Saturday 14 October 2023

Devizes Town - Nursteed Road

Devizes Town
Nursteed Road
SN10 3DX

Ground Number: 1236
Saturday 14th October 2023
Devizes Town 2-1 Sporting Club Inkberrow
Hellenic D1


Devizes Town FC was established in 1884 as Southbroom Football Club, formed by the members of Southbroom Cricket Club as a winter activity. In 1898 Southbroom and other smaller clubs amalgamated to form Devizes Town Football Club. The new club leased a playing field in Quakers Walk and joined the Wiltshire Senior League, winning it in their debut season. They went on to win it a total of six times. They then went on to join the Wiltshire Premier League, winning that twice. They acquired their current Nursteed Road ground in 1965 and two years later joined the Western League. Their first season was a struggle but by 1973, they were champions. Results tailed off and in 1976, they were relegated to the newly-established Division 1. In 1980, they followed as runners-up behind Melksham Town to win promotion to the Premier Division. The high point around this time was the 9th place finish in 1982 although by 1985, Devizes Town had finished bottom and been relegated back to Division 1. It wasn't until the turn of the millennium, the 1999/2000 season that they won Division 1, staying unbeaten all season. This time their stay in the Premier Division would last nine seasons and this would include their best-ever finish of 5th in 2002. Relegated back to Division 1 in 2009, worse was to come in 2022 when they were relegated to the Wiltshire League. Last season, a runners-up spot behind Trowbridge Town was good enough for promotion back to step 6, the Hellenic League Division 1.

Devizes Town's best FA Cup run came in 2000. They beat Melksham Town 1-0 in a Preliminary Round replay after a 1-1 draw. The 1st Qualifying Round saw a 2-1 win at Backwell United before a victory against Bridgwater Town by the same scoreline in the 2nd Qualifying Round. A trip to Saltdean United in the 3rd Qualifying Round saw another 2-1 win. Their run came to an end in the 4th Qualifying Round as Kingstonian beat them 5-2. The club has reached the FA Vase Quarter Final twice - losing 3-0 at Whickham in 1981 and 3-0 at Maldon Town in 2003. They also reached the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy in 1974. Local cup wins include fourteen Wiltshire Senior Cups, two Wiltshire Junior Challenge Cups, two Western League Subsidiary Cups, six Western Football League Amateur Trophies and four Wiltshire Premier League Challenge Cups. They also lifted the Wiltshire Premier Shield in 1983 and the Western League Merit Cup in 1975.

Famous players to play for Devizes Town include the England World Cup winner Roger Hunt who played for the club early on in his career. The same is true for Oxford United legend Mike Ford. Devizes is a market town in Wiltshire. It was developed around Devizes Castle, an 11th-century Norman castle. Devizes remained under Royalist control until 1645 when Oliver Cromwell attacked and forced the Royalists to surrender. The castle was destroyed in 1648 on the orders of Parliament, and today little remains of it. Standing at the west edge of the Vale of Pewsey, the town is about 10.5 miles southeast of Chippenham and 11 miles northeast of the county town of Trowbridge. It has nearly five hundred listed buildings, some notable churches, a town hall and a green in the centre. Former industries include corn, textiles, brewing, curing of tobacco, and snuff-making. The population is just under 17,000, and famous people from the area include current Cheltenham Town goalkeeping coach James Bittner.


Originally on this Saturday, I was supposed to be going to Wycombe Wanderers v Cheltenham Town. I've started to enjoy home matchday again now that I've given up my season ticket and so was looking forward to it. However, a few weeks ago, International football reared its ugly head and cancelled things. Wycombe had a big enough squad to cope so it was a baffling decision. Cheltenham had been in woeful form at the time, not even scoring a league goal in eleven attempts. They finally hit the net on the twelfth attempt in a 1-1 draw against Derby County, but that was after the decision had been made. I decided to make the most of it, putting together a list of potential games. As usual, it would be on the train as I was fed up of driving after having to do it every midweek. I also put my spreadsheet into action, working out the cost per mile. They ranged from a decent value of 14p a mile for Cuxton 91 v Borden Village to a pricey 24p a mile for Gala Wilton v Broadwell Amateurs. These were far from the worst offenders and many candidates were dismissed for being even pricier than that. Train fares are scandalously priced in this country and the discrimination with railcards means that solo travellers aged between 25 and 65 are unable to get any form of discount outside of the South East.

