Wednesday 27 February 2019

Lutterworth Town - Dunley Way

Lutterworth Town FC
Kong Park
Dunley Way
LE17 4NP

Official Website

Ground Number: 832
Tuesday 26th February 2019
Lutterworth Town 1-1 Bugbrooke St Michaels
United Counties Premier


The club appears to have been formed in the early 1920s as their first playing records were of them playing in the Lutterworth & District League around that time. They progressed to the Leicester & District, Rugby Junior and Leicester City leagues, winning titles in each. 1955 saw Lutterworth Town make the step up to the Leicestershire Senior League. Starting in Division 2, they would yo-yo between here and Division 1 for the next 30 years until in 1985 they won promotion to the Premier Division for the first time. Lutterworth Town were champions in 1991. The club was relegated to Division 1 in 1995 and aside from a three-season spell back in the Premier between 1997 - 2000, remained there until 2016. That year, after finishing in 3rd place behind Shelthorpe Dynamo and NKF Burbage, they were promoted back to the Premier Division after walking to the title, remaining unbeaten and winning 25 out of their 26 league games. With the appropriate ground now in place, Lutterworth Town were promoted to the United Counties League D1, finishing a credible 3rd in their first season, just three points short of a promotion place.  This season has seen another good showing with the team sitting 2nd at the time of the game.

Lutterworth Town entered the FA Cup for the first time this season, beating Heanor Town before going out 3-0 at Staveley Miners Welfare in the Preliminary Round.  In the FA Vase, their best progress has been the 1st Round, most recently last season when they beat Friar Lane & Epworth and  Teversal prior to a 3-2 home defeat to Coventry United. Local cup wins include the Harborough Charity Cup (three times), the Lutterworth Charity Cup (three times) and Leicestershire & Rutland Senior Cup in 1990. The town of Lutterworth has a population of just over 9,300 according to the 2011 census and is known for Frank Whittle inventing the jet engine in the town in the 1930s and 1940s.


Originally, on this Tuesday, I'd been hoping to use the train and visit May & Baker for their game against Hackney Wick. I signalled my intention to do so on Twitter on Sunday only to be informed by the away team that the game had been moved to Barking, a ground that I'd visited less than three years ago. Luckily, I had a list of backups and so quickly it was decided between me and fellow hopper Anwar that we would do our nearest unticked ground in Lutterworth Town. It would be my 100th game of the season - although this had been my slowest season since 2013/14 in terms of reaching three figures. One disappointing aspect of the journey was the food choices on offer. My previous experiences in Lutterworth had included a lazy Morrisons cafe that shut early and a mediocre and pricey curry. When I looked on Google, the limited offerings that were open at the time of my visit had lukewarm reviews, so I opted for a chippy and Chinese located close together in the hope that the competition would cause them to buck their ideas up.

The day of the game came and it was a pretty standard day off for me. A good nights sleep was followed by breakfast and a bath, followed by a walk down town. The afternoon was spent sorting out photos and tidying up some blogs of games that I have been to on this day in previous years. I also continued my ever-frustrating search for a 'new' car - one that I fancied but was told had been sold over the phone was still listed. I did contact the garage via email, but just like the last time, was met by a wall of silence. My internet was also unreliable just before I left, so I gave up and left slightly early, topping up with fuel before getting to Aylesbury at 5 to meet Anwar. We had to go cross country to avoid delays, but generally, it was a good journey and we got to Lutterworth at 6.40. The Great Wall Chinese was our dinner place, sausage and salt and chilli chips were had for £4.20. We then drove the 10 minutes to the ground but had to park outside as the car park was full. Entry was £5 and a programme from the original game was £1, the original date being 2nd February when the country was in the grip of poor weather, a far cry from the mild conditions of today. I saw Groundhop UK’s Chris Berezai at the game and also chatted to a couple of friendly people from Lutterworth Town as I awaited kick off.

