Wednesday 12 December 2018

Andover New Street - Foxcotte Park

Andover New Street FC
Foxcotte Park
Foxcotte Lane
SP11 0TA

01264 358358

Ground Number: 824
Tuesday 11th December 2018
Andover New Street 2-3 Havant & Waterlooville
Hampshire Senior Cup


The club was established in the early 1890s and was initially known as St Mary's Youth as they were formed by the vicar of the local church. They changed their name to New Street in 1895 before settling on their current name in 2001, Their formative years were spent in the Andover & District and North Hants leagues. In 1976, New Street joined the Hampshire League Division 4, winning two promotions in their first two seasons. They'd go on to spend until 1986 in Division 2 when despite finishing just 12th, they were promoted to Division 1. Mid to lower half finishes were the order of the day here before New Street were relegated to Division 2 in 1990 and then again to Division 3 in consecutive seasons. As quick as they fell, they rose again with promotions in 1992 and 1993 to win promotions back to Division 1. A 5th place finish in 1999 was good enough for them to be placed in the Premier Division upon league reorganisation. They finished as runners-up to VTFC (now named Sholing) in 2004. That year, they joined the Wessex League in their newly formed second tier. Finishes were generally poor, with a low of rock-bottom in 2007 and a high of 10th in 2012. That was until last season when a vastly improved showing saw them finish as runners-up to Christchurch. This season has seen a tricky start with the club bottom of the table at the time of kick off, though they are still in touch with those outside the relegation zone.

Andover New Street entered the FA Cup for the first time this season, winning their debut match 4-0 against Romsey Town but then losing 3-1 at Moneyfields in the Preliminary Round. The club has been entering the FA Vase since 2004 but have an utterly miserable record, winning just one game in 13 - that coming in the 2007/08 season as they beat Clanfield 3-1, prior to losing 4-1 at Holmer Green in the 2nd Qualifying Round. Local cup wins include the Hampshire League Cup in 2004 and the double of the North Hants Senior Cup and Andover Open Cup last season. Andover New Street share the town with local rivals Andover Town, with the town itself having a population of just under 63,000. The town has an RAF base which is the biggest employer in the area. Famous people from the town include former footballer Nigel Spackman and three members of the band 'The Troggs'.


Once again, the list of games available to do was low and with my usual Tuesday hopper going through a very fussy phase, I was on my own again. The fixtures south of me looked just as sparse, but I was glad when I saw that Andover New Street had a home game against Havant & Waterlooville in the Hampshire Senior Cup. Normally, the hosts play on Wednesdays, making a visit unlikely as I'm up at 4 am on both Wednesday and Thursday. With the only options being recent revisits or adding another 60 miles onto the journey, this was the obvious choice. Things had changed since last season when I visited the other town's other club, Andover Town. They enjoyed a big victory when I went and had a team full of big names. The season ended well too with them finishing 2nd and just a point behind leaders Blackfield & Langley. However, they opted not to accept promotion and as punishment, the FA relegated them to Wessex Divison 1. They've had a rotten start with Andover New Street thumping them 5-0 in the North Hants Cup to add to their string of heavy defeats.

The day of the game came and it was my usual day off from work. It was the standard walk down town where amongst other things I bought some nice chicken & cheese nachos for lunch. I came back and spent the afternoon catching up on various things, including tidying up old blogs of games I've been to on this day. Today it was six years since I'd been to Rugby Town, a ground I'd like to visit again. I also made some future plans, booking a week off at the start of March when hopefully I'll be able to do something abroad. The final part of the afternoon was spent doing some work on my Gillingham blog, where I am heading this Saturday to watch Wycombe. After a dinner of Chilli Stir Fry, I got my things together and left at 5.40. It was a fairly decent journey, with me getting to the ground at 7.15. I paid £6 to get in as well as £1 for a  very decent programme. I also got a decent portion of chips for £1.20 later on. I went around getting some pictures before going in the bar for 10 minutes to keep warm. 5 minutes before kickoff I went outside and stood on halfway to watch the game. Havant had a few names in their lineup that I recognised, thanks to me listening to the Solent Non-League Podcast. These included former Portsmouth striker Nicke Kabamba who had made 28 appearances for the first team this season, In fact, 3 players started both the previous game against Braintree and tonight's game, with a further 4 playing as a substitute in either game as well.

