Sunday 23 September 2018

Bashley - Bashley Road

Bashley FC 
Bashley Road 
New Milton 
BH25 5RY

01425 620280

Ground Number: 798
Saturday 22nd September 2018
Bashley 1-2 Fareham Town
Wessex Premier


The club was established in 1947 and joined the Bournemouth League three years later. They'd remain here until 1983 when they joined the Hampshire League. Starting in Division 3 they would win promotion in their second season after winning the league. A single season was spent in Division 2 before Bashley became founder members of the Wessex League in 1986. They were hugely successful here, winning the title three seasons in a row. They made the step up to the Southern League in 1989, starting out in the second tier Southern Division. A fourth successive league win saw them promoted to the Southern Premier. The 1991/92 season would see Bashley finish as high as 4th in what at the time was a step 2 league. Success didn't hang around for long though and the 1994 season saw them finish second-bottom and suffer relegation. Thirteen seasons were spent around various current step 4 leagues before they won promotion in 2007 as champions of the Southern League Division 1 South & West. An excellent 5th place finish was enjoyed in 2008 but gradually results slipped away. 2013/14 saw them win just 4 games all season and suffer relegation back to the Division 1 South & West. The next two seasons were even worse as they won just one league game across this period - the sole victory coming on Saturday, September 20th 2014 when they surprisingly won 2-0 at promotion-chasing Taunton Town. The inevitable relegation back to the Wessex League came in 2016 and since then they have finished 14th in both seasons. The club has enjoyed an excellent start to the season and sit 3rd in the table at the time of my visit.

Bashley's best ever FA Cup run came during the 1994/95 season. Havant Town, Hungerford Town, Dorchester Town, Cheltenham Town & Chesham United were beaten before a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to Swansea City in the 2nd Round. The 2001/02 season saw a great run in the FA Trophy as Oxford City, Burnham & Bognor Regis Town before a narrow 1-0 defeat at Conference side Stevenage Borough in the 4th Round. The FA Vase semi-final was reached in 1988 as Bashley beat Newbury Town, AFC Totton, Havant Town, Dorking, Vale Recreation, Hounslow & Chertsey Town before a defeat over two legs to Emley. The first leg of that game saw the club attract their record crowd of 3,500. Local cup wins include the Russell Cotes Cup on three occasions.


With me choosing to do Lymington Town's 12.30 clash with Torquay United, I needed a 3PM kick off game to double it up with. As is often the case in these occasions, the Groundhopper app was my friend and out of the options that it threw up, I opted for Bashley v Fareham Town after discussing it with fellow hopper Anwar. I'd already been to the ground in 2007 whilst passing through the area, so I knew the ground was a decent one. It was also a ground with very little around it by way of pre-match food and drink. Usually, that would be a big drawback, but the short amount of time between the two games would make it ideal.

We left our previous game at Lymington at 2.30 and after a 15-minute drive parked up in the cricket club opposite Bashley's ground. It had been raining most of the day and there was still some drizzle in the air. Entry was £7 and included a ticket so I decided against buying a programme as I'm rapidly running out of space to store them. I was pretty peckish by now, so headed to the bar to see if I could get something to eat. I was pleased when I saw they were selling homemade pies from a local maker from Pokesdown, less than 10 miles away. I opted for a Forest Game Pie, which was filling and well priced at £3.50. It was also very tasty although the option of gravy like you get up north would have made it better. I later had a mug of Bovril, also good value at £1. The pies quickly sold out, so it proves that if a club has the nous to put something decent on, then they will do well for themselves out of it.

Both sides had brought a decent vocal support. One Bashley fan especially was very enthusiastic and had a decent repertoire of songs. Bashley had probably edged the game, but both teams had chances before the opening goal came on 35 minutes. A good through ball found Scott Hamilton who rounded Bashley keeper Jason Collins before slotting into the empty net. A couple of minutes later, the lead was doubled when Collins could only parry a powerful long-range shot and Hamilton reacted quickest to slot home the loose ball. The second half saw Fareham have to do a bit of defending and try to add to their tally as well. Bashley reduced the arrears on 68 minutes when a loose ball was bundled home by Nathan Clements. A great team move presented Scott Hamilton with the chance to complete his hat trick and seal the game for the visitors but his effort thumped against the bar. At some points during the game, the rain was torrential and the players did a good job to put on a decent spectacle.

