Saturday 31 December 2022

Airbus UK Broughton - The Airfield

Airbus UK Broughton FC
The Hollingsworth Group Stadium
The Airfield
Chester Road

Ground Number: 1143
Saturday 31st December 2022
Airbus UK Broughton 0-8 The New Saints
Cymru Premier


Formed in 1946, the club has known several different names as the ownership of the factory has changed over the years. Originally called Vickers-Armstrong, they have been named de Havillands, Hawker Siddeley, British Aerospace, and BAE Systems at various points in their history. They had their origins as the works team of the Airbus UK aerospace factory where the wings of the Airbus airliner are produced and are consequently nicknamed The Wingmakers. The club's early years were spent in the Chester & District League and the Wrexham area leagues. The club won the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Division Two title in 1992. They then spent four years making steady improvements in Division One before being promoted to the Welsh National League Premier Division in 1996 when they were runners-up in Division One. They spent four years in the Premier Division before winning promotion to the Cymru Alliance in 2000. Again they spent four seasons in their new league before winning the title in 2004 to earn promotion to the top level of Welsh domestic football for the first time. To coincide with this promotion the club changed its name to Airbus UK then in 2007, Airbus UK Broughton. They would be long-time members of the Welsh Premier and although they struggled at first, they would soon find their feet. In 2013 & 2014 they finished as runners-up to The New Saints and then the following season, they were 3rd. The 2016/17 season saw a massive exodus of players and manager saw Airbus finish bottom of the league in 2017 and suffer relegation to the Cymru Alliance. They've become a bit of a yo-yo club since - too good for the Cymru North, but not good enough for the Cymru Premier.

Airbus UK reached the final of the Welsh Cup in 2016 They beat Bala Town 3-0 before overcoming Port Talbot Town 7-0 in a game played at Newtown. They lost the final 2-0 in a game played at Wrexham. They've played three seasons in the Europa League, losing to Latvian side Ventspils on away goals in 2013 before narrow defeats to Norwegian outfit Haugesund in 2014 and Lokomotiva of Croatia in 2015. Local cup honours include the Cymru Alliance League Cup in 2019. The club is based in Broughton home of course, to the aircraft factory and Hawarden Airport. It is located around five miles west of Chester and has a population of just under 6,000. The village shopping park is known as Broughton Shopping Park, where branches of major stores such as Tesco can be found, in addition to Cineworld IMAX and various restaurants. The village centre has a small collection of shops and the Offas Dyke Hotel on Broughton Hall Road. The ITV1 drama series Midsomer Murders has used Broughton as a filming location.


For my last game of 2022/23, there was very little choice for the second Saturday in succession. After Christmas Eve last week, it was the turn of New Year's Eve this week. Personally, I don't understand why so many leagues wasted a Saturday. Surely it would be better for players and volunteers to get the football done and then go out for the evening without worrying about playing the next day. It would be my last game for a few days as unlike some, I have to work every Bank Holiday. My original choice was a trip to Crowborough to see Jarvis Brook. It would have been a nice cheap day out on the train, had they not moved it to the previous Tuesday. My second choice was Storrington v Upper Beeding, either as a day out on the train or as part of a double to see Brighton Electricity as a revisit to the Withdean Stadium. In the end, I lost my second choice too. Thanks to the weather doing its worst, the Storrington match had been moved to Steyning Town which I visited in 2019. There were a few options on 3G, the best of which appeared to be Airbus UK v TNS. It was a long old trek but there was not much on. 

I was hoping for this. But all that was on offer was the 'Bobby Sands Special' with the tea bar shut, much to the chagrin of 374 hungry souls.

