Friday 29 July 2016

Hayes & Yeading - SkyEx Community Stadium

Hayes & Yeading FC
SkyEX Community Stadium
Beaconsfield Road

020 8573 2075
Official Website

Ground Number: 602
Friday 29th July 2016
Hayes & Yeading 0-2 Hendon


1:  The club were formed in 2007 as a result of the merger between Hayes and Yeading - 2 sides who played in the Conference South.

2:  Initially playing at Hayes wonderful Church Road they left in 2011 after selling their ground to Barratt Homes. Due to the financial downturn they did not get as much as they would have liked for the ground and as such spent 5 years sharing at Woking and Maidenhead United while the funds were accrued to redevelop Yeading's ground into a home fit for the new team.

3:  Taking Yeading's place in the Conference South, they finished 13th in their first ever season. The following year they reached the Conference South Playoffs - beating Eastleigh 6-4 in a 2 legged semi-final before defeating Middlesex rivals Hampton & Richmond 3-2 in the final. They would return to the Conference South in 2012, following a 3-year stint in the Conference National. With little income, they struggled though and after years of battling the odds were relegated to the Southern League for the start of next season.

4:  The club spent 3 seasons in the Conference, upsetting several bigger teams. In their final season in 2011/12 they were in and round the top half up until October before fading away due to financial issues and were relegated with a couple of games of the season remaining. 

5:  Since the merger the best progress Hayes and Yeading have made in the FA Cup has been the first round. This came ibn the 2010/11 season when they were only eliminated by a last minute goal against Football League side Wycombe Wanderers.

6:  The FA Trophy had not been a happy hunting ground for the club with the best they could manage being a 2nd Round apperance in 2008/09 where they lost 4-0 to AFC Telford United.

7:  A number of well-known players have represented the club. Former Liverpool and Coventry defender Phil Babb was manager for a time, while former Birmingham defender Darren Purse played for the club last season.

8:  Hayes and Yeading have several links with my team Wycombe Wanderers. Former youth player Steve Gregory was a playoff hero as he notched twice in the 2009 win over Hampton & Richmond. More recently current QPR keeper Matt Ingram played for the club on loan as part of his preparation for league football.

9:  Hayes & Yeading reached the final of the 2011 Middlesex Senior Cup, losing 2-1 to Staines Town. 

10: The club's motto is 'Porro Simul' which means 'Forward Together' in Latin


For 5 long years Hayes and Yeading have had no place to call home. Questions might be raised over the deal they got on the sale of their Church Road home, but they have done remarkably well to keep the club going, given their tiny crowds and struggles on field. Where other clubs have fallen by the wayside, they have managed to stay alive. Their long suffering and loyal fans have suffered greatly and it has been a long wait to return home. After several false starts, the green light was finally given to return and ever since the game was announced a month ago I have had it in my plans to visit. The club took the eminently sensible option of scheduling the game on a Friday night when several casual observers and groundhoppers can attend and I was glad that I could attend such a historic occasion. Sensible pricing of £5 for tonight's game and a bargain £99 for season tickets will hopefully win some of the lapsed fans back and push them on to greater success on the field.

On the day of the game it was very easy day at work and I was finished by 11. I went home and sorted my car insurance, which cost £380 to renew, with most quotes wanting double that, so it looks a good deal. I also priced up a new PC with my current iMac looking a bit long in the tooth. I found one that would be pretty high spec for £515 although the project may be put on hold as I can only get £350 for my current machine, which is at least current for now. I caught up on a few other things, and after having a dinner of pork chops, left home at 6.20.

It was a surprisingly good journey over to Hayes for a Friday evening with the only delay being when I got off the A40 and driving into Hayes.  Despite last driving the route over 5 years ago it was instantly recognisable as I'd done it a few times before,  what with me living in nearby Greenford as an infant.  I got to the ground at 7.15, parking up and getting some pictures before paying a fiver to get in.  There were basic refreshments and a merchandise stall but it was very much a case of make do and mend with considerable work to add the finishing touches to the ground. I saw Hayes fan Corey who I'd not seen since they played Bath in 2013. He'd enjoyed a few beers to celebrate coming home and was in good spirits as he met up with the rest of the Hayes faithful.

