Friday 28 April 2023

Hartpury University - Hartpury College

Hartpury University FC
Hartpury College Sports Ground
Hartpury House
GL19 3BE

Ground Number: 1178
Friday 28th April 2022
Hartpury University 2-2 Milton United (1-4 pens)
Hellenic League D1 Playoff Final


Hartpury University are one of the newest clubs in the game, formed in 2020. For a club that makes Milton Keynes FC look as if they have a history, they have come a long way in a short time, In the midst of the pandemic in 2020, they entered a team in the Hellenic D2 West. Due to the early curtailment of the season, they played just five games here, winning three of them. The following season, they joined the Herefordshire County League Premier Division, enjoying an incredible season, winning all 20 of their games and scoring 117 goals in the process. Following their promotion to the Hellenic Division 1, they've made a great start. Pershore Town have won the title, but Hartpury University sealed a place in the playoffs as a home side. This season saw them enter the FA Vase for the first time and they enjoyed a good run. Hartpury defeated Malmesbury Victoria before progressing past Clanfield 85 on penalties following a goalless draw. Tuffley Rovers were beaten 1-0 before they won 2-1 at Mousehole. Bovey Tracey were then thumped 7-0 before they lost 2-0 at Atherstone Town in the 4th Round.

Hartpury University started out as a college in 1947, gaining University status in 2018. It describes itself as specialising in the "agriculture, animal, equine, sport and veterinary nursing" sectors. The institution has academies for sports including rugby, football, modern pentathlon, equine, rowing, netball and golf. In June 2017 the college expelled one student and suspended several others following a police investigation into images circulated online and on social media depicting students from Hartpury College apparently killing a fox cub and posing with a dead cat. The College and Gloucestershire police both issued statements concluding they were satisfied the killing of the fox was not an act of cruelty, and that one of the students, who was training as a gamekeeper, had killed the animal to end its suffering after it had been hit by road traffic. The police declined to take further action. Hartpury is a civil parish in Gloucestershire. It has about 270 homes and a population of about 700 people, increasing to 1,642 at the 2011 census. The village is about 5 miles north of Gloucester.


Hartpury University was another of those grounds that I'd fancied doing for a while, for two reasons. Firstly, it would help me complete the Hellenic D1. Secondly, it gave us the opportunity to visit an excellent takeaway called Muchacos. Fellow hopper Anwar was a big fan of the latter, however, he continually turned down the ground when I offered it, citing it as 'not great' when he had paid a flying visit on the way to another game. Just like with another one that he kept turning down, Thornbury Town, I guessed I'd have to do it on my own. One attempt was thwarted due to the wet weather and so I was glad when I saw that there were playoffs in the league. However, I didn't think they were needed, thanks to an unusually scheduled fixture. I don't often get to see a game on Monday but with a 5 PM finish at work, Gloucester was ideally located for a quick dash from work. But as it happened, the game was called off due to someone cutting through an electricity cable and so, the playoffs were needed after all.

I didn't know when planning it, but both Colin & Martin were happy to join me, even better Martin would meet me at work and drive. He'd been a trouper driving all the way to Scarborough a couple of weeks ago, however, I'd driven to a few nearer games in return recently. As it turned out, he couldn't make it as he was unexpectedly imprisoned at work. It had not been a bad day up until that point but due to the late notice and a dreadful local bus service, I had to meet Colin in town. Even after a 35-minute drive to do a couple of miles, he still arrived after me having left for the usual half-hour journey at 3pm. Colin was eventually there at 4.50. The journey over was not so bad, a few spots of traffic but we were there by 6.50. I got the ticket on my phone for £4 and went in. The food was excellent, fresh pepperoni pizza for £5 and a rocky road cake for £2. We then walked around the ground taking pictures prior to the kickoff.

