Friday, 2 July 2021

Bottesford Town - Birch Park

Bottesford Town FC
Birch Park
Ontario Road
North Lincolnshire
DN17 2TQ

Ground Number: 966
Friday 2nd July 2021
Bottesford Town 5-1 Retford


The club was established in 1974 and immediately joined the Lincolnshire League. They finished bottom of the Premier Division in 1978 but were not relegated as the league was expanded but after finishing bottom again the following season, they did go down. 1987 saw the league reduced to a single division and Bottesford Town took to the new format well, as they were champions three seasons in a row. They were runners-up in 1994 before they left for the Central Midlands League at the turn of the millennium. A 3rd place finish in the Premier Division in their debut season saw them promoted from the Premier Division to the Supreme Division. The joy only lasted a couple of seasons before they were relegated back in 2003, remaining in the Premier Division until 2006. This time Bottesford Town finished 3rd behind Bilborough Pelican and Askern Welfare to return to the Supreme Division. This time they were far more successful, being crowned champions in 2007. They were promoted to the Northern Counties League Division 1 following this and spent nine seasons here, finishing 3rd on three occasions. The latter of these finishes saw the club promoted to the Premier Division and they enjoyed a record 8th place finish in 2018. The last two seasons have been interrupted due to the Covid pandemic but have seen the team around the lower reaches of the table.

The club's best-ever progress in the FA Cup has been the 3rd Qualifying Round, reached on three occasions. During the 2016/17 season, they beat Borrowash Victoria, Dunkirk, Haughmond and Hall Road Rangers prior to a defeat to Billingham Town in the FA Vase 3rd Round. Local honours include the Lincolnshire League Cup in 1987, 1989 & 1990. The town of Bottesford is located near Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire and has a population of just over 11,000.


I was keen to see a game on Thursday, as I thought I'd never seen a game on 1st July. There appeared to be a decent amount of options, but they soon thinned out. My original choice was Oundle Town as fellow hopper Chris was keen to visit. However, after changing the opponent from Corby Pegasus to Ramsey Town, Chris found out that they wouldn't be using their own ground. He did offer Abbey Hulton United but I fancied something closer to home. I contacted Anwar and he was keen and we had an original choice of Moulton v Bugbrooke St Michaels. The early kick-off and Northamptonshire location suited us both. However, no sooner than I posted it, the visitors confirmed it had been cancelled. The third choice was Gloucester City v Cheltenham Saracens, this was an U23 friendly which wasn't ideal, but we were both keen to go. I made the arrangements with Anwar a couple of days before and decided to leave straight from work. On Tuesday, I watched England beat Germany 2-0 in a professional performance. On the pitch, it was great, but off the pitch, there were a few annoyances. The vast majority of England fans represent their country brilliantly, but there's always a few idiots. A few weeks ago it was the booing of the players taking the knee and of course, with us playing Germany, the usual cranks came out. First there was the stupid 'Ten German Bombers' song which might have been funny in the 1990s, but is looking a bit dated now. With Germany being a popular destination for groundhopping, it's only the fans that aren't well travelled that are stuck in the past. Then there was the standard booing of the opposition's national anthem, which is totally disrespectful. The same fans then no doubt sang 'God Save The Queen' with gusto, totally unaware that a couple of generations back, the Royal family had Germanic heritage. Thankfully, events of the pitch meant that this behaviour was overshadowed, now our national team have a great chance of getting to the final.

It came to Thursday morning and I awoke to find a message saying that he couldn't make it. It was the start of a crappy day with my seeking an alternative, finding nothing and then leaving late for work, forgetting my lunch too. It was then a very busy day at work, so perhaps it was a blessing in disguise that I had no football. As it turned out, I had seen a game on July 1st, back in 2017 when I saw Salisbury City 0-3 Portsmouth. I finalised the plans for Friday when I got home as well as deciding on my Saturday football. It was a far easier day at work on Friday. I left at 3 and used the longer motorway route as it was a lot quicker than travelling through Aylesbury. There were still delays on the M25 and M1 though and I got to Chris at 4.15. Unusually, I had to wait 5 minutes for him as he is usually waiting outside. As it turned out, he was helping a neighbour but we were soon on our way. As on as we got on the M1 there were delays, thanks to roadworks as they were downgrading the Motorway. The M1 was knackered further up, so Google Maps took us via the A46. Simon Mayo kept us company on Greatest Hits Radio and we got to our pre-match takeaway at 7.05. Chris had phoned ahead so we got our food quickly. I'd opted for the Salt & Chilli Chips and Salt & Chilli Prawns. Both were tasty but I've had better. We went in at 7.25 and I was dismayed to find my camera battery dead so I had to use my phone. There were 110 in attendance, according to Chris' headcount.

Retford started the brightest and they took the lead on 8 minutes. The Bottesford keeper messed up gathering a high ball and Dembele nipped in to score. Bottesford Town equalised from the penalty spot on 18 minutes and that was the score at the break, with Retford perhaps edging it. The visiting manager seemed a decent chap, with constructive criticism in his halftime team talk which took place on the pitch. I got an Oxo drink for £1 to help out the club. They made a raft of changes at the break which really changed the game. Bottesford dominated the second period and they took the lead on 57 minutes. A corner was only half-cleared and the rebound was converted from the edge of the area. It was 3-1 on 62 minutes, a quickly worked goal resulted in a shot being fired into the roof of the net. Three minutes later, the hosts were awarded another penalty, which looked harsh. They converted and a disappointing evening turned into a painful one for the poor Retford #14 who got a ball right in the knackers and rolled around a bit before being taken off. The scoring was completed on 85 minutes, another penalty for Bottesford. There was no doubt about this one following a trip and as with the 2nd spot-kick #15 converted to make it 5-1. We left around 9.25 and the journey was going great until we got a junction from Milton Keynes. The roadworks that had blighted us earlier hit us again with a 15-minute delay. This was after miles of road with no information signs and hard shoulder, an unfortunate motorist left stranded with no lane closure. Greta Thunberg would have been raging at the environmental damage caused by restricting the motorway to one lane but we got off eventually. I dropped Chris off at midnight and was forced to go cross country. A dead fox was an ominous sign early on as I've been blighted by jaywalking vermin in the past. However, after filling up with petrol, I was home at 1.10, having a couple of ciders as I typed my blog, going to sleep a couple of hours later.


BIRCH PARK is situated on the edge of an industrial estate, though there are a few takeaways within walking distance. A mile away is a decent Chinese called Happiness House, this area also has a pub, a chippy and a pizza place.

Back at the ground was a decent looking tea bar, whilst I believe the clubhouse is outside. All the covered accommodation is on one side with 90 seats according to Wikipedia. There's a cover for a few hundred standing too, whilst the rest of the ground is open. A useful design is a wall surrounding the sides of the pitch which has plenty of space to use for your food and drink, acting as a table. Down the far end of the ground is the amusingly named Taco Bellend. 

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