Friday 19 April 2019

Almondsbury - The Field

Almondsbury FC
The Field
Gloucester Road
South Gloucestershire
BS32 4AF

Ground Number: 850
Thursday 18th April 2019
Almondsbury 3-2 Malmesbury Victoria
Hellenic D1 West


The club was originally based in nearby Patchway and was established in 1969 under the name of Patchway North End. A couple of years later they were renamed Patchway Old Boys before relocating to Almondsbury in 1989 and adopting their current name. They started out in local leagues, latterly the Bristol Combination before joining the Gloucestershire County League in 2001. They were champions in 2004, earning promotion to the Western League D1. Between 2009 and 2017 they partnered with the local university and were known as Almondsbury UWE. They remained as members of the second tier of the Western League for the whole of this time, finishes ranging from 5th in 2015 to 22nd (bottom) in 2017. At the start of the season, a reshuffle of the pyramid meant that they were moved to the Hellenic Division 1 West.  Before tonight's game, they sat in a mid-table placing of 7th

The club's best run in the FA Cup came during the 2012/13 season when they beat Petersfield Town and Cadbury Heath before a 4-0 defeat at Blackfield & Langley in the 1st Qualifying Round. Their best progress in the FA Vase was the following season when they beat Radstock Town 1-0 prior to a 4-2 defeat at Barnstaple Town in the 1st Round. The village of Almondsbury has a population of 4,700 and up until 2012 was home to another football team - Almondsbury Town. They reached as high as the Southern League but financial issues saw them fold. There's also a cricket club and a tennis club as well as other amenities including a pub and a hotel. The village was the birthplace of Franz Ferdinand lead singer Alex Kapranos.


I only decided to go to this game on the day before. I'd initially been hoping to have other hoppers come with me and help out with costs, but both my usual mates were unavailable. I'd already looked into possibilities and knew that there was a campsite two miles from the ground which did camping at £10 a night. That was good enough for me as I was down in the Westcountry for a treble on Friday. It also meant that I could go to the Bristol Cider shop en route and pick up some bottles for home. The only decision I had to make was whether to do Roman Glass St George or Sherborne Town on Friday morning, so I put it to the vote on Twitter. Both teams retweeted it and in the end, Roman Glass St George came out on top. There was a brief scare that it was the same ground as Almondsbury, but helpful hoppers put my mind at ease and in the end, it was just across the road.  The day before the game was a bit hectic, I needed sleep in the afternoon after a late night on Tuesday. The evening was spent doing research for the weekend as well as researching club histories. Normally, I'd have all 4 researched in advance, but in the end, I only had time to do tonights and Newent Town who I'd be visiting the following evening.

I didn't have the best nights sleep before the day of the game, probably thanks to the afternoon nap. I was still OK at 4 am though and got fuel on the way to work. After I finished at 12, I got a few bits of shopping and started making my way towards Bristol. Being the start of the Bank Holiday, the M4 was, of course, problematic and so I had to come off at Hungerford thanks to delays due to a vehicle fire, the resulting traffic adding 30 minutes to my journey. There were delays in Bristol too, another 40 minutes due to roadworks and the Bristol road system being terrible at the best of times. It was worth it though, as after parking up at ASDA, I headed to Bristol Cider Shop. There I bought 6 ciders in bottles that I’d not had yet, plus a couple of pints of Crossmans Medium Dry Farmhouse which I’d yet to have. It was then half an hour to my campsite, me deciding to knock the visit to a farm shop on the head as time was running out. A friendly welcome awaited me and a tenner a night for a pitch was not bad with facilities thrown in. I had the whole site to myself, the only downer being that I could hear the motorway nearby, but I’d brought some earplugs for that eventuality anyway. I pitched my tent and chilled with my two pints while I caught up with things. It was just over two miles to the ground, so I set off at 6.20 to make sure I’d be there on time. I got there at 7, paying a good value £6 including programme. I met several familiar faces and it was good to be amongst good company. A bacon cheeseburger, cheese and onion pasty and a can of Thatchers Gold were sampled before kick off as I looked to help out the club where I could.

Almondsbury were in mixed form, the highlight of recent games being when they hammered strugglers New College Swindon 11-0 at the end of March. Including that result, they won 2, drawn 2 and lost 2 of their last 6. I’d been present at Malmesbury Town’s high point a fortnight ago as they crushed Cirencester Town Development 5-0. Out of the last 6 games, they had won 3 and lost 3, this included the reverse fixture of tonight’s game where Almondsbury triumphed 3-1 on 22nd March. The game started very much in the visitors' favour and they were ahead after 7 minutes. The ball fell to an unmarked Gareth Jones who rifled into the roof of the net from 10 yards. Malmesbury had further chances but they spurned them. Despite a fair bit of possession, Almondsbury created nothing. That was until just before when Lewis Sheppard somehow found space in the area before finishing from close range. The start of the second half offered plenty of effort but little in the way of clear cut chances as the attendance was confirmed as 195. The game was a bit of a dead duck until the final 13 minutes, but as is often the case, a goal can change everything. It was certainly a tidy goal that got things going, 77 minutes gone, the ball falls to Joe Tranter and he put it in the top right corner from inside the area. The game looked to be heading the way of Malmesbury but a lovely cut back from the right allowed Dan Lane to head home right on the line. Almondsbury completed the comeback on 88 minutes, Alex Bisp with a right-wing cross that befuddled visiting keeper Ant Brown.

It was harsh on Malmesbury who were the better side all told, but nothing against Almondsbury who had been brilliant hosts. I checked out the social club and the nearby Swan Hotel, both of which disappointed on the cider front. By 10.25 I was back at my tent, but the noise from the M4 was unbearable. Luckily, I was the only idiot to book the place, so I locked myself in the shower room. Still not quiet enough for a light sleeper like me, but it did quieten down in the end with me only having a couple of ciders and getting around 6 hours sleep.


THE FIELD is a fairly basic setup, just the one metal seated stand holding 50 to meet the ground grading, the rest of the ground open. There’s a tea bar offering basic food plus cans but a friendly welcome is ensured. Nearby are a few pubs including The Swan, but with nothing of note for me, you are better off giving your money to the club.

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