No.31 - Sat 6th February 2016; Anglian Combination League Division Two;                            2pm at Garrick Field; Church Road; Yelverton; Norfolk; NR14 7PB

 

Matchday images (60) https://picasaweb.google.com/footballgroundsinfocus/YelvertonFC02

Yelverton (0) 0 Sprowston Athletic (0) 0

'It's always nice to get back home'.

'After an enforced period of exile, Yelverton Football Club has finally returned to play football back in its own village. It really is a terrific success story. It all began about five years ago when the side applied to compete in the Anglian Combination League (after coming up from the Norwich Business Houses League). Sadly their place into the ACL came at a price and was offered on the condition that they would only be accepted if they could find a suitable alternative ground as their Garrick Field base was deemed to have inadequate changing and showering facilities and thereby did not come up to the standards required.

At the time they were invited to ground share with fellow ACL side Easton Football Club playing ‘home’ matches at the expansive Easton College (some sixteen miles away close to the A47 city ring road). They were accepted into Division Six (the bottom rung) and to everyone’s surprise won the competition as champions at the first attempt. It didn’t stop there and further successive promotions followed: in 2012/13 (as Division Five runners-up); in 2013-14 (in fourth place behind two reserve sides) and in 2014-15 (as Division Three runners up).

Behind the scenes much planning and team work has taken place in the intervening years to develop facilities back at the Garrick Field. It has been a real local effort - the community have provided financial support and local trade's people have assisted with the build, which has supported local business in the area.

As a result the club now has a brand new pavilion and a venue which not only comes up to the required standard but one it can be rightly proud of. The home coming and cutting of the proverbial ribbon was attended by many local dignitaries, football and other-wise, and gained much well deserved local press coverage. The event was also marked by a poignant 3-0 home victory over Blofield United Reserves to make it a truly special day to remember for all connected with the club.

Most of the details have been picked up by the Norfolk County FA who publicised the event on its excellent website. It was BBC Radio Norfolk’s David Whiteley who officially opened Yelverton FC’s new £81,188 changing pavilion, thanks to a £50,000 grant from the Premier League through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), the largest funders of non-league football in the country.

The grant has enabled the club, who play in Division Two of the Anglian Combination League, to build two changing rooms, each with shower and toilet facilities, as well as an officials’ changing room with en-suite facilities. The development also includes a kitchen, spectator toilet facilities and storage space.

 

David said: 'I was delighted to officially open Yelverton FC’s new changing pavilion. The facilities will make such a difference to the team who have a fantastic base, allowing them to play home matches at The Garrick Field. Thanks must go to the local community for all their hard work, it’s also fantastic that, through the Premier League and the FSIF, facilities like this at Yelverton are improved for the future'.

 

Shaun Turner, Chief Executive, Norfolk County FA, said: 'The new changing facilities at The Garrick Field should have a real positive impact on the experience of players and officials at Yelverton FC. The club now have a ground to call home and should be delighted with their fund raising efforts in making the new facility a reality. I must thank the Premier League through the FSIF for their investment into this facility in Norfolk, and I wish the club all the best for the future'.

 

Mike Larkin, First Team Manager, Yelverton FC, said: 'This has been an amazing achievement for such a small village club – team work, ambition and financial support both locally and from the Premier League, through the FSIF, have made this project a real success story'.

 

Peter McCormick OBE, Chairman of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, added: 'Yelverton FC's new changing room facilities are now suitable for use by both players and officials, giving them a safe and comfortable environment to prepare for games and training sessions. The two-team pavilion will meet the team’s needs as they grow over the coming seasons thanks to investment from the Premier League, without whom, top-class developments like this would not be possible. I look forward to seeing the club go from strength to strength as a result of this funding'.


Today’s game sees the visit of Sprowston Athletic to the Garrick Field for a league match. Before play the hosts sit in fifth place, four positions ahead of the visitors in the sixteen team table. Last time the teams met was on the first day of the season back in August when Yelverton recorded a 2-0 victory at Blue Boar Lane in Norwich.

 

Despite trying to come to terms with a strong and swirling cross wind neither side can break the deadlock this afternoon and the match ends 0-0. It’s quite ironic really as the ball does in fact find its way into the back of the net on three occasions during the match but each time the strike is ruled out for an offside infringement by ace official Mark Riches. Am I bitter? Not at all. This is my first goalless game since attending the Football League Division Two fixture between Barnet and Dagenham & Redbridge at Underhill (on Good Friday in 2013). For more go to: http://footballgroundsinfocus.com/R121341.htm

 

The match played in mostly dull and overcast conditions attracts nearly thirty spectators. The beautifully manicured surface (which rarely leads to a game being called off) is down to affable and long time club servant and lino David Bloomfield (husband of the club secretary) who manages to get his mower over the grass before midday and for the first time in weeks. Although Yelverton doesn’t issue programmes, hot drinks are served in some very large mugs cheerfully dispensed from the tea bar before the game and at again at half-time.

 

The main un-roped pitch bordered on three sides by hedges and trees is found on the far side of the field beyond a smaller youth pitch. Two new smart wooden dug outs and a couple of neat advertising boards are positioned behind the furthest touchline close to half-way.  From here it is just about possible to make out the facade of St Mary’s church behind the trees on the opposite side.

 

Travellers intending to make a visit here should note that there is a strict no parking policy at pitch side or in the ground and hoppers should instead leave their vehicles at the Village Hall on the opposite side of Church Road. It's only a short walk down the muddy track to the Garrick Field. Alternatively you can park down Church Meadow and take the cut through that also leads you there. Indeed I almost thought the game was off on arrival as a heavy metal chain had been placed across the entrance. Thankfully an old lady walking her dog realised my plight and explained that access to the field is restricted to vehicles at all times. She then reassured me that the game was definitely on as her garden backs onto the playing field and she could see the players warming up on the grass before setting out for her constitutional. Is that lucky or what?!!

 

To reach the village of Yelverton (located on the south side of Norwich) I joined the A11 from Thetford and took the city ring road (A47 to Great Yarmouth) coming off on the A146 (to Lowestoft) Loddon Road. After a couple of miles turn right down Slades Lane (marked) and follow this for a about a mile passing the village sign and duck pond on the right before arriving at the village hall in Church Road on your left. It is also contiguous with Alpington and as such shares its parish facilities.

 

I found everyone at the club to be most welcoming and a visit to Garrick Field is a must to all grounds’ collectors. I certainly hope that they can build on this good news story and will definitely keep tabs on their results in the future. To find out more info about the club you can check out the side’s dedicated twitter feed as well as its website. In addition the generic Full-Time site provides a source of valuable stats about the Anglian Combination itself (although I did have difficulty opening the downloadable league handbook for some reason). 

The joys of visiting football clubs who have overcome adversity continues. Have fun wherever you go.'

 

FGIF Match Stats

Scorers: (H) and (A) N/A   

Attendance: 29; Admission and Programme: None; Match rating: 3/5; Ground rating: 4/5.

Links

http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/yelvertonfc/teams/80938/match-centre/1-1880246

https://twitter.com/yelvertonfc

http://www.angliancombination.org.uk/

 

edited on 07/02/16