Wednesday 30 October 2019

St Andrews - Canal Street

St Andrews FC
Canal Street
Aylestone Road

0116 2839298

Ground Number: 890
Tuesday 29th October 2019
St Andrews 1-2 Saffron Dynamo
UCL Knockout Cup


The club was established in 1973 after initially playing friendlies for some time before this. They joined the Leicestershire City League upon formation and were incredibly successful around this time, winning 44 honours at various levels. After winning the league's Premier Division four times on the bounce, they joined the Leicestershire Senior League in 1985. After a couple of seasons in Division 1, they were promoted after finishing as runners-up to Rolls Royce. The next 21 years were spent in the Premier Divison with the title being won three times. In 2008, St Andrews made the step up to the East Midlands Counties League as founder members and after finishing as runners-up to Bardon Hill in 2015, they were champions the following year. Promotion to the Midlands Premier followed and the 2016/17 season saw their best-ever finish of 9th at step 5 in the non-league pyramid. Last season saw a transfer to the United Counties Premier thanks to reorganisation. It was not a good season for the club with them going down on goal difference following a 3-way tie on 33 points along with Oadby Town & Wellingborough Whitworth. Last season saw a disappointing 16th place finish but this year has seen an improvement with St Andrews in 6th place so far.

The FA Cup has seen little success for St Andrews with their sole victory coming in their debut season of 2009/10 when they won 3-2 Lincoln Moorlands Railway before a 6-1 defeat at Winterton Rangers in the Preliminary Round. In the FA Vase, the 2013-14 season saw an exceptional run to the FA Vase semi-final. Starting in the very first round, they beat Lutterworth Athletic, Clipstone, Lincoln Moorlands Railway, Brocton, Bolehall Swifts, AFC Rushden & Diamonds, East Preston & Newcastle Benfield to set up a two-legged clash with West Auckland Town. Despite gaining a 0-0 up in the North East, the home leg was lost 2-1 despite them taking the lead in front of their record crowd of 1,600. Local cup wins include the Leicestershire Senior League Cup on four occasions, the Rolleston Cup three times, the Leicestershire Junior Cup twice the Leicestershire Challenge Cup and the Westerby Cup.



I'd originally intended on visiting this ground on 2nd October 2018 for a UCL Knockout Cup game against Aylestone Park. However, fellow hopper Anwar pulled out on the morning of the game and I headed south to Chichester City. It looked as if I might be on my own this week too - Anwar had tried to get in contact with Thomas who had come with us to Abingdon a fortnight ago, but he'd been unable to summon a response. With him having had a pricey weekend at Rotherham v Wycombe, I offered to pay a bit more of the petrol than usual as otherwise, I'd have been on my own, heading instead to Totton & Eling. I'd originally been intending to visit there a couple of Fridays ago but it had been called off due to rain, as had my planned trip to Peckham Town on Saturday. Having checked the weather tonight, it didn't appear as if there would be a similar problem, but just in case I had Aylestone Park as a backup.

The day of the game came and I'd had a good nights sleep for once, finally getting up at 8.30 after an 11-hour sleep, albeit after waking up a couple of times. I had breakfast and a bath and walked down town, getting some lunch and some fruit. I came back and spent the afternoon playing Championship Manager 97/98 via the DosBox app on my Chromebook. It was the whole reason I had spent my first pay packet on a PC back in 1998 and it was just as addictive now as it was then. I managed to tear myself away, leaving at 4. Thanks to roadworks in Aylesbury, I was delayed 15 minutes meeting Anwar and didn’t reach him until 4.45. Thanks to the clocks going back, it was the first time that we'd left for a game in the dark. We were soon on our way and despite having to take an alternative route through the backstreets, we made good time and were at our pre-planned takeaway by 6.30. The Krispyland Chicken and Grill was great with a huge menu choice. I went for a Mexican Chicken Burger meal for £4. From there, it was 3 miles to the ground with us getting there at 7.10. Entry was £6 and it was nice to get a friendly welcome off the gate lady’s dog Bonnie as we went in. We sat in the bar and caught up before the game started. I was still peckish so got some curry sauce and chips for £2. The man serving was really friendly and asked where I'd come from and the food was great.

St Andrews had enjoyed a decent October. They'd enjoyed big home wins against Birstall United (5-0) and Cottesmore Amateurs (7-2) as well as a 3-2 win at Bugbrooke St Michael. The only blot on the landscape was a 3-0 loss at Harrowby United. Over the same period, Saffron Dynamo had played even better. They'd enjoyed wins against Rushden & Higham United (3-0), Oakham United (5-1), Blackstones (2-1) and Blaby & Whetstone Athletic (3-1). They'd also drawn 1-1 at home to Bugbrooke St Michael. The hosts started the brightest and had a number of chances in the opening few minutes, failing to take any of them. They were made to pay on 8 minutes when Saffron Dynamo took the lead with their first real chance of the game. From a corner, Jordan Henry forced the ball over the line, there was some debate over whether it was a goal or not, but the linesman gave it. This led to a period of domination for the visitors but the hosts had a chance on the break on 23 minutes, #9's low shot from just inside the area which was tipped round the post by the goalkeeper. On 35 minutes, Saffron Dynamo doubled their lead on 35 minutes, again it was Henry, this time he was given too much space and shot home on the turn from the edge of the area. The first half had been an entertaining affair, but the second period, for the most part, was a scrappy battle. Saffron Dynamo had the better of the few chances that there were, but St Andrews didn't help themselves, having a couple of players sin-binned for arguing with the ref. They didn't have many chances, but the few that they had were squandered. That was until 88 minutes when they pulled one back from close range. Finally playing for the last five minutes, they laid siege to the visitors' goal, having a strong penalty claim dismissed. The game finished at 9.40 and listened to the football of which there wasn't much to write home about.  I dropped Anwar off at 11.10, getting home myself at 11.35. I stayed up for half an hour before going to sleep as I had work at 4 am in the morning.


