Tuesday 28 December 2021

Risborough Rangers FC - Windsors

Risborough Rangers FC
Horsenden Lane
Princes Risborough
HP27 9NE

Ground Number: 350
Tuesday 1st April 2014
Risborough Rangers 4-0 Kentish Town
Spartan South Midlands League Division 1 Cup Semi-Final


The club was established in 1971 as an Under 12's Junior side. By 1975, the team had come of age and entered the Wycombe & District League as an open age team. They were Division 3 champions in their second season but would disband soon after, playing only junior football for a few years. In 1980, another side was entered into the Wycombe & District League and won consecutive promotions to the top-tier Senior Division. During this time, they moved into the old home of Princes Risborough Town, refurbishing the ground in the process. By 1989, they had sufficient facilities to be invited to join the South Midlands League. Starting in Division 1, results were mediocre at first, but 4th in 1993 was an early highlight. Several reorganisations over the next few years occurred, including a merger with the Spartan League. Risborough Rangers would remain in the second tier Spartan South Midlands League Division 1 until 2003 when they finished bottom of the table and were relegated to Division 2. The team took time to rebuild at the lower level and would finish as runners-up to Aston Clinton in 2012. Normally, that would have earned them a promotion but due to their lack of floodlights, they would have to wait another year until they were installed. A number of seasons were spent in the SSML D1 with varying results, never really seriously troubling the promotion or relegation spots. In 2019, Risborough Rangers were transferred to the Hellenic D1 East for geographical reasons. This kicked off a brilliant couple of years for the club. The last league defeat came on 9th April 2019, a 1-0 loss at Winslow United. They remained unbeaten through the two abandoned seasons, this earned them promotion to the SSML Premier where they sit top of the league at the time of writing.

The club's best ever FA Cup run came in 2020. They beat Longlevens, Winslow United and Cobham before a narrow 2-1 defeat at Chichester City. The FA Vase 2nd Round has been reached twice, most recently this season as they surprisingly lost to lower league Shefford Town & Campton on penalties. In terms of local cups, they've won the SSML Reserve Challenge Trophy in 2015 and the Berks & Bucks Intermediate Cup in 2016. The small market town of Princes Risborough has a population of 8,000 and famous residents include Jay Kay from the band Jamiroquai whilst Sarah Harding from Girls Aloud is a former resident. TV presenter Nicholas Parsons also lived there up until his death in 2020. Local motor racing event The Kop Hill Climb is one of the oldest hill climb events in England, originally running from 1910 to 1925 when it was shut down due to safety concerns. Changes in the law allowed the event to be brought back in 2009 as a celebration of both classic and modern motorsport. The modern event attracts thousands of spectators annually, with over 26,000 visitors in 2015, and has earned over £600,000 for charity to date.


I had quite a few options for tonight. I knew I would be without fellow hopper Anwar as he was off to the local derby between Aylesbury and Aylesbury United.  I then looked at some local step 5 games, with Ash United and Reading Town being favourites. I did initially pick Reading Town but then looking at the potential traffic and the fact that it was further than expected made me look closer to home. The Risborough Rangers secretary posted regularly on the Gasroom in an attempt to get Wycombe fans down there. I thought they missed a trick by not putting their games on anything other than the standard Tuesday and Saturday and could have attracted other groundhoppers down there with a bit of imagination, but as Anwar had already been there I decided to make the trip, especially as it was a cup semi-final and only cost £3 to get in and 50p for a programme.

I had the day off from work and actually got a great nights sleep, nearly 12 hours in fact. Even then, I didn't feel the most energetic I had ever done which likely led to me going as locally as possible tonight. I had some parcels to post from stuff I had sold on eBay so I walked down our local post office before going into town and paying a cheque in. I was annoyed about not yet receiving my new phone - Scan Computers had promised it would be delivered by 9am Monday morning to pick up at Argos but they had only dispatched it yesterday and at late afternoon it had still not arrived for me to pick up. I could have got it £30 cheaper and in my preferred colour of white if I had held off and looked on eBay today, so I was pretty miffed, especially as it would help with typing my blog while at football thanks to its bigger screen. In any case, I could leave home late for tonight's game, so after having a spot of dinner I left at 6.50PM. I got an email that my phone would be ready for collection just before I left so I will have to pick that up tomorrow. After a fairly decent journey, albeit one with the usual perils of rush hour traffic, I arrived at the ground at 7.25pm. The car park was already filling up and they had to open an overflow. I paid £3 for entry and 50p for a surprisingly thick programme given the price. I learnt from the gateman that Kentish Town only had 7 players present so far as the rest were caught in traffic. He was a Wycombe fan too and reckoned it would be very tight staying up, which I have to agree with. I then went to get some pictures of the ground, starting in the clubhouse where I bumped into Steve the press officer who posts about the games on the Gasroom, which is the Wycombe Wanderers message board. He shook my hand and everyone at the club had been really friendly so far. I also saw one of the ladies who sells 50/50 tickets at Wycombe Wanderers, in fact, she sells my Dad a ticket every game.