Team news for Hayes saw former Wycombe midfielder James Harper line up for them.  Harper gave the funniest and most entertaining interview upon signing for the club a few years back. Sadly it was his best performance in a Wycombe shirt as he struggled for fitness and never really shone at all in his Adams Park career. I didn't recognise any of the Hendon names but it was they who started on the front foot as Hayes played their first proper home game in 5 years.  The hosts started nervously and Hendon had already missed a couple of gilt-edged chances by the time  Dale Binns' precise left foot shot had crept inside the far post with around 10 minutes gone. The onslaught continued,  bar the occasional chance on the break and it was no surprise when the visitors made it 2-0. This time, it had a touch of the spectacular about it as Spencer McCall's free kick flew in from 30 yards. The second half saw the hosts rally at the start but it was soon back to Hendon being in the ascendancy although they seemed content to see out the game. Hayes were unlucky not to get a first goal at home with around 10 minutes to go as a diving header was well saved by the Hendon keeper in their best chance of the game.

So then, a welcome return home for the Hayes and Yeading fans. This might not have been the result that they wanted but coming home is a major step forward in them rubbing out the pain of the past few years. Whether the move home will translate into form in the Southern League is anyone's guess,  but tonight's showing suggests there is much work to be done should they wish to return to the Conference South. I'd had a good evening anyway and had a fairly simple trip home. Less than a fiver in petrol both ways and I was back home by 10. I had a few cans before bed, looking forward to a revisit to Maidenhead along with the town's beer festival tomorrow.

The SkyEX COMMUNITY STADIUM is very much a work in progress. The only stand there is not a bad start though - a large seated affair that would not look out of place in League 2 or the Conference. The rest of it though has not even got proper tarmac and is all flat hard standing. They might not be able to transport the magic of Church Road here, but  the terrific club shop will no doubt eventually make its way across. All the facilities were of a temporary nature tonight, so I'll be making my way across once everything is in place to make a proper judgement. In any case, the club are back home, and all the better for it.

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Trafford - Shawe View

Trafford FC
Shawe View
Pennybridge Lane
M41 5DL

Ground Number: 601
Saturday 23rd July 2016
Trafford 1-1 Chorley


1:  The club were formed in 1990, originally under the name of NORTH TRAFFORD. They changed their name to the current one at the end of the 1993/94 season.

2:  The club started out in the Mid Cheshire League's second tier, finishing runners-up behind Newcastle Town Reserves in their first season. This was enough to gain promotion, with them finishing 4th in the 1st Division in the 1991/92 season.

3:  In 1992 they joined the North West Counties League. They started in its second tier. They won promotion to the top tier in their second season, finishing runners-up behind Haslingden in 1994. The success continued with high league placings and by 1997 they were champions, winning promotion to the Northern Premier League. They would return to the league following relegation from 2003 until 2008 and despite struggling at first soon turned things around and were Champions again.

4: Their first spell in the Northern Premier League's second tier brought mixed fortunes with a 5th placed finish in NPL D1 in 2001. A couple of years later however, they were relegated back to the North West Counties League. The second spell was a bit better, finishing 4th in 2013 and beating Cammell Laird in the playoff final. Their third spell began last season, with a solid 8th placed finish following 2 seasons away.

5:  Between 2013 and 2015 Trafford were in the NPL Premier, They had their best ever league finish in their history in 2013/14, finishing 10th.However, they were relegated the following season after finishing second bottom.

6:  Trafford have made their best progress in the FA Cup on three occasions. They reached the 3rd Qualifying Round in 2006 (losing 1-0 at home to Harrogate Town), 2012 (losing 3-1 at home to Marine) and 2013 (losing 4-2 at Corby Town). The latter of those runs is notable for a victory over higher league opponents in Altrincham, who would go on to gain promotion to the Conference Premier at the end of that season.

7:  The 2000/01 season saw their best ever FA Trophy run as they reached the 3rd Round. They even managed to force a draw against Conference side Telford United who would go on to finish 6th in the Conference that season. Class would tell on the replay though as the Shropshire club triumphed 7-0.

8:  Trafford's best-ever run in the FA Vase came in the 1995/96 season. Their run actually encompassed 8 matches as it took 3 replays to beat Selby Town. Their run eventually ended in round 5 as they lost to Lincolnshire outfit Brigg Town.

9:  Other cup achievements include winning the Northern Premier League's Presidents Cup in 2000 and 2009.

10: The record attendance at Shawe View came in August 2013 as 1.374 attended the NPL Premier Clash with FC United. 


