Friday, 22 September 2017

Bilborough Town - The Harvey Hadden Stadium


Bilborough Town FC
Harvey Hadden Stadium
Wigman Road
Bilborough
Nottingham
NG8 4PB




Ground Number: 724
Friday 22nd September 2017
Bilborough Town 2-5 Southwell City
Notts Senior League - Premier Divison


BILBOROUGH TOWN - A BRIEF HISTORY

Despite there being a number of clubs plying their trade in the town previously, the current Bilborough Town was formed in 2007. They spent their first season in the Midland Amateur Alliance before joining the Notts Senior League at Division 2 level which is step 9 of the non-league pyramid. After earning promotion to Division 1, a 4th place finish in 2012 was good enough to see them promoted to the step 7 Premier Division where they remain to this day. They've gradually got better and last season they had their best season ever, finishing 4th. They are currently third in the league with a reasonable chance of the title, although the visit of 4th placed Southwell City would prove a stern test.




MY VISIT

I always like a bit of Friday football, but options on this day were a little limited. The Non-League Paper listed nothing, nor did a trawl through all the league websites. Thankfully, the 'Non League Matters' website came up trumps, throwing up a couple of fixtures in the Notts Senior League - namely Cotgrave and Bilborough Town. The former was a bit basic, with just a small area of cover. So I was glad when fellow hopper Chris agreed to visit Bilborough which was a great ground, albeit one with a running track.  After arranging the game on Tuesday, I spent all week looking forward to it, planning everything from the pre-match meal to researching the history of the club. The latter was a bit of a chore as there was not a lot of information on the internet, but at least the work was minimised by them being a fairly new club.

On the day of the game, it was a busy one at work and I didn't finish until nearly 1. This week has really dragged and I'm already looking forward to my next week off, despite only being back for a week. I came home, had some lunch and got ready for the game. I didn't have as much rest as I wanted though and it was a bit of a rush to get out of the door at 3. The roads were in disgusting form as ever. There was 20 minutes delay on the way to Milton Keynes which meant I was 10 minutes late to meet Chris. There were then delays to get on the M1 as well as the woeful road itself being rubbish up until Northampton. While it was by no means perfect after this, things improved greatly. Chris used his local knowledge to knock some time off the journey and we only really hit traffic once we got into Nottingham. Our pre-match meal plan was at The Lion in Basford, a pub I've wanted to visit for a while. I was restricted to a half as I had to drive but my cider was decent. We both opted for the La Bamba burger which had Chilli Con Carne and cheese in it. The place had good reviews from all over the place and it certainly didn't disappoint with everything being freshly cooked.



It did take a while longer than the usual Wetherspoons microwave meals, but it was worth it. After driving through some extremely annoying traffic calming measures where half the road seemed to be wasted due to random bollards being placed everywhere, we got to the ground at 7.35. After paying £2 to get in, I left Chris and had a walk around the ground. Annoyingly, the batteries had gone on my camera, but I still got some reasonable pictures on my phone. I initially stood on the far side, due to being able to walk over the running track and stand on the side of the pitch. There were no programmes or teamsheets, but I found out later that Bilborough had 9 players missing. Even so, they took the lead as early as the 5th minute as Williamson grabbed a debut goal with a low shot from just inside the area. On 14 minutes it was all square, a good ball over the top was played and Nangle had a good run before finishing confidently. Nangle got his second on 38 minutes with a drilled shot from the edge of the area although the beauty of the goal was in the build-up play.

I was fed up with being an impromptu ballboy by then so I walked around and joined Chris and some other hoppers in the stand.  It remained 2-1 to the visitors at the break and the game seemed to be in the balance, despite Southwell being on top. The visitors had already had a couple of strong claims for a penalty before they were finally awarded one on 54 minutes. Up stepped Nangle to complete his hat trick and from then on, the result was never in doubt. Law headed in a Bowles corner on 59 minutes and this really took the sting out of the game and there were no real chances for a long time after that. Bilborough pulled one back with a minute to go but as quick as they reduced the arrears, Southwell restored their three-goal advantage. The ball was played into the area and laid back to Stephens who put a justified look on the scoreline.

It was a shame that the game was over as a contest at 3-1, but it had still been a good night out. We left at 9.35, stopping at a local BP garage to get a drink for the journey home. We listened to the Two Mikes on TalkSPORT on the way home and that helped pass the time as we trundled through the seemingly endless roadworks on the M1. I dropped Chris off at 11.10, getting home myself at midnight. I stayed up for a couple of hours, listening to the rest of the Two Mikes and watching Coronation Street while I typed my blog up. After all that driving, I was glad to be on the coach tomorrow for Colchester v Wycombe. The two sides used to be fierce rivals back in the day and although the rivalry has largely dissipated, it should still be a decent game.



THE GROUND

THE HARVEY HADDEN STADIUM is primarily an athletics venue. Originally built in 1959, expanded in the 1970's and renovated in 2014, it has a 740 capacity seated stand, flanked by open terracing for 800. It had also hosted American Football and Rugby in the past and has plenty of room for expansion. Despite my dislike for athletics venues, I did like this ground as it had plenty of character. It does seem a bit isolated though, and facilities at the ground are limited, but all in all, it is well worth a visit.


SCORES ON THE DOORS

1: Ground facilities & condition (for the level)
A good venue for the level and well kept (8)

2: Area around the ground (parking, food/drink, public transport)
In the middle of nowhere, but lots of parking (5)

3: Welcome / Club Friendliness
The usual (6)

4: Value for money
£2 was good value (8)

5: Social Media & Website
Regular updates on Twitter plus they are interactive. Decent website too (8)

6: Programme
N/A (-)

7: Game entertainment
Lots of goals, but result wasn't in doubt (6)

8: Tea Bar
Very basic (4)

9: Bar / Clubhouse
10: Club Shop
None (-)

TOTAL SCORE OUT OF 70: 45
AVERAGE SCORE: 6.43

GROUND PHOTOS

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