After getting some nice pictures I settled down in a seat along the side of the pitch and typed some of my blog. In the end, the game kicked off at 8pm, once all the Kentish Town players had arrived. The game started with Risborough having the best of the opening 5 minutes but Kentish Town with the enthusiastic and vocal support of an Irishman who I presume was their chairman, started to come back into it. On 17 minutes the home side had the best chances of the game so far, a game of pinball ensued in the area but the ball wouldn't go in. Risborough took the lead on 23 minutes after a foul in the area and the resulting penalty was put away successfully. It continued to be a fast-flowing game and chances came and went at both ends. On 40 minutes the Risborough keeper was slightly injured following a collision and had to receive treatment before he could carry on. Kentish Town had a real penalty appeal on the stroke of halftime but was denied by the referee. At half time I chatted to Steve, the Risborough press officer and he mentioned that he knew Anwar and a couple of others from Wycombe. The second half continued much in the same vein, with chances for both sides, but again it was Risborough that seized the initiative. 53 minutes were on the clock when they scored from a good free-kick, though maybe the Kentish Town keeper might have liked to get more on it. From then on, it was all one-way traffic. It was all over on 68 minutes, a shot from inside the area went in off the left-hand post. The visitors' misery was complete 9 minutes of the time as a volley from the edge of the area made it 4-0 and game set and match. Before I left, I said goodbye to Steve who had been a great host and made it a good night, as had others that were part of the club. It had been a good evening for my 350th ground and 104th match of the season. The journey home was a lot quicker, I listened to TalkSPORT who were talking about Man Utd's draw with Munich, a draw that gives the rank outsiders a chance in the away leg in Munich. I got home within 20 minutes of leaving at 10.10, getting to bed around an hour later.

2-6 v Pitstone & Ivinghoe, SSML D2, 28/12/21

This would be my first game in a week. Originally, on Boxing Day I was supposed to be going to Wycombe Wanderers v Cambridge United, but that got called off a few days before due to just a single Covid case in the visitors camp. The EFL doing themselves proud allowing this although at least it wasn't as bad as the Hull City v Blackburn Rovers game which was called off less than two hours before kickoff with little regard for the travelling fans. I did have a 'double' lined up in Devon and Dorset at Honiton & Sherborne. However, after careful consideration, looking at the weather and considering family stuff, I stayed at home. It didn't help that fixtures were spread out over three days thanks to the extra Bank Holidays. Frustratingly, the best of the games were scheduled for Monday when I'd be stuck in work and I was left with the leftovers on Tuesday. There were a couple of viable options on the day, with either Baffins Milton Rovers, Storrington or Saffron Dynamo on offer. With fellow hopper Anwar available, I decided to opt for the latter.

I was glad of the day off on the day of the game. Despite only having been back one day, it was a busy one with it being a Bank Holiday. I woke up just after 8 and had breakfast before going out for a walk. Games were falling all over the place in the south but I was expecting there to be no problems where I was heading as the weather looked OK. That turned out to be false hope as whilst I was out walking, I learned that the game had been called off due to rain that had not been forecast when I looked following several alcoholic drinks on Christmas Day evening. I looked at a replacement, with only revisits available. I went for the nearest one in Risborough Rangers. Although it was only their development side, a lot had changed since I had visited in 2014, despite them only going up a single division. They were currently on a 50 game unbeaten run which stretched back a considerable tie given the disruption in the last couple of years. I left at 2.20 and arrived at the ground 20 minutes later, paying £5 to get in. 

Unlike their first team, Risborough Rangers Development were not in the best of form and sat 10th in the table. They'd lost their last game 2-1 at 61FC Luton and also lost 3-2 to Codicote, 4-0 at Old Bradwell United and 6-1 at Bovingdon. However, they had some wins to their name - 4-3 over today's opponents (although this was technically a first-team fixture) and 2-1 at Sarratt. Aside from the clash between the two sides, the visitors had been in great form. They'd beaten Tring Corinthians 5-0, Aston Clinton 2-0 and 61FC Luton 3-1. They'd also drawn 2-2 against Bovingdon & 3-3 at Sarratt.  Pitstone and Ivinghoe sat 12 points ahead of the hosts in 6th place. The game started with the play being very even. The visitors took the lead after five minutes, Jack Nevitt knocking the loose ball home following some slack defending. They doubled their lead after 11 minutes, a curling cross was put in and Ben Gallant slotted home from 12 yards. The hosts were having plenty of possession and play in their opponents half but PItstone & Ivinghoe defended stoutly. It was 3-0 after 17 minutes, Albie Hall heading home a left-wing cross from six yards. An injury apiece resulted in short delays but on 35 minutes, Risborough Rangers pulled a goal back. It was a finish from inside the area by Evans Lamboh despite a visiting defender's best efforts to clear the ball off the line. The hosts came close to pulling another back soon after but there was no change to the scoreline going into the break. The goal of the game came on 52 minutes, a lovely curling shot from the edge of the area by Jack Downes. The hosts had another good spell, shooting just over the bar. However, Pitstone and Ivinghoe made it 5-1 on 72 minutes, a deflected shot from Bradley Churchill fooling the home keeper. Three minutes later, Ben Lewis pulled a goal back for Risborough, poking home from 15 yards. The four-goal lead was restored seven minutes from time, a low ball from the left was put home from six yards by Sonny Devine.