Hartpury University were 2nd, whilst visitors Milton United were 3rd.  The hosts had suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at strugglers Kidlington Reserves a couple of weeks ago but had been in scintillating form prior to that. They'd beaten Cheltenham Saracens 5-0, thumped Kidlington Reservers 9-0 in the home fixture, beaten Cirencester Town 10-1 and won 6-0 at Moreton Rangers. Milton United had squeezed through 3-2 at Stonehouse Town in their penultimate game and were unbeaten in seven games prior to their last game. In the league game a week ago, Hartpury University had won 2-1. When the two sides met in Oxfordshire on 19th November, the two sides shared a 0-0 stalemate. To get to this final, Hartpury University had beaten FC Stratford 4-0 whilst Milton United had progressed past Clanfield 85 on penalties following a 3-3 draw. Milton United had the better of the game and they took the lead on 22 minutes, Louis Joyce bundling home from a few yards out. Hartpury had a brief resurgence, but never really tested the keeper aside from a few saves with his feet. We stood the end that Hartpury were shooting second half, but all the action was up the other end. A penalty was awarded on 67 minutes for a trip. Joyce stepped up to net his second and seemingly make the game safe. Hartpury finally got the bit between their teeth in the final five minutes, a shot from Parker from the edge of the area deflected in on 88 minutes. Then remarkably, a great jinking run and shot from the edge of the area right on time. They then created a golden chance in injury time, blasting over from point-blank range. There was plenty of time added on and after a game that Milton dominated, Hartpury looked the most like winning. I expected extra time, but it went straight to penalties. Milton United won 4-1 and to be honest, it was deserved.
It was a shame that Hartpury, slayers of so many sides had only really gone for the jugular for around ten minutes of the game. In the penalties they came up short but they'd been great hosts in a decent game. A number of students came to watch the game for free. probably doubling the 103 official attendance. It was around 10.15 by the time we left and we made good time on the journey home. For once, my compatriot stayed awake the whole journey and I dropped him off around midnight. Twenty minutes later I was home and enjoying a Ross On Wye Cider, made not far from where I'd watched my football. With the Wycombe v Cheltenham game the next day, the aim was to get to bed before 3 am.

HARTPURY COLLEGE is a huge complex with various factions of college life on campus. It's set in a green, well kept and peaceful area and the pitch amongst other things, is immaculate. Further afield is a clubhouse, although I didn't really check this out. Back at the ground is a smart setup, two stands holding 50 seated and 50 standing. There are two food and drink options, an excellent pizza stall and a coffee place that does great cakes. There is plenty of parking and although it's isolated, there appears to be a good bus service.

Thursday 27 April 2023

Heyford Athletic - The Playing Fields

Heyford Athletic FC
The Playing Fields
Middle Street
Nether Heyford 

07901 534609

Ground Number: 1176
Thursday 27th April 2023
Heyford Athletic 0-10 Harpole
Northants Combination Premier


Heyford Athletic FC was established in 1908. They are not to be confused with their Oxfordshire counterparts who play in the Hellenic League. They are based in the village of Nether Heyford, located close to the M1 and around six miles west of Northampton. It has a population of just over 1,600. The Post Office once called the village Lower Heyford, but the name was restored to Nether Heyford after a reference to it in local deeds. The village is on the floodplain of the River Nene and used to be subjected to flooding, as Watery Lane suggests. The club played on the village green up until 1989 when they moved to their present home on the edge of the village.

The club was a founder member of the Northants Combination in 1953 when the Mid Northants and Central Village leagues merged. They started out in Division 1 and appear to have remained there until 1969 when a 5th place finish was good enough to earn promotion to the Premier Division. A long spell in the top tier followed and they won the title in 1975, 1976, 1982, 1988 & 1996. Since then, the closest they have come to winning it was a runners-up spot behind Cold Ashby Rovers in 2002. In 2012/13, they had the worst season in their history, finishing bottom of the table, winless and with just two points all season. Relegation followed and the team spent two seasons in Division 1, winning promotion back with a 6th place finish two years later. They've remained in the Premier Division ever since with mixed results as they finished 5th in 2017. The pandemic seasons bought about mixed fortunes - they were bottom in 2020 when the first season was abandoned but 4th in 2021 when the second campaign bit the dust early.


Originally on this evening, I was going to go to Woodcote. However, having missed out earlier in the week, Anwar was keen to do a game with me. He suggested Heyford Athletic or Cambridge University Press. I opted for the former as it had a backup in a revisit to Northampton Sileby Rangers for a cup final between Higham Town and Corby Siam. We could even get one and a half games in, watching the second half of the cup final. This was something that piqued the interest of Colin who wanted to tick the latter ground, for Anwar & I, it was a revisit, having been in 2014. Martin also decided to join us, so it was going to be a cheap night out for all. My only concern was that games at this level can often get called off at short notice, but at least visitors Harpole were fairly regular tweeters.

