Wednesday 28 November 2018

Ashby Ivanhoe - NFU Sports Ground

Ashby Ivanhoe FC
NFU Sports Ground
Lower Packington Road
LE65 1TS

07807 261975

Ground Number: 821
Tuesday 27th November 2018
Ashby Ivanhoe 5-1 Ingles
Leicestershire County Cup Quarter Final


The club was founded in 1948, joining the Coalville & District League upon formation. A transfer to the Burton & District League followed in 1967 where fortunes were mixed. The late 1980s saw them join the North Leicestershire League, winning its Premier Division on four occasions. The club made the step up to the Leicestershire Senior League in 2005, starting out in its step 8 Division 1. Ashby Ivanhoe performed well and by 2008, a runners-up spot behind Ashfordby Amateurs was good enough to gain promotion to the Premier Division. Finishes again were excellent, with the Premier Division title being lifted in 2011. A 3rd place finish in 2014 was good enough to see the club promoted to the East Midlands Counties League, although they only missed out on winning the title due to goal difference with Allexton & New Parks and Melton Mowbray finishing above them. Finishes in the EMCL have finished from 3rd in 2016 to 17th last season. This season has seen a slight improvement, with Ashby Ivanhoe sitting 13th at the time of kick off.

In the FA Cup, the club entered for the only time in the 2016/17 season. They beat Quorn 4-3 and Loughborough Dynamo (a significant giant-killing as they were the away side at a team two levels higher) before a 6-0 home defeat to Ilkeston in the 1st Qualifying Round (although this game produced the club record attendance of 693). The 2016/17 season also saw the club's best ever FA Vase Run, beating Pelsall Villa and Stone Old Alleynians before losing to Hucknall Town in the 1st Round. Local cup wins include the North Leicestershire League Chairman's Shield twice, the Cobbin Trophy in 1997, the Ivanhoe Shield in 1981, the Ashby Charity Cup in 1997 and the Coalville Charity Cup in 2011. Famous names in the dugout include Tony Hemmings with the former Wycombe striker managing the club between 2013 and 2015. The club is based in Ashby-De-La-Zouch, a small town with a population of  13,759. It is well-known for being the home of the snack manufacturer KP. Famous people to come from the town include footballer Russell Hoult and radio and TV presenter Max Rushden. Fictionally, Adrian Mole lived in Ashby-De-La-Zouch during his lifetime with his girlfriend Pandora Braithwaite later becoming MP for the town, although she'd sacked him off long before then.


There was a really limited choice of games on this Tuesday, what with the weather getting colder and wetter. I'd have Chris with me for a change and it was due to the weather that we decided to opt for a league game to play it safe, despite our initial preference being Clay Cross Town. Our options boiled down to two - Sheffield Wednesday & Leicester City. I'd visited both of course as I'd completed the 92, but with both visits coming in 2012, I was happy to revisit to update my blog and get better pictures. The day of the game came and I'd had a reasonable night sleep. After getting ready, it was my usual walk down town where I got some soup for lunch, plus a few other bits. I came back and did my final bits of research for tonight. Lots of games had already been called off before I left at 3.30, but these were tending to be down south, where the weather had hit earliest. I got to Chris about 4 40 and had fully intended to book tickets for Leicester. I'd not booked them at home in case of any late changes or car problems and thought it would be simple enough on my iPad. I was completely wrong, a series of failed CAPTCHA's and complaints that my perfectly valid landline number was not valid meant we tried to ring the ticket hotline. Only to be greeted by a recorded message of Jamie Vardy telling us to ring back between 9 am and 6pm. With it being 5 pm now and 20 minutes already wasted, we decided to search for what was still on. Thankfully, I had a directory of all the names and numbers of club secretaries. Though the Ashby Ivanhoe man didn't answer, he called back within a few minutes and confirmed that the game was on.

For once, the journey was a really good one, with only minimal delays. Most surprising at that time of night. After arriving at 6.40 and checking in at the ground to confirm that the game was on, we drove back into town for dinner. I wasn't expecting much from Nick's Fish Bar, but it turned out to be pretty decent with a tasty and generous portion of chicken curry and chips costing £3.50.  We got back to the ground at 7.10 and paid an excellent value £4 to get in. There were no programmes, but with me rapidly running out of space, it doesn't bother me to be honest. The game was a 7.30 kick off, so I had barely any time to catch up on things before it started. The hosts started very brightly and they took the lead on 5 minutes. A Ben Minshull corner was put in and Joel Earps headed home. There was some debate as to whether it was over the line as it bounced down off of the bar, but the referee gave it. After 12 minutes it was 2-0, a really well-worked move resulting in a close-range finish by top goalscorer Kerr Horn. This was a just score given the hosts' early dominance, but Ingles were starting to come into the game and had a really good spell. They saw plenty of the ball but didn't really trouble the home keeper too much. It was 3-0 just before halftime, just like the first goal it was a Minshull corner and an Earps finish, this time a low, close-range effort. Ingles continued to have the upper hand in the second half, but again, the finishing was lacking. Ashby Ivanhoe made it 4-0 with a goal on the break, a good run from Sam Carline set up Mitch Woodbine who slotted calmly past the keeper. The visitors got a much-deserved goal back on 84 minutes, Kyle Fowkes heading in a cross. The rout was complete in the last minute when Horn got his second, rounding the keeper and blasting into the top corner.

The scoreline had been very harsh on Ingles and although Ashby Ivanhoe deserved their win, it should have been by a one or two goal margin. It had been a really good pick too, only 3 out of 7 step 2 and below games were on and even Football League side Mansfield Town called their game off at 6.30, very poor considering the opponents had travelled from Crawley. The club had been very friendly and it had been a much better ground than I expected. I was delighted to hear on my way home that Wycombe had grabbed a late winner to win 2-1 at Accrington. Incredibly, that lifted us up to 10th, a great position considering our expectations at the start of the season. We'd also dodged a bullet at Leicester, reporter Alan Green made snoring noises to describe their 0-0 draw at home to Southampton, with the hosts eventually winning on penalties. Elsewhere, Manchester United grabbed a late winner yet again as they fluked their way to victory over Swiss side Young Boys. They've done this on a number of occasions and I reckon this side is not much better than some of the sides that have been relegated from the Premiership in the past. Radio 5 kept us company until we got to Chris's at 10:40, then I switched on my Podcasts. After going back via the M1 and M25, I got in an hour later. As per usual, I couldn't get to sleep until 2 am, my lie in the previous morning meaning that my body clock would not let me go to sleep. I caught up with a nap the following afternoon though, but I didn't feel that tired when I woke at 4 am on Wednesday for work.


THE NFU SPORTS GROUND is a great little ground for the level, though it's located a fair way from town, around a mile in fact. At the ground are food and drink facilities, these offer a fairly basic range but at good prices. The ground itself was a lot better than expected. The side where you come in (behind the goal) has two wooden structures - a seated stand holding 50 and covered standing for around 150. On the side is a small metal stand provided by Stadium Solutions, this holds around 50 and is a lot better than the more common 'Arena' efforts. The rest of the ground is open hard standing although only two sides are officially available to fans due to it being a multi-sports venue. This adds to the charm though and with the club being really friendly, I'd definitely recommend a visit.

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