We initially left in a disappointed mood. Wycombe had gone 1-0 up at Portsmouth but had gone on to concede a late goal to go 2-1 down. With the time at 4.55, it looked like we had lost as we nipped into the garden centre next door to see if they had any nice local foods or drinks. They didn't, but we were delighted when Joe Jacobson slotted home an equaliser from the penalty spot in injury time.  We tuned the radio to BBC Radio Solent and listened to the post match reports and interviews. Pompey manager Kenny Jackett was very gracious in what must have been considered two points dropped for his side. A brief stop at ASDA in Eastleigh was made to top up with fuel and get a drink before continuing our journey home. The Radio 5 phone in made the journey go quicker and although there was a 10-minute delay on the A34 due to an accident. I dropped Anwar off at 8 and got home myself around 20 minutes later. I caught up on Twitter and YouTube subs as well as sorting some of the photos I'd taken and starting my blog. A few cans were had with the League 1 highlights and Match Of The Day before I went to bed around midnight.


BASHLEY ROAD is a great ground for the level, having seen service as high as the Southern Premier in recent years. The covered accomodation is all on one side with pride of place going to the 250 seater main stand. To the right of this are two metal terraces but extreme rust has seen one of these patched up and the other out of use. To the left, there is an overhang in front of what I assume to be the boardroom. The rest of the ground is open, with a couple of steps of terracing on the far side. It's set in a very nice location with trees surrounding the ground, although I didn't see a great deal around the immediate area. The bar isn't the greatest, there were only casn when I went. The tea bar is good though, with excellent local pies served. They also had an extensive range of merchandise in the club shop, though no old programmes that I could see. 

Lymington Town - The Sports Ground

Lymington Town FC
The Sports Ground
Southampton Road
SO41 9ZG

Ground Number: 797
Saturday 22nd October 2018
Lymington Town 0-7 Torquay United
FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round


The club was established as far back as 1876 as Lymington FC and initially joined the Hampshire League in 1903. There were plenty of times where they left and came back as well as moving around its various divisions. They were East Section champions in 1923, West Section champions in 1927 and Division 3 champions in 1967. In 1986 they merged with Wellworthy Athletic to form AFC Lymington and then 12 years later another merger took place with New Milton Town to become Lymington & New Milton. This resulted in the new club moving to New Milton and so Lymington Town established a new club to remain in the town. The New Milton club retained the place in the Wessex League, initially earned in 1986 whilst the Lymington club had to start in the Hampshire League. After spending a season in Divison 3 where they finished 3rd, reorganisation saw them placed in the in the Premier Division. After a 7th place finish, they joined the Wessex League in 2004. Starting in the second tier, they were champions in their first season and have played in what is now known as the Premier Division ever since. There have been a few close calls with relegation but last season Lymington Town enjoyed their best ever finish as they ended the season in 8th place.

The original Lymington club enjoyed their best season in the FA Cup in 1951, beating Blandford United, Poole Town & Portland United before defeat in a replay at Barnstaple Town in the 4th Qualifying Round. AFC Lymington reached the 3rd Qualifying Round in 1992 as they lost 1-0 to Cheltenham Town whilst the current incarnation are enjoying their best run yet. They've beaten Sandhurst Town 5-1 in the Extra Preliminary Round Replay after the initial game ended goalless while Frimley Green were beaten 2-0 in the Preliminary Round. Lydney Town were next up in a game played at New Milton Town where the teams shared a 2-2 draw. I was present at the replay in Gloucestershire as they triumphed 2-1 to set up a plum tie against Torquay United. The best run in the FA Vase came in 2007/08 - Fareham Town, Blackfield & Langley, Marlow United, Hassocks & Sherborne Town were beaten before a defeat to Crowborough Athletic in the 4th Round. The town of Lymington has a population of 9,385 according to the latest census and is famous for its history in sailing and further back, salt mining. Famous people from Lymington include the DJ 'Adamski' who collaborated with musician 'Seal' to produce the 1990 hit 'Killer' which hit the top of the charts in both the UK and Belgium.


Initially, on this day I'd been planning to go to Portsmouth v Wycombe Wanderers to redo my blog for that ground. But with my parents away, I'd be footing the entire bill myself which could run to over £60. I decided to wait until the supporters club announced what pre-match pub they would be stopping at. When it transpired that the meals were around £15 each, I decided to look elsewhere. The FA Cup was my first port of call, with a number of ties taking my fancy. The best of these was Lymington Town v Torquay United. Not only was it a great tie, but I'd seen Lymington overcome Lydney Town in the previous round. Therefore I was really pleased when the BBC announced it as their 12.30 kick off to stream online. This meant that I could double it up with a 3pm kickoff, in the end, I chose Bashley v Fareham Town. I was pleased to have fellow hopper Anwar on board as it would give me company and help out with fuel costs. I also planned to get their early as the town was really close by and it would be a big crowd.

