Sunday 28 May 2017

Bewdley Town - Ribbesford Meadows

Bewdley Town FC
Ribbesford Meadows
DY12 2TJ

07739 626169 (Secretary)
Official Website

Ground Number: 698

Saturday 27th May 2017
Bewdley Town 1-1 Coton Green (4-1 Pens)
Smedley Crooke Memorial Cup Final


The club was formed in 1978 and spent their early years in the Kidderminster and District League where they were highly successful. 1999 saw them join the West Midlands Regional League at Division 1 South level. They coped with the step up pretty well and by 2003 they were Division 1 champions. However, they had to wait another two years for promotion when they finished as runners-up to Great Wyreley. This was good enough to see them promoted to the WMRL Premier which sits at step 6 of the non-league pyramid. Their best finish is 3rd which they achieved three times in a row between 2006-09. This season's 6th placed finished had matched their best effort since those promotion chasing days.

There have been a couple of notable FA Cup campaigns too with Bewdley reaching the 1st Qualifying Round in 2001 and 2012 only to lose to Stourbridge and Leek Town respectively. The FA Vase 2nd Round was reached in 2010 before defeat to Sleaford Town. Local cup wins include the Worcestershire Junior Cup (twice) and the Worcestershire Infirmary Cup in 2013. Bewdley is a popular tourist destination and famous residents past and present include former Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, TV chef Rusty Lee, footballer Alun Evans and Led Zepplin's Robert Plant. It is twinned with three other towns including Clarksville, made famous by The Monkees 1966 hit 'Last Train To Clarksville'


I'd decided to go to this game a few weeks ago. I'd been on the West Midlands Regional League website looking for potential games to see out the season, though I'd not expected to see one this late on. I'd wanted to visit Bewdley for a while, so decided it would be a good way to end the season. My favoured mode of transport was the train when I thought I'd be going on my own as I'd fully expected to be alone. Fellow hopper Anwar would be sure to be watching his beloved Arsenal on TV in the FA Cup Final and my other regular hopping partner, Chris, rarely does Saturday games as he has other commitments. However, the latter came up trumps when I texted him on the off chance, and so arrangements were made to pick him up in Leighton Buzzard on the day of the game.

On the day of the game, I woke around 7 am after a reasonable nights sleep. I finished off my research for today's game, played football manager and got ready before leaving just before 10:30. I had to stop at Morrisons for petrol before though, hence me leaving earlier. There were long queues, thanks to them having outdated pumps where you actually had to go into the shop to pay. I soon met Chris and his two big bags of records at our planned meeting point and we were soon on our way. The journey was reasonable, the worst delay being in Bromsgrove where the typically British thing of a section of road closed off, without anyone actually doing anything was present. We got to our pre-match venue of the Black Star in Stourport at 1.40, parking in the local Tesco. It was a lovely place, set on the banks of the River Severn. There I even found a new cider, Robinsons Flagon which was reasonably  driver-friendly at 4.5%. For dinner, we both had Cumberland Sausages and chips which took a while to come but was a cut above the usual Wetherspoons offerings that we normally have. We finished up and headed for the ground, which was a few miles away.

We got to the ground at 2.30, parking up and then paying £5 entry which included a basic but well-presented programme. Visitors Coton Green were by far the better side in the first half and after going close on a number of occasions, they eventually took the lead on 32 minutes.  Michael Hicks put a left-sided corner in and Andy Milan was there to head in in at the far post from a few yards out. This prompted wild celebrations and the visitors continued to be the better side up until half time. The second half was a different story with Bewdley really stepping things up and having the better of proceedings. They got their equaliser around ten minutes from time when Matt Kerby had his shot initially parried by Coton Green keeper Mark Bowen parried his initial effort but was unable to keep the rebound, finished from around 10 yards, being put in. Coton Green could have had a late penalty - former Bolehall Swifts player Dave Yonwin's excellent ball played in Richard Hopkins, he was tripped by home keeper Mark Wright, but referee Ravel Cheosiaua turned down the appeals. The game went to penalties, Mark Wright was the hero as he produced a number of decent saves as Bewdley Town won 4-1 in the shootout. The hosts were successful with all four of their spot-kicks - Liam Williams, Chris Seekings, Luke Willams and Cory-Jay Rudd all scoring. Although Adam Goodby netted for Coton Green, Sam Jones and Richard Hicks both had their penalties saved by Wright. Some video highlights are below, courtesy of user 'Swifts Fan'

And so that was it for the 2016/17 season. It's been a long, enjoyable and expensive one, comprising of 178 games, some good and some bad. We left around 5.10 and made our way to a farm shop called Colliers in nearby Clows Top. There I got 8 new ciders that I'd never had before plus some fancy crisps and cake. From there we headed home whilst listening to the FA Cup Final but not before stopping for a Chinese in Droitwich where I had Char Sui curry and boiled rice. By the time we left, it was 7 pm. From there it was around an hour and a half back to Milton Keynes. I helped Chris with his substantial luggage which included a load of records and two boxes of various stouts that he had purchased at the farm shop earlier. From there I had a good journey home, getting back at 9.20. I relaxed for a bit, watching TV and Youtube videos before going to bed at 11.


