Monday 31 October 2016

AFC Fylde - Mill Farm

AFC Fylde
Mill Farm
Coronation Way

Ground Number: 641
Sunday 30th October 2016
AFC Fylde Ladies 0-2 Stoke City Ladies
FA Women's Premier League


AFC Fylde moved into their smart Miall Farm complex at the start of the current season, having previously played at Kellamergh Park. The ground was opened on Saturday 13th August 2016 for AFC Fylde's 1-1 draw with Brackley Town. Since then they have remained unbeaten in the league at their new home, winning 5 and drawing 3 of their 8 games so far. Their joint highest wins have been 4-1 against strugglers Curzon Ashton. They are yet to play a cup game at their new home, but the record attendance of 1,905 came against FC Halifax Town in an exciting 3-2 win for the hosts on August 27th.

AFC Fylde Ladies joined the club at the new stadium, having previously been known as Preston North End Ladies. They actually hold the record win for any Fylde side at te new ground, as they thumped local rivals Blackpool FC Ladies 6-0 earlier this month. The ground is based in the village of Wesham, which along with Kirkham were the 2 places that AFC Fylde mainly represent. There is a prison in Kirkham, and that housed the only famous resident I can think of. Former Blackburn Rovers top scorer Simon Garner who also played for Wycombe Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion served a brief sentence there for contempt of court following divorce proceedings.


On the day of the game, I woke around 6am, having had a good nights sleep thanks to the clocks going back. I caught up online before having a bath and watching Match Of The Day. I'd decided on the morning to save my original plan of Knaresborough for another day as it was only a ladies reserves game. Instead, I was going to head to Fylde to watch Fylde Ladies v Stoke City ladies which would put a few miles on the journey and up my costs but I figured it would be worth it and a better option. I was in no rush though and so typed my blog for yesterday, recalling what I could from a booze-fuelled day. I left at 10am, setting my Sat Nav for Preston as I wanted to grab some lunch before the game. I arrived at 11.30, and as I was too early for Wetherspoons normal menu, I had a wander around the town and after searching in about 5 shops found the Non-League Paper. I read some of it while I waited for my Sunday Brunch in The Twelve Tellers which was my 116th Wetherspoons. 

After that I made my way back to the car and drove to AFC Fylde, arriving at 1.20. I went and bought a ticket for £5 and had a look in the plush sports bar at the ground. It was then I realized I had under a tenner and I wondered how I'd managed to spend the £50 that I withdrew yesterday so quickly. It was only the one stand open, which was a shame as I wanted to get a picture of it and all the others were closed off. I went back to the tea bar and had a very nice portion of curry sauce and chips for £2.35 and the portion size was good too. The visitors a decent following given the overall crowd but like their men's side, they were finding things tough in the league, sitting second bottom at the time of the game. The hosts were doing well in third place with the two teams having shared an entertaining 3-3 draw in the reverse fixture at the start of October. A repeat today would be most welcome.

Fylde started the brightest but wasted several chances, one, in particular, was blasted out of the ground with just the keeper to beat. Stoke were restricted to chances on the break but it was during one of those that they took the lead. Ashleigh Hayes headed home right on the line following a goalmouth scramble from a corner. This gave them real impetus and they had much the better of the rest of the first half. The lead was doubled just as the game entered injury time at the end of the first period. It was another close-range effort right on the line as Ashleigh Hayes netted her second of the afternoon. The second half descended into a bit of a lull with chances at a premium, that said both sides had chances to alter the scoreline. The official attendance was 142 which was around twice the number that watched Fylde's last ladies game away to West Brom.

