Friday 30 September 2022

Ashland Rovers - Kingsway Park

Ashland Rovers FC
Kingsway Park
Hodgkinson Road
Kirkby in Ashfield
NG17 7DJ

07876 190546

Ground Number: 1115
Friday 30th September 2022
Ashland Rovers 0-8 Mansfield Hosiery Mills
Central Midlands South


As with several clubs at this level, the history of the club is up for debate. They were formed around the turn of the Millenium as Sutton Trinity, a team of youngsters who appear to have no link to the side that competed in the NCEL, CML and Midland leagues during the 1980s. They initially played in the Mansfield Chad Sunday League but when they made the step into adult football, they moved to the Elizabethan League. Their stay here was fairly short and they were known as Arumac FC during this stint. They changed to their current name of Ashland Rovers when they made the move to the Midlands Amateur Alliance. They won the Division 3 title and cup in their first season and progressed to the Premier Division. A spell in the Notts Alliance followed before they joined the Notts Senior League in 2013. They were runners-up to Moorgreen in Division 2 in their debut season. 6th, 5th & 3rd & 2nd place finishes were achieved in Division 1 before they made the move to the Central Midlands League in 2018. They've tended to be around the lower reaches of the table since the move, their best season of 6th came during the abandoned 2020/21 season.

The club plays in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, a market town in the Ashfield District of Nottinghamshire, near Mansfield. The population is around 25,000. The town was once an important centre of coal mining and railways in west Nottinghamshire, with three active coal mines and several railway junctions. Local politics have been dominated by the Labour Party for much of the 20th century; however, Ashfield attracted media attention in the late 1970s with a shock by-election win for the Conservatives. From the 2010 General Election until her stepping down in 2019, the MP was Gloria De Piero, best known for her work with GMTV. She took over from Geoff Hoon, one-time Secretary of State for Defence during the premiership of Tony Blair. In 2019, Conservative Lee Anderson won the seat. He defected from the Labour party in 2018 and caused controversy when he announced via social media in June 2021 that he would not watch any England national football team matches at Euro 2020 in protest at the players' decision to take the knee. In May 2022, Anderson was criticised by opposition politicians, Conservative politicians, food poverty campaigners and charities for suggesting in parliament that there wasn't "massive use for food banks" in the UK and that what use there was related to a lack of teaching on budgeting and cooking. He also invited opposition MPs to visit a food bank in his constituency where he claimed that meals could be made for 30p a day and that also provided a mandatory teaching course to its users.


This game was pencilled in a month ago when Chris spotted that Ashland Rovers were at home this Friday. Options for us to do a game together are few and far between due to Chris' unavailability on most Tuesdays and my reluctance to drive on a Saturday. We had been in the area before, picking up a Chinese on the way to Mansfield Hosiery Mills in 2018, ironically the team that would be providing the opposition on the night that we visited. The game was part of the Central Midlands Floodlight Fridays where games were switched to a Friday evening in a bid to attract more fans. It felt like they hadn't done one for a while, at least not at a new ground with Ashland Rovers being on the radar for a fair while.

Since my last hop at Studley, I'd been to one more game. It was a pleasant walk, nearly an hour each way to watch my second most local side Penn & Tylers Green play Shrivenham in the Berks & Bucks Cup. The hosts were surprisingly struggling in the Combined Counties D1 whilst the visitors were doing little better in the Hellenic Premier following their promotion last season. It was a heck of a journey for a midweek game, around 60 miles and some outdated geography with Shrivenham actually in Wiltshire, however, the Berks & Bucks FA opted to use the 1958 boundaries when it was in Berkshire. As a result, they had a number of players missing but still managed to win 3-2 in an end-to-end game. Both sides showed potential, but also why they were struggling with some questionable defending, but it was great to watch. I was in good company too with a couple of familiar faces and also a friendly person called Dave who was a big volunteer at Flackwell Heath.
I was working on the day of the game but was out at 3, a luxury that I will soon not have with a small tweak to my hours. It was an incredibly busy day, both in terms of orders and people in the store and I got away by 3.10. Busy roads meant that I was not with Chris until 4.35 and then there were more delays on the M1. Overall, nothing unexpected for a Friday evening though. We were at the ground by 6.40 and as the weather had been absolutely rancid, we headed to the ground to check the game was on. The pitch was in excellent shape and with fears allayed, we headed to the Lucky Star Chinese down the road. I had my usual salt and chilli pepper chips, plus a Satay Fantastic. Both were incredible, amongst the best that I've had and were well worth the wait. We eat it in the car park before going in. It was nice that the rain had finally stopped before we went in. The entry was £3 and the programme £1.
It was a clash between the league's bottom two sides who had not had a win six games in. Ashland Rovers had at least won in the Buckingham Insurance Trophy, 3-1 away at CML North strugglers Kiveton Miners Welfare. Other results in September included a 3-1 defeat at Linby Colliery Welfare and a 6-0 loss at Mickleover Reserves. Their last home game had come on 20th August with a 3-0 loss to South Normanton Athletic and their only point in the game before that as they drew 0-0 at Teversal. Mansfield Hosiery Mills had also tasted joy in the Buckingham Insurance Cup, a 6-2 win against lower tier North Of England Academy. They'd gained a point in a 0-0 draw at Derby Singh Brothers in the game before that but had lost 7-0 to Clay Cross Town in early September. Their other point had come in a 1-1 draw at Arnold Town. The game was less than a minute old when the visitors opened the scoring, a swift break and a low finish from the edge of the area by #9. The visitors were much the better side and they had three efforts disallowed for offs, although the whistle had gone long before the first 'goal' was in the net. It was another goal on the break that made it 2-0 on 28 minutes, a left-sided cross was headed home by #8. Ten minutes later, it was 3-0, another swift break and this time it was #11 who was left virtually unopposed to slot home in a very similar fashion to the first. Ashland did have some half chances at the start of the half but on the 55 minutes it was 4-0, a cross from the right was slid home at the back post. The goals kept coming, a fifth was deflected home from point blank range and the sixth, a low shot that the keeper really should have done better on. 7-0 was a low shot deflected in on 63 minutes. Ashland had a good spell around 70 minutes, hitting the bar but the ball just wouldn't go in. Any hopes of a comeback were put to bed with the goal of the night on 85 minutes, a superb shot from a tight angle to make it 8-0.

