Sunday, 19 September 2021

Gloucester City - New Meadow Park

Gloucester City FC
New Meadow Park
Sudmeadow Road

Ground Number: 998
Sunday  19th September 2021
Gloucester City 3-1 Longlevens
FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round


The club was established in 1883 and was originally called Gloucester FC, Gloucester YMCA from 1910 - 1925 before switching to their present name that year. They played in local leagues at first, such as the Bristol & District and Gloucestershire Northern Senior League. They joined the Southern League in 1939, but the 2nd World War soon interrupted things. They struggled at first but would not suffer relegation until 1985. They'd won promotion to the Premier Division in 1969 following a 3rd place finish in Division 1 behind Brentwood Town & Bath City. From 1985 - 1989 they were in the Midland Division before winning the title in their last season. Results in the Premier Division soon improved and in 1991 the club were runners-up behind Farnborough Town. They missed out on the title by a couple of points but this was the highest finish in the club's history as at the time it was step 2 of the Non-League pyramid. Another relegation followed in 2000, this time to the Western Division. It would take them four years to bounce back as runners-up to Redditch United. Following a 3rd place finish in the Premier Division in 2009, they beat Cambridge City & Farnborough Town to win promotion to the Conference North. They spent two seasons in the South Division but finishes have generally been unremarkable. That was until this season which has seen them top the league and manager James Rowe poached by Chesterfield. Paul Groves took over and continued the success, only to see the Covid pandemic see the season abandoned.

In the FA Cup, Gloucester City had their best FA Cup run in 1989. They beat Mangotsfield United, Barry Town, Worcester City, Folkestone and Dorchester Town to set up a 2nd Round game against Cardiff City. They led 2-0 at Ninian Park before the Football League side recovered to equalise and win the replay 1-0. In the FA Trophy, they reached the semi-final in 1997. Kingstonian, Yeading, Halifax Town, Runcorn and Bishop Auckland were beaten before a two-legged semi-final against Dagenham & Redbridge. They still couldn't be separated following 0-0 and 2-2 draws and it took a replay at Slough Town which the Conference side won 2-1. In terms of local cups, honours include the Southern League Cup in 1955 and the Gloucestershire Senior Cup on 18 occasions, with the club also being runners-up 35 times. They also reached the Welsh Cup Quarter Final in 1959, losing to Cardiff City. The club has played at several grounds during their illustrious history including Longlevens (not to be confused with the current Hellenic League side), Horton Road (which had a huge capacity of 30,000) and from 1986 until 2007, Meadow Park. Sadly the area was prone to flooding which caused the club financial hardship and forced exile on more than one occasion. The exile became permanent in 2007 and Gloucester City spent time groundsharing at Forest Green Rovers, Cirencester Town, Cheltenham Town and Evesham United before finally coming home in 2020. New Meadow Park was the chosen venue after years of trying and rejection. A far more comprehensive history of the club is available on Wikipedia and Tiger Roar.

The town of Gloucester is the cathedral city and county town of Gloucestershire. It has a population of 130,000. It is sadly famous for its two infamous residents Fred and Rose West who murdered, raped and tortured their way through a significant number of the local population. Other famous current or former residents include chef Tom Kerridge and actor Simon Pegg. Other football teams in the city include Longlevens, Tuffley Rovers and Gala Wilton. Their most famous sports team is Gloucester Rugby who play at the 15,000 capacity Kingsholm Stadium.  The city is twinned with Trier in Germany and Metz in France.


Originally I was due to visit here in July, however, fellow hopper Anwar pulled out at the last minute due to getting ill from sunstroke. It was disappointing but a rare occurrence from him. By that point, I'd already researched the club history and planned out the day, so I was keen to put that to use as soon as I could. The opportunity arose unexpectedly when an intriguing FA Cup tie was pulled out of the hat. Longlevens was a club that I'd visited in pre-season a few seasons back for a game against Cirencester Town. It was a tidy enough setup, so I was surprised when local police declared that the ground was not fit and that the game should be moved to Gloucester. The same authorities decided that they didn't have enough officers to cope with both Cheltenham Town v Oxford United and this Gloucester derby on the same day, so the game was switched to Sunday. Unusually, this worked out for me as I was off work. Usually, I'd be working on my least favourite day of the week and so would have missed out. I was originally struggling to find a game on this day with no games listed in Wales for some reason. So, I was glad when this opportunity arose and bought my ticket just over a week before. Anwar was keen to join me again and he too got his ticket and we put in place plans for a decent pre-match.

The day before had seen me go to Wycombe Wanderers as they beat Charlton Athletic 2-1. It had been the third very boozy day in succession for me and so I was keen to take a couple of days off the drink, as I will be indulging on my trip up north from Tuesday. Usually, I only drink two days a week and enjoy my days off the drink to give my body a rest. I awoke around 6 am on the day of the game and watched a few YouTube videos before going back to sleep for half an hour. I got up properly at 7.30, reading the Non-League paper on my tablet. It had a feature on today's game in it. I also started looking at plans for next Sunday when I'll be getting into London at 06:50 following my overnight coach from Newcastle. The morning game I fancied most (Sportsking Allstars v Sporting Club Thamesmead at the former home of Alma Swanley) could not be married up with a revisit to Canvey Island for the Benfleet FA Vase game, so I'll have to choose one or the other. I'll most likely revisit Dartford FC for London City Lionesses In the afternoon, even though time will be tight. 

