Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Brigg Town - The Hawthorns

Brigg Town FC
The Hawthorns
Hawthorn Avenue
North Lincolnshire
DN20 8PG

01652 651605

Ground Number: 882
Wednesday 25th September 2019
Brigg Town 1-2 Campion
NCEL League Cup 1st Round


The club is one of the oldest in football, having been formed way back in 1864. For the early part of their history, they played in local leagues such as the Lindsay League. In 1948, the club was a founding member of the Lincolnshire League, a competition they won on eight occasions and finished as runners-up a further five times. After the latter of these titles in 1976, Brigg Town made the step up to the Midland League, finishing 3rd in their debut season and winning the title the following year. In 1982, they joined the Northern Counties East League as founder members. They were placed in Division 1 South but finished second-bottom and were relegated to Division 2 South. They finished 4th during their only season here before reorganisation saw them placed in D1 Central. They were runners-up here before the league got rid of regionalisation after just one season. Despite only finishing 12th in D1 in 1986, they won promotion to the Premier Division. They'd remain here until 2004 finishing as runners-up on three occasions and winning the league in 2001. They were unable to take promotion due to ground grading issues, but after a 3rd place finish in 2004, they made the step up to the NPL D1. They'd stay here until 2015, their highest finish (and club record) came in 2011 when they finished 4th but lost out in the playoffs, losing out to Rushall Olympic. Brigg Town endured a torrid few years between 2014 and 2016, suffering two successive relegations to find themselves back in NCEL D1 for the first time in 30 years. Though they steadied the ship in 2017, finishing 14th, another relegation was suffered in 2018 and the club returned to the Lincolnshire League for the first time in 42 years. Last season, they finished as runners-up to Lincoln Moorlands Railway. As they decided not to take the promotion, Brigg Town were given the promotion and currently sit 16th in NCEL D1.

IN the FA Cup, the club's best-ever run came during the 2001/02 season. Great Harwood Town, Morpeth Town, Shildon, Gretna, Farsley Celtic and Boston United were beaten before they went out 4-1 at Football League side Tranmere Rovers. The FA Vase has been won twice with a 3-0 victory against Clitheroe at Wembley in 1996 and a 2-1 victory over AFC Sudbury at Upton Park in 2003. Locally, the club won the Barton Cup in 2017. The population of Brigg is around 5,600 and residents have included former Scunthorpe United player Matt Sparrow.


I was keen to make the most of my week off and go to as many games as possible, so I was when fellow hopper Chris made himself available for a Wednesday night game. There were 8 possible options in all and I favoured either Retford United or Brigg Town. After chatting with Chris, we decided on Brigg and plans were put in place and research started. I woke at 9 am on the day of the game, having breakfast and a bath before walking down town. I had toad in the hole for lunch which was decent. I left at 2.10, picking up some cider on the way to meet Chris at 3.35. We had a good journey up, only suffering 15 minutes extra delay on the A46 where two drivers had stopped to exchange details, rather than pull into the junction a few yards away. We got to Brigg at 6.35, walking 10 minutes to Wetherspoons and having a swift pint. We got to the ground at 7.15, stopping for a superb pie, peas chips and gravy before going into the ground just as the teams were kicking off. Entry was £5 and a glossy programme £2.

Looking at the form, Brigg had only played three games in September - both league games had been draws - at Dronfield Town (1-1) and at home to Rossington Main. They'd also lost 3-2 at Chadderton in the FA Vase You had to go back all the way to the first game of the season for their last win, with them beating whipping boys East Hull 6-2. Campion had enjoyed a much better September, winning all three games 2-1 - away to Swallownest and Armthorpe Welfare and at home to Ollerton. The two sides had drawn 2-2 in the league back on August 14th at Campion with the Bradford-based side sitting in 6th and hosts Brigg in 16th. Campion started very much the side on top, having the majority of the play in the opening exchanges. They opened the scoring on 15 minutes, a deep cross from the right was headed home at the back post by Mohammed Qasim. Brigg were struggling to get a foothold in the game, their first real chance coming on 24 minutes, a low shot narrowly wide of the right-hand post. It was 2-0 on 55 minutes, Aiden Day's long-range shot from the edge of the area evading the clutches of Brigg keeper Declan Jordan. It was a similar goal from Tom Wilson that reduced the arrears on the hour mark but despite a late rally, the hosts couldn't find an equaliser.

As we were pushed for the time, I went back to the club shop table at half time to look at the old programmes, but it had gone. It had been a really good night at a great club and we even got a thankyou over the tannoy for coming. It's why the Northern Counties East League is my favourite league, as everything is just spot on. We were hoping for a good journey home but there were various road closures, not least a huge stretch on the A46 which meant a lengthy diversion down to Gainsborough - Chris's local knowledge proving essential as there was no diversion signed. We listened to the results on the radio, the big shock coming at Oxford United as they crushed West Ham 4-0, no doubt leaving fellow hopper and mutual pal Laurence delighted. Rochdale also took Manchester United all the way to penalties, that after 16-year-old Luke Matheson got their equaliser. Sadly, they went on to lose. We then tried to find some music, but Radio 2 was dire and has really gone downhill lately. Usually, we'd tune in to an internet radio station, but that was not working for some reason. A further closure on the A1 added even more time to our journey but eventually, I dropped Chris off at 12:40. I needed petrol before heading home, so stopped at Tesco to fill up. I finally got home at 1.50. With no need to be up in the morning, I caught up on Twitter and watched some YouTube videos whilst typing this blog along with the drinks I'd purchased earlier.


THE HAWTHORNS is an excellent venue for the level and would probably be good enough for the Conference North. The most impressive part is the large stand, seating 250 in black and white seats. There is also a small number of seats in the cover opposite, which looked like they came from Hull City's old ground at Boothferry Park. This was mainly a standing area, holding around 250. The rest of the ground is open and is painted in the club colours of black and white. There's a superb tea bar offering great food at cheap prices and it's one of the best I've been to. The tea bar didn't have real ale, but it did have Old Rosie Cider in bottles which as good as the average Wetherspoons in town does. There's also a club shop with a small range of souvenirs and a decent choice of old programmes.

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