Thursday 31 March 2022

Baffins Milton Rovers - The PMC Stadium

Baffins Milton Rovers
The PMC Stadium
Eastern Rd

Ground Number: 1061
Wednesday 30th March 2022
Baffins Milton Rovers 0-5 Shaftesbury
Wessex Premier


The club was established as recently as 2011 when two successful local Sunday League clubs - Baffins Milton and Milton Rovers merged. They made the switch to Saturday football, joining the Portsmouth League and finishing as champions in their first season. The next year saw them finish as runners-up to Waterlooville Social Club and make the step up to the Hampshire League. They spent three seasons in the step 7 Senior Division and would win it twice, the other time following as runners-up to now fellow Wessex League side Hamble Club. Following their second title in 2016, which marked their move to their current home, they were admitted to the Wessex League Division 1. The fun of success did not stop and in 2017 they finished as runners-up, again to Hamble Club just as a couple of seasons earlier in the Hampshire League. They have been in the Wessex Premier ever since, their best finish coming in 2019 when they finished 5th.

Baffins Milton Rovers have an unremarkable record in the FA Cup, although they have reached the Preliminary Round in three out of the four seasons that they have participated in. The club had their best FA Vase run during the 2018/19 season. Victories against Fairford Town, New College Swindon (by a remarkable 14-1 scoreline), Bashley, Bournemouth & Bradford Town to reach the 4th Round. Their journey ended there as they lost 3-1 at eventual finalists Cray Valley PM. Local honours include the Hampshire League Cup in 2014, the Portsmouth Senior Cup in 2014 & 2016 and the Wessex League Cup in 2019. 


Despite the clocks going forward at the weekend, there was still a really limited range of options for this week, at least in terms of grounds that I'd not been to. The vast majority of them were over 100 miles away and the only one that wasn't - AFC Kilworth - had their cup game cancelled and changed to a friendly game, as visitors Ashfordby had pulled out. Fellow hopper Anwar didn't fancy any of the limited other options, including the nearest Thornbury Town which he keeps turning down. On this occasion, we missed out on a 2-2 draw with visitors AEK Boco winning on penalties. I know he will do it eventually, so instead, I decided to look at Wednesday night instead. Baffins Milton Rovers had come up a few times and happily, another hopper, Colin, was willing to come with me. It would be a bit tight with us having to leave at 5.45 due to him working, but it was by far the best of all the options.

I'd had a highly unpleasant overnight coach trip back from Newcastle and didn't get a wink of sleep. It took me a couple of days to get back on track, but by my day off on Tuesday, I felt fine. I opted against a revisit to my local team Holmer Green (1-1 draw with Harpenden Town) or Baldock Town (0-0 with Dunstable Town) and decided to have a night in instead. The day of the game came and I had worked as usual. I came home and had a couple of hours of rest whilst watching TV and looking towards next week with the fixtures in the Football Traveller. After a dinner of pizza, I left at 5.20, making my way to our pre-planned meeting point. The journey down was great and we were there by 7.20. Entry was £6 and as Colin's chips looked so good, I got my own portion for £2.50. After getting some pictures of the ground, we settled down to watch the game.

 Baffins Milton Rovers sat 8th in the Wessex Premier. They were in disappointing form having lost their latest game on Saturday as they went down 2-0 at home to Alton. They'd also lost 1-0 to Brockenhurst, 4-0 at AFC Portchester and 3-2 to AFC Stoneham. On the positive side, they'd drawn 2-2 at Bashley and won 3-0 at Blackfield & Langley. Shaftesbury were sitting in 3rd and despite losing their last two games, were in decent form. They'd lost 5-1 to AFC Portchester on Saturday and also lost 2-1 at Hamworthy United in the game before that. However, they'd won 4-0 at US Portsmouth, 3-1 at Horndean, 6-1 against Bournemouth and 4-0 against Fareham Town. Baffins looked the brightest early on but it was Shaftesbury who took the lead on 14 minutes. A free-kick was knocked backed in and Ben Satterley was there to put the ball in from close range. On 22 minutes, it was 2-0, Asa Phillips finishing off a well-worked move by finishing into the roof of the net. On 33 minutes, Satterley grabbed his second when he slid home after the ball was put back in from the right. Four minutes later, Shaftesbury were awarded a penalty but they missed the chance to out the game beyond doubt when the spot-kick was put wide of the post. It was a deserved 3-0 lead at the break with Shaftesbury controlling the vast majority of the game. The hosts had a chance to reduce the arrears on 74 minutes, hitting the inside of the left-hand post but Shaftesbury would go on to grab two further goals. They were two decent strikes too, first on 83 minutes Satterley completed his hat-trick when he curled a shot into the bottom right-hand corner. The 5th saw Phillips get his second and Shaftesbury their fifth with the last kick of the game. He lost his marker with some neat control and then flicked the ball into the top of the net.