The day of the game came and I awoke around 7.30, having only got to bed around 2 the previous night. It was all a bit of a rush and I was supposed to out of the house by 7.45. Even though it was getting on for 8 when I left, I still arrived to meet Anwar at our pre-planned 8.15 meeting time. Soon enough, we were on our way and for once, it was a good journey. We were in Lymington by 10.30 though my sat nav directed me to a tiny public car park rather than the club one. So, we programmed our next stop of Bashley in and parked in a side road away from the town. It would make getting away easier later on, but there was a near miss when I parked in a residents only place, it was only a postcard-sized sign about 100 feet down the road that I noticed thankfully. From there we headed into town which was very pretty and had a market on. First stop was Poundland for some drinks, then it was Wetherspoons number 169, The Six Bells, for a pint of Pear Mania for a very reasonable £2.95. There were plenty of Torquay fans in there, with them expecting to bring 400. Outside there were plenty of dogs around, more than I’ve seen in any other town in fact. Last stop was a local bakery for a slice of rocky road before heading to the ground.

Entry was an excellently priced £6 with the programme at £2. First stop was the bar where I had a new cider, Orchard View for £3. It was only 11.20 so I sat in the bar and caught up online, as well as typing this blog. It was pretty rainy by now, so I joined Anwar in the stand and chatted to some fellow hoppers including a bloke born in Wycombe and a few familiar faces who were good company. The game was played in very wet conditions and so the stand got pretty full of fans wanting to keep dry. As for the game, a match report is pasted below but Lymington matched Torquay for the first 36 minutes and even had a few good chances of their own. The visitors' opener came via an unfortunate own goal when Lewis Brailey deflected Ben Wynter's cross into his own net. Jamie Reed doubled the advantage a couple of minutes later, tapping home after good work by the highly impressive Opi Edwards who was on loan from Bristol City and ran Lymington ragged all afternoon. The hosts would not concede again for another 20 minutes, but in the end, they looked tired against a full-time outfit and ended up losing 7-0 with keeper Nic Jones turning in an impressive performance to keep the score down. It was a good day off the pitch for Lymington Town though. The attendance of 639 was good, though it might have been even better had it not been so rainy and they hosted very well given the larger than usual crowd.


THE SPORTS GROUND is a pretty decent venue for the level. The sole covered area is the main stand, this holds 200 according to the 1993 Non-League Directory though in reality, because it is benched seating, you can squeeze a lot more in. The rest of the ground is open hard standing and is well kept. Facilities at the ground include a tea bar from an outside caterer, though this may only have been for the cup match. The bar itself is smart and modern and has an interesting range of drinks. It also has a small serving hatch that sells pasties, pies and hot and cold drinks. Many more options are available in the town, which is a short walk away and include a decent Wetherspoons. There's a decent sized car park at the ground, though you should aim for the entrance off Avenue Road as the one on the postal address directs you to a council car park which charges and has a maximum stay of 3 hours.

Saturday 22 September 2018

Ely City - The Unwin Ground

Ely City FC
The Unwin Ground
Downham Road

01353 662035

Ground Number: 796
Friday 21st September 2018
Ely City 1-2 Thetford Town
Eastern Counties League Premier Division


The club was established in 1885, making them the oldest senior club in Cambridgeshire. Early days were spent in the Cambridgeshire League before moving to the Peterborough & District League in 1951. In 1960 they made the step up to the Eastern Counties League. Whilst it was a single division finishes ranged from 4th in 1981 to bottom in 1988. The following year the league expanded to two tiers and Ely City were placed in the Premier Division. The poor form continued and the club was relegated to Division 1 after finishing second-bottom. They'd remain in the lower tier until 1997 when they went back up as league winners. The following season the club enjoyed its record league placing as they finished as runners-up to Wroxham in the Premier Division, just two points short of the title. Despite this, they finished bottom in 1999 and were relegated back to Division 1. The years since have seen them alternate between the divisions on a regular basis, finishing as low as 10th in Division 1 in 2004. The 2011/12 season saw them again finish as runners-up to Wroxham in the Premier Divison. They have been continuous members of the Premier Division since 2016 and prior to my visit sit 6th in the table.

