Friday, 2 November 2018

Dunkirk - Ron Steel Sports Ground

Dunkirk FC
Ron Steel Sports Ground
Lenton Lane

0115 9850803
Official Website

Ground Number: 813
Friday 2nd November 2018
AFC Dunkirk 1-3 Cotgrave

Notts Senior League - Premier Division


The club was formed in 1946 and joined the Notts Amateur League in their first year. After a spell in the  Notts Alliance, they joined the Notts Senior League in 1991. After a series of decent finishes, including two 4th places, they joined the Central Midlands League in 1995, starting in its second tier. They won promotion to the Supreme Division in their first season after finishing as runners-up to Kilmarsh Juniors. They'd spend 12 seasons here, winning the championship in 2005. In 2008 they became founder members of the East Midlands Counties League, winning it two seasons later. Promotion to the step 5 Midland Alliance followed and despite an 8th place finish in their first season, Dunkirk generally struggled and were relegated back to the EMCL in 2016. It would take two seasons to get back, but they won promotion back up last season and currently sit a couple of places above the relegation zone. I'd be watching the second string AFC Dunkirk however - they joined the Notts Senior League Premier Division in 2015 and finished 8th in their first season, Despite a  3rd place finish in 2017, they only avoided relegation by a couple of points last term. So far this season, they sit 7th in the league.

In the FA Cup, Dunkirk's best showing came in the 2015/16 season when they beat Bardon Hill, Bottesford Town and Belper Town prior to a 3-1 defeat at Stourbridge in the 2nd Qualifying Round. The club came pretty close to a Wembley final in 1994 when they reached the FA Vase 5th round, only to lose to Tiverton Town. Local cup honours include the EMCL Cup in 2017, the Central Midlands League Cup in 1998 & 2008 and the Notts Alliance League Cup in 1988. Players who began their careers at Dunkirk include Wes Morgan and Jake Sheridan who both went on to play in the Football League, the former being a Premiership winner with Leicester City. The club takes their name from the residential area of Nottingham in which they are based, this has a population of just under 11,000. The area provides a great deal of student accommodation thanks to its proximity to Nottingham University, 60% of the residents being in the age 16-24 age bracket. Former students at the establishment include current TalkSPORT presenter Mike Parry who dropped out of an Urban Estate Management course whilst it was still a Polytechnic.

I always love a bit of Friday night football but it had been a bit hard to come by in recent weeks, at least if I wanted to go with my Milton Keynes based hopping pal Chris. Most of our forays had been in the Nottingham area thanks to Chris being based near the M1. It initially looked as if we might not see a game at all, with Chris not doing 'reserve' sides, which was what AFC Dunkirk essentially was and me preferring venues with a stand of some sort. But as ever, we came to a compromise, I would drop Chris off at Keyworth before making the 6-mile journey to Dunkirk. I did all the planning including having a pre-match curry together in Keyworth, plus researched Dunkirk FC for this blog. I made sure I got to bed fairly early on Thursday night, around 9pm, though I was still pretty tired when I woke at 4 am the next morning. It was a busy day at work and so when I got home at lunchtime, I didn't have too much time to play with. I had lunch, had a bath while reading a Walthamstow fanzine 'If I Hadn't Seen The Riches' that came through the post and sorted a few pictures on my PC out before leaving at 2.50. I made my way to Chris, meeting him just before 4. We then had a decent journey, getting to Indian Nights in Keyworth at 5.40. We both had an excellent Chicken Nawa with Lemon Rice. After settling up, I drove the mile to Keyworth United, dropping Chris off at 6.35. Ten minutes later I was parked up at Dunkirk and after catching up online and typing some of my blog, I went in the ground at 7.

I waited 10 minutes for the turnstile to open, but no one came so I walked around through the players' entrance. After getting some pictures I took my place along the side and waited for kick off. By now, the turnstile had opened, so I went round and paid my £3 entry as well as 50p for a programme. There was a minutes silence for the victims of the Leicester City helicopter crash although this was slightly tarnished by a local fun fair playing music and letting off fireworks. I caught up with fellow hopper Malcolm who I hadn't seen for a while and met another hopper, Dave, who had come from Luton. The game was just 25 seconds old when Joe Hegarty's cross from the left was headed home at the far post by Lee Potts to give Cotgrave the lead. Dunkirk rallied and came close to equalising when they hit the bar and the rebound fell to their player with the goal gaping but he could only strike the post. The visiting keeper still had to make a good save as the ball was only half cleared but the chance had gone. 16 minutes in and Cotgrave got another against the run of play, it looked like an own goal but the visitors credited it to Gethyn Tustin. I got some chips at halftime and these were very good. Dunkirk started the half slowly again and 44 seconds in it was 3-0, this time no dispute that it was an own goal following a good cross from Lee Collison. The hosts had been really unlucky not to get a share of the spoils, but they did at least get one back on 76 minutes, a low shot from just inside the area reducing the arrears.

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There were further chances for both sides, but the difference was Cotgrave's more clinical finishing and that's why they are flying high in the league. I said goodbye to my fellow hoppers who had been part of a crowd of around 40. It had been an entertaining contest and so I was in a decent mood as I left at 9.35. I met up with Chris 10 minutes later and we were soon on our way. There were slight delays thanks to a couple of spots of traffic, but the company of the Two Mikes on TalkSPORT made the journey go a lot quicker. I dropped Chris off at 11 and after stopping at Amersham Tesco to get a bottle of cider I got in at 12:15. I listened to the remainder of the Two Mikes and watched Coronation Street as I typed my blog before going to sleep in the early hours. Next up for me on the Saturday would be visit 850 to Adams Park as Wycombe played Peterborough United. Thanks to the excellent Groundhopper app, I also found out that it would be my 25th time watching Peterborough.


THE RON STEEL SPORTS GROUND is a decent venue for the level and happily has some character. There’s a seated area behind the goal, this holds around 30 and there is also a seated stand along the side for 120 ish. Aside this is a covered standing area for around 50 while the rest of the ground is open. There’s a tea bar and clubhouse and this offers a decent choice at reasonable prices. I can vouch for the tea bar with it doing a great portion of chips for a quid. The bar appeared to have the usual selection, including Strongbow for cider drinkers. There’s plenty of parking at the ground, but it was a bit of a walk from anywhere so it may be worth stopping en route.

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