Friday 19 July 2019

Beccles Town - College Meadow

Beccles Town FC
College Meadow
Common Lane South
NR43 9BU

Ground Number: 868
Thursday 18th July 2019
Beccles Town 0-8 Gorleston


The club was established in 1919 and was originally known as Beccles FC. They played in the Suffolk & Norfolk League during their early years, winning the title in 1953. The league merged with the league merged with the East Anglian League to become the Anglian Combination. Beccles started out in Division 3, winning the title in 1972. They enjoyed their time at the higher level, finishing as runners-up and winning promotion to Division 1 within a few years. They were runners-up in Division 1  in 1977 and 1986, eventually finishing as champions in 2002. This earned them promotion to the Premier Division. Beccles Town enjoyed a best-ever finish of 5th in the Premier Division in 2010 but were relegated back to Division 1 in 2014 after finishing bottom. Three seasons were spent here, tho third-place finishes before a runners-up spot in 2017 saw them promoted back to the Premier Division.  They had a decent finish of 6th last season. In 2014, the club merged local youth side St Benet's Wasps and this allowed them to put in place a proper structure for bringing through young talent into the first team. Floodlights were added to the ground a few years back and this allowed them to host midweek youth team games and also potentially allowing a route to join the Eastern Counties League at step 6, should circumstances allow.

The club participated in the FA Cup during the 1950s, their best progress being the 3rd Qualifying Round which they have reached on three occasions. They also entered the FA Vase for a period during the late 70s and early 80s, their only win coming over Holt United on their debut in 1978 after which, they lost to Soham Town Rangers in the 1st Round. Local cup wins include the Suffolk Senior Cup on three occasions, the Suffolk Junior Cup in 1939 and the Suffolk Minor Cup twice. The market town of Beccles has a population of just over 10,000 and is home to another football team - Beccles Caxton who play in the 3rd Division of the Anglian Combination. Famous people to come from the town include broadcaster David Frost and Derby County and Scotland player Chris Martin. It's also host to a duck race every August, held on the River Waveney.


Continuing on my week off, there was plenty of choice on this Thursday, as opposed to most weeks where barely any games are on. As usual, the pre-match food and drink offerings would dictate where we go and so Beccles, the birthplace of fellow hopper Chris would be our choice. It would be the day of my 40th birthday and I had a decent morning at home, researching the history of the club and town. I got some nice presents and had a decent curry before I left home at 2, stopping at Tesco to get petrol before meeting Chris at 3.20. I didn't have long to wait for him and we were soon on our way. The journey over was mixed, with a lot of slow spots - especially around the Black Cat Roundabout and Caxton Giblet. We eventually arrived in Beccles at 6.30 and as Chris didn't fancy walking the 10 minutes to town, we tried to find a space. It was easier said than done and we gave up after 15 minutes of frustration. We drove back to the ground and I left Chris at the ground whilst I walked into town. I checked out the Wetherspoons, the Kings Head Hotel but it was very poor with huge queues and no real cider. Instead, I got some chicken at Tesco and walked back to the ground, arriving at 7.20. Entry was free and it was good to be able to sneak out at half time and take a couple of minutes to walk to Beccles Caxton FC who had a very impressive setup for step 10 of non-league. It was good to be joined by 'Deckchair Pete' - a Hertfordshire football enthusiast who now lives out near Walsham-Le-Willows.

Back to tonight's game and it resulted in a comprehensive victory for visitors Gorleston. In front of a crowd of around 130. It took until 25 minutes in for them to take the lead, thanks to Connor Ingram who reacted quickest after the Beccles keeper spilt the ball from an initial attempt. The lead was doubled on the half-hour mark when Isaac Burrage made a good run down the left before rounding the keeper and tapping home. Four minutes later it was 3-0, this time it was Sean Perfect finished from a tight angle, the ball hitting the post on the way in. 37 minutes saw the fourth, Brady Philpott heading home from the corner. On 39 minutes Ingram made it 5-0 as he rounded the keeper again. The half time break was a respite for Beccles Town and it took until 52 minutes for the sixth goal, this time Joel Watts shot went in despite the home keeper getting a hand to the ball. Beccles then had a good spell, their best chance coming when they lobbed the Gorleston goalkeeper, but the shot came back off the woodwork. Ingram completed his hat trick on 65 minutes, rounding the keeper and firing into an empty net. So, that was seven and it was probably the best saved until last, Perfect living up to his name and finding the top left-hand corner from the edge of the area. Gorleston would have the chance for yet another goal but the woodwork saved the hosts blushes.

So, a pretty one-sided contest, but I'd enjoyed my evening, despite the frustrating start. I must admit to most scorers being an educated guess from my limited note-taking skills, as the Gorleston Twitter only provided a summary. It was certainly a nice place to watch football on a warm evening.  Food was needed and so myself and Chris called in at a takeaway called 'SuperFry'. It was a pricey establishment, but my salt and pepper chips were brilliant. Our journey home took a different route to the one we took on the way and was beset by a plethora of roadworks. I dropped him off at 12.40 but would encounter further diversions on my way back. Wanting to avoid miles of the countryside through Aylesbury at this late hour, a closed road meant I was sent down to join the M1 at Dunstable and as a result, I wasn't home until 1.50. I had a couple of drinks whilst catching up and watching Youtube, as well as typing the vast majority of this blog entry. I got to bed at 4 in the end, having to do the rest of it the next day.


COLLEGE MEADOW is a smart and well-kept venue which is a nice place to spend a summers evening watching football. There's a couple of sides of hard standing, with just a small bit of behind the near goal being 'officially' unavailable to spectators. There is a covered stand, this has seating for around 20 and standing for 100 or so. Facilities at the ground are limited to a basic tea bar, but the town is very close by. Your best bet is to park at the ground and walk, as parking is limited. The Wetherspoons was a disappointment, but the Caxton Club looks a good spot for a drink, though I didn't visit and am unsure if you need to be a member. Superfry is a decent Chinese takeaway, albeit quite pricey.

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