So reflections on my first club game in women's football? Pretty decent, it as fast or physical as the men's version but some good stuff played on what was an excellent surface. An elderly Manchester City fan and a more southern based hopper that I know reckon that women's football is rubbish, but I enjoyed my game. It's also a good option on a Sunday when there is precious little choice. I'll possibly see some more games, especially Stoke who play at the now defunct Norton United's ground as I missed out on seeing them there as they left with a weeks notice owing to a dispute with the owners of the ground. It was a move that saw them fold at the end of the season following a successful few years. As I'd not got any pictures of the main stand I went and fetched my selfie stick from my car and took a picture over the gate. It was around 4 by the time I left and after a pain in the backside journey on the M6 on Friday, I was hoping for a better journey on the way back. My luck wasn't in, however, as what should have been a 3 hour 20 journey ended up taking 5 hours and that was with a clever bit of rerouting around the usual delays at the Stoke part. I got in at 9pm and spent the rest of the evening catching up online and watching my YouTube subscriptions before going to bed around 11.30.


MILL FARM is an excellent modern stadium situated in the village of Wesham. I didn't see too much near the ground apart from an Aldi, but this doesn't matter as the facilties at the ground are excellent. The sports bar has 4 huge screens showing all the BT and Sky games. It also has real ales aplenty, as well as Strongbow and Dark Fruits for cider drinkers and bottles too. There is food too, with a tempting range of interesting looking dishes. The tea bar in the ground is decent as well, and the prices are fairly reasonable compared to other grounds.

The stadium itself is also excellent, with a total capacity of 6000. The main stand holds 2000 and sight lines are excellent and legroom reasonable. There are 2 further covered terraces, one along the side and one behind the goal and these make up the bulk of the rest of the ground's capacity. The one remaining end is just open flat standing, with a capacity of a few hundred. There is scope here to add a stand, as an when the need dictates, or put in temporary seating should they get a huge cup draw.

Goole - Victoria Pleasure Grounds

Goole AFC
Victoria Pleasure Grounds
Marcus Street 
East Riding of Yorkshire
DN14 6SL

Ground Number: 640
Saturday 25th October 2016
Goole 1-1 Blyth Spartans
FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round


GOOLE FC was formed in 1997, a year after the town's previous club Goole Town had gone bust. Starting in the second tier of the Central Midlands league, success was immediate with them losing just once all season on the way to the league title. The following year a 3rd place finish in the CML Supreme Division was enough to see them progress again, this time to the Northern Counties East Division 1. A third successive promotion was gained when they lifted the league title they won promotion to the NCEL Premier. They did very well at the higher level and in their five seasons here they only finished outside the top 6 once. 2004/05 saw them win the NCEL Championship and win promotion to the Northern Premier League D1. Despite finishing second-bottom, they survived due to other clubs resigning. The following season, 2006/07 saw them recover well and post their highest ever league finish of 7th. Since 2007 when Division 1 faced a geographical split, they have struggled, only finishing in the top half once. The struggled has continued this season, with only winless Burscough keeping them off the bottom of the league.

The FA Cup has seen moderate success, though they are still yet to have a real run. Their best progress is the 2nd Qualifying Round, which they have reached twice, taking both Ashton United and Gainsborough Trinity to replays before bowing out. The FA Trophy is a similar story with the 2nd Qualifying Round again the best they have managed. In the FA Vase, their debut season of 1998/99 saw a good run to the 4th round before they lost 1-0 to Bemerton Heath Harlequins. Local cup wins include the NCEL Trophy in 2000 and the West Riding County Cup in 2007. The record attendance came for a game against Leeds United when they played them in a 1999 friendly game. The club's first ever game marked their biggest ever win when they defeated Blackwell Miners Welfare 8-0.


Originally on this day I was planning to go to Doncaster Rovers v Wycombe Wanderers. I had a couple of mates that I knew in Doncaster, and I was also going to a concert in Leeds in the evening. Everything was in place - the pre-match pub crawl planned in minute detail, plans put in place to dump my car at my hotel for the night in Leeds and let the train take the strain - I'd even gone as far as getting bargain train tickets to Doncaster well in advance. But the weekend before, Wycombe played out of form Barnet at home, and lost 2-0. I decided there and then that I'd not be going to the Doncaster game after all. It wasn't the result so much, it was more the soul-destroying insipid brand of dull football that we'd been playing for around a year now. Last Saturday was the last straw, and the following weeks trip to Portsmouth was pretty much knocked on the head too. As soon as I got home from the game, I started looking at what games were near Doncaster. Though it wasn't the nearest, Goole was simple to do by train. I'd still be able to keep my pre match drinking plans in place, and Goole was one I'd wanted to do for ages as the home-made pie was legendary. It was also a bonus that it was a good game in the FA Trophy against high-flying Blyth Spartans from the league above.