It was a mundane week although I was glad to be back at work after a lot of overindulgence over Christmas. It was especially galling to see people planning Bank Holiday doubles and trebles. A few years back, I'd have been joining them, but an enforced change in my contract meant I had to work them. I had a couple of drinks on Friday night to relax, but wasn't going too mad as I was trying to be sensible. I woke early before going back to sleep and getting up at 8.25. I had a shower, got dressed and had breakfast before leaving at 9.30, meeting Colin at my local bus stop. He was more bothered about getting back for his evening of board games than the game but he was good company and helped out with fuel. It was a decent journey up aside from the M42 closure which meant a diversion. We were at Tesco near the ground by 1. It was disappointing that they didn't have any Black Dragon cider and I'll have to wait until next week, when I'm off to Cwmbran, to stock up. It was useful to fill up with fuel though and at 141.9 it was a few pence a litre cheaper than back home. From there it was a short drive to the ground with us getting there at 1.30. I headed to the bar and had a pint of Strongbow to relax, a very well-priced £3.20. There was also a nice Cherry cake for £1.25. Entry was £8 but it was disappointing that neither the club shop or the tea bar were open as I'd been looking forward to both. Probably has something to do with the lack of volunteers due to the overrated New Year celebrations. I met a hopper from Stockport who read my blog. A Marlon Dingle lookalike but a really great person to talk to.
The two teams' form could not be more contrasting. Airbus had just one draw to their name, coming in an epic 4-4 against Newtown in September. They had won some games against lower league opposition - 3-0 at FC Queens Park and 2-1 against Trefelin BGC. They had lost the reverse fixture at Park Hall on Boxing Day by 7-0. The New Saints were top and unbeaten, winning 14 out of 17 games. The only time they had failed to win was with goalless draws at Newtown & Penybont and a 1-1 draw at Connah's Quay Nomads. It was not much of a surprise then when TNS took the lead on 8 minutes, an attack down the left finished off by Ryan Brobel. They hit the bar soon after and it looked as if it might be a long afternoon for the hosts. They did hold off until 16 minutes though, this time it was a low shot from the edge of the area by Brobel for his and his team's second. Dan Davies got the third with a similar shot two minutes later. Brobel completed his hat trick to make it 4-0 on 34 minutes. The goalkeeper had failed to gather a cross, the ball was headed back across the goal and the prolific marksman couldn't miss. On 40 minutes it was 5-0, Ashley Baker with a shot from a tight angle. On 42 minutes Airbus were reduced to ten men with George Peers getting a second yellow, the referee having no option with him lashing out after a late tackle. It was 6-0 on 44 minutes, Ben Clark profiting from a lack of marking to finish from around the penalty spot. The halftime break did nothing to quell the goal fest. It was 7-0 on 51 minutes, a drive from the edge of the area by Danny Redmond. A number of chances were spurned before the eighth on 67 minutes scored by Jake Canavan. The game died a death after that with Brobel withdrew and TNS taking their foot off the gas, not that they'd ever got out of second gear.

The mobile signal had also been unreliable, not uncommon in Wales. 41 had checked in on the Futbology app out of an attendance of 374. I was starving throughout the game and it was a real shame as I always like to spend at the ground if possible, especially when it's something decent. We headed back to the retail park and Mcdonald's to get something to eat. Colin was desperate to get home and had a bit of a sulk when I dared to eat before I drove rather than eating it on the way., He apologised after his customary sleep but it was all academic anyway as his mates blew him out, not wishing to spend New Year's Eve playing Monopoly. It would have been far nicer to break the journey halfway and have a curry, but it wasn't to be. We were back at Colin's for 8.15 as he prepared for an evening of watching Waterloo on BBC iPlayer. I was home by 8.30 and it was a few drinks whilst I typed my blog. The plan was to see in the New Year with the Lancashire Hotpots 'Hotpotsanny' celebration. However, it was to be a grim start to 2023 with two days of work whilst the vast majority of the world was enjoying themselves.


THE AIRFIELD (known under various names for sponsorship reasons is a smart venue. There are three seated stands with a total capacity of 520. The rest of the ground was open flat standing with a total capacity of 1,500. The club was really friendly although the lack of food (aside from a vending machine) and club shop was disappointing, especially as the directors were filling their faces inside. The bar, despite a lack of choice is a lovely place to have a drink and the prices are reasonable, with a decent range of snacks. Not far away is a retail park with a decent range of outlets. 

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