It was a quick start to the game with both sides creating half chances early on. Lee Molyneaux came closest when he hit the outside of the post for Havant in the opening 10 minutes. Andover New Street took a surprise lead on 14 minutes when a cross was squared back across the area for Shane Locke to finish from around 10 yards. The visitors would turn the game around thanks to a couple of long-range free kicks - firstly from Djamel Leeflang on 24 minutes and then from Will Wood around 10 minutes later. Nicke Kabamba made it 3-1 on 36 minutes when he got away from the defence before rounding home keeper George Baxter before tapping the ball into an empty net. Andover New Street reduced the arrears on the hour mark, Callum Sweeney dispatching a penalty that was awarded for a foul in the area. Both sides had chances in what was a sometimes fractious affair, but there were no further goals, Alfie Rutherford thought he had sealed the game for the visitors in the last minute, but his chip was disallowed for offside. The hosts had given a great account of themselves, but Havant deserved the win and in the end, their quality showed. I left at 9.40, listening to the football and then music on the way home. It was a good night for English clubs, with both Liverpool & Spurs sealing progress through to the next phase of the Champions League. Due to a closure on the M4, I was taken up to Oxford on my way home and then down the M40. This added around 10 miles to my journey but I still got home by 11. It had been a great value night out as far as spending at the club had gone, but high fuel prices and poor fuel economy meant getting there and back cost me nearly £20 which wasn't great.


FOXCOTTE PARK is a nice venue set in pleasant countryside. There are two stands and for once, they are not the standard metal monstrosities. Both are wooden - up the far end of the pitch is a seated one - this is built on top of an old lorry trailer and has a capacity of around 100. There's also a covered flat standing area up the other end, with around 50 spaces in. The rest of the ground is open. I didn't see a club shop or visit the bar but the tea bar was very good and as I didn't see many options near the ground, this is useful. 

Saturday 8 December 2018

Royal Wootton Bassett Town - New Gerard Buxton Sports Ground

Royal Wootton Bassett Town FC
New Gerard Buxton Sports Ground
Brinkworth Road
Royal Wootton Bassett

Ground Number: 823
Friday 7th December 2018
Royal Wootton Bassett Town 1-1 Brimscombe & Thrupp
Hellenic Premier


The original club was formed in 1882 and up until recently, were known as Wootton Bassett Town. They played in various leagues including the Vale Of White, Swindon & District and the Wiltshire League. The latter of these bought in a rule that players had to live within a certain radius of the club and this together with financial pressures caused the club to fold in 1908. They would re-emerge in 1930, this time playing in the Calne & District League. The second world war would interrupt and when football resumed, the club would play in the Wiltshire Leagues with mixed fortunes. 1988 would see them make the step up to the Hellenic League, initially in Division 1. Finishes here were mixed, ranging from as low as 12th on a couple of occasions to as high as 3rd in the 1999/00 season. That allowed them to be promoted to the Hellenic Premier. Despite a respectable 13th place finish in their first season, they generally struggled and were relegated in 2005 after finishing second-bottom. It would take them until 2010 to bounce back, by way of a runners-up spot to Slimbridge. Though they finished in a respectable 15th, they were demoted due to ground grading. Wootton Bassett Town would spend two more seasons back in Division 1 West, finishing as runners-up to Brimscombe & Thrupp in 2013. This would lead to a two-year groundshare with Cirencester Town and it was in the second of these seasons that the club would enjoy their best ever finish in the clubs history of 11th in the Hellenic Premier, a feat they would repeat a couple of seasons later. 2015 would see them renamed Royal Wootton Bassett Town and return home. Since then, finishes have been mid-table but this season has seen an incredible upturn in results with them sitting in 4th coming into their latest game.

The best FA Cup run came during the 2012/13 season when they beat Calne Town, Hamworthy United and Highworth Town before a 4-0 defeat at Dorchester Town in the 2nd Qualifying Round. The FA Vase 2nd Round has been reached on a couple of occasions - in 2008 when they lost 4-0 at Wimborne Town and then again in 2017 as they lost 3-2 at Horndean. The club has won a plethora of local trophies, the most notable of which is a pair of Wilshire Senior Cups in 1999 and 2001. The town of Wootton Bassett was granted Royal patronage in 2011 due to many war heroes coming from the town and has a population of 11,385.