RIBBESFORD MEADOWS is in the middle of nowhere but is in a really pretty setting. On the banks of the River Severn and surrounded by plenty of trees, there are not many nicer places to watch football on a warm afternoon. The ground is mainly open with one stand with a 200 seated capacity. This offers good views, being raised above pitch level. There is a basic bar outside the ground as well as a tea bar inside although I didn't see any hot food or club merchandise available.

Thursday 25 May 2017

Radcliffe Olympic - Wharf Lane Recreation Ground

Radcliffe Olympic FC
The Recreation Ground
Wharf Lane
Radcliffe on Trent
NG12 2AN

Ground Number: 697
Wednesday 24th May 2017
Radcliffe Olympic 3-3 South Normanton Athletic
East Midlands Counties League


The club were formed in 1876 and spent the vast majority of their early history in local leagues such as the Notts Alliance, Notts Realm League and Central Midlands Alliance. After struggling in the early to mid 90's during which time they dropped as low as Division 2 of the Notts Alliance, they fought back in the second half of the decade. After winning the top division of the Notts Alliance in 2003, they won promotion to the Central Midlands League. Starting in its second tier, they were league winners in their first season. After five seasons in the delightfully named Supreme Division, they won the title in 2009. This earned them promotion to the East Midlands Counties League where they remain to this day. Their debut season was their best finish in the club's history when they came in 5th place. Latterly results have declined but they have already guaranteed their best finish for 4 seasons. They could finish as high as 11th, though would face a tough game against South Normanton Athletic who were going for the runners-up spot.

Radcliffe Olympic have only enjoyed two FA Cup campaigns, but their debut season of 2010/11 was a notable one. They beat Holbeach United, Wisbech Town, Winterton Rangers and Oadby Town before being drawn against Tipton Town in the 3rd Qualifying Round. After gaining a 3-3 draw, they went out 2-0 in the replay in Birmingham. Their conquerors reached the 1st Round and were rewarded with a game against football league side Carlisle United. The FA Vase has not seen such a run, though they have reached the 1st Round on three occasions. Various League Cups have been won in the past, whilst the town boasts a famous local resident in former Nottingham Forest midfielder Ian Woan.


I was originally considering this much-rearranged game on Saturday. However, almost at the same time, fellow hopper Chris said he was unavailable and Radcliffe Olympic said they were unable to host. I was quite pleased when the game was rearranged for the following Wednesday when Chris was available. It was the one remaining game left to be played in the East Midlands Counties League, that is unless you count Greenwood Meadows' six unplayed games. Back in April, their pathetic chairman had dissolved the club mid-season, letting down supporters, players, volunteers and opponents alike. I'd also not had a chance to 'tick' the ground given the late notice, that is unless anther club moves in.

On the day of the game, it was an easy day at work and even after taking a break I was still out by 11. Normally, I'd have a sleep before leaving, but with no football yesterday and therefore I got a reasonably early night. I came home and did some final research for tonight's pre-match options. I was pleased when the match was confirmed on, and spent the afternoon playing Football Manager before leaving just before 4. The journey to Milton Keynes was reasonable after delays getting through Aylesbury and I arrived to meet Chris at 5.05. After a couple of minutes, he was out of work and we were on our way. There was 10 minutes getting onto the M1 due to the excess of roundabouts in MK, but soon enough we were on our way. Apart from the standard slow spots on the motorway due to the long-running roadworks, the journey was good, especially for the rush hour. We got to Radcliffe at 6.40 and parked at the end of the road leading up to the ground. First stop was a local Chinese takeway called Zhan's where we ordered dinner. While it was cooking, we popped over to an excellent micropub called the Yard of Ale. There I had a bottle of Farmer's Fear Dry which was excellent and very tasty for a 4.5% drink. I also bought some chorizo crisps for later on before going to pick up our dinner. The chips were fine, but the chicken satay skewers were nowhere as good as the ones we had in Swaffham before. They were basically just skewers with a pot of cold satay sauce as opposed to the earlier ones which were cooked in the sauce and had extra bits to bring out the flavour. We eat them on a nearby bench before making our way to the ground.