Shaftesbury were clear and deserved winners, so the vast majority of the 106 present went home disappointed. Baffins had been good hosts though, a  nice ground, excellent chips which were crispy and fresh and some good 90s tunes on the tannoy. We left at 9.40 and Colin spent most of his time on the phone to fellow hopper Dan on the way home. They were arranging a trip to Norwich United on the 9th and I  was looking forward to going discounted with Colin on his disabled railcard. However with him stopping over, I'd be looking at £45, not outrageous but better to plan for advance tickets. It was a good journey back with me dropping Colin off at 11 and getting home myself 15 minutes later. I stayed up for 90 minutes before going to bed. I'd been hoping for Ledbury Town on Friday, but that was moved. With my nearest unticked option in deepest Wales, it'll likely be a night in for me, but never rule anything out.


THE PMC STADIUM as it is known for sponsorship purposes is a decent venue for a new build. Of course, there is the ubiquitous metal arena stand present, but also next to it, a covered terrace too. Overall the ground caters for 100 seated, 200 standing under cover with a capacity of around 1,500 overall, with much of one side closed off. 

There's a smart bar with a basic range of drinks and a decent tea bar, all at reasonable prices. Otherwise, there's a Morrisons opposite, plus other places nearer Hilsea station which is a short walk away. Parking at the ground is plentiful and a friendly welcome makes this club well worth a visit. 

Sunday 27 March 2022

Hebburn Town - Green Energy Sports Ground

Hebburn Town FC
The Green Energy Sports Ground
South Drive
Tyne and Wear
NE31 1UN

Ground Number: 1050
Saturday 26th March 2022
Hebburn Town 2-3 Tadcaster Albion
NPL D1 East


The club was founded in 1912 as a works team for the Reyrolles company. Playing under the company name, they joined Division Two of the Jarrow and District Junior League. After World War 1, they joined Division One of South Shields Combination League, before switching to the Tyneside Combination in 1923. They joined the Tyneside League in 1927 and were league champions in 1938–39. During World War 2 they joined the Northern Combination in 1941, winning the league title three years later. The club remained in the Combination until rejoining a relaunched North Eastern League in 1959. In 1960 Reyrolles joined the Wearside League and were league champions in 1966–67. In 1986 they were renamed Hebburn Reyrolles, before changing their name to Hebburn in 1988. In 1989 they moved up to Division Two of the Northern League, and after finishing fourth in 1991–92, In 1960 Reyrolles joined the Wearside League, and were league champions in 1966–67. In 1986 they were renamed Hebburn Reyrolles, before changing their name to Hebburn in 1988. In 1989 they moved up to Division Two of the Northern League, and after finishing fourth in 1991–92, a season that also saw them win the Durham Challenge Cup for a second time, they were promoted to Division One. Despite finishing eleventh in 1994–95 the club was relegated back to Division Two due to issues with their ground. They were promoted again after finishing third in 1999–00 and then adopted their current name. However, they finished in the bottom two in their first season back in Division One and were relegated again. they were promoted to Division One. Despite finishing eleventh in 1994–95 the club was relegated back to Division Two due to issues with their ground. They were promoted again after finishing third in 1999–00 and then adopted their current name. However, they finished in the bottom two in their first season back in Division One and were relegated again. A third-place finish in Division Two in 2011–12 saw Hebburn promoted to Division One. However, they were relegated back to Division Two at the end of the 2013–14 season. In 2017–18 the club were Division Two runners-up, resulting in promotion to Division One. After the 2020–21 season was also curtailed, the club was promoted to Division One East of the Northern Premier League.

Hebburn Town's best FA Cup run came in 2011 when they beat Gillford Park, Whitehaven, Penrith, Runcorn Linnets and Radcliffe Borough before a defeat to Gateshead in the 4th Qualifying Round. They won the delayed 2020 FA Vase beating Sunderland Ryhope, Lower Breck, Vauxhall Motors, Longridge Town, Plymouth Parkway and Corinthian before beating Consett 3-2 in the final at Wembley Stadium. Local cup wins include the JR Cleator Cup in 2021 and the Durham Challenge Cup in 1943 & 1992. Their record win was 13-0 over Birtley Town and record attendance was 1,705 in the Quarter Finals of their successful FA Vase run. Hebburn is a small town in South Tyneside located between Gateshead and Newcastle and with a population of just under 19,000. There's another team in the town, Hebburn Reyrolle who revived the club's former name and play in the Northern Alliance Premier Division. Athletics is also catered for at Monkton Stadium, home of Jarrow and Hebburn Athletics Club, where Brendan Foster, Steve Cram and David Sharpe are notable past runners.


