Wednesday 26 July 2023

Market Drayton Town - Greenfields Sports Ground

Market Drayton Town FC
Greenfields Sports Ground
Greenfields Lane
Market Drayton

01630 655088

Ground Number: 1207
Tuesday 25th July 2023
Market Drayton Town 3-1 Shrewsbury Town


The club was established in 1969 as LITTLE DRAYTON RANGERS. They played in the Shropshire League for many years and were champions in 1992. They joined the West Midlands (Regional) League Division 1 in 1998, finishing as runners-up behind  Heath Hayes in their first season. This earned them promotion to the Premier Division and in 2003, they changed their name to the present one, MARKET DRAYTON TOWN. The new name bought about the most successful period in the club's history. They finished as runners-up to Tipton Town and then the following year they won the title to earn promotion to the Midland Alliance. Then in 2009, they won the title once more, this time earning promotion to step 4 - the NPL Division 1 South. They never pulled up any trees, their best finish being 11th in 2016. The last two years have been especially difficult. They were relegated from the NPL in 2022 and then again from the Midland Premier last season. They finished rock bottom, gaining just 12 points on both occasions. They will start this season in the North West Counties D1 South.

Market Drayton Town have played in the FA Cup for sixteen seasons. Their best progress has been two 2nd Qualifying Round exits. The FA Trophy has seen little success but in the FA Vase, they had a good run during the 2008/09 season. They beat Teversal, Newcastle Town, Arnold Town and VTFC before a 5th Round exit at Biggleswade Town. Local cup wins include the Shropshire Premier Cup on six occasions and the Midland Alliance League Cup in 2009. The record attendance of 440 came in 2009 for a friendly against AFC Telford United.

Andy Cooke is probably Market Drayton's most famous resident and he has played for the club. Also tuning out for the side were Pascal Chimabonda, Steve Jagielka, and Adam Proudlock amongst others. Jimmy Mullen, double promotion winner with Burnley ended his managerial career in the Market Drayton dugout. The town itself, located in Shropshire near the Cheshire and Staffordshire borders, has a population of just under 12,000. In 1965, sausage maker Palethorpe's built a new factory employing 400 people in the town. Purchased by Northern Foods in 1990, the company was merged with Bowyers and Pork Farms to form Pork Farms Bowyers. The sausage brand was sold in 2001 to Kerry Group, but the factory remains open as the town's largest employer.  Market Drayton had a railway station which opened in 1863 and closed during the Beeching cuts in 1963. Market Drayton Rugby Club play adjacent to the football ground, and is in the Midlands Division- Midlands 4 West (North).


For this hop, I was pretty certain that regular hoppers Anwar & Colin would be with me. Perhaps also Martin as he had said he'd come, but he'd been dropping out on a regular basis lately. It would be useful to have him, as it would save time and mileage at each end. As it was via Anwar, it would have to be north of Aylesbury to avoid a detour. I presented our group chat with three options - either Harworth Colliery, Market Drayton Town or Stapenhill. I'd written a bit about Stapenhill's history before as I'd had an abandoned visit a while back thanks to the weather. In the end, no one expressed a preference, so I made the decision for the group. As Stapenhill had a game listed for next week and we had quite a lot of time to spare, I thought that Market Drayton Town would be a good idea. Everyone was happy and so I planned it in and started doing my research.
After a very wet Saturday, it was just typical that Sunday stayed dry. Work was very busy, but overall not as bad as it has been recently. For once I'd had a decent night's sleep though, my first in some time, so perhaps that helped. There were still plenty of screaming children running around the place though and this was every day now with the schools breaking up. My opinion of people is not great, which I think is standard for people working in retail. Despite the lovely people we'd met at football on Saturday, Twitter was busy with spiteful internet trolls taking great joy that our first choice of game had been called off, at least when Dan tweeted. According to various people, it was a low-level Friendly in a field in North Wales. When in fact it was a second-tier cup game in South Wales that was played in one of the most sought-after grounds in Wales.
The day of the game came and it was my standard day off work and my usual walk to Wycombe. There was a little drizzle, but generally, it was a vast improvement on a soaking Saturday. I picked up a few things including a pizza for lunch which probably defeated the purpose of my ten-mile walk. I got the news on the way back that Martin had pulled out for the fourth time in a row, but it came as no shock. The only disappointment is that I'll have to be on driving duties for the vast majority of games whereas for a couple of months last season, Martin stepped in for around half of the trips. I left at 2.45 and was in Amersham just after 3 to meet Colin. He was out by 3.10 and had his customary snooze on the way to Anwar with us getting to him at 3.40. The journey started awfully, multiple sets of roadworks in Aylesbury and then problems on roads meant the sat nav sent us on a bizarre route to Northampton which took 90 minutes. Once we left there though, it was an easy journey up the M1 and A50. The sit-down meal in Wetherspoons was out of the question due to time, so I'll probably miss the Hippodrome off my list. Next door was the Bamboo Garden Chinese, a mixed bag. The salt and chill chips were nice but the Black Panther Chicken was not so with the chicken being battered. In the end, I wish I'd chanced Spoons as it would have been better. I could have done with a drink but with me driving and aiming not to drink during the week, I avoided it.
From there it was just over ten minutes to the ground. I'd left the car in town as I was unsure what parking was like, but there was plenty available. I got in five minutes before kickoff, entry a well-priced £5. Shrewsbury's youngsters were edging it and they hit the crossbar 28 minutes in. Market Drayton had a couple of good chances but it was goalless at the break. Market Drayton had the better of the second half and they took the lead on 57 minutes. You'd have to put it down to the young Shrews keeper as the ball went under him. It was all square on the half hour, not the greatest defending again and a deflected shot made it 1-1. The hosts again had the better of the game and took the lead five minutes before halftime. It was a good low shot from the edge of the area that looked set to send most of the crowd home happy. The win for Market Drayton was made certain in added time, a long-range shot was only parried by the keeper and a low shot made it 3-1.
That was the final kick of the game. It had seemed a sizeable crowd and looking on the website after, I was surprised to see the attendance was only 149. I'd had a good night, but on reflection, I wish I'd eaten in the ground. However, there was not a huge amount of info that I could see. That's why I do this blog, to try and put information out there and encourage people to visit and spend money at clubs. After the game, it was a ten-minute walk to the car. I stopped at Morrisons to fill up with petrol, pricey at 145.9 a litre but there wasn't much opportunity on the way home. It was a slow journey at first, through basic country roads until we got to the M6 around Stafford. It then sped up until the last part but it was still a long journey. I dropped Anwar off at half past midnight and Colin off half an hour later. I was home myself at 1.15. I stayed up for a while and as a consequence needed a couple of energy drinks to get going in the morning. Luckily, it was only a six-hour shift and I finished this blog later that afternoon.

GREENFIELDS SPORTS GROUND is a decent setup for the level, no shock given it has served the club a couple of levels higher. The main stand is situated along one side and holds around 200, if not more. There is also some additional cover in the far corner of the ground, a standing area dedicated to the club drummer. This holds around 50. There is open seating area adjacent to this, again holding around 50.  The rest of the ground is open. A good tea bar and basic clubhouse are available and there is also merchandise for sale. There is plenty of parking available. Public transport wise, there is no train station but buses come here.

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