Both teams were in good form. Lutterworth Town's only defeat in 9 games was at league leaders Anstey Nomads and included a 3-3 draw in the reverse game of tonight's fixture. Bugbrooke's form was not quite as good, but still decent and included a recent 9-0 win over Northampton Sileby Rangers. It was the hosts who started the brightest, having a number of chances early on. Bugbrooke soon got back into a very physical game, a Lutterworth man getting a booking for a heavy tackle that saw his opponent need treatment from the physio. Lutterworth had a goal disallowed for offside but the finishing was generally wayward and it was goalless at the break. The dodgy shooting continued after the break but finally, a bit of quality saw Lutterworth take the lead. There are no details online of the home lineup, but their number 9 controlled well, showed some great footwork and laid the ball off for his fellow player who drilled home into the bottom left-hand corner from just outside the area. Both sides had chances to score but Bugbrooke gave it a real go towards the end. They got their reward on 88 minuted when Daniel Quigley headed home firmly from a corner. This prompted wild celebrations amongst the visiting side and although Lutterworth had the better of the game, Bugbrooke never gave up. We left the game at 9.40 and had a good run home with me dropping Anwar off at 10.50. I got home myself at 11.15 and although I went to bed just before midnight it took me ages to get to sleep and so I was tired after a work shift at 4 am tomorrow.


DUNLEY WAY or The KONG STADIUM as its known for sponsorship purposes is a smart stadium. There's a really nice wooden stand with seating for around 50 and also a less attractive metal stand holding around the same amount. The rest of the ground is open hard standing, though behind the far goal is out of bounds to spectators. There's a tea bar and bar at the ground, though I didn't use either. Around the corner is a chip shop and convenience store or the town is around a mile away. I didn't see any merchandise, but the programme was well presented and had plenty of stats, but little reading material for the £1 asking price.

Friday 22 February 2019

Kintbury Rangers - The Recreation Ground

Kintbury Rangers FC
The Recreation Ground
Inkpen Road
RG17 9TU

Ground Number: 831
Friday 22nd February 2019
Kintbury Rangers 2-0 Shrewton United
Wiltshire Premier


The club was established in 1890 and spent their early years in local leagues such as the Newbury & District and the North Berks. They made the step up to the Hellenic League in 1983, joining Division 1. They were promoted to the Premier Division in 1988 after finishing third behind Cheltenham Town Reserves and Wantage Town. They spent 11 seasons in the Hellenic Premier, finishing as high as 8th in 1990 in what was, at the time, a league at step 4 of the Non-League Pyramid. Despite this, they struggled in their later years in the league and took the decision to drop down to the North Berkshire League in 1999. After being successful at the lower level, they earned promotion back to the Hellenic League in 2004, this time to Division 1 East. They were runners-up to Eton Wick in their first season but were unable to take promotion due to more stringent ground gradings. Kintbury Rangers would stay here until 2010 when they once more joined the North Berks League. Again, they were largely successful, winning their 7th title in 2016. This season, they've made the switch to the Wiltshire League and are doing very well, sitting top of the Premier Division and unbeaten in 9 games.

Kintbury Rangers have not yet entered the FA Cup, but they did play in the FA Vase from 1988 until 2000. They were largely unsuccessful in the competition with just two wins in all that time - in 1990 they beat Wallingford Town before going out to the Preliminary Round to Abingdon United and in 1996 when they beat Portsmouth Royal Navy before going out to Brockenhurst in the 2nd Qualifying Round. They've won a number of local cups including the Hellenic League Cup (1997), North Berks League Cup (five times), North Berks Charity Shield (three times) and the Newbury Graystone Cup (twice). Notable former players include Charlie Austin (he scored 20 goals in 27 games during the 2006/07 season) and Brett Angell who was most well-known for his time at Stockport County in the late 1990s. The club's record attendance of 400 came towards the end of the 1989/90 season when they hosted Newport (now known as Newport County) in a Hellenic Premier clash as the reformed away side lifted the title that year. The village of Kintbury itself has a population of just over 2,500 and has its own railways station, three pubs and a small number of shops.