Following Tuesday's groundhop, it was a fairly easy day at work on Wednesday. On Wednesday night, I took a trip up to one of my local clubs, Marlow, for the Isthmian League D1 South Central Playoff semi-final against Hanworth Villa. The hosts were looking to return to step 3 for the first time since 2003/04 when the Isthmian D1 South was at that level before it was bumped down by the establishment of the Conference South and North. They were aiming for the Isthmian Premier, a league they had last played in during the 1994/95 season. It was only 20 minutes drive to a pleasant ground where I saw a few familiar faces. Hanworth had a good team including Sam Merson, son of Arsenal legend Paul and Tom Bender, a former Wales U21 and Colchester United left-back. They were the better side in the first half, Merson giving them the lead from the penalty spot. Junaid Bell equalised for Marlow on 49 minutes with a shot on the turn. It was a very physical game and Bell found himself sent off on 84 minutes for flooring a Hanworth man with a dodgy challenge. It was heartbreak for Marlow in the eighth minute of injury time as Hanworth scrambled home a late winner. Still, it had been a great game in an excellent atmosphere.

The day of the game came and I made sure to fill up with petrol before work. I was a bit tired, but it wasn't a bad day with me finishing at 4. I'd been having doubts due to the continually rotten weather but the others were keen. It was a poor drive over to Anwar to meet everyone, mainly thanks to the Mickey Mouse roads in Aylesbury, the last mile taking 15 minutes. Before we left at 5, we rang Heyford Athletic, and a friendly bloke told us it was on. He did say his team were struggling though and down to their bare bones. Though I had my doubts as we made our way on poor roads through torrential rain. We were there at 6.20 and were pleased to see lots of activity. It was drizzly, but at least it was game on.
Heyford Athletic were in 13th place whilst Harpole were 5th in the league. The two sides had met in the reverse fixture on Tuesday with Harpole recording a narrow 2-1 win on their own patch. Harpole had also won 2-0 in a cup game on 18th March. Heyford had recorded their last win a week before, beating Corby Pegasus 2-1. They'd not won in eight games, only avoiding defeat in a 2-2 draw against Woodford United. Conversely, Harpole were in excellent form, winning seven games in a row. They last dropped points in a 2-2 draw at leaders Kettering Nomads on 11th March. The game went as per the form book, with Harpole dominating. They headed in from a corner on two minutes to make it 0-1. It was 0-2 on 35 minutes, a shot and then 0-3 three minutes later with the striker sidestepping the keeper before slotting into the net. Before halftime, it was 0-4, despite a valiant effort by the keeper to keep the ball out. Things went from bad to worse for the hosts when they had a man sent off for a bad tackle. The victim limped off and it didn't look good for him. An avalanche of goals followed in the latter stages of the game. A penalty, a couple of long-range shot, a couple of close rangers and one past the onrushing keeper made it a final score of 0-10. Goalscorers were Cameron Baty Shaun Markie, Harry Slaymaker, Jack Shears with two, Bryan Tichawona with two and Iulian Vozian with a hat trick.
The above match report lacked details, but the weather was absolutely disgusting, old, wet and windy. We all got drenched. You have to wonder whether we will ever depart this infinite winter. It was a 20-minute drive to our next game at Northampton Sileby Rangers. It was the Northants D1 Cup Final between Corby FC Siam and Higham Town. Though my main concern was getting something to warm us up and the Bovril & Chips at £4 were both excellent in that respect. They were huge portions too. There was a goal apiece in the second half. Corby FC Siam pulled a goal back early on, but never really looked like making a comeback. Higham Town sealed their win in the dying embers but we all preferred a quick getaway as opposed to watching the presentation. It was 9.50 by the time we left and we listened to BBC Five Live on the way home with quite a few Premiership games going on. The results escaped me, but I dropped everyone off at 10.50. I was home myself half an hour later. I don't normally drink on a Thursday, but after putting all my stuff in the airing cupboard, I cracked open a couple whilst doing this blog.


