The rest is hard standing. The clubhouse offers a basic range of drinks while the tea bar offers burgers, bacon rolls and hot dogs but wasn't open when I visited. The ground is in the middle of a housing estate and there wasn't much around that I could see, so you are probably best off eating en-route.

Saturday 23 April 2016

Northampton Spencer - Kingsthorpe Mill

Northampton Spencer FC
Kingsthorpe Mill
Studland Road

01604 718898
Official Website

Ground Number: 583
Saturday 23rd April 2016
Northampton Spencer 2-0 Raunds Town
United Counties Reserves League


NORTHAMPTON SPENCER FC was formed in 1936 and were initially known as Spencer School Old Boys. After playing in local leagues for the first 30 or so years they joined the United Counties League in 1968. They initially played in the leagues second tier, but not for long as a runners-up spot in their first season was good enough to see them promoted. They've spent the vast majority of their history in what is now called the Premier Division apart from a couple of spells between 1981 and 1985 and 2012-2015. The worst finish was the 1981-82 season when they finished bottom of Division 1 but 10 years later they had recovered and bounced back in style, winning the Premier Division for the only time in their history.

In the FA Cup, there hasn't been a huge amount of success but they did reach the 2nd Qualifying Round in 1999 and 2009, The FA Vase has been a happier hunting ground with them reaching the 4th Round in 1988. They made a meal of getting past the first hurdle, taking 2 replays to beat Knyppersley Victoria but it was only a narrow 2-1 defeat to Gresley Rovers that halted their run to Wembley.


Originally on the day of this game I’d been planning on going to Portsmouth v Wycombe as it’s one of the best away days in the league. But what with my favourite pub near the ground closing and the dull standard of football that was being played, I decided against with. With the absence of any hoppers to accompany me, there was really only one choice, despite it being a reserves game. The previous Tuesday while Wycombe were playing out a dull 0-0 draw with Yeovil, Northampton Spencer played their last ever home league game when they lost 1-0 to local rivals Northampton Sileby Rangers. The reason for this is that they are folding at the end of the season, due to an ageing committee and no one willing to step in and help. It’s a sad state of affairs that 80 years of footballing history is going down the pan, but it’s a common problem amongst clubs. There are some lucky ones such as Atherton Collieries who have a young and vibrant group of people behind the scenes but that seems to be an exception to the rule. A complete lack of community spirit which was exemplified by even more bad luck that hit the club in the past week. The clubhouse suffered a break in, in fact it suffered a break in for the FIFTH time in 2 weeks, however the latest mindless attack was the one that caused all the damage with the attempted flooding of the bar, pulling down the roof, smashing windows and wrecking the kitchen. It’s unlikely that the scum that did this will ever be caught - I can’t see the Police making much effort because as well as cuts, there’s not really anything in it for them. Even if the culprits are brought to justice then they will probably get nothing more than a slap on the wrist, such is the lack of punishment for wrong’uns nowadays. In any case, it will be too late for a club who won’t be around for much longer, and despite the vast majority of people being great, you can’t help but be angry at the mindless minority.

Despite all the setbacks I was glad that the club was still managing to get the game on. I was also pleased that the weather was dry as their pitch only needs the slightest bit of water to flood. As well as that I was planning to leave early and walk into town so I could have lunch and a couple of pints as well as a look round the shops. I’d not had the best nights sleep beforehand as I’d forgotten to turn my work alarm off meaning I was woken at 4am and didn’t get back to sleep for ages. Eventually, I woke up at 8.30, having some black pudding for breakfast and a bath before catching up online and watching some YouTube videos. I briefly set up my new camera - a Samsung Galaxy 2 but it would pretty much be a case of learning as I went along. Luckily I’m familiar with the Android system that it’s based on, so it should be fairly easy. I left at 10.30 and it was a decent journey to Northampton with me parking up near the ground at 11.50 and taking the half-hour walk into town. Interestingly enough I saw that the town centre was offering free parking which would have been useful had I not been drinking and a pleasant change to most towns. First stop was Wetherspoons which was one of the poorer ones I've been in as it had no real ciders. I contented myself with a bottle of Angry Orchard for the decent price of £1.49 while I caught up on Facebook. Luckily I had lots of time and my walking legs on as the next stop, The Olde England was another mile away. On the way I encountered a religious nutter banging on about how the world was doomed and bizarrely 2 Poundlands opposite each other. I went in one looking for a case for my camera but came out with a 3 pack of Chocolate Cremes and a shower gel & aftershave gift set. My second pub was a bit off the beaten track but it was an absolute cracker with 12 real ciders and a pub with plenty of nooks and crannies and bags of character. I had a half of Lyme Valley Chapel Rock. By now it was nearly 1.30 but I still had time for a half of Nell Gwynne at 4% it was very drinkable. It was the pub of the season for me and I was in good company too.

The walk back to the ground took 30 minutes and included a nice shortcut through some pleasant parkland. Sadly it didn't include the plethora of takeaways I had passed en route so I had to make do with some chicken and Belgian buns from the local Aldi. I got to the ground with 15 minutes until kick off, paying £3 to get in. Spencer took the lead on 5 minutes through a nice finish from their number 10 after a great through ball. The rest of the game was pretty quiet but the hosts sealed it in the last minute with a close-range finish from a low cross in their last ever home game. The journey home went as well as the journey there. The football results kept me company and although Wycombe lost, they played well according to reports. I had the great comfort of Milton Keynes being relegated and that kept me laughing for most of the journey home. There were also generally good results for my mates' teams so all in all, it wasn’t a bad bay. I got home at around 6.30 and had a cider while watching the FA Cup Semi-Final with Manchester United beating Everton 2-1 with a last-minute goal. The rest of the evening was spent catching up on various bits and doing my blog. The usual ritual of watching Match Of The Day before going to sleep was adhered to, with my usual 4am start at work the following morning.


KINGSTHORPE MILL is a pretty decent ground with seating for around 150 and covered standing for around 200. The rest of the ground is open hard standing and has an overall capacity of 2000. There is a bar at the ground which is large and offers a reasonable range of drinks. I didn't see any food but there is an ASDA and an Aldi nearby. Further away the town is just under half an hour walk away and offers a good range of pubs and takeaways.