I thought it would be another night in for me this Friday. As much as I wanted a game, it was the usual limited selection and nothing unless I wanted a long drive. I did spot Market Drayton Town v Kidsgrove Athletic but both of my hoppers were unavailable. I went to work on the assumption that I'd have no game that night and instead was going to walk down town and back in the afternoon. But whilst checking our groundhopping WhatsApp group on my break, Splodge had spotted that Kintbury Rangers had a game against Shrewton United tonight. It appeared as if it had been poorly publicised but the truth was that the game had been switched last minute. Due to a shortage of match officials, the league had asked for volunteers to switch to Friday night. Kintbury Rangers and Shrewton United agreed and so I had a game. It was a very basic ground with just a small stand, but there was potential to pick up some local ciders that I'd not had before. It was a decent day at work with me working from 5 until 12.15 before I went home. I spent the afternoon researching journey times and the history of the club, luckily I was able to adjust my dinner time so I could get away on time. After a bit of faffing around, I left at 6.10. There must have been an issue with the M4 as I was directed to take the back route and join a couple of junctions later. The rest of the journey was fine though with me getting to the ground at 7.30 and getting a friendly welcome with a few people seeing an earlier tweet and saying hello.

Looking at the league table, hosts Kintbury Rangers were top and unbeaten in 9. They had last lost to Corsham Town Reserves on 27th October by a 2-1 scoreline. Visitors Shrewton United had lost just once since mid-October in the league with a 3-1 defeat at home to Cricklade on 12th January.  The reverse fixture had been won 2-1 by Kintbury - Thorpe and Mahoney the goalscorers with Harrington replying for Shrewton. There was no entry charge so I bought a pint of Strongbow for £3. Ideally, I’d have liked a pint of CiderNiks, made in the village, but not knowing that the game didn’t kick off until 8, I decided against going to the local pub which I knew stocked it. The hosts started brightly but they were a man doen on 13 minutes. A 50/50 and perfectly legal tackle resulted in a flare-up. Sabeur Trabelsi threw a punch and so was given his marching orders. His teammates were not pleased with him but they stepped up to the challenge. A free kick was awarded and George Smith stepped up and lashed a great effort in.  There appeared to be more people in the bar than watching the game, but they'd be missing another great goal on 48 minutes. A corner was put in and was half cleared. But it only fell to Chris Cox who smashed it in the top corner. I was pleased to get both goals on video and there were further chances with another free-kick and the post being hit from a narrow angle. The Shrewton keeper also made a great save from point-blank range after a low cross was put in, but his team had been second best throughout. It had been a decent evening at a friendly club, but it was time to head for home. I called in at a local Co-Op to get some local cider but they neither had any in stock nor the licence to sell past 10PM. I had a good journey home, getting in at 11 and catching up on my YouTube subs whilst typing this blog. 


The Recreation Ground is a nice setup for step 7. The pitch is fully railed and also has a couple of areas of cover - one on the far side and then more in front of the clubhouse. The ground is not a huge distance from step 5/6 compliance - just hard standing and a seated stand would need to be added. The bar is OK, with a decent selection of drinks but no local CiderNiks cider. The vilage is 5 minutes walk away and like the ground has little in the way of food. There are a few pubs though, but I didn's sample any of them.

Wednesday 20 February 2019

Peterborough Northern Star - Chestnut Avenue

Peterborough Northern Star FC
Branch Bros Stadium
Chestnut Avenue

01733 552416

Ground Number: 830
Tuesday 19th February 2019

Peterborough Northern Star 0-1 Cogenhoe United
United Counties Premier


The club was established in 1905 and can trace its origins back to Eye Village, which is located nearby. Indeed, they've had a number of names during their history, including Northam Star, that name coming from the sports club owned by the Northam & Dogsthorpe Star Brickworks. That team disbanded in 1959, changing their name to Eye United. Previously a run-of-the-mill team in the Peterborough & District League, the name change saw them improve greatly, with ten titles, the final of which in 2001 saw them win all 30 league games and win the league by sixteen points. They'd have to wait another couple of years to gain promotion to the United Counties League, made possible by the move to their current home in the Dogsthorpe area of the city. Impressive 3rd and 4th place finishes followed in their first two seasons before they changed their name to Peterborough Northern Star in their centenary year. They were United Counties Division 1 champions in 2009, but would have to wait another year for promotion due to ground grading, gaining promotion in 2010 after finishing as runners-up to Irchester United. The 2010/11 season saw their best ever finish of 6th, though results have tailed off in recent seasons, with a 16th place finish last season. This season has seen a slight improvement with the team sitting in 14th place at the time of the game.

