No.31 - Sat 13th February 2016; Anglian Combination League Division Four;                            2pm at The Playing Field; off The Street; Earsham; Norfolk; NR35 2SZ


Matchday images (57)

Earsham (3) 7 Hingham Athletic (0) 1

'Flint starts a big fire'.

'Earsham is a small village situated just inside the Norfolk county boundary and is located close to the much larger neighbouring town of Bungay (in Suffolk) off the main A143 carriageway. The name Earsham is said to come from a field in which any plant material such as wheat, barley or rye has been cut leaving short stubble or stalks referred to as the ‘earsh. Locally the village is recognised for the picturesque Earsham Mill, a watermill dating from Anglo-Saxon times; Earsham Hall, a market place for furniture and antique sales and The Queens Head public house, home to the Waveney Brewing Company. Railway enthusiasts may also be interested to learn that there was once an Earsham railway station on the Waveney Valley Line but sadly this is now closed.

Earsham Football Club was formed just after the Second World War in 1946 and has played at their current ground since 1952. Recent records show that the first team competed in the Lowestoft and District League gaining promotion to Division 2 in 2009/10 and winning the title by ten clear points (over Corton Celtic) two years later. An application was then made to join the Anglian Combination League but the facilities at the playing field were deemed by the committee not to be up to the required standard.


In order to climb up the pyramid a decision a decision was then made by the ambitious club committee to move into the ground of Wortwell Football Club (former ACL side who had disbanded the previous season). Situated only five or so miles back up the A143 (towards Diss) this was an ideal location and allowed the club to achieve the appropriate ground grading status. During this time work could start on developing the changing room block back at Earsham with a view to returning at some point in the near future when the project had been completed.


They entered the ACL in 2012-13 finishing a creditable fifth place in Division Six as well as reaching the CS Morley Cup Final (beaten 4-1 by Waveney) before gaining back to back promotions in 2013/14 and 2014/15 (Division Five) as champions.


At the same time success on the pitch was matched by progress behind the scenes. A dedicated committee spearheaded by Peter Goodfellow gained the necessary funding and Football Foundation grants to resource a terrific purpose-built pavilion. At a cost of £107,000 the new, modern and roomy changing rooms, showers, toilets and fully fitted kitchen were completed and ready to be used by the end of March 2015.


Being bordered on all sides the ground has a lovely enclosed feel to it. Access is via a narrow driveway off The Street (not easy to see so look out for the phone box and post box opposite) which leads down to the car park. I parked further up the road off Princess Way but was told that the residents can get shirty (pardon the pun) if you block their driveways. The pavilion is set just behind two metal dug outs positioned close to the half-way line. This side of the pitch is bordered by a rope passed between several yellow plastic stakes which runs between both penalty areas. Tea (50p) and biscuits (free) are cheerfully dispensed both before the game and at half-time through an open window from the kitchen area.


Today Hingham Athletic come to the playing field for a league fixture. On paper it appears to be a tough contest for the hosts who have lost their last three matches as they take on a side sitting at the top of the thirteen team table (having played seven more games). It’s a good job I’m not a betting man (despite living in Racing HQ) as the form book was thrown right out of the window this afternoon. Earsham looked impressive as they completely demolished the league leaders notching up a fine 7-1 victory. Young Shaun Flint was on fire as he took his chances well, scoring four of the goals and gaining the man of the match award.


Sadly the spectacle was marred just before the break when Athletic forward Joao Cruz was red carded after punching a home defender. His frustration was sparked when the lino ruled that he had just been judged offside after putting the ball in the net. Despite being restrained by several players from his own team his anger boiled over in the changing rooms where he (apparently) caused some damage to the referee’s possessions.


The match played on a sticky surface in cold damp and overcast conditions attracted just over twenty spectators including fellow hopper Steve (aka Pinewoodste on the Non League Matters forum) who had travelled up from Ipswich for the game. It was great to meet up as we compared hopping notes for most of the second half making it a most enjoyable afternoon out.


I also spent some time chatting with former Earsham manager and now groundsman David Todd who gave me a potted history about the club since its days playing in the Lowestoft & District League. Club secretary and player Eddie Nolloth also explained how he was participating in a sponsored cycle ride around Norfolk (The Tour de Broads) in August in order to raise funds (£75K) to purchase a sit on lawn mower meaning they won’t need to rely on the council to cut the grass.


I must also thank the affable and enthusiastic chairman (and today’s lino) Peter Goodfellow who gave me excellent stage by stage directions to the ground when I made a check phone call at midday. Peter was one of several committee members who provided the necessary drive and ambition in raising funds to build the pavilion and bring ACL football to Earsham. Upon arrival he also gave me a guided tour of the facilities explaining the ‘buy a brick’ scheme (displayed in the foyer) organised to help raise further funds. Looking around the ground you can tell this is a pro active club with many fans sporting their gold and black (club colours) woolly hats. Indeed the warm up tops are sponsored by Masterseal, a company run by hopper and FGIF contributor Gyles Basey-Fisher who was brought up in Earsham and still lives in the county - what a great gesture!


Needless to say a visit to this friendly, well-run club comes highly recommended to all travellers. For more details about the club and the league log on to the links shown below. The joys of hopping in the depths of Norfolk continue...have fun wherever you go!'


FGIF Match Stats

Scorers: (H) Goodfellow (20); Flint (25, 36, 70, 82); Edge (63); Taylor (74) and (A) Smith (75)   

Attendance: 26; Admission and Programme: None; Match rating: 4/5; Ground rating: 4/5.



edited on 14/02/16