I'm always keen on a bit of Friday night football, but the options are usually few and far between. This proved to be the case this week - the nearest viable options with my usual Friday hopper Chris were Welshpool Town and Norwich CBS, but he had done both. We did briefly consider Barry Town but in the end, decided against it as it was a bit of a stretch getting there and it would also be a long way back and a late night. Royal Wootton Bassett Town was a lot nearer, but geographically unviable going via Milton Keynes. It worked for going via my regular hopper Anwar though, but he'd not shown much interest in hopping lately. But when I told him how near it was, he was thankfully up for it and so I'd have some company for the journey, plus help with fuel costs. The day of the game came and it was a reasonably easy day with me working 5-12 including a free Christmas buffet at the end. I came home and spent the afternoon catching up on my YouTube subscriptions before leaving at 4.15. I was at Anwar's half an hour later and soon enough, we were on our way. There were a few delays, but overall, it was a good journey for a Friday night. We got to our pre-planned stop of Morrisons in Swindon at 6.20. Their cafe is usually pretty decent and I'd wanted a sit-down meal with it being chilly. I'd deliberately selected the store with the Cafe that closed at 7PM as I'd been caught out in the past with early closers. So I was most disappointed when I went to order food with 40 minutes till closing, only to be told that they stopped serving hot food at 5.30 as they closed at 7. Bizzare and an utter disgrace, but par for the course with Morrisons shoddy customer service. Luckily there was a chip shop outside and although Saveloy and chips eaten in my car was not ideal, it was decent enough for £2.70.

From there, we made our way to the ground, getting there at 7.20. Entry was a reasonable £6 and a programme was £1.50. The latter was superb, a real amount of effort put into making something worth reading. I only had around 15 minutes to kill before a kickoff, a result of leaving as late as possible to avoid any late postponements due to the rain. I needn't have worried as the pitch was in superb condition. The visitors were well on top during the early exchanges and they hit the inside of the post through Sam Blackie on 11 minutes. They should have got a penalty shortly after, but the referee waved away the claims. They did get a penalty on 22 minutes, a highly dubious one and probably awarded as the referee knew he had messed up the first decision. Ash Caldwell stepped up, but the home Keeper Sawyer produced a brilliant save. I assume he was a reserve team player as he wasn't featured in the team profiles in the programme, however, he was the man of the match for the Wootton Bassett. There was finally a legitimate penalty awarded on 41 minutes, this time Caldwell scored, despite a good effort to save the shot from Sawyer. The hosts should have had a free kick, but in general, they were very poor and it was a mystery how they sat 4th in the table. Wootton Bassett did improve in the second half and they'd go on to equalise with their first serious shot and well-travelled striker TJ Bohane netted a looping header. The home keeper was caught out of his area later on, but Brimscombe were too slow to take advantage. The ref didn't help the game, far too fussy and kept breaking up the play. The visitors looked the more likely winners, and they were awarded a host of free kicks, however, most were overhit. The game ended 1-1 and by 9.45 we were away. I stopped at the Co-Op for a few local ciders before heading home. The Two Mikes om TalkSport kept us company on the way home with me dropping Anwar off at 11.25. I was home 25 minutes later and so I had a couple of bottles while typing this blog before going to bed around 2 am.


The new GERARD BUXTON SPORTS GROUND is a well kept and smart venue, but its a bit dull. Its the standard new build - open bar a couple of metal 'Arena' stands - one seated and one standing with around a capacity of around 100 each. They do the job to a point and satisfy ground grading criteria, but not much more than that. Facilities at the ground are OK, a basic tea bar and a spacious bar that shows TV football. The town is around a mile walk away. There is a decent range of merchandise, but this is to order and prices reflect this. The programme is £1.50 and is excellent, with plenty of stats.


I visited Wootton Bassett's old ground in August 2007, whilst I was on the way to a Plymouth Argyle v Wycombe Wanderers game. As it was around 7 am, the ground was all shut up and so I was lucky enough to find a hole in the fence. I was impressed with a nice homely ground, but the authorities were obviously not as they demanded improvements, meaning that the club had to share at Cirencester for a couple of seasons.