NETHER HEYFORD PLAYING FIELDS is a decent venue with a railed pitch and some concrete standing. There's also a lot of parking. I didn't see a bar, but the place is a multi-sport facility, the most prominent being bowls. The place was a bit isolated, so might be a bit tricky on public transport.

Tuesday 25 April 2023

Pagham - Nyetimber Lane

Pagham FC 
Nyetimber Lane
Bognor Regis
West Sussex
PO21 3JY

01243 266112

Ground Number: 1176
Tuesday 25th April 2023
Pagham 1-0 Baffins Milton Rovers
Wessex Premier


Pagham FC was established in 1903. They started out in the Bognor & Chichester League where they remained for a good few years. Sometime after the end of World War II, they had joined the West Sussex League. It was here where they found great success, firstly winning Division 2 South in 1963. They progressed through the divisions and won the Premier Division three times. After the last of those titles, they joined the Sussex County League. They were Division 2 champions by 1979 and Division 1 champions two years later. By 1984 though, they'd been relegated back to Division 2, bouncing back as champions in 1987. This was a golden era for the club as they won the Division 1 title in both of the next two seasons. Pagham remained in the top tier until relegation in 2005, they spent a couple of seasons in Division 2 before winning the title for a third time in 2007.  They've remained at step 5 ever since, with a couple of third-place finishes as their best showing in recent years. This season, they transferred from what is now the Southern Combination Premier into the Wessex Premier due to their location near the league boundary.

Pagham's best progress in the FA Cup is the 2nd Qualifying Round, reached on three occasions. Their best FA Vase run came during the 1980/81 season when they got past Amesbury, Worthing, First Tower United and Harefield United prior to a 2-1 loss at Whyteleafe in the 4th Round. Local cup wins include the Sussex Royal Ulster Rifles Charity Cup in 1989, the Sussex County League Cup in 1989 & 2017, the Sussex County League Division 2 Cup in 1972 and 1986, the Malcolm Simmonds Cup in 1968, a year after they won the Sussex Intermediate Cup. Their record attendance of 1,200 came for a local derby against Bognor Regis Town during the 1970/71 season. Former Lincoln City player Luca Coleman Carr also played for Pagham during his career.

Pagham is a coastal village in the Arun district of West Sussex, with a population of around 6,100. It lies about two miles to the west of Bognor Regis. Sussex County Cricket Club played two first-class matches there in the 1970s as the football ground is on the same site. Pagham is the home of the Pagham Pram Race which is the oldest pram race in the world. The race is run on Boxing Day every year at 11 am whatever the weather. Thousands of people line the streets of Pagham to watch the wacky contestants navigate the 3-mile course, drinking 3 pints of beer en route. All the money raised by the Pram Race is distributed to local good causes.


As ever, this game was decided upon on Sunday. It was to be just Colin, Martin & I as Anwar had committed to going to London Samurai Rovers with another hopper. So, it was to be a journey south, or if I was on my own, Woodcote. I offered Pagham, Ringwood and Bournemouth to the other two and they chose Pagham which was fine by me. A host of other games were also put in place in what was going to be a hectic week as the season started drawing to a close. There was a possibility of Pagham saving the day a fortnight ago. With Selsey off due to rain, Pagham were very confident that their game would be on despite the deluge. My senses told me to turn back home, by that point I was just past Heathrow on the M25. It was a correct decision, whilst I was back home enjoying a curry, the game was called off by the referee, five minutes before kick-off. According to reports, he didn't even go out to look at the pitch until the last minute. I believe in respect for officials, but I think that respect should also be paid back to save people a wasted journey. In any case, the game was rearranged for tonight, so all was good.

