Monday 7 March 2022

Padiham - Arbories Memorial Sports Ground

Padiham FC
Ruby Civil Arena
Arbories Memorial Sports  Ground
Well Street
BB12 8LE

Ground Number: 1043
Saturday 5th March 2022
Padiham 1-5 Ashton Athletic
North West Counties Premier


The club was formed in 1878 it was among the first football clubs in Lancashire and was well supported, attracting an attendance of 9,000 for a match against neighbours Burnley in 1884. At this time Padiham's ground was on the banks of the River Calder, hence the nickname, The Caldersiders. A more modern nickname is the Storks, owing to their badge. After playing in the Lancashire Combination, they tried to join the ranks of the professional game but this ended in failure due to them being unable to compete with teams from larger towns. The club folded in 1916 and they would not reform until 1949. They rejoined the Lancashire Combination but generally, results were poor and they spent all but one season in Division 2 before leaving in 1968. They rejoined in 1977 and results were better this time although when the league was merged into the North West Counties League in 1982, Padiham were placed in the second tier and were relegated in their first season. They flitted between these two tiers before leaving for the West Lancashire League in 1990. They were Division 1 champions in 2000 and with ground improvements in place, rejoined the North West Counties League. Padiham remained in the second tier until 2009 when they finished as runners-up to Bootle and won promotion to the Premier Division. The club did well at the higher level and in 2013, they were Premier Division champions. They spent a couple of seasons in the NPL D1 North, before being relegated back to the North West Counties Premier where they remain to this day.  

Padiham played in the FA Cup in 1883, losing 3-0 in their only game - a 3-0 loss at Blackburn Rovers in the 3rd Round. They'd have to wait 101 years for their next game, losing 5-1 to Billingham Synthonia at the first hurdle. They'd finally get their first win in 2005 as they came away from Tow Law Town with a 3-1 victory. They drew 1-1 at Bradford Park Avenue, at the time two levels higher in the 1st Qualifying Round before losing the replay 4-1. This remains their best progress so far and they reached the same stage of the FA Trophy in their two seasons in that competition.  Their best run in the FA Vase came in 1981/82 as they beat Great Harwood Town, Norton Woodseats and Brandon United before losing in the 3rd Round against Ossett Town, following two replays. Local cup wins include the NHS Bird Cup in 2011. The town of Padiham is located three miles from Burnley and has a population of around 10,000.


On the day of the game, I woke at 8, having had a reasonable night's sleep. I took a while to get going, but had a shower and got dressed before leaving at 9. I had a Subway for breakfast before meeting Colin at the Travelodge at 9.30. He had opted to join me for the four games today and I was glad of the company. I needed petrol, so we stopped at ASDA and filled up. From there, we drove to the first game at Bacup which was a revisit for me. I parked in a side street a few minutes from the ground and we made our way up the steep hill to the ground. The influx of hoppers had seen the club struggling for change and so after paying my £6 entry I got some pictures of the ground before going back for my fiver change. It was a lovely place to revisit with beautiful scenery and St Helens had bought a decent range of flags with them. It was very busy and there was a lot going on. Later on, I got some curry and chips from the tea bar for a very reasonable £3. In the end, Bacup won 6-1 fairly easily with some suspect defending by St Helens. It was great to get some new pictures of the ground and it was an enjoyable revisit.

I'd arranged to give fellow hopper Dan a lift between a few grounds as his mates Richard and Andrew were going elsewhere. There was more lovely scenery between the grounds and it made for a pleasant drive. We arrived at Padiham in good time and I parked on a nearby road with the area very hilly. It was £6 to get in which was pretty much standard for the league and good value. I had an excellent pie, peas and gravy for £2.50 and this was the best food of the hop. I also had a pint of Strongbow from the bar for £3.30 and this helped me relax a bit. There was a decent merchandise stall with random old shirts and coats, but there was nothing that I fancied. A notable name in the visitors' lineup was Richard Brodie who has played for a host of bigger clubs, his most successful time at York City and Southport. He was a coach for Ashton Athletic, following a nomadic playing career.

Padiham were sitting 15th in the league but were in excellent form. In their last six games they had beaten Lower Breck 2-0, won 4-0 at Vauxhall Motors, 3-1 against Northwich Victoria and 2-1 against Avro. They'd drawn 1-1 against Litherland REMYCA and lost 2-1 at Congleton Town. They'd drawn 2-2 with Longridge Town in their latest game on Wednesday. Ashton Athletic's form was a mixed bag. They sat 19th in the table but had a fair gap between them and the relegation spots. They'd lost 5-0 to Litherland REMYCA last Saturday and also by the same scoreline to AFC Liverpool as well as 1-0 to Congleton Town. They had however beaten Skelmersdale United 3-1 and won 4-1 at Lower Breck as well as drawing 1-1 with Northwich Victoria. They also won 2-1 at Prestwich Heys on Tuesday. The game started fairly equally, but visitors Ashton Athletic soon took control. They took the lead on 16 minutes when Cian McDermott headed home from a corner. It was another header on 23 minutes, this time from Thomas Carr that gave the visitors a bit of breathing space. Ben Hoskin pulled a goal back just before halftime from the penalty spot, but it was just a brief respite. I was up the other end for the third on 49 minutes, but it turned out to be an own goal by Padiham captain Dan Morton. It was another defensive mix-up on 53 minutes that allowed Carr to poke home his second and make it 4-1. The scoring was complete on 73 minutes, Carr completing his hat trick when he headed a cross home.


The ARBORIES MEMORIAL SPORTS GROUND is a nice venue, ticked amongst the rolling hills of Lancashire. There's cover on three sides, the main seating area is the typical Arena type stand with around 100 seats. There's also a smaller stand beside this with seating for another 25. Behind the goal to the left there's a decent-sized covered terrace, covering half the end and holding around 100. The far side has a variety of cover for around 200 more, plus the large grass bank behind gives a decent view of the game. The remaining side is open hard standing. The bar and food facilities at the ground are above average, plus there's a range of merchandise. There's also a pub right outside the ground and the town is a short walk away.


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