Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Malmesbury Victoria - Flying Monk Ground

Malmesbury Victoria FC
Flying Monk Ground
Gloucester Road
SN16 9JS

01666 822141
Official Website

Ground Number: 848
Tuesday 2nd April 2019
Malmesbury Victoria 5-0 Cirencester Town Dev
Hellenic D1 West


The club was established as Malmesbury Town in 1898 although they folded in 1936 before reforming in 1947. A name change followed in 1968 to Malmesbury United. In 1975, they merged with Swindon Victoria and were renamed Malmesbury Victoria League. For the first 100 years or so, they played in local leagues such as the Wiltshire Combination. In 1976, they became founder members of the Wiltshire County League, being placed in Division 1 and finishing as runners-up in their debut season. Malmesbury Victoria were relegated to Division 2 following a bottom place finish in 1982. It would take them until 1993 to bounce back and a few years of yo-yo'ing between the divisions followed. The year of 2000 saw them crowned Wiltshire League Champions in what was now called the Premier Division. They made the step up to Hellenic League D1 West, enjoying an excellent 4th place finish in their debut season. Despite this, they generally struggled but in 2009 they managed to finish as runners-up to Hardwicke and earn promotion to the Hellenic Premier. They only lasted a single season, but they did at least make a good go of it and were only relegated due to ground grading. A return to Divison 1 West followed where Malmesbury continued to struggle. Financial problems saw them return to the Wiltshire League in 2014, but they only spent a couple of years here, being promoted to the Western League D1 in 2016. A couple of seasons were spent here before they returned to Hellenic D1 West this year where they currently sit 4th.

Malmesbury Victoria have yet to enter the FA Cup, but they have participated in the FA Vase continuously since 2004 and for a spell in the late 70s and early 80s. Their best run came during the 1976-77 season when they beat Shortwood United, Sharpness & Devizes Town since losing 2-1 to Hungerford Town in the 3rd Round. Local cup honours include the Wiltshire Senior Cup in 2002, the Wiltshire Junior Cup in 1987 and the Wiltshire League Junior Cup in 1983. Former football league player Andy Sandell played for the club as a youngster. The town of Malmesbury has a population of 5,380 and was the birthplace of James Dyson, designer of the Dyson vacuum cleaner and footballer James Constable.


I was glad when fellow hopper Anwar had indicated that he'd be able to return to the passenger seat for the final game of my fortnight off work. It had been over a month since he'd done a hop with me and the 18 games that I'd done in that month had been pricey without help with the fuel costs. I'd been to Newcastle for a couple of days and Scotland for a weekend, so I was looking to rest for a bit and so turned down the option of a game at Hereford Lads club on Monday night. Initially, we had hoped to go to Tuffley Rovers, but with that game moved, we chose Malmesbury Victoria from the limited range of options. I'd spent most of Monday updating my blog from the weekend games and only had the Saturday night game at Linlithgow to write about on the day of the game. I opted against walking down town as I had this and other stuff to catch up on, as well as the research for tonight's blog. The club's history was researched and I also looked into food options, figuring the best idea was to look for something on the way, or pop into Malmesbury once I got to the ground where there were a couple of options. I left around 3.50, stopping at a shop in Aylesbury before meeting Anwar at 4.45.

We left fairly on time, discussing the poor situation Wycombe find themselves in - winless for ten games and with a nasty habit of conceding multiple injury time goals. The journey saw minimal traffic but that was because we were going via the back route or what passes for a road around these parts. We got to the ground around 6.30, paying a fiver on the gate to the friendly gateman. The car park was pretty small and so we had to park where we could but eventually, we found a space at the back. We headed into town for dinner and found two places next to each other - Malmesbury Kebab House and a Chinese/Chippy. We opted for the former as Anwar needed halal food but were disappointed at the overpriced and average fare. As usual around this part of the country, there's little imagination with a very limited menu. I got 4 chicken wings, 4 chicken strips and chips with a drink for £5.50. Usually, in Wycombe, I pay a couple of quid less but at least a cock up with the order meant that I got an extra portion of chips although the wings were totally different to the ones that I ordered. This at least filled a gap and so we headed back to the ground for the game. Having already paid, we headed straight in, meeting fellow groundhopper and Shrewsbury fan Lee.

Though Malmesbury had lost their last game against Almondsbury, prior to that, they'd won seven league games in a row. This included and 8-0 win over Pewsey Vale and a 6-0 win over Newent Town as well as a 3-1 in the reverse fixture of tonight's game. Visitors Cirencester Town Development were in mixed form, having won three and lost five of their last eight games. Tonight's game saw Malmesbury edge the first half, taking the lead around 32 minutes in when Joe Tranter charged down a defensive clearance. He controlled well before slotting past the unprotected Cirencester keeper Sam Ayres. It had been a pretty physical game and there had been a bit of handbags just before half time although in reality, it was no more than a bit of pushing and shoving. There was nearly a repeat of the first goal as another defensive clearance was closed down, but this time the shot was skewed wide. There was another coming together of players, this time due to a foul by Malmesbury keeper Ant Brown, which saw the player booked. The free kick came to nothing but the hosts were soon 2-0 up when a low cross was tapped home by Kyle Witt from a few yards out. There hadn't been a huge amount of difference between the sides but Malmesbury scored three in the last five minutes to give the scoreline a one-sided look. A Jamie Packer header from a corner, a close-range effort from Shane Bumphrey from another corner and a Paul Carson goal, following up after Ayers parried the initial shot following an attack down the right completed the scoring.  It had been a good night at a friendly club, with us chatting to a nice bloke from the club at half time who told us a bit about the history of the ground name. We left at 9.40, but needed petrol on the way, stopping at Tesco in Cirencester. Radio 5, the Peter Crouch podcast and Jack FM kept us company on the way home I dropped Anwar off at 11.15, getting home around 20 minutes later. It took me ages to get to sleep, not ideal with work at 4am, so I needed my usual afternoon nap the following afternoon.


The FLYING MONK was named after a pub that was named after a pub that once stood on the site. The pub itself was named after Eilmer of Malmesbury, the monk who attempted one of the first human flight attempts using wings. Jumping from the top of Malmesbury Abbey and inspired by the Greek fable of Dedalus, he jumped from around 200 metres, crashing, but surviving and blaming the lack of tail for his failed flight. The ground itself is located close to the town centre, where there are a range of pubs, the pick looking like the Whole Hog which does food.

The ground itself wouldn't please ground graders for anything above step 6 level, but I liked it. The covered seated area is behind the goal and has around 30 seats with additional standing. There's additional standing thanks to the clubhouse overhang with one side of the ground closed off to spectators. Facilities at the ground include a tea bar which sells pies, pot noodles and drinks and a bar with a decent range. 

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