There was one standout candidate for me and that was Devizes Town v Sporting Club Inkberrow. This completed the Hellenic D1 for me and was doable at a reasonable price. Even then, I had to work hard to get the discount. The full price off-peak fare for Wycombe to Swindon was £67. Trainline bought it down to just over £40 whilst Trainsplit found the lowest fare of £24 although they charged over £6 fee for the 'share of the saving'. I was just going to buy the two tickets manually but then the Trainpal app did the split without charging any fees. The tickets were comprised of a 67-mile return between High Wycombe and Bicester Village which cost £10.80 or 16p a mile and a 135-mile Bicester Village to Swindon return for £14.20 or 10.5p a mile. The bus fare cap of £2 single meant that I paid even less for the 42-mile round trip to Devizes. With some decent pubs thrown into the mix, it was shaping up to be a decent day out. There was a yellow warning for rain but there didn't appear to be a huge amount in the 24 hours before the game. Even so, there were plenty of backups in local cups.
It was a tolerable but tiring three days at work before this game. On Thursday night, I did all my history research, as well as pubs and backups. I'd actually made a start as I was planning on visiting back in June for a friendly. However, Seend United were unable to raise a team and the game was pulled. I saw them whilst on a deep dive for games, selecting games at Trowbridge Town, Chiseldon, Purton and Redhouse should this one bite the dust at late notice. I love Friday night football but pulled out of a trip to Aberbargoed Buds due to the forecast rain. I had planned to go up to my local ground for Holmer Green v Hazlemere Sports and almost pulled out due to the incessant rain. However, it stopped at the last minute and I decided to take the risk. It was all to no avail as I got up there to find the ground in darkness. There had been nothing lost, but I had been looking forward to it. It appeared that it was my local area that was worst affected, absolutely typical. 

It was my usual patchy night's sleep on Friday night, so I awoke well in advance of my 7.20 alarm. It still didn't stop me from cutting it fine for leaving though. I bought my tickets on the Trainpal app before leaving and after an 80-minute walk got to High Wycombe station just after 9. I got the 09:11 to Oxford and only had a five-minute window before my next train to Didcot Parkway. It was a simple hop across the platform to get a train to Didcot Parkway. Rather than wait the five minutes, I just got on the late previous train which got me to my stop a tad earlier. It was 25 25-minute wait at the station, sadly I missed the previous train by a few minutes. It was an extremely impressive and quick journey to Swindon, taking 19 minutes, a third of the driving time. It was standing room only so I was glad I wasn't on a longer, pricier journey. There were a ton of police at Swindon station, obviously looking for people committing the heinous crime of being a football fan. I'd be cheering on Newport had I been there, I remember Swindle Town charging £21 back in 2001 for third-tier football.
 The mobile signal was a bit patchy, for the Internet at least. It was a seven-minute walk to the first Wetherspoons, the Sir Daniel Arms. This was very nice, well-kept and modern. A pint of Old Rosie was a snip at £3.51. I'd originally pegged the Savoy Wetherspoons as on the outskirts but when checking, it was on the bus route to Devizes. So it was off there for a pint of Black Dragon, again £3.51. Swindon had not the best reputation but it was alright by me and I was disappointed I was short of time. As it was the UK, things were bound to be messed up. I got to Regent Circus stop D to find it closed for no apparent reason. I was directed to stop B where the bus didn't show up. So rather than going post-match to the Gluepot, I'd factored this mishap into my journey. Off to my original post-match pub of the Gluepot, it was. Lots of cider, nothing especially interesting so a pint of Haymaker for me. It was then to the bus station for the trip to Devizes, just £2. Past the County Ground, we went and onto Devizes. An all-day brunch with a pint of Thatcher's Gold was £6.82 at the Silk Mercer Wetherspoons. From there it was to be ground. 
Devizes Town were in 13th and were in poor form. They'd lost three in a row, the last game a 2-0 defeat at Tytherington Rocks. They'd also lost 7-3 at Abingdon United and 1-0 to Malmesbury Victoria. A 1-1 draw had been gained at Shortwood United but prior to that, they'd beaten Newent Town 5-1 and won 3-2 at Cheltenham Saracens. Sporting Club Inkberrow were unbeaten in nine and had won their last six. Since I'd seen them beat Moreton Rangers 6-1, they'd beaten Chipping Sodbury Town 5-1, Long Crendon 4-0 and Abingdon United 3-1. I arrived shortly after kickoff. On 12 minutes Skelton opened the scoring for the hosts, a decent strike. The game died down a bit after that but the second half saw Devizes apply some pressure. It was helped by Inkberrow having a man sent off for a foul. They bundled a shot home on 80 minutes then another ball forward gave them the lead a minute later. It had looked as if they were out of luck for a bit but persistence of paid off.
 So the game had not been the best and it was a game of two halves. Devizes deserved a share of the spoils given the late rally. It waa a quick walk back to the bus stop where a lot of Eastern European people were waiting. Either they got them on double quick or some were left behind as we were away in less than a minute. It was back to Swindon and I was planning on getting home an hour earlier. However, I followed a crowd off the bus but it was not as near the station as I'd expected. I got some drinks and snacks at One Below and some food at Taco Bell. I then headed to the Drink Valley but that looked nothing special so it was back to the Sir Daniel Arms Wetherspoons. This was good for another pint of Old Rosie and I had a good chat with a local man. I should have stayed really but back to the station I went, seeing a lovely boxer dog on the platform. The 19.11 to Didcot Parkway was taken, GWR was impressive today. It was just over twenty minutes wait to Wycombe at Oxford, I did consider going via Banbury but was not sure of ticket validity.



NURSTEED ROAD is around a mile from the centre of Devizes. The only covered part is the main stand, holding a few hundred. The rest of the ground is open and has a decent tea bar and clubhouse. The town is nearby and has some good places. Good value buses to Swindon are nearby.

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