After leaving my previous game at Wythenshawe at 12.50. I made good time on the way to my game at Trafford, arriving just after 1PM. First port of call was the local Wetherspoons, the Tom Bobbin. It was my hundredth in the chain but I was unable to find the one cider that I needed to complete the festival. Sadly 'Driftwood' was not found, even after they looked out the back. Instead, I had a pint of Hallets before walking back to the ground. On the way back I stopped at Urmston Fish Bar which was voted 'Best Chippy in Greater Manchester' 2014. To be honest it wasn't much better than average though I still enjoyed my generous portion of pudding, chips and peas for £3.75.

I walked back to the ground, getting some things out of my car, on my way to the turnstile. Entrance was a very reasonable £5, plus there was a cut-down programme for 50p which filled me in on all I needed to know ahead of the days clash.  I sat on the grass banks and eat my lunch, basking in the glorious sunshine. Later on I'd meet Sean, a fellow groundhopper who has the same sort of tastes in pubs, football grounds and chip shops as me. It was a random meet on Facebook sometime ago but we have kept each other entertained with various comments and photos over the years. In life he was just as good company, and plans were already made to meet up in the future, either when I visit Manchester in early September or another time in the Midlands.

The game started off at a decent pace but there wasn't much in the way of clear-cut chances. For a long while, it looked as if it would end goalless - especially when Chorley hit the bar with what would be their first penalty of the game on 67 minutes. Josh O'Keefe stepped up confidently but his effort cannoned off the bar and away to safety. They eventually did take the lead a few minutes later though as Sefton Gonzales rounded the keeper to put his side ahead. Though Chorley had the better of the first half, it had been a lot more even in the second. On 73 minutes Trafford were awarded a penalty of their own and Chris McDonagh blasted it past the keeper to level things up. Chorley would go on to miss their second penalty of the game with a few minutes to go - this time ex-Barrow striker Jason Walker had his effort expertly saved by the home keeper.

I said goodbye to Sean and his son, Robson before going on to ASDA at the Trafford Centre to get petrol. After filling up, I left at 5.20, listening to various things on the way home. The highlight was BBC Radio Leicester's coverage of the Celtic v Leicester City game which I had on pretty much all the way from Stoke until I lost the signal in Oxford. Sadly that was just before the penalty shoot out commences and after listening for 2 hours I missed the most exciting bit. For the record, I found out later, whilst writing this blog that Leicester had triumphed. I was home by 8 and was pleased that my cider box had arrived. I had a couple of bottles while catching up with what had occurred in my absence.

It had been a good but unhealthy week, as well as an expensive one.  Of course that had to be paid for somehow, but even so, I was seriously not looking forward to waking up for work at 4am the following morning. I got to sleep at 10.30 and had a reasonable night's kip, but I was correct to be apprehensive about going back. Every day seems to be full of nasty surprises at the moment and the Sunday morning would prove no exception. I feared the worst when I saw our supervisor striding towards me, a decent enough person but always the bearer of bad news. Before I'd even got out of my car I was told that I'd be travelling 20 miles to a village in Oxfordshire called Wheatley to help out at their store. I'd not even been consulted or asked if it was OK with me and I was only one of about 20% of my department that had been sent there. It was not what I wanted on my first day back, especially as Sunday is usually the nicest day to work in our store. I had to give someone a lift too, and it was a right poxy little store, so much so that I expected Arkwright and Granville to be running the show. I did it under duress as there was no one around to explain the decision and worse still I've got to go there every Sunday and Thursday for around the next 6 weeks, with no concrete information on how I am able to claim my petrol expenses.


SHAWE VIEW was a ground that I visited on the way to another Wycombe away game and I was given such a friendly welcome that I was looking forward to returning some years later as a groundhopper. At the time they were in the North West Counties League, but following my visit they had had a good few years, going as high as the NPL Premier before settling at step 4. There is plenty near the ground if you are prepared to walk, and the Tim Bobbin Wetherspoons is probably your best bet pre-match if you have time.

As a result, I didn't try much in the ground, but I noticed that they had Stella Cidre on tap amongst other things. The tea bar looked decent, but I didn't sample any of its wares. Merchandise was a touch on the expensive side, with a scarf costing £10 but that's the problem when the club has to order things in smaller quantities. There are 3 areas of cover, 2 seated with capacity for around 350 sitting fans. One also has a standing area behind, and around  650 can stand under cover. With a further area of terrcaing and grass banks, the ground has an official capacity of 2500. Everywhere is very well kept and it was a nice place to spend a sunny afternoon in July.

Monday 25 July 2016

Wythenshawe Town - Ericstan Park

Wythenshawe Town FC
Ericstan Park
Timpson Road
M23 9LL

Ground Number 600
Saturday 23rd July 2016
Wythenshawe Town 2-4 Oldham Athletic


1:  The club were formed in 1946. They were originally known as North Withington, changing their name in 1987.

