Monday 18 July 2022

Blackpool Wren Rovers - Bruce Park

Blackpool Wren Rovers FC
Bruce Park
School Road

07876 013181

Ground Number: 1089
Saturday 16th July 2022
Blackpool Wren Rovers 1-1 Hesketh Bank


The club was formed in 1931 and were originally known as Wren Rovers. They changed the club name to Blackpool Rovers in 1990, before adopting their present name in 1998. They play at Brews Park or Bruce Park, depending on who you believe. Either way, they are adjacent to Squires Gate FC and a few minutes' walk from AFC Blackpool. They played in local leagues such as the Blackpool Amateur at first but in 1959, they joined the newly-formed West Lancashire League as founder members. In 1972, they made the step up to the Lancashire Combination and were runners-up in 1978 before being crowned champions the following year and then again in 1981. The following year the league was merged with the Cheshire League to form the North West Counties League. The club was successful in the new league, rarely outside of the top places in the second tier. They finally made the top tier in 1991 after finishing as runners-up to Great Harwood Town. The 1991/92 season saw the club's best-ever performance but slowly things began to decline. Even so, they were in a safe 14th place when they resigned from the North West Counties League in 1998. They've been in the West Lancashire League ever since and have been highly successful. They won Division 2 in their first season. Their first title came in 2001 and they've been champions a further three occasions. They've also been runners-up nine times.

In the FA Cup, the club has reached the 2nd Qualifying Round twice. Their best run in the FA Vase came during the 1987/88 season. Wren Rovers beat Gosforth St Nicholas after a replay, Evenwood Town, Bridlington Town - again after a replay and Sporting Club Vaux prior to a 4th round defeat at North Ferriby United. Local cup wins include the Lancashire FA Shield twice and the Bridge Shield in 1977. Their best gate of 800 came in October 1991 for the opening of their floodlights against Manchester City.


This game was a bit of a late addition to the schedule with it only being decided the day before I left for my trip to the northwest. I'd already decided that Squires Gate was the one that I really wanted to do, having had positive interactions with them on social media. But Blackpool Wren Rovers announced their kick-off as 14:00 meaning that I could at least see half of their game. Five minutes away, AFC Blackpool were kicking off at 3 PM also and it seemed utter madness that teams had not staggered kick-offs. I'd have happily paid entry and made an additional donation if they had, but it was not to be. A lot of teams had altered their kick-offs to avoid the heatwave, but these three teams were not obliging. In fact, the only team that replied was Blackpool Wren Rovers, saying that staggered kick-offs was something they considered, but that was one for the future. All three games were confirmed as on, but Squires Gate were less interactive than they had been in the past. Along with fellow hopper Colin, I decided that I would leave it until the day of the game to decide, in any case, I could watch both games at the same time through the fence, as advised by a fellow hopper. I was keen to get pictures of all three in any case in case I never got the opportunity to go back for a game.

As ever, I woke early, around 5.30 after my standard five hours of sleep. I caught up with things online before getting up and having a shower and getting dressed. I needed a drink and so headed over to Asda, stopping at McDonald's on the way for a breakfast roll with brown sauce. With my Irn Bru purchased, I headed back to the room and typed up my blog from last night. Trains were pricey whatever route I took and so I decided to pay £16 rather than £6 to save me having to go to Manchester to get my coach. It'd mean I'd needlessly spent £7.20 on that ticket and I wished I'd planned better. I could have saved with Colin's disabled railcard but he wasn't with me for the whole journey and I didn't want to chance it. It was a few minutes' walk to Horwich Parkway and I got there well in time for my 9.59 train. It was extremely busy and they apologised over the loudspeaker as they were supposed to send a bigger train. It was typical Northern Rail judging by most of the comments on Twitter. It was uncomfortable having to stand a lot of the way cheek to jowl and it took longer than expected. I was cheered up by listening to Jasper Carrott on the way.

I got to Blackpool at around 10.50 and met Colin. It was going to Blackpool that I first met him but looking back at my blog, I didn't see fit to mention it. That was in October 2019 and it would take us a whole year to organise a hop together. That was a revisit for both of us, at Potters Bar Town and we've been to a fair few places since then and he's pretty much always been good company. We walked the half hour to our room and dropped our bags off. The owner, Fred was super friendly and had recently taken over the hotel. Our room was decent enough and suited our needs perfectly. We left at 12 and headed towards the game. We needed food and so headed to the Friary Street chippy where fish, chips and gravy were available for a very reasonable £4.50. The fish was huge and the gravy very nice although I'd have preferred my chips crisper. After our meal, we popped next door for some drinks and walked to the ground. We got there at 1.45 and to help out the club, I bought a scarf for £12. I don't usually but was in a generous mood and also got a can of Dragon Soop which helped me relax. The guy running the bar was nice and friendly and gave us an old programme each. We learned that a staggered kick-off had been attempted in the past and although Squires Gate agreed, AFC Blackpool didn't want to take part. For my part, I eventually decided that I was going to watch the whole of the game here and the second half next door. Colin pushed the boundaries even further, attending half of each game including AFC Blackpool.

The hosts started brightly, Robert Hanslip heading home from a corner after just seven minutes. In the second half, I sat in a spare dugout, the ground unusually having three, two on one side and one on another. It was a novelty having my own private stand. Hesketh Bank created plenty and hit the post on 75 minutes, also having a shot cleared off the line. They eventually got their equaliser, ten minutes before time. The player advanced into the area and blasted into the roof of the net. The visitors looked most likely to score but it wasn't to be and the game ended 1-1.


BREWS PARK is a great setup for the level. There's a huge amount of cover although no seating. The bar is decent and has lots of club stuff on display and there was also a tea bar. A lot of the ground is delightfully ramshackle and is well worth a visit. There are a few pubs and takeaways nearby, Blackpool is a few miles away.

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