When looking for a game for Saturday afternoon during my trip to the North East, I had plenty of options, probably around 15 in all. I narrowed it down to the two best options in my opinion, Hebburn Town and Seaton Delaval. The former won out as from my Saturday morning game in Wallsend it offered the best chance of a decent pub lunch. It was also decently located for heading into Newcastle for watching the England game, should I be so inclined. It was also ground at a higher level than any of my other games but despite being at step 4, entry was only £7, great value. Not so great value was my 'Day Rover' ticket that I'd bought for £7.80. Not only was the Metro kaput with delays and suspensions galore, an alteration in my times meant that I could have got away with a Metro only ticket, rather than one that included buses too. 

I'd walked back to Howdon from my morning game and had ten minutes to wait for my train. Once it got moving, it then stopped for ten minutes in between Gateshead and Gateshead Stadium owing to a signalling problem. The latter was the station I needed for my pre-match pub of choice, The Schooner. There was a game going on at the stadium so plenty of fans were milling about. It's a ground that I wouldn't mind visiting again under the right circumstances, but this wasn't it. It was 15 minutes walk to the pub and although it wasn't as good as when I visited in September, I still had a nice pint of Olivers Farmhouse Perry. I decided against another and decided to have the cans I already had at the game. After another Metro trip, I walked to the ground although Google Maps' route was far from stellar, expecting me to enter the ground via someone's back garden. Once I'd found the proper entrance, I had to wait outside the turnstile while they found some change but I was in eventually. I later got a burger and chips for £4.20 which was good value and filling. 

This was a mid-table clash with Hebburn Town in 12th and Tadcaster Albion in 17th. The hosts had won all three of their games in March, having won 1-0 at Yorkshire Amateur last week. They'd also beaten Worksop Town 3-0 and won 4-1 at Lincoln United. In the same time period, the visitors were without a win having drawn 0-0 at Worksop Town in their latest game and 1-1 against Stocksbridge Park Steels. They'd also lost 3-0 to Shildon. Hebburn briefly started brightly, but Tadcaster soon took control. The visitors took the lead on 21 minutes, Kesi Omolokun with a close range finish. The visitors doubled their lead on 28 minutes, Mark Ferguson latching onto a good ball in and finishing from close range. The hosts pulled a goal back just before half time thanks to an own goal by Jack Howarth. A curling corner would provide Hebburn's equaliser on 67 minutes with a Carl Taylor header on the end of it. The game was decided by a hotly contested penalty on 76 minutes, Jack Donaghy sent off for Hebburn and Ferguson getting his second from the spot.

The game had attracted a great crowd of 667 but the game was not as good as the scoreline suggested. Tadcaster deserved their win though on the balance of play. I got some pictures of the bar area and used the facilities before leaving. I listened to the England game as I walked back to the station and went back into Newcastle. My phone battery had not been able to keep up with my usage all weekend and so I got myself an extra power bank from Poundland for £2. I'd have preferred something better as this only provided a small stopgap. I then headed to The Mean Eyed Cat across the road and as usual, it didn't disappoint. I had a pint of Ross On Wye Dabinett which was by far the best pint I'd had in ages. Not wanting to go mad, booze wise, I took a stroll up the Tyne to Gateshead, but of course, it would still end in a pub. The Free Trade Inn was decent and gave me an opportunity to charge my phone to 100% before I walked back.

I had half an hour to kill and so got some chicken and chips which filled me up. I really should have had another couple of drinks were I to know what was to come. My coach was ten minutes late which I didn't mind. What did bother me was the journey. Up to Durham was great, I nodded off for a while only to be woken up my someone who said I was sitting in their reserved seat, which was not marked. My new seat was dreadful, absolutely boiling due to being next to a radiator, so I stripped down to my T-Shirt. Even worse was a horrible brat behind me who didn't give up making noise all night and later vomited everywhere. It meant pretty much no sleep and was typical of a Sunday where the very worst of the general public are out and about. My phone was dead again by the time I got back to London around 20 minutes late but at least all the trains were running smoothly. I got back to Chalfont at 8.30 and was home half an hour later. The weekend had been enjoyable, though not without its challenges. I had a day to relax and type my blog before going back to work tomorrow.


HEBBURN SPORTS CLUB is a venue that has seen a lot of changes in recent times, mainly through the use of bought-in stands, though not the usual dull ones you see elsewhere. On the turnstile side is a sizeable covered area that can be used for seating or standing. There are also some seats open to the elements. Behind the bar end are more uncovered seats. On the opposite side it is open flat standing and on the other end is a small wooden shelter that is out of use due to storm damage. The best part of the ground is the bat which is large and offers a viewing balcony. A good range of food is also available but I didn't see any merchandise for sale.