2: Prior to the mid-1980's they played at Hough End Fields on Princess Road, Withington.

3:  They play their home games at Ericstan Park and have done so for many years. In 2009 this venue saw extensive improvements with a £500,000 clubhouse and dressing room facility refurbishments. The ground got its name from two former men involved in the club during its early days - Eric Reynard & Stan Orme.

4:  There is also another club in Wythenshawe, namely Wythenshawe Amateurs. Up until a couple of years ago, they were league rivals in the Manchester League.

5:  After a long spell in the Lancashire & Cheshire League, they joined the Manchester League in 1974.

6:  From 1987 until 1998 the club enjoyed their first ever spell in the Manchester League Premier Division. They generally struggled though and despite a few good years between 1993 and 1996 where they finished 5th, 4th and 6th they were relegated in 1999 after finishing second bottom.

7:  Between the years of 1998 and 2012 they were in Manchester League Division 1, generally doing well. Winning the league in 2012 entitled them to promotion back to the Manchester Premier. However, they again found things tough going and a couple of seasons later they were relegated to step 8 of non-league after finishing bottom.

8: Since 2014 they have competed in the Cheshire League. They had an exceptional season winning all 18 of their games to win promotion from Division 2. They won the league again last season, winning 14 out of their 20 games.

9: In that invincible season of 2014/15 the club won a quadruple, winning every competition they entered. As well as the league,  they won the League Cup, Altrincham FA Cup & Manchester Amateur Cup.

10: The club also have a number of other sides, including a development squad and Sunday League side.


This groundhop was only decided at midnight the previous evening. I'd been planning to go to Trafford v Chorley for my 600th ground, with that particular location being chosen as it was close to Manchester City centre and with reasonably decent transport links. This was ideal with me needing just one cider to complete the Wetherspoons Cider Festival and there being a large choice of outlets in the city. However, this was all blown out of the water when I saw that Oldham Athletic's development squad had a friendly in Wythenshawe at 11am, thanks to my Latics supporting friend Thomas letting me know. I'd only known about Wythenshawe Town through another Oldham supporter, George, who had done some voluntary work for the club. Normally I concentrate on steps 1-6 with non-league, with this being a step lower it was a little off my radar. However, with me clearly seeing that they had a half decent ground, I decided to ditch my pre-match plans and instead add this game to my schedule.

The next morning I woke at 7.30am. After having a shower, getting dressed and putting my stuff in my car, I went and bought a paper to read with my breakfast, which was included in the price of my room. I left at 9.50, taking just under an hour to get to Wythenshawe. I parked up on the nearby industrial estate before walking to the ground. Entry was by donation, so I stuck what change I had in the bucket. I was also surprised to see merchandise on sale and it was excellently priced. I couldn't resist a scarf for £3 to add to my collection. I met up with Thomas and we stood on the opposite side to some of the noisier Oldham fans who were in great voice and had flares and other visual delights. They would be heading to Oldham Athletic's first team game at Fylde later today, but as a 'switched on' and progressive club, the hosts had brought the match forward a few hours to allow they and other interested parties to attend.

The hosts started the stronger team but it was Oldham's youngsters that took the lead on 4 minutes through Brad Kay's close range finish. The visitors had taken a 3-1 beating in the corresponding fixture last season, but there was no danger of that happening this time, as Oldham started to take control of the game. They made it 2-0 on 18 minutes as a ball across the 6-yard box was put away by the Latics' Lee Knight. Though the hosts would pull a goal back from the spot before half-time, it was against the run of play. Ned Dry restored Oldham's 2 goal lead on 55 minutes and perhaps they took their foot off the gas as this lead to Whythenshawe's best spell of the game. On 70 minutes their substitute got another goal back with a shot from just inside the area and it looked as if they might make a game of it. However a minute from time Oldham made it safe with a 4th goal to complete a game that was fair more entertaining than you would expect in such hot conditions.


ERICSTAN PARK is a great setup for this level, and with a few improvements would have no issues getting into the North West Counties League, which is their long term ambition. The off-field facilities are certainly decent, with a good bar, a decent tea hut and a good range of merchandise too. There are 2 stands, both seated but with some standing space too, holding around 250 apiece under cover, with 31 seats in each.

In terms of improvements needed, floodlights would be essential, and I believe plans are in place to bring some in. Apart from that, hard standing all the way round rather than just part way, plus a general tidy up would all that I'd imagine would be needed to progress to step 6.