Ground Number: 951
Wednesday 28th April 2021
Ampthill Town Development 4-0 The 61 FC Reserves
Beads County League Supplementary Cup
LAWRENCE PARK - A BRIEF HISTORY
Having been home to Ampthill Town's reserve and development sides at various times in the past, Lawrence Park is currently home to Queensman FC, or Store Retail Solutions Queensman FC for sponsorship purposes. They play in the Bedford & District Sunday League First Division and were leading the division when the season was called to a halt in 2020. It is occasionally used by other sides and this was one such occasion. Ampthill Town Development plays in the Bedfordshire County League and presumably usually use their normal home ground. I visited the first team back in 2014 in a FA Vase 5th Round game as they beat Hanwell Town 3-1. They've let results slip a bit since then and find themselves in Spartan South Midlands League Division 1, a step lower than when I saw them. The park is opposite Ampthill Town FC's first team ground and also home (albeit across the park) to Ampthill Rugby Club who play in the Championship - the second tier of rugby union. The town of Ampthill is in Bedfordshire and has a population of just over 13,000. It is one of the most expensive and desirable places to live in the county. The town holds its own festival every summer and has hosted acts such as Toploader and Razorlight in the past.
I'd seen this ground when fellow hopper Peter posted a picture on our groundhopping group and it looked well worth a visit. The only problem was that it was mainly used for Sunday games - the only day of the week I can't attend due to work. However, I randomly saw that the ground was being used in the Bedfordshire County League when looking for something on a railed pitch on Wednesday - the best I thought I could hope for in the current climate. I was pleased when I saw that Ampthill Town Development were playing The 61FC Reserves at the ground. I checked with fellow hopper Anwar as to whether he fancied the visit as I went close by where he lives on the way. As usual, he said he'd let me know, but I was going to make the journey even if I was on my own as it wasn't too far. In the end, Anwar opted not to come, due to him having to fast for his religion. It's not a hobby that's ever interested me, but I could see why people find comfort in it, especially during the lockdowns we've been having. All my other hoppers were also unavailable. The day of the game came and I was tired all day at work. I've been trying to cut down on fizzy drinks but had to have some to perk me up. After working from 7-2, I came home to find that my copy of Football Traveller had not arrived yet. I had a bath to freshen up and by the time I was out, the post had arrived. I had a decent look through the fixtures but planning was a real pain with trying to work out which were allowed fans and which were not and I wasn't much closer to making a decision than I was earlier. I left at 4.30, hoping that the game was still on, as a few sides had pulled out. There was no reliable Twitter feed for either team but I decided it was worth the risk given that the ground wasn't used often and it was fairly local. The journey over was reasonable enough for the time of day and I was at the ground by 5.50. I got some pictures of the ground before going in the stand as it was drizzly and cold.
Since football had restarted, Ampthill Town Development had enjoyed mixed results. They'd lost 3-0 at St Joseph's in the Bedfordshire Intermediate Cup but in the supplementary cup had won 4-0 at Cranfield United Reserves and 2-0 at tonight's opponents The 61FC Reserves. The visitors had not had a happy return to football - as well as the defeat in the original game, they'd also lost 3-0 to Totternhoe, 5-2 at Sporting Lewsey Park and 5-2 at Cranfield United Reserves. There were 22 spectators braving the weather to see the game. It was end to end stuff but Ampthill were generally on top. Their number 10 was especially good, he got away from the visiting defence after some hesitancy but chipped over the bar. The 61FC keeper made a good save to keep it goalless on 15 minutes but the hosts weren't to be denied much longer. On 27 minutes, a quick ball over the top allowed #10 to get away down the right-hand side and he wasn't going to miss from 15 yards, placing a good shot past the keeper from 15 yards. The visiting keeper made another couple of good saves before half time, but there still wasn't a lot between the sides, just the fact that Ampt were more effective in the final third. The 61FC manager gave his half time team talk, constructive criticism and made four changes to try and turn the game around. The game continued in the same vein though and on 52 minutes #10 had all the time in the world to put the ball past the keeper for 2-0. The visiting keeper made a good save on 65 minutes but he could only parry the ball wide. The ball was put back in and finished from close range for 3-0. The 61FC went right up the other end from the restart, put a good ball across the face of the goal but no one could take advantage. Ampthill caused a goalmouth scramble shortly after, but couldn't add to their lead. The visitors then went up the other end and forced the home keeper into two decent saves to preserve his clean sheet. The 61FC keeper made another good save but 10 minutes from time it was 4-0 when #17, on as a substitute shot home off the right-hand post. There were a couple of minor scuffles during the game, but generally, the referee did well to stop it from boiling over. The game ended and I made a quick getaway, stopping at Tesco in Flitwick for petrol. at 119.9, it was 2p cheaper than back home and 5p less than I paid in Bath on Saturday. I was in just after 9 and typed my blog whilst watching Paul O'Grady's For The Love Of Dogs before watching Coronation Street in bed.
LAWRENCE PARK is an excellent venue for Sunday League football with a large stand, capable of keeping 200 standing under cover. There are also club rooms behind the stand although these were closed on my visit. The ground is set in public woodland and is very pleasant. There's plenty of parking, plus Ampthill Rugby and football clubs are also close by. The town is a short walk away and offers a decent selection of places to eat and drink.