Peterborough Northern Star made their bow in the FA Cup during the 2012/13 season and this remains their best run with them beating Wellingborough Whitworth & Thrapston Town before a 5-0 defeat to St Neots Town in the 1st Qualifying Round. The season before that saw a great FA Vase run - Rushden & Higham United, Ellistown, Boldmere St Michaels, Armthorpe Welfare, Norton United and Tividale all fell by the wayside before a rollercoaster 4-3 defeat to Dunston UTS in the Quarter Final. Local cup wins include the United Counties KO Cup (2011), Les Underwood Cup (2011), Hitchingbrooke Cup (2010 & 2015) and a number of league cups whilst members of the Peterborough & District League. 


Once again on this Tuesday, options were extremely limited, with just two options if I went with fellow hopper Anwar. Luckily, he was available and agreed with me that a new ground at Peterborough Northern Star was preferable over a revisit to North Leigh. The day of the game came and it was my usual day off work.  It was my usual routine of a walk down town and back, with me picking up a Chicken Jalfrezi snack pot for lunch whilst I was down there amongst other things. I came back and continued my trend of sorting through photos and tidying up blogs of games that I've been to on this day. It takes a fair while to do it, but I'd like to improve some of my blogs from earlier which were not that good. Some grounds, I'll revisit in time, but generally a tidy up sorts things. I was pleased to get a message on Twitter from the Peterborough Northern Star chairman on Twitter and was looking forward to my visit even more. I left home later than planned as ever, at 4.10. Getting to Anwar’s half an hour later, the roads were quieter than usual. The only delay was getting on the A1 with us getting to the ground at 6.30. I’d spotted a local takeaway called Nite Bite and so we headed there, having a donner burger and chips for £3.50. Portions were good and the food was tasty. We headed back to the ground, getting some pictures of the outside before paying £6 to get in. I also bought a programme for £1.50 and chatted to the friendly gateman. After getting some pictures of the inside, we settled on the halfway line for the game.

Looking at both teams form, the hosts were not in fine fettle. They'd lost their latest game ay Eynesbury Rovers on Saturday. going down 4-0 and had just one victory in their last eight games. Cogenhoe United were doing slightly better - they'd won 2-1 at strugglers Kirby Muxloe on Saturday and despite a recent 6-0 mauling at AFC Rushden & Diamonds in the Northants Cup, had a couple of 6-1 wins away at Northampton ON Chenecks & Rothwell Corinthians in recent times. True to form, Cogenhoe started brightly and took the lead on 6 minutes. It was more of a cross than a shot from Josh Norman as the visitors had by far the better of the game. Although Peterborough Northern Star had little to offer up front and this made for a dull first half. The hosts improved in the second period, but neither side really tested the keeper. We’d been chatting to a group of fans from Lincoln and Wisbech during the game and our friendly conversations were far more interesting than anything on the pitch. We left at 9.40 and due to a closure on the A1 had to make a big diversion. A further road closure in Milton Keynes meant another diversion and as a result, I didn’t drop Anwar off until 11.20. I got home myself around 20 minutes later, but as ever found it hard to drop off to sleep, despite having to be up at 4.


CHESTNUT AVENUE or the BRANCH BROS STADIUM as it is known at present for sponsorship purposes is a smart and tidy venue. There are two seated stands along the side, both holding around 50. This side is also home to a set of attractive brick dugouts. Behind the goal where you enter, there is a covered area of flat standing, this has space for around 100. There’s also an area of cover in the corner, capacity around 150. The rest of the ground is open hard standing.

There’s a bar at the ground, this does a range of drinks including Dark Fruits, Guinness, Fosters and John Smiths as well as bottles. There are two tea bars at the ground, one outside and one inside. These do the usual football fare of burgers, chips and pies as well as drinks at reasonable prices. A few minutes away is a good takeaway called Nite Bite as well as a chippy, convenience store and cash machine whilst there is plenty of parking at the ground. The programme is smart, well presented and full of stats, but with not a huge amount of reading material.