I left at 10.20, getting to Anwar at 10.45 as planned. We had a slow start out of Aylesbury due to cyclists on a charity ride clogging up the roads. Ellen Road in Aylesbury is poor at the best of times, thanks to daft traffic calming measures. Aside from that, the roads were fairly quiet, albeit there were lots of single carriageways which took longer. I stopped at Dunkertons Cider shop in Charlton Kings on the way. It was a very pleasant place with a cafe and other stuff. I picked up four bottles that I'd not tried before for future consumption. Next up was a look at Gala Wilton FC, a decent ground for the Gloucestershire County League and one I'd like to see a game at. From there, it was to Muchachos for lunch with me getting a double Peri-Peri burger, chips and drink for £5.99. After an excellent meal, we took the 15-minute walk to Cromwell Street for a quick look at where Fred and Rose West once lived. We got back to the car at 2.10. It was then a 15 drive to Mayflower Close where I'd planned to park and then a 10-minute walk to the ground. It was very busy but the queues were dealt with quickly. I met fellow hopper Dan once in the ground before finding a spot to view the game from. 

Gloucester City were struggling in the Conference South and sat in 20th place. Following an impressive 4-0 win over York City on August 21st, they'd lost four consecutive games - 2-1 at Guiseley, 2-0 to Kettering Town, 9-0 at Chorley and 2-1 to Curzon Ashton. Longlevens play in the Hellenic League and were doing well in 4th place. Though they suffered a 3-0 defeat to Brimscombe & Thrupp on the opening day, they were unbeaten in the ten games since.  In their last three games, they'd beaten Brimscombe & Thrupp 3-1, Fairford Town 3-2 & Alresford Town 2-1. With 46 league places between the two sides, the 'home' team would start as firm favourites. Just under four miles separated the two sides in terms of distance and plenty of fans had made their way over from Longlevens for what was officially their home game. As such, they wore their home strip of red whilst Gloucester City wore their cyan and green change strip. They also featured former Wycombe Wanderers striker Matt McClure who scored at Torquay the day we stayed in the Football League by the skin of our teeth. Other well-known names were manager Paul Groves (former Grimsby Town) and goalkeeper Jake Cole (former QPR). Gloucester City started well on top and they took the lead on 13 minutes with Danny King's well-placed shot. Longlevens had a good ten minutes following the goal as they sought an equaliser. Gloucester soon resumed control though but on 33 minutes Longlevens equalised. It was a really good finish by Cameron Williams, hitting the post on the way in from the edge of the area. It sent the visiting fans into raptures and it was very much game on. King gave Gloucester the lead on 50 minutes, a finish at the far post following a decent cross. The rain had started to come down now, so I moved behind the goal for a bit. until it subsided. Longlevens had another good spell and hit the bar as they looked for a second equaliser. King made the game safe for Gloucester on 80 minutes, heading home a cross to complete his hat trick and make it 3-1. Gloucester had a goal disallowed and Longlevens had a late rally but there were no further goals.

The game had attracted a fantastic crowd of 2,320 and despite the loss, it must have been a great day for Longlevens. That sort of money could set the club up well for the future and they certainly gave a good account of themselves on and off the pitch. It was also a record attendance for New Meadow Park. By the time we had walked back to the car, it was just after 5 PM. We listened to the Tottenham v Chelsea match on the way home which the visitors won at a canter. It wouldn't be a Sunday without some sort of unpleasantness and there were plenty of delays going through Oxford, though thankfully it wasn't too bad. There was sad news with both footballer Jimmy Greaves and actor John Challis - Boycie in Only Fools and Horses both sadly dying. I was glad when 606 came on and as ever, it was a good listen. I dropped Anwar off at 7 and was back home just before 7.30. It had been quite a tiring drive home and so I had a Balti pie and chips for dinner. I spent the rest of the evening typing my blog and watching TV. It'll be a day off football for me tomorrow before a marathon of football in the north, starting on Tuesday with Manchester City v Wycombe Wanderers.


NEW MEADOW PARK saw Gloucester City return home to the town for the first time in 13 years and as new builds go, it's not bad. It has a capacity of 3,200 and this includes two seated stands, holding 350 each. There are also two covered terraces - one behind each goal and at a guess, these would hold around 1,800 between them. The rest of the ground is open hard standing. There's a club shop at the ground, plus bar and food facilities that both looked decent. There is no parking for fans at the ground, although street parking and a pay and display car park is available nearby. There's also a pub opposite and a Sainsbury's nearby, otherwise, the town is around 30 minutes walk away.

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