Ground Number: 1080
Saturday 25th June 2022
Chepstow Town 2-0 Portishead Town
Saturday 25th June 2022
Chepstow Town 2-0 Portishead Town
CHEPSTOW TOWN FC - A BRIEF HISTORY
The club is one of the oldest in Wales, having been formed in 1878. They were known as Chepstow Castle for some time and have played at various grounds including Bulwark, which means 'defensive wall'. Other grounds include St Mary's Institute which is now occupied by a Tesco supermarket. Up until the start of World War 1, the club played in the East Gwent League but led a nomadic existence thereafter playing in the Welsh League at first before joining the Gloucestershire Senior Northern League which they won in 1932. During World War 2 their ground was taken over by the Ministry of Defence and used as a supply depot for the war effort. At the end of the war, returning local servicemen wanted to revive football in the area. The club was then reformed incorporating Chepstow Boys Club and Fairfield FC. They joined the Monmouthshire County League and great success was enjoyed here which led to Chepstow rejoining the Welsh League. They were Division 2 champions in 1965 but increased travelling expenses saw them drop back down to the Gwent leagues. Chepstow Town would rejoin the Welsh League in 1997 and would win promotion in their first season, finishing as runners-up in Division 3 behind Milford United. They had two credible 5th place finishes in Division 2 (their best ever at step 3) but fortunes soon tailed off and they were relegated to Division 3 in 2002 and then back to the Gwent County League in 2007. It took the club until 2012 to become champions and win promotion back. Chepstow Town continued to yoyo between Division 2 and 3 (steps 3 and 4 of the Welsh pyramid). The club were in Division 2 when the pandemic interrupted football. When they returned, it was at the same level in the Ardal South East where the club finished 9th last season.
Chepstow is one of the most easterly towns in Wales and is on the border with Gloucestershire. It has a population of around 12,500. Chepstow Castle, situated on a clifftop above the Wye and its bridge, is often cited as the oldest surviving stone castle in Britain. The castle was established by William FitzOsbern immediately after the Norman conquest and was extended in later centuries before becoming ruined after the Civil War. The port of Chepstow became noted in the Middle Ages for its imports of wine, and also became a major centre for the export of timber and bark, from nearby woodland in the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean. Chepstow is also well known for its racecourse, which has hosted the Welsh National each year since 1949. According to the 2011 census, 1147 Chepstow residents (9.2%) described themselves as 'Welsh speakers', with an additional 465 people having 'some Welsh skills'. The town also has a rugby club and famous sportsmen to come from the town include former Hereford United player and Welsh international Paul Parry as well as Eddie Parris, the first black player to play international football for Wales.
Our original choice of Devizes Town was a ground that I'd fancied visiting for a long time. During the lockdown, I eased the tedium by making a spreadsheet of grounds I needed to visit, what hopper it would be best to offer a lift to (if any) and public transport options in some cases. But most important of all, whether there were any pubs which were worth a visit to make a day out or trip away with it. Devizes was one of those that scored highly on the latter, but it was a bit of a pain on public transport, what with it not having a train station. Long before fellow hopper Dan passed his driving test, I implored him to take me to Devizes once he had passed, in return for all the lifts I gave him around 2015 & 2016. It didn't quite work out that way though. However, I was able to secure a lift with his regular driver Richard who had kindly given me a lift to Norwich United and the Hellenic Hop. It would be cheaper and quicker than the bus and all I had to do was get myself up near the M40 junction at High Wycombe to be picked up. This suited me fine and I was glad to accept the offer.
