Saturday, 9 April 2022

Norwich United - Plantation Park

Norwich United FC
Plantation Park
Plantation Road
NR13 4PL

01603 716963

Ground Number: 1064
Saturday 9th April 2022
Norwich United 2-3 Hadleigh United
Eastern Counties Premier


The club was established in 1903 as Poringland and District and initially played in the Norwich & District Business House League. In 1965 they joined Division Three of the Anglian Combination, which they went on to win at the first attempt. In 1987, they changed their name to Norwich United. They progressed through the divisions and by 1989 they finished as runners-up to Wroxham and joined the Eastern Counties League. They spent two seasons in Division 1, finishing as champions in 1991 and earning promotion to the Premier Division. A 4th place finish was a credible debut season but results declined and in 1994 a bottom place finish saw them return to Division 1. They'd remain there until 2002 when they were champions and returned to the Premier Division. Norwich United spent eight seasons around the lower half before results improved. They were Premier Division champions in 2015 and 2016. They opted against promotion after their first win but after the latter, they joined the Isthmian D1 North. A 9th place finish in 2017 was their best placing ever but the traveling expenses took their toll on the club and the following year they were relegated after finishing bottom. Their first season back in the Eastern Counties Premier saw a mid-table finish but since then they have been in and around the top teams in the league.

This season, the club enjoyed its best-ever FA Cup run. They beat Long Buckby 2-1 in the Extra Preliminary Round before a 1-0 win over Newmarket Town. A trip to Isthmian League side Bury Town was next up where Norwich United came away with a remarkable 4-1 win. A 3-2 win over Mildenhall Town followed. Their run ended in the 3rd Qualifying Round with a 2-1 defeat at Stamford. The 2014/15 season saw the clubs' best ever FA Vase run. They beat AFC Kempston Rovers, Tring Athletic, and Ashford United before a defeat to Ascot United in the 5th Round. Local cup wins include the Eastern Counties League Cup in 1992 and 2015, the Norfolk Junior Cup in 1979 and 1981, the Anglian Combination Junior Cup in 1981, and the Anglian Combination Senior Cup in 1984.

The club record attendance of 401 came against Wroxham on 2nd October 1991. Famous players to play for the side include former Cambridge man Tom Youngs and current Wycombe Wanderers player Connor Parsons. The club played at Poringland Memorial Field up until 1985 (now the home of Hethersett Athletic) when they moved to Heartsease Lane in Norwich which was the former home of Gothic and is now a 3G pitch. They moved to their current home of Plantation Lane in Blofield in 1991 and share the village with Anglian Combination outfit Blofield United. The village has a population of 3,300 and Village amenities include the recently re-opened and refurbished Kings Head public house, Blofield County Primary School, a doctor's surgery, a library, scout hut, newsagent, post office/convenience store, fish and chip shop, florist, hairdresser, an outdoor leisure and camping store, a farm shop and a solicitor's office. Famous people from the village include former Norwich City midfielder Darren Eadie and former Norwich City manager Ken Brown. 


It was once more Saturday and another opportunity for a day out on public transport. I'd already dismissed going to Gillingham with Wycombe Wanderers as it was not the most exciting trip. Looking at the trips on the train that was both viable and good value, there was very little choice and even less inspiration. So I was glad when the space came up in a car to travel to Norwich United. It would involve a bit of compromise on my part, but I was fine with that. The journey via train would cost me £45 and then a bus fare after that. However, if I could make my way to Harold Wood in time for 10 am I could do it for around £20 less. Granted, I'd not have my desired pre-match pub crawl in Norwich but I could do that another time. There was still potential for a nice day, time permitting and I would be traveling in good company. Therefore, it was a no-brainer and despite the early start, I was looking forward to it.

Very little had happened in between my last hop and this one. A quiet Thursday and then a Friday that saw me have a few drinks to relax at the end of a hard week. The final arrangements were put in place and I was hoping to travel into London with fellow hopper Colin who had a weekend in Norwich planned. I was in bed by 10 but as a consequence awoke early at 4 and couldn't get back to sleep. I watched a bit of TV including a bit about groundhopping on a Scottish football show called On The Terrace where I spotted myself amongst the crowds on our recent weekend up there. I got out of bed at 6.45 and after getting dressed, had a porridge pot for breakfast. I left at 7.10 and was at Amersham in good time for my train. I met Colin and we made our way to the station, getting the 7.40 train.

We made our way across London, getting to Liverpool Street at 8.50. Here, I bumped into fellow hopper Luke who was off to Cromer Town. I said goodbye to Colin and got the TFL rail train to Harold Wood. It was a fairly new train which made a change and was nice and quiet. I was at Harold Wood at 9.30 and met Richard and Andy 15 minutes later. They commented on the type of people that inhabit where I work following a stop there on Saturday and I can't say I disagree with their assessment. I always dread Sunday but for now, I was just focusing on enjoying today. We met Dan at Witham Morrisons where we all had food. I had an excellent cheese and ham toastie with chips for £4.50. We left at 11.20 with plenty of time to spare. Richard was kind enough to drop us at a cracking local pub, The Shoulder Of Mutton in Strumpshaw. I had one pint and two halves, trying three new ciders. The Monty's Double and Oaky Doky from Burnards cider were superb but the East Norfolk Cider Normal 4 Norfolk was too sweet for me. We had pre-ordered a taxi for the three-mile trip to the ground, this cost a ludicrous £13. We were at the ground just after 2, the £8 entry was above average but the £1 programme was great value. I also bought a car scarf for £3, another great buy. I met up with Colin and Andy and we got ready for the game.

Hosts Norwich United were in 5th and were in decent form. They'd won their latest game 3-1 at March Town United and had also beaten Fakenham Town 1-0 and won 1-0 at Mildenhall Town and Mulbarton Wanderers. They had lost 1-0 to Woodbridge Town and 4-2 at Newmarket Town. Hadleigh United were in 14th. They were in mixed form having their latest game 3-0 to Gorleston. They also lost 2-0 at  ja Wanderers and drawn 1-1 at Gorleston.  Prior to that, they had enjoyed three wins - 1-0 against Thetford Town, 2-1 at Ely City, and 1-0 at Wroxham. The game did not turn out as expected. Hadleigh United were dominant and they opened the scoring on 9 minutes Joel Glover slotting into the bottom corner. That was how it was at halftime but on 48  minutes it was  2-0, a low free-kick catching out the keeper. It was another low shot that sealed the win, this time by Max Tate. Norwich United would stage a late rally. Firstly Liam Jackson's shot was adjudged over the line. There was a late comeback attempt staged but Norwich United were not up to it, Jackson grabbed his second to try and force the issue but a comeback was never seriously on the cards. It was a deserved win for the visitors who dominated against the formbook. 

The game ended with us meeting Richrad who had been to a dull 1-0 at Blofield Unted. We met up and said goodbye to Colin. Wycombe, from being 1-0 up had drawn 1-1 at Gillingham and it seemed like a wasted result. I'd broken even on the Grand National and had had a quick sleep on the way back. We were back in Witham around 6.45, dropping Dan off. We stopped in Morrisons for drinks and it was a lot calmer than what I was used to in High Wycombe. Richard dropped us in Shenfield and we made our way home, really noy looking forward to the worst day of the week


Norwich United is a decent venue, although it has just one stand. It is a mixture of seating and standing, around 200 seated and 100 standing. The rest of the ground is open and includes a basic bar and tea bar and a good club shop. The village is around 15 minutes away and includes a chippy, a pub, and a convenience store. 

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