No.28 - Sat 24th January 2015; Bedfordshire County Football League Premier Division;                     2pm at Shefford Sports Club; Hitchin Road; Shefford; Bedfordshire; SG17 5JD 


Matchday images (63)

Shefford Town & Campton (1) 1  Ickwell & Old Warden (0) 2

'Building for the future'

'Inspired by ace hopper and FGIF photographer and reporter Bob Davies who visited the club earlier in the season, I took an ‘hoppertunity today to check out the facilities at their new ground for myself. Get in there!

Founded in 1910, the club played its first football in September when it began to enter a team into the Biggleswade and District Junior League. Playing home matches at Ivel Road, the team contested this local competition until 1949–50, when Shefford began to enter its team into the South Midlands League. The side won the Beds Senior Cup that season, a feat it repeated in 1953. After finishing runners-up in the Beds Senior Cup the following year, winning it again in 1955 and capping these feats with two successive league championships, Shefford Town started to contest the Parthenon League against teams from further afield – some away trips took the team as far as London. In the new league, Shefford finished as runners-up in the first season before spending two more years in the competition. After three years, the long journeys and sparse league programme led the club to join the more local United Counties League.


In 1960–61, the league championship came to Shefford, and the club added the North Beds Charity Cup to its trophy cabinet during the same week. The following season saw a drastic change in fortunes, as the team finished second from bottom – the club reacted by arranging a move back to the South Midlands League. The team came third during the first season back in the division, and in 1973–74 the team finished as runners-up. However, the club was relegated in 1975–76. Success didn't come back to Ivel Road until the early 1980s – in 1982–83 Shefford lifted the Division One title, and finished the following season as league champions. During 1983–84, Shefford also won the North Beds Charity Cup, the Biggleswade Knockout contest and the Bedfordshire Intermediate Cup. The North Beds Charity and Biggleswade Knockout double was repeated the following year.


During the late 1980s the club stagnated, as the team tumbled back into Division One after finishing bottom in 1989–90. After three uneventful seasons, Shefford Town were moved to the Senior Division on league re-organisation. Though performances improved, with the team finishing fifth in 1993–94, the club was wound up and played its final match on 18 May 1994.


The club was reformed in 2009 by Dan Pinkerton and Graham Earl, who had been involved in local youth football. ]The new club was accepted into the Bedfordshire County Football League for the 2009–10 season, and assigned a place in Division Two, at level 13 of the English football league system. In 2010 the club merged with Campton, playing its home games at the Campton playing fields.


Grounds enthusiasts might be interested to know that the old Ivel Road ground featured a small stand, a floodlit pitch and a clubhouse with a bar. The stand, erected in 1950, was able to hold 600 people. On the club's demise, the ground remained in place while the company that had owned the football club sought a buyer for the land. In 2008, planning permission was given for a residential development on the site – on the condition that the developer provide a replacement ground and clubhouse. Planning permission was applied for a year later to build a new facility on an 11-acre site on Hitchin Road and construction began in 2010.


Fast forward five years and the club has finally moved to its new ground at the Shefford Sports Club. Opened officially by Sir Trevor Brooking in November 2013, it’s certainly one that the club can be rightly proud of. The entrance in Hitchin Road is fronted by some large wrought iron gates painted in the club colours of blue and white and with the name displayed on a neat welcome sign. A long driveway winds its way up towards the impressive new pavilion with the pitches behind. At first glimpse it looks a bit like a building site with evidence of much work still in progress judging by the bricks, breezeblocks and sand still arranged in random piles at pitch side.


The pavilion houses a large function room and bar with a kitchen area, toilets and changing rooms leading from it. A neat patio area complete with wooden picnic tables is crossed by players making their way to the pitch. A narrow brick-tiled perimeter path surrounds (most of) the pitch where a couple of perspex dug outs are set out on the far touchline close to the half-way. Grass embankments along this side and behind the far goal allow for an elevated view of the action. At the moment there’s no cover for spectators. A series of smaller pitches used for mini football are marked out on a plateau beyond – there’s also a purpose built tea hut here for use by parents and children on matchday. I was informed that the club runs 18 teams in total.


So what about the future? Affable committee member Roy Hayday explained that the club is in no rush to climb up the football pyramid. Although they would like to achieve success there’s no immediate pressure to develop the ground with the addition of expensive stands and the installation of floodlights. Well, not yet anyway!


Today’s game saw the visit of Ickwell & Old Warden to the Shefford Sports Club. Despite opening the scoring after only fifteen minutes the hosts let their lead slip when Ickwell came back strongly to fire home two second half goals to grab all three points.  The match played in bright, sunny but very cold conditions was attended by over thirty spectators. Although the club doesn’t issue programmes a well stocked tea bar managed by a chef offered a range of hot and cold food to suit all tastes. The cheeseburger went down a treat! 

A visit to the new Shefford Sports Club in Hitchin Road comes highly recommended. Details about the club can be found on the excellent league sites (see the links below). What are you waiting for? Have fun wherever you go.'    

FGIF Match Stats

                Scorers: (H) Jones (15) and (A) Vallom (60 pen), Coe (78) 

Attendance: 32; Admission: Free; Programme: None; Match rating: 3/5; Ground rating: 4/5.



edited on 25/01/15