Ground Number: 992
Tuesday 7th September 2020
Holwell Sports 2-0 Blackstones
United Counties D1
HOLWELL SPORTS FC - A BRIEF HISTORY
The club was established in 1902 as Holwell Works, changing its name in 1988 to their present one. It was originally a works team, the employer was an ironworks that at its peak employed over 1,500 people before closing in 1988, hence the name change. They joined the Leicester & District League upon formation and won the league in 1908 & 1909 before moving up to the Leicestershire Senior League. They'd remain here for nearly a century in its various divisions - the worst finish being in 1970 when they finished bottom of Division 2 and the best being the four times that they finished as champions of the Premier Division. With the required facilities in place to take a promotion, Holwell Sports finished 4th in the Leicestershire Senior Premier in 2008 and moved up to the East Midlands Counties League as founder members. Their most successful season came in 2013 with a 5th place finish. They've struggled in recent seasons and were transferred to the United Counties Division 1 in 2018. The last two seasons had seen them finish in mid-table placings of 10th & 12th but this season saw them towards the bottom of the table.
In the FA Cup, Holwell Sports have twice made the FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round - firstly in 2014 when they lost 1-0 at Spalding United and then again the following season when they took Bedworth United to a replay before losing 2-0. The 2013/14 season saw their best run in the FA Vase when they beat Quorn, Thurnby Nirvana, Radcliffe Olympic and Rocester prior to losing to Coleshill Town in the 3rd Round. Local cup wins include the Leicester Senior League Cup in 2006 and the Leicester & Rutland Senior Cup on three occasions in the 1950s. Famous players to turn out for the club include Julian Joachin during the 2015/16 season and Dixie McNeill, a striker who started out in the works team before going on to have a successful Football League career, most notably with Northampton Town, Lincoln City, Hereford United and Wrexham. The small hamlet of Asfordby Hill is based near Melton Mowbray, the former works site now hosts rare wild orchids. There's also a farm shop that sells the local speciality of pork pie and even a penguin pie! It was the site of the last coal mine to be built in Britain and stayed open until 1998.
For once on this Tuesday, there was plenty of choice of games within a reasonable distance. I did briefly consider Loughborough Dynamo, as that barely ever comes up as an option. In nine years of groundhopping Anwar, I reckon it has only come up as an option a couple of times. However, I had nine blogs that I had started but not completed, mainly due to weather messing things up. That was certainly the case with Holwell as I was due to go there last November. However, the game against Bourne Town was called off due to a waterlogged pitch the day before. Looking at my records and my blog, it was another day of sparse options and I ended up heading south on my own to Broadbridge Heath. Even then, that was my second choice of game in the south with Oakwood also suffering a call off in the afternoon. I already knew that there were some decent takeaways but I had to look again as I'd deleted my original notes. The only drawback was that I'd have to put more petrol money in myself as Anwar was on a limited budget. But all things considered, I didn't mind as I'd save a bit of time on researching the club.
It had been the usual stressful Sunday at work and Monday wasn't much better. The traffic had really increased on the way home and for the first time in months, it was really busy on the way home. I was glad of my day off work on Tuesday and I did my usual walk to town and back, nine miles in all. With the boiling weather, it was quite tiring. I came back home and spent a couple of hours relaxing before leaving at 3.30. I was with Anwar just before 4 and he was there waiting for me. It was a poor journey as we expected, with constant delays until we got past Northampton, thanks mainly due to the long-running roadworks on the M1. From then on it was good and we were in Melton Mowbray by 6.15. A&M Kebabs and Pizza was our target and I had an £8 Chicken Fajita Chef's Special. It took ages to come, half an hour. But it was decent and the portions were huge. We left at 7 and were at the ground by 7.10. Entry was a well priced £5 and a decent programme was £1. I had a walk around the ground before having a rest waiting for the game to start.
Holwell Sports were down in 16th place, having won three and lost four of their games so far. In the last five games, they'd suffered a heavy 7-0 defeat at Aylestone Park followed by two home defeats - 4-2 to Birstall United and 3-2 to Kimberley Miners Welfare. However, they'd recovered to win 5-2 at Clifton All Whites followed by a 4-1 home win over Borrowash Victoria. Visitors Blackstones were bottom of the league and lost all four games so far. They'd started the season with back to back 4-0 defeats at home to Belper United and away at St Andrews. They then had a two-week break, missing three games due to a Covid outbreak at the club. It hadn't got any better in the last two games as they were thumped 8-1 at Kimberley Miners Welfare before a 2-0 home defeat to Dunkirk. Before kick-off, there was a minute silence for Dylan Rich - the young West Bridgford Colts player who tragically died of a cardiac arrest in an FA Youth Cup game against Boston United last Thursday. A decent crowd was in attendance and they saw a lively start to the game. At first, Blackstones looked nothing like a bottom of the league side, knocking the ball around nicely. The hosts created the better chances though, but their #11 was especially wasteful with his finishing. He turned provider on 41 minutes, putting in a ball from the left. The ball was put home from close range, but the effort was disallowed for offside. The second half was more scrappy, Blackstones abandoning their passing game for aimless punting and shooting from range. Holwell were sloppy too and for a while, I thought I might see my first 0-0 of the season. Blackstones were awarded a free kick on 56 minutes. It was a good initial effort from around 30 yards. The home keeper parried it, but the rebound was blasted over from around six yards out. Two minutes later, the hosts took the lead. A cross from the left to the back post was headed back and Tom Pope volleyed home at the near post. It was nearly 2-0 a minute later but the ball was scrambled clear. It was 2-0 on 75 minutes, the ball hit the top of the bar, came back into play and was scrambled home by Ian Bitmead. There was a long discussion between the referee and the linesman, but eventually, the goal was given. The official attendance was unavailable at the time of typing this blog, but I'd guess the crowd was about 120.
The game finally finished at 9.40, it dragged on a bit thanks to an over-fussy referee who took his time on everything. Holwell had deserved their win and were excellently vocally backed by a group of youngsters behind the goal. They didn't stop singing all night and got their reward as they went home happy. We left at 9.45 and had a good journey at first. However, things started to go wrong as we hit Northamptonshire. Waze was telling us to go off a couple of junctions early. However, that seemed unnecessary with no warning of any closures on the overhead signs. I wish I had, as the incompetent idiots at Highways England had closed the M1 for a junction. We suffered an hour delay, including 40 minutes sitting at a standstill on the M1. Why the authorities in this country are all utterly hopeless, I do not know, but it hardly tallies with the governments aim to reduce pollution by deliberately making traffic jams. I eventually dropped Anwar off at 12.20, getting home 20 minutes later. I stayed up for half an hour before getting to sleep. I was thinking of going to Kingstonian v Oxhey Jets in the FA Cup the next day, but decided against it. I'd been to Corinthian-Casuals ground in 2013 and was fairly happy with my blog. Instead, I will stay in and watch Poland v England with a few drinks. Next up for me will be some Friday night footy at Laverstock & Ford v Downton.
WELBY ROAD is a great ground for the level. There are two covered areas, one standing and one seated, holding around 100 seating and 250 standing. The ground has plenty of character and is nicely kept. The club is nice and friendly too. Car parking is quite limited, but there's plenty of space on the surrounding streets. I didn't see much around the ground but a basic bar and food facilities are available. There's also a social club outside the ground.