It was a real shame for Ashland as a club, they had been great hosts and part of a superb league. Around 35 were in attendance and I was in great company. As well as Chris, there was another Chris (Berezai) who was fixture secretary of the league and head of Groundhop UK. Sadly, the dates have not worked out for me on a lot of the weekends but I'm hoping for a weekend in Scotland next March. Also present were fellow hopper Dave Woodings and another hopper Karl Arrowsmith who captured all the goals. This was useful as a couple were up the other end from where I was initially standing. We left around 9.45 and made good time home. I dropped Chris off around 11:15 and got home myself just over an hour later. I typed this blog up and intended to stay up until 3 at the latest with Wycombe Wanderers v Plymouth the next day.

KINGSWAY PARK is a good venue for step 7. It's just the one side that is available to fans, this is railed off and tarmacked. There is plenty of space for a stand to be put in and with that, they'd be good to go for step 6. The club are friendly and they do a good programme. Food and drink facilities are basic, but there's plenty within a ten-minute walk including a Wetherspoons and an excellent Chinese called Lucky Star. 

Wednesday 28 September 2022

Studley - Studley Sports Centre

Studley FC
Studley Sports Centre
Abbeyfields Drive
B80 7BF
01527 853817

Ground Number: 1114
Tuesday 27th September 2017
Studley 0-0 Atherstone Town
Midland Premier


The club was formed in 1971 and was initially known as BKL Studley, the works team of a local electrical fittings company. They were known under this moniker up until 2002 when they changed their name to Studley when the firm went bust.  They started out in Sunday football, playing in the Redditch League, before switching to local Saturday football. In 1987, the club joined the Midland Combination, starting out in Division 2. They would go on to earn promotion in 1989, after a third-place finish. Champions of Divison 1 in 1992, Studley were promoted to the Midland Combination Premier Division. Their best finish was 4th in 1997 & 1998, They stayed there until 2021, by which time the league had been renamed a few times and was known as the Midland D1 when they left. Last season they were moved to the Hellenic D1 and the change of surroundings worked wonders. They were champions and won promotion to the Midland Premier in the process. 

Studley played in the FA Cup every season from 2002/03 until 2013/14. Their best progress is the 1st Qualifying Round which they reached in 2003 (a 1-0 home defeat to Bromsgrove Rovers) and 2008 (a 2-1 defeat at Coalville Town) They've also played in the FA Vase from every season from 1998/99 to the present day. The best run came in the 2003/04 season - after beating Wednesfield, Bromyard Town, Mickleover Sports, Blaby & Whetstone Athletic and Leamington, they found themselves with a  5th Round home tie against the then Wessex League side Gosport Borough. They could only manage a 1-1 draw, before losing the replay 2-1 in Hampshire. Local cup honours include the Midland League Challenge Vase in 1988, the Tony Allden Memorial Cup in 2002 and the Smedley Crooke Memorial Cup and Worcestershire Senior Urn on 4 occasions apiece.