In the FA Cup, the best progress has been to the 1st Round in 1956. That year they beat Histon, Cambridge United, Cambridge City, March Town United & Sudbury Town before a 6-2 home defeat to Torquay United in front of a crowd of 4,223. In the FA Vase, Ely City reached
the 5th Round in2017, beating Kirkley & Pakefiled, Diss Town, Northampton ON Chenecks, Wadham Lodge, Welwyn Garden City and Shepshed Dynamo before a 3-0 home defeat to Sporting Khalsa. Local cup wins include the Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup on four occasions and the Cambridgeshire Senior Cup in 1948. The city of Ely has a population of just over 20,000 and famous people from the town include rugby's Clive Woodward.


I always like to do a game on Friday night and my week off was no exception. There were a number of options, but Ely City won out by virtue of being the closest. I was pleased to have Anwar as company and so the night before started researching the club's history. I'd initially hoped to walk into town to go to a great looking pub called the Drayman's Son but in the end, it was too far of a walk to make it viable. The day of the came and it was my annual visit to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford for my annual heart checkup. As expected, everything was fine and I was back home by midday. I spent the afternoon at home doing not much and was glad when the 4pm leaving time came. I got to Anwar at 4.30, the journey across was the usual barrel of laughs that you'd expect on a Friday night. It took 2 and a half hours to do the 75 miles and we got to our pre-match stop, the New Dragon Inn around 7. I had salt and pepper chips and spring rolls which cost above average at £6. I'd wanted to top in Aylesbury en route.catch up online but there was no signal available at all on 3. At least the portion size was good and the food was tasty. 

We got at 7.15, paying £7 to get in and £1 for what was a decent programme for the price. It was produced by an outfit called Barnes Print and I've seen them offer programmes free of charge to clubs. So I can only assume that they fund that by selling advertising to meet the costs - therefore a win-win situation for all parties. We watched the game in good company with a Thetford fan called Dave who was pleased that we had made the trek all the way from Buckinghamshire. On the park, it was a very competitive affair, there were chances for both sides but the respective keepers were not really tested. The linesman on our side copped flak from both managers although he took it in good humour and his calls appeared to be correct. Thetford had been by far the better side and they took the lead on 50 minutes when a corner expertly delivered from Ross Bailey was headed in at the back post by towering defender Jon Carver. The lead was doubled on 66 minutes when a great ball over the top was well controlled by the excellent Volta Rocha who blasted the ball into the net from around 15 yards. The same player saw a free kick smack against the post and to be frank, it was only an excellent performance from the Ely City keeper that kept the score down. The hosts did stage a late rally and they scored in the 86th minute when a square ball was put across the box and an inattentive Thetford defence failed to pick up an unmarked man who slotted home from just outside the six-yard box. There were further half chances, but it would have been daylight robbery had they claimed a point. That said, both teams made it an enjoyable contest to watch.

We left the ground at 9.40, with me having one final port of call before we headed home. It was the aforementioned The Drayman's Son. I had a takeout container that I wanted to fill with some cider to take home. While Ely looked a pretty nice place to explore on foot, but by car, it was not as pleasant. Nevertheless, I eventually arrived at the place I was looking for and purchased two pints of Spinney Abbey 'Virgin On The Ridiculous' to take back with me. It was not the cheapest, but being produced nearby, I was never going to be able to pick it up anywhere else.  It was just before 10 by the time came to leave and I wanted to listen to the Two Mikes on TalkSPORT the way home. That was easier said than done though, the MW reception was riddled with interference and the entire city of Ely appeared to be a deadspot for '3' customers. Eventually, I pulled over into a Tescos and got everything set up for the journey home. I was disappointed that an extra 30 miles had been added to the journey, but with the route taking in the M11 and M25, it was more pleasant drive than cramped single carriageways, especially in the dark. The extra mileage was the result of several road closures, and although there were plenty of works, I dropped Anwar off at 11.40. I got home myself shortly after midnight, happy to enjoy my earlier purchase which was excellent. I didn't want to stay up too late though and so after listening to the remainder of the Two Mikes was in bed by 2 am.


THE UNWIN GROUND is a tidy setup and a decent one for step 5. Pride of place goes to the elevated 150 capacity seated stand. This offers good views and is also pleasing on the eye and unique. There are further covered areas offering both seats and standing, but these are all located on one side of the ground with the rest of it open. The ground is set in a pretty pleasant location, though all that#s really near it is a retail park which offers a few chains like Pizza Hut and McDonalds. The city is around half an hour walk and is a nice looking place with a good range of outlets. Back at the ground, the tea bar and clubhouse are pretty decent and well-priced.