We got there around 7.25, paying £5 entry plus £1 for a programme from the tea bar. Groundhoppers were out in force for this one and over the course of the evening, I met John, Lee & Katie, Malcolm for the 'On The Road' blog and his mate who he christened 'The Daft Lad' on his site. The original game had been abandoned on 83 minutes with the hosts leading 2-1 due to player injury. The game certainly started with a  bit of needle with plenty of heavy tackles flying in and any chance of this being a friendly end of season kick about soon evaporated. Radcliffe took the lead on 9 minutes with an own goal though visiting defender Mark Strzyzweski couldn't really do much apart from deflect a cross over the line from point-blank range. On 35 minutes the lead was doubled, Samuel Adams converting a penalty after a foul in the area. Ironically, the same player gave the visitors a way back into the game a couple of minutes later when he committed an offence in the area. Tommy Leighton stepped up and converted the resulting spot kick. A couple of minutes before the break, it was all level. Leighton was involved again when his free kick was headed in at the back post by Warren Hatfield. Just before the hour mark, Liam Smallwood capitalised on hesitant defending, prodding home from around 10 yards to restore the hosts lead. Despite his side leading 3-2 and having played some great stuff, the Radcliffe manager decided to berate and abuse the match officials, claiming the referee had 'given them f**king nothing' in a prolonged hissy fit. One of his players had shortly before received his marching orders for a second yellow card and once he had finally shut up, he was on his way too, sent to sulk on the sidelines. An entertaining game was completed on 83 minutes when Tom Leighton's excellent dipping volley from the edge of the area made it all square. Four of the goals are below, though annoyingly I've not worked out how to add on-screen graphics with my new video editor.

It was on reflection and a fair result. It had also been an excellent game to cap off my midweek adventures for the season. Despite their prickly man in the home dugout, Radcliffe had been good hosts and it had been a nice place to watch a game on what was a warm evening. You can view other bloggers reports by clicking the links here from The Mowdog, Shaun Smith (sorry I missed you pal) & Just Another Football Ground. I met up again with Chris who had spent the game with John at 9.40, dropping him home at 11.20. By the time I got home it was just after midnight. As per usual I had an hour up before I got to sleep, eventually dropping off around 1 am. As a result I was tired when I awoke at 4 am for work, resulting in a much needed sleep the following afternoon. Next up for me, and my final and 178th game of the season will be the Smedley Crooke Memorial Cup final between Bewdley Town & Coton Green, having agreed arrangements with Chris on the way to this game.


I first visited WHARFE LANE RECREATION GROUND on the 15th January 2011 whilst on the way to Wycombe's 2-1 win at Lincoln City. It was a tidy, but basic setup at the time and although I wasn't able to get in properly, I could see there was one small seated stand with the rest of the ground being open flat standing. Not a lot had changed on my second visit, though it was a nice place to watch a game and good value to boot. A programme was available for £1 and this was reasonable, though it was twice as thick as it needed to be, with only one side of the paper being printed on.

Before my second visit, I researched the town and found that it had a number of takeaways as well as an interesting looking micropub. The Yard Of Ale is indeed a fine establishment and offers a good range of drinks. Zhan's Chinese takeaway around the corner is mediocre, but prices are good. Back at the grounds, cold cans of alcohol are available along with various snacks, as are pin badges. The official club pub is The Manvers Arms, just around the corner from the ground.  

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Ibstock United - The Welfare Ground

Ibstock United FC
The Welfare Ground
Leicester Road
LE67 6HA

Ground Number: 696
Tuesday 16th May 2016
Ibstock United 4-3 Highfield Rangers
Leicester Senior League - Championship Division


Though there have been several previous footballing sides in the town of Ibstock, this club was only formed in 1979 and has eventually grown to comprise 25 teams of varying ages. The senior side is even newer, being formed in 2015 and taking over the old ground of the former Ibstock United, who merged with and moved to Ibstock in 2013. They started out in the Leicester Senior League, joining its second tier for the 2015/16 season. They finished a credible 5th in their first season as well as winning the Beacon Bitter League Cup. This season they went out of the League Cup at the first hurdle, losing 2-1 at home to Hathern. They've maintained their progress in the league though, sitting 5th prior to the game. They could finish as high as 4th, should they win and County Hall lose at home to leaders and potential champions Hathern. Opponents Highfield Rangers were sitting in 10th place and were a team they recognised and had visited, albeit when they hosted Leicester Nirvana's home games for a few seasons.