Once more on this Tuesday, both of my regular hoppers were available and so we decided to do a long-distance game, or at least as far as we could get when leaving Amersham at 4:15. A list of around eight possibilities was drawn up, ranging from the nearest at Studley's new ground to outposts such as Hereford and Debenham. My preference was, however, one where I could save mileage going via my mates and Shirebrook fitted the bill pretty well. It might be pushing it a bit, but we could always change to something nearer if traffic was bad. We agreed around a week in advance and put all the arrangements in place. Since my last game, I had the usual horrible Sunday amongst the public at work but I did at least get to see a game in the evening. England beat Germany 3-2 at Amersham Town in a supporters game for the Queen Elisabeth II Memorial Trophy in what was a reasonable game. Monday bought more disappointment as I was told I have to start and finish an hour later at work, wiping out a few groundhopping possibilities. It could be worse though, at least I still get Tuesdays and Saturdays off. Monday evening saw me switch on the England v Germany game after watching Corrie. I was just in time to see Germany go 2-0 up with a remarkable match ending 3-3. I don't usually bother with football on TV but was glad that I did on this occasion. We saw the best and worst of England but I still can't get excited for the World Cup in Qatar. Normally it's a great competition, but the way it was awarded and the fact that it is plonked in the middle of a season leaves me cold.
The day of the game came and I had a reasonable night's sleep. It was the usual walk down town and back where I got a few decent deals in Iceland. I got absolutely drenched on the way back due to rain and spent the afternoon at home. I left at 3.45 and was parked up by 4 but Colin took ages to arrive. He was 35 minutes late and didn't offer much in the way of apology and didn't even bother getting in contact to say he'd be late. I'd also phoned, texted and Whatsapped him but he'd left his phone out the back of the shop. It turned out that someone had phoned in sick, but letting me know would have been nice. The roads were crap getting over to Anwar and we weren't there until 5.20. It was another five minutes to decide our game as it was too tight to get to Shirebrook. We decided on Studley as we were so late and we got there at 7.10. Anwar had found a great-sounding takeaway called Alimento's but it was getting on and so we just went to the nearest one. Mario's was OK, but Colin hadn't bothered to get any cash out. Luckily, there was an ATM nearby and it was soon sorted. My half-pound cheeseburger meal was decent enough for £7.50, all freshly cooked but I'd have preferred to try something new.
We headed to the ground, arriving bang on kick-off. There was a queue to get in and the attendance of 103, mostly from Atherstone, was by far Studley's best of the season. The two sides were having unremarkable seasons, treading water in mid-table. However, whilst Studley would have been happy with that, Atherstone would have had aspirations of challenging at the top. The hosts had two wins in the last six as they beat AFC Wulfrunians 2-0 at home and 1-0 away. They'd drawn 0-0 on Saturday with Stapenhill in the FA Vase before losing on penalties. They'd also lost 2-1 at Stourport Swifts and 2-1 to Shifnal Town. Atherstone were in similarly mixed form, having lost 1-0 to Stourport Swifts in their latest game. They'd also lost 4-1 at Hanley Town and 3-2 at Stourport Swifts. On the flip side, they'd beaten Tividale 3-2, Kimberley Miners Welfare 3-1 and Highgate United 2-1. It was not the greatest of games. In the first half, Atherstone Town were well on top and they forced the Studley keeper into a few great saves. Studley were the better side at the start of the second half whilst the visitors had a late rally. All in all, though, it was a poor game, although far from the worst I've seen.
We left around 9.50 and made good time home. The roads were a lot better on the way back and I dropped Anwar off at 11.10, and Colin off at 11.40 before arriving home at 11.55. I was asleep within an hour but it hadn't been a very good evening. We might have made Shirebrook as it turned out as they kicked off late owing to traffic delays for Glasshoughton. The visitors surprisingly won 2-1 in what was probably a better game than what we saw. We might head there next week, either that or Wisbech Town as I've previously researched both teams for abandoned visits. Nearer home, two of my local sides played out a remarkable 4-4 draw before Amersham Town beat Holmer Green on penalties in the Berks & Bucks Cup. I've not had a lot of luck with games recently in terms of entertainment and I hope that the game I was planning to go to on Wednesday would be the same. Penn & Tylers Green v Shrivenham will be a nice walk if nothing else and hopefully a good game too.

STUDLEY SPORTS CENTRE is a functional ground that ticks all the boxes for the ground graders. It is probably good for the club too, but it's not that exciting. It was built in partnership with Solihull Moors who use it as their training ground. It is a caged 3G pitch with a small stand, holding around 100. The rest of the ground is open flat standing. There is a small bar and wider facilities in the club room but this is quite a way from the pitch. In fact, I think it's the same facility as was at their old ground, with the space between is where the old pitch was. The main village centre is less than a mile away and offers a range of places to eat and drink.