It had been a decent enough contest for the 62 in attendance, though the hosts were unlucky to lose so heavily. I'd had some chips at halftime and these were fairly decent for £1.50. Since my last visit, a small cover behind one goal had been added, but aside from that, the ground was pretty much the same as my first visit. It was a pleasant place to watch a game of football.  I left at 4.55 and was home 20 minutes later. I fancied a couple of ciders and so had these whilst updating my blog. Next up for me will probably be a game on Thursday as I head off to my local team Holmer Green to see Risborough Rangers first team.


WINDSORS is a pretty decent venue given the clubs status and is certainly a pleasant place to watch an early spring evening game. The main spectator area is on the side that you enter and has around 100 seats in all. It also houses a basic clubhouse which has plenty of stuff from the club's history adorning the walls. Outside there was a decent looking tea bar with a good range of both hot and cold food and drinks. The rest of the ground is open apart from a small shelter on the other side with seating for around 7 people, maybe standing for a few more. I'd certainly recommend a visit here as they are a really friendly club and the day out is great value with some of the cheapest prices in football. The town is also fairly nearby if you want to make a day of it. 



Wednesday 22 December 2021

Chipping Sodbury Town - The Ridings

Chipping Sodbury Town FC
The Ridings
Wickwar Road
Chipping Sodbury
BS37 6GA

07745 299351

Ground Number: 1031
Tuesday 21st December 2021
Chipping Sodbury Town 0-1 Royal Wooton Bassett Town
Hellenic Premier


The club was established in 1885 and three years later, joined the Bristol & Suburban League (at that time known as the North Bristol & District League). They were Division 2 champions in 1949 and Division 1 champions the year after, Following a brief spell in the Western League, they returned to the Bristol and Suburban League. They went out of existence for a few years in the late 1950s but would return to the Dursley & Wotton league in 1959. They later moved up to the Bristol & District League and then the Bristol Premier Combination. They won promotion from Division 1 in the late '90s and spent a few seasons in the Premier Division before being relegated back. They'd win Division 1 in 2006, before becoming Premier Division champions in 2008. This earned them promotion to the Gloucestershire County League and although they finished bottom in the first season, they avoided relegation. Results improved greatly and they finished 3rd in 2011. Another 3rd place finish in 2015, this time behind Cheltenham Civil Service and AEK Boco saw them promoted to Division 1 of the Western League. They grabbed the chance with both hands, winning Division 1 at the first attempt. Ever since, they have been at step 5 of the non-league pyramid, enjoying a best-ever finish of 10th in the Western Premier in 2019. At the start of this season, geographical reorganisation saw them transferred to the Hellenic Premier.

Chipping Sodbury enjoyed their best ever FA Cup run in 2008. After beating Reading City and Easington Sports, they went out to local rivals Bristol Manor Farm in the 1st Qualifying Round. The club had enjoyed a torrid time in the FA Vase, up until this season, they had lost all five games. That changed this season, with them thumping Bristol Telephones 6-1, however, they did go on to lose 4-1 at Torpoint Athletic in the 1st Round. In terms of local competitions, the club won the Bristol Premier Combination Premier Cup in 1993. The market town of Chipping Sodbury has a population of just over 5,000 and amongst other attractions, has a twice-yearly mop fair. Famous people to be born nearby include author JK Rowling and inventor James Dyson.


My initial thought was that I wouldn't be doing a game on this day, due to work and a paucity of options. However, a couple of things changed my mind. Firstly, there was ever-increasing talk of a lockdown due to rising Omicron cases. Secondly, work had not been as bad as expected. Although packed, there was no repeat of the ten 12-hour days in a row that I did last year. I did however have to come in on Tuesday, but that was not too much of an issue as it was not an early start like last year and it meant I'd be closer to the M4 than I would be at home. Had I have been off on Tuesday, I would have probably gone to Whitchurch Alport on Monday night too. It has been a long-term target of mine as it looks a great place. However, on reflection, I'd rather give it more respect than a rushed journey from work, maybe making a day of it. I'd really enjoyed my last groundhop to Woodstock Town on Saturday but was disappointed that I didn't get a retweet for my blog. Even so when they just used my pictures without asking or giving credit, but it didn't detract from what was a great game. I was hoping that this Hellenic League game would be as entertaining.