On the flip side, the weekend had been a bit of a miserable one, though it had started well enough. A sober Friday night at home including a special One Foot in The Grave documentary was decent. As was my usual walk down to Wycombe with Colin. I bought a Bluetooth speaker with me and we took it in turns choosing songs, and introducing each other to some new bands in the process. The Rose and Crown was also its usual decent self. It went downhill from there. All the decent places were closed due to the owners rightly celebrating Eid so I had to make do with a burger and chips from the chippy. This was actually decent, but not the Chicken Dhansak that I'd been hoping for. It went further downhill from there as a listless Wycombe meekly surrendered 2-0 to Lincoln City in a dull game. We've now not won on a Saturday in over two months since Gareth Ainsworth left for QPR. Sunday marked 12 years since I started groundhopping, my first ever intentional groundhop was Hemel Hempstead Town v Evesham United. Previously, I'd just been to Wycombe games and local games, albeit getting 161 grounds done before I started actually looking to tick grounds consciously. It was the usual miserable Sunday, very busy and full of out-of-control kids, so I was glad when it finally got to 5 PM.
It was another long day at work Monday but I had the evening to do research for today's game. This was hampered by FA Full Time being down which is not a great site at the best of times. Tuesday was my day off as per usual and it was nice to have a rest and catch up with things. It was the usual 8-mile walk to town and back in the morning with the afternoon spent at home. I did some research on the history of Heyford Athletic FC for my Thursday visit before leaving at 4.05. There were a couple of sets of roadworks on the way to Colin's with me meeting him and Martin there just after 4.20. It was a decent drive down, with us getting to the ground at 6.30. I'd already planned my dinner, the Qmin Indian takeaway providing a new one for me in Chicken Tikka Moghul's Delight which had eggs and meatballs in it. Along with rice, it was a reasonable £12.50. This was very nice, we all eat our food on the wall outside before heading to the ground. Entry was £6 with a programme £1, very reasonable. I did a circuit of the ground to get pictures before taking a seat in the old seated stand for the first half.

 It was the last chance Saloon for Pagham - to avoid the bottom two places, they had to win and hope that Bournemouth didn't. Their cause was not helped by recent results, with them having lost 5-2 at Blackfield & Langley on Saturday. A 2-1 win at basement side Alresford had given them hope in the game before but they'd also lost 1-0 to Bemerton Heath Harlequins, 3-0 to Cowes Sports and 4-0 at Fareham Town as well as drawing 1-1 against Portland United. Baffins Milton Rovers were in 7th, a place they had occupied for much of the season. They'd won 5-4 in a thriller at Christchurch on Saturday and also 3-1 at Blackfield and Langley during a busy April. They'd also drawn 1-1 at high-flying AFC Portchester and 2-2 against US Portsmouth. However, they'd lost 2-0 to leaders Horndean and 1-0 at Moneyfields. Back in October, the two sides had met at Baffins' ground, the hosts recording a 1-0 win. The hosts were the better side early on, creating some chances but not really testing the Baffins keeper. The visitors improved and just before halftime, they had the ball in the net, only for it to be ruled out for handball. The Pagham keeper had made a couple of good saves to keep his side in it. The hosts came close in the second half, skewing wide from a free kick but with Bournemouth leading 2-0, it all looked to be academic. Baffins' Dillon North was sent off for kicking out on 72 minutes. An excellent free kick was tipped onto the bar by the Baffins keeper as Pagham threw everything forward. Joe Clarke got the goal his team deserved on 86 minutes, a low shot from six yards out.
There was a decent 164 crowd in attendance. Once more, I'd been let down by ID Mobile's patchy Internet speeds which is becoming very common lately. Sadly, I still have a year to go on my contract. I got some chips at half time, they took a while and cost £2.50 but they were nice and freshly cooked. It's always nice to support clubs financially where I can. Despite it nearly being May, the weather still got quite nippy towards the end and my hat was needed. It was a shame for the hosts being relegated, they certainly didn't look like a side down the bottom. We left at 9.45 and headed for home. There was a closure on the M25 which added 15 minutes to our journey but I dropped the guys off at 11.35. I was home 15 minutes later, sorting pictures and doing my blog before I went to bed.

NYETIMBER LANE is a ground that I visited back on Tuesday 1st May 2012, prior to my visit to Bognor Regis Town. What was there was a decent ground, a couple of covered areas, one standing, one seating. Looking at some pictures, it appeared as if they had added an arena-style stand to bolster the seating capacity. There's a fairly decent amount of street parking. Around five minutes away is a couple of pubs, a Chinese and an Indian. The Qmin is excellent and they also do food and drink at the ground.

2012 PICS

2023 PICS