Tuesday 3 October 2023

Friar Lane & Epworth - Franklin Park

Friar Lane & Epworth FC
Franklin Park
Whittier Road
Knighton Lane East

Ground Number: 1232
Tuesday 3rd October 2023
Friar Lane & Epworth 2-3 Ellistown
Jelson Homes Senior Cup


Friar Lane FC was established in 1969, joining the Leicestershire Senior League and winning its second tier in their first season. It was a hugely successful start to life for the club as they went on to win the title twice in a brown in the next two seasons. They then finished 3rd in 1973 before going on to win the Leicestershire Senior League another five times in a row. Four runners-up spots came in the next few decades, their worst season was in 1999 when they finished bottom of the league but were not relegated. The FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round was reached for times, as was the FA Amateur Cup 3rd Round during the 1973/74 season. Their success continued in its replacement, the FA Vase, They reached the semi-finals in the first two seasons, in 1975 they would lose to eventual winners Hoddesdon Town, then the following year to Stamford. Epworth spent between 2002 & 2004 in the Leicestershire Senior League, winning Division 1 in their first season. However, a lack of facilities prevented their progress to the top tier.

The club was established in 2004 following the merger of Friar Lane Old Boys and Epworth. The first season saw the new club finish 9th, then they'd win the title the following season. They made the step up to the Midland Alliance but never really pulled up any trees with two 15th-place finishes the best they could muster. In 2011, the club took the decision to resign from the league due to a lack of players. They took the place of their reserves in the LSL Division 1 and following two third-place finishes, they were promoted to the Premier Division. A 3rd place finish in 2017 is their best since, but last season was a stinker, losing 25 of their 26 games. However, they were not relegated and have fared slightly better this season.

In the FA Cup, they reached the 1st Qualifying Round in 2008, beating New Mills and Oldbury United before losing to Rugby Town in a replay. The season before, they reached the FA Vase 3rd Round, losing out to Tipton Town. The club is based in Aylestone, a suburb of Leicester to the east of the River Soar. It was formerly a separate village, but the growth of the city since the Leicester Extension Act of 1891 incorporated Aylestone into the Borough of Leicester and it is now part of the suburban area. The area has a population of just over 11,000. It's a bit of a footballing hotbed non-league-wise with Aylestone Park and St Andrews of higher tiers based here as well as Old Aylestone and some other clubs lower down the Leicestershire leagues.


After my last groundhop at Sporting Club Inkberrow, it had been a quiet rest of the week. I'd have loved to have a bit of Friday night football but there was a real lack of choice unless I fancied a revisit. Instead, I had to wait until Saturday for my first visit to Adams Park in six and a half weeks. I'd missed a couple of games for varying reasons and due to International football, it could be a similar length of time before I go again. At least it was a great day with Wycombe Wanderers beating Carlisle United 2-0 with the visitors donning a smart away shirt. It was all about the wider day, the pub, food, and other bits. For what is just over a twenty-minute journey by car, I stretched the day out from 10:30 to 21:30 and got plenty of walking in. Maybe not the healthiest in terms of food and booze intake but it did wonders for my morale.

Not even the usual nine-hour shift on the reviled Sunday could get me down. Yes, it was busy, yes people are tick as mince sometimes and yes, I got questions fired at me as quickly as they came on 'The Chase'. But at least the unpleasant characters that I encountered on my last Sunday at work were absent. I came home and had a nice steak for dinner, doing this research in the evening. It was good to have another broadcast with the ex-Leyton Orient manager John Sitton, an interesting listen as ever. It was my usual day off and walk to town and back on Tuesday. I undid all the work of my exercise with snacks and a pizza for lunch. While I was down in Wycombe I took advantage of an offer of 10p fries from a local food van which were decent.


I came back and spent the afternoon at home before leaving at 3.45. I was supposed to pick Colin up at 4 but when I got to his, he was nowhere to be seen and wasn't answering his phone. I gave it five minutes before heading off to Aylesbury. Around 4.20 I got a phone call from Colin asking him to come back and pick him up from town as he'd gone to the phone shop. He didn't bother telling anyone in advance but because I'm soft and we had plenty of time, I went back. I picked up Anwar from Aylesbury train station at 4.55. Something must have been up with Milton Keynes as Google Maps sent us a rubbish route up to Northampton through loads of roadworks. Finally, we got to the M1 and thereafter, the only delay was after we got into Leicester. We were there at 6.45 and headed in search of food. I went to Chung's Garden Chinese where I had a decent House Special Chow Mein for £7.20. It was quickly served and very tasty. It was a decent portion too, despite this I'd finished it before the others had even got their burger and chips from next door. We walked back to the ground, getting there at 7.30 and paying £4 to get in. Everyone was really friendly and welcoming as is the norm in Non-League. 
This was a League Cup clash between the hosts in 14th and the visitors in 3rd. Friar Lane & Epworth had won just one of their last seven games. That was when they won 3-1 at Highfield Rangers on 16th September. They'd also drawn 1-1 against Magna 73. All the defeats had been fairly close - on Saturday they had lost a 4-3 thriller against Aylestone Park Reserves. Ellistown had triumphed 3-1 when the two sides met in the league on the opening day of the season. They'd won seven of their nine games, their only loss coming on Saturday as Allexton & New Parks beat them 3-1 on their own patch. This ended a run of six consecutive victories including a 3-1 win over Barrow Town. It was all Ellistown early on but they lacked a cutting edge. Friar Lane took the lead on 17 minutes after a spell of pressure, the keeper made a great save but could do nothing to stop the resulting shot being blasted in the top corner from outside the area from Cole Withrenton. On 41 minutes, it was all square, a penalty awarded for a trip was converted by Luke Higgins. After 65 minutes, Ellistown went ahead, Dan Yadav poking home from inside the area following a right hand sided corner. Yadav curled home with a great strike from the edge of the area on 75 minutes to make it 3-1. This prompted Friar Lane to burst into life after a tepid spell. They had a couple of chances but nothing came of them. Ellistown then clipped the top of the bar on the break as they sought to make sure of the game. Ellistown did pull a goal back on 83 minutes, a firm header from ten yards by Gaz Warren. Ellistown had a couple of chances to extend their lead and it took a great save from the keeper to keep Friar Lane in the game. Right near the end, there was a huge scramble as the hosts sent their keeper up. There was a fracas in the area which the referee did well to sort out. I was hoping for an equaliser but in the end, Ellistown edged what had been an excellent game.


FRANKLIN PARK is a great ground, full of character. The main stand is seated and holds around 100. There's also a standing area next to it holding around 300. There's a further standing area in front of the tea bar at one end. The rest of the ground is open flat standing. There's a clubhouse outside though this was having a bingo night on my visit. There's a decent amount of parking and the area has regular buses. Nearby are takeaways including Chinese, pizza and a chippy.

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