I did all my planning on Monday night, as always looking for a place to eat. As with usual in smaller places, the restaurants lack the creativity and imagination on the menu of more ethnically diverse places. It was just the same bog-standard menu at all the outlets. I found a decent  Chinese a few miles away and this seemed worth the detour for the increased choice. There was also a lack of a local Co-Op or cider off-licence which was a bit of a disappointment. I finished my research into club history and team form on Monday night and was just hoping that there would be no hitches with the game going ahead. I woke on Tuesday to see the news that at midnight, the disgusting animal in charge of Wales, Mark Drakeford, had forced all sport to go behind closed doors again. The brainless step of stopping 50 people watching a game outside and keeping schools and other indoor spaces open is beyond parody. As much as I despise the Tories, I am grateful that for football's sake, they are in charge here. Though, it seems as if it will only be a matter of time before we suffer the same fate, at least for Wycombe games. During the day, the Eastern Counties League cancelled all their games for 27th December which perhaps was a sign of things to come. After a busy day at work, I got changed and left at 3.45. I took a leisurely drive down to Bristol and was at the Fortune House Chinese Takeaway in Yate two hours later. I went for my usual salt and pepper chips and also something new in stuffed crab claws. They were both nice, but quite pricey for the portion size, especially the chips. After eating my dinner, I drove back to the ground, getting there at 6.25. I stayed in my car for a bit, listening to the BBC 3CR Non-League show on BBC Sounds. I went in at 7, paying £6 to the friendly gateman. I went around the pitch getting some photos and also started putting together my blog on my laptop.

The hosts were having a tricky start to the season and sat second bottom at the time of kickoff.  They'd played in an entertaining 3-3 draw at Thornbury Town on Saturday, but had not tasted victory since the 6th November when they won 1-0 at Shrivenham. In between, they had suffered six straight defeats including a 5-0 reverse at Roman Glass St George and an 8-0 hammering at Bishops Cleeve. The two sides had drawn 2-2 in the reverse game on the opening day. The visitors had been in mixed form in the last six, having beaten Torpoint Athletic 2-0 in the FA Vase as well as a 4-3 win against Longlevens and a 1-0 win at Tuffley Rovers in the league. They'd lost 3-1 to Hamworthy United on Saturday in the FA Vase and 3-0 at Corsham Town in the league as well as 4-1 defeat at Cribbs. They sat in 14th, ten points above Chipping Sodbury. The visitors took the lead after a minute or so. A good ball over the top found Bailey Gallagher who finished cooly past the keeper. They were the better side although neither keeper was seriously tested. There was a yellow card apiece for fouls. Chipping Sodbury had a couple of free kicks, but they came to nothing. Chipping Sodbury came close on the hour mark, resulting in a corner, but the kick came to nothing. The game got very niggly later on and there were plenty of fouls. Chipping Sodbury staged a late rally but the visitors' defence held firm.


I'd had a very good Christmas Dinner pastie during the game which was well worth the £3.50 asking price. It had plenty in it, including a pig in blanket but could have done with being a bit hotter, having been kept in a cabinet. There were a number of hoppers in attendance and decent support from the visitors. With home fans too, that saw a total of 110 which was their highest of the season so far. It was an impressive turnout on what was a bitter night, although maybe people were getting in a game whilst the going was good. The temperature was 1 degree by the time I got back to the car. I had a good journey home, leaving at 9.45 and getting home at 11.20. The game had been OK, but not the greatest, but overall, Royal Wooton Bassett deserved their win. I stayed up for an hour before going to bed. I had a busy day of work the following day, with the store looking like a zombie apocalypse what with everyone rushing to get things for Christmas. I received bad news when I got home from work, with Wycombe's game against Cambridge being called off due to, you've guessed it, Covid cases. I was gutted as I was looking forward to my usual routine but I looked quickly for an alternative. A double of Honiton and Weymouth looks a goer, but as with everything at the moment, it is on wafer-thin foundations. 


The Ridings is a smart and well-kept venue, but rather bland. There are two stands, of the standard 50 seater metal effort and these, along with a terrace for around 70 are the only cover. There are some good steps of terracing in front of the bar, plus hard standing around the pitch. The town is nearby and offers a selection of takeaways or you can find a selection of food and drink at the ground. The Christmas Dinner pastie that I had was very good and the bar was small but welcoming.