The day of the game arrived with me staying in Eccles as it was a convenient halfway point between my game last night at Bootle, and tonight's hotel at Leeds. I'd never used AirBnB before, but my first experience was a good one with a comfortable room for £17 for the night. I'd had a restless nights sleep but woke up feeling refreshed when I woke at 7.30 am. After getting ready and my stuff together, I stopped at Morrisons to pick up some Irn Bru and a Tuna Wrap for breakfast before leaving Eccles at 8.30. I arrived at my hotel an hour later, parking up and getting the bus into Leeds. I did consider having a pint in Wetherspoons, but the one I went to didn't have any real cider on. With my favourite pub in Leeds, the Hop not opening for another 2 hours I got a Mexican bake and a Sausage and bean bake from Poundbakery before going to the station to wait for my train.

It took 40 minutes on the train, with me arriving at my first pub, the Queen at 12.15 where I met Doncaster fan Matty and his Dad. My first pint of the day was Thistly Cross Jaggy Edge at 7.5% which was a nice dry one. I had to make do with a retry in our next pub too, the Flying Scotsman Tap where I had Lilley's Mango. The last stop at Doncaster Brewery Tap was the best, and I wish I'd just gone straight there to be honest. There were 7 ciders on, several of which I hadn't tried before. I had a pint of Tree Top Press Sugarloaf, before having a half of Pulp Apple Craft Cider. Matty and his dad had been great company, and it been a good session. It was just a shame I didn't have more time as I'd liked to have had more in the Brewery Tap, plus Doncaster is a great town for drinking, with several other pubs that looked good. By now though, it was time to get my train to Goole, which left at 2.20 and took 20 minutes to get to Goole. On the way up to the ground, I stopped at Cash Converters to see what they had. I spotted a Sega Saturn and a laptop that I wanted and made a mental note to go back and try and barter a deal after the game. I got to the ground with 10 to spare before kick-off and was pleased to see that there were still plenty of programmes left. After popping into the club shop I went to the tea bar. The Goole pie has legendary status for its quality and that was fully justified as it was delicious and homemade. Later on, I had some chips and gravy plus a couple of pints of Strongbow Dark Fruits. I then took a place on the halfway line for the game, the report of which from the Non-League Paper is below.

So it had been a good game with Goole getting a result against the odds and earning a replay in the week. The same could be said of Wycombe who earned a credible 2-2 draw at Doncaster which was a fantastic result. I went into Cash Converters on the way back, though sadly they couldn't offer me a deal as the manager was not there. It was a shame as when I checked later, the laptop was a great deal on its own and I wish I'd bought it now. I got the train back to Doncaster and had a couple more pints with Matty in a pub called the Leopard near the station, and it was good to chat about the game and find that Wycombe had been clung on at the end to get their draw. I left the pub at 6 to get my train, though for some reason it never turned up and I had to get a later one. It meant that I had to pay for a Taxi to get me to the Brudenell Social Club where the Lancashire Hotpots were playing. I had a good night there, amazingly sticking to one pint, given that I'd had a fair few earlier, that said the effects still hadn't worn off. The concert finished around 11.15 at which time I got a taxi back to my hotel using an app called Gett. It was very efficient and I was checked in and in my room 20 minutes later. I fell asleep pretty quickly having a good and enjoyable day.


THE VICTORIA PLEASURE GROUND is a traditional non-league ground, although it does suffer from having a running track. There are 2 covered stands, between them holding 300 seated and 700 standing. The rest of the ground is open standing. Facilities at the ground are excellent with a decent bar and a club shop but by far the highlight is the tea bar. The home made steak pie has legendary status amongst fans of NPL clubs and groundhoppers alive and deservedly so as it is very tasty and the best pie I have ever had in a football ground. There is also a good range of other food on offer, all at good value prices.