I'd planned this game on Saturday when I met fellow hopper Anwar on the train to our respective games in London. I was off to Fulham v Reading, whilst he went to the Combined Counties Cup Final at Bedfont. I had a good day in London, perhaps too good as after a few pints, I fell asleep on the train. I woke up in Stratford shortly before kick off, nice and refreshed, but on the wrong side of London. A mad dash across the capital ensued, but at least I caught the majority of the second half. The day of the game came, and I was glad to get my car back, even if I was faced with a £900 bill thanks to a rogue fox running out in front of me. My car's pathetically built front end, obviously designed to make Renault money through spare parts was to blame too, and as much as I was annoyed at the animal, I was glad that it was unharmed, trotting off as it was hit at under 15MPH.

I came home and double checked that the fixture was still on and was glad that a backup in Anstey Nomads Reserves had appeared, as neither participating club had mentioned the game on their Twitter feed. I did as much research as I could on my blog in the afternoon, though I had to hunt around a bit. I was hoping to listen to Jon Holmes on TalkRADIO, but he was off. Instead, I listened to Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 whilst enjoying some Peri Peri chicken for lunch. I watched some Youtube videos later on, leaving at my usual time of 3.30 to meet Anwar in Aylesbury at 4. We had a good journey, apart from Milton Keynes where it was busy and we were at Morrisons in Coalville for 6. After popping in B&M Bargains to get some drinks for the game, we went across to Morrisons Cafe where we both had a curry each and a portion of chips between us. I'd noticed on social media that a few hoppers would be at our game, including both Jack and Ken who I knew. The meal was excellent, but my car also needed some fuel for the way home so I stopped at the petrol station before going to the ground. We arrived at 7.05, parking up and going in. It was free entry, and there were a few familiar faces enjoying the dying embers of the football season.

I found out later that the players even pay to play, that coming from a friendly coach who was chuffed to see we'd travelled so far to see his team. The game started in a fairly open fashion with the visitors having slightly the better of the game. It was they who took the lead on 12 minutes when Ezra Hillhouse's low shot hit the foot of the post before rolling across the line on its way in. It only took a few minutes for Ibstock to equalise, George Hickling headed in from a cross. Twenty minutes into the game a great chip from the edge of the area allowed Chris Reid to restore Highfield's lead. Narjah Francis finished a jinking run with a low shot from just inside the areas on 36 minutes, this gave the visitors a 3-1 half-time lead. Highfield Rangers deserved their lead at the break, but the hosts came out a changed team in the second half. It was a lovely curling shot into the left-hand side of the goal that allowed Chris Acott to reduce the arrears on 51 minutes. Highfield had the chance to score a 4th on 74 minutes, however, the goal was disallowed for offside. A couple of minutes later it was all square, Acott getting his second with a low shot into the bottom corner. The visiting manager was getting animated by now, constantly coming out of his area and barking at anyone who told him to get back inside. Ibstock had a couple of golden opportunities to win the game, but one shot was blasted over when it looked easier to score and another clipped the right-hand post on its way out. Right on full time, the Highfield keeper came charging out of the area and recklessly took out an onrushing home forward. Treatment took a few minutes and from the play that resulted from the free kick Luke Haberman headed come a great cross to give his side a late winner.

The goal prompted jubilant celebrations, which resulted in the bad loser of a Highfield Rangers manager calling one fan a 'disgusting bastard' It was a shame as his side had more than played its part in an epic game which had been one of my best of the season. We said our goodbyes before leaving at 9.30. We listened to the football highlights on Radio 5 for an hour before switching to the Two Mikes podcast. I dropped Anwar off at 11, getting home myself 20 minutes later. I went to sleep around midnight and with an early start at 4 am the following morning, I needed to catch up with an afternoon nap.


THE WELFARE GROUND is an excellent venue for step 8 football, having seen service a couple of steps higher in recent years. It's a bit rough around the edges but has bags of character. There are a couple of covered areas, one with seating on benches for around 60 people and the other some covered flat standing for around 150. In addition, there are plenty of steps of terracing to gain a good vantage point from.

There is a playground behind the near goal which you can watch the game from if you get up high enough and some chose to do this despite the free entry. There's not much in the way of food and drink - the tea bar is only open for bigger games whilst the social club is closed, pending a new leaseholder. There are a few places nearby including a Co-Op shop that does hot drinks and a chippy.