CANAL STREET is set in pleasant surroundings and is a decent place to watch football. There's a 100 seater stand with blue seats and benches at the front. There's also a covered area opposite, holding around 30 but apart from that, the ground is fully open. Facilities at the ground are pretty good, a nice range of food and a reasonable bar, all at OK prices. I didn't spot much in the immediate vicinity of the ground as it is in a residential area.

Monday 14 October 2019

Great Wakering Rovers - Borroughs Park

White Ensign FC
c/o Great Wakering Rovers FC
Burroughs Park
Little Wakering Hall Lane
Great Wakering
Southend On Sea

01702 217812

Ground Number: 889
Sunday 13th October 2019
White Ensign 4-1 Buckingham Athletic

FA Vase 1st Round


The club was established in 1951 and name comes from Naval connections. They spent their first 51 years in the Southend Borough Combination prior to joining the Essex Intermediate League in 2002. Starting in Division 2 (step 8 of the non-league pyramid) they were champions in their first season and this brought about a period of great success. White Ensign would be Essex Intermediate League (renamed Essex Olympian League in 2005) in four of the next five seasons. After the 4th of these wins in 2008, results tailed off somewhat but the club would remain in the Essex Olympian Premier until 2014 when they were relegated to Division 1. They'd bounce back as runners-up to Harold Hill in their first season to return to the Premier Division at the first attempt. Finishes had been mixed since their return, but 4th last season was their best in ten years. Due to the expansion of step 6, more specifically creating a league for Essex, they were invited to join the Eastern Senior League Division 1 South at the start of last season. They finished a very credible 4th in their first season, but have found the going tougher this season, sitting 13th before the weekends games.

This season saw White Ensign entered the FA Cup for the first time, beating Woodford Town in a replay but going out narrowly to higher division Takeley in the Preliminary Round. This season has also seen a record run the FA Vase - 3-0 wins over White Ensign & Blue Forest had set up my latest visit. Local cup wins include the Essex Olympian Senior Challenge Cup three times, the Capital Counties Feeder League Trophy on three occasions, The Essex Olympian Senior Cup twice and the Essex Premier Cup in 2008. White Ensign's most famous former player is Paul Benson who was snapped up by Dagenham & Redbridge after scoring an incredible 107 goals in 65 games for them.


Usually, Sunday is a pretty miserable day for me, what with having to work, but on this occasion, it was the last day of my week off. There's not usually that many games on a Sunday, but as it happened, there was an FA Vase game that I fancied in White Ensign v Buckingham Athletic. Even better, fellow hopper Anwar agreed to come and keep me company, and that helped with petrol costs too. The day of the game came and it was, yet again, raining. White Ensign tweeted that the game was on and so I was good to go. I spent the morning editing photos and videos and typing by blog from yesterday's visit to Epping, getting the bulk of work done before leaving at 12.10, getting to Anwar just after 12.30. I needed petrol, so we stopped at Tesco in Aylesbury en-route. The journey could have gone better, there was a hold up on the motorway due to a broken down car, so we sat at a standstill for ten minutes watching the speed cameras do brisk business on the other side of the carriageway. Talking of cameras, the A127 had loads of them, I reckon you could potentially lose your licence in five minutes. There were more delays on this road, another 20 minutes as half of the road was closed off, of course, with not a single worker in sight. Eventually, we got to the ground at 2.40, paying a reasonable £6 to get in. I'd been hoping for a portion of chips, but the tea bar was operating on a limited menu. The hot dog that I had was not great, £3 and the bun was not the freshest, obviously leftover from yesterday's Great Wakering Rovers game. It also had butter in for some reason. I scraped as much out as possible and added sauce, but regretted not stopping somewhere on the way.

White Ensign were on good form - in the last six games they'd recorded five victories (including an 8-2 victory over Newbury Forest in their last game) and drawn once. Buckingham Athletic were also doing pretty well, winning four (including a 6-0 win over Hillingdon Borough) and losing two of their last six.
The game started brightly with chances falling to both sides, but none were taken. The hosts took the lead on 27 minutes, Luke Skinner crashing a shot in off the bar from 10 yards out. Six minutes later, they doubled their lead with Andy George slotting home from close range. After 47 minutes, the game was as good as over, this time Brett Munyard tapped a cross home at the back post. Buckingham Athletic would reduce the arrears a couple of minutes later, Jeremiah Adams poking home after a goalmouth scramble. However, the three-goal lead was restored on 58 minutes, Robert Tapp scoring an own goal after he deflected a cross into his own net. The chances dried up after that, White Ensign content to sit on their three-goal lead and see the game out. We made better time on the journey home, with me dropping Anwar off at 6.35 and getting home myself at 7. I had dinner and watched Who Wants To Be A Millionaire before going to bed at 9 as I was up at 4 am for work.


BURROUGHS PARK is a smart and well-kept venue. The game is named after Roger Burroughs, the local farmer who played a big part in laying the foundations for the current ground and helping get it set up. The seated stand holds 250 and has seats from Bolton Wanderers old ground, Burnden Park in it.  There are further covered standing areas too. Opposite is an elevated stand behind the dugouts, this holds around 200. There's another covered area behind the goal, including an overhang in front of the dressing rooms, this holds around 200. The ground has a total capacity of 3,000. The bar looked spacious and smart, but the tea bar, despite promising much, was disappointing on my visit, so it may be worth stopping en-route as there wasn't much in the immediate area. Great Wakering had a club shop, but it wasn't open on my visit.