The midweek went very slowly, the general public not improving in their behaviour and with the sun blazing, they came out in their droves at work. Tuesday saw me pop up to see Colin to sort out our weekend away, which eventually turned out to be Bolton and Blackpool based. It took a lot of patience and planning on my part as Colin is not the best at that sort of thing. However, he was happy to pay for what I booked for him and I was glad to have him for the company and also to cut down on accommodation costs. It was also a bit of a dummy run to see what he was like to share with in advance of the potential Scottish hop later this year. Wednesday saw the hosts confirm the fixture which was great as there were not many options about. Thursday was not a great day, another busy day at work. Whilst I was toiling, I found out that Seend United had opted to pull out of the fixture on Saturday. It was very disappointing, but at least they gave a bit of notice. The Wycombe fixtures came out and I was initially pleased that we'd not had home fixtures on the first few FA Cup rounds but there were a lot more cons than pros. We'd had a lot of home games scheduled for when I was off work and half already booked trips or had groundhop days pencilled in which is one of the perils of an employer that demands that you book your entire year's holiday by the end of April. I'd rushed into changing my Eurostar to March which I later discovered was an international weekend. I wished I'd stuck with the original date, but they wanted £30 to change it back. The original date had been cancelled due to the pandemic and with unlimited pushbacks, there wasn't really any harm done. I did however doubt whether I will stick with getting a season ticket though, but I'm erring towards it as it's five games free.
I could have done with a drink after all that but decided to stay disciplined and wait until the weekend. At least I did have something to cheer as a replacement game was sourced. Chepstow Town v Portishead Town was a decent shout and Richard was still happy to drive. Chepstow was the home of one of my favourite cider makers, Troggi and so I contacted them to see if they had any stockists in the town. Sadly, they did not respond in what was a pretty hectic and unpleasant Friday. I was just glad to get home and have a few drinks to take the edge off of what hadn't been the best of weeks. I awoke early on the day of the game after a fairly typical five hours sleep. I did think about either walking to ASDA or going out for exercise, but in the end, I couldn't be bothered.
I drove up to work and parked, one of the few perks of the job. It was then a five-minute walk to Five Guys where we had arranged to meet. We left at 9.40 and the journey dragged a bit although I was in good company. We were there by midday, following a lengthy diversion after the M48 bridge was closed. Chepstow were super friendly and they have us a mini ground tour including showing us the new dressing rooms. We then headed to Tesco hoping to stock up on some Welsh goodies but the selection was disappointing with Black Dragon cider out of stock. We then headed to the Wetherspoons, the Bell Hanger where I had fish and chips with a pint of Black Dragon. It was a very nice Wetherspoons but service was pretty slow with my drink taking 15 minutes to come, although to be fair, there was an apology. The food took even longer, and very poor management left them short-staffed. My fish and chips were only lukewarm too, due to being the quicker of the two meals on our table but it was a lovely bit of fish. It was then a short walk to the Queen's Head Micropub. A fantastic place, I had a pint of Seidr O Sir Sych which was super dry and this was the sort of thing that I'd come for. It was a ten-minute walk from here to the ground where entry was free and so I'd really rate Chepstow as one of my favourite places in the UK.
The game was an end-to-end affair but just before half-time, Chepstow took the lead, with a goal on the break and a low finish. It was a fairly dull game with both sides getting back into the stride of things although Chepstow were well on top. The hosts made it 2-0 on 88 minutes, with a low shot from the edge of the area. We left around 5, the only bonus about the diversion was that it took longer to get back to England and the unwelcome parcel of muck that was Sunday. I was going to get my blog done on the way home but my camera was not transferring photos for whatever reason. We were back in Wycombe by 7.30 and with me peckish, I headed to the Mandarin House Chinese. I got myself salt and pepper chips and house special chow mein. The portions were very generous and the chips filled me up. I got home at 8.10 and saved my Chow Mein for the next day's lunch at work.
LARKFIELD PARK is a decent setup for the level, not especially characterful but very well kept. There is just the one covered stand with around 100 seats and there is further cover around the bar area. The bar itself is a smart place with a basic selection of drinks. The town is a ten-minute walk away and includes an excellent Micropub called Queen Victoria which had a great range of drinks. There is also a Wetherspoons and various takeaways nearby. The club are really friendly and I couldn't recommend a visit more.