Sunday 1 November 2020

Malvern Town - HD Anywhere Community Stadium

Malvern Town FC
HD Anywhere Community Stadium
Langland Avenue
WR14 2EQ

Ground Number: 941
Saturday 31st October 2020
Malvern Town 3-1 Rothwell Corinthians
FA Vase 1st Round


The club was established in 1946, following the end of World War 2. They played in the Worcestershire League at first, before moving to the Worcestershire Combination in 1955. They were champions in their debut season and generally finished in the top half of the league. The competition changed its name to the Midland Combination in 1968 but in 1979, Malvern Town left to join the West Midlands (Regional) League. They spent all but two seasons here in the Premier Division and in 2004 were champions. They moved up to the Midland Alliance and in 2006, a 3rd place finish was good enough for promotion to the Southern League D1 Midlands. 17th place in 2006 was their best-ever finish with the league sitting at step 4 of the non-league pyramid. Results soon tailed off though and in 2009 the club was relegated back to the Midland Alliance and with results failing to improve, they went back down to the WMRL in 2011. They've been at step 6 ever since, though for the last six seasons, they've finished in the top five. They were transferred to the Hellenic D1 West at the start of last season and sat top of the league when football was cancelled back in March. The good form has continued this time out with them at the top of the tree again, this time by a comfortable distance.

Malvern Town's best run in the FA Cup has been to the 3rd Qualifying Round. They got there in 1981 losing 4-1 at Bromsgrove Rovers and then again in 1986 losing 2-0 to Kidderminster Harriers. The FA Trophy was not a happy hunting ground for the club with them going out at the first hurdle in all three seasons in the competition. In the FA Vase, they've twice reached the 4th Round twice - taking Stamford to a replay but losing 6-1 in 1975 and losing 2-1 at home to Kidlington in 1977. Local cup wins include the Worcestershire Senior Urn on eight occasions, the Worcestershire Junior Cup four times and the Worcestershire Minor Cup in 1953. Their record attendance came for a friendly against Hereford in 2015, 2,006 turning out to see the visitors first-ever game. The town of Malvern has a population of just under 30,000 and sits at the foot of the Malvern Hills, a designated area of outstanding beauty. It is also famous for its spring water. Famous people to come from the town include TV presenter Anne Diamond, cricketer Graham Hick and politician Jacqui Smith.


What with the continued limited football choices and me running out of midweek options, I'd vowed to stick to step 7 and below and FA Vase and FA Trophy games on Saturdays. This week saw another round of the latter fixtures and so I drew up a list of options - the favourites being Whittlesea, Fakenham & Malvern. After a discussion with fellow hopper Anwar, we decided on the former and I started to put plans in place to try and make it a good day out. Both clubs had shown little enthusiasm in tweeting about the game in the week previous and the night before the game, Whittlesey put a tweet out saying that they had COVID cases in their squad, but they'd followed protocol and the game should go ahead. Mildenhall had similar in the week, though you wouldn't guess it from their Twitter as all they did was retweet other people. With everyone following a sensible 'safety first' approach, I'd be sure to keep an eye on things but as always, the recovery of the victims is the most important thing. I stayed up until around 3 on the night before, amid talk of a second national lockdown by this stupid government. They are rumoured to be ignoring the massive spike that education has caused and putting us all under house arrest whilst keeping schools and universities open. I woke the next day at 9.30 to still see no clear indication that the game was going ahead but the signs looked good. I left at 10:40 meeting Anwar just after 11. Due to the heavy rain, we decided to head to Malvern Town as they had a 3G pitch. It was a good journey up and we got to the ground at 1:10. The initial plan was to head into town but it was 30 minutes away. Instead, we went to a nearby chip shop called Pickersleigh's. They had a great choice on the menu and I went for the special of sausage, chips and curry sauce for £3.45. It was fairly average but the portion was huge and great value. We got back to the ground at 2 and showed our tickets to get in. The club was being very sensible regarding Covid and lots of precautions were in place to keep people safe. I went to the bar, table service only due to the rules but service was fairly efficient and I had a pint of Stowford Press for £3.80 which was better than I remember. I went and stood on the far side with the view really nice thanks to the local scenery. We even saw a couple of Wycombe fans at the game who lived in the local area and had a good chat and it would turn out to be a good afternoon for us. Rothwell Corinthians had bought a decent support and they were in good voice, singing their initials 'RC' though it sounded like they were singing 'Arsey'. Both teams lined up in nice kits, especially the hosts who looked resplendent in their sky blue, white and maroon.

Malvern Town were a step below their opponents but had been in sparkling form recently and were top of the Hellenic D1 West. They'd won 3-2 at Cheltenham Saracens, 5-1 against Bourton Rovers, 6-2 against Cirencester Town Development, 4-2 at Wellington and 2-0 at Tytherington Rocks. The only negative was a 2-0 lost at Thornbury Town. Vistors Rothwell Corinthians were 7th in the United Counties Premier. However, they'd been in disappointing form recently with a couple of wins over St Panteleimon (3-0 in the FA Vase and a 1-0 win over Boston Town. They'd drawn against Wellingborough Town and Harborough Town but had lost 5-2 at Loughborough Uni and 4-1 at Quorn. Malvern were ahead in the second minute when Harry Clark headed home a corner. However, the scores were level almost immediately, the ball was squared and Callum Plowright tapped home from close range. On 13 minutes, a harsh penalty against Rothwell was awarded for handball and Matt Turner did the honours from the spot despite a good effort from the visiting keeper. It was a combative game at times and tempers were in danger of boiling over at times. Malvern Town added a third on 74 minutes when Matt Turner squared the ball to Joe Billingham who fired into the top corner from 15 yards. Billingham would later see red for a late tackle and there was another coming together which the referee did his best to keep under control. Both sides had further chances but in the end it was the hosts that progressed to the second round.

It had been a great game in front of a crowd of 252. Anwar and I left in good spirits as it was confirmed that Wycombe had beaten Sheffield Wednesday to pick up their first-ever win in the Championship. We listened to BBC Three Counties initially and then switched to TalkSPORT 2 as Radio 5 were broadcasting the rugby and TalkSPORT the Liverpool game. The phone in was listenable enough and made the journey go faster. I dropped Anwar off at 6.50. I had considered stopping in Aylesbury to get dinner, but in the end, headed straight home, getting in at 7.15. There was a new national lockdown, announced by the bumbling buffoon we are lumbered with as Prime Minister. Initially scheduled for 4 pm, it was pushed back to 5 but then ended up starting at 6.45. Presumably, it had been decided on the back of a fag packet after a few drinks watching the 'rugger' as it made no sense at all. Everything to stop from Thursday, apart from work and education - the latter being the cause of the huge spike. At least it should give me a few days to get in some more games, providing the FA don't shut everything down early as they did last time. I spent the evening typing my blog, though I had a lot more to do than usual due to the late change of game. In the end, I wound down about 9 to watch the Football League highlights, choosing to do the rest of my blog the following evening.


The HD ANYWHERE STADIUM to give it its sponsored name is a smart venue. There's just the one area of cover, a large (for the level) stand holding a few hundred. The rest of the ground is open hard standing and it looks as if the ground has been hemmed in and the extra land sold for housing in return for a refurb and a 3G pitch. There's a decent bar though prices are slightly above average. There's also a tea bar, but I didn't visit. There was no club shop or merchandise that I could see. Around ten minutes away is a chip shop called Pickersleigh's with a One-